Sci/tech

How to find a chimpanzee colony
September 18, 2011 10:57 AM - The Deadly 60 Team, BBC Earth

Waking at dawn and trekking into the forest to meet one of the most intelligent species on the planet is a dream for many people. And for Steve it was exactly that, a dream come true. However with five times the upper body strength of a typical human male, Steve had to tread carefully. Luckily, he had his trusty team and an experienced escort on side to ensure that this close up encounter, was anything but deadly. Chimpanzees are our closest living relatives, probably the most intelligent non-human animal. In East Africa the chimpanzee is found in the wild in Tanzania and Uganda, which is where Steve and the team went in search of them. Chimps are found in rainforests and wet savannas living in communities which can number anywhere from 10 to over 100 individuals sharing a home range which can cover thousands of acres. Chimps spend much of the time moving through the forest in search of fruiting trees, making them difficult to find and follow. Here's how our team tracked them down: • The right location: They opted to go to Kibale National park, the most accessible of Uganda’s major rainforests. • The right guides: The deadly crew were escorted by Uganda Wildlife Authority guides, who knew the parks and the chimpanzees.

'Super-Earth' Found in Habitable Zone
September 14, 2011 10:50 AM - Govert Schilling, Science AAAS

JACKSON LAKE, WYOMING—The Milky Way abounds with low-mass planets, including small, rocky ones such as Earth. That's the main conclusion of a team of European astronomers, based on their latest haul of extrasolar planets. The new discoveries—55 new planets, including 19 "super-Earths"—were presented here today at the Extreme Solar Systems II conference by team leader Michel Mayor of the University of Geneva in Switzerland. "We find that 40% of all Sun-like stars are accompanied by at least one planet smaller than Saturn," he says. The number of Earth-like planets is expected to be even higher.

Health Effects and Light Bulbs
September 12, 2011 08:08 AM - Andy Soos, ENN

For the first time scientists examined melatonin suppression in a various types of light bulbs, primarily those used for outdoor illumination, such as streetlights, road lighting, mall lighting and the like. Exposure to the light of white LED bulbs, it turns out, suppresses melatonin five times more than exposure to the outdoor lights filled with high pressure sodium bulbs that give off an orange-yellow light. Melatonin is a compound that adjusts our biological clock and is known for its anti-oxidant and anti-cancerous properties. All devices have their effects, both positive and negative it seems.

Mountain Gorillas: The rules of engagement
September 9, 2011 01:43 PM - Deadly 60 Team, BBC Earth

Travelling the world to meet your deadly heroes is an awe-inspiring experience. So when adventurer Steve meets one who’s not only a king of its territory but is also incredibly rare. It really is an experience of a lifetime. Mountain gorillas are endangered, with only 786 individuals left in the world. Visiting them can be an incredible experience, as Steve found out when he travelled to the forests of Uganda. Gorillas are one of our closest relatives. They may be powerful, but they are also intelligent and shy. If, like Steve, you visit mountain gorillas you need to be respectful. Here are some things to consider. • Small groups: Gorillas are social primates living in complex groups. Only a few people at a time can visit them for short periods. Large groups of people would cause too much disturbance and risk stressing the animals.

How Salty the Ocean
September 6, 2011 12:18 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

On average, seawater in the world's oceans has a salinity of about 3.5%. This means that every kilogram (roughly one liter by volume) of seawater has approximately 35 grams of dissolved salts (predominantly sodium chloride. The average density of seawater at the ocean surface is 1.025 g/ml. Seawater is denser than both fresh water and pure water because the dissolved salts add mass without contributing significantly to the volume. The freezing point of seawater decreases as salt concentration increases. NASA's Aquarius satellite has successfully completed its commissioning phase and is now tasting the saltiness of Earth's ocean surface, making measurements from its perch in near-polar orbit. Aquarius will make NASA's first space observations of the salinity, or concentration of salt, at the ocean surface, a key variable in satellite studies of Earth. Variations in salinity influence the ocean's deep circulation, outline the path freshwater takes around our planet and help drive Earth's climate.

