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Not Your Pilgrim's Turkey

As we get ready for a great traditional Thanksgiving feast, I often wonder if this meal is really what the pilgrims and Native Americans would have eaten. Most likely our traditions have nothing to do with what really went down. We cannot even be sure that the first Thanksgiving had a turkey, and even if they did, according to a new study, this main dish would be genetically different than the bird present at the first Thanksgiving. >> Read the Full Article

Better Place EV Company May Turn Into EV Gas Station

Israel's electric car company Better Place is going to experience an overhaul, and will manage its existing resources in a new way, according to Evan Thornley, the company's new CEO who just moved to Israel from Australia. Instead of focusing on selling Renault-made cars and charge plans to keep them juiced, the company is going to seek new agreements with other EV car manufacturers worldwide so that Better Place charge stations and battery replacement points will be the center of a new business model. Over the past month and a half, Better Place's global CEO Shai Agassi was ousted, and last week its Israeli CEO Moshe Kaplinsky decided to quit amidst speculation that the troubled company had become even more unstable. >> Read the Full Article

Emissions Gap report warns of urgent need for climate change action

Action to tackle climate change needs to be urgently scaled up if the world is to have any chance of keeping a global temperature rise below 2 degrees C this century, according to UN Environment Programme (UNEP) research. The Emissions Gap Report, coordinated by UNEP and the European Climate Foundation, and released days before the convening of the Climate Change Conference of the Parties in Doha, shows that greenhouse gas emissions levels are now around 14 per cent above where they need to be in 2020. Instead of declining, concentration of warming gases like carbon dioxide (CO2) are actually increasing in the atmosphere-up around 20 per cent since 2000. >> Read the Full Article

Tree intercropping could save Africa's soils

Scientists have reported in Nature that the agroforestry approach of planting nutrient-fixing trees with food crops could help replenish Africa's poor quality soils, tackling one of the biggest threats to food security on the continent. Planting certain perennial trees together with food crops can more than double yields for maize and millet, which are among Sub-Saharan Africa's staple foods, scientists say. >> Read the Full Article

The Changing Winds of Mars

There is atmosphere on Mars and where there is atmosphere there are winds. Observations of wind patterns and natural radiation patterns on Mars by NASA's Curiosity rover are helping scientists better understand the environment on the Red Planet's surface. Researchers using the car-sized mobile laboratory have identified transient whirlwinds, mapped winds in relation to slopes, tracked daily and seasonal changes in air pressure, and linked rhythmic changes in radiation to daily atmospheric changes. The knowledge being gained about these processes helps scientists interpret evidence about environmental changes on Mars that might have led to conditions favorable for life in the past or even now. >> Read the Full Article

Estrogenic Plants May Affect Behavior Changes in Primates

While meat can contain both natural and artificial hormones, which are often added to produce faster-growing and more productive animals, researchers are now studying how plant-based foods can affect hormone levels. Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, are examining how certain plant-based foods that are high in estrogenic compounds can influence the behaviors of various primates and how that may have contributed to the evolution of the organisms. The research is the first to observe the connection between plant-based phytoestrogens, and behavior in a group of wild red colobus monkeys. >> Read the Full Article

After Brief Decrease Last Year, Sea Levels Resume Their Steady Rise

It is no secret that for the last couple decades, as Earth's climate has been changing, sea levels have been steadily rising. But what is not so well known is that in 2011, sea levels throughout the world fell sharply. Of course, with a body of water as large as the world's oceans, a sharp fall only equates to one quarter of an inch (1 cm). It is nonetheless, a dramatic change in general trend which caught the eye of NASA and European researchers. Using advanced satellites, they were able to track average sea levels with precision accuracy. What they have found is that after this brief decrease in sea levels, the seas have been rising again and are now back on track with their trajectory of the last twenty years. >> Read the Full Article

Great apes suffer mid-life crisis too

Homo sapiens are not alone in experiencing a dip in happiness during middle age (often referred to as a mid-life crisis) since great apes suffer the same according to new research in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). A new study of over 500 great apes (336 chimpanzees and 172 orangutans) found that well-being patterns in primates are similar to those experience by humans. This doesn't mean that middle age apes seek out the sportiest trees or hit-on younger apes inappropriately, but rather that their well-being starts high in youth, dips in middle age, and rises again in old age. >> Read the Full Article

Climate change predicted to hit poorest hardest

All nations will suffer the effects of a warmer world, but the world's poorest countries will suffer most from food shortages, rising sea levels, cyclones and drought, the World Bank’s new report on climate change says. Under new World Bank President Jim Yong Kim, a former scientist, the global development lender has launched a more aggressive stance to integrate climate change into development. "We will never end poverty if we don't tackle climate change. It is one of the single biggest challenges to social justice today," Kim told reporters on Friday [16 November]. >> Read the Full Article

Owl wings may inspire new design for quieting aircrafts

Airlines and airports could soon be relying on nature for a unique way to reduce noise pollution after researchers found owl feathers are designed to minimize sound while in flight. Owls have long been known to have the uncanny ability to fly silently, relying on specialized plumage to reduce noise so they can hunt in acoustic stealth. Now researchers from the University of Cambridge, England, are studying the owl's wing structure to better understand how it mitigates noise so they can apply that information to the design of conventional aircraft. >> Read the Full Article