Kamis, 31 Maret 2011

ScienceDaily Environment Headlines

for Thursday, March 31, 2011

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Sensory wiring for smells varies among individuals (March 31, 2011) -- If, as Shakespeare's Juliet declared, a rose by any other name smells as sweet -- to you and to me and to anyone else who sniffs it -- then one might assume that our odor-sensing nerve cells are all wired in the same way. Alas, they are not, according to a new study. ... > full story

How to make skinny worms fat and fat worms skinny (March 31, 2011) -- Researchers exploring human metabolism have uncovered a handful of chemical compounds that regulate fat storage in worms, offering a new tool for understanding obesity and finding future treatments for diseases associated with obesity. ... > full story

'Informant' jumping gene offers new method for studying how genes are regulated (March 31, 2011) -- Scientists have developed a new method for studying gene regulation, by employing a jumping gene as an informant. Called GROMIT, it allows scientists to also create mouse models for human diseases caused by chromosomal rearrangements, such as Down syndrome. ... > full story

New wind tunnel will evaluate wind effects and thermal situations to improve urban climate (March 31, 2011) -- On hot days it is often very still in cities because the high density of buildings prevents the air from circulating freely. In a newly commissioned wind tunnel, wind effects and thermal situations in towns and cities can be simulated and various scenarios tested, with the aim of improving urban climate in a natural way. ... > full story

Butterflies that explore and colonize new habitats are genetically different from cautious cousins (March 30, 2011) -- Descendants of "exploratory" butterflies that colonize new habitats differ genetically from their more cautious cousins, discovered scientists. The research has revealed some of the genetic bases for traits that provide an advantage to butterflies that found new populations in previously unoccupied habitat patches. The results have potentially broad importance in understanding natural selection. ... > full story

Blocking carbon dioxide fixation in bacteria increases biofuel production (March 30, 2011) -- Reducing the ability of certain bacteria to fix carbon dioxide can greatly increase their production of hydrogen gas that can be used as a biofuel, researchers report. ... > full story

Spiders target mate-luring signals from 'vibrating' insects (March 30, 2011) -- Insects using vibration to attract a mate are at risk of being eaten alive by killer spiders, scientists have discovered. ... > full story

Carbon labeling of products could help consumers make environmentally friendly choices (March 30, 2011) -- Labeling products with information on the size of the carbon footprint they leave behind could help both consumers and manufacturers make better, environmentally friendly choices. ... > full story

Newly discovered natural arch in Afghanistan one of world's largest (March 30, 2011) -- Researchers from the Wildlife Conservation Society have stumbled upon a geological colossus in a remote corner of Afghanistan: a natural stone arch spanning more than 200 feet across its base. ... > full story

54 beneficial compounds discovered in pure maple syrup (March 30, 2011) -- Researchers have discovered 34 new beneficial compounds in pure maple syrup and confirmed that 20 compounds discovered last year in preliminary research play a key role in human health. ... > full story

US earthquake resilience needs strengthening, says new report (March 30, 2011) -- A new report presents a 20-year road map for increasing US resilience to earthquakes, including a major earthquake that could strike a highly populated area. The report was mostly written prior to the March 11 earthquake in Japan, but the committee of experts who authored it noted that the Japanese experience is a reminder of the devastation that can occur even in a country acknowledged as a leader in implementing earthquake-resilience measures. ... > full story

Warm water causes extra-cold winters in northeastern North America and northeastern Asia (March 30, 2011) -- Average winter temperatures in northern Europe are at least 10 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than similar latitudes on the northeastern coast of the United States and the eastern coast of Canada. The same phenomenon happens over the Pacific, where winters on the northeastern coast of Asia are colder than in the Pacific Northwest. Researchers have now found a mechanism that helps explain these chillier winters -- and the culprit is warm water off the eastern coasts of these continents. ... > full story

Physicists detect low-level radioactivity from Japan arriving in Seattle (March 30, 2011) -- Physicists are detecting radioactivity arriving in Seattle from Japanese nuclear reactors damaged in a tsunami following a mammoth earthquake, but the levels are far below what would pose a threat to human health. ... > full story

Updating the Mary Poppins solution with a better bitter blocker (March 30, 2011) -- With millions of adults and children avoiding nutritious foods because of the bitter taste, and gagging or vomiting when forced to take bitter liquid medicines, scientists have now reported an advance toward a high-tech version of Mary Poppins' solution. It's not a spoonful of sugar to help the medicine go down, but a new and improved "bitterness blocker." ... > full story

River water and salty ocean water used to generate electricity (March 30, 2011) -- Researchers have developed a rechargeable battery that uses freshwater and seawater to create electricity. Aided by nanotechnology, the battery employs the difference in salinity between fresh and saltwater to generate a current. A power station might be built wherever a river flows into the ocean. ... > full story

