• The mystery behind starling flocks explained

    The mystery behind the movements of flocking starlings could be explained by the areas of light and dark created as they fly, new research suggests. The research, conducted by the University of Warwick and published in the journal PNAS, found that flocking starlings aim to maintain an optimum density at which they can gather data on their surroundings. This occurs when they can see light through the flock at many angles, a state known as marginal opacity. The subsequent pattern of light and dark, formed as the birds attempt to achieve the necessary density, is what provides vital information to individual birds within the flock. >> Read the Full Article
  • Aura's Ten Year Mission Improves our Understanding of Ozone

    This week, on July 15, NASA's Aura satellite celebrated its 10th anniversary. Happy belated, Aura! The mission of Aura, which is Latin for breeze, centers on obtaining measurements of ozone, aerosols and key gases throughout the atmosphere. And after one decade in space, the satellite has provided vital data about the cause, concentrations and impact of major air pollutants. >> Read the Full Article
  • Where are America's Greenest Buildings?

    Ok, no surprise to see Washington, D.C. or San Francisco ranked high in a list of the cities with America's greenest buildings. But Atlanta? Georgia's capital was the only southern state to make the top ten in the 2014 U.S. Clean Tech Leadership Index, released July 15 by Clean Edge. The cleantech research firm tracks the cleantech progress of the 50 largest metro areas and the 50 states. >> Read the Full Article
  • Rainwater discovered below the Earth's fractured upper crust

    When it rains, where does the water go? Well for one, a lot of rainwater will funnel its way off roads and impermeable surfaces and will make its way into storm sewers. Another path might be directly into rivers and lakes. Or, rainwater might get soaked up by soil where it will then infiltrate into the ground and replenish aquifers. But just how deep does this rainwater infiltrate? According to new research, rainwater can penetrate below the Earth's fractured upper crust - which is at least eight miles below the Earth's surface! >> Read the Full Article
  • Sand Power: A Better Battery

    Technology of the future is hard to see coming – sometimes because you can't see it. Advances in nanotechnology are the driving force behind longer lasting Lithium-ion batteries. Currently, Lithium-ion batteries are used to power every-day technologies like cell phones, computers, cameras and cars. Their energy source is a carbon-based graphite anode, which is nothing short of polarizing. Battery life has always been a major concern with Li-ion batteries. The solution is the most abundant compound in the earth's crust: SiO2, - or – more commonly – sand. The next generation of battery technology is using sand as a source for the production of nano-silicon, an anode material for Li-ion batteries. >> Read the Full Article
  • Exposure to Aircraft noise a continuing problem even with quieter engines

    Millions of urban Europeans are exposed to aviation noise that contributes to stress, high blood pressure and even weight gain, say health specialists who want stronger measures to make flying quieter. While new-generation jet engines are on average 75% quieter than than their 20th century predecessors, the advance in technology has been offset by a steady rise in flights and a demand for bigger passenger planes. >> Read the Full Article
  • This is a extra special year for "Super Moons"

    Super Moons are full moons that are extra, well, super! They are super because they appear larger in the evening sky than your run of the mill full moon. In June of last year, a full Moon made headlines. The news media called it a "supermoon" because it was 14% bigger and 30% brighter than other full Moons of 2013. Around the world, people went outside to marvel at its luminosity. If you thought one supermoon was bright, how about three? The full Moons of summer 2014—July 12th, August 10th, and Sept. 9th--will all be supermoons. The scientific term for the phenomenon is "perigee moon." Full Moons vary in size because of the oval shape of the Moon's orbit. The Moon follows an elliptical path around Earth with one side ("perigee") about 50,000 km closer than the other ("apogee"). Full Moons that occur on the perigee side of the Moon's orbit seem extra big and bright. >> Read the Full Article
  • Record Radiation in South America

    Astrobiologists from the United States and Germany recorded the highest known level of solar UV radiation to reach Earth's surface. This was around 10 years ago. On December 29, 2003, the UV Index (UVI) peaked, reaching the blistering number of 43.3 over the Andes Mountains in Bolivia. To put this in context, a beachgoer in the United States would expect a UVI of 8 or 9 on a summer day. Even with an 8 or a 9, one may not escape the day without sunburn. Nonetheless, it has taken scientists 10 years to detail a report of this data while taking into account all of the variables and anomalies monitored from an international network of dosimeters – or Eldonets (European Light Dosimeter Network) – that measure UV radiation worldwide. This system is comprised of more than 100 stations across 5 continents to account for variation in the atmosphere above each station. >> Read the Full Article
  • New Study Quantifies Causes of the "Urban Heat Island" Effect

    A new Yale-led study quantifies for the first time the primary causes of the "urban heat island" (UHI) effect, a common phenomenon that makes the world's urban areas significantly warmer than surrounding countryside and may increase health risks for city residents. In an analysis of 65 cities across North America, researchers found that variation in how efficiently urban areas release heat back into the lower atmosphere — through the process of convection — is the dominant factor in the daytime UHI effect. This finding challenges a long-held belief that the phenomenon is driven principally by diminished evaporative cooling through the loss of vegetation. >> Read the Full Article
  • Our newest Astronauts are fruit flies!

    Becoming an Astronaut is a big deal! Men and women selected to go into space are very carefully chosen. They go through rigorous medical evaluations to make sure they are healthy and that their bodies can withstand the forces of liftoff and re-entry. And they go through months and months of training to prepare them for their first space flight. Now NASA is sending untested, untrained astronauts into space. Of course, they are not human, they are fruit flies! Fruit flies are bug eyed and spindly, they love rotten bananas, and, following orders from their pin-sized brains, they can lay hundreds of eggs every day. We have a lot in common. Genetically speaking, people and fruit flies are surprisingly alike, explains biologist Sharmila Bhattacharya of NASA's Ames Research Center. "About 77% of known human disease genes have a recognizable match in the genetic code of fruit flies, and 50% of fly protein sequences have mammalian analogues." >> Read the Full Article