Sci/tech

How Pollutant Risk is Affected by Different Insect Stages
September 5, 2014 11:34 AM - Editor, ENN

The food chain is a hierarchical series of organisms that are interrelated in their feeding habits. The chain starts when the smallest being like an insect is fed upon a larger prey species, which in turn feeds an even larger species. So if a species among the lower ranks of the chain has accumulated toxins such as pesticides or other organic chemicals, there is potential for these toxic substances to affect the species that prey upon them. This is the subject of new research conducted by the US Geological survey that found when fish feed on insects and when other wildlife species feed on fish, harmful contaminants are transferred up the line.

UN licenses kick off search for underwater minerals
September 5, 2014 08:07 AM - Rodrigo de Oliveira Andrade, SciDevNet

The International Seabed Authority (ISA) has begun issuing exploration licenses for mining the yet untouched floor of international waters raising concerns about potential environmental impacts. The licenses, issued on 21 July, grant prospecting rights for underwater minerals to private and state-owned companies from Brazil, Cook Islands, Germany, India, Russia, Singapore and the United Kingdom.

New software helps us choose products, ingredients based on sustainability
September 4, 2014 07:09 AM - Alexis Petru, Triple Pundit

How can a manufacturer reformulate a cleaning product to contain fewer harmful chemicals, and how can a retailer stock its shelves with more eco-friendly merchandise? UL (Underwriters Laboratories), a product safety testing and certification company, thinks it may have a solution: a set of data tools that helps businesses search and choose ingredients and products based on their environmental and social responsibility profiles.

New way to remove greenhouse gases from the atmosphere
September 4, 2014 07:01 AM - Institute for Integrated Cell-Material Sciences, Kyoto University, via EurekAlert

Researchers in Japan have engineered a membrane with advanced features capable of removing harmful greenhouse gases from the atmosphere. Their findings, published in the British journal Nature Communications, may one day contribute to lower greenhouse gas emissions and cleaner skies. Greenhouse gases, originating from industrial processes and the burning of fossil fuels, blanket the earth and are the culprits behind current global warming woes. The most abundant among them is carbon dioxide, which made up 84% of the United State's greenhouse gases in 2012, and can linger in Earth's atmosphere for up to thousands of years.

Study Suggests More Research before Fracking Continues
August 29, 2014 07:22 AM - ClickGreen Staff, ClickGreen

An independent report on fracking has recommended a temporary moratorium on the controversial process and says that communities should give permission before it can proceed. The interdisciplinary expert panel set up by the Nova Scotia regional government says the science of fracking is relatively unknown and therefore its introduction should be delayed in the Province until the science and its environmental effects are better understood.

"Global Roadmap" Created to Balance Development with Environmental Protection
August 28, 2014 11:49 AM - Morgan Erickson-Davis, MONGABAY.COM

Roads make it possible to bring goods to market, to get to the office, to log a forest, to hunt its wildlife. Without roads, human society as we know it could not exist. However, to build roads, trees must be cleared and swamps drained, shrinking valuable wildlife habitat and fragmenting populations in the process. A new study, published today in Nature, unveils an innovative map that defines which areas of the world would best be used to build roads — and which should be left alone. Scientists estimate more than 25 million kilometers of new roads will be built worldwide by 2050, representing a 60 percent increase over 2010 numbers. Many of these are slated for environmentally valuable places with high numbers of unique species and pristine forest, such as the Amazon Basin.

Mystery Behind Slithering Rocks of Death Valley Revealed
August 28, 2014 09:38 AM - Allison Winter, ENN

In California's Death Valley, a geological phenomenon exists. Sailing stones, or moving rocks can be observed on the valley floor inscribing long trails on the ground without human or animal intervention. For over 60 years of observations, no one has been able to uncover the mystery of what is actually pushing these stones across the sand. That is, until now.

Yawn Contagion in Wolves
August 27, 2014 04:15 PM - Editor, ENN

A yawn is defined as a reflex act of opening one's mouth and inhaling deeply. We yawn most often when we are tired or when we're bored. But we also always yawn when we see someone else doing it. Why? People say we can't help it - it's contagious! But what really triggers this involuntary tendency? According to studies, yawning when others do is a sign of empathy and a form of social bonding. And believe it or not, we're not the only species to exhibit these contagious behaviors. A new study published today in the journal PLOS ONE shows that wolves may also be susceptible to yawn contagion.

Catching Fog
August 26, 2014 12:32 PM - Eliette Angel, SciDevNet

"This is one of the best beers that I have ever tried," says Andrés Barrera. My friend is enjoying a craft beer called Atrapaniebla — Spanish for fog catcher — an ale made with water condensed from mountain fog on two fog catchers. The microbrewery that produces it, located in Peña Blanca (some 360 kilometres north of Santiago, the Chilean capital), is one of the first Chilean enterprises to make use of fog-catching technology; others use it to water tomato and aloe vera crops. "Water from fog catchers has less nitrite and nitrate than the drinking water in the north of Chile, which is good for beer," says Miguel Ángel Carcuro, 29-year-old co-owner of the microbrewery that makes Atrapaniebla. Of course, while beer is nice, water is essential and fog catchers can be a great way to provide this sometimes scarce commodity. Carcuro's interest in this technology stems from teenage travels with his father, who showed him a hill above the bay of Chungungo, where there were the remains of fog catchers that had until recently provided water for 100 families.

How Geckos can walk on the ceiling
August 25, 2014 11:26 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN

Ever wonder how lizards like Geckos can walk up walls and even across the ceiling? Is it sticky feet, anti-gravity, or what? Researchers at Oregon State University have developed a model that explains how geckos, as well as spiders and some insects, can run up and down walls, cling to ceilings, and seemingly defy gravity with such effortless grace. This ability, outlined today in the Journal of Applied Physics, is a remarkable mechanism in the toes of geckos that uses tiny, branched hairs called "seta" that can instantly turn their stickiness on and off, and even "unstick" their feet without using any energy.

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