Πέμπτη, 15 Μαΐου 2014

ScienceDaily: Top Environment News

ScienceDaily: Top Environment News

Scientists investigate the role of the 'silent killer' inside deep-diving animals

Posted: 14 May 2014 03:28 PM PDT

Scientists have furthered science's understanding of carbon monoxide's natural characteristics and limitations by studying the gas in one of the world's best divers: the elephant seal. Colorless and odorless, carbon monoxide (CO) is now monitored in many homes with inexpensive detectors. In human bodies, CO is produced naturally as a byproduct of the breakdown of hemoglobin -- molecules responsible for transporting oxygen -- inside red blood cells. To their surprise, researchers discovered that carbon monoxide is bound to 10 percent of the hemoglobin in adult elephant seals, or 10 times the amount found in healthy humans, and roughly comparable to someone who smokes 40 cigarettes per day.

Environmental conditions may impact bird migration

Posted: 14 May 2014 03:27 PM PDT

Wind conditions during spring migration may be a predictor of apparent annual survival and the timing of breeding in yellow warblers. Migratory birds play a critical role in the ecosystem, pollinating plants, dispersing seeds, and consuming insects and small mammals. Yellow warblers breed in western Canada and overwinter in Mexico, making them difficult to study during all stages of their annual cycle. Scientists found that of the climatic models tested, wind speeds on migration best predicted apparent annual adult survival, male arrival date at the breeding site, female egg laying, and annual productivity.

First diplodocid sauropod from South America found

Posted: 14 May 2014 03:27 PM PDT

The discovery of a new sauropod dinosaur species, Leinkupal laticauda, found in Argentina may be the first record of a diplodocid from South America and the youngest record of Diplodocidae in the world.

Study sheds light on penguins first year far from home

Posted: 14 May 2014 03:27 PM PDT

In the first study of its kind, scientists tracked penguins first year away from home and found young king penguins explored new habitat, eventually learning to find food similarly to their parents.

Beer foam secrets tapped in new study

Posted: 14 May 2014 01:52 PM PDT

It's an unlikely beer-drinking toast: "Here's to L-T-P-One!" Yet, the secret to optimal foam in the head of a freshly poured brew, according to food science research, is just the right amount and kind of barley lipid transfer protein No. 1, aka LTP1. "To some beer aficionados, the sign of a good head – the proper consistency, color, height, duration – is to draw a face with your finger in the foam, before taking the first sip," the food scientist notes. "If the face is still there, when the glass is drained and the liquid is gone – that's seriously good foam."

Protein data bank archives its 100,000th molecule structure

Posted: 14 May 2014 12:31 PM PDT

As the single worldwide repository for the three-dimensional structures of large molecules and nucleic acids that are vital to pharmacology and bioinformatics research, the Protein Data Bank (PDB) recently archived its 100,000th molecule structure, doubling its size in just six years.

How cone snail venom minimizes pain

Posted: 14 May 2014 11:23 AM PDT

The venom from marine cone snails, used to immobilize prey, contains numerous peptides called conotoxins, some of which can act as painkillers in mammals. Researchers provide new insight into the mechanisms by which one conotoxin, Vc1.1, inhibits pain.

New smart coating could make oil-spill cleanup faster and more efficient

Posted: 14 May 2014 10:34 AM PDT

In the wake of recent off-shore oil spills, and with the growing popularity of 'fracking' -- in which water is used to release oil and gas from shale -- there's a need for easy, quick ways to separate oil and water. Now, scientists have developed coatings that can do just that. Their research could also stop surfaces from getting foggy and dirty.

By itself, abundant shale gas unlikely to alter climate projections

Posted: 14 May 2014 10:34 AM PDT

A policy analysis finds that if natural gas is abundant and less expensive, it will encourage greater consumption of gas and less of coal, renewables and nuclear power. The net effect on the climate will depend on whether the greenhouse gas emissions from producing and consuming natural gas -- including carbon dioxide and methane – are lower or higher than emissions avoided by reducing the use of other energy sources.

California mountains rise as groundwater depleted in state's Central Valley: May trigger small earthquakes

Posted: 14 May 2014 10:34 AM PDT

The weight of water pumped from California's agricultural heartland, the Central Valley, over the past 150 years is enough to allow Earth's crust to rebound upward, raising surrounding mountain ranges, the Sierra Nevada and Coast Ranges, some six inches. Winter rains and summer pumping cause annual up and down movements that could affect earthquakes on the San Andreas Fault, which parallels the ranges.