Next-generation device developed to track world's air quality (March 30, 2011) -- A new air-quality measuring instrument that is more economical, more portable and more accurate than older technologies has just been developed. ... > full story

'Bacterial dirigibles' emerge as next-generation disease fighters (March 30, 2011) -- Scientists have developed bacteria that serve as mobile pharmaceutical factories, both producing disease-fighting substances and delivering the potentially life-saving cargo to diseased areas of the body. They reported on this new candidate for treating diseases ranging from food poisoning to cancer -- termed "bacterial dirigibles." ... > full story

Ocean circulation plays important role in transporting heat to Greenland glaciers (March 30, 2011) -- Warmer air is only part of the story when it comes to Greenland's rapidly melting ice sheet. New research highlights the role ocean circulation plays in transporting heat to glaciers. ... > full story

Measurements of winter Arctic sea ice shows continuing ice loss, study finds (March 30, 2011) -- The 2011 Arctic sea ice extent maximum that marks the beginning of the melt season appears to be tied for the lowest ever measured by satellites, say scientists. ... > full story

Like products, plants wait for optimal configuration before market success (March 30, 2011) -- Scientists have now amassed the largest evolutionary tree (phylogeny) for plants. They have learned that major groups of plants tinker with their design and performance before rapidly spinning off new species. The finding upends long-held thinking that plants' speciation rates are tied to the first development of a new physical trait or mechanism. ... > full story

New insight into how 'tidying up' enzymes work (March 29, 2011) -- New research sheds light on how molecules are broken down by the body -- a finding that promises to help pharmaceutical chemists design better drugs. ... > full story

Communicating uncertain climate risks (March 29, 2011) -- Despite much research that demonstrates potential dangers from climate change, public concern has not been increasing. ... > full story

Treadmill tests for poison frogs show toxic species are more physically fit (March 29, 2011) -- The most toxic, brightly colored members of the poison frog family may also be the best athletes, says a new study. ... > full story

Key plant traits yield more sugar for biofuels (March 29, 2011) -- New clues about plant structure are helping researchers narrow down a large collection of poplar tree candidates and identify winners for future use in biofuel production. ... > full story

Some ingredients in 'green' products come from petroleum rather than natural sources (March 29, 2011) -- With more and more environmentally conscious consumers choosing "green" products, scientists have now reported that the first reality check has revealed that the ingredients in those product may come from a surprising source -- petroleum, rather than natural plant-based sources. ... > full story

Satellites detect extensive drought impact on Amazon forests (March 29, 2011) -- A new study has revealed widespread reductions in the greenness of the forests in the vast Amazon basin in South America caused by the record-breaking drought of 2010. ... > full story

Chemists' biosensor may improve food, water safety and cancer detection (March 29, 2011) -- A new nanotechnology-based biosensor under development may allow early detection of both cancer cells and pathogens, leading to increased food safety and reduced health risks. ... > full story

Wind can keep mountains from growing (March 29, 2011) -- Wind is a much more powerful force in the evolution of mountains than previously thought, according to a new report. The researchers figured out wind's rock-sculpting abilities by studying gigantic wind-formed ridges of rock called yardangs that are found in Central Asia. Bedrock in the area that would have formed mountains instead was sand-blasted into dust. ... > full story

Next-generation chemical mapping on the nanoscale (March 29, 2011) -- Scientists have pioneered a new chemical mapping method that provides unprecedented insight into materials at the nanoscale. These new maps will guide researchers in deciphering molecular chemistry and interactions that are critical for artificial photosynthesis, biofuels production and light-harvesting applications such as solar cells. ... > full story

From crankcase to gas tank: New microwave method converts used motor oil into fuel (March 29, 2011) -- That dirty motor oil that comes out of your car or truck engine during oil changes could end up in your fuel tank, according to a new report. It described development of a new process for recycling waste crankcase oil into gasoline-like fuel -- the first, they said, that uses microwaves and has "excellent potential" for going into commercial use. ... > full story

Researchers close in on technology for making renewable petroleum (March 29, 2011) -- Researchers are a key step closer to making renewable petroleum fuels using bacteria, sunlight and carbon dioxide. ... > full story

Bones conjure Yellowstone's ecological ghosts (March 29, 2011) -- By taking a closer look at animal bones scattered across the wilderness landscape, a researcher has found a powerful tool for showing how species' populations have changed over decades or even a century. ... > full story

GPS study shows wolves more reliant on a cattle diet (March 29, 2011) -- Cattle ranchers in southwestern Alberta have suspected it for a long time, and now GPS tracking equipment confirms it: wolf packs in the area are making cow meat a substantial part of their diets. ... > full story

