• Ocean's Ability to fix Nitrogen Underestimated

    In order to predict how Earth's climate develops scientists have to know which gases and trace elements are naturally bound and released by the ocean and in which quantities. For nitrogen, an essential element for the production of biomass, there are many unanswered questions. Scientists from Kiel, Bremen and Halifax have now published a research study in the international journal Nature showing that widely applied methods are part of the problem. Of course scientists like it when the results of measurements fit with each other. However, when they carry out measurements in nature and compare their values, the results are rarely "smooth." A contemporary example is the ocean's nitrogen budget. Here, the question is: how much nitrogen is being fixed in the ocean and how much is released? "The answer to this question is important to predicting future climate development. All organisms need fixed nitrogen in order to build genetic material and biomass," explains Professor Julie LaRoche from the GEOMAR | Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel. >> Read the Full Article
  • Quasicrystals

    Since the original discovery, hundreds of quasicrystals have been reported and confirmed. Undoubtedly, the quasicrystals are no longer a unique form of solid; they exist universally in many metallic alloys and some polymers. Results from an expedition to far eastern Russia that set out to find the origin of naturally occurring quasicrystals have provided convincing evidence that they arrived on Earth from outer space. >> Read the Full Article
  • Is Air Conditioning Heating Up the Planet?

    Stan Cox is a senior researcher at the Land Institute. His book, Losing Our Cool: Uncomfortable Truths About Our Air Conditioned World, describes the threat that our ever-increasing need for air conditioning poses to efforts to maintain our planetary climate within its natural limits, the limits that all living things on the planet have evolved to thrive in. >> Read the Full Article
  • Leaky Pipes

    Leaky pipes are a common problem. Where is it leaking so that it can be found and fixed. With longer pipes especially those which are buried, this is a a major problem. Developing more accurate ways of finding leaks would enable water companies and consumers to save revenue and reduce their environmental impact. The system invented at the University of Sheffield tests pipes by transmitting a pressure wave along them that sends back a signal if it passes any unexpected features, such as a leak or a crack in the pipe’s surface. The pressure wave is generated by a valve fitted to an ordinary water hydrant, which is opened and closed rapidly. The wave sends back a reflection, or a signal, if it encounters any anomalous features in the pipe. The strength of that signal can then be analyzed to determine the location and the size of the leak. >> Read the Full Article
  • Watching Curiosity Long Distance

    It is amazing to look up into the sky at Mars and think of what is on its surface. Well cameras can watch quite closely. Late Monday night, an image from the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera aboard NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter captured the Curiosity rover and the components that helped it survive its seven-minute ordeal from space to its present location in Mars' Gale Crater. The Curiosity rover is in the center of the image. To the right, approximately 4,900 feet away, lies the heat shield, which protected the rover from 3,800-degree-Fahrenheit temperatures encountered during its fiery descent. On the lower left, about 2,020 feet away, are the parachute and back shell. The parachute has a constructed diameter of 71 feet and an inflated diameter of 51 feet. The back shell remains connected to the chute via 80 suspension lines that are 165 feet long. To the upper-left, approximately 2,100 feet away from the rover, is a discoloration of the Mars surface consistent with what would have resulted when the rocket-powered Sky Crane impacted the surface. >> Read the Full Article
  • Curiosity Lands on Mars

    An image from the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera aboard NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter captured the Curiosity rover still connected to its 51-foot-wide (almost 16 meter) parachute as it descended towards its landing site at Gale Crater. "If HiRISE took the image one second before or one second after, we probably would be looking at an empty Martian landscape," said Sarah Milkovich, HiRISE investigation scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. "When you consider that we have been working on this sequence since March and had to upload commands to the spacecraft about 72 hours prior to the image being taken, you begin to realize how challenging this picture was to obtain." >> Read the Full Article
  • Environmental Advertising Increases When the Economy Is Stronger

    Environmental concern is greater when the economy is stronger, a study found which looked at environmental advertising in National Geographic over three decades. Specifically, the study, conducted by three researchers at Penn State University, found that consumers are more receptive to environmental appeals and marketers do more environmental advertising when the economy is improving. There is a strong statistical correlation, the three researchers discovered, between the GDP and the amount of environmental advertising. As Lee Ahern, one of researchers said, "We found that changes in GDP do indeed predict the level of 'green' advertising." "Results support the idea that key economic indicators affect the level of green strategic messaging," said Ahern. "This perspective argues that environmental concern will be greater in stronger economies and better economic times. By extension, consumers will be more attuned and receptive to green appeals when the economy is improving, and marketers will employ more green advertising." >> Read the Full Article
  • Metals and the Beginnings of Life

    Long ago life began on Earth. One of the most intriguing questions is what caused it to start just then. A little less than 2 billion years ago, metals including copper, molybdenum and zinc became available to primitive cells, at the same time that the cells began to become much more complex. Some scientists indicate that they have identified the event that introduced these metals, which made it possible for those primitive cells to develop, evolve, and spread. >> Read the Full Article
  • Another Giant Leap for Mankind: Earth's Curiosity Touches Down on Mars

    NASA's most advanced Mars rover Curiosity has landed on the Red Planet. The one-ton rover, hanging by ropes from a rocket backpack, touched down onto Mars Sunday to end a 36-week flight and begin a two-year investigation. The Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) spacecraft that carried Curiosity succeeded in every step of the most complex landing ever attempted on Mars, including the final severing of the bridle cords and flyaway maneuver of the rocket backpack. "Today, the wheels of Curiosity have begun to blaze the trail for human footprints on Mars. Curiosity, the most sophisticated rover ever built, is now on the surface of the Red Planet, where it will seek to answer age-old questions about whether life ever existed on Mars -- or if the planet can sustain life in the future," said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. "This is an amazing achievement, made possible by a team of scientists and engineers from around the world and led by the extraordinary men and women of NASA and our Jet Propulsion Laboratory. President Obama has laid out a bold vision for sending humans to Mars in the mid-2030's, and today's landing marks a significant step toward achieving this goal." >> Read the Full Article
  • The Edge of the Solar System

    Long ago mankind determined that the Earth was not the center of everything. The Earth revolves around the Sun which dominates the local space of our galaxy. But there is a point where the Sun;s effect diminish the the greater effect of the est of the galaxy d=starts to dominate. Two of three key signs of changes expected to occur at the boundary of interstellar space have changed faster than at any other time in the last seven years, according to new data from NASA's Voyager 1 spacecraft. For the last seven years, Voyager 1 has been exploring the outer layer of the bubble of charged particles the sun blows around itself. In one day, on July 28, data from Voyager 1's cosmic ray instrument showed the level of high-energy cosmic rays originating from outside our solar system jumped by five percent. During the last half of that same day, the level of lower-energy particles originating from inside our solar system dropped by half. However, in three days, the levels had recovered to near their previous levels. >> Read the Full Article