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Thursday, December 4, 2014

ScienceDaily: Top Environment News

ScienceDaily: Top Environment News

Buckyballs enhance carbon capture

Posted: 03 Dec 2014 02:18 PM PST

Amines bound by buckyballs can absorb carbon dioxide from emissions at industrial plants and at natural gas wells, according to new research. Tests from one to 50 atmospheric pressures showed the newly developed compound captured a fifth of its weight in carbon dioxide but no measurable amount of methane.

Ever tried a 'laser delicious' apple? Laser biospeckle method to harvest fruits at precise peak in ripeness

Posted: 03 Dec 2014 02:18 PM PST

The ability to detect when to harvest "climacteric" fruits -- such as apples, bananas, pears and tomatoes -- at the precise moment to ensure "peak edibleness" in terms of both taste and texture may soon be within reach for farmers, thanks to new work.

How red wine prevents cancer

Posted: 03 Dec 2014 01:11 PM PST

'Alcohol damages cells and resveratrol kills damaged cells,' says a scientist who studied red wine and its relationship to preventing cancer. "Alcohol bombards your genes. Your body has ways to repair this damage, but with enough alcohol eventually some damage isn't fixed. That's why excessive alcohol use is a factor in head and neck cancer. Now, resveratrol challenges these cells -- the ones with unrepaired DNA damage are killed, so they can't go on to cause cancer. Alcohol damages cells and resveratrol kills damaged cells," he says.

Laser sniffs out toxic gases from afar: System can ID chemicals in atmosphere from a kilometer away

Posted: 03 Dec 2014 01:11 PM PST

Scientists have developed a way to sniff out tiny amounts of toxic gases -- a whiff of nerve gas, for example, or a hint of a chemical spill -- from up to one kilometer away. The new remote sensing technology can discriminate one type of gas from another with greater specificity than most -- even in complex mixtures of similar chemicals -- and under normal atmospheric pressure, something that wasn't thought possible before.

Citizen science increases environmental awareness, advocacy

Posted: 03 Dec 2014 01:11 PM PST

Citizen science boosts environmental awareness and advocacy more than previously thought and can lead to broader public support for conservation efforts, according to a new study. The researchers found that in addition to gaining environmental knowledge and skills such as population monitoring and species identification, participants in the projects often became environmental advocates, sharing their knowledge within their social networks.

Beer, beef and politics: Findings at viking archaeological site show power trumping practicality

Posted: 03 Dec 2014 01:10 PM PST

Vikings are known for raiding and trading, but those who settled in Iceland centuries ago spent more time producing and feasting on booze and beef — in part to gain political clout in a place very different from their homeland, says an archaeologist.

Arabian sea humpback whales isolated for 70,000 years

Posted: 03 Dec 2014 12:18 PM PST

Scientists have made a fascinating discovery in the northern Indian Ocean: humpback whales inhabiting the Arabian Sea are the most genetically distinct humpback whales in the world and may be the most isolated whale population on earth. The results suggest they have remained separate from other humpback whale populations for perhaps 70,000 years, extremely unusual in a species famed for long distance migrations.

Protect the world's deltas, experts urge

Posted: 03 Dec 2014 11:26 AM PST

Extensive areas of the world's deltas -- which accommodate some of the world's major cities -- will be drowned in the next century by rising sea levels, according to new work. A geologist calls for maintenance efforts to be started now to avert the loss of vast expanses of coastline, and the consequent losses of ecological services, economic and social crises, and large-scale migrations.

Koalas selective about eucalyptus leaves at mealtime: Koalas selected leaves with more nitrogen, fewer toxins

Posted: 03 Dec 2014 11:25 AM PST

Koala population distribution may be influenced by eucalyptus leaf toxin and nutrient content, especially in areas with low-quality food options.

Lethal control of wolves backfires on livestock

Posted: 03 Dec 2014 11:25 AM PST

Researchers have found that it is counter-productive to kill wolves to keep them from preying on livestock. Shooting and trapping lead to more dead sheep and cattle the following year, not fewer. Wildlife biologists say that, for each wolf killed, the odds of more livestock depredations increase significantly.

