• Fire-ant rafts inspiring materials science research

    In our highly digital world, people often forget about the natural wonders around us and the importance they serve in our everyday lives. When taking a closer look, nature is oftentimes the best model for advancing our technology. Plants have taught us the importance of light energy, and now insects are sparking ideas in materials science. The fire-ant, an insect feared for its stinging, venom-injecting bite, is being studied for its "viscoelastic" properties. Viscoelastic materials not only resist shear flow and strain when a stress is applied, like honey, but also bounce back to their original shape when stretched out or compressed, like rubber bands. Therefore, these materials are neither solid nor liquid, but a combination of both, like Jell-O and toothpaste. Fire-ants form rafts in the presence of any forceful liquid, but not just any typical ant raft. These rafts actively reorganize their structure. >> Read the Full Article
  • Climate change signals a whale of a shift in feeding patterns

    Every summer and fall, endangered North Atlantic right whales congregate in the Bay of Fundy between Nova Scotia and New Brunswick to gorge on zooplankton. Researchers have documented the annual feast since 1980, and well over 100 whales typically attend, a significant portion of the entire species. Only this year, they didn't. Just a dozen right whales trickled in—a record low in the New England Aquarium's 34-year-old monitoring program. And that comes on the heels of two other low-turnout years, 2010 and 2012. >> Read the Full Article
  • World's first ever 'Brussels Sprout Battery' lights up Christmas tree

    A team of scientists and engineers from The Big Bang UK Young Scientists & Engineers Fair has created the world's first battery made entirely of Brussels sprouts, which is being used to light an 8 foot Christmas tree. The "Sprout Battery" was launched today on the Southbank, London, with the help of Year 7 pupils from City of London Academy, Islington, who were on hand to switch on the Christmas tree lights. >> Read the Full Article
  • 80,000 acres swallowed up

    The United States has lost approximately 80,000 acres of coastal wetlands between 2004 and 2009 according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Much of this loss is blamed on development and has occurred in freshwater regions. Additionally, more than 70% of the loss is from the Gulf of Mexico. According to the EPA wetland loss in the eastern U.S. is happening at a rate double that of what is being restored. >> Read the Full Article
  • Stealth Hunter

    Soaring silently above the landscape, owls search out their prey utilizing acoustic stealth. University of Cambridge, England researchers led by Dr. Justin Jaworski are studying the owl’s wing structure and mechanics to better understand how it mitigates noise to apply that information conventional aircraft design. >> Read the Full Article
  • Pre-industrial Methane Emissions Triggered by Natural and Anthropogenic Causes

    The climate change debate has been going back and forth between skeptics and believers for the last couple of years. While carbon dioxide is usually the greenhouse gas that gets the most attention, methane is considered another powerful greenhouse gas that can be emitted both naturally as well as human-induced. A new study suggests the increase in methane emissions since the industrial revolution cannot be blamed on anthropogenic sources alone. >> Read the Full Article
  • A bigger fish (tank) story - EcoQube

    Aqua Design Innovations is a University of California San Diego (UCSD) undergraduate startup. Economics major, Eric Suen (2015) and Biology major Kevin Liang (2014) spent the last year designing the EcoQube, a miniature ecosystem that they hope will become a part of peoples' homes and will inspire more people, especially children, to be more environmentally aware, particularly about aquaponics. The EcoQube is a vision that underlines the potential possibility of changing the way agriculture and aquaculture traditionally work. >> Read the Full Article
  • Modern Mobile Equipment Captures Thundersnow in Action

    Thundersnow, also known as a winter thunderstorm, is an unusual kind of thunderstorm where snow falls instead of rain. The interaction of clouds and ice pellets inside these storms generates a charge, resulting in lightning and thunder. While these events are fairly rare around the globe, they are most common with lake-effect snow, especially near the Great Lakes. In order to capture these rare thundersnows in action, the National Science Foundation (NSF) will send out the Doppler-on-Wheels (DOW) and the King Air, a University of Wyoming instrumented aircraft. >> Read the Full Article
  • Quick tsunami sensors tested in Mediterranean

    A new alert system could improve tsunami warnings in the Mediterranean, but most countries bordering the sea still lack evacuation plans, scientists have said ahead of a meeting of 20 countries in Italy this week (19-21 November). The tenth session of the Intergovernmental Coordination Group for the North-Eastern Atlantic, Mediterranean and connected seas, Tsunami Warning and Mitigation System (NEAMTWS) will discuss establishing new national tsunami warning centres. It will also work towards organising the next tsunami exercise, a simulation of tsunami alerts following several different kinds of earthquakes, to evaluate the communication and response mechanisms throughout the NEATWS network. >> Read the Full Article
  • 650 Years of Sea Ice Change

    Almost 650 years of annual change in sea-ice cover can been seen in the calcite crust growing among layers of seafloor algae, says a new study from the University of Toronto Mississauga (UTM). "This is the first time coralline algae have been used to track changes in Arctic sea ice," said Jochen Halfar, an associate professor in UTM's department of chemical and physical sciences. "We found the algal record shows a dramatic decrease in ice cover over the last 150 years." With colleagues from the Smithsonian Institution, Germany and Newfoundland, Halfar collected and analyzed samples of the alga Clathromorphum compactum. This long-lived plant species forms thick rock-like calcite crusts on the seafloor in shallow waters 15 to 17 metres deep. It is widely distributed in the Arctic and sub-Arctic Oceans. Divers retrieved the specimens from near-freezing seawater during several research cruises led by Walter Adey from the Smithsonian. >> Read the Full Article