Παρασκευή, 27 Ιουνίου 2014

ScienceDaily: Top Environment News

ScienceDaily: Top Environment News


Bloodsucking mite threatens UK honeybees

Posted: 26 Jun 2014 02:27 PM PDT

Scientists have discovered how a bloodsucking parasite has transformed Deformed Wing Virus (DWV) into one of the biggest threats facing UK honeybees. Honeybees are a key pollinating insect, adding around $40B globally to crop value. Over recent years the spread of parasites and the viruses they transmit has resulted in high overwintering colony losses. New and emerging threats to insect pollinators are putting increasing pressure on the agricultural sector to meet the demands of a growing population.

Water-cleanup catalysts tackle biomass upgrading

Posted: 26 Jun 2014 11:18 AM PDT

A chemical engineer has spent a decade amassing evidence that palladium-gold nanoparticles are excellent catalysts for cleaning polluted water, but even he was surprised at how well the particles converted biodiesel waste into valuable chemicals.

Team develops a geothermometer for methane formation

Posted: 26 Jun 2014 11:16 AM PDT

A team of scientists has developed a new technique that can, for the first time, determine the temperature at which a natural methane sample formed. This determination can aid in figuring out how and where the gas formed.

Animals built reefs 550 million years ago, fossil study finds

Posted: 26 Jun 2014 11:16 AM PDT

It is a remarkable survivor of an ancient aquatic world -- now a new study sheds light on how one of Earth's oldest reefs was formed. Researchers have discovered that one of these reefs -- now located on dry land in Namibia -- was built almost 550 million years ago, by the first animals to have hard shells.

Ancient ocean currents may have changed pacing and intensity of ice ages: Slowing of currents may have flipped switch

Posted: 26 Jun 2014 11:16 AM PDT

Researchers have found that the deep ocean currents that move heat around the globe stalled or even stopped about 950,000 years ago, possibly due to expanding ice cover in the north. The slowing currents increased carbon dioxide storage in the ocean, leaving less in the atmosphere, which kept temperatures cold and kicked the climate system into a new phase of colder but less frequent ice ages, they hypothesize.

The shocking truth about electric fish: Genomic basis for the convergent evolution of electric organs

Posted: 26 Jun 2014 11:16 AM PDT

Scientists have found how the electric fish's jolt evolved. Biologists identified the regulatory molecules involved in the genetic and developmental pathways that electric fish have used to convert a simple muscle into an organ capable of generating a potent electrical field.

Fighting parasitic infection inadvertently unleashes dormant virus

Posted: 26 Jun 2014 11:10 AM PDT

Signals from the immune system that help repel a common parasite inadvertently can cause a dormant viral infection to become active again, a new study shows. Further research is necessary to understand the clinical significance of the finding, but researchers said the study helps illustrate how complex interactions between infectious agents and the immune system have the potential to affect illness.

Foul exhaust fumes derail dinner for hungry moths

Posted: 26 Jun 2014 11:10 AM PDT

In new research on how pollinators find flowers when background odors are strong, researchers have found that both natural plant odors and human sources of pollution can conceal the scent of sought-after flowers. Car and truck exhaust fumes that foul the air for humans also cause problems for pollinators.

The social psychology of nerve cells

Posted: 26 Jun 2014 10:22 AM PDT

Cholinergic amacrine cells create a 'personal space' in much the same way that people distance themselves from one another in an elevator, researchers have discovered. In addition, the study shows that this feature is heritable and identifies a genetic contributor to it, pituitary tumor-transforming gene 1.

New species of small mammal: Round-eared elephant-shrew found in Namibia

Posted: 26 Jun 2014 10:22 AM PDT

Scientists have discovered a new species of round-eared sengi, or elephant-shrew, in the remote deserts of southwestern Africa. This is the third new species of sengi to be discovered in the wild in the past decade. It is also the smallest known member of the 19 sengis in the order Macroscelidea.

