Sci/Tech

The Large Binocular Telescope Interferometer sets its sights on habitable planets
January 21, 2015 05:53 PM - JPL/California Institute of Technology

The NASA-funded Large Binocular Telescope Interferometer, or LBTI, has completed its first study of dust in the "habitable zone" around a star, opening a new door to finding planets like Earth. Dust is a natural byproduct of the planet-formation process, but too much of it can block our view of planets.

The findings will help in the design of future space missions that have the goal of taking pictures of planets similar to Earth, called exo-Earths. 

"Kepler told us how common Earth-like planets are," said Phil Hinz, the principal investigator of the LBTI project at the University of Arizona, Tucson, referring to NASA's planet-hunting Kepler mission, which has identified more than 4,000 planetary candidates around stars. "Now we want to find out just how dusty and obscured planetary environments are, and how difficult the planets will be to image."

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ENN Announces Release of New Mobile App!
January 26, 2015 08:39 AM - ENN Editor

This week ENN launches a new mobile app making it easier for you to connect with us and stay up to date with groundbreaking environmental news. The Environmental News Network (ENN) is recognized as the most comprehensive and dependable online environmental news source. With almost twenty years of experience aggregating and producing original content for environmental experts and novices alike, ENN's mission is to inform, educate and inspire environmental discussion and action among its readers and contributors.

Because ENN recognizes that there is no lack of environmental news content but rather an overabundance of it, ENN gathers, filters and streamlines environmental news from affiliate networks and other news streams so as to consolidate and support better environmental decisions for an ever changing world. ENN’s core sources include major wire services, research institutions, and freelance and citizen journalists from around the world.

The ENN Mobile app can be downloaded from the Apple Store. 

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SPOTLIGHT

How the Credit Card Industry is Contributing to Pollution

Guest Contributor, Odysseas Papadimitriou

We all get far too much mail, especially from financial services companies.  Credit card companies alone send billions of pieces of paper mail each year, and most of that gets thrown right into the trash can.  Not only does this dynamic pose a threat from a fraud perspective – trash cans and mailboxes can be treasure troves for opportunistic fraudsters – but you have to figure the effect on the environment isn’t great either. Paper products aren’t as bad as most materials, according to North Carolina State University Professor Richard Venditti, because they’re renewable, recyclable and biodegradable and they motivate land owners to plant trees.  However, Venditti says, “inefficient use of paper does consume resources and have an impact on the environment.” While credit card direct mail is on the rise after hitting a two-year low in April 2012, long-term trends suggest a declining role for traditional paper mail in the years to come.  Not only are financial services companies increasingly offering paperless options to their account holders – even charging extra for paper statements, but they’re also learning how to better leverage digital means for marketing purposes.  These changes are largely based on the shifting preferences of the modern consumer as well as the overall technicalization of modern commerce – not some newfound corporate altruism – but does it really matter? 

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