Sci/tech

SOLAR-TERRESTRIAL ATMOSPHERIC INTERACTIONS: A FRESH, SPARKY LOOK
February 10, 2010 08:25 PM - Themis Chronis, for ENN

We live in a strongly climate-oriented era, where each one of us is called to choose between sides; are we among the "believers" or the "infidels" of the "Global Warming?". Two decades ago, a part of the scientific community started engaging in intense discussions around the "unusual" temperature trends which, for the northern hemisphere, had been going undoubtedly uphill. The first serious counter arguments regarding the validity of these findings targeted the inherited errors that all observational tools possess. New observations and improved algorithms started to appear fairly quickly, a fact that partially appeased debates and concerns. Skeptics of the global warming theory try to find other kinds of evidence to second-guess the mainstream CO2 increase and steer away from anthropocentric related theories. And suddenly, along came a cloud...

How to Reduce the Fumes
February 10, 2010 07:50 AM - Editor, Sierra Club Green Home

A fresh coat of paint can change a room from dreary to divine. Stains, sealants, caulks, and adhesives help you build everything from a new bathroom to a bookcase. But all these useful products can also introduce unhealthy chemicals into your home and your body. Low-VOC paint The biggest culprit is VOCs, or "volatile organic compounds," a large class of chemicals that readily evaporate at room temperature. If you walk into a room and notice that new-paint smell, you’re breathing VOCs. Paints, stains, sealants, caulks, and adhesives release the highest levels of VOCs when wet. But even when they feel dry to the touch, they may keep releasing these gases for days, weeks, months, even years. Meanwhile your upholstery, carpets, and drapes act like sponges, absorbing VOCs and releasing them over time. While not everyone may be bothered by exposure to these gases, they can be a serious health risk for people with chemical sensitivities, asthma, or other respiratory conditions.

Beer is Good for You (Bones)
February 8, 2010 04:37 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

Beer is an alcoholic beverage. Obviously too much alcohol makes you drunk which is not too good for your health. Yet beer does have its positive benefits. One, of course, is to reduce stress (at least short term). A new study suggests that beer is a significant source of dietary silicon, a key ingredient for increasing bone mineral density. Researchers from the Department of Food Science & Technology at the University of California, Davis studied commercial beer production to determine the relationship between beer production methods and the resulting silicon content, concluding that beer is a rich source of dietary silicon. Details of this study are available in the February issue of the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, published by Wiley-Blackwell on behalf of the Society of Chemical Industry.

Genes. Spots and Butterflies
February 5, 2010 12:16 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

How different species can evolve the same colors and pattern has always puzzled biologists. Now, scientists at Cambridge University have found "hot spots" in the butterflies’ genes that might one of the most extraordinary examples of mimicry in the natural world. A gene is a hereditary unit consisting of a sequence of DNA that occupies a specific location on a chromosome and determines a particular characteristic in an organism. Genes undergo mutation when their DNA sequence changes.

Biodiversity loss matters, and communication is crucial
February 5, 2010 07:32 AM - David Dickson, SciDevNet

Communicating why biodiversity loss matters for people is essential for reversing it. The failed UN climate talks in Copenhagen in December could hardly have been a less promising prelude to the International Year of Biodiversity, which opened last month (January). As with climate change, the threat of large-scale biodiversity loss — and the need for global political action to stop it — is growing every day.

Where Do The Old TVs Go?
February 2, 2010 04:45 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

Do you remember CRTs(Cathode Ray Tube) TVs? Nowadays every thing seems to be Plasma or LCD. Where do the old CRT's go? A new MIT study reports that demand for these CRT devices is still greater than the supply of old discarded CRTs, whose glass is recycled to make new ones. The demand comes mostly from the world’s developing nations, where inexpensive TV sets using CRTs are one of the first luxury items people tend to buy as soon as they have a little bit of disposable income.

Save our Planet!
January 29, 2010 01:45 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

Climate change is hard to imagine since it is dealing with small changes over a long period of time. A new NASA Web site can help younger children understand how and why their planet is changing and what they can do to help keep it habitable. This website is called "Climate Kids". It is geared toward students in grades 4 through 6 and has a multimedia rich website with games and humorous illustrations and animations to help break down the important issue of climate change.

Fire and Smoke Can Be Good and Bad
January 27, 2010 02:31 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

Recent ecological research has shown that forest fire is an integral component to the function and biodiversity of many ecological communities, and that the organisms within those communities have adapted to withstand and even exploit it. A fire may destroy one ecological community but allow greater long term diversity. It is not just the fire but the smoke too. Smoke plays an intriguing role in promoting the germination of seeds of many species following a fire. Even the carbon dioxide from a fire has an impact on the overall ecosystem.

Asteroids and Their Impact
January 26, 2010 02:01 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

NASA's Wide field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE, has spotted its first never before seen near Earth asteroid, the first of hundreds it is expected to find during its mission to map the whole sky in infrared light. There is no danger of this newly discovered asteroid hitting the Earth. Since it formed over 4.5 billion years ago, Earth has been hit many times by asteroids and comets whose orbits bring them into the inner solar system. Some of these sites are well known such as Meteor Crater in Arizona as well as the theory that the extinction of the dinosaurs was caused by a such a collision. These objects, collectively known as Near Earth Objects, still pose a danger to Earth today.

Product Life Cycle Analysis
January 21, 2010 03:39 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

How good or how bad is a product from a green carbon footprint point of view? Several well known corporations like Airbus, Levi Strauss & Co., 3M, DuPont, and Kraft Foods are volunteering to road test a full life cycle greenhouse gas analysis on a wide range of products from blue jeans to manufactured steel. A life cycle analysis studies all the potential contributions to a carbon footprint and includes supplier, transportation, production and disposal. This concept is also related to environmental sustainability.

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