Sci/tech

Today's Extra Second Explained
June 30, 2015 01:09 PM - NASAs Jet Propulsion Laboratory

The day will officially be a bit longer than usual on Tuesday, June 30, 2015, because an extra second, or "leap" second, will be added. "Earth's rotation is gradually slowing down a bit, so leap seconds are a way to account for that," said Daniel MacMillan of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. Strictly speaking, a day lasts 86,400 seconds. That is the case, according to the time standard that people use in their daily lives - Coordinated Universal Time, or UTC. UTC is "atomic time" - the duration of one second is based on extremely predictable electromagnetic transitions in atoms of cesium. These transitions are so reliable that the cesium clock is accurate to one second in 1,400,000 years.

Why does the Earth's core appear to be so light?
June 17, 2015 08:36 AM - Sid Perkins, ScienceNOW.

”čThe old tales may be true: There is brimstone in the underworld, and lots of it. Brimstone, the biblical name for sulfur, is often found near hot springs and volcanic fissures on Earth’s surface (above). But scientists studying the formation of Earth’s core have shown that the lightweight nonmetal might also be present there in vast quantities, answering a question that has long troubled earth scientists: How could Earth’s core—predominantly made of the heavy elements iron and nickel—appear as light as it does when analyzed using seismic waves? 

Researchers report online today and in the July issue of Geochemical Perspectives Letters that the answer may be sulfur trapped deep within Earth. To come up with their results, the team compared the proportions of copper isotopes in ancient meteorites—the presumed building blocks of our planet—with the proportions of copper isotopes in rocks originating from the mantle—the deep layer of viscous rock beneath Earth’s crust.

On Earth Day, Give Fiber Its Due...
April 22, 2015 02:14 PM - Guest Contributor, James Gowen, Verizon Chief Sustainability Officer

There's a touch of green associated with receiving phone service, using the Internet and streaming video over an all-fiber-optic network. It's not the color of laser-generated light that carries massive amounts of data through all-glass cables directly into homes and businesses. It's green in the sense of how much more environmentally friendly today’s fiber-based telecommunications networks are compared to copper wire and coaxial cable networks. Whether it's energy efficiency or reduced demand for raw materials and other resources, all-fiber networks are a winning strategy on many fronts — including environmental sustainability. As we approach the 45th celebration of Earth Day on April 22, it's a good time to reflect on how network and technology decisions made by major telecommunications companies don't just result in advanced, more reliable services. These decisions can also pay handsome dividends on the sustainability front.

New oil repellant materials could help clean up oil spills
April 15, 2015 03:34 PM - Scott Gordon, University of Wisconsin-Madison

University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers have announced a significant step forward in the development of materials that can ward off oil — a discovery that could lead to new protective coatings and better approaches to cleaning up oil spills. In a new paper in the journal Advanced Functional Materials, professor of chemical and biological engineering David Lynn and assistant scientist Uttam Manna describe new coatings that are extremely oil-repellant (or "superoleophobic") in underwater environments.

Plant roots may accelerate carbon loss from soils
April 3, 2015 02:33 PM - Oregon State University

Soil, long thought to be a semi-permanent storehouse for ancient carbon, may be releasing carbon dioxide to the atmosphere faster than anyone thought, according to Oregon State University soil scientists. In a study published in this week’s online edition of the journal Nature Climate Change, the researchers showed that chemicals emitted by plant roots act on carbon that is bonded to minerals in the soil, breaking the bonds and exposing previously protected carbon to decomposition by microbes.

Antioxidant Effects differ by Leaf Color
March 27, 2015 01:47 PM - University of the Basque Country

Lettuce, one of the indispensable vegetables in the Mediterranean diet, is a food that greatly benefits health, mainly because it is rich in antioxidants. But not all lettuce varieties have the same antioxidant effect. According to a study led by the researcher Usue Pérez-López of the Department of Plant Biology and Ecology of the UPV/EHU's Faculty of Science and Technology, the colour of the leaves of these vegetables determines the speed at which their compounds act. So lettuces with green leaves have antioxidants that react more slowly while red-leaf ones have a faster effect. The results of this study have been set out in a paper "Phenolic Composition and Related Antioxidant Properties in Differently Coloured Lettuces: A Study by Electron Paramagnetic Resonance (EPR) Kinetics" recently published by the ‘Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry'.

Saturn's moon Enceladus is spewing tiny silica grains, new study finds
March 11, 2015 04:28 PM - Universtiy of Colorado

A new study by a team of Cassini mission scientists led by the University of Colorado Boulder have found that microscopic grains of rock detected near Saturn imply hydrothermal activity is taking place within the moon Enceladus.

The grains are the first clear indication of an icy moon having hydrothermal activity, in which seawater infiltrates and reacts with a rocky crust, emerging as a heated, mineral-laden solution. The finding adds to the tantalizing possibility that Enceladus, one of at least 60 Saturn moons or moonlets and which displays remarkable geologic activity including geysers, could contain environments suitable for living organisms.

ENN Releases App for Android Users
February 23, 2015 09:14 AM - ENN Editor

Last month ENN launched a new mobile app available at the iTunes store making it easier for you to connect with us and stay up to date with groundbreaking environmental news. Now, ENN releases the mobile app at Google Play, making it compatible for Android users.

ENN is more than just a gatherer of environmental news but rather a unique set of resources, archives, tools, and experts for the increasingly complex field of environmental science attracting readers from all levels of government, business and academia.

We also encourage you to join the conversation by checking out our Community Blog and by connecting with us on Facebook.

Apple users can download the app at the iTunes store.

Android users can download the app at Google Play.

Make sure you click on the app with the logo shown here.

Plants Can be 'Reprogrammed' for Drought Tolerance
February 4, 2015 03:02 PM - Iqbal Pittalwala, University of California, Riverside

Crops and other plants are constantly faced with adverse environmental conditions, such as rising temperatures (2014 was the warmest year on record) and lessening fresh water supplies, which lower yield and cost farmers billions of dollars annually. Drought is a major environmental stress factor affecting plant growth and development.  When plants encounter drought, they naturally produce abscisic acid (ABA), a stress hormone that inhibits plant growth and reduces water consumption.  Specifically, the hormone turns on a receptor (special protein) in plants when it binds to the receptor like a hand fitting into a glove, resulting in beneficial changes – such as the closing of guard cells on leaves, called stomata, to reduce water loss – that help the plants survive.

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.

Click to the rest of the story for downlad links, or visit the App store on your iPhone.

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