Wednesday Morning Science Supplement is an Open Thread
|From Yahoo News Science|
1 Kerry insists US to move on climate
by Shaun Tandon, AFP
Tue Feb 23, 9:16 pm ET
|WASHINGTON (AFP) – Senator John Kerry vowed the United States would overcome the odds and approve action on climate change, as the United Nations set talks for April to help break a diplomatic logjam.
Without offering a timetable, Kerry on Tuesday rejected assertions that it had become politically impossible for the Senate to finalize the first US nationwide plan to curb carbon emissions blamed for global warming.
“I’m excited. I know that’s completely contrary to any conventional wisdom,” said Kerry, a close ally of President Barack Obama and chief architect of the legislation.
2 Whaling plan would OK hunts but seek fewer kills
by Kyoko Hasegawa, AFP
Tue Feb 23, 11:14 pm ET
|TOKYO (AFP) – The global body that regulates whaling has proposed giving the green light to Japan to keep hunting the sea mammals in return for reducing the number of animals killed.
Greenpeace and the World Wide Fund for Nature harshly condemned the draft plan which aims to unlock stalled talks when the 85-nation International Whaling Commission (IWC) meets next month in Florida.
While Greenpeace called it “a dangerous throwback to the 20th century when whales were hunted to near extinction”, the WWF said it “could legitimise ?scientific? whaling by Japan in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary”.
3 China, India adding to e-waste timebomb: UN
Mon Feb 22, 5:57 am ET
|NUSA DUA, Indonesia (AFP) – Mountains of discarded computers and mobile phones could soon pose serious threats to public health and the environment in developing countries without swift action, the UN said Monday.
“Sales of electronic products in countries like China and India and across continents such as Africa and Latin America are set to rise sharply in the next 10 years,” the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) said in a report.
“And unless action is stepped up to properly collect and recycle materials, many developing countries face the spectre of hazardous e-waste mountains with serious consequences for the environment and public health.”
4 Scientists shed light on sleep through the ages
by Karin Zeitvogel, AFP
Sun Feb 21, 10:23 pm ET
|SAN DIEGO, California (AFP) – What starts with an “s” that seniors need more of than younger adults, is great to get a bit of in the middle of the day and could cause teens to turn to drugs if they don’t get enough of it?
The answer is sleep, according to several studies presented at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
A study conducted by researchers at the University of California San Diego (UCSD) found that 68-year-old adults, on average, did better on a simple memory test if they got more sleep.
5 Geo-engineering: the planet’s savior or untested danger?
by Karin Zeitvogel, AFP
Sun Feb 21, 4:56 am ET
|SAN DIEGO, California (AFP) – US researchers are studying the steam from ships, condensation trails of airplanes and volcanic eruptions as they try to understand how and even if the fledgling science of geo-engineering could slow global warming.
But where some researchers are forging ahead with the new science of tinkering with the atmosphere to change the climate, many others are warning that geo-engineering is untested, potentially dangerous and distracting the world from reducing greenhouse gases.
Geo-engineering is based on the principle that making tweaks to the atmosphere, such as seeding the clouds to make them brighter and more reflective, could bring down global temperatures.
6 Japan says Australia whaling threat ‘unfortunate’
by Tony Ashby, AFP
Sun Feb 21, 2:34 am ET
|PERTH, Australia (AFP) – Japan’s foreign minister Sunday described Australia’s threat of legal action against its controversial whaling activities as “unfortunate” but said he did not believe it would hurt ties.
“It’s very unfortunate the Australian side has indicated it will take action in an international court,” Katsuya Okada told reporters on the second and final day of a visit to Australia.
“Should court action become a reality, then Japan will seek to represent its case to the IWC (International Whaling Commission) supporting the fact that its activities are legal and within the convention.”
7 US lunar pull-out leaves China shooting for moon
by Francois Bougon, AFP
Sat Feb 20, 11:31 pm ET
|BEIJING (AFP) – China aims to land its first astronauts on the moon within a decade at the dawn of a new era of manned space exploration — a race it now leads thanks to the US decision to drop its lunar programme.
US President Barack Obama earlier this month said he planned to drop the costly Constellation space programme, a budget move that would kill off future moon exploration if it is approved by Congress.
In contrast, China has a fast-growing human spaceflight project that has notched one success after another, including a spacewalk by astronauts in 2008, with plans for a manned lunar mission by around 2020.
8 Indonesia aims to be world’s breadbasket
by Jerome Rivet, AFP
Sat Feb 20, 10:45 pm ET
|JAKARTA (AFP) – Following Brazil’s trail, Indonesia is encouraging foreign and local investors to lease huge swathes of fertile countryside and help make the country a major food producer.
