• Aye-aye, it's unique!

    If "unique" is a relative term then this endangered critter has it hands down...or rather, fingers down! The Aye-aye (Daubentonia madagascariensis), once believed to be a rodent is a primate found in the canopy of the forests of Madagascar. This dark brown and black nocturnal animal is a variety of lemur with very special hands featuring one extraordinarily long middle finger with a piercing fingernail at its end. The aye-aye will tap its fingers on hollow branches disturbing resident grubs and listening for movement. Using its naked bat like ears, the aye-aye has excellent hearing and is the only primate known to use echolocation to find its prey. >> Read the Full Article
  • Ocean Mixing in Drake Passage Linked to Climate

    The Drake Passage, also known as the Mar de Hoces, or sea of Hoces is the channel of water located between the southern tip of South America and the Antarctic continent. Known for its powerful waves and stormy weather, this area has been the focus for research concerning how deep and mid-depth ocean waters are mixed. Because of undersea mountains that are located under these icy waters, new research has shown that sea water mixes dramatically when it rushes over these landforms. This consequently plays an important role in regulating the Earth's climate and ocean currents. >> Read the Full Article
  • The Greenest Building in the World

    In honor of Green Building Week, we have searched high and low to showcase one of the greenest buildings in the world -and on a recent press trip to Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens in Pittsburgh, we may have found a winner. Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens may be known for its glass Victorian greenhouse built in the late 1800s, or even as the location where President Obama hosted the G-20 summit in 2009. But the real piece de resistance that puts the Conservatory on the map is their new Center for Sustainable Landscapes (CSL). The CSL is primarily home to many of the administrative, educational, and research offices associated with Phipps, however parts of the building are open to the public and there are plans in the works to connect the building’s indoor space to the outdoors by means of artwork and sound installations. So why does this building rank among the greenest in the world? For one, the facility is expected to meet or exceed three of the world's highest green standards. So far the facility has achieved LEED Platinum status, the highest of the US Green Building Council's certifications. Beyond LEED certification, the CSL is striving to achieve the Sustainable Sites Initiative SITES certification for landscapes. The CSL is currently in the process of obtaining state permits and will find out in October if they have achieved 4-star status which has yet to be achieved by any other project. Finally, the CSL is involved with the Living Building Challenge. Projects that achieve this level of performance must document net zero energy, which defines the most advanced measures of sustainability in the built environment. >> Read the Full Article
  • Measuring the speed of thaw

    Researchers have known that ocean temperatures are rising but up until now haven’t had any way of measuring the effects of this rise on Antarctica's glaciers. New research will now enable scientists to determine how quickly ice is melting under a rapidly changing glacier. >> Read the Full Article
  • Chimp Haven wins $10,000 Grant for Chimp's Artwork

    Watch out, Picasso! Make room for Brent, a 37-year-old chimpanzee! One of Brent's paintings recently won first prize and $10,000 for Chimp Haven Sanctuary. Chimp Haven Sanctuary is a national sanctuary in northwest Louisiana for chimps retired from federal research. This is the same sanctuary that will be receiving many of the 310 chimps that the National Institutes of Health recently announced it will be retiring from research. The primate, a retired laboratory animal, who uses his tongue to apply color instead of a brush, received the most votes in the chimpanzee art contest organized by the Humane Society of the United States. Five other sanctuaries competed, using paintings created during "enrichment sessions," but Brent's delicate smears of blue, violet, yellow and turquoise triumphed. When The Associated Press asked for a comment from Brent on his success, his handlers at Chimp Haven said that the chimp couldn't be reached for comment because he was asleep. Ah, the hard life of an artist! >> Read the Full Article
  • Earth's Shock

    A group of scientists from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory led by Nir Goldman have confirmed the possibility of life emanating from out of this world. Using an icy mixture to simulate the makeup of comets, the research team shocked the mixture at high velocities in a light gas gun to test whether amino acids could be produced. The impact of the shock produced several amino acids suggesting a pathway for the synthetic production protein components within our Solar System, and ultimately a possible pathway towards life through similar impacts. >> Read the Full Article
  • Flying High on Research and Development

    Sixteen universities have been identified to participate in Research and Development grants to support the United States Government (USG) commitment to a reduction in greenhouse gases in the commercial airline industry. In response to ongoing global pressures to reduce the impact of commercial aviation on climate change the USG through the FAA is aggressively seeking alternative ways to reduce emissions. The goal of the United States Government (USG) is to achieve carbon-neutral growth for U.S. Commercial aviation by 2020, which equates to a reduction in carbon dioxide of 115 million metric tons (MT) over that time period. To meet this goal, the FAA has organized a Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen) initiative to achieve efficient aircraft operations and greenhouse gas emission reductions operationally and through airspace infrastructure improvements. >> Read the Full Article
  • Stronger Winds May Increase Antarctica Sea Ice

    Is sea ice melting or is it not? It seems that for every research paper supporting this evidence of global warming, there is another that is shows global warming is not happening. We tend to pay close attention to melting sea ice in the Arctic, however sea ice in Antarctica may be heading towards a record high this year. How? Polar winds. >> Read the Full Article
  • The Carbon Credentials of Smartphones

    Launching alongside Apple's flagship 5S iPhone will be the 5C, the first mid-range iPhone, with fewer features and a plastic casing instead of aluminium. The 5S will have a carbon footprint of 70kg, the 5C a footprint of 60kg. Of the 5S's 70kg carbon footprint, 81% will be emitted during production and 12% during phone's 'career' (which is how I like to think of it). The new iPhones will be less environmentally friendly than those that came before. To be clear: the total carbon footprint per phone has increased, but mostly that is accounted for by production. In terms of running cost, an 13W energy efficient lightbulb is eight times more wasteful than an iPhone. >> Read the Full Article
  • Secrets of Earth's inner core

    The Earth has a solid iron core. That has been known since the days of Edward Halley, the discoverer of Halley's comet. The inner core also rotates, but details of its rotation have defied explanation, until now! Scientists at the University of Leeds have solved a 300-year-old riddle about which direction the centre of the Earth spins. The Earth’s inner core, made up of solid iron, 'superrotates' in an eastward direction – meaning it spins faster than the rest of the planet – while the outer core, comprising mainly molten iron, spins westwards at a slower pace. >> Read the Full Article