Researchers use social media to track air pollution
November 18, 2014 11:13 AM - Jennifer Smith, University of Wisconsin-Madison

University of Wisconsin-Madison computer science researchers have developed a method for using social media posts to estimate air pollution levels with significant accuracy.

European Space Agency's Rosetta Makes Historic First Landing on a Comet
November 15, 2014 07:05 AM - NASA

On Wednesday, Nov. 12, the European Space Agency's Rosetta mission successfully landed on the surface of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Descending at a speed of about 2 mph (3.2 kilometers per hour) the lander, called "Philae," first touched down and its signal was received at 8:03 a.m. PST (11:03 a.m. EST). 

Partially due to anchoring harpoons not firing, and the comet's low gravity (a hundred-thousand times less than that of Earth), Philae bounced off the surface and flew up to about six-tenths of a mile (1 kilometer) both above the comet's surface as well as downrange. At 9:53 a.m. PST (12:53 p.m. EST), almost two hours after first contact, Philae again touched down. A second, more modest bounce resulted, again sending it airborne. Philae's third contact with the comet's nucleus was the charm. At 10 a.m. PST (1 p.m. EST), the Rosetta mission's Philae lander became the first spacecraft to soft-land on a comet.

Fukushima Radioactivity Detected Off West Coast
November 11, 2014 08:32 AM - Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

Monitoring efforts along the Pacific Coast of the U.S. and Canada have detected the presence of small amounts of radioactivity from the 2011 Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant accident 100 miles (150 km) due west of Eureka, California. Scientists at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) found the trace amounts of telltale radioactive compounds as part of their ongoing monitoring of natural and human sources of radioactivity in the ocean.

MIT finds the missing piece of the climate modeling puzzle
November 10, 2014 02:58 PM - Genevieve Wanucha, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

In classrooms and everyday conversation, explanations of global warming hinge on the greenhouse gas effect. In short, climate depends on the balance between two different kinds of radiation: The Earth absorbs incoming visible light from the sun, called “shortwave radiation,” and emits infrared light, or “longwave radiation,” into space.

Upsetting that energy balance are rising levels of greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide (CO2), that increasingly absorb some of the outgoing longwave radiation and trap it in the atmosphere. Energy accumulates in the climate system, and warming occurs. But in a paper out this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, MIT researchers show that this canonical view of global warming is only half the story.

New antibiotic found in mushroom that grows on horse dung
November 7, 2014 11:18 AM - Editor, ETH Zurich

Researchers from the Institute of Microbiology at ETH Zurich and the University of Bonn have discovered a new protein with antibiotic properties in a mushroom that grows on horse dung. The new agent that was found in fungi is found to kill bacteria. The substance, known as copsin, has the same effect as traditional antibiotics, but belongs to a different class of biochemical substances. Copsin is a protein, whereas traditional antibiotics are often non-protein organic compounds.

The mysteries of what Comets actually are is getting closer to being solved
November 7, 2014 04:44 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN

Man has been amazed by comets for millenia. What are they, these beautiful wanderers?  There have been many theories, the most popular being that they are balls of ice.  Now we are actually getting data.  The photographs taken by the European Space Agency's Rosetta spacecraft show comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko to be more rocklike than a ball of ice. 

After sailing through space for more than 10 years, the Rosetta spacecraft is now less than a week shy of landing a robotic probe on a comet. 

The mission's Philae (fee-LAY) lander is scheduled to touch down on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko on Wednesday, Nov. 12 at 7:35 a.m PST/10:35 a.m. EST. A signal confirming the landing is expected about 8:02 a.m. PST/11:02 a.m. EST. If all goes as planned with this complex engineering feat, it will be the first-ever soft landing of a spacecraft on a comet.

New Mechanism Behind Arctic Warming Revealed
November 6, 2014 08:06 AM - Editor, ENN

We all know that greenhouse gases contribute to global warming, but new research identifies a new mechanism that could turn out to be a major contributor to melting sea ice, specifically in the Arctic region. Scientists from the US Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) have studied a long-wavelength region of the electromagnetic spectrum called far infrared. Far infrared is a region in the infrared spectrum of electromagnetic radiation. While it is invisible to our eyes, it accounts for about half the energy emitted by the Earth’s surface. 

Disguised Rover Used To Help Study Penguins
November 5, 2014 08:26 AM - Alicia Graef, Care2

A group of scientists working in collaboration with a filmmaker have come up with a clever, and adorable, way to study notoriously shy Emperor penguins in Adélie Land, Antarctica by sending in a rover disguised as a chick that was so convincing penguins tried to make conversation with it. As researchers explain in a study published in the journal Nature Methods, which was led by Yvon Le Maho of the University of Strasbourg in France, scientists have been unable to study these penguins up close without seriously stressing them out, altering their behavior or causing them to retreat.

CO2 pulses and the last Ice Age
October 30, 2014 12:34 PM - Oregon State University

A new study shows that the rise of atmospheric carbon dioxide that contributed to the end of the last ice age more than 10,000 years ago did not occur gradually, but was characterized by three “pulses” in which C02 rose abruptly.

Scientists are not sure what caused these abrupt increases, during which C02 levels rose about 10-15 parts per million – or about 5 percent per episode – over a period of 1-2 centuries. It likely was a combination of factors, they say, including ocean circulation, changing wind patterns, and terrestrial processes.

Using Microscopic Bugs to Save the Bees
October 27, 2014 02:49 PM - Brigham Young University

For decades, honeybees have been battling a deadly disease that kills off their babies (larvae) and leads to hive collapse. It’s called American Foulbrood and its effects are so devastating and infectious, it often requires infected hives to be burned to the ground. Treating Foulbrood is complicated because the disease can evolve to resist antibiotics and other chemical treatments. Losing entire hives not only disrupts the honey industry, but reduces the number of bees for pollinating plants. Now an undergraduate student at BYU, funded by ORCA grants, has produced a natural way to eliminate the scourge, and it’s working: Using tiny killer bugs known as phages to protect baby bees from infection.

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