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Thursday, November 27, 2014

ScienceDaily: Top Environment News

ScienceDaily: Top Environment News

Experimental Ebola vaccine appears safe, prompts immune response

Posted: 26 Nov 2014 02:14 PM PST

An experimental vaccine to prevent Ebola virus disease was well-tolerated and produced immune system responses in all 20 healthy adults who received it in a Phase 1 clinical trial.

Matched 'hybrid' systems may hold key to wider use of renewable energy

Posted: 26 Nov 2014 11:42 AM PST

The use of renewable energy in the United States could take a significant leap forward with improved storage technologies or more efforts to 'match' different forms of alternative energy systems that provide an overall more steady flow of electricity, researchers say in a new report.

Post-medieval Polish buried as potential 'vampires' were likely local

Posted: 26 Nov 2014 11:42 AM PST

Potential 'vampires' buried in northwestern Poland with sickles and rocks across their bodies were likely local and not immigrants to the region. In northwestern Poland, apotropaic funerary rites--a traditional practice intended to prevent evil--occurred throughout the 17th-18th c. AD.

Invisible shield found thousands of miles above Earth blocks 'killer electrons'

Posted: 26 Nov 2014 10:38 AM PST

An invisible shield has been discovered some 7,200 miles above Earth that blocks so-called 'killer electrons,' which whip around the planet at near-light speed and have been known to threaten astronauts, fry satellites and degrade space systems during intense solar storms.

High-tech mirror beams heat away from buildings into space

Posted: 26 Nov 2014 10:38 AM PST

Engineers have invented a material designed to help cool buildings. The material reflects incoming sunlight, and it sends heat from inside the structure directly into space as infrared radiation.

Unbelievable underworld and its impact on us all

Posted: 26 Nov 2014 10:27 AM PST

A new study has pulled together research into the most diverse place on earth to demonstrate how the organisms below-ground could hold the key to understanding how the worlds ecosystems function and how they are responding to climate change.

Modeling the past to understand the future of a stronger El Niño

Posted: 26 Nov 2014 10:26 AM PST

El Nino is not a contemporary phenomenon; it's long been the Earth's dominant source of year-to-year climate fluctuation. But as the climate warms and the feedbacks that drive the cycle change, researchers want to know how El Nino will respond.

The living, breathing ocean

Posted: 26 Nov 2014 09:44 AM PST

The ocean is a complex ecosystem. The ocean carbon cycle is governed by the relationship among carbon, nutrients and oxygen, and the ratio between certain elements is key to understanding ocean respiration.

Dogs hear our words and how we say them

Posted: 26 Nov 2014 09:43 AM PST

When people hear another person talking to them, they respond not only to what is being said -- those consonants and vowels strung together into words and sentences -- but also to other features of that speech -- the emotional tone and the speaker's gender, for instance. Now, a report provides some of the first evidence of how dogs also differentiate and process those various components of human speech.

Iberian orcas, increasingly trapped

Posted: 26 Nov 2014 08:11 AM PST

Thanks to the more than 11,200 sightings of cetaceans over the course of ten years, Spanish and Portuguese researchers have been able to identify, in detail, the presence of orcas in the Gulf of Cadiz, the Strait of Gibraltar and the Alboran Sea. According to the models that have been generated, the occurrence of these cetaceans is linked to the distribution of their main prey (red tuna) and their presence in Spanish, Portuguese and Moroccan waters is thus more limited than previously thought.

Amazonian shrimps: An underwater world still unknown

Posted: 26 Nov 2014 07:39 AM PST

A study reveals how little we know about the Amazonian diversity. Aiming to resolve a scientific debate about the validity of two species of freshwater shrimp described in the first half of the last century, researchers have found that not only this species is valid, but also discovered the existence of a third unknown species. The researchers concluded that these species evolved about 10 million years ago.

An 'eel-lectrifying' future for autonomous underwater robots

Posted: 26 Nov 2014 07:39 AM PST

Scientists have developed and built a prototype for an eel-like robotic fish to be operable remotely, small, sophisticated and intelligent enough to operate autonomously underwater. A new form of central pattern generator model is presented, by which the swimming pattern of a real Anguilliform fish is successfully applied to the robotic prototype. Mathematical model, control law design, different locomotion patterns, and locomotion planning are presented for an Anguilliform robotic fish.

