Sci/tech

Wasp Study Suggests Altruism Evolved From Maternal Behavior
September 29, 2007 07:29 PM - Diana Yates, University of Illinois

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Researchers at the University of Illinois have used an innovative approach to reveal the molecular basis of altruistic behavior in wasps. The research team focused on the expression of behavior-related genes in Polistes metricus paper wasps, a species for which little genetic data was available when the study was begun. Their findings appear today online in Science Express.

Like honey bee workers, wasp workers give up their reproductive capabilities and focus entirely on nurturing their larval siblings, a practice that seems to defy the Darwinian prediction that a successful organism strives, above all else, to reproduce itself. Such behaviors are indicative of a eusocial society, in which some individuals lose, or sacrifice, their reproductive functions and instead work to benefit the larger group.

Nanowire generates power by harvesting energy from the environment
September 29, 2007 07:22 PM -

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — As the sizes of sensor networks and mobile devices shrink toward the microscale, and even nanoscale, there is a growing need for suitable power sources. Because even the tiniest battery is too big to be used in nanoscale devices, scientists are exploring nanosize systems that can salvage energy from the environment.

Now, researchers at the University of Illinois have shown that a single nanowire can produce power by harvesting mechanical energy. Made of piezoelectric material, the nanowire generates a voltage when mechanically deformed. To measure the voltage produced by such a tiny wire, however, the researchers first had to build an extremely sensitive and precise mechanical testing stage.

“With the development of this precision testing apparatus, we successfully demonstrated the first controlled measurement of voltage generation from an individual nanowire,” said Min-Feng Yu, a professor of mechanical science and engineering, and a researcher at the university’s Beckman Institute. “The new testing apparatus makes possible other difficult, but important, measurements, as well.”

Eggshells Help Make Hydrogen Fuel.
September 29, 2007 07:09 PM -

COLUMBUS , Ohio -- Engineers at Ohio State University have found a way to turn discarded chicken eggshells into an alternative energy resource.

The patented process uses eggshells to soak up carbon dioxide from a reaction that produces hydrogen fuel. It also includes a unique method for peeling the collagen-containing membrane from the inside of the shells, so that the collagen can be used commercially.
L.S. Fan

L.S. Fan, Distinguished University Professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering at Ohio State, said that he and former Ohio State doctoral student, Mahesh Iyer, hit upon the idea when they were trying to improve a method of hydrogen production called the water-gas-shift reaction. With this method, fossil fuels such as coal are gasified to produce carbon monoxide gas, which then combines with water to produce carbon dioxide and hydrogen.

The eggshell plays a critical role.

Researchers Detect Hint of Oxygen 50 to 100 Million Years Earlier Than First Believed
September 29, 2007 05:15 PM - Paul Schaefer, ENN

 
Riverside, California - Two teams of scientists report that traces of oxygen appeared in Earth's atmosphere roughly 100 million years before the "Great Oxidation Event" 2.4 billion years ago. The Great Oxidation Event is when most geoscientists think atmospheric oxygen rose sharply from very low levels and set the stage for animal life that followed almost two billion years later. Analyzing layers of sedimentary rock in a kilometer-long core sample they retrieved in 2004 from the Hamersley Basin in Western Australia, the researchers found evidence for the presence of a small but significant amount of oxygen 2.5 billion years ago in the oceans and likely also in Earth's atmosphere.

UK To Airlines: Green Up Or Else
September 28, 2007 07:29 PM - Paul Schaefer, ENN

London, -- The United Kingdom told airlines to green up, or else, and soon. The government acted decisively today to safeguard the proposed European aviation emissions trading scheme and urged the international aviation community to take greater action to address aviation emissions. Secretary of State for Transport Ruth Kelly, said: "We want to work with our international partners to achieve a global solution to this global problem.  If international negotiations deliver an effective solution then we will have achieved our goal through co-operation.  But I am also clear that the UK, and the environment, cannot wait for ever. That is why we are reserving the right - if an international solution is not found - to act in the wider global interest by extending the EU emissions trading scheme to all flights arriving and departing from the European Union.

Satellites confirm reports of Myanmar violence
September 28, 2007 03:02 PM - Maggie Fox, Health and Science Editor

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Satellite images confirm reports of burned villages, forced relocations and other human-rights abuses in Myanmar, scientists said on Friday.

The American Association for the Advancement of Science said the high-resolution photographs taken by commercial satellites document a growing military presence at 25 sites across eastern Myanmar, matching eyewitness reports.

"We found evidence of 18 villages that essentially disappeared," AAAS researcher Lars Bromley said in an interview.

New Study Challenges Timeline of Oxygen
September 28, 2007 09:44 AM - AP

Scientists Cull DNA From Extinct Mammoth
September 28, 2007 09:42 AM - AP

Lucid in the Sky
September 28, 2007 09:28 AM - University of Cambridge

Toyota fuel-cell Car Covers 350 Miles On One Tank
September 28, 2007 08:45 AM - Reuters

TOKYO- Toyota Motor Corp said on Friday its improved FCHV zero-emission fuel-cell car completed a road test from Osaka to Tokyo, covering 560 km (350 miles), on a single tank of hydrogen.  The latest version of the FCHV features a high-pressure tank of 70Mpa that can store double the amount of hydrogen as its previous fuel tank, increasing its cruising range. Two cars were tested and both completed the trip, the automaker said.

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