Sci/tech

Sahara dried out slowly, not abruptly: study
May 9, 2008 06:11 AM - Reuters

The once-green Sahara turned to desert over thousands of years rather than in an abrupt shift as previously believed, according to a study on Thursday that may help understanding of future climate changes. And there are now signs of a tiny shift back towards greener conditions in parts of the Sahara, apparently because of global warming, said the lead author of the report about the desert's history published in the journal Science.

University research contributes to global warming
May 8, 2008 08:39 AM - University of Montreal

Add university research to the long list of human activities contributing to global warming. Hervé Philippe, a Université de Montréal professor of biochemistry, is a committed environmentalist who found that his own research produces 44 tonnes of CO2 per year. The average American citizen produces 20 tonnes.

Petrify, liquefy: new ways to bury greenhouse gas
May 8, 2008 06:58 AM - Reuters

Turn greenhouse gases to stone? Transform them into a treacle-like liquid deep under the seabed? The ideas may sound like far-fetched schemes from an alchemist's notebook but scientists are pursuing them as many countries prepare to bury captured greenhouse gases in coming years as part of the fight against global warming.

Australian platypus genome a link to evolution
May 8, 2008 12:42 AM - Reuters

Australia's unique duck-billed platypus -- an egg-laying, furry animal with web feet that spends most of its time underwater -- is in fact part bird, part reptile and part mammal according to its gene map. A team of international scientists released the platypus genome on Thursday, saying its complex sequence would aid the study of human evolution -- particularly the development of the immune, nervous and reproductive systems.

China’s Huge Self-Sustaining Soar LED Wall
May 7, 2008 09:55 AM - , MetaEfficient

It’s called the GreenPix Zero Energy Media Wall, and with 2,292 individual color LEDs, comparable to a 24,000 sq. ft. monitor screen, it’s said to be the largest color LED display in the world. The wall is solar-powered too — photovoltaics are integrated into the wall’s glass curtain, and it harvests power during the day, to illuminate the display at night. Designed by, Simone Giostra & Partners Architects, the GreenPix wall is part of the Xicui Entertainment Complex in Beijing, near the site of the 2008 Olympics.

Strida 5.0 - the ultimate folding bike
May 7, 2008 09:39 AM - , The Alternative Consumer

I’m not a cyclist by any means but it appears to moi that Great Britain based Strida has completely conquered the concept of the folding bike. The triangular frame is constructed of lightweight aluminum and power is transferred to the rear wheels via a silent, clean Kevlar belt. Handlebars are mounted horizontally so the rider can sit comfortably upright with an excellent view potential road hazards. In about five seconds the triangular frame folds-up into a compact form that can be wheeled into an office closet, loaded into your car or taken on the train. The Strida has no external grease or oil to create a mess or ruin your carefully constructed workday fashion ensemble.

Unmanned Aircraft to Study Southern California Smog and its Consequences
May 6, 2008 09:41 AM - Scripps Institution of Oceanography

"These monthly UAV flights will provide unprecedented data for evaluating how long range transport of pollutants including ozone, soot and other particulates from the northwest United States, Canada, east Asia and Mexico mix with local pollution and influence our air quality and regional climate including the early melting of snow packs," said Ramanathan.

New Reason For Bee Hive Collapse: Ecologists Tease Out Private Lives Of Plants And Their Pollinators
May 6, 2008 09:35 AM - Wiley-Blackwell

The quality of pollen a plant produces is closely tied to its sexual habits, ecologists have discovered. As well as helping explain the evolution of such intimate relationships between plants and pollinators, the study -- one of the first of its kind and published online in the British Ecological Society's journal Functional Ecology -- also helps explain the recent dramatic decline in certain bumblebee species found in the shrinking areas of species-rich chalk grasslands and hay meadows across Northern Europe.

Record-Setting Laser May Boost Search For Earthlike Planets 100 Fold
May 6, 2008 09:26 AM - National Institute of Standards and Technology.

Scientists at the University of Konstanz in Germany and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have demonstrated an ultrafast laser that offers a record combination of high speed, short pulses and high average power. The same NIST group also has shown that this type of laser, when used as a frequency comb—an ultraprecise technique for measuring different colors of light—could boost the sensitivity of astronomical tools searching for other Earthlike planets as much as 100 fold.

Gene for yield, height in rice identified
May 5, 2008 09:28 AM - Reuters

Scientists in China have identified a single gene that appears to control rice yield, as well as its height and flowering time, taking what may be a crucial step in global efforts to increase crop productivity. In an article published in Nature Genetics, the researchers said they were able to pinpoint a single gene, Ghd7, which appears to determine all three traits.

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