Top Stories

Faster Than the Speed of Light

Quantum entanglement is a very weird phenomena that occurs when particles such as photons and electrons interact physically and instantaneously even when separated. It may be the only environmental phenomena that works faster than the speed of light. Repeated experiments have verified that this works even when the measurements are performed more quickly than light could travel between the sites of measurement. Recent experiments have shown that this transfer occurs at least 10,000 times faster than the speed of light. In a new study, the Institute of Physics and German Physical Society's New Journal of Physics, researchers have proposed using the International Space Station (ISS) to test the limits of this "spooky action" and potentially help to develop the first global quantum communication network. Their plans include a so-called Bell experiment which tests the theoretical contradiction between the predictions of quantum mechanics and classical physics, and a quantum key distribution experiment which will use the ISS as a relay point to send a secret encryption key across much larger distances than have already been achieved using optical fibres on Earth. >> Read the Full Article

Algae Oil

Algae biofuel is an alternative to fossil fuel that uses algae as its source. Several companies and government agencies are funding efforts to reduce capital and operating costs and make algae fuel production commercially viable. Taking an approach similar to that used for discovering new therapeutic drugs, chemists at the University of California, Davis, have found several compounds that can boost oil production by green microscopic algae, a potential source of biodiesel and other green fuels. The work appears online in the journal Chemical Biology. Microalgae are single-celled organisms that, like green plants, use photosynthesis to capture carbon dioxide and turn it into complex compounds, including oils and lipids. Marine algae species can be raised in saltwater ponds and so do not compete with food crops for land or fresh water. >> Read the Full Article

New Materials Promise to Dramatically Drop Photovoltaic Prices

What is the single most significant barrier to widespread use of alternative energy? Is it the right wing climate change skeptics? No. It's economics. If there is not money to be made at the same scale as in the fossil fuel industry, and if renewable, clean energy does not become cheaper than fossil fuels, alternative energy doesn't stand a chance in the free market. >> Read the Full Article

Black-backed Woodpeckers love burnt out forests. They are also endangered

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced that it will conduct a full status review to determine whether genetically distinct populations of black-backed woodpeckers — which thrive in forests where fires have burned — will get protection under the Endangered Species Act in two regions, California/Oregon and the Black Hills of South Dakota. Today’s decision that protection may be warranted for these birds comes in response to a scientific petition submitted by four conservation groups last May. Black-backed woodpeckers are threatened by logging that destroys their post-fire habitat. "This is the first time in the history of the Endangered Species Act that the government has initiated steps to protect a wildlife species that depends upon stands of fire-killed trees," said Dr. Chad Hanson, an ecologist and black-backed woodpecker expert. "We are pleased to see the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recognize the naturalness and ecological importance of this post-fire habitat." >> Read the Full Article

Tyson Foods and Ammonia

Tyson foods is all about chickens. Well that is not quite so. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Justice announced a Clean Air Act (CAA) settlement with Tyson Foods, Inc. and several of its affiliate corporations to address threats of accidental chemical releases after anhydrous ammonia was released during incidents at facilities in Kansas, Missouri, Iowa, and Nebraska, resulting in multiple injuries, property damage, and one fatality. Ammonia, in this case is often used for refrigeration systems. >> Read the Full Article

Use of GM cotton linked to rise in aphid numbers

In an unexpected trade-off, the cultivation of cotton that has been genetically engineered to reduce caterpillar damage by producing its own insecticide has been linked to higher numbers of another pest - aphids. Previous studies had linked the increase in aphids to reduced insecticide use by farmers cultivating Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) cotton. >> Read the Full Article

Yum! Brands announces 'greener' paper policy

KCF, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell policy excludes fiber from conversion of old-growth rainforests to plantations. After a prolonged campaign by environmental activists, the world's largest fast food company has announced a new sourcing policy that will shift it toward greener packaging materials. >> Read the Full Article

Europa Peroxide

Europa is the sixth closest moon of the planet Jupiter, and the smallest of its four Galilean satellites, but still one of the largest moons in the Solar System. Europa has emerged as one of the top locations in the Solar System in terms of potential habitability and the possibility of hosting extraterrestrial life. Life could exist in its under-ice ocean, perhaps subsisting in an environment similar to Earth's deep-ocean hydrothermal vents. A new paper led by a NASA researcher shows that hydrogen peroxide is abundant across much of the surface of Jupiter's moon Europa. The authors argue that if the peroxide on the surface of Europa mixes into the ocean below, it could be an important energy supply for simple forms of life, if life were to exist there. The paper was published online recently in the Astrophysical Journal Letters. >> Read the Full Article

EU to require efficiency increases for boilers

A below-the-radar vote in an obscure EU committee to set new efficiency standards for central heating boilers has sealed energy savings that could equal 10% of Europe's energy consumption by 2020, green groups say. After more than five years of haggling, the Ecodesign directive's regulatory committee in March voted through a text setting minimum green requirements for boilers and water heaters, which also forces them to be labelled for their energy savings potential. Stéphane Arditi, a senior policy officer for the European Environmental Bureau (EEB), told EurActiv that the ensuing emissions reductions would be "massive". >> Read the Full Article

World Health Day

World Health Day, celebrated each year on the 7th of April, marks the founding, in 1948, of the World Health Organisation (WHO), and highlights a priority area of public health concern. Here at ARKive, we decided to find out more about the links between species and human health, and show you just how important the conservation of biodiversity is to the advancement of medical science. Species and medicine: When was the last time you had a headache and reached for some aspirin to relieve the pain and pressure? Or perhaps you’ve had a bacterial chest infection over the cold, harsh winter and were prescribed some antibiotics to get rid of it? Well, you have the wonderful plant and fungal kingdoms to thank for your recovery. >> Read the Full Article