As China's mega dam rises, so do strains and fear
November 14, 2007 08:03 AM - Chris Buckley -Reuters
The slopes of Chenjialing Village have shuddered and groaned lately, cracking and warping homes and fields, and making residents fear the banks of China's swelling Three Gorges Dam may hold deadly perils.
The vast hydro scheme is meant to subdue the Yangtze River, but as the water levels rise, parts of its shores have strained and cracked, dismaying scientists and officials and alarming villages such as Chenjialing in Badong County.
Flying Lemurs Are the Closest Relatives of Primates
November 14, 2007 07:51 AM - Penn State
While the human species is unquestionably a member of the primate group, the identity of the next closest group to primates within the entire class of living mammals has been hotly debated. Now, new molecular and genomic data gathered by a team including Webb Miller, a professor of biology and computer science and engineering at Penn State, has shown that the colugos -- nicknamed the flying lemurs -- is the closest group to the primates. A paper announcing the results will be published in the journal Science on Nov. 2. The team was led by William J. Murphy, associate professor in the Department of Veterinary Integrative Biosciences at Texas A & M University.
November 14, 2007 07:48 AM - NSF
The Yellowstone "supervolcano" rose at a record rate since mid-2004, likely because a Los Angeles-sized, pancake-shaped blob of molten rock was boiled up 6 miles beneath the slumbering giant, scientists funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) report in the November 9 issue of the journal Science.
"There is no evidence of an imminent volcanic eruption or hydrothermal explosion, that's the bottom line," says seismologist Robert Smith, lead author of the study and a geophysicist at the University of Utah. "A lot of calderas [giant volcanic craters] worldwide go up and down over decades without erupting."
Experts find jawbone of pre-human great ape in Kenya
November 13, 2007 08:27 AM - Reuters
Researchers have discovered a 10-million-year-old jaw bone in Kenya they believe belonged to a new species of great ape that could be the last common ancestor of gorillas, chimpanzees and humans.
The Kenyan and Japanese team found the fragment in 2005 along with 11 teeth in volcanic mud flow deposits in Kenya's northern Nakali region.
Chocolate began as beer-like brew 3,100 years ago
November 13, 2007 08:26 AM - Will Dunham -Reuters
The chocolate enjoyed around the world today had its origins at least 3,100 years ago in Central America not as the sweet treat people now crave but as a celebratory beer-like beverage and status symbol, scientists said on Monday.
Researchers identified residue of a chemical compound that comes exclusively from the cacao plant -- the source of chocolate -- in pottery vessels dating from about 1100 BC in Puerto Escondido, Honduras.
Nanosolar: Power to the people
November 13, 2007 08:19 AM - , Triple Pundit
Nanosolar coatings are as thin as a layer of paint and can tranfer sunlight into power quite efficiently. Imagine the possibilities, from solar coated shingles to solar lined windows to solar powered cell phones and ipods. Solar powered buildings and homes might just become standard in the future thanks to this innovative technology by Nanosolar Inc. The almighty dollar will launch these thin-film solar cells into worldwide applications thanks to the fact that it's actually cheaper than burning coal.
Microbes Churn Out Hydrogen at Record Rate
November 13, 2007 08:16 AM - National Science Federation
In new table-top reactor, bacteria from wastewater produce abundant, clean hydrogen from cellulose, or even vinegar, and a little electricity
By adding a few modifications to their successful wastewater fuel cell, researchers have coaxed common bacteria to produce hydrogen in a new, efficient way. Bruce Logan and colleagues at Penn State University had already shown success at using microbes to produce electricity. Now, using starter material that could theoretically be sourced from a salad bar, the researchers have coaxed those same microbes to generate hydrogen.
Tool-wielding chimps provide a glimpse of early human behavior
November 12, 2007 07:32 PM - Terry Devitt, UW-Madison
Madison, Wis. - Chimpanzees inhabiting a harsh savanna environment and using bark and stick tools to exploit an underground food resource are giving scientists new insights to the behaviors of the earliest hominids who, millions of years ago, left the African forests to range the same kinds of environments and possibly utilize the same foods.
Writing today (Nov. 12) in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), a team of researchers including University of Wisconsin-Madison anthropologist Travis R. Pickering reports evidence of tool use among rare savanna chimps to harvest edible tubers, roots and bulbs.
Computer scientist fights threat of ”˜botnets’
November 12, 2007 07:29 PM - Brian Mattmiller , UW-Madison
Madison, Wisconsin - Computer scientist Paul Barford has watched malicious traffic on the Internet evolve from childish pranks to a billion-dollar “shadow industry” in the last decade, and his profession has largely been one step behind the bad guys. Viruses, phishing scams, worms and spyware are only the beginning, he says.
“Some of the most worrisome threats today are things called ‘botnets’ — computers that are taken over by an outside party and are beyond the user’s control,” says Barford of UW–Madison. “They can do all sorts of nasty things: steal passwords, credit card numbers and personal information, and use the infected machine to forward spam and attack other machines.
“Botnets represent a convergence of all of the other threats that have existed for some time,” he adds.
Congressional Hearing on Asteroid Threat
November 12, 2007 01:06 PM -
Davis, California - UC Davis physics professor J. Anthony Tyson will testify before Congress on Thursday, Nov. 8, on near-Earth asteroids. Tyson will talk about the potential role of the proposed Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST) in surveying the sky for objects that might eventually strike our planet. The hearing of the House Committee on Science and Technology will begin at 10 a.m. in room 2318 of the Rayburn Office Building.