Sci/tech

Frackable rock under groundwater aquifers raise water contamination fears
July 3, 2014 02:20 PM - Editor, The Ecologist

A study by the British Geological Survey and the Environment Agency reveals that almost all the the oil and gas bearing shales in England and Wales underlie drinking water aquifers, raising fears that widespread water contamination could occur. The British Geological Survey (BGS) in partnership with The Environment Agency (EA) have published a map which show the depth to each shale gas and oil source rock below principal groundwater aquifers in England and Wales.

What are comets?
July 3, 2014 06:32 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN

Scientists have speculated for centuries about comets. Why do the become visible on an irregular interval? Why does the tail always point away from our sun? What are comets made of? Are they balls of ice, or more like an asteroid? Now NASA may finally get some concrete answers with a current mission that will land on a comet later this year! Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko is releasing the Earthly equivalent of two glasses of water into space every second. The observations were made by the Microwave Instrument for Rosetta Orbiter (MIRO), aboard the European Space Agency's Rosetta spacecraft on June 6, 2014. The detection of water vapor has implications not only for cometary science, but also for mission planning, as the Rosetta team prepares the spacecraft to become the first ever to orbit a comet (planned for August), and the first to deploy a lander to its surface (planned for November 11).

New research reveals causes and warning signs of rare tsunami earthquakes
June 30, 2014 09:16 AM - Imperial College London

Tsunami earthquakes happen at relatively shallow depths in the ocean and are small in terms of their magnitude. However, they create very large tsunamis, with some earthquakes that only measure 5.6 on the Richter scale generating waves that reach up to ten metres when they hit the shore. A global network of seismometers enables researchers to detect even the smallest earthquakes. However, the challenge has been to determine which small magnitude events are likely to cause large tsunamis.

Solar Power Meets Half of Germany's Energy Demand
June 26, 2014 10:00 AM - Andrew Burger, Triple Pundit

A core facet of Chancellor Merkel's historic "Energiewende" clean energy transition, Germany has led the world in driving adoption of solar energy technology and systems. Although it is now pulling back hard on incentives, the market momentum created by its precedent-setting solar energy feed-in tariff (FiT) persists.

MIT study unearths neanderthal diet
June 26, 2014 09:03 AM - Editor, ENN

The popular conception of the Neanderthal as a club-wielding carnivore is, well, rather primitive, according to a new study conducted at MIT. Instead, our prehistoric cousin may have had a more varied diet that, while heavy on meat, also included plant tissues, such as tubers and nuts.

Soccer Under The Sun
June 20, 2014 08:00 AM - Winfield Winter, ENN

The 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil is underway and off to a bright start. For the first time in the tournament's history, matches will be held in stadiums powered by solar energy. Footballers from the 32 nations represented may curse the sun and the swelter it brings, but Yingli Solar, the world's largest solar panel manufacturer and a FIFA World Cup Sponsor, has captured an opportunity on the world's biggest stage. Yingli Solar estimates its solar panels to generate more than 1MW per year and clean electricity for 25 years or more. The iconic Estádio do Maracanã that witnessed Pelé's 1000th career goal and much of Brazil's rich footballing history is one of the two sites that received this modern upgrade. This Rio de Janeiro landmark that opened in 1950 now boasts 1,500 Yingli Solar panels with the capability to produce 550MWh of clean electricity per year.

"Tuning" the silk: How spiders use vibrations to learn about their prey, mates, and web
June 18, 2014 01:36 PM - Allison Winter, ENN

The fine craftsmanship of a spider's web helps these eight-legged arachnids catch their prey. But these silk-threaded designs can tell a spider a lot more than what they will be having for dinner. The spider that sits in the middle of its web monitors the silk threads for vibrations. And according to a new discovery by researchers at the Universities of Oxford, Strathclyde, and Sheffield the frequencies of these vibrations carry specific information about the prey, mates, and even the structural integrity of the web.

Are we close to bringing back supersonic travel?
June 18, 2014 07:06 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN

Remember the Concorde? The supersonic passenger jet that flew from 1969 to almost 2000. It was not cost effective for the airlines, and extravagantly expensive for passengers. It was also cramped. The luxury was being able to fly from New York to London in about 3 hours! The Concorde had a big problem, the sonic boom it created when flying at supersonic speed. This led to governments restricting where it could fly supersonically and was a major factor in it not being economical to continue flying. That and a very advanced airframe that was getting old. The return of supersonic passenger travel may be coming closer to reality thanks to NASA’s efforts to define a new standard for low sonic booms. Several NASA aeronautics researchers will present their work in Atlanta this week at Aviation 2014, an annual event of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. They will share with the global aviation community the progress they are making in overcoming some of the biggest hurdles to supersonic passenger travel.

Broccoli sprouts may help detox our bodies from air pollutants
June 16, 2014 06:43 PM - Editor, ENN

A clinical trial involving nearly 300 men and women residing in one of China's most polluted regions found that daily consumption of a half cup of broccoli sprout beverage produced rapid, significant and sustained higher levels of excretion of benzene, a known human carcinogen, and acrolein, a lung irritant.

Heinz and Ford to Team Up on Rolling Green Tomatoes
June 16, 2014 09:23 AM - RP Siegel, Triple Pundit

You could say that, at least until now, cars and tomatoes have basically nothing in common. Tomatoes go from green to red as they ripen, and cars, well, they seem to be getting greener. As part of this trend, Ford is one of several companies that have been pursuing a viable bio-based plastic that could substitute for the petroleum-based plastics that dominate the industry today. Indeed, as cars continue to reduce vehicle weight in order to improve fuel economy, the use of plastics is becoming ever more common.

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