The Human Brain Rivals Google Maps
May 3, 2013 06:16 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN
Have you ever wondered how you remember how to get to places you have only gone to once? How does the brain generate a map of your route that allows you to retrace your steps another time, perhaps weeks or months in the future? Using virtual reality, neurophysicists determine how environmental stimuli and brain rhythms generate our neuronal maps of the world. Using virtual reality, neurophysicists determine how environmental stimuli and brain rhythms generate our neuronal maps of the world. Leaving the house in the morning may seem simple, but with every move we make, our brains are working feverishly to create maps of the outside world that allow us to navigate and to remember where we are. Take one step out the front door, and an individual brain cell fires. Pass by your rose bush on the way to the car, another specific neuron fires. And so it goes. Ultimately, the brain constructs its own pinpoint geographical chart that is far more precise than anything you'd find on Google Maps.
The latest studies on solar geoengineering to tackle climate change are reinforcing the case for a global governance system and further study before deployment, as they show that the approach may have little effect on preventing rainfall changes in the tropics — and may even lead to widespread drought in Africa. Several geoengineering initiatives plan to tackle climate change by cutting incoming sunlight, through methods such as spreading reflective aerosols in the stratosphere.
Atlantic Cup Race Now Carbon-Neutral
May 2, 2013 01:18 PM - Guest Contributor Andrea Oki
The 2013 Atlantic Cup presented by 11th Hour Racing has announced its final plans and competition field for the third annual running of the premier Class 40 sailing event in the country. The event will feature seven boats; six from the USA and one from Great Britain, with race organizers once again making a strong commitment to eco-friendly sailing. Last year, in partnership with 11th Hour Racing and Green Mountain Energy Company, the Atlantic Cup became the first carbon-neutral sailing race in the USA by offsetting an estimated 23,030 pounds (10.45 metric tons) of CO2 from entering the atmosphere. Sailors for the Sea (SfS) certified the event Gold in 2012, with SfS unveiling a new Platinum level certification in 2013 that the Atlantic Cup will strive for. Teams will set sail from Charleston, S.C. on Saturday, May 11 at 2 p.m. EDT on a 648 nautical mile race to New York Harbor for the second leg of the competition (May 14-17), before departing on May 18 on a 231 nautical mile final leg of competition. The annual event culminates in Newport, R.I. with two days of Inshore racing (May 25 — 26). The field includes the USA’s Pleiad Racing, Dragon, Gryphon Solo 2, Icarus Racing, Bodacious Dream and Lecoq Cuisine, along with Great Britain’s 40 Degrees.
Embryology and the Sea Anemone
May 2, 2013 10:43 AM - Andy Soos, ENN
Embryology is the science of the development of an embryo from the fertilization of the ovum to the fetus stage. How the newly borndevelops cell by cell is still a bit of mystery. The sea anemone, Nematostella vectensis, is a new study creature in embryology. Its career is being launched in part by the Stowers Institute for Medical Research Associate Investigator Matt Gibson, Ph.D., who is giving it equal billing with what has been his laboratory's leading player, the more traditional fruit fly. Gibson's lab investigates the cellular and molecular mechanisms used by cells to assemble into layers or clusters during embryogenesis. Those tissues, comprised of densely packed cells known as epithelial cells, shape the body not only of simple creatures but also of mammals, where they line every body cavity from lung to intestine and form hormone- and milk-secreting glands. Unfortunately these cells have a dark side too- over 80% of human cancers, carcinomas, are of epithelial origin.
Toxic Metals in Lipstick
May 2, 2013 10:12 AM - University of California, Berkeley's School of Public Health via EurekAlert
Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley's School of Public Health tested 32 different lipsticks and lip glosses commonly found in drugstores and department stores. They detected lead, cadmium, chromium, aluminum and five other metals, some of which were found at levels that could raise potential health concerns. Their findings will be published online Thursday, May 2, in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives. Prior studies also have found metals in cosmetics, but the UC Berkeley researchers estimated risk by analyzing the concentration of the metals detected and consumers' potential daily intake of the metals, and then comparing this intake with existing health guidelines. "Just finding these metals isn't the issue; it's the levels that matter," said study principal investigator S. Katharine Hammond, professor of environmental health sciences. "Some of the toxic metals are occurring at levels that could possibly have an effect in the long term."
Economic development 'can restore lost biodiversity'
May 2, 2013 06:26 AM - Bernard Appiah, SciDevNet
Economic development can lead to increased biodiversity restoration in Sub-Saharan Africa, on a similar scale to its loss due to development, according to a study. Biodiversity loss is one of the important environmental threats that humanity faces, the study says, and it disproportionately harms the world's poorest people, who are less able to adjust to it, as they have limited access to alternatives then using natural resources for livelihoods.
Insect Eye View Inspired Camera
May 1, 2013 03:38 PM - Editor, ENN
Insects can have a number of different types of eyes and are remembered more for their compound eyes. In contrast with our eyes, insect eyes are immovable and unable to focus but have other advantages. When praying mantises, dragonflies, ants and other insects peer out at the world, their bulging, compound eyes allow them to see an incredibly wide field of view with an almost infinite depth of field. Imitating the functionality of an insect eye — which is really a collection of many tinier eyes, known as ommatidia — in a camera has been a long sought-after goal for engineers. Present day camera lenses with wide fields of view, such as fisheye lenses, create distortion around the edges of the image but future "insect eye" cameras may not.
May 1, 2013 01:09 PM - Andy Soos, ENN
The seven living species of sea turtles are: flatback sea turtle, green sea turtle, hawksbill sea turtle, Kemp's ridley sea turtle, leatherback sea turtle, loggerhead sea turtle and olive ridley sea turtle. Sea turtles are generally found in the waters over continental shelves. Nesting green sea turtles are benefiting from marine protected areas by using habitats found within their boundaries, according to a U.S. Geological Survey study that is the first to track the federally protected turtles in Dry Tortugas National Park. Green turtles are listed as endangered in Florida and threatened throughout the rest of their range, and the habits of green sea turtles after their forays to nest on beaches in the Southeast U.S. have long remained a mystery. Until now, it was not clear whether the turtles made use of existing protected areas, and few details were available as to whether they were suited for supporting the green sea turtle's survival.
Birds Strike: deaths caused by collisions with buildings severely dent populations
May 1, 2013 09:48 AM - Ben Whitford, The Ecologist
Ben Whitford reveals why numerous birds fall dead and injured from the skies over urban areas each year, and asks what can be done to prevent this ongoing avian tragedy... On a brisk May morning in 2001, countless dying birds fell like rain from the grey Toronto sky. In the east of the city, outside a hulking 18-storey office complex called Consilium Place, workers on cigarette breaks watched in horror as tiny feathered bodies thudded onto the pavement, fell into their laps, and crashed onto the picnic tables where they had laid out their coffee and morning snacks.
Microbes in the Subway
May 1, 2013 09:03 AM - Editor, ENN
New York City has some strange smells, especially in the subway. Walking underground you can sense that the air just feels stuffier, smells smellier, and must be dirtier. Well according to new research, the microbial population in the air of the New York City subway system is nearly identical to that of ambient air on the city streets.