Sci/tech

How to Kill a Well With Gravity
May 28, 2010 08:50 AM - Richard A. Kerr, Science AAAS

Oil giant BP plc has a very long straw stuck 3048 meters into the Gulf of Mexico sea floor with oil and gas spouting out the top at several thousand pascals. How do BP engineers stop the flow when none of the control valves at the top is working and there's no way to put a stopper in the straw's end? The only option is using gravity, notes petroleum engineer Paul Bommer of the University of Texas, Austin.

Chasms on Mars
May 27, 2010 02:57 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

Large sheets of ice and snow form on the poles of both Earth and Mars. On Earth their formation is shaped by ice and water flows. On Mars there is an oddness of spiraling troughs and a giant canyon. What in the climate of Mars does this? Data from NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter have helped scientists solve a pair of mysteries dating back four decades and provided new information about climate change on the Red Planet.

U.S. Environment Not the Best for EVs
May 27, 2010 09:16 AM - John Gartner, Matter Network

The enthusiasm is building -- we’re just a few months from the U.S. launch of the first electric vehicles aimed at mainstream consumers. Nissan is touting the success of the registration program for its upcoming Leaf EV, boasting 13,000 orders for its vehicles. It is hoped across the industry (and in Washington DC) that sales of EVs will revive the American auto industry. While Pike Research believes that sales of EVs will grow relatively quickly, EV sales would likely grow much higher if it weren’t for our relatively cheap gasoline.

The Deepwater Oil Release Impact on Marine Life
May 25, 2010 03:36 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

New reports are surfacing every day about the immediate impacts of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on Gulf Coast wildlife, especially as the oil reaches the sensitive marshlands along the coast. What will be the long term impact to local marine life? There is some knowledge from earlier releases such as Valdez off Alaska. Oil contains complex hydrocarbons and heavy metals. Such materials will be absorbed and have impact on the local marine life over time. How they will be absorbed, how much and their effects are unknown or debatable. To begin to address this issue, Academy scientist Peter Roopnarine is working with Laurie Anderson from Louisiana State University and David Goodwin from Denison University to collect and analyze three different types of mollusks from the Gulf Coast. These animals are continually building their shells, and if contaminants are present in their environment, they can incorporate those compounds into their shells.

Clean Up the Trucks
May 24, 2010 03:46 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

About a year ago the President and car company CEOs, announced the first Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards for cars and light trucks that took into account greenhouse gas emissions as a factor. The move ordered a 30 percent increase in fuel efficiency by 2016, totaling a 35.5 miles per gallon average for both cars and light trucks. This past Friday’s directive ordered federal agencies to begin development of even more stringent standards for 2017 and beyond. Though big rigs represent less than five percent of all vehicles on U.S. highways, they consume more than 20 percent of the total of transportation fuels utilized. Truck fuel consumption tends to be presently less than 10 miles per gallon which makes them comparatively fuel inefficient.

The New Synthetic Cell
May 21, 2010 05:00 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

J. Craig Venter has created a “synthetic cell” by synthesizing a complete bacterial genome and using it to take over a cell. Venter’s breakthrough, reported in the online edition of Science, represents a preliminary step toward the goal of creating microbes from scratch in the lab and using them to make biofuels, vaccines, and other products.

The Warm Ocean
May 20, 2010 05:41 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

Often when going to the beach the common complaint is that the ocean is too cold. They appear to be warming up a bit. The upper layer of Earth's ocean has warmed since 1993, indicating a strong climate change signal, according to a new international study co-authored by oceanographer Josh Willis of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. The energy stored is enough to power nearly 500 100-watt light bulbs for each of the roughly 6.7 billion people on the planet.

Geoengineering Doesn't Work as Well as Natural Processes
May 20, 2010 09:20 AM - Quirin Schiermeier, Nature News

Blooms of algae created by pumping nutrients into the ocean can suck up at least ten times more carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere than was previously thought. But the findings lend no support to controversial schemes to encourage such blooms in order to reduce global warming, the authors warn.

EPA Envirofacts
May 18, 2010 01:18 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has just added more than 6,300 chemicals and 3,800 chemical facilities regulated under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) to a public database called Envirofacts. The Envirofacts database is EPA’s single point of access on the Internet for information about environmental activities that may affect air, water and land in the U.S and provides tools for analyzing the data. It includes facility name and address information, aerial image of the facility and surrounding area, map location of the facility, and links to other EPA information on the facility.

Easter Island Mysteries
May 14, 2010 02:55 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

There are many mysteries about this small island in the southeast Pacific. The biggest ones are about the strange large statutes and how they were moved about and the second about how it all ended on this lonely island. Archaeologists have now disproved the fifty year old original theory underpinning our understanding of how the famous stone statues were moved around Easter Island. Fieldwork led by researchers at University College London and The University of Manchester, has shown the remote Pacific island’s ancient road system was primarily ceremonial and not solely built for transportation of the figures.

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