New evidence of ancient rock art across Southeast Asia

Posted: 26 Nov 2014 06:42 AM PST

Research on the oldest surviving rock art of Southeast Asia shows the region's first people brought with them a rich art practice. These earliest people skilfully produced paintings of animals in rock shelters from southwest China to Indonesia. Besides these countries, early sites were also recorded in Thailand, Cambodia and Malaysia.

Bioengineering study finds two-cell mouse embryos already 'talking' about their future

Posted: 26 Nov 2014 06:42 AM PST

Bioengineers have discovered that mouse embryos are contemplating their cellular fates in the earliest stages after fertilization when the embryo has only two to four cells, a discovery that could upend the scientific consensus about when embryonic cells begin differentiating into cell types. Their research used single-cell RNA sequencing to look at every gene in the mouse genome.

Toolkit for ocean health

Posted: 26 Nov 2014 06:42 AM PST

The ocean is undergoing global changes at a remarkable pace and we must change with it to attain our best possible future ocean, warns an expert who shares his insights on the future of the world's oceans in a new paper.

Protecting rainforest through agriculture, forestry

Posted: 26 Nov 2014 06:42 AM PST

Conservationists are always looking for ways to halt the pace of deforestation in tropical rainforests. One approach involves recultivating abandoned agricultural land. Working in the mountainous regions of Ecuador, the an international team of researchers found afforestation and intense pasturing to be particularly effective, clearly increasing the environmental and economic value of abandoned farmlands.

Particles, waves and ants

Posted: 26 Nov 2014 06:42 AM PST

Particles or waves traveling through disordered media are scattered at small impurities. Surprisingly, the density of these impurities does not affect the overall dwell time the particle -- or wave -- spends inside the medium. This remarkable finding applies not only to particles and waves, but also to crawling ants or drunken sailors hitting streetlamps.

Prehistoric conflict hastened human brain's capacity for collaboration

Posted: 26 Nov 2014 06:42 AM PST

Warfare not only hastened human technological progress and vast social and political changes, but may have greatly contributed to the evolutionary emergence of humans' high intelligence and ability to work together toward common goals, according to a new study.

Drivers of sexual traits: Age and a whole lot more

Posted: 26 Nov 2014 04:53 AM PST

Many male animals have multiple displays and behaviors to attract females; and often the larger or greater the better. Understanding what has driven the evolution of these traits is an important evolutionary question.

Hydrothermal settlers: Barnacle holds clues about how climate change is affecting the deep ocean

Posted: 26 Nov 2014 04:53 AM PST

The deep ocean seems so remote that it is difficult to imagine any sort of human-generated change making an impact on deep-sea life. It is even more difficult to collect or examine evidence from the deep ocean to determine what those impacts might be. Enter the barnacle; a hard, sessile creature that looks like a tiny volcano and attaches to rocks, boat bottoms, and other hard substrates, where it filters ocean water to feed on tiny organisms. The barnacle holds clues about how climate change is affecting the deep ocean. 

Classical enzymatic theory revised by including water motions

Posted: 26 Nov 2014 04:51 AM PST

Enzymes are macromolecular biological catalysists that lead most of chemical reactions in living organisms. The main focus of enzymology lies on enzymes themselves, whereas the role of water motions in mediating the biological reaction is often left aside owing to the complex molecular behavior. Scientists have now revised the classical enzymatic steady state theory by including long-lasting protein-water coupled motions into models of functional catalysis.

Microbial communities for health and environment: Precise measurements of microbial ecosystems

Posted: 26 Nov 2014 04:50 AM PST

Biologists have succeeded for the first time in describing the complex relationships within an ecosystem in unprecedented detail. Their model ecosystem was a "biological wastewater treatment plant". In it live numerous species of bacteria which are involved in the wastewater purification process.

A warming world may spell bad news for honey bees

Posted: 25 Nov 2014 05:58 PM PST

A bee parasites from exotic climates threatens UK bees. Research predicts that an exotic gut parasite could cause increasing damage to UK bees as climates warms.

Female color perception affects evolution of male plumage in birds

Posted: 25 Nov 2014 05:58 PM PST

The expression of a gene involved in female birds' color vision is linked to the evolution of colorful plumage in males, reports a new study. The findings confirm the essential role of female color perception in mate selection and sexual dimorphism.

Better forecasts for sea ice under climate change: Effect of waves

Posted: 25 Nov 2014 05:54 PM PST

New research is helping pinpoint the impact of waves on sea ice, which is vulnerable to climate change, particularly in the Arctic where it is rapidly retreating. Scientists report the first laboratory experiments testing theoretical models of wave activity in frozen oceans.

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