“Feed Indonesia, then feed the world,” was the recent call from President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono after the government announced plans to fast-track development of vast agricultural estates in remote areas like Papua and Borneo.
Between now and 2030 Indonesia expects to become one of the world’s biggest producers of rice, maize, sugar, coffee, shrimp, meats and palm oil, senior agriculture ministry official Hilman Manan said.
9 Electric bikes on a roll in China
by Joelle Garrus, AFP
Sat Feb 20, 10:40 pm ET
|TIANJIN, China (AFP) – Chinese commuters in their millions are turning to electric bicycles — hailed as the environmentally-friendly future of personal transport in the country’s teeming cities.
Up to 120 million e-bikes are estimated to be on the roads in China, making them already the top alternative to cars and public transport, according to recent figures published by local media.
“This is the future — it’s practical, it’s clean and it’s economical,” said manufacturer Shi Zhongdong, whose company also exports electric bikes to Asia and Europe.
10 Europe eyes underground nuclear waste repositories
Fri Feb 19, 10:28 pm ET
|SAN DIEGO, California (AFP) – Three European countries will within 15 years begin disposing of their nuclear waste deep underground, even though the public is not solidly behind the move, officials said.
In Finland, a deep geological repository where spent nuclear fuel will be disposed of is due to come onstream in 2020, said experts who addressed a forum at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).
Sweden will follow three years after its Nordic neighbor, and “France plans to start operating a deep geological repository for vitrified high-level waste from reprocessing in 2025,” Roland Schenkel, deputy director general of the European Commission’s Joint Research Center, said.
11 Australia warns Japan to stop whaling ahead of visit
by Talek Harris, AFP
Fri Feb 19, 5:15 am ET
|SYDNEY (AFP) – Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd bluntly told Japan on Friday to commit to stop whaling or face international court action this year, just a day before a visit by Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada.
Rudd said Australia had collected video and photographic evidence about Japan’s annual Antarctic hunting expeditions, threatening to take its major trading ally to court before the next whaling season.
He told the Channel 7 TV station that Australia would “work with the Japanese to reduce, through negotiation, their current catch to zero”.
12 U.N. says emissions vows not enough to avoid rise of 2 degrees C
By Sunanda Creagh, Reuters
Tue Feb 23, 8:13 am ET
|NUSA DUA, Indonesia (Reuters) – Emission cuts pledges made by 60 countries will not be enough to keep the average global temperature rise at 2 degrees Celsius or less, modeling released on Tuesday by the United Nations says.
Scientists say temperatures should be limited to a rise of no more than 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 F) above pre-industrial times if devastating climate change is to be avoided.
Yearly greenhouse gas emissions should not be more than 40 and 48.3 gigatonnes of CO2-equivalent in 2020 and should peak between 2015 and 2021, according to new modeling released on Tuesday by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
13 Endeavour ends space shuttle fleet’s 130th mission
By Irene Klotz, Reuters
Mon Feb 22, 12:33 pm ET
|CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida (Reuters) – Space shuttle Endeavour and its six crew members wrapped up a 14-day construction mission to the International Space Station on Sunday with a precision touchdown in Florida.
After 217 orbits around Earth and 5.7 million miles (9.17 million km), commander George Zamka circled Endeavour high over the Kennedy Space Center to burn off speed, then nosed the 100-ton ship onto a canal-lined runway at 10:20 p.m. EST.
Ending the space shuttle fleet’s 130th mission, Endeavour landed three miles from where it blasted off on February 8.
14 Stem cell experiment reverses aging in rare disease
By Maggie Fox, Health and Science Editor, Reuters
Wed Feb 17, 3:30 pm ET
|WASHINGTON (Reuters) – In a surprise result that can help in the understanding of both aging and cancer, researchers working with an engineered type of stem cell said they reversed the aging process in a rare genetic disease.
The team at Children’s Hospital Boston and the Harvard Stem Cell Institute were working with a new type of cell called induced pluripotent stem cells or iPS cells, which closely resemble embryonic stem cells but are made from ordinary skin cells.
In this case, they wanted to study a rare, inherited premature aging disorder called dyskeratosis congenita. The blood marrow disorder resembles the better-known aging disease progeria and causes premature graying, warped fingernails and other symptoms as well as a high risk of cancer.
15 For NASA no easy answer for next space destination
By SETH BORENSTEIN, AP Science Writer
Tue Feb 23, 5:19 pm ET
|WASHINGTON – Where to next?