Dangerous storms: Hurricanes peaking further north, typhoons further south, than in past

Posted: 14 May 2014 10:34 AM PDT

Powerful, destructive tropical cyclones are now reaching their peak intensity farther from the equator and closer to the poles, according to a new study. The results of the study show that over the last 30 years, tropical cyclones -- also known as hurricanes or typhoons -- are moving poleward at a rate of about 33 miles per decade in the Northern Hemisphere and 38 miles per decade in the Southern Hemisphere.

How gut bacteria regulate weight gain: Study provides further understanding

Posted: 14 May 2014 10:30 AM PDT

Gut bacteria communicate with their host to specifically regulate weight gain and serum cholesterol levels, new research has found. The research has implications for the rational selection and design of probiotics for the control of obesity, high cholesterol and diabetes. "Recent work by other groups has shown that bile acids act as signalling molecules in the host, almost like a hormonal network, with an ability to influence host metabolism. What we have done is to show that a specific mechanism exists by which bacteria in the gut can influence this process with significant consequences for the host," commented one researcher.

Writing is on the wall for air pollution, thanks to air-cleansing poem

Posted: 14 May 2014 10:30 AM PDT

The writing is on the wall for smog as the world's first air-cleansing poem is unveiled. A catalytic poem called In Praise of Air is printed on material containing a formula that is capable of purifying its surroundings. This cheap technology could also be applied to billboards and advertisements alongside congested roads to cut pollution. The professor who came up with the idea of using treated materials to cleanse the air, said: "This is a fun collaboration between science and the arts to highlight a very serious issue of poor air quality in our towns and cities.

New approach to treating peanut and other food allergies

Posted: 14 May 2014 08:17 AM PDT

These days, more and more people seem to have food allergies, which can sometimes have life-threatening consequences. Scientists now report the development of a new type of flour that someday could be used in food-based therapies to help people better tolerate their allergy triggers, including peanuts.

To wilt or not to wilt: Plant hormone abscisic acid underlies plant-water relations

Posted: 14 May 2014 08:17 AM PDT

Plant stomata play a role in water loss and carbon dioxide uptake from leaves. A researcher has found that the plant hormone abscisic acid underlies the differences in certain critical features of plant-water relations. These plant-water relations include control of water loss through the stomata and aspects of restoration of water uptake after the plant has been dehydrated -- in other words, whether the plant will wilt or not.

Over 100 new species discovered by team in drive to document biodiversity

Posted: 14 May 2014 08:16 AM PDT

A 5-million-year-old saber-toothed cat, the world's oldest grape and a bizarre hermit crab were among more than 100 new species discovered by a team of scientists last year. Driven in part by the urgency to document new species as natural habitats and fossil sites decline due to human influences, researchers described 16 new genera and 103 new species of plants and animals in 2013, with some research divisions anticipating higher numbers for 2014.

Caribbean clingfish: Tiny, tenacious and tentatively toxic

Posted: 14 May 2014 07:03 AM PDT

Sometimes we think we know everything about something only to find out we really don't, said a biologist studying tiny fish. Scientists comparing a new clingfish to known ones discovered a new species, and made an important finding about a group of well-studied fish at the same time. They discovered a venom gland that had been missed until now.

New Zealand sea lion is a relative newcomer

Posted: 14 May 2014 07:03 AM PDT

The modern New Zealand sea lion is a relative newcomer to the mainland, replacing a now-extinct, unique prehistoric New Zealand sea-lion that once lived here, according to a new study. A team of biologists estimates that this prehistoric mainland sea-lion population became extinct as recently as 600 years ago, and was then replaced by a lineage previously limited to the waters of the cold subantarctic.

Extinct relative helps to reclassify the world's remaining two species of monk seal

Posted: 14 May 2014 07:03 AM PDT

The recently extinct Caribbean monk seal was one of three species of monk seal in the world. Its relationship to the Mediterranean and Hawaiian monk seals, both living but endangered, has never been fully understood. Through DNA analysis and skull comparisons scientists have now clarified the Caribbean species' place on the seal family tree and created a completely new genus.

