Sci/tech

Japanese Quake News
May 23, 2011 08:10 AM - Andy Soos, ENN

A new NASA and university study of the March 11, 2011, Japan earthquake that included researchers from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., provides the most comprehensive look to date at how Earth moved that day, unleashing widespread destruction and a devastating tsunami. The study of the magnitude 9.0 Tohoku-Oki quake, led by researchers at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, and published online in the May 19 issue of Science Express, details the first large set of observational data from this rare megathrust earthquake event.

More Efficient and Affordable Solar Power: Developments that are Changing the Industry
May 20, 2011 07:08 PM - Kriss Bergethon, Global Warming is Real

Solar power was discovered over 170 years ago, but it didn't become a viable technology until the 1950s. The high cost of producing solar cells meant that the concept remained in limited use up until recently. Renewed interest in solar power has brought investment and research that vastly improved the collection capacity of the cells. The following are three innovations that have lowered the cost, increased efficiency and made obtaining a setup that much easier.

The best Job in the World? Filming in the Jungle, new from BBC Earth
May 20, 2011 04:33 PM - Adelle Havard, BBC Earth

Often the attraction of working in natural history is the thrill of the wild. The untamed, the undomesticated, the possibility of discovering the unknown! However even as a dedicated natural history program maker, there are certain hostile and remote locations where it is essential to have your super-human senses switched on. As a cameraman, crouching down to get that perfect shot on the dark and damp forest floor. It is your ears you need to rely on above all else, as often the only proof of the vast amounts of animal life around you…is what you hear! The high humidity of this environment creates ideal conditions for the strangest animals to live, breed and sing! Through the cacophony of rival mating calls, warning cries, sharing the location of a known food source and social interaction; the sounds of the wilderness could leave you overwhelmed. But it is a specific sound you are listening out for… As an enthusiastic drummer of the jungle, the chimpanzee has worked out a less stressful way of communicating with each other than exhaustive calls...which transpires is also a highly enjoyable one! While scouring the forest in search of their next meal, the troops will use buttress roots and hollow trunks to sound out! Drumming as they pass, the chimpanzee’s will make distinctive bass sounds (some even repeatedly on their favorite trees!) using their hands and feet to make clear - who is where, and how successful each party has been with their search.

Worlds Between Stars
May 20, 2011 03:59 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

A planet, historically, is a celestial body orbiting a star or stellar remnant that is massive enough to be rounded by its own gravity, is not massive enough to cause thermonuclear fusion, and has cleared its neighboring region of planetesimals. Astronomers, including a NASA-funded team member, have discovered a new class of Jupiter-sized planets floating alone in the dark of space, away from the light of a star. The team believes these lone worlds were probably ejected from developing planetary systems. The discovery is based on a joint Japan-New Zealand survey that scanned the center of the Milky Way galaxy during 2006 and 2007, revealing evidence for up to 10 free-floating planets roughly the mass of Jupiter. The isolated orbs, also known as orphan planets, are difficult to spot, and had gone undetected until now. The new found planets are located at an average approximate distance of 10,000 to 20,000 light-years from Earth.

Better Place EVs Priced at $35,623 USD for Summer Delivery
May 19, 2011 03:49 PM - Maurice Picow, Green Prophet

Ever since Israeli entrepreneur Shai Agassi opened his Better Place test drive center near Tel Aviv, back in February 2010, more and more Israelis have had the chance to not only find out about Agassi's unique electric car battery swap concept, but also a chance to drive one, as I did in April last year. I was very impressed by the quietness of the ride, as well as how much pick up the engine had; describing the acceleration to be "like being in a rocket". This week Better Place announced pricing for its first models.

Scientists move closer to predicting volcano hazard
May 18, 2011 09:45 AM - Tamera Jones, Planet Earth Online

UK and Russian scientists say they are a step closer to predicting how dangerous a volcano is after developing a method that lets them figure out how individual volcanoes are 'plumbed'. The new approach means researchers need only analyse a single chunk of rock from a volcano to work out how big and deep its magma chamber is.

Air Force’s New Target: Mojave Ground Squirrel
May 17, 2011 08:31 AM - Lena Groeger, Wired

The Air Force is on the hunt for a new detector. It's gotta be rugged — able to withstand extreme temperatures, blistering 50-mph winds and barren desert conditions. But it's not meant to detect dangerous insurgents, powerful explosives or undercover spies. Its target is one big...bad...Mojave ground squirrel.

Extensive Methane Leaks Discovered Under Streets of Boston
May 16, 2011 08:44 AM - Editor, Science Daily

ScienceDaily (May 13, 2011) — Earlier this year, Boston University researchers and collaborators conducted a mobile greenhouse gas audit in Boston and found hundreds of natural gas leaks under the streets and sidewalks of Greater Boston. Nathan Phillips, associate professor of geography and environment and director of BU's Center for Environmental and Energy Studies (CEES), and his research partners will present these and related findings at NOAA's Earth System Research Laboratory (ESRL) Global Monitoring Annual Conference, May 17-18 in Boulder, Colorado.

The Fantastic Fox, new from BBC Earth
May 13, 2011 05:09 PM - Editor, BBC Earth

In myth, the fox is better known for its cunning rather than its courage. Becoming a symbol of trickery, deceit and even having its name attributed to false prophets in the bible. Yet the bad press received is counter to the foxes natural strengths and abilities! Living on a diet of scavenged scraps while always remaining one step ahead of its many predators, are just two examples of this animals ability to adapt, and above all, survive. A member of the canine family, it is understandable to see how the fox has been able to colonize in so many parts of the world. As a relation of dogs, wolves and coyotes, this animal naturally sits on the boundaries of civilization. However this domestication has meant that while some species have thrived in the urban jungle, others have not. This species success story is therefore best seen out of the cities, and into the remote habitats where the variations in their biology can really be seen/appreciated. Although you may have to look hard, as these 'true foxes' of the deserts, mountains, tundra's and frozen worlds are kings of being coy. Of the 37 species referred to as foxes, only 12 actually belong to the Vulpes genus of true foxes; and one that fits into this category but also that of its own genus, is the Arctic fox. Surviving in a subzero temperatures, this compact fox has evolved to have short ears, short legs, and incredibly dense fur. This canine's unique physical development does not stop there. With its footpads also covered with thick hair, it enables this small creature to hunt all year round, by protecting it from the severe cold and even providing traction on ice.

First Pipeline-Fed Hydrogen Refueling Station Opens in the United States
May 11, 2011 10:22 AM - David A Gabel, ENN

May 10, Toyota celebrated the opening of the first pipeline-fed refueling station in the US. Located in Torrance, California, it is the first hydrogen station to be directly connected to an active industrial hydrogen pipeline. It will provide fuel for Toyota's as well as others fuel cell vehicle fleets in the Los Angeles area. The station is owned by Toyota Motor Sales (TMS), USA, Inc, and operated by Shell. The hydrogen pipeline is maintained by Air Products.

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