• Hole in the Sun

    Coronal holes are areas where the Sun's corona is darker, and colder, and has lower-density plasma than average. In this case it looks like a giant hole in the middle of the sun. These were first found when X-ray telescopes in the Skylab mission were flown above the Earth's atmosphere to reveal the structure of the corona. An extensive coronal hole rotated towards Earth recently (May 28-31, 2013). The massive coronal area is one of the largest seen in a year or more. Coronal holes are the source of strong solar wind gusts that carry solar particles out to our magnetosphere and beyond. Solar wind streams take 2-3 days to travel from the Sun to Earth, and the coronal holes in which they originate are more likely to affect Earth after they have rotated more than halfway around the visible hemisphere of the Sun, which is the case here. >> Read the Full Article
  • Ocean Denitrification

    Denitrification is a microbially facilitated process of nitrate reduction that may ultimately produce molecular nitrogen (N2) through a series of intermediate gaseous nitrogen oxide products. In general, it occurs where oxygen, a more energetically favorable electron acceptor, is depleted, and bacteria respire nitrate as a substitute terminal electron acceptor. Denitrification only takes place in anoxic environments where oxygen consumption exceeds the oxygen supply and where sufficient quantities of nitrate are present. As ice sheets melted during the deglaciation of the last ice age and global oceans warmed, oceanic oxygen levels decreased and denitrification accelerated by 30 to 120 percent, a new international study shows, creating oxygen-poor marine regions and throwing the oceanic nitrogen cycle off balance. By the end of the deglaciation, however, the oceans had adjusted to their new warmer state and the nitrogen cycle had stabilized – though it took several millennia. Recent increases in global warming, thought to be caused by human activities, are raising concerns that denitrification may adversely affect marine environments over the next few hundred years, with potentially significant effects on ocean food webs. >> Read the Full Article
  • Frozen Dione

    Dione is the 15th largest moon in the Solar System, and is more massive than all known moons smaller than itself combined. It is composed primarily of water ice, but as the third densest of Saturn's moons (after Enceladus and Titan, whose density is increased by gravitational compression) it must have a considerable fraction (~ 46%) of denser material like silicate rock in its interior. So it is much like a frozen snowball, inert and dead. Thanks to close-up images of a 500-mile-long (800-kilometer-long) mountain on the moon from NASA's Cassini spacecraft, scientists have found more evidence for the idea that Dione was likely geologically active in the past. It could still be active now. >> Read the Full Article
  • Data from NASA's Landsat 8 now available in almost real time

    Data from NAA's Landsat 8 is now freely available, enabling researchers and the general public to access images captured by the satellite within twelve hours of reception. The data is available to download at no charge from GloVis, EarthExplorer, or via the LandsatLook Viewer. Landsat 8 launched this February and has been capturing images since April. The satellite orbits Earth every 99 minutes and captures images of every point on the planet every 16 days, beaming 400 high resolution images to ground stations every 24 hours. Landsat features nine spectral bands, which include three visible light bands, two near-infrared bands, and two shortwave infrared (SWIR) bands, among others, as well as two thermal sensors, which are used for a wide range of applications, including monitoring environmental change, detecting fires, and watching crops. Google is one of the biggest commercial users of Landsat images, which feed into Google Earth, but other users include scientists and conservationists involved in tracking deforestation and forest degradation. >> Read the Full Article
  • Apigenin-rich foods may help defeat cancer cells

    We are constantly being told what to eat, what not to eat, what is good for our eyesight and what helps us loose weight. Well here's another suggestion: eat parsley, celery, and chamomile tea in order to help kill cancer cells. Researchers at The Ohio State University's Comprehensive Cancer Center found that the compound identified as apigenin could stop breast cancer cells from inhibiting their own death. >> Read the Full Article
  • 'Blind As A Bat' Is Surprisingly Inaccurate, As Researchers Determine The Mammals' 3D Vision

    Many of us humans take for granted our ability to perceive three-dimensional spaces, and neuroscientists have often wondered if this capability is present in other mammals. Researchers from the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel have now constructed miniature wireless devices that measure brain activity and are able to detect how fruit bats perceive space, remember spaces and navigate within them. This is the first time neuroscientists have been able to observe the perception of space and movement in the brains of non-human mammals. >> Read the Full Article
  • Asia-Pacific Analysis: Rain harvesting can avert crisis

    To ensure South-East Asias's growing population has enough water to drink, we need to collect more rain, says Crispin Maslog. The world's next major crisis will be a lack of water for home use, including drinking water, many scientists predict. Humans can survive around 40 days without food, but much less than that without water to drink. The scarcity of water for domestic use is becoming a critical problem, especially in rural parts of developing countries. Surface water in rivers, streams or lakes, and groundwater, are increasingly becoming contaminated with pollutants from factories, households, farms and mines. Wells dug deeper to extract groundwater are drying up. >> Read the Full Article
  • Extreme Ice Melts: The New Normal?

    Most of us are familiar with snow and ice melting as seasons change. This process even occurs in colder regions that typically have ice and snow all year round. However, last July, 98 percent of the Greenland Ice Sheet's surface melted. While losing all this snow and ice may seem normal to those of us who experience different seasons, this percentage is compared to roughly 50 percent that usually melts during an average summer. Snow that usually stays frozen and dry in these colder areas are turning wet with melted water and research led by the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences now shows last summer's extreme melt could soon be the new normal. >> Read the Full Article
  • Stromatolites

    Stromatolites are layered accretionary structures formed in shallow water by the trapping, binding and cementation of sedimentary grains by biofilms of microorganisms, especially cyanobacteria (commonly known as blue-green algae). Stromatolites provide some of the most ancient records of life on Earth by fossil remains which date from more than 3.5 billion years ago. The widespread disappearance of stromatolites, the earliest visible manifestation of life on Earth, may have been driven by single-celled organisms called foraminifera. The findings, by scientists at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI); Massachusetts Institute of Technology; the University of Connecticut; Harvard Medical School; and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, were published online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. >> Read the Full Article
  • Parasite-resistant maize developed by Kenyan scientist

    Two new varieties of hybrid maize that are resistant to the deadly parasitic Striga weed have been developed by a Kenyan scientist. The weed affects cereal crops in many parts of Africa and is a major cause of crop failure in East Africa, where climate change has been driving its spread in recent years. Mathews Dida, a maize breeder in the school of agriculture and food security at Maseno University, developed two maize varieties that produce a natural chemical that suppresses the growth of Striga weed, also known as witch-weed. >> Read the Full Article