Rabu, 09 Maret 2011

ScienceDaily Environment Headlines

for Wednesday, March 9, 2011

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Enzymes from garden compost could favour bioethanol production (March 9, 2011) -- Today, bioethanol is primarily made from glucose. If xylose – which is found in straw, willow and other fast-growing plant species – could also be used efficiently, then ethanol production could increase significantly. A researcher in applied microbiology is well on the way to making this a reality. ... > full story

NASA develops light microscope for International Space Station (March 9, 2011) -- NASA has begun testing a new multi-capability microscope on the International Space Station. It will help scientists study the effects of the space environment on physics and biology aboard the orbiting laboratory. The microscope is isolated from vibrations on the station, allowing it to obtain clear, high-resolution images. Using high-resolution magnification, scientists can examine microorganisms and individual cells of plants and animals, including humans. ... > full story

New wintering grounds for humpback whales discovered using sound (March 9, 2011) -- Researchers have made a remarkable new discovery regarding humpback whale wintering grounds. The primary breeding ground for the North Pacific was always thought to be the main Hawaiian Islands. However, a new study has shown that these grounds extend all the way throughout the Hawaiian Archipelago and into the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. ... > full story

Function of 'junk DNA' in human genes (March 8, 2011) -- Part of the answer to how and why humans differ from other primates may lie in the repetitive stretches of the genome that were once considered "junk." A new study finds that when a particular type of repetitive DNA segment, known as an Alu element, inserts into existing genes, they can alter the rate of protein production -- a mechanism that could contribute to the evolution of different biological characteristics in different species. ... > full story

For birds, the suburbs may not be an ideal place to raise a family (March 8, 2011) -- There comes a time in life for every bird to spread its wings and leave the nest, but for gray catbirds, that might be the beginning of the end. Scientists report fledgling catbirds in suburban habitats are at their most vulnerable stage of life, with almost 80 percent killed by predators before they reach adulthood. Almost half of the deaths were linked to domestic cats. ... > full story

Melting ice sheets now largest contributor to sea level rise (March 8, 2011) -- The Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets are losing mass at an accelerating pace, according to a new satellite study. The findings of the study -- the longest to date of changes in polar ice sheet mass -- suggest these ice sheets are overtaking ice loss from Earth's mountain glaciers and ice caps to become the dominant contributor to global sea level rise, much sooner than model forecasts have predicted. ... > full story

Malaria’s weakest link: Class of chemotherapy drugs also kills the parasite that causes malaria (March 8, 2011) -- Researchers in Europe have discovered that a class of chemotherapy drugs originally designed to inhibit key signaling pathways in cancer cells also kills the parasite that causes malaria. The discovery could quickly open up a whole new strategy for combating this deadly disease. ... > full story

DNA better than eyes when counting endangered species (March 8, 2011) -- Using genetic methods to count endangered eagles, a group of scientists showed that traditional counting methods can lead to significantly incorrect totals that they believe could adversely affect conservation efforts. ... > full story

Stone tools influenced hand evolution in human ancestors, anthropologists say (March 8, 2011) -- Anthropologists have confirmed Charles Darwin's speculation that the evolution of unique features in the human hand was influenced by increased tool use in our ancestors. ... > full story

Researchers hunt for green catalysts (March 8, 2011) -- Scientists are looking for cleaner, greener and cheaper catalysts. They are turning to biology for some ideas. And they're developing high-throughput approaches to quickly test a reaction using up to a hundred trillion different catalysts. ... > full story

California superstorm would be costliest US disaster (March 8, 2011) -- A hurricane-like superstorm expected to hit California once every 200 years would cause devastation to the state's businesses unheard of even in the Great Recession, an economist warns. ... > full story

Eating apples extends lifespan of test animals by 10 percent (March 8, 2011) -- Scientists are reporting the first evidence that consumption of a healthful antioxidant substance in apples extends the average lifespan of test animals, and does so by 10 percent. The new results, obtained with fruit flies -- stand-ins for humans in hundreds of research projects each year -- bolster similar findings on apple antioxidants in other animal tests. ... > full story

