Top Stories

World Water Day in the Middle East

With the region getting drier 'at an alarming rate', what is there to celebrate this World Water Day? In the lead up to World Water Day which will take place next Friday, I have gathered some interesting water-based facts on the issue. The Middle East and North Africa region is famously one of the driest regions in the world and things don't look like they are getting better. So what is there to actually celebrate? Read on for the bad news and also some rather great news. Firstly, the bad news. According to the latest statistics gathered by IRIN, the Middle East and North Africa region (MENA) is getting drier at an alarming rate. And whilst trading and importing food brings in 'virtual water', it also makes the region extremely vulnerable to trade disruptions caused by dwindling supplies, higher prices or lack of money to pay for the imports. As a report on the issue of climate change and the Arab Spring points out, a winter drought in China contributed to global wheat shortages and skyrocketing bread prices in Egypt, which is the world's largest wheat importer. >> Read the Full Article

Martian Stream Bed

Scientists have identified sulfur, nitrogen, hydrogen, oxygen, phosphorus and carbon - some of the key chemical ingredients for life - in the powder Curiosity drilled out of a sedimentary rock near an ancient stream bed in Gale Crater on the Red Planet last month. Sedimentary rock means running water once upon a time. Water often means life and the rock had the right chemistry to do this. Clues to this habitable environment come from data returned by the rover's Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) and Chemistry and Mineralogy (CheMin) instruments. The data indicate the Yellowknife Bay area the rover is exploring was the end of an ancient river system or an intermittently wet lake bed that could have provided chemical energy and other favorable conditions for microbes. The rock is made up of a fine-grained mudstone containing clay minerals, sulfate minerals and other chemicals. This ancient wet environment, unlike some others on Mars, was not harshly oxidizing, acidic or extremely salty. >> Read the Full Article

German Home for the Bison to Roam

What would you do if you owned 30,000 acres in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany? While this area is one of the country's most densely populated states, this vast acreage is covered with Norwegian spruce and beech trees and owned by Prince Richard of Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg. So what has this royal decided to do with his land? Fulfill his dream of reintroducing bison known as wisents, of course. >> Read the Full Article

Tribe rejects payment from electricity company behind destructive Amazon Dam

Leaders of more than two dozen Kayapó indigenous communities have rejected a $9 million offer from Brazilian state energy company Eletrobras to fund development projects in their region due to the the firm's involvement in the construction of the Belo Monte dam, reports Amazon Watch, an activist group fighting the hydroelectric project. >> Read the Full Article

Endangered Sharks

Well-known species of sharks such as the great white shark, tiger shark, blue shark, mako shark, and the hammerhead shark are apex predators—organisms at the top of their underwater food chain. Well man is actually at the very top. Many sharks are endangered as are many other creatures. CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) is an international agreement between governments. Its aim is to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival. CITES has just accepted Committee recommendations to list five species of highly traded sharks under the CITES Appendices, along with those for the listing of both manta rays and one species of sawfish. Japan, backed by Gambia and India, unsuccessfully challenged the Committee decision to list the oceanic whitetip shark, while Grenada and China failed in an attempt to reopen debate on listing three hammerhead species. Colombia, Senegal, Mexico and others took the floor to defend Committee decisions to list sharks. >> Read the Full Article

7 Myths of Meditation

Deepak Chopra attempts to debunk some of the more common myths surrounding the practice of meditation. In the past 40 years, meditation has entered the mainstream of modern Western culture, and been prescribed by physicians and practiced by everyone from business executives, artists, and scientists to students, teachers, military personnel, and - on a promising note - politicians. >> Read the Full Article

Black or White, how IS that smoke generated?

The Vatican has released the pyrotechnical formula for the "mystery" recipe used to produce the holy puffs used to signify that a new Pope has been elected, or not elected. "It's no secret," Father Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman, said at a news conference today. The process involves the use of two stoves. One, first employed in 1939 to elect Pope Pius XII, is used to burn the ballots. Another, more modern stove was introduced in 2005 to augment smoke and send a clear signal out to St. Peter’s square. Copper stovepipes protruding from the top of each stove are joined into a single pipe which runs up out of the window to the chimney. >> Read the Full Article

Neanderthal Man Senses

The Neanderthals are an extinct species or subspecies of the genus Homo which is closely related to modern humans. They are known from fossils, dating from the Pleistocene period, which have been found in Europe and parts of western and central Asia. Still what and who were they? How ere the same end how were they different? Neanderthal brains were adapted to allow them to see better and maintain larger bodies, according to new research by the University of Oxford and the Natural History Museum, London. >> Read the Full Article

Every time the Dpp gene rings, a fruit fly gets its wings

It has been said that every time a bell rings, an angel gets his wings. But what about a fruit fly? Ever wonder how this species gets its wings? According to new research, scientists have revealed that genetic activity has led to the development of the fruit fly's wings. Researchers at The Ohio State University analyzed a cluster of cells present in the fruit fly's first day of larval life to connect a gene known to be active in the embryo with the gene that triggers the growth of wings. >> Read the Full Article

Nearby Stars and Planets

The stars are so very far away. But they seem to be creeping closer all the time with the advent of new discoveries and studies. For example. a pair of newly discovered stars is the third-closest star system to the Sun, according to a paper that will be published in Astrophysical Journal Letters. The stars are so very far away. But they seem to be creeping closer all the time with the advent of new discoveries and studies. For example. a pair of newly discovered stars is the third-closest star system to the Sun, according to a paper that will be published in Astrophysical Journal Letters. The duo is the closest star system discovered since 1916 and is about 6.5 light years distant. The closest still remain the trio of stars known as Alpha Centauri at a little over 4 light years away. Even more amazing is that researchers have conducted a remote reconnaissance of a distant solar system with a new telescope imaging system that sifts through the blinding light of stars. Using a suite of high-tech instrumentation and software called Project 1640, the scientists collected the first chemical fingerprints, or spectra, of this system's four red exoplanets, which orbit a star 128 light years away from Earth. It makes one wonder what astronomers on other worlds are seeing on Earth itself. >> Read the Full Article