Sci/tech

Vitamin D Deficiency Linked to a Variety of Diseases
August 24, 2010 10:59 AM - David A Gabel, ENN

Vitamin D is a type of fat-soluble steroid that can take two separate forms, vitamin D2 and D3, whose actual names are Ergocalciferol and Cholecalciferol. It is produced in the skin from exposure to ultraviolet radiation, the sun. This is the primary way to build up vitamin D, but it can also be ingested in foods which naturally contain it or are artificially fortified with it. However, what happens when the human body has a vitamin D deficiency? A new study from Oxford University shows that a lack of sufficient vitamin D in the body can lead to a wide range of diseases.

Tea and How Good It May Be
August 23, 2010 02:13 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

Drinking tea is supposed to be healthy for you because of what it contains. In this case let us consider polyphenols. In theory, a polyphenol has the ability to act as an antioxidant to scavenge free radicals and up-regulate certain metal chelation reactions. An antioxidant helps to regulate or clean up the cell's internal functions and so make you healthier as a result. The first measurements of healthful antioxidant levels in commercial bottled tea beverages has concluded that health-conscious consumers may not be getting what they pay for: healthful doses of those antioxidants, or "poylphenols," that may ward off a range of diseases.

Whiskey Byproducts Could Produce Next Big Biofue
August 23, 2010 08:56 AM - Thomas Miner, Sustainable Life Media

Researchers at Edinburgh Napier University have patented a process to produce biobutanol, a fuel that can be used in existing gasoline engines without any modifications, from whiskey by-products. In utilizing waste products, the process eliminates the need to use arable land and food crops to produce a more sustainable fuel.

Batteries Are the Shocking Truth about Electric Cars
August 23, 2010 07:03 AM - Llewellyn King, Oil Price.com

President Barack Obama flew to Holland, Mich., recently to attend groundbreaking ceremonies for a new lithium-ion battery plant, which the White House advertised as an example of federal stimulus grants at work and a gateway to a clean-energy future. Great stuff — if you don’t look too hard. Indeed, the Holland plant, effusively hailed by Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm as creating 300 jobs, and 62,000 "green" jobs down the road, will produce batteries in America. But Compact Power Inc., which received $151 million from a federal stimulus program to open the $303 million plant, isn't American and neither is its technology: It's a subsidiary of the giant South Korean conglomerate LG Chem, and its technology is Asian.

Ocean pH
August 20, 2010 11:32 AM - Andy Soos, ENN

Ocean acidification is the name given to the ongoing decrease in the pH of the Earth's oceans, caused by their uptake of atmospheric carbon dioxide. Between 1751 and 1994 surface ocean pH is estimated to have decreased from approximately 8.18 to 8.1. PH is a measure of the acidity or basicity of a solution. It approximates but is not equal to concentration of hydrogen ions expressed on a logarithmic scale. A low pH indicates a high concentration of hydrogen ions, while a high pH indicates a low concentration. A strong acid would be less than 1 on this scale. A recent study indicates the relative impact on future ocean acidification of different aspects of global climate change mitigation policies such as the year that global emissions peak.

Massive oil plume discovered in the Gulf
August 20, 2010 08:15 AM - Rhett Butler, MONGABAY.COM

Researchers at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) have detected a plume of hydrocarbons that is at least 22 miles long and more than 3,000 feet below the surface of the Gulf of Mexico, a result of the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill, reports a study published in Science. The 1.2-mile-wide, 650-foot-high plume of trapped hydrocarbons provides a clue on where all the oil has gone as oil slicks on the surface disappear.

Dyes, Laundry Aids, and EPA
August 19, 2010 08:22 AM - Andy Soos, ENN

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released action plans today to address the potential health risks of benzidine dyes, hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD) and nonylphenol (NP)/nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPEs). The chemicals are widely used in both consumer and industrial applications, including dyes, flame retardants, and industrial laundry detergents. The plans identify a range of actions the agency is considering under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA)

Slow-moving 'earthquake' under Olympic Peninsula monitored by University of Washington, will help understand devastating quakes
August 18, 2010 08:04 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN

New research published by University of Washington seismologists reports the results of monitoring they have been recording of a slow-moving and unfelt seismic event under the Olympic Peninsula. It promises to be the best-documented such event in the eight years since the regularly occurring phenomena were first discovered. "It appears to be right on time," Steve Malone, a UW Earth and space sciences professor, said of the most recent of what are termed episodic tremor-and-slip, or slow-slip, events. "The first signals were mostly fairly weak, but they were easily detected." The first ground motion associated with the event was recorded very early Sunday morning in an area north of Olympia and west of Tacoma. By Monday afternoon the signals were substantially stronger. If the event behaves like past occurrences, the source of the rumbling will move north through the Olympic Peninsula during the next week before crossing the Strait of Juan de Fuca to Canada's Vancouver Island

Oregon Dead Zone
August 17, 2010 10:26 AM - Andy Soos, ENN

Dead zones are hypoxic (low-oxygen) areas in the world's oceans, the observed incidences of which have been increasing since oceanographers began noting them in the 1970s. These occur near inhabited coastlines, where aquatic life is most concentrated. Every summer for the past nine years, water with lethally low concentrations of oxygen has appeared off the Oregon coast. The cause is not clear and it does not fit the pattern of several other dead zones associated with man made run off issues. Some other causes have been recently implicated in a research study by Oregon State University.

Icebergs
August 16, 2010 10:36 AM - Andy Soos, ENN

An iceberg is a large piece of ice formed from freshwater that has broken off from a glacier or ice shelf and is floating in open water. It may subsequently become frozen into pack ice. Alternatively, it may come to rest on the seabed in shallower water, causing ice gouging in the land underneath or becoming an ice island. Because the density of pure ice is less than sea water an iceberg will float in sea water with about one-ninth of the volume of an iceberg above water. The shape of the underwater portion can be difficult to judge by looking at the portion above the surface. This has led to the expression "tip of the iceberg", for a problem or difficulty that is only a small manifestation of a larger problem.

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