Oldest ever engraving discovered on 500,000-year-old shell

Posted: 03 Dec 2014 11:24 AM PST

Homo erectus on Java was already using shells of freshwater mussels as tools half a million years ago, and as a 'canvas' for an engraving. The discovery of an engraved geometrical pattern on one of the shells came as a total surprise. The zig zag pattern, that can only be seen with oblique lighting, is clearly older than the weathering processes on the shell arising from fossilization.

Tinkering with the Tao of pandas

Posted: 03 Dec 2014 09:53 AM PST

Good news on the panda front: Turns out they're not quite as delicate -- and picky -- as thought. Up until now, information gleaned from 30 years worth of scientific literature suggested that pandas were inflexible about habitat. Those conclusions morphed into conventional wisdom and thus have guided policy in China. But a new researcher has led a deep dive into aggregate data and emerged with evidence that the endangered animal is more resilient and flexible than previously believed.

Geckos are sticky without effort: Death has no impact on strength geckos use to adhere to surfaces

Posted: 03 Dec 2014 09:53 AM PST

Scientists have studied a variety of features in geckos such as the adhesive toe pads on the underside of the feet with which geckos attach to surfaces with remarkable strength. Biologists have now conducted experiments in the lab on live and dead geckos that show, for the first time, that dead geckos can adhere to surfaces with the same strength as living geckos. The research could have applications in the field of robotics.

Online tool to help cities in Great Lakes Region plan for climate impacts

Posted: 03 Dec 2014 09:48 AM PST

Reduced water availability and quality, floods and problems related to heat stress are some of the potential impacts cities face with a changing climate.

Managing reefs to benefit coastal communities

Posted: 03 Dec 2014 08:12 AM PST

Coral reefs provide a range of benefits, such as food, opportunities for income and education, but not everyone has the same access to them, according to a new study.

A glimmer of hope for corals as baby reef builders cope with acidifying oceans

Posted: 03 Dec 2014 08:12 AM PST

While the threat of coral bleaching as a result of climate change poses a serious risk to the future of coral reefs worldwide, new research has found that some baby corals may be able to cope with the negative effects of ocean acidification.

New molecules to burst malaria's bubble

Posted: 03 Dec 2014 08:12 AM PST

Scientists have released details of a raft of new chemicals with potent anti-malarial properties which could open the way to new drugs to fight malaria. Over 200 million people contract malaria each year, and the parasite that causes the disease has become resistant to most of the drugs currently available. The papers show the malaria parasite has real Achilles heel, and we now have range of new ways to attack it.

Toward a low-cost 'artificial leaf' that produces clean hydrogen fuel

Posted: 03 Dec 2014 08:11 AM PST

For years, scientists have been pursuing 'artificial leaf' technology, a green approach to making hydrogen fuel that copies plants' ability to convert sunlight into a form of energy they can use. Now, one team reports progress toward a stand-alone system that lends itself to large-scale, low-cost production. They created a nanowire mesh design.

Gut bacteria from a worm can degrade plastic

Posted: 03 Dec 2014 08:11 AM PST

Plastic is well-known for sticking around in the environment for years without breaking down, contributing significantly to litter and landfills. But scientists have now discovered that bacteria from the guts of a worm known to munch on food packaging can degrade polyethylene, the most common plastic.The finding could lead to new ways to help get rid of the otherwise persistent waste, the scientists say.

Human influence important factor in possible global and UK temperature records

Posted: 03 Dec 2014 08:08 AM PST

Early figures show 2014 is on course to be one of, if not the warmest year on record both globally and for the UK.

Cancer Prevalent in Pets but Treatable, Says Veterinarian

Posted: 03 Dec 2014 08:07 AM PST

Common cancers in humans are also common cancers in pets. A veterinarian lays out the warning signs that could indicate your dog or cat has cancer.

Green meets Nano: Scientists create multifunctional nanotubes using nontoxic materials

Posted: 03 Dec 2014 07:01 AM PST

A doctoral student in materials science is making multifunctional nanotubes of gold – with the help of vitamin C and other harmless substances.

