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.
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."
A Second Use for Cigarette Butts
August 5, 2014 12:10 PM - Editor, ENN
It is estimated that as many as 5.6 trillion used-cigarettes, or 766,571 metric tons, are deposited into the environment worldwide every year. That's a lot of litter, especially when it takes 18 months to 10 years for cigarette filters to degrade! However, these butts may have a newly discovered second use as a group of South Korean scientists have converted these cigarette leftovers into a high-performing material that could be integrated into computers, handheld devices, electrical vehicles and wind turbines.
Spray-on Solar Panels?
August 4, 2014 03:33 PM - ClickGreen Staff, ClickGreen
A team of scientists at the University of Sheffield are the first to fabricate perovskite solar cells using a spray-painting process — a discovery that could help cut the cost of solar electricity. Experts from the University's Department of Physics and Astronomy and Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering have previously used the spray-painting method to produce solar cells using organic semiconductors - but using perovskite is a major step forward.
Surf's Up for Clean Technology
August 1, 2014 11:45 AM - Leon Kaye, Triple Pundit
Unless your skin is about a foot thick, swimming and surfing in the Pacific Ocean for hours at a time requires a wetsuit to stay warm and comfortable. That comfort, however, comes at a price as the vast majority of wetsuits are made from petroleum-based neoprene. The material is durable and does the job, but its manufacture is a carbon-intensive and toxic process. Now Patagonia is aggressively promoting its plant-based wetsuit technology with the goal to have it become a game-changer in the surf industry.
Drilling in the Dark
August 1, 2014 08:54 AM - University of Wisconsin-Madison
As production of shale gas soars, the industry's effects on nature and wildlife remain largely unexplored, according to a study by a group of conservation biologists published in Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment on August 1. The report emphasizes the need to determine the environmental impact of chemical contamination from spills, well-casing failure, and other accidents. "We know very little about how shale gas production is affecting plants and wildlife," says author Sara Souther, a conservation fellow in the Department of Botany at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. "And in particular, there is a lack of accessible and reliable information on spills, wastewater disposal and the chemistry of fracturing fluids. Of the 24 U.S. states with active shale gas reservoirs, only five maintain public records of spills and accidents." The 800 percent increase in U.S. shale gas production between 2007 and 2012 is largely due to the use of hydraulic fracturing. Also called fracking, the process uses high-pressure injection of water, laden with sand and a variety of chemicals, to open cracks in the gas reservoir so natural gas can flow to the well.