Sci/tech

Fracking's Chemical Cocktails
August 22, 2014 09:15 AM - Tim Radford, The Ecologist

Fracking is once again in trouble. Scientists have found that what gets pumped into hydrocarbon-rich rock as part of the hydraulic fracture technique to release gas and oil trapped in underground reservoirs may not be entirely healthy. Environmental engineer William Stringfellow and colleagues at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the University of the Pacific told the American Chemical Society meeting in San Francisco that they scoured databases and reports to compile a list of the chemicals commonly used in fracking.

NASA reports unknown source of banned ozone-destroying compound
August 21, 2014 07:33 AM - ClickGreen Staff, ClickGreen

NASA research has revealed the Earth's atmosphere contains an unexpectedly large amount of an ozone-depleting compound from an unknown source decades after the compound was banned worldwide. Carbon tetrachloride (CCl4), which was once used in applications such as dry cleaning and as a fire-extinguishing agent, was regulated in 1987 under the Montreal Protocol along with other chlorofluorocarbons that destroy ozone and contribute to the ozone hole over Antarctica. Parties to the Montreal Protocol reported zero new CCl4 emissions between 2007-2012.

Turning Jellyfish into Sustainable Medical Products
August 20, 2014 01:20 PM - NoCamels Team, NoCamels

In a United Nations report released in May, scientists worldwide were called upon to join the war on jellyfish. According to the report, jellyfish have overwhelmed the marine ecosystem as a result of the overfishing of more competitive species, consuming fish eggs and larvae of weaker specimens and creating what the report called a "vicious cycle." So how can this cycle be stopped?

New Satellite To Help Farmers Facing Drought
August 19, 2014 09:08 AM - Allison Winter, ENN

Satellites are put into orbit for a variety of tasks. From sending television signals to our homes to enabling GPS devices, to helping us see weather on a global scale, satellites collect information and provide us with modern conveniences. One new use for a proposed satellite scheduled to launch this winter is soil moisture monitoring at a local level.

Origami in Space
August 16, 2014 09:30 AM - Winfield Winter, ENN

An ancient art form is beginning to take off in a way no one thought possible: on a spaceship. Origami, or Japanese folding paper, is currently being developed into solar panels at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory at The California Institute of Technology. Solar panels that have endless applications. Space travel has already turned over the possibility of solar-powered flight via folding panels, but this particular reincarnation is different. Developers cite a more intricate fold that allows for efficient deployment of the solar arrays. And it doesn’t stop there. Origami may one day be used in self-assembling solar arrays that are launched into space to power the earth below.

Plant Language
August 15, 2014 08:39 AM - Virginia Tech

A Virginia Tech scientist has discovered a potentially new form of plant communication, one that allows them to share an extraordinary amount of genetic information with one another. The finding by Jim Westwood, a professor of plant pathology, physiology, and weed science in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, throws open the door to a new arena of science that explores how plants communicate with each other on a molecular level. It also gives scientists new insight into ways to fight parasitic weeds that wreak havoc on food crops in some of the poorest parts of the world.

Harnessing High-Altitude Wind Energy
August 14, 2014 07:53 AM - ClickGreen Staff, ClickGreen

Researchers have discovered that the world's energy needs could easily be met by harnessing the power potential of high-altitude winds. Developers in an emerging field known as airborne wind energy envisage using devices that might look like parachutes or gliders to capture electricity from the strong, steady winds that blow well above the surface in certain regions.

Engineering Fruit Flies May Help Crops
August 13, 2014 08:04 AM - Editor, ENN

We've genetically-modified crops to enhance desired traits such as increased resistance to herbicides or pesticides. Nonetheless, pests still infest crops around the world. In an attempt to control these pests, scientists have turned to genetically engineering the pests themselves!

Bees Don't Always Listen to the Hive
August 8, 2014 02:59 PM - Anna Brones, Care2

Honey bees are known for their fascinating social structure. A honey bee colony is in fact a well-organized machine, running on good communication, defense and division of labor. As social insects, honey bees have also been shown the communicate to their fellow foragers, a dance to tell their counterparts where food is located. But listening to other bees isn’t always the name of the game. Sometimes the honeybee just wants to do its own thing.

The Danger of Solar "Super-Storms"
August 5, 2014 01:45 PM - Winfield Winter, ENN

Watch out George Lucas fans, a Death Star may be in our horizons — and one would only have to look as far as our nearest stellar neighbor: the Sun. According to Mr. Ashley Dale of the University of Bristol, solar "super-storms" pose an imminent threat to the earth by disabling electricity and communication system — or worse. Thus, the celestial body that illuminates the world may very well be responsible for sending it into darkness. In this month's issue of PhysicsWorld, Mr. Dale writes: "Without power, people would struggle to fuel their cars at petrol stations, get money from cash dispensers or pay online. Water and sewage systems would be affected too, meaning that health epidemics in urbanized areas would quickly take a grip, with diseases behind centuries ago soon returning."

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