Bioplastic: Greener than ever

Posted: 03 Dec 2014 07:01 AM PST

Polylactic acid is a degradable plastic used mostly for packaging. To meet the rising demand, researchers have developed an eco-friendly process to make large amounts of lactic acid from glycerol, a waste by-product in the production of biodiesel.

Carbon dioxide warming effects felt just a decade after being emitted

Posted: 03 Dec 2014 05:43 AM PST

It takes just 10 years for a single emission of carbon dioxide (CO2) to have its maximum warming effects on the Earth. This is according to researchers who have dispelled a common misconception that the main warming effects from a CO2 emission will not be felt for several decades.

Mediterranean diet linked to longer life

Posted: 03 Dec 2014 05:42 AM PST

Eating a Mediterranean diet might help extend your lifespan, suggests a study. The diet appears to be associated with longer telomere length -- an established marker of slower aging.

Study of deadly bat disease finds surprising seasonal pattern of infections

Posted: 03 Dec 2014 05:41 AM PST

The deadly fungal disease known as white-nose syndrome has spread to bat colonies throughout eastern North America over the past seven years, causing bat populations to crash, with several species now at risk of extinction. The devastating impact of this disease is due in part to the seasonal dynamics of infection and transmission, according to a new study.

Computer model enables design of complex DNA shapes

Posted: 03 Dec 2014 05:40 AM PST

Biological engineers have created a new computer model that allows them to design the most complex three-dimensional DNA shapes ever produced, including rings, bowls, and geometric structures such as icosahedrons that resemble viral particles.

Animal welfare could be improved by new understanding of their emotions

Posted: 03 Dec 2014 05:39 AM PST

New research looking at how goats express subtle positive emotions could lead to greater understanding of animal welfare. While there has been a great deal of research into negative emotions and stress in animals it is often hard for those who work with animals to know when they are in more subtle positive states.

Shark-shaped sampler to hunt down ‘fugitive’ air pollution

Posted: 03 Dec 2014 05:38 AM PST

Industrial sites and highways could become cleaner in the future thanks to shark-shaped samplers that hunt 'fugitive' air pollutants.

New study explains the role of oceans in 'global warming hiatus'

Posted: 03 Dec 2014 05:37 AM PST

New research shows that ocean heat uptake across three oceans is the likely cause of the 'warming hiatus' – the current decade-long slowdown in global surface warming. Using data from a range of state-of-the-art ocean and atmosphere models, the research shows that the increased oceanic heat drawdown in the equatorial Pacific, North Atlantic and Southern Ocean basins has played a significant role in the hiatus.

Perfect chocolate sheen on confection, sweets

Posted: 03 Dec 2014 05:37 AM PST

White flecks on sweets with a chocolate glaze are harmless – but esthetically unappealing. More than just improper storage can diminish the glossy sheen. Researchers have discovered other weak points in the production process. Armed with sophisticated analysis, companies can now protect their products effectively from the undesirable coating.

You can hear the coral reefs dying, experts say

Posted: 03 Dec 2014 05:37 AM PST

You can hear the sound of former bustling coral reefs dying due to the impact of human activity, according to new research. Scientists have found that coral reefs impacted by human activity, such as overfishing, are much quieter than protected reefs, which can have a big impact on the fish and invertebrates which rely on the reefs for survival.

Mapping the interactome: Proteomics reveals the E-cadherin interaction network

Posted: 03 Dec 2014 05:37 AM PST

Researchers have comprehensively described the network of proteins involved in cell-cell adhesions, or the cadherin interactome. Many biological processes depend on the ability of cells to stick to one another. The formation of multicellular organisms and precise embryonic development rely on this property, as does the maintenance of healthy tissue.

Mediterranean diet linked to improved CV function in erectile dysfunction patients

Posted: 03 Dec 2014 05:36 AM PST

The Mediterranean diet is linked to improved cardiovascular performance in patients with erectile dysfunction, according to new research. Patients with erectile dysfunction who had poor adherence to the Mediterranean diet had more vascular and cardiac damage.

Solving a long-standing mystery, scientists identify principal protein sensor for touch

Posted: 02 Dec 2014 01:14 PM PST

Biologists have solved a long-standing mystery in neuroscience by identifying the "mechanoreceptor" protein that mediates the sense of touch in mammals.

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