Understanding 1918 flu pandemic can aid in better infectious disease response

Posted: 14 May 2014 05:46 AM PDT

The 1918 Flu Pandemic infected over 500 million people, killing at least 50 million. Now, a researcher has analyzed the pandemic in two remote regions of North America, finding that despite their geographical divide, both regions had environmental, nutritional and economic factors that influenced morbidity during the pandemic. Findings from the research could help improve current health policies.

Microchip-like technology allows single-cell analysis

Posted: 14 May 2014 05:46 AM PDT

A system similar to random access memory chips that allows the fast, efficient control and separation of individual cells has been developed by engineers. Once scaled up, the technology promises to sort and store hundreds of thousands of cells in a matter of minutes, enabling biologists to study vast arrays of single cells.

Turtle migration directly influenced by drift experiences with ocean currents as hatchlings

Posted: 14 May 2014 05:45 AM PDT

New research has found that adult sea-turtle migrations and their selection of feeding sites are directly influenced by their past experiences as little hatchlings adrift in ocean currents. When they breed, adult sea turtles return to the beach where they were born. After breeding, adult sea turtles typically migrate several hundreds to thousands of kilometres to their feeding habitats. However, there has been little information about how turtles chose their feeding sites.

How orchid bees find their personal scent, attract mates

Posted: 14 May 2014 05:45 AM PDT

A fragrant perfume has brought many a man and many a woman together. Orchid bees, too, appear to rely on scent when it comes to choosing a partner. In the course of their lives, the males compile a species-specific bouquet that they store in the pockets on their hind legs. One day, they release it in order to attract the female, assumes a biologist who studies the flying perfume aficionados' collecting behavior.

New technology simplifies production of biotech medicines

Posted: 14 May 2014 05:45 AM PDT

The final step in the production of a biotech medicine is finishing with the correct sugar structure. This step is essential for the efficacy of the medicine, but it also makes the production process very complex and expensive. Researchers have developed a technology that shortens the sugar structures whilst retaining the therapeutic efficiency. This technology has the potential to make the production of biotech medicines significantly simpler and cheaper.

Emissions by carbon-neutral municipalities down by almost 20 per cent in six years

Posted: 14 May 2014 05:45 AM PDT

Sixteen municipalities involved in the Towards Carbon-Neutral Municipalities (Canemu, HINKU in Finnish) project reduced their greenhouse gas emissions by an average of 19% between 2007 and 2012. The greatest emissions reduction was made by Hanko (-34%) and Ii (-31%), which has invested heavily in emission-free wind power production. Lohja (-28%), Raasepori (-23%) and Padasjoki (-22%) did well too, cutting their emissions by more than 20%.

Pretreatment snack improves uptake of schistosomiasis treatment in schoolchildren

Posted: 13 May 2014 02:52 PM PDT

Provision of a snack before mass treatment of schistosomiasis with praziquantel leads to increased uptake of treatment in school-aged children in Uganda, according to a new study. Scientists found that 93.9 percent of children reported taking praziquantel in schools that offered a snack before treatment compared with 78.7 percent of children in schools that did not offer a snack.

Sustaining northern hardwood forests: Are we doing what we think we're doing?

Posted: 13 May 2014 02:50 PM PDT

There's an established, accepted and effective system for sustainable management of northern hardwood forests. The only thing is, although they give lip service, almost no one is using it. The researchers spoke with forest managers, almost all of whom claimed that production of high quality timber and revenue was their primary management objective. Yet the way they were managing their forests did not reflect the recommended guideline.

3-D map of enzyme could lead to more effective drugs

Posted: 13 May 2014 10:26 AM PDT

A 3-D map of an enzyme called Proline utilization A (PutA) has been completed by researchers. PutA facilitates metabolism by adding oxygen to molecules. The lead investigator says that mapping this enzyme will give researchers a better understanding of its function, which could help drug manufacturers create more effective drugs.

Lyme disease confirmed in humans from southern states

Posted: 13 May 2014 06:11 AM PDT

Additional cases of Lyme disease have been found in patients from several states in the southeastern U.S. These cases include two additional Lyme disease Borrelia species recently identified in patients in Florida and Georgia. Overall, 42 percent of 215 patients from southern states tested positive for some Lyme Borrelia species. More than 90 cases of Lyme infection were confirmed among patients from Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Texas and Virginia.

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