Sci/tech

Yawn Contagion in Wolves
August 27, 2014 04:15 PM - Editor, ENN

A yawn is defined as a reflex act of opening one's mouth and inhaling deeply. We yawn most often when we are tired or when we're bored. But we also always yawn when we see someone else doing it. Why? People say we can't help it - it's contagious! But what really triggers this involuntary tendency? According to studies, yawning when others do is a sign of empathy and a form of social bonding. And believe it or not, we're not the only species to exhibit these contagious behaviors. A new study published today in the journal PLOS ONE shows that wolves may also be susceptible to yawn contagion.

How Geckos can walk on the ceiling
August 25, 2014 11:26 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN

Ever wonder how lizards like Geckos can walk up walls and even across the ceiling? Is it sticky feet, anti-gravity, or what? Researchers at Oregon State University have developed a model that explains how geckos, as well as spiders and some insects, can run up and down walls, cling to ceilings, and seemingly defy gravity with such effortless grace. This ability, outlined today in the Journal of Applied Physics, is a remarkable mechanism in the toes of geckos that uses tiny, branched hairs called "seta" that can instantly turn their stickiness on and off, and even "unstick" their feet without using any energy.

Electricity from silk cocoons?
August 25, 2014 08:59 AM - Richa Malhotra, SciDevNet

Researchers in India say they have developed a prototype of an energy-harvesting device from the cocoons of a domesticated species of silk moth. They hope to put the technology to practical use while also tackling waste materials from the silk processing industry.

How did sea life end up living in outer space?
August 25, 2014 07:50 AM - Care2 Causes Editor Viola Knowles, Care2

Russian astronauts, or cosmonauts, have discovered living organisms clinging to the exterior of their International Space Station. The microscopic creatures were discovered during a space walk to clean the surface of the vessel, and they’ve reportedly been identified as a type of sea plankton. But scientists have no idea how they got there.

Drought Causes Western US to Rise
August 22, 2014 02:00 PM - Editor, ENN

Severe drought affecting the western United States in recent years is not only influencing water restrictions for residence and creating problems for crops and wildlife, but it's changing the landscape by causing land to rise up in elevation.

Fracking's Chemical Cocktails
August 22, 2014 09:15 AM - Tim Radford, The Ecologist

Fracking is once again in trouble. Scientists have found that what gets pumped into hydrocarbon-rich rock as part of the hydraulic fracture technique to release gas and oil trapped in underground reservoirs may not be entirely healthy. Environmental engineer William Stringfellow and colleagues at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the University of the Pacific told the American Chemical Society meeting in San Francisco that they scoured databases and reports to compile a list of the chemicals commonly used in fracking.

NASA reports unknown source of banned ozone-destroying compound
August 21, 2014 07:33 AM - ClickGreen Staff, ClickGreen

NASA research has revealed the Earth's atmosphere contains an unexpectedly large amount of an ozone-depleting compound from an unknown source decades after the compound was banned worldwide. Carbon tetrachloride (CCl4), which was once used in applications such as dry cleaning and as a fire-extinguishing agent, was regulated in 1987 under the Montreal Protocol along with other chlorofluorocarbons that destroy ozone and contribute to the ozone hole over Antarctica. Parties to the Montreal Protocol reported zero new CCl4 emissions between 2007-2012.

Turning Jellyfish into Sustainable Medical Products
August 20, 2014 01:20 PM - NoCamels Team, NoCamels

In a United Nations report released in May, scientists worldwide were called upon to join the war on jellyfish. According to the report, jellyfish have overwhelmed the marine ecosystem as a result of the overfishing of more competitive species, consuming fish eggs and larvae of weaker specimens and creating what the report called a "vicious cycle." So how can this cycle be stopped?

New Satellite To Help Farmers Facing Drought
August 19, 2014 09:08 AM - Allison Winter, ENN

Satellites are put into orbit for a variety of tasks. From sending television signals to our homes to enabling GPS devices, to helping us see weather on a global scale, satellites collect information and provide us with modern conveniences. One new use for a proposed satellite scheduled to launch this winter is soil moisture monitoring at a local level.

Origami in Space
August 16, 2014 09:30 AM - Winfield Winter, ENN

An ancient art form is beginning to take off in a way no one thought possible: on a spaceship. Origami, or Japanese folding paper, is currently being developed into solar panels at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory at The California Institute of Technology. Solar panels that have endless applications. Space travel has already turned over the possibility of solar-powered flight via folding panels, but this particular reincarnation is different. Developers cite a more intricate fold that allows for efficient deployment of the solar arrays. And it doesn’t stop there. Origami may one day be used in self-assembling solar arrays that are launched into space to power the earth below.

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