Sci/tech

Will you take part in this year's Great Backyard Bird Count?
February 11, 2016 07:11 AM - Alicia Graef, Care2

This weekend bird enthusiasts from around the world will become citizen scientists for a few days during the 19th annual Great Backyard Bird Count, which is happening this year February 12-15.

During this four-day event, which is organized by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, the National Audubon Society and Bird Studies Canada, people will be headed outdoors to count their local birds in the name of science.

What does the Wolf say?
February 8, 2016 11:06 AM - UNIVERSITY OF CAMBRIDGE via EurekAlert

The largest ever study of howling in the 'canid' family of species -- which includes wolves, jackals and domestic dogs -- has shown that the various species and subspecies have distinguishing repertoires of howling, or "vocal fingerprints": different types of howls are used with varying regularity depending on the canid species. 

Researchers used computer algorithms for the first time to analyse howling, distilling over 2,000 different howls into 21 howl types based on pitch and fluctuation, and then matching up patterns of howling. 

They found that the frequency with which types of howls are used -- from flat to highly modulated -- corresponded to the species of canid, whether dog or coyote, as well as to the subspecies of wolf. 

Universtiy of Alaska studies how the melting Greenland glaciers are impacting sea levels
February 6, 2016 08:41 AM - University of Alaska Fairbanks via ScienceDaily

University of Alaska Fairbanks mathematicians and glaciologists have taken a first step toward understanding how glacier ice flowing off Greenland affects sea levels.

Andy Aschwanden, Martin Truffer and Mark Fahnestock used mathematical computer models and field tests to reproduce the flow of 29 inlet glaciers fed by the Greenland ice sheet. They compared their data with data from NASA's Operation IceBridge North aerial campaign.

The comparisons showed that the computer models accurately depicted current flow conditions in topographically complex Greenland.

UCLA solves the mystery of how Earth got its moon
January 29, 2016 12:37 PM - Stuart Wolpert, UCLA

The moon was formed by a violent, head-on collision between the early Earth and a “planetary embryo” called Theia approximately 100 million years after the Earth formed, UCLA geochemists and colleagues report.

Scientists had already known about this high-speed crash, which occurred almost 4.5 billion years ago, but many thought the Earth collided with Theia (pronounced THAY-eh) at an angle of 45 degrees or more — a powerful side-swipe (simulated in this 2012 YouTube video). New evidence reported Jan. 29 in the journal Science substantially strengthens the case for a head-on assault.

The researchers analyzed seven rocks brought to the Earth from the moon by the Apollo 12, 15 and 17 missions, as well as six volcanic rocks from the Earth’s mantle — five from Hawaii and one from Arizona.

Hyperloop moving to full-scale testing
January 24, 2016 09:05 AM - Mary Mazzoni , Triple Pundit

Clean-tech visionary Elon Musk first unveiled his idea for a high-speed ground transport system called Hyperloop back in 2013. The concept — in which passengers are transported in magnet-propelled capsules at more than 750 miles per hour — was quickly dismissed by many as a pipe-dream.

But, while most of us weren’t paying attention, a handful of private companies have been quietly working to make Musk’s vision a reality. Now two of these firms (both unaffiliated with the Tesla and SpaceX CEO) say they are ready to begin testing the technology.

Is calling the current time Anthropocene helpful?
January 21, 2016 06:04 AM - James Scourse, Bangor University, The Ecologist

The just as policemen keep on getting younger, epochs keep on getting shorter, writes James Scourse. The Cretaceous endured for 80 million years, but our latest invention, the 'Anthropocene', will be lucky to last out the century. And humanity's vain preoccupation with the idea may, ironically, only bring forward its termination.

The adoption of the term 'Anthropocene' is misleading. Worse than that; it has stimulated a redundant, manufactured, debate that displaces more important scientific research and genuine discussion on climate and environmental change.

 

Pollution in Pacific tied to Africa and Asia
January 20, 2016 06:06 AM - Loretta Kuo/Shawn Honomichl, SciDevNet

Burning down forests in Africa and South-East Asia causes ozone pollution in the air as far as the western Pacific Ocean, researchers say, calling for revision of global climate models to reflect their findings.

In a paper published in Nature Communications last week (13 January), the scientists say their data contradicts earlier theories on the origins of ozone-rich air parcels above the tropical western Pacific, which were thought to descend naturally from a higher atmospheric layer.

How to make your new house a sustainable one
January 18, 2016 11:24 AM - Ewa Gromadzka

People might falsely believe that when they are building a house incorporating any sustainable solutions require additional costs and effort. It is actually the opposite. Some of the sustainable solutions require very little in any financing with comparison to the costs that need to be incurred anyways in a newly constructed building. Moreover, while an initial cost might be a bit higher as for purchasing, for example a sustainable heating system, there is a fast return on investment as utility bills are much lowers with sustainable heating than a standard one. It is possible to save around 30% on the use of energy and water in a sustainable house. That is a case with any other sustainable solution, when it pays off to invest in environment friendly solution in every case.
Below there is list of sustainable solutions that can be applied in every house.

  1. Heat recovery system for the ventilation, heating and cooling.
  2. The use of geothermal heat pump for heating the house, allows for great savings on heating costs.
  3. It is common to use only floor heating as a heating option in energy efficient houses (no radiators). 
  4. Use of low energy doors and windows (recommended triple glazed windows).

SpaceX launches Jason-3 satellite to monitor sea levels
January 18, 2016 05:49 AM - NASA-JPL

Jason-3, a U.S.-European oceanography satellite mission with NASA participation that will continue a nearly quarter-century record of tracking global sea level rise, lifted off from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California Sunday at 10:42 a.m. PST (1:42 p.m. EST) aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

Jason-3 is an international mission led by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in partnership with NASA, the French space agency CNES, and the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites.

"Jason-3 will take the pulse of our changing planet by gathering environmental intelligence from the world's oceans," said Stephen Volz, assistant administrator for NOAA's Satellite and Information Service. 

NASA published amazing images of dwarf planet Ceres
January 12, 2016 11:42 AM - NASA Earth Observatory

This image from NASA's Dawn spacecraft shows Kupalo Crater, one of the youngest craters on Ceres. Image Credit: NASA/JPL Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA

Features on dwarf planet Ceres that piqued the interest of scientists throughout 2015 stand out in exquisite detail in the latest images from NASA's Dawn spacecraft, which recently reached its lowest-ever altitude at Ceres.

Dawn took these images near its current altitude of 240 miles (385 kilometers) from Ceres, between Dec. 19 and 23, 2015.

Kupalo Crater, one of the youngest craters on Ceres, shows off many fascinating attributes at the high image resolution of 120 feet (35 meters) per pixel. The crater has bright material exposed on its rim, which could be salts, and its flat floor likely formed from impact melt and debris. Researchers will be looking closely at whether this material is related to the "bright spots" of Occator Crater. Kupalo, which measures 16 miles (26 kilometers) across and is located at southern mid-latitudes, is named for the Slavic god of vegetation and harvest.

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