Peanut worms are annelids (March 8, 2011) -- Recent molecular phylogenetic analysis has shown that the marine animals known as peanut worms are not a separate phylum, but are definitely part of the family of annelids, also known as segmented worms. This is a classification that seemed questionable in the past in view of the fact that peanut worms -- or the Sipunculidae, to give them their scientific name -- have neither segments nor bristles. The latter are considered typical characteristics of annelids, which include more than 16,500 identified species and to which our common earthworm belongs. ... > full story

Surprising behavior of cells during blood-vessel formation (March 8, 2011) -- Biologists look at cells in bulk, taking the average behavior as the norm and assuming that identical cells behave the same. Biomedical engineers now show a surprising variation in how cells behave during formation of a blood vessel. They have now characterized, for the first time, what happens when endothelial cells move from an initial dispersed state to capillary-like structures. ... > full story

New interpretation of Antarctic ice cores: Prevailing theory on climate history expanded (March 8, 2011) -- Climate researchers have expanded a prevalent theory regarding the development of ice ages. Physicists have completed new calculations on the connection between natural insulation and long-term changes in global climate activity. Up to now the presumption was that temperature fluctuations in Antarctica, which have been reconstructed for the last million years on the basis of ice cores, were triggered by the global effect of climate changes in the northern hemisphere. The new study shows, however, that major portions of the temperature fluctuations can be explained equally well by local climate changes in the southern hemisphere. ... > full story

Sea sponges: Tweak of nature in fight against cancer (March 8, 2011) -- Scientists in London are turning to sea sponges to help them learn more about anti-cancer drugs. ... > full story

Preparing for the unexpected (March 8, 2011) -- How can you plan for an emergency the nature of which you don't know? Researchers in Germany are working on strategies and technologies that would help to predict and improve the response to crises. ... > full story

Internet catches updated butterfly and moth website (March 8, 2011) -- Why should we care about butterflies and moths? Thanks to butterflies, bees, birds, and other animal pollinators, the world's flowering plants are able to reproduce and bear fruit. That very basic capability is at the root of many of the foods we eat. And, not least, pollination adds to the beauty we see around us. ... > full story

ChesapeakeView: Everything you need to know about the bay (March 8, 2011) -- Crabs, fishing, land use and pollution sources are frequently hot topics for researchers in the Chesapeake Bay area, but finding all the available information, especially remote sensing data, is frequently a chore. Now, ChesapeakeView, a project of the AmericaView consortium, brings together a variety of datasets and makes them available to anyone who needs them for research, planning or other studies. ... > full story

NASA studies the body's ability to fight infection (March 7, 2011) -- Why do some people get sick while others stay healthy? Since space shuttle Discovery launched into orbit Feb. 24, 2011, it has brought NASA scientists one step closer to helping astronauts and the public discover ways to battle and prevent serious illness and infection. ... > full story

Health benefits of eating tomatoes emerge (March 7, 2011) -- Eating more tomatoes and tomato products can make people healthier and decrease the risk of conditions such as cancer, osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease, according to a review article. ... > full story

Abundant ammonia aids life's origins (March 7, 2011) -- An important discovery has been made with respect to the possible inventory of molecules available to early Earth. Scientists found large amounts of ammonia in a primitive Antarctic asteroid. This high concentration of ammonia could account for a sustained source of reduced nitrogen essential to the chemistry of life. ... > full story

Solving a traditional Chinese medicine mystery: Discovery of molecular mechanism reveals antitumor possibilities (March 7, 2011) -- Researchers have discovered that a natural product isolated from a traditional Chinese medicinal plant commonly known as thunder god vine, or lei gong teng, and used for hundreds of years to treat many conditions including rheumatoid arthritis works by blocking gene control machinery in the cell. The report suggests that the natural product could be a starting point for developing new anticancer drugs. ... > full story