Evolution: Not only the fittest survive (March 29, 2011) -- Darwin's notion that only the fittest survive has been called into question by new research. The study shows that biodiversity can evolve and persist even in environments where it was previously thought impossible. The research calls into question the current theoretical understanding of evolution. ... > full story

Speeding up Mother Nature's very own CO<sub>2</sub> mitigation process (March 29, 2011) -- Using seawater and calcium to remove carbon dioxide in a natural gas power plant's flue stream, and then pumping the resulting calcium bicarbonate in the sea, could be beneficial to the oceans' marine life. ... > full story

Tiger numbers increase in India (March 29, 2011) -- The Indian Government has released new tiger population numbers for the first time since 2007, indicating that numbers have increased in the country that has half of the world's remaining wild tigers. ... > full story

Human virus linked to deaths of endangered mountain gorillas; Finding confirms that serious diseases can pass to gorillas from people (March 29, 2011) -- For the first time, a virus that causes respiratory disease in humans has been linked to the deaths of wild mountain gorillas, reports a team of researchers in the United States and Africa. ... > full story

No longer pining for organic molecules to make particles in the air (March 29, 2011) -- The fresh scent of pine has helped atmospheric scientists find missing sources of organic molecules in the air -- which, it could well turn out, aren't missing after all. Researchers have now found that particles containing compounds such as those given off by pine trees evaporate more than 100 times slower than expected by current air-quality models. ... > full story

Even Canadian rocks are different: Sedimentary differences on either side of border date back 120 million years (March 29, 2011) -- Canadians have always seen themselves as separate and distinct from their American neighbors to the south, and now they have geological proof. New research shows that rock formations roughly along the same political boundary as the two North American countries formed as early as 120 million years ago. ... > full story

Malaria as a complication to landmines and war injuries (March 29, 2011) -- Malaria can complicate the course of disease in poor farmers with landmine injuries in underdeveloped countries, where both malaria and war injuries are frequent causes of illness and death. New research charts the extent and effect of malaria on war-injured people and studied the potential for preventing them contracting the disease. ... > full story

Will we hear the light? Surprising discovery that infrared can activate heart and ear cells (March 29, 2011) -- Scientists have used invisible infrared light to make rat heart cells contract and toadfish inner-ear cells send signals to the brain. The discovery someday might improve cochlear implants for deafness and lead to devices to restore vision, maintain balance and treat movement disorders like Parkinson's. ... > full story

First applications of Europe's Galileo satellite nagivation system showcased (March 29, 2011) -- The first satellites of the the European navigation system Galileo are to be in position in the year 2012 and start their work. Fraunhofer Galileo Labs are showcasing the first applications that use new, improved possibilities provided by satellite navigation. ... > full story

How do plants fight disease? Breakthrough research offers a clue (March 28, 2011) -- How exactly bacterial pathogens cause diseases in plants remains a mystery and continues to frustrate scientists working to solve this problem. Now scientists have performed research on the soybean plant in the lab that makes major inroads into our understanding of plant-pathogen interactions, a rapidly developing area among the plant sciences. ... > full story

Dark side of spring? Pollution in our melting snow (March 28, 2011) -- With birds chirping and temperatures warming, spring is finally in the air. But for environmental chemist Torsten Meyer, springtime has a dark side. ... > full story

Scientists trace violent death of Iron Age man (March 28, 2011) -- An Iron Age man whose skull and brain was unearthed during excavations at the University of York was the victim of a gruesome ritual killing, according to new research. ... > full story

Twinkle, twinkle, quantum dot: New particles can change colors and tag molecules (March 28, 2011) -- Engineers have invented a new kind of nano-particle that shines in different colors to tag molecules in biomedical tests. These tiny plastic nano-particles are stuffed with even tinier bits of electronics called quantum dots. Like little traffic lights, the particles glow brightly in red, yellow, or green, so researchers can easily track molecules under a microscope. ... > full story

New trash-to-treasure process turns landfill nuisance into plastic (March 28, 2011) -- With billions of pounds of meat and bone meal going to waste in landfills after a government ban on its use in cattle feed, scientists have described development of a process for using that so-called meat and bone meal to make partially biodegradable plastic that does not require raw materials made from oil or natural gas. ... > full story

Deep-sea volcanoes don't just produce lava flows, they also explode (March 28, 2011) -- Most deep-sea volcanoes produce effusive lava flows rather than explosive eruptions, both because the levels of magmatic gas tend to be low, and because the volcanoes are under a lot of pressure from the surrounding water. But by using an ion microprobe, researchers have now proved that explosive eruptions can also occur. ... > full story

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