Sci/tech

Australian Scientists Decode Whale Sounds
November 8, 2007 08:48 AM - Reuters

SYDNEY  - Australian scientists studying humpback whales sounds say they have begun to decode the whale's mysterious communication system, identifying male pick-up lines and motherly warnings.  Wops, thwops, grumbles and squeaks are part of the extensive whale repertoire recorded by scientists from the University of Queensland working on the Humpback Whale Acoustic Research Collaboration (HARC) project.

Safety agency issues new batch of toy recalls
November 7, 2007 10:13 PM - By Karey Wutkowski, Reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - More recalls of lead-tainted toys made in China were announced on Wednesday by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, including 380,000 toy cars sold at Dollar General stores.

Other warnings included smaller recalls of Dizzy Ducks music boxes, Winnie-the-Pooh spinning tops, "Big Red" wagons, Dragster and Funny Car toys, and Duck Family collectible wind-up toys, all because of paint with unsafe levels of lead.

Millions of similar toy recalls, most involving Chinese-made products, have alarmed American consumers in recent months. Lead is toxic and can pose serious health risks to children, including brain damage.

Exceptions prove rule of tropical importance in biodiversity
November 7, 2007 09:13 PM -

Even a group of shellfish that appear to violate the overarching pattern of global biodiversity actually follows the same biological rules as other marine organisms, confirming a general theory for the spread of life on Earth. The University of Chicago’s David Jablonski and his colleagues present this finding in the Nov. 7 advanced online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“There’s more of everything in the tropics. More genetic diversity, more diversity in form, more diversity of species,” said David Jablonski, the William R. Kenan Jr. Professor in Geophysical Sciences at Chicago.

 

Dead clams tell tales, give time-lapse view of ecosystems
November 7, 2007 08:46 PM -

Chicago - Inventories of living and dead organisms could serve as a relatively fast, simple and inexpensive preliminary means of assessing human impact on ecosystems. The University of Chicago’s Susan Kidwell explains how measuring the degree of live-dead mismatch could be used as an ecological tool in the Oct. 26 early online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“We affect ecosystems in many different ways, but the effects of our actions are hard to pin down because we rarely have scientific data from before the onset of those impacts,” said Kidwell, the William Rainey Harper Professor in Geophysical Sciences at Chicago.

Maine officials OK 57 megawatt wind farm on Stetson Mountain
November 7, 2007 08:23 PM - Paul Schaefer, ENN

Boston, MA — A 57 megawatt wind generating farm planned for Stetson Mountain received a critical OK today from Maine officials. UPC Wind, a wind power company, received approval from the Maine Land Use Regulation Commission on a rezoning petition and preliminary plan for the company’s proposed (MW) Stetson Wind Project in Washington County, Maine.  The project is expected to boost the local economy and  produce clean energy for Maine. Officials  voted unanimously in favor of rezoning the project’s site.

Technology From Sticky Mussels, Biomedical Engineer Inspired Again
November 7, 2007 07:47 PM - Paul Schaefer, ENN

Evanston, Ill. - Mussels are well-known for a remarkable ability. They stick to virtually all inorganic and organic surfaces, and they stick with amazing tenacity. And scientists are learning exactly how they do it and modelling new technologies from understanding how the Mussels create stickiness.

Northwestern University biomedical engineer Phillip B. Messersmith already developed a material that mimics the strength of the bonds; now he's developed a versatile coating method that mimics the mussels' ability to attach to a wide variety of objects.

 

Exposing Deadly Diseases in 3-D
November 7, 2007 06:50 PM -

CHICAGO --- With 3-D and some very high tech arrays of technology, scientists are able to 'see' deadly bacteria and viruses in three dimensions, and in all liklihood, come to new understands of how they work, and what will stop their deadly work.

The focus is the proteins of molecular sized killers. Scientists at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine are mapping parts of lethal bacteria in three dimensions, exposing a new and intimate chemical portrait of biological killers down to their atoms. This view of the disease will offer scientists who design drugs a fresh opening into the bacteria's vulnerabilities, and it's hoped, enable them to create drugs to disable it or vaccines to prevent it.  

 

Researchers to develop improved cowpea varieties
November 7, 2007 12:19 PM - Paul Schaefer, ENN

RIVERSIDE – Providing food security, one of the greatest challenges of our time, is a critical goal especially in the developing world, where crop destruction by drought, disease and pest infestation swiftly places millions of lives at risk of hunger.  Scientists will help meet this challenge by focusing on cowpea, a protein-rich legume crop of immense importance to Africa that complements starchy staple crops such as corn, cassava, sorghum and millets in the diets of millions of Africans.

“Our project will develop the key genomic resources that are currently lacking in cowpea,” said Timothy Close, a professor of genetics and a co-principal investigator of the grant, who leads at the University of California, Riverside's cowpea genomics effort. “We will use modern plant breeding approaches that employ new and efficient molecular marker development methodologies.”

Scientists Enhance Mother Nature's Carbon Handling Mechanism
November 7, 2007 10:54 AM - Penn State

Taking a page from Nature herself, a team of researchers developed a method to enhance removal of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and place it in the Earth's oceans for storage.

Unlike other proposed ocean sequestration processes, the new technology does not make the oceans more acid and may be beneficial to coral reefs. The process is a manipulation of the natural weathering of volcanic silicate rocks. Reporting in today's (Nov. 7) issue of Environmental Science and Technology, the Harvard and Penn State team explained their method.

From molecules to the Milky Way: dealing with the data deluge
November 7, 2007 10:00 AM - CSIRO Australia

Most people have a few gigabytes of files on their PC. In the next decade, astronomers expect to be processing 10 million gigabytes of data every hour from the Square Kilometre Array telescope.

And with DNA sequencing getting cheaper, scientists will be data mining possibly hundreds of thousands of personal human genome databases, each of 50 gigabytes.

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