Sci/tech

The Future of Vertical Farming
September 19, 2014 06:15 AM - Allison Winter, ENN

From big company agricultural farming, to communal farming or even personal agronomy, the business of growing crops for an expanding global population will be crucial in the near future. The two most important resources needed to run these farms are one, water, and two, land. But these resources often come at a premium, especially with growing populations and increased food demand. Farmers and researchers have already started leaning towards genetic engineering and industrial processing to help with their crop yields, but a new solution in agribusiness is emerging. Vertical farming.

Finding Nemo
September 18, 2014 08:47 AM - The University of Exeter

Clownfish spend their entire lives nestling in the protective tentacles of host anemones, but new research shows that as babies they sometimes travel hundreds of kilometres across the open ocean. Although the process of long-distance dispersal by reef fish has been predicted, this is the first time that the high level exchange of offspring between distant populations has been observed. Dr Steve Simpson, Senior Lecturer in Marine Biology and Global Change in Biosciences at the University of Exeter, and colleagues from the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies (ARC COE CRS), Sultan Qaboos University (Oman) and the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (France) have published their findings on the dispersal of Omani clownfish larvae in the journal PLOS ONE.

Clouds of water found on "near" planet
September 14, 2014 07:32 AM - Ken Croswell, Science

Astronomers have found signs of water ice clouds on an object just 7.3 light-years from Earth-less than twice the distance of Alpha Centauri, the nearest star system to the sun. If confirmed, the discovery is the first sighting of water clouds beyond our solar system. The clouds shroud a Jupiter-sized object known as a brown dwarf and should yield insight into the nature of cool giant planets orbiting other suns. Kevin Luhman, an astronomer at Pennsylvania State University, University Park, recently discovered the nearby object by using images from NASA’s WISE infrared space telescope, which scanned the sky from 2010 to 2011. A brown dwarf is a failed star and has so little mass that it can't sustain nuclear reactions, so after its birth it fades and cools. This brown dwarf, named WISE J0855-0714, is the coldest known. Its temperature is slightly below the freezing point of water, so it's colder than Earth's mean temperature but warmer than Jupiter’s.

Northern Lights Dazzle Skies Tonight
September 12, 2014 10:20 AM - Allison Winter, ENN

If you live in one of the visible areas on this map, you may be in for a treat tonight! According to AccuWeather.com, the solar flares of the Northern Lights are ranked as an X-class tonight, the highest class for a solar flare which may make the Northern Lights display as far south as Maryland on the East Coast, and as far down as Nebraska, further west.

Disc or Download: A Virtual Energy-Savings Debate
September 11, 2014 11:20 AM - Winfield Winter, ENN

One of the best ways to spark an energy revolution is through the younger generation — and nothing quite speaks their language like video games. But this issue has less to do with the content of these addictive games and more with how the younger generation consumes them. Fantasy and adventure, sci-fi and first-person shooters, strategy and racing — video games today comes in all types of genres with thousands of add-ons and customizable features to make each story a virtual reality. And with all of these choices comes two more: buy a copy of the video game on a disc or download the video game straight from the console?

Hot and Cold Freezers
September 10, 2014 09:25 AM - Bill DiBenedetto, Triple Pundit

The freezers being tested in Central Park operate free of electricity — vendors can even charge their own mobile devices by plugging them into outlets attached to the freezer units. It seems fitting that Unilever, the world's largest producer of ice cream, is rolling out the world's first solar freezers in Central Park to keep those Popsicles, Good Humor or Magnum-brand bars cold while at the same time putting no strain on the environment.

Hazardous waste-eating bacteria discovered
September 10, 2014 09:07 AM - The University of Manchester

Although bacteria with waste-eating properties have been discovered in relatively pristine soils before, new research shows for the first time that microbes that can survive in the very harsh conditions expected in radioactive waste disposal sites have also been found. The ultimate aim of this research conducted by the University of Manchester is to improve our understanding of the safe disposal of radioactive waste underground by studying the unusual diet of these hazardous waste eating microbes.

Should the Pacific walrus be considered a threatened species?
September 8, 2014 03:52 PM - USGS Newsroom

A recent U.S. Geological Survey estimates that the Pacific walrus population nearly halved between 1981 and 1999, the last year for which demographic data are available. The study notes that the decline was most severe in the mid-1980s, and then moderated in the 1990s. Currently, the USGS is working to obtain more recent population data of the Pacific walrus. This information will be vital because the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service is expected to determine whether the Pacific walrus should be listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act in 2017.

How Pollutant Risk is Affected by Different Insect Stages
September 5, 2014 11:34 AM - Editor, ENN

The food chain is a hierarchical series of organisms that are interrelated in their feeding habits. The chain starts when the smallest being like an insect is fed upon a larger prey species, which in turn feeds an even larger species. So if a species among the lower ranks of the chain has accumulated toxins such as pesticides or other organic chemicals, there is potential for these toxic substances to affect the species that prey upon them. This is the subject of new research conducted by the US Geological survey that found when fish feed on insects and when other wildlife species feed on fish, harmful contaminants are transferred up the line.

UN licenses kick off search for underwater minerals
September 5, 2014 08:07 AM - Rodrigo de Oliveira Andrade, SciDevNet

The International Seabed Authority (ISA) has begun issuing exploration licenses for mining the yet untouched floor of international waters raising concerns about potential environmental impacts. The licenses, issued on 21 July, grant prospecting rights for underwater minerals to private and state-owned companies from Brazil, Cook Islands, Germany, India, Russia, Singapore and the United Kingdom.

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