• Elephant Seals: Data Collectors for Polar Oceans

    Most of us turn to the weather channel, or the app on our phones to find out the forecast for the week, but where do these predictions stem from? Many of these forecasts are made possible by the analyses of decades of past climate data. From temperatures, to the amount of rainfall, to wind patterns, climate scientists and weather forecasters use this data to deliver insight to future weather predictions. Understanding climate and weather systems in polar regions also plays a part in predicting these patterns. However, data collection in these extreme temperature regions is difficult and expensive as frozen seas prevent accessible channels for ships or buoys to collect data especially during long winters. So how have scientists and marine biologists been able to collect this polar data? With the help of elephant seals, of course. >> Read the Full Article
  • Unworldly Life Source

    Nowadays Earth is perfectly lovely but once it was a barren rock. So how did life arise on such an unpromising property? In fact, new research shows that life on Earth may have come from out of this world. Lawrence Livermore scientist Nir Goldman and University of Ontario Institute of Technology colleague Isaac Tamblyn (a former LLNL postdoc) found that icy comets that crashed into Earth billions of years ago could have produced life building organic compounds, including the building blocks of proteins and nucleobases pairs of DNA and RNA. Comets contain a variety of simple molecules, such as water, ammonia, methanol and carbon dioxide, and an impact event with a planetary surface would provide an abundant supply of energy to drive chemical reactions. >> Read the Full Article
  • Small island states told to build wider ocean expertise

    With rising concern about ocean degradation and the sustainable use of ocean resources, small island states must build scientific expertise that goes beyond their national needs and that benefits the oceans generally, a meeting of UN scientific experts has heard. Small island developing states (SIDS) are the "custodians" of vast ocean spaces that are important for global food security, biodiversity, natural resources and carbon sequestration, and broader sustainable ocean policies will in turn enhance their own economic development, say experts. >> Read the Full Article
  • Has power in the electric vehicle market switched from the US to China?

    When we think of automobiles the likelihood is that the US is a country which will spring to mind and then perhaps other operations in the Far East, Europe and beyond. For many years the likes of Ford and General Motors have dominated the automobile industry giving the US government enormous power to lead while the rest follow. However, there is a growing concern that the US government may well be losing control of the electric vehicle market with the Chinese authorities now keener than ever to invest in this new technology. It seems almost inconceivable that President Obama, who has recently been forced to renege on his 1 million electric vehicle target, should lose control of the electric vehicle industry to China. >> Read the Full Article
  • 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