Enzyme enhances, erases long-term memories in rats; Can restore even old, fading memories, say scientists (March 7, 2011) -- Even long after it is formed, a memory in rats can be enhanced or erased by increasing or decreasing the activity of a brain enzyme. For the first time, a study in behaving animals with functioning brains has found that a single molecule, PKMzeta, is both necessary and sufficient for maintaining long-term memory. ... > full story

Food science challenges for NASA missions to Mars (March 7, 2011) -- Space food for astronauts tastes better and is now healthier than ever before due to significant food science developments. However, a new study highlights the challenges that need to be addressed so that astronauts can travel to Mars and beyond. ... > full story

Noise distracts fish from their dinner (March 7, 2011) -- We all struggle to concentrate when there are roadworks taking place outside our window. New research demonstrates that fish suffer the same problem, becoming distracted from normal feeding behavior when noise is added to their environment. ... > full story

NASA light technology successfully reduces cancer patients painful side effects from radiation and chemotherapy (March 7, 2011) -- A NASA technology originally developed for plant growth experiments on space shuttle missions has successfully reduced the painful side effects resulting from chemotherapy and radiation treatment in bone marrow and stem cell transplant patients. ... > full story

Brazilian beef: Greater impact on the environment than we realize (March 7, 2011) -- Increased export of Brazilian beef indirectly leads to deforestation in the Amazon. New research shows that impact on the climate is much greater than current estimates indicate. The researchers are now demanding that indirect effect on land be included when determining a product’s carbon footprint. ... > full story

Sea-ice algae can engineer ice to its advantage using own antifreeze (March 7, 2011) -- Sea-ice algae -- the important first rung of the food web each spring in places like the Arctic Ocean -- can engineer ice to its advantage. The same gel-like mucus secreted by sea-ice algae as a kind of antifreeze against temperatures well below minus 10 C is also allowing algae to sculpt microscopic channels and pores in ice that are hospitable to itself and other microorganisms. ... > full story

Human activity displaces predators more than prey (March 7, 2011) -- Prey species have an advantage over predators in wilderness areas subject to human disturbance related to recreation and resource development, according to a study conducted in the Rocky Mountain foothills near Calgary. ... > full story

Hawaiian volcano crater floor collapse followed by eruption in fissue along Kilauea's east rift zone (March 7, 2011) -- A fissure that opened on Kilauea's east rift zone after the March 5 collapse of the Pu'u 'O'o crater floor continues to erupt lava. Activity along the fissure was sporadic overnight and throughout the following day, with periods of quiet punctuated by episodes of lava spattering up to 25 meters (80 feet) high. ... > full story

Life-saving blood test for fungal meningitis, a leading cause of AIDS-related deaths in developing countries (March 7, 2011) -- A new, rapid blood test that could lead to early diagnosis and potentially save the lives of hundreds of thousands of people stricken with fungal meningitis, a leading cause of AIDS-related deaths in developing countries, is getting closer to market with a recent collaboration of researchers. ... > full story

Large forest animals contribute to plant diversity (March 7, 2011) -- Over several decades, the growth in deer, roe deer and wild boar populations has spread to all of France. Researchers have shown that in spite of the damage caused, notably to bushes and young trees in forests and to crops, these animals also help in increasing plant diversity. ... > full story

No such thing as a dormant volcano? Magma chambers awake sooner than thought (March 6, 2011) -- Until now it was thought that once a volcano's magma chamber had cooled down it remained dormant for centuries before it could be remobilized by fresh magma. A theoretical model was tested on two major eruptions and completely overturned this hypothesis: the reawakening of a chamber could take place in just a few months. This research should lead to a reassessment of the dangerousness of some dormant volcanoes. ... > full story

Does Guinness beer taste better in Ireland? (March 6, 2011) -- Does Guinness beer taste better in Ireland than other parts of the world? Over a period of one year, four researchers traveled to 14 countries and visited 71 Guinness serving establishments in 33 cities to collect data for 103 tastings. ... > full story

New microscope produces dazzling 3-D movies of live cells (March 6, 2011) -- Scientists have invented a new microscope that uses an exquisitely thin sheet of light -- similar to that used in supermarket bar-code scanners -- to peer inside single living cells. The images they obtained reveal the three-dimensional shapes of cellular landmarks in unprecedented detail. ... > full story