Title: Deadliest States of the USA / 5 ways to keep safe in the USA
September 3, 2011 11:20 AM - BBC Earth

Taking a risk by going on an adventure and exploring a new environment, is an essential part of understanding the natural world within which we live. But sometimes accidents occur. Usually completely unaware, humans put themselves at risk of being attacked or even worse - being eaten. But how do you ascertain what is a potential threat and what is not? Know your enemy. This fantastic rough guide to the nature you do not want to come face-to-face with (without an experienced leader of course) aims to provide you with some inside knowledge. Know your enemy The United States' huge size and vast biodiversity, make it one of a small group of countries that hold the impressive title of being megadiverse. Harboring more than 91,000 insect, 500 reptile and amphibian, 750 bird and 400 mammal species, it is no surprise that the 3.6 million square miles (9.2 million km2) of land that make it the third largest country on the planet, is the site of some less than pleasant human-animal encounters. Let's take a look at some of the toughest specimens the United States' animal kingdom has to offer. 1. Texas - Rattlesnake By both population and landmass, Texas is the second largest state in the USA. And it is because of this immense size of 261,797 square miles (696,200 km2), and wide-ranging terrain that this particular territory has grown an infamous reputation as the toughest, wildest and most dangerous of all 50 states - whether that's because of cowboys or rattlesnakes remains uncertain. With a range of different climate types, from the sub-tropical swamps of the east to the desert-like conditions of the west. It is easy to understand how Texas has become such a challenge when it comes to regional classification, and why it's population of potentially dangerous creatures it so vast. One of the most feared creatures of Texas is the rattlesnake. In particular the Western Diamondback whose bark is definitely as bad as its bite. The snake's advanced venom delivery system allows it to control the amount of venom discharged. Once the prey has been killed venom also plays a role in its digestion. This western outlaw is definitely one to run rather than just hide from.

International Hotels To Standardize Carbon Accounting Methods
August 31, 2011 04:50 PM - SustainableBusiness.com, Matter Network

A group of international hotels is collaborating on a groundbreaking initiative to standardize carbon accounting in the hospitality industry. The Carbon Measurement Working Group aims to reach a consensus on a single methodology for calculating carbon footprints and consistent metrics for communicating emissions. Currently, carbon measurement metrics vary widely which can lead to confusion among guests and investors. Additionally, the number of methodologies and tools in use make transparency within the industry difficult to achieve.

Biofuels Make a Comeback Despite Tough Economy
August 30, 2011 12:16 PM - Worldwatch, Worldwatch Institute

Global production of biofuels increased 17 percent in 2010 to reach an all-time high of 105 billion liters, up from 90 billion liters in 2009. High oil prices, a global economic rebound, and new laws and mandates in Argentina, Brazil, Canada, China, and the United States, among other countries, are all factors behind the surge in production, according to research conducted by the Worldwatch Institute’s Climate and Energy Program for the website Vital Signs Online. The United States and Brazil remain the two largest producers of ethanol. In 2010, the United States generated 49 billion liters, or 57 percent of global output, and Brazil produced 28 billion liters, or 33 percent of the total. Corn is the primary feedstock for U.S. ethanol, and sugarcane is the dominant source of ethanol in Brazil.

Plug-in Electric Vehicle Sales Need a Shake-up
August 29, 2011 12:09 PM - Matter Network, Clean Techies

Although it’s only August, the electric vehicle market has the feeling of coming into the home stretch for the year. We have seen the race for plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) glory boil down to the Leaf and Volt this year, with the Volt sputtering a bit earlier than expected. We have seen numerous delays pushing new launches back months (I am looking in your direction, Coda, Fisker, Ford, and Toyota). All of this has left the PEV market feeling a bit underwhelming for 2011. Particularly when you consider that the President has given the market a goal of 1 million PEVs on the road in four and half short years – 8,000 down, 992,000 sales to go.

The strangest creatures on Earth
August 26, 2011 10:41 AM - BBC Earth

When Steve Backshall and his Deadly team began their expedition to find 60 of the world's deadliest animals, little did they know that it wouldn't just be the dangerous animals that would send a shiver up their spines! When the Deadly team travelled to Madagascar they discovered that it was definitely home to the weird and wonderful. It’s not only Madagascar that boasts the bizarre. During Deadly 60 Steve has encountered his fair share of freaky creatures around the world, here’s a few of his favourites. 1. Wolf eel - British Columbia: The strange monstrous looking wolf-eel, with its football sized head, spiky chisel like front teeth and crunching molars means it can devour sea urchins with ease. 2. Solifuge - Mozambique: Described by Steve as the creepiest creature he’s ever seen, it’s also the fastest invertebrate on the planet with the biggest jaws relative to body size of any animal on earth. Legend has it that they chase after people and eat them alive. 3. Wrinkle lipped bats - Borneo: with its peculiar thick wrinkly lips, heavy jowls and horny big ears it certainly looks odd.

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