Top Stories

Senators’ Positions on Climate Change Reflect Their Donors’ Wishes

Earlier this week, President Obama followed up on the promise he made in his State of the Union Address, to take action on climate change even if Congress wouldn’t. Specifically, he said, “if Congress won’t act soon to protect future generations, I will. Why would Congress be so recalcitrant on an issue of such vital importance as taking action to minimize (it’s too late to avoid) the impact of a crisis that could threaten the existence of civilization as we know it?A recent analysis performed by MapLight suggests the root of much of the underlying motivation for our elected officials is money. >> Read the Full Article

Noise Pollution Affects Coral Reef Fish

While fish don't have ears that we can see, they do have ear parts inside their heads that can pick up sounds in the water. Not only do fish and invertebrates make their own sounds, but wind, waves and currents also create other background noise. And reefs especially are naturally noisy places. Add this noise to the engines and horns of shipping vessels and military sonars, and we have a full-blown orchestra of marine sounds. Consequently, fish react to the noises they hear and according to new research, boat noise can disrupt orientation behavior in larval coral reef fish. >> Read the Full Article

Dinosaur Growth

Tracking the growth of dinosaurs and how they changed as they grew is difficult since all the evidence there is consists of fossils. Using a combination of biomechanical analysis and bone histology, palaeontologists from Beijing, Bristol, and Bonn have shown how one of the best-known dinosaurs switched from four feet to two as it grew. Psittacosaurus, the 'parrot dinosaur' is known from more than 1000 specimens from the Cretaceous, 100 million years ago, of China and other parts of east Asia. As part of his PhD thesis at the University of Bristol, Qi Zhao, now on the staff of the Institute for Vertebrate Paleontology in Beijing, carried out the intricate study on the bones of babies, juveniles and adults. >> Read the Full Article

Chemists Introduce New Energy Efficient Seawater Desalination Method

Having access to fresh water is a human necessity. We rely on fresh water not only for drinking, but also for crop irrigation and food production. And in an ever-changing world, with ever-changing landscapes, many communities are often faced with access limitations to fresh water due to both natural and man-made causes. This is what turns communities to the sea- an abundant, yet salty water source. Seawater desalination is one way to address water needs, but many methods rely on large, expensive equipment which is not always efficient. So with this problem comes a solution from chemists at The University of Texas at Austin and the University of Marburg in Germany, as this team has introduced a new method that creates a small electrical field that removes salts from the water. >> Read the Full Article

Indonesia to spend $10M on cloud-seeding scheme to slow haze

The Indonesian government will spend 100 billion rupiah — $10 million — on a cloud-seeding scheme to reduce the haze plaguing Sumatra, Singapore, and Malaysia. According to a statement released after a meeting between top officials, Indonesia will use airplanes to seed clouds with salt in an effort to increase condensation and rainfall over parched parts of Sumatra where peat fires are spewing particulate matter into the atmosphere. The operation is expected to last until the end of the dry season, which typically runs through late September or early October. >> Read the Full Article

Thinner and Lighter Solar Cells

Solar cells have been changing for years and gradually becoming less expensive, more compact and more efficient. Most efforts at improving solar cells have focused on increasing the efficiency of their energy conversion, or on lowering the cost of manufacturing. But now MIT researchers are opening another avenue for improvement, aiming to produce the thinnest and most lightweight solar panels possible which will reduce manufacturing and installation costs. >> Read the Full Article

Backing Up Wind Power: The Policy Issues Associated with Hydroelectricity

What happens when there's no wind and wind turbines stop turning? What provides the back up power for this clean energy source on calm, windless days? While wind may be the fastest growing renewable energy source in the US, in order for us to rely on wind power, there needs to be some backup technology to fill in when wind does not blow. >> Read the Full Article

Indonesia's fires are a global concern

During the smoky season, or "musim kabut" as it is called in Indonesia, skeletons of leaves fall from the sky and disintegrate like melting snowflakes in children's hands. Historically, Indonesia's smoky season has peaked at the end of the dry season (September-October), just before the monsoon rains arrive. This year the dry season just began, and yet Singapore’s PSI (Pollutant Standard Index) record has already been broken – reaching a new high of 401 (Hazardous) on June 21, 2013. The air pollution in Peninsular Malaysia has also spiked to an all-time-high, resulting in Prime Minister Najib Razak declaring a state of emergency in Muar and Ledang districts on June 23, 2013. >> Read the Full Article

Are We Living Through a Shale Bubble?

On May 24th, J. David Hughes and Deborah Rogers gave a briefing to summarize the findings of two new reports dismantling the myth of a "shale revolution". We've heard about it in the media, on both sides of the political aisle: shale gas and oil are the future of US energy. Indeed, natural gas prices dropped thanks to hydraulic fracturing (or fracking) and horizontal drilling, which helped lower the country's carbon emissions by reducing coal consumption. >> Read the Full Article

Horse Genome

In the movie Jurassic Park dinosaurs were cloned from old DNA genome that had miraculously survived from millions of years ago, In practice this is not very likely. The oldest genome so far from a prehistoric creature has been sequenced by an international team, led by scientists from the Natural History Museum of Denmark (University of Copenhagen). The team, which included Dr Jakob Vinther of the University of Bristol, sequenced and analyZed short pieces of DNA molecules preserved in bone-remnants from a horse frozen for the last 700,000 years in the permafrost of Yukon, Canada. >> Read the Full Article