Novel mechanism for control of gene expression revealed (March 6, 2011) -- Scientists have recently discovered a novel, evolutionarily conserved mechanism for the regulation of gene expression. Normal cell growth, embryonic development, and responses to stress, require proper spatial and temporal control of gene expression. Studies on control of transcription (RNA biosynthesis) are typically centered on understanding how the RNA polymerase is recruited to the promoter, the control region of a gene. However, new work has revealed the existence of a second level of control in a yeast model system. ... > full story

Environmental impact of animal waste: Disposal of animal waste in large-scale swine production examined (March 6, 2011) -- Scientists examined a series of commercial, anaerobic, swine wastewater lagoons in North and South Carolina for genes involved in the nitrogen cycling process. ... > full story

Has Earth's sixth mass extinction already arrived? (March 5, 2011) -- Researchers have delved into the fossil record to compare past animal extinctions, in particular the five "mass extinctions" that occurred within the past 540 million years, with today's extinctions. They find that, while the rate of extinctions today is higher than during past mass extinctions, we haven't yet lost too many animal species. Efforts to conserve threatened species could avoid the tipping point toward a sixth mass extinction. ... > full story

Jekyll and Hyde: Cells' executioner can also stave off death (March 5, 2011) -- An enzyme viewed as an executioner, because it can push cells to commit suicide, may actually short circuit a second form of cell death, researchers have discovered. The finding could shift drug discovery efforts, by leading scientists to rethink how proposed anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory drugs that target the enzyme, called caspase 8, are supposed to work. ... > full story

Reviving 100-year-old resting spores of diatoms (March 5, 2011) -- Diatoms account for a large proportion of the phytoplankton found in the water, and live both in the open sea and in freshwater lakes. By reviving 100-year-old spores that had laid buried and inactive in bottom sediment, researchers have shown that diatoms are also genetically stable and survival artists. ... > full story

Invasive species widespread, but not more than at home range (March 5, 2011) -- Invasive plant species have long had a reputation as being bad for a new ecosystem when they are introduced. As it turns out, they aren't any more abundant away from home than they are at home. ... > full story

Clean fuel worsens climate impacts for some vehicle engines (March 5, 2011) -- A pioneering program by one of the world's largest cities to switch its vehicle fleet to clean fuel has not significantly improved harmful vehicle emissions in more than 5,000 vehicles -- and worsened some vehicles' climate impacts -- a new study finds. ... > full story

Simulating breaking waves (March 5, 2011) -- The SWAN (Simulating WAves Nearshore) wave prediction model predicts the distribution of wave heights close to the shore. It was recently expanded to include the SWASH (Simulating WAves till SHore) model, which enables the modeling of wave behavior right up to the shore, including how they break and overflow. ... > full story

Fossils of horse teeth indicate 'you are what you eat' (March 4, 2011) -- Fossil records verify a long-standing theory that horses evolved through natural selection. Scientists arrived at the conclusion after examining the teeth of 6,500 fossil horses representing 222 different populations of more than 70 extinct horse species. ... > full story

Observing Arctic ice-edge plankton blooms from space (March 4, 2011) -- Ongoing climate-driven changes to the Arctic sea-ice could have a significant impact on the blooming of tiny planktonic plants (phytoplankton) with important implications for the Arctic ecosystem, according to new research, ... > full story

Rising carbon dioxide is causing plants to have fewer pores, releasing less water to the atmosphere (March 4, 2011) -- As carbon dioxide levels have risen during the last 150 years, the density of pores that allow plants to breathe has dwindled by 34 percent, restricting the amount of water vapor the plants release to the atmosphere, report scientists. ... > full story

New system can warn of tsunamis within minutes (March 4, 2011) -- Seismologists have developed a new system that could be used to warn future populations of an impending tsunami only minutes after the initial earthquake. The system, known as RTerg, could help reduce the death toll by giving local residents valuable time to move to safer ground. ... > full story

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