Sci/tech

Dinosaur fossil found on bus in Peru
March 26, 2008 09:43 AM - Reuters

AREQUIPA, Peru (Reuters) - Officials found the fossil of a giant dinosaur jawbone while investigating a suspicious package on a bus in the mountains of Peru on Tuesday. The fossil, weighing some 19 pounds, was found in the cargo hold of the bus, which was headed for the capital of Lima, and had been sent on the bus company's package service.

Living fossil still calls Australia home
March 26, 2008 09:43 AM - Public Library of Science

They are separated by a vast ocean and by millions of years, but tiny prehistoric bones found on an Australian farm have been directly linked to a strange and secretive little animal that lives today in the southern rainforests of South America. The fossilised ankle and ear bones are those of Australia's earliest known marsupial, Djarthia, a primitive mouse-like creature that lived 55 million years ago. It is a kind of Australian Eve, possibly the mother of all the continent's unusual pouched mammals, such as kangaroos, koalas, possums and wombats.

Cheap Beet Pulp Turned Into Value-Added Plastics Ingredient
March 25, 2008 09:41 AM - US Department of Agriculture

The pulp is a fiber-rich byproduct of sucrose extraction procedures used by sugar beet processors. Most of the 40 million tons of U.S. sugar beet pulp generated each year is used as an inexpensive livestock feed or pet-food ingredient. But ARS chemists Victoria Finkenstadt and LinShu Liu aim to breathe new economic life into the pulp.

Tibet's Lithium
March 25, 2008 09:38 AM - , Private Landowner Network

As of the end of 2005 there were something like 2 billion cell phones in service worldwide. Certainly there are more than that now. Without lithium batteries cell phones would be a completely different animal. Bigger and heavier, you wouldn’t be stuffing one into a pant’s pocket. Now that the standard is set the cell phone industry is reliant on lithium for its existence.

Ants Are Experienced Fungus Farmers
March 25, 2008 08:46 AM - Smithsonian

Entomologists Ted Schultz and Seán Brady at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History have been providing new insight into the agricultural abilities of ants and how these abilities have evolved throughout time. Using DNA sequencing, the scientists were able to construct an "evolutionary tree" of fungus-growing ants, which revealed a single pioneering ancestor that discovered agriculture approximately 50 million years ago. In the past 25 million years, four different specialized agricultural systems have evolved, leading to the most recently evolved and best-known fungus-growing ant species--"leaf-cutter ants."

Australian wine industry feels heat from climate change
March 25, 2008 08:18 AM - Reuters

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Australian grape growers reckon they are the canary in the coalmine of global warming, as a long drought forces winemakers to rethink the styles of wine they can produce and the regions they can grow in. The three largest grape-growing regions in Australia, the driest inhabited continent on earth, all depend on irrigation to survive. The high cost of water has made life tough for growers.

A Daily Dose of Antioxidants?
March 24, 2008 09:37 AM - USDA

We’ve all read about the antioxidant superstars—the blueberries, blackberries, and cherries, for instance—that are so effective at squelching the audacious free radicals that bombard our bodies’ delicate cells every day. But few studies have been aimed at investigating how well our bodies use these antioxidant-rich foods—and whether or not their soaring ORAC (oxygen radical absorbance capacity) scores really translate into practical, disease-fighting capabilities in humans.

Black carbon pollution emerges as major player in global warming
March 24, 2008 09:31 AM - University of California - San Diego

Black carbon, a form of particulate air pollution most often produced from biomass burning, cooking with solid fuels and diesel exhaust, has a warming effect in the atmosphere three to four times greater than prevailing estimates, according to scientists in an upcoming review article in the journal Nature Geoscience. Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego atmospheric scientist V. Ramanathan and University of Iowa chemical engineer Greg Carmichael, said that soot and other forms of black carbon could have as much as 60 percent of the current global warming effect of carbon dioxide, more than that of any greenhouse gas besides CO2.

Coral's Addiction to 'Junk Food'
March 24, 2008 09:28 AM - www.coralcoe.org.au

Over two hundred million humans depend for their subsistence on the fact that coral has an addiction to ‘junk food’ - and orders its partners, the symbiotic algae, to make it. This curious arrangement is one of Nature’s most delicate and complex partnerships – a collaboration now facing grave threats from climate change.

Great Innovation: The Brazilian Waterless Car Wash
March 24, 2008 09:24 AM - , Next Billion

If you have ever gotten service at a car wash in Brazil, you know that many of them make up the phenomenon Hernando DeSoto calls dead capital. They operate outside of the formal economy, paying low wages off the books, skipping out on taxes and side-stepping regulations. This is the environment the owners of DryWash stepped into when their business first opened in 1994. I had the chance to talk to a partner of their International division recently and our discussion reminded me that the day in and day out work of the entrepreneurs and small businesspeople in developing countries is sometimes the most overlooked sustainable development initiative.

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