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Tuesday, October 7, 2014

ScienceDaily: Top Environment News

ScienceDaily: Top Environment News

Low-carbon energy future is clean, feasible

Posted: 06 Oct 2014 12:21 PM PDT

A future where electricity comes mostly from low-carbon sources is not only feasible in terms of material demand, but will significantly reduce air pollution, a study says.

Effects of growing rice in low water, high salt conditions

Posted: 06 Oct 2014 10:38 AM PDT

The effects of low water input, and high salt levels, on rice growth has been the focus of recent research. Rice is a staple food across Asia, with both people and economies reliant on its successful harvest. One paper finds that low water input does not affect rice growth as much as the levels of nutrients in soil can, and the second suggests that, although rice is seriously stressed by high salt levels in soil, this can be countered by the application of locally produced compost.

High-sugar diet no problem for genetic mutants

Posted: 06 Oct 2014 10:35 AM PDT

A genetic pathway for circumventing the weight gain that accompanies a high-sugar diet has been discovered by scientists. Building on previous work with C. elegans, researchers found that certain genetic mutants -- those with a hyperactive SKN-1 gene -- could be fed incredibly high-sugar diets without gaining any weight, while regular C. elegans ballooned on the same diet.

Natural gene selection can produce orange corn rich in provitamin A for Africa, U.S.

Posted: 06 Oct 2014 10:35 AM PDT

A set of genes that can be used to naturally boost the provitamin A content of corn kernels has been identified by researchers, a finding that could help combat vitamin A deficiency in developing countries and macular degeneration in the elderly.

How rabies 'hijacks' neurons to attack brain

Posted: 06 Oct 2014 10:34 AM PDT

For the first time, scientists have discovered the exact mechanism the killer rabies virus uses to efficiently enter the central nervous system, where it erupts in a toxic explosion of symptoms. An improved understanding of how this mechanism works could lead to new treatments for disorders such as Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis as well.

Observing the Birkeland currents

Posted: 06 Oct 2014 10:34 AM PDT

When the supersonic solar wind hits the Earth's magnetic field, a powerful electrical connection occurs with Earth's field, generating millions of amperes of current that drive the dazzling auroras. These so-called Birkeland currents connect the ionosphere to the magnetosphere and channel solar wind energy to Earth's uppermost atmosphere. Solar storms release torrential blasts of solar wind that cause much stronger currents and can overload power grids and disrupt communications and navigation.

98% forward, 125% back: China's economic boom thwarts its carbon emissions goals

Posted: 06 Oct 2014 10:32 AM PDT

Efforts to reduce China's carbon dioxide emissions are being offset by the country's rampant economic growth, according to new research. Research reveals how carbon efficiency has improved in nearly all Chinese provinces. But the country's economic boom has simultaneously led to a growth in CO2-emitting activities such as mining, metal smelting and coal-fired electricity generation – negating any gains.

Lizards in the caribbean: How geography influences animal evolution

Posted: 06 Oct 2014 10:32 AM PDT

Researchers have enlisted a Caribbean lizard to help them find out on how geography can influence the evolution of animal species.

New theorem determines age distribution of populations from fruit flies to humans

Posted: 06 Oct 2014 08:41 AM PDT

The initial motivation of a new study was to estimate the age structure of a fruit fly population, the result a fundamental theorem that can help determine the age distribution of essentially any group. This emerging theorem on stationary populations shows that you can determine the age distribution of a population by looking at how long they still have to live.

Novel roadmap through bacterial genomes leads the way to new drug discovery

Posted: 06 Oct 2014 08:40 AM PDT

Researchers have innovated and demonstrated the value of an algorithm to analyze microbial genomic data and speed discovery of new therapeutic drugs.

Are montana's invasive fish in for a shock?

Posted: 06 Oct 2014 08:38 AM PDT

The feasibility of electrofishing to selectively remove invasive trout species from Montana streams has been the focus of new study. Electrofishing has been recommended as an alternative to using fish toxicants known as piscicides that effect all gill-breathing organisms.

Earth's ocean abyss has not warmed, NASA study finds

Posted: 06 Oct 2014 07:10 AM PDT

The cold waters of Earth's deep ocean have not warmed measurably since 2005, according to a new NASA study, leaving unsolved the mystery of why global warming appears to have slowed in recent years. But scientists say these findings do not throw suspicion on climate change itself.

Ocean warming in Southern Hemisphere underestimated, scientists suggest

Posted: 06 Oct 2014 06:45 AM PDT

Using satellite observations and a large suite of climate models, scientists have found that long-term ocean warming in the upper 700 meters of Southern Hemisphere oceans has likely been underestimated. Ocean heat storage is important because it accounts for more than 90 percent of Earth's excess heat that is associated with global warming.