It’s a simple question that NASA can’t answer so easily anymore. The veteran space shuttle fleet is months from being mothballed and the White House has nixed a previous plan to fly to the moon.
For the first time in decades, NASA has no specific space destination for its next stop, although it has lots of places it wants to go. Future space flight, NASA officials say, now depends on new rocket science and where it can take us.
16 New species of dinosaur found in eastern Utah rock
By MIKE STARK, Associated Press Writer
Tue Feb 23, 9:24 pm ET
|SALT LAKE CITY – Fossils of a previously undiscovered species of dinosaur have been found in slabs of Utah sandstone that were so hard that explosives had to be used to free some of the remains, scientists said Tuesday. The bones found at Dinosaur National Monument belonged to a type of sauropod – long-necked plant-eaters that were said to be the largest animal ever to roam land.
The discovery included two complete skulls from other types of sauropods – an extremely rare find, scientists said.
The fossils offer fresh insight into lives of dinosaurs some 105 million years ago, including the evolution of sauropod teeth, which reveal eating habits and other information, said Dan Chure, a paleontologist at the monument that straddles the Utah-Colorado border.
17 In rare night landing, space shuttle back on Earth
By MARCIA DUNN, AP Aerospace Writer
Mon Feb 22, 7:08 am ET
|CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – Space shuttle Endeavour and its six astronauts closed out the last major construction mission at the International Space Station with a smooth landing in darkness that struck many as bittersweet.
Only one flight remains for Endeavour, the baby of the shuttle fleet. Overall, just four missions remain.
“We’ll go into it with our heads held high,” launch director Mike Leinbach said early Monday, a few hours after Endeavour landed in Florida. “A little bit sad note, but a great ending to a great mission.”
18 Study: Warming to bring stronger hurricanes
By SETH BORENSTEIN, AP Science Writer
Sun Feb 21, 1:38 pm ET
|WASHINGTON – Top researchers now agree that the world is likely to get stronger but fewer hurricanes in the future because of global warming, seeming to settle a scientific debate on the subject. But they say there’s not enough evidence yet to tell whether that effect has already begun.
Since just before Hurricane Katrina hit Louisiana and Mississippi in 2005, dueling scientific papers have clashed about whether global warming is worsening hurricanes and will do so in the future. The new study seems to split the difference. A special World Meteorological Organization panel of 10 experts in both hurricanes and climate change – including leading scientists from both sides – came up with a consensus, which is published online Sunday in the journal Nature Geoscience.
“We’ve really come a long way in the last two years about our knowledge of the hurricane and climate issue,” said study co-author Chris Landsea, a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration top hurricane researcher. The technical term for these storms are tropical cyclones; in the Atlantic they get called hurricanes, elsewhere typhoons.
19 Feds outline plan to nurse Great Lakes to health
By JOHN FLESHER, AP Environmental Writer
Sun Feb 21, 8:25 am ET
|TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. – The Obama administration has developed a five-year blueprint for rescuing the Great Lakes, a sprawling ecosystem plagued by toxic contamination, shrinking wildlife habitat and invasive species.
The plan envisions spending more than $2.2 billion for long-awaited repairs after a century of damage to the lakes, which hold 20 percent of the world’s fresh water. The Associated Press obtained a copy of the document, which Lisa Jackson, head of the Environmental Protection Agency, was releasing at a news conference Sunday in Washington.
“We’re committed to creating a new standard of care that will leave the Great Lakes better for the next generation,” Jackson said in a statement.
20 Australia threatens Japan over whaling program
By KRISTEN GELINEAU, Associated Press Writer
Fri Feb 19, 6:22 am ET
|SYDNEY – Australia’s prime minister on Friday set a November deadline for Japan to stop its research whaling program that kills hundreds of whales a year in Antarctic waters, or else face international legal action.
Australia, a staunch anti-whaling nation, has long threatened international legal action. Two years ago, it sent a ship to Antarctic waters to follow the Japanese whaling fleet and collect videos and photographs it said might be used as evidence in an international forum.
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said Australia would prefer to use diplomatic means to persuade Japan to end its hunt.
21 Research finds brain link for words, music ability
By RANDOLPH E. SCHMID, AP Science Writer
Sat Feb 20, 4:35 pm ET
|SAN DIEGO – Words and music, such natural partners that it seems obvious they go together. Now science is confirming that those abilities are linked in the brain, a finding that might even lead to better stroke treatments.
Studies have found overlap in the brain’s processing of language and instrumental music, and new research suggests that intensive musical therapy may help improve speech in stroke patients, researchers said Saturday at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
In addition, researchers said, music education can help children with developmental dyslexia or autism more accurately use speech.
