Sci/tech

Smells and Aging
April 21, 2010 01:23 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

Smell is one of the five senses. It is how we interact with the world. What does the smell of a good meal mean to you? What are good smells and what are bad smells? Are there effects beyond just being pleasant or unpleasant? Specific odors that represent food or indicate danger may be capable of altering an animal's lifespan and physiological profile by activating a small number of highly specialized sensory neurons, researchers at the University of Michigan, University of Houston, and Baylor College of Medicine have shown in a study publishing by the end of April in the online, open-access journal PLoS Biology.

Ocean salinities show an intensified water cycle
April 21, 2010 09:07 AM - Craig Macaulay, CSIRO Australia

Evidence that the world's water cycle has already intensified is contained in new research to be published in the American Journal of Climate. The stronger water cycle means arid regions have become drier and high rainfall regions wetter as atmospheric temperature increases.

Saturn Lightning!
April 20, 2010 12:51 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

Imagine an electrical storm larger than the continental United States in which the lightning bolts are more than 1,000 times stronger than conventional lightning, and you'll have a good idea of what can transpire on Saturn. NASA's Cassini spacecraft has recently captured images of lightning on Saturn. The images have allowed scientists to create the first movie showing lightning flashing on another planet. After waiting years for Saturn to dim enough for the spacecraft's cameras to detect bursts of light, scientists were able to create the movie, complete with a soundtrack that features the crackle of radio waves emitted when lightning bolts struck.

Biggest mass of living things in the oceans? Microbes.
April 19, 2010 06:30 AM - Alister Doyle, Reuters

The ocean depths are home to myriad species of microbes, mostly hard to see but including spaghetti-like bacteria that form whitish mats the size of Greece on the floor of the Pacific, scientists said on Sunday. The survey, part of a 10-year Census of Marine Life, turned up hosts of unknown microbes, tiny zooplankton, crustaceans, worms, burrowers and larvae, some of them looking like extras in a science fiction movie and underpinning all life in the seas. "In no other realm of ocean life has the magnitude of Census discovery been as extensive as in the world of microbes," said Mitch Sogin of the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, head of the marine microbe census.

Celebrate Earth Day with NASA!
April 18, 2010 09:16 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN

One of the benefits we noted when man first was able observe the earth from above our atmosphere, from outer space, is that it enabled us to gain a new perspective on how very special our planet is. Viewed from a distance, it is obvious that we are all living in one global environment. And from a distance, this environment doesn't look as vast as it does from our vantage point on earth. The land looks more precious, the seas less like unlimited places to discharge our wastes, and the atmosphere, less like a place to emit air pollution at night so no one sees it, to the fragile envelope which, more than anything, makes earth the special place it is. Indeed, it is the atmosphere that permits life as we know it to flourish on earth. And we owe most of this new knowledge to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)! Begun in 1970, Earth Day is the annual celebration of the environment and a time to assess work still needed to protect the natural resources of our planet. NASA maintains the world's largest contingent of dedicated Earth scientists and engineers in leading and assisting other agencies in preserving the planet's environment. NASA celebrates the 40th anniversary of Earth Day on the National Mall in Washington beginning Saturday, April 17.

Wind Power Complications with Radar
April 16, 2010 03:24 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

The U.S. Air Force is threatening to halt construction of a 845-megawatt wind farm in eastern Oregon that would be the world’s largest wind project, citing concerns that the wind turbines would interfere with a nearby military radar station and its ability to detect radar images. Rotating wind turbine blades could impart a Doppler shift to any radar energy reflecting off the blades and cause false images or interference. This has impact on the location of future wind farms but issues remain on how to resolve this problem.

Chemical Safety Reform Gains Momentum in Congress
April 16, 2010 11:26 AM - Science AAAS

Two bills in Congress would dramatically strengthen the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA's) ability to regulate chemicals. The bills shift the burden of proof to industry, which would have to demonstrate the safety of existing and new chemicals. That's a major change from the existing system, in which EPA must prove that chemicals are harmful before it can regulate them.

Earth's missing heat a concern
April 16, 2010 07:08 AM - Deborah Zabarenko, Reuters

The rise in greenhouse gases in the atmosphere means far more energy is coming into Earth's climate system than is going out, but half of that energy is missing and could eventually reappear as another sign of climate change, scientists said on Thursday. In stable climate times, the amount of heat coming into Earth's system is equal to the amount leaving it, but these are not stable times, said John Fasullo of the U.S. National Center for Atmospheric Research, a co-author of the report in the journal Science. The gap between what's entering the climate system and what's leaving is about 37 times the heat energy produced by all human activities, from driving cars and running power plants to burning wood. Half of that gap is unaccounted for, Fasullo and his co-author Kevin Trenberth reported. It hasn't left the climate system but it hasn't been detected with satellites, ocean sensors or other technology.

March Global Temperatures
April 15, 2010 04:18 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

How hot is it? It depends, of course, on where you are. From a global perspective there are agencies that check and recheck and average it all out. The world’s combined global land and ocean surface temperature made last month the warmest March on record, according to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Taken separately, average ocean temperatures were the warmest for any March and the global land surface was the fourth warmest for any March on record. Additionally, the planet has seen the fourth warmest January – March period on record.

Global Warming: Next Chapter
April 14, 2010 12:22 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

For those in the American Northeast last winter was rugged and fairly cold. Yet what is he world picture? The World Meteorological Organization’s latest report demonstrates that 2000-2009 is the warmest decade since modern measurements began recording temperatures around 1850. In its annual report, “WMO Statement on the Status of the Global Climate,” the WMO also found that 2009 is nominally ranked as the fifth warmest on record.

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