Capturing carbon dioxide emissions needed to meet climate targets

Posted: 26 Jun 2014 09:20 AM PDT

Technologies that are discussed controversially today may be needed to keep the future risks and costs of climate change in check. Combining the production of energy from fossil fuels and biomass with capturing and storing the carbon dioxide they emit can be key to achieving current climate policy objectives such as limiting the rise of the global mean temperature to below 2 degrees Celsius.

Packing hundreds of sensors into a single optical fiber for use in harsh environments

Posted: 26 Jun 2014 09:20 AM PDT

By fusing together the concepts of active fiber sensors and high-temperature fiber sensors, a team of researchers has created an all-optical high-temperature sensor for gas flow measurements that operates at record-setting temperatures above 800 degrees Celsius. It's expected to find industrial sensing applications in harsh environments, such as deep geothermal drill cores or space missions.

Organic agriculture boosts biodiversity on farmlands

Posted: 26 Jun 2014 09:18 AM PDT

Organic farming fosters biodiversity. At least that's the theory. In practice, however, the number of habitats on the land plays an important role alongside the type and intensity of farming practices. These are the findings of an international study that looked at 10 regions in Europe and two in Africa. The study shows that even organic farms have to actively support biodiversity by, for example, conserving different habitats on their holdings.

Decoding characteristic food odors

Posted: 26 Jun 2014 09:18 AM PDT

How are we able to recognize foodstuffs like strawberries, coffee, barbecued meat or boiled potatoes by smell alone? Foodstuffs contain more than 10,000 different volatile substances. But only around 230 of these determine the odor of food. Narrowing it down further, between just three and 40 of these key odors are responsible for encoding the typical smell of an individual foodstuff. These compounds are then decoded by around 400 olfactory receptors in the nose.

Cheap and enviromentally friendly: Tofu ingredient could revolutionize solar panel manufacture

Posted: 26 Jun 2014 09:18 AM PDT

The chemical used to make tofu and bath salts could also replace a highly toxic and expensive substance used to make solar cells, a new study has revealed. Cadmium chloride is currently a key ingredient in solar cell technology used in millions of solar panels around the world. This soluble compound is highly toxic and expensive to produce, requiring elaborate safety measures to protect workers during manufacture and then specialist disposal when panels are no longer needed.

LEGO bricks turned into scientific tool to study plant growth

Posted: 26 Jun 2014 09:17 AM PDT

Engineers are using LEGO bricks to build controlled environments to study how variations in climate and soil affect plant growth. They say LEGO bricks "are highly convenient and versatile building blocks" for the studies. While looking for a way to study plant and root growth that was simple, inexpensive and flexible -- something that allowed experiments to be reproduced all over the world, even in labs without the latest technologies or the infrastructure required for plant science or agronomy research -- researchers thought of LEGO bricks. And it worked.

Chimps like listening to music with a different beat

Posted: 26 Jun 2014 09:16 AM PDT

While preferring silence to music from the West, chimpanzees apparently like to listen to the different rhythms of music from Africa and India, according to new research published by the American Psychological Association.

NASA's OCO-2 will track our impact on airborne carbon

Posted: 26 Jun 2014 09:16 AM PDT

Although we know the concentration of carbon dioxide, much about the processes that govern the gas's atmospheric concentration remains a mystery. We still do not know precisely where all of the carbon dioxide comes from and where it is being stored when it leaves the air. That information is crucial for understanding the impact of human activities on climate and for evaluating options for mitigating or adapting to climate change. Scientists expect to get some answers soon to these and other compelling carbon questions, thanks to the Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2, a new Earth-orbiting NASA satellite scheduled to launch on July 1. OCO-2 will allow scientists to record detailed daily measurements of carbon dioxide -- around 100,000 measurements of the gas around the world every day.

