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Dueling fruit flies
January 17, 2014 11:13 AM - By Robin Blackstone

Apparently male fruit flies fight. Who knew? According to biologist David Anderson from the fly laboratory of California Institute of Technology (Caltech), Drosophilae, commonly known as fruit flies, fight regularly. Males in particular put up a big fight in the presence of a female because males have special cells in their brains that promote fighting that are absent in the brains of female fruit flies.

Chemicals of Emerging Concern (CECs) identified in sewage sludge
January 16, 2014 04:17 PM - Richard Harth, Arizona State University

Thousands of chemicals serving a variety of human needs flood into sewage treatment plants once their use life has ended. Many belong to a class of chemicals known as CECs (for chemicals of emerging concern), which may pose risks to both human and environmental health. Arjun Venkatesan and Rolf Halden of Arizona State University's Biodesign Institute have been tracking many of these chemicals outlining a new approach to the identification of potentially harmful, mass-produced chemicals, describing the accumulation in sludge of 123 distinct CECs.

The girth of a tree
January 15, 2014 04:54 PM - Robin Blackstone, ENN

Thank goodness human growth rates don't match that of trees. For if it did then we would tip the scales of well over a ton by the time we reach retirement! Consider this new research from the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) recently published in the journal Nature. According to the new study, trees put on weight faster and faster as they grow older. Because most trees' growth accelerates as they age this suggests that large, old trees may play an unexpectedly dynamic role in removing carbon from the atmosphere.

Burning fewer calories: the elixir for longevity
January 14, 2014 09:43 AM - Sharon Dewer, Lincoln Park Zoo

New research shows that humans and other primates burn 50% fewer calories each day than other mammals. The study, published January 13 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, suggests that these remarkably slow metabolisms explain why humans and other primates grow up so slowly and live such long lives. The study also reports that primates in zoos expend as much energy as those in the wild, suggesting that physical activity may have less of an impact on daily energy expenditure than is often thought.

Popularity of plug-in vehicles on the rise
January 13, 2014 09:30 AM - Eric Justian, Triple Pundit

Good news for those living at the intersection of manufacturing and environmentalism. Here in the U.S., sales of plug-in electric and hybrid vehicles almost doubled between 2012 and 2013 with an 84 percent jump to 96,600 of the vehicles sold. That’s 49,000 plug-in hybrids (like the Volt) and 47,600 pure battery powered plug-in vehicles sold.

Tree Island restoration
January 10, 2014 09:06 AM - Liz Kimbrough, MONGABAY.COM

Worldwide, large swaths of land lay barren in the wake of agricultural expansion, and as global forest cover continues to decline, carbon and water cycles, biodiversity, and human health are impacted. But efforts to restore abandoned pastures and agricultural plots back into functioning forest ecosystems are often hindered by high costs and time requirements. Fortunately, scientists have developed a new method for a more cost effective solution to forest restoration, the establishment of "tree islands."

Spitting Sulfates!
January 9, 2014 10:41 AM - Nicole Jones, Yale 360

In 1991, Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines erupted in one of the largest volcanic blasts of the 20th century. It spat up to 20 million tons of sulfur into the upper atmosphere, shielding the earth from the sun's rays and causing global temperatures to drop by nearly half a degree Celsius in a single year. That's more than half of the amount the planet has warmed due to climate change in 130 years.

Giant wave of understanding in South China Sea
January 8, 2014 03:43 PM - David L. Chandler, MIT

Their effect on the surface of the ocean is negligible, producing a rise of just inches that is virtually imperceptible on a turbulent sea. But internal waves, which are hidden entirely within the ocean, can tower hundreds of feet, with profound effects on the Earth's climate and on ocean ecosystems. Now new research, both in the ocean and in the largest-ever laboratory experiments to investigate internal waves, has solved a longstanding mystery about exactly how the largest known internal waves, in the South China Sea, are produced. The new findings come from a team effort involving MIT and several other institutions, and coordinated by the Office of Naval Research (ONR).

Annual home checkup should include a radon test
January 8, 2014 12:49 PM - Robin Blackstone, ENN

Because 21,000 Americans die each year from radon related lung cancer the EPA recommends an annual testing of radon in the home. By making January “Radon Action Month” homeowners can protect their family from this leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers and DIY test kits are as low as $10.

Wild deep-freeze warming techniques
January 7, 2014 11:57 AM - Robin Blackstone, ENN

With much of the northern hemisphere embedded in a deep freeze, one wonders how cold weather animals remain alive through frigid temperatures. Energy supplies are drained in the cold making it necessary to have a good solid cache of warming survival skills. Some animals have adaptive features and other animals have found adaptive techniques. Some of their creative adaptations are listed:

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