22 Navy agrees to study impact of Camp Lejeune’s toxic water
By Barbara Barrett, McClatchy Newspapers
Fri Feb 19, 6:12 pm ET
|WASHINGTON – The Navy has agreed to pay $1.53 million for a mortality study that could show a linkage between toxic water at Camp Lejeune, N.C. , and the deaths of Marines and their family members who lived there over a 30-year period.
Some estimates are that during that time, as many as 1 million people were exposed to well water at the base that contained trichloroethylene, tetrachloroethylene, benzene and vinyl chloride.
The chemicals were dumped into storm drains, leaked from fuel tanks or were buried in pits across the base. They seeped through the groundwater and into wells that fed the base areas of Hadnot Point and Tarawa Terrace .
23 Asia-produced ozone making its way to U.S., study finds
By Les Blumenthal, McClatchy Newspapers
Sun Feb 21, 6:00 am ET
|WASHINGTON – A new study further bolsters concerns that pollution blowing across the Pacific Ocean from China and other rapidly developing Asian nations may swamp efforts to clean up the air in the Western United States and make it difficult for states and cities to meet federal standards.
The study, based on 100,000 measurements over 25 years and a computer model tracking air-flow patterns, found that during the spring, ozone from Asia reaches Washington , Oregon , California and other states west of the Rocky Mountains .
For the first time, the study links ozone in the air above the United States with Asian pollution, said Dan Jaffe , a professor of atmospheric and environmental chemistry at the University of Washington-Bothell and one of the study’s authors.
24 Space Junk Mess Getting Messier in Orbit
Leonard David, SPACE.com’s Space Insider Columnist
Tue Feb 23, 2:33 pm ET
|BRECKENRIDGE, Colo. – The already untidy mass of orbital debris that litters low Earth orbit nearly got nastier last month.
A head-on collision was averted between a spent upper stage from a Chinese rocket and the European Space Agency’s (ESA) huge Envisat Earth remote-sensing spacecraft.
Space junk tracking information supplied by the U.S. military, as well as confirming German radar data, showed that the two space objects would speed by each other at a nail-biting distance of roughly 160 feet (50 meters).
25 Less Fog in California Could Stress Redwoods
Andrea Thompson, LiveScience Senior Writer
Mon Feb 15, 5:25 pm ET
|Significantly less fog is drifting in along the Pacific Coast these days, a new study finds. The shift force a decline in redwood trees, which rely on the fog to keep them supplied with water during the arid summer months.
Climate models have predicted that with the warming caused by the buildup of greenhouse gases in Earth’s atmosphere, California’s coastal fog would increase as a result of changing atmosphere and ocean circulation patterns.
But weather records that just recently became available have shown the opposite trend of a significant decrease in fog over the past 100 years.
26 Google Won’t Make Us Stupid, Experts Say
Ker Than, TechNewsDaily Managing Editor, LiveScience.com
Fri Feb 19, 1:10 pm ET
|Google won’t make Web surfers stupid, and widespread Internet use will actually improve the reading and writing skills of the world’s population, most experts agreed in a new survey from the Pew Internet & American Life Project.
Pew hand-picked 895 technology experts and critics and asked them to choose between 10 different Internet-related “scenario pairs” in a new online survey. Each pair offered two different 2020 scenarios with the same overall theme but opposite outcomes.
Some of the respondents worked or were affiliated with tech companies such as IBM, Google, and Microsoft, while others came from universities and federal organizations or were identified by Pew as “Internet veterans,” many of whom have been online for more than a decade.
27 Addition of Yellow Pixels Designed to Make TVs Better
Dan Hope, TechNewsDaily Staff Writer, LiveScience.com
Mon Feb 22, 7:55 am ET
|TV-manufacturer Sharp unveiled a new line of LCD TVs earlier this year that is different from anything currently on store shelves. The new Aquos LE models have Sharp’s QuadPixel technology included, which the company says will dramatically improve image production and become the standard for the industry.
Every color TV in homes around the world right now uses varying amounts of three colors – red, green and blue – to reproduce the billions of colors in any image. QuadPixel technology adds a yellow pixel, which Sharp says raises the number of reproducible colors into the trillions.
“A yellow sub-pixel enables more light to pass through the system, which requires less intensive backlighting,” Sharp explained in a statement to TechNewsDaily. “The obvious advantage here is a more environmentally friendly overall TV system thanks to lower power consumption. One of Sharp’s core principle is prioritizing technologies that are less power consuming and therefore have a smaller overall carbon footprint.”