Minggu, 30 Januari 2011

ScienceDaily Environment Headlines

for Sunday, January 30, 2011

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Cocaine production increases destruction of Colombia’s rainforests (January 29, 2011) -- Scientists are reporting new evidence that cultivating coca bushes, the source of cocaine, is speeding up destruction of rainforests in Colombia and threatening the region's "hotspots" of plant and animal diversity. The findings underscore the need for establishing larger protected areas to help preserve biodiversity. ... > full story

DNA caught rock 'n rollin': On rare occasions DNA dances itself into a different shape (January 29, 2011) -- DNA, that marvelous, twisty molecule of life, has an alter ego, research reveals. On rare occasions, its building blocks "rock and roll," deforming the familiar double helix into a different shape. ... > full story

More frequent drought likely in eastern Africa (January 29, 2011) -- The increased frequency of drought observed in eastern Africa over the last 20 years is likely to continue as long as global temperatures continue to rise, according to new research. This poses increased risk to the estimated 17.5 million people in the Greater Horn of Africa who currently face potential food shortages. ... > full story

Draft 'genetic road map' of biofuels crop (January 29, 2011) -- The first rough draft of a "genetic road map" of a biomass crop, prairie cordgrass, is giving scientists an inside look at the genes of one of the crops that may help produce the next generation of biofuels. ... > full story

Air above Dead Sea contains very high levels of oxidized mercury (January 28, 2011) -- Measurements show that the sea's salt has profound effects on the chemistry of the air above its surface. The atmosphere over the Dead Sea, researchers have found, is laden with oxidized mercury. Some of the highest levels of oxidized mercury ever observed outside the polar regions exist there. ... > full story

Cow rumen enzymes for better biofuels (January 28, 2011) -- When it comes to breaking down plant matter and converting it to energy, the cow has it all figured out. Its digestive system allows it to eat more than 150 pounds of plant matter every day. Now researchers report that they have found dozens of previously unknown microbial enzymes in the bovine rumen -- the cow's primary grass-digestion chamber -- that contribute to the breakdown of switchgrass, a renewable biofuel energy source. ... > full story

Exposure to worm infection in the womb may protect against eczema, study suggests (January 28, 2011) -- Exposure to worm infections in the womb may protect a newborn infant from developing eczema, a new study suggests. A large trial in Uganda showed that treating a pregnant woman for worm infections increased her child's chances of developing the allergic skin disease. This research supports the so-called 'hygiene hypothesis', which proposes that exposure to infections in early childhood can modify the immune system and protect the child from allergies later in life. ... > full story

Understanding the human neurosystem by researching locust brains (January 28, 2011) -- Scientists have successfully cultured brain cells taken from the desert locust to delve deeper into the workings of the mammalian neurosystem. Easier to work with than human neurons, the use of these insect neurons allow the team to observe the neurons form a network, providing enormous benefits to researchers. The cells are basic enough to be applicable to any system, including the human neurosystem, researchers say. ... > full story

Rivers cut deep notches in the Alps' broad glacial valleys (January 28, 2011) -- New research shows that notches carved by rivers at the bottom of glacial valleys in the Swiss Alps survive from one glacial episode to the next, protected in part by the glaciers themselves. ... > full story

Dinosaurs survived mass extinction by 700,000 years, fossil find suggests (January 28, 2011) -- Researchers have determined that a fossilized dinosaur bone found in New Mexico confounds the long established paradigm that the age of dinosaurs ended between 65.5 and 66 million years ago. ... > full story

Insects that deter predators produce fewer offspring (January 28, 2011) -- Insects that frequently use their defense mechanisms to deter predators could be reducing their lifespan and numbers of offspring, researchers have found. ... > full story

High school biology teachers in U.S. reluctant to endorse evolution in class, study finds (January 28, 2011) -- The majority of public high school biology teachers in the U.S. are not strong classroom advocates of evolutionary biology, despite 40 years of court cases that have ruled teaching creationism or intelligent design violates the Constitution, according to political scientists. A mandatory undergraduate course in evolutionary biology for prospective teachers, and frequent refresher courses for current teachers, may be part of the solution, they say. ... > full story

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