Sci/tech

Where are America's Greenest Buildings?
July 16, 2014 04:59 PM - Elisa Wood, Clean Techies

Ok, no surprise to see Washington, D.C. or San Francisco ranked high in a list of the cities with America's greenest buildings. But Atlanta? Georgia's capital was the only southern state to make the top ten in the 2014 U.S. Clean Tech Leadership Index, released July 15 by Clean Edge. The cleantech research firm tracks the cleantech progress of the 50 largest metro areas and the 50 states.

Rainwater discovered below the Earth's fractured upper crust
July 16, 2014 06:40 AM - Allison Winter, ENN

When it rains, where does the water go? Well for one, a lot of rainwater will funnel its way off roads and impermeable surfaces and will make its way into storm sewers. Another path might be directly into rivers and lakes. Or, rainwater might get soaked up by soil where it will then infiltrate into the ground and replenish aquifers. But just how deep does this rainwater infiltrate? According to new research, rainwater can penetrate below the Earth's fractured upper crust - which is at least eight miles below the Earth's surface!

Sand Power: A Better Battery
July 15, 2014 11:32 AM - Winfield Winter, ENN

Technology of the future is hard to see coming — sometimes because you can't see it. Advances in nanotechnology are the driving force behind longer lasting Lithium-ion batteries. Currently, Lithium-ion batteries are used to power every-day technologies like cell phones, computers, cameras and cars. Their energy source is a carbon-based graphite anode, which is nothing short of polarizing. Battery life has always been a major concern with Li-ion batteries. The solution is the most abundant compound in the earth's crust: SiO2, - or — more commonly — sand. The next generation of battery technology is using sand as a source for the production of nano-silicon, an anode material for Li-ion batteries.

Exposure to Aircraft noise a continuing problem even with quieter engines
July 15, 2014 07:24 AM - EurActiv

Millions of urban Europeans are exposed to aviation noise that contributes to stress, high blood pressure and even weight gain, say health specialists who want stronger measures to make flying quieter. While new-generation jet engines are on average 75% quieter than than their 20th century predecessors, the advance in technology has been offset by a steady rise in flights and a demand for bigger passenger planes.

This is a extra special year for "Super Moons"
July 12, 2014 06:55 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN

Super Moons are full moons that are extra, well, super! They are super because they appear larger in the evening sky than your run of the mill full moon. In June of last year, a full Moon made headlines. The news media called it a "supermoon" because it was 14% bigger and 30% brighter than other full Moons of 2013. Around the world, people went outside to marvel at its luminosity. If you thought one supermoon was bright, how about three? The full Moons of summer 2014—July 12th, August 10th, and Sept. 9th--will all be supermoons. The scientific term for the phenomenon is "perigee moon." Full Moons vary in size because of the oval shape of the Moon's orbit. The Moon follows an elliptical path around Earth with one side ("perigee") about 50,000 km closer than the other ("apogee"). Full Moons that occur on the perigee side of the Moon's orbit seem extra big and bright.

Record Radiation in South America
July 11, 2014 09:00 AM - Winfield Winter, ENN

Astrobiologists from the United States and Germany recorded the highest known level of solar UV radiation to reach Earth's surface. This was around 10 years ago. On December 29, 2003, the UV Index (UVI) peaked, reaching the blistering number of 43.3 over the Andes Mountains in Bolivia. To put this in context, a beachgoer in the United States would expect a UVI of 8 or 9 on a summer day. Even with an 8 or a 9, one may not escape the day without sunburn. Nonetheless, it has taken scientists 10 years to detail a report of this data while taking into account all of the variables and anomalies monitored from an international network of dosimeters — or Eldonets (European Light Dosimeter Network) — that measure UV radiation worldwide. This system is comprised of more than 100 stations across 5 continents to account for variation in the atmosphere above each station.

New Study Quantifies Causes of the "Urban Heat Island" Effect
July 10, 2014 07:14 AM - Kevin Dennehy, Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies

A new Yale-led study quantifies for the first time the primary causes of the "urban heat island" (UHI) effect, a common phenomenon that makes the world's urban areas significantly warmer than surrounding countryside and may increase health risks for city residents. In an analysis of 65 cities across North America, researchers found that variation in how efficiently urban areas release heat back into the lower atmosphere — through the process of convection — is the dominant factor in the daytime UHI effect. This finding challenges a long-held belief that the phenomenon is driven principally by diminished evaporative cooling through the loss of vegetation.

Our newest Astronauts are fruit flies!
July 10, 2014 06:15 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN

Becoming an Astronaut is a big deal! Men and women selected to go into space are very carefully chosen. They go through rigorous medical evaluations to make sure they are healthy and that their bodies can withstand the forces of liftoff and re-entry. And they go through months and months of training to prepare them for their first space flight. Now NASA is sending untested, untrained astronauts into space. Of course, they are not human, they are fruit flies! Fruit flies are bug eyed and spindly, they love rotten bananas, and, following orders from their pin-sized brains, they can lay hundreds of eggs every day. We have a lot in common. Genetically speaking, people and fruit flies are surprisingly alike, explains biologist Sharmila Bhattacharya of NASA's Ames Research Center. "About 77% of known human disease genes have a recognizable match in the genetic code of fruit flies, and 50% of fly protein sequences have mammalian analogues."

Cell Phone Conservation
July 9, 2014 10:35 AM - Alex Kirby, The Ecologist

Some of the world's most endangered forests may soon benefit from better protection, thanks to discarded treasures from the consumer society - mobile phones. A Californian technology startup, Rainforest Connection (RFCx), has developed a tool - made from recycled smartphones - that it says will pilot new ways to monitor and stop illegal logging and animal poaching throughout Africa's equatorial forests. RFCx has formed a partnership with the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), an international scientific charity that works for the worldwide conservation of animals and their habitats. The two organisations are planning to install the anti-deforestation, anti-poaching technology in Cameroon this year.

Vast reservoir of gas may fuel star creation in our galaxy
July 9, 2014 08:14 AM - Ken Croswell, Science

The Milky Way may have found a solution to its gas shortage. Astronomers had calculated that our home galaxy possesses only enough fuel to forge new stars for just a few billion more years. But scientists have now discovered that a long stream of gas falling into the Milky Way is four times as massive as previously thought and could power our galaxy's starmaking career for a long time to come. "It's a very beautiful study with surprising results," says Leo Blitz of the University of California, Berkeley, an astronomer who was not part of the project.

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