• Saturnian Storms

    The idea of storms on other worlds is not uncommon. NASA's Cassini spacecraft has tracked the aftermath of a massive storm on Saturn. Data reveal record-setting disturbances in the planet's upper atmosphere long after the visible signs of the storm abated, in addition to an indication the storm was more forceful than scientists previously thought. Saturn's usually bland atmosphere occasionally exhibits long-lived ovals and other features common on Jupiter. In 1990, the Hubble Space Telescope imaged an enormous white cloud near Saturn's equator that was not present during the Voyager encounters and in 1994, another, smaller storm was observed. Data from Cassini's composite infrared spectrometer (CIRS) instrument revealed the storm's powerful discharge sent the temperature in Saturn's stratosphere soaring 150 degrees Fahrenheit above normal. >> Read the Full Article
  • 'Aquaponics' Help Islanders Cultivate Crops and Raise Fish

    A pilot aquaponics experiment is now underway in the Cook Islands that has the potential to become the South Pacific region's best chance for preventing food shortages. First announced during the Pacific Islands Forum earlier this year (27–31 August), the pilot project combines aquaculture (raising aquatic animals like fish in tanks) and hydroponics (cultivating plants in water) in symbiosis, a strategy that can be replicated in other island nations. The project's long-term objective is to give Pacific islanders — who are facing climate-related issues such as drought and fish poisoning — a way to sustainably grow crops using minimal water and no pesticides. >> Read the Full Article
  • Earthquake aftershock forecasting must be improved

    The need to speed up work on a reliable system for predicting potential aftershocks in the days following a strong earthquake has become more urgent, say US scientists, after a rare quake earlier this year was found to have triggered many large, and potentially damaging, earthquakes around the world. >> Read the Full Article
  • Bacteria Evolution

    The ancestors of modern bacteria were single-celled microorganisms that were the first forms of life to appear on Earth, about 4 billion years ago. For about 3 billion years, all organisms were microscopic, and bacteria and archaea were the dominant forms of life. Bacteria have a bad rap as agents of disease, but scientists are increasingly discovering their many benefits, such as maintaining a healthy gut. A new study now suggests that bacteria may also have helped kick off one of the key events in evolution: the leap from one-celled organisms to many-celled organisms, a development that eventually led to all larger multi-celled animals, including humans. >> Read the Full Article
  • Fern Genus Named for Music Genius Lady Gaga

    When you discover a new species, you get to name it. Whether you name it after yourself or dedicate it to an idol, recent discoveries have led to some interesting and creative species names. From a California lichen named Caloplaca obamae for President Barack Obama to an Australian horse fly donned Scaptia beyonceae for singer Beyoncé, to beetle species named for George Bush and Kate Winslet, many celebrity namesakes are chosen for these newly discovered species. And now we have a whole genus of 19 fern species dedicated to Lady Gaga. >> Read the Full Article
  • MIT Researchers look for Beta Testers for Revolutionary Fast Footprint Tool

    On September 26th at the LCA XII Conference, MIT graduate and co-founder of a start-up in the promising new field of "big data," publicly unveiled an innovative approach at product sustainability analysis, saying that it will "literally turn the current approach upside down." The innovation and its algorithms were developed by a team of MIT researchers looking for a way to put environmental impact data into the hands of companies large and small, so that they can obtain rapid and accurate guidance for dramatically reducing energy costs and simultaneously become more sustainable. "I heard Alex speak and I thought to myself, the next wave of innovation in this field is coming," said Yann Risz, the Vice President of Strategy and Environmental Finance of leading corporate energy management company Enviance. This year's theme for the conference was "Life Cycle Thinking, Life Cycle Living," making the perfect venue for the product's launch, because of the focus on being a practical and more rapid solution to product footprinting. The primary focus of their "Footprinter" product is overcoming a barrier that has frustrated sustainability analysts and made the cost prohibitively high for most companies: large amounts of detailed data collection. >> Read the Full Article