Fungicides: Discovery on how fungi avoid immune responses of plants leads to new generation of fungicides

Posted: 06 Oct 2014 05:53 AM PDT

Insight into the mechanism by which pathogenic fungi avoid the immune responses of the plants they attack has been the focus of recent study. The research opens up a whole new area of research into plant-host interaction which could lead to the development of fungicides that are able to act before the plant is harmed.

No need for water, enzymes are doing it for themselves

Posted: 06 Oct 2014 05:53 AM PDT

New research has challenged one of the key axioms in biology -- that enzymes need water to function. The breakthrough could eventually lead to the development of new industrial catalysts for processing biodiesel.

An innovative way to increase flower, seed and fruit production

Posted: 06 Oct 2014 05:51 AM PDT

A botonist has developed a method to enhance crop yield by the contact of roots, aerial parts or even the substratum of the plant fungus,'Colletotrichum tofieldiae'.

Atmospheric chemistry hinges on better physics model

Posted: 06 Oct 2014 05:51 AM PDT

theoretical physics models could help us better grasp the atmospheric chemistry of ozone depletion. Indeed, understanding photoabsorption of nitrous oxide (N2O) - a process which involves the transfer of the energy of a photon to the molecule - matters because a small fraction of N2O reacts with oxygen atoms in the stratosphere to produce among others nitric oxide (NO). The latter participates in the catalytic destruction of ozone (O3). Now, new theoretical work unveils the actual dynamic of the photoabsorption of nitrous oxide molecules.

Robotic solutions inspired by plants

Posted: 06 Oct 2014 05:51 AM PDT

Researchers are demonstrating revolutionary robotic techniques inspired by plants, featuring a 3D-printed 'trunk', 'leaves' that sense the environment and 'roots' that grow and change direction.

Liquid DNA behind virus attacks

Posted: 06 Oct 2014 05:49 AM PDT

Viruses can convert their DNA from solid to fluid form, which explains how viruses manage to eject DNA into the cells of their victims. This has been shown in two new studies carried out by Lund University in Sweden.

Tracing our ancestors at the bottom of the sea

Posted: 06 Oct 2014 05:49 AM PDT

A new European Marine Board report recommends exploration of sea-submerged settlements abandoned by our ancestors. Researchers are studying the remains of prehistoric human settlements which are now submerged beneath our coastal seas. Some of these drowned sites are tens of thousands of years old.

Air pollution increases river-flows, study shows

Posted: 05 Oct 2014 10:49 AM PDT

Air pollution has had a significant impact on the amount of water flowing through many rivers in the northern hemisphere, a new study shows. The paper shows how such pollution, known as aerosols, can have an impact on the natural environment and highlights the importance of considering these factors in assessments of future climate change.

Breakthrough allows researchers to watch molecules

Posted: 05 Oct 2014 10:48 AM PDT

A new crystallographic technique is set to transform scientists' ability to observe how molecules work. Although fast time-resolved crystallography (Laue crystallography) has previously been possible, it has required advanced instrumentation that is only available at three sites worldwide. Only a handful of proteins have been studied using the traditional technique The new method will allow researchers across the world to carry out dynamic crystallography and is likely to provide a major boost in areas of research that rely on understanding how molecules work.

First pictures of BRCA2 protein show how it works to repair DNA

Posted: 05 Oct 2014 10:48 AM PDT

Scientists have taken pictures of the BRCA2 protein for the first time, showing how it works to repair damaged DNA. The findings showed that each pair of BRCA2 proteins binds two sets of RAD51 that run in opposite directions. This allows it to work on strands of broken DNA that point in either direction. They also show that BRCA2's job is to help RAD51 form short filaments at multiple sites along the DNA, presumably to increase the efficiency of establishing longer filaments required to search for matching strands.

Pain receptor on T-cells discovered

Posted: 05 Oct 2014 10:36 AM PDT

T-cells -- a type of white blood cell that learns to recognize and attack microbial pathogens -- are activated by a pain receptor, scientists have discovered. The study shows that the receptor helps regulate intestinal inflammation in mice and that its activity can be manipulated, offering a potential new target for treating certain autoimmune disorders, such as Crohn's disease and possibly multiple sclerosis.

Marijuana use associated with lower death rates in patients with traumatic brain injuries

Posted: 02 Oct 2014 09:37 AM PDT

A survey of patients with traumatic brain injuries found those who had used marijuana were more likely to survive than those who had not used the illicit substance. The findings suggest THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, may help protect the brain in cases of traumatic brain injury, the researchers said.

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