New NASA images highlight U.S. air quality improvement

Posted: 26 Jun 2014 08:59 AM PDT

Anyone living in a major U.S. city for the past decade may have noticed a change in the air. The change is apparent in new NASA satellite images unveiled this week that demonstrate the reduction of air pollution across the country.

Managing specialized microbes to clean stubborn chemicals from environment

Posted: 26 Jun 2014 07:19 AM PDT

Unique groups of microorganisms capable of converting hazardous chlorinated chemicals like trichloroetheene into ethene, a benign end product of microbial biodegradation, have been examined by scientists. The studies explore the metabolic activities of a group of microbes known as Dehalococcoides and propose strategies to improve their effectiveness for environmental cleanup projects involving chlorinated chemicals.

Fruit flies help scientists uncover genes responsible for human communication

Posted: 26 Jun 2014 07:18 AM PDT

Toddlers acquire communication skills by babbling until what they utter is rewarded; however, the genes involved in learning language skills are far from completely understood. Now, using a gene identified in fruit flies, scientists have discovered a crucial component of the origin of language in humans.

Virus infection supports organ acceptance

Posted: 26 Jun 2014 07:18 AM PDT

Chronic hepatitis C virus infections are among the most common reasons for liver transplants. Because existing viruses also infect the new liver, the immune system is highly active there. Despite this, the new organ is not rejected, as scientists have now discovered. The long-term stimulation of the innate immune system by the virus actually increases the probability of tolerance.

Australia: Victoria's volcano count rises

Posted: 26 Jun 2014 07:18 AM PDT

Geologists have discovered three previously unrecorded volcanoes in volcanically active southeast Australia. The new research gives a detailed picture of an area of volcanic centers already known to geologists in the region.

Who's got food ingredient fears?

Posted: 26 Jun 2014 07:01 AM PDT

Researchers investigated who might be most prone to food fears, why, and what can be done to correct misperceptions. A phone survey of 1008 U.S. mothers revealed key findings about those who avoid specific ingredients such as high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS), mono sodium glutamate (MSG), and others.

Did the Khazars convert to Judaism? New research says 'no'

Posted: 26 Jun 2014 06:57 AM PDT

Did the Khazars convert to Judaism? The view that some or all Khazars, a central Asian people, became Jews during the ninth or tenth century is widely accepted. But following an exhaustive analysis of the evidence, a researcher has concluded that such a conversion, "while a splendid story," never took place.

Resistance to antibiotics: New rapid diagnosis

Posted: 26 Jun 2014 06:57 AM PDT

A rapid diagnostic test for multi-resistance to broad-spectrum antibiotics has just been developed by researchers. This new test allows the identification, in less than two hours, of multidrug-resistant strains of Acinetobacter baumannii, an important hospital pathogen. The large-scale application of this test will mean better control of the spread of certain traits of antibiotic resistance.

Deeper insights into protein folding

Posted: 26 Jun 2014 06:57 AM PDT

A new theoretical foundation explaining the mechanism of protein folding and unfolding in water has been presented by researchers investigating the structure and dynamics of so-called Meso-Bio-Nano (MBN) systems. Their statistic mechanics model describes the thermodynamic properties of real proteins in an aqueous environment, using a minimal number of free physical parameters.

Oldest biodiversity found in Gabonese marine ecosystem

Posted: 26 Jun 2014 06:55 AM PDT

Researchers have discovered, in clay sediments from Gabon, fossils of the oldest multicellular organisms ever found. In total, more than 400 fossils dating back 2.1 billion years have been collected, including dozens of new types. The detailed analysis of these finds reveals a broad biodiversity composed of micro and macroscopic organisms of highly varied size and shape that evolved in a marine ecosystem.

Climate control for the burns unit

Posted: 26 Jun 2014 06:46 AM PDT

Individualized climate control for burns victims in hospitals might not only improve comfort for such patients, but improve working conditions for those taking care of them, research suggests. In addition, it could cut energy requirements by three quarters where cooling is needed and by up to a quarter where heating is used.

