• Shading the Earth: A new solution to global warming?

    In an effort combat climate change, scientists are researching ways to reduce the amount of sunlight reaching the earth. The reasoning behind the study is that these temporary sunlight reduction methods have the potential to reduce temperatures and therefore reduce warming. A new computer analysis of future climate change that considers emissions reductions together with sunlight reduction reveals that cooling the earth would only be necessary if the planet is found to heat up easily with added greenhouse gases. >> Read the Full Article
  • Lunar Wind and Water

    The solar wind is a stream of charged particles ejected from the upper atmosphere of the Sun. It mostly consists of electrons and protons with energies usually between 1.5 and 10 keV. The stream of particles varies in temperature and speed over time. These particles can escape the Sun's gravity because of their high kinetic energy and the high temperature of the corona. Three years ago University of Tennessee, Knoxville, researchers helped to discover water on the surface of the moon. Now, they are piecing together the origin of that water: solar wind. A new study published in this month’s Nature Geoscience confirms solar wind as a source for water embedded in the lunar surface. >> Read the Full Article
  • Planets with a 4 Star System

    Our world orbits one star. There are many multiple star systems and some binary stars have been found with planets. Now how about a star system with four suns and some planets? For the first time a planet has been found that orbits one pair of stars and has a second pair of stars revolving around it – so that four stars illuminate its skies. The discovery was made by volunteers using the planethunters.org website alongside a team led by astronomers from Oxford University, Yale University, and Adler Planetarium. Whilst binary stars – systems with pairs of stars – are not uncommon, out of the thousands of planets discovered outside our solar system until now only six* had been found orbiting binary stars (circumbinary planets) and none of these are known to have another pair of stars circling them until now. >> Read the Full Article
  • Felix Baumgartner's Incredible Free-Fall from the Stratosphere

    Felix Baumgartner’s supersonic freefall from 120,000 ft came off as planned yesterday. After years of planning, and with the support of a great team of professionals, it was more like a NASA mission than a daredevil stunt. The organization that Baumgartner assembled, Red Bull Stratos includes a team of experts to support him as he ascended to more than 120,000 feet in a stratospheric balloon and made a freefall jump rushing toward earth at supersonic speeds before parachuting to the ground. His record shattering jump will provide valuable medical and scientific research data for future pioneers. The Red Bull Stratos team brings together the world's leading minds in aerospace medicine, engineering, pressure suit development, capsule creation and balloon fabrication. It includes retired United States Air Force Colonel Joseph Kittinger, who holds three of the records broken by Felix. >> Read the Full Article
  • Gulf Stream Diversion

    The Gulf Stream, together with its northern extension towards Europe, the North Atlantic Drift, is a powerful, warm, and swift Atlantic ocean current that originates at the tip of Florida, and follows the eastern coastlines of the United States and Newfoundland before crossing the Atlantic Ocean. It has flowed that way for a very long time and it does not seem likely to ever have a sudden change in direction. At a meeting with New England commercial fishermen last December, physical oceanographers Glen Gawarkiewicz and Al Plueddemann from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) were alerted by three fishermen about unusually high surface water temperatures and strong currents on the outer continental shelf south of New England. The result of his investigation was a discovery that the Gulf Stream diverged well to the north of its normal path beginning in late October 2011, causing the warmer-than-usual ocean temperatures along the New England continental shelf. >> Read the Full Article
  • A Strange Martian Rock

    A rock is a rock. Unless it is Martian. The first Martian rock NASA's Curiosity rover has reached out to touch presents a more varied composition than expected from previous missions. The rock also resembles some unusual rocks from Earth's interior. The rover team used two instruments on Curiosity to study the chemical makeup of the football-size rock called "Jake Matijevic". The results support some surprising recent measurements and provide an example of why identifying rocks' composition is such a major emphasis of the mission. Rock compositions tell stories about unseen environments and planetary processes. "This rock is a close match in chemical composition to an unusual but well-known type of igneous rock found in many volcanic provinces on Earth," said Edward Stolper of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, who is a Curiosity co-investigator. "With only one Martian rock of this type, it is difficult to know whether the same processes were involved, but it is a reasonable place to start thinking about its origin." >> Read the Full Article
  • Increased Rainfall Causes Drop in Sea Level?

    Current perception of climate change leads us to believe that sea levels are constantly rising due to thermal expansion and melting ice caps. However, from the beginning of 2010 until mid-2011, the average level of the world's oceans dropped by 0.2 inches. According to a recent study in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, this sea level decline was due to an increase in the amount of rainfall in Australia, northern South America and Southeast Asia. >> Read the Full Article
  • Banana fibre can fix marine oil spills, says study

    Fibre from the stem of the banana plant can efficiently absorb oil spills that pollute coasts and threaten marine life says a new study by Indian researchers. Banana fibre, when treated with certain chemicals, can absorb up to 18 times their weight of oil, according to the study published last month (16 September) in the online journal, Carbohydrate Polymers. >> Read the Full Article
  • Lasers, Microchips and Spiders

    Spiders use their silk to catch lunch resulting in spectacular web designs. For its size it is very strong and now it has been found to have other interesting properties. Now physicists are using it to catch light. New research shows that natural silk could be an eco-friendly alternative to more traditional ways of manipulating light, such as through glass or plastic fiber optic cables. Two teams independently exploring possible applications for the material’s photonic talents will present their latest breakthroughs at the Optical Society's (OSA) Annual Meeting, Frontiers in Optics 2012. Biomedical engineer Fiorenzo Omenetto of Tufts University in Boston will discuss his group’s work fabricating concoctions of proteins that make use of silk’s optical properties for implantable sensors and other biology-technology interfaces. >> Read the Full Article
  • Anthropogenic Methane Traced Back 2,000 Years

    A new study suggests that human have been producing traceable amounts of atmospheric methane earlier than thought. The results will challenge global warming predictions, because what was assumed to be 'natural' levels of methane, have in fact been inflated by human activities since Roman times. An international team of researchers looked at carbon isotopes in methane trapped in air bubbles from Arctic ice cores, to reveal the different levels and concentrations of methane. >> Read the Full Article