To avoid interbreeding, monkeys have undergone evolution in facial appearance

Posted: 26 Jun 2014 06:29 AM PDT

Old World monkeys have undergone a remarkable evolution in facial appearance as a way of avoiding interbreeding with closely related and geographically proximate species, researchers have found. Their research provides the best evidence to date for the role of visual cues as a barrier to breeding across species.

Peanuts don't panic parents as much as milk and eggs

Posted: 26 Jun 2014 06:29 AM PDT

A new study examined 305 caregivers of children allergic to milk, egg, peanut or tree nut. The researchers were surprised to discover that milk and eggs, not peanuts, were the largest source of anxiety and worry.

Did Neanderthals eat their vegetables? First direct evidence of plants in Neanderthal diet

Posted: 25 Jun 2014 05:19 PM PDT

Scientists have identified human fecal remains from El Salt, a known site of Neanderthal occupation in southern Spain that dates back 50,000 years. The researchers analyzed each sample for metabolized versions of animal-derived cholesterol, as well as phytosterol, a cholesterol-like compound found in plants. While all samples contained signs of meat consumption, two samples showed traces of plants -- the first direct evidence that Neanderthals may have enjoyed an omnivorous diet.

Potent neurotoxin found in flatworm: Neurotoxin tetrodotoxin found in terrestrial environment for first time

Posted: 25 Jun 2014 05:19 PM PDT

The neurotoxin tetrodotoxin has been found for the first time in two species living out of water. Tetrodotoxin is a potent paralysis-inducing neurotoxin found in a multitude of aquatic organisms, but until now has not been found in terrestrial invertebrates.

Finding elusive emperor penguins: Both surveyors and satellites needed to study remote penguin populations

Posted: 25 Jun 2014 05:18 PM PDT

Field surveys and satellites complement each other when studying remote penguin populations. Penguins residing on Antarctica's ice sheets must face moving, breaking, and shifting ice. Accurate monitoring of population trends is critical to understanding the ongoing rapid changes in Antarctic ecosystems. However, the remoteness and logistical complexity of operating in Antarctica, especially during winter, can make such an assessment difficult.

Changes in forage fish abundance alter Atlantic cod distribution, affect fishery success

Posted: 25 Jun 2014 03:48 PM PDT

A shift in the prey available to Atlantic cod in the Gulf of Maine that began nearly a decade ago contributed to the controversy that surrounded the 2011 assessment for this stock. A recent study of how this occurred may help fishery managers, scientists, and the industry understand and resolve apparent conflicts between assessment results and the experiences of the fishing industry.

What's in a name? Shifting meanings of biological names

Posted: 25 Jun 2014 10:24 AM PDT

Standardized scientific names for biological species have been in use for nearly 300 years, but -- as global biodiversity databases grow deficiencies such as duplication and various name meanings become obvious. A new study explains how Avibase, an extensive online global database of birds, is able to successfully address issues related to this multiplicity of meanings, and to organize both scientific names and their definitions on an unprecedented scale.

New material improves wound healing, keeps bacteria from sticking

Posted: 25 Jun 2014 07:16 AM PDT

As many patients know, treating wounds has become far more sophisticated than sewing stitches and applying gauze, but dressings still have shortcomings. Now scientists are reporting the next step in the evolution of wound treatment with a material that leads to faster healing than existing commercial dressings and prevents potentially harmful bacteria from sticking.

New easel reveals secrets of old masters

Posted: 25 Jun 2014 07:14 AM PDT

A state-of-the-art easel is literally shedding new light on the ingenious variety of materials that have been used over the centuries to create artists' paint pigments.

Some dogs could see a kennel stay as exciting

Posted: 25 Jun 2014 07:13 AM PDT

New research suggests that dogs who spend a short time in boarding kennels may not find it unduly stressful and could in fact find the change of scenery exciting.

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