Alaskan Volcanic Rebirth

A secluded island in the Aleutian chain is revealing secrets of how land and marine ecosystems react to and recover from a catastrophic volcanic eruption that at first wiped life off the island. Kasatochi, an island in the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge rarely studied by scientists before its Aug. 7, 2008, volcanic eruption, is showing signs of recovery.

Drinking Water Proven to Help Weight Loss

It's a popular dieting secret: Drink more water, and you'll shed more pounds. Finally, science is adding weight to the practice. After about three months, a new study found, obese dieters who drank two cups of water before each meal lost 5 pounds more than a group of dieters who didn't increase their water intake. A year later, the water-drinkers had also kept more of the weight off.

Artificial Light and Productivity

Artificial light has, throughout history, been a powerful force contributing to the quality and productivity of human life. It is so significant to human life that society spends an enormous amount of energy to produce it. Currently, there is new artificial lighting emerging on the market place. These new technologies, in the form of solid-state lighting (SSL), offer the promise of increased productivity without more energy usage, and a higher quality of life.

Non-stick pans can affect our hormones, new research suggests

A group of chemicals found in common household items may be having dangerous effects on our hormones, new research suggests. A study on sheep and cells grown in the laboratory by Norwegian vets found that perfluorinated compounds (PFCs) found in water resistant clothes and non-stick frying pans can affect the body’s steroid hormones including oestrogen, testosterone and cortisol.

Sea level rise looks inevitable, even with intervention

New findings by international research group of scientists from England, China and Denmark just published suggest that sea level will likely be 30-70 centimetres higher by 2100 than at the start of the century even if all but the most aggressive geo-engineering schemes are undertaken to mitigate the effects of global warming and greenhouse gas emissions are stringently controlled. "Rising sea levels caused by global warming are likely to affect around 150 million people living in low-lying coastal areas, including some of the world's largest cities," explained Dr Svetlana Jevrejeva of the National Oceanography Centre.

Mystery of the Oil Plume Solved? Microbes ate it.

What is the real story about the "missing oil". One study shows that most of the oil is gone, while another shows that there is still a whole lot of it in a mid-depth plume not visible from the surface. The answer might have been found in research announced today by Lawrence Berkeley Lab of the US Department of Energy. They found the plume alright, but they also found that microbial activity, spearheaded by a new and unclassified species, degrades oil much faster than anticipated. This degradation appears to take place without a significant level of oxygen depletion. The study notes “Our findings show that the influx of oil profoundly altered the microbial community by significantly stimulating deep-sea psychrophilic (cold temperature) gamma-proteobacteria that are closely related to

Arctic Alligators

Ellesmere Island is in the far north of Canada above the Arctic Circle. This is the land of the midnight sun and a rather brisk cold environment. But fifty million years ago it was warmer though still quirky in its day night cycles. A new study of the High Arctic climate roughly 50 million years ago led by the University of Colorado at Boulder helps to explain how ancient alligators and giant tortoises were able to thrive on Ellesmere Island well above the Arctic Circle, even as they endured six months of darkness each year.

Vitamin D Deficiency Linked to a Variety of Diseases

Vitamin D is a type of fat-soluble steroid that can take two separate forms, vitamin D2 and D3, whose actual names are Ergocalciferol and Cholecalciferol. It is produced in the skin from exposure to ultraviolet radiation, the sun. This is the primary way to build up vitamin D, but it can also be ingested in foods which naturally contain it or are artificially fortified with it. However, what happens when the human body has a vitamin D deficiency? A new study from Oxford University shows that a lack of sufficient vitamin D in the body can lead to a wide range of diseases.

Does Salem’s Building Disaster Give LEED a Bad Name?

Salem, Oregon is a-buzz with the news that its LEED Certified Courthouse Square building and transit mall have been declared structurally unsound. The ten year old home of Cherriots bus service and hub for local government is being evacuated as we speak. City departments are scrambling to lease office space in other buildings, and quickly move before catastrophic failure of the building threatens them.

Water Crisis in Asia

As the contradictions of Asia’s water challenges have been laid bare this summer—with millions affected by flooding while others are hit by droughts—one thing has been made clearer: the coming water crisis could exacerbate already simmering domestic and regional tensions. Heavy monsoon rains have produced the worst flooding in Pakistan’s history, with more than three weeks of flooding leaving at least 1,500 dead and more than 4 million homeless. Millions of Pakistanis already require humanitarian assistance, yet the likelihood that many more could be added to this list has grown with the announcement that 200,000 have been evacuated as flood waters continue to rise in Singh Province in the country’s south. Meanwhile, flash floods and mudslides have submerged some villages in China’s Gansu Province, killing hundreds and leaving more than a thousand missing. Today, Chinese state media announced 250,000 had been evacuated in the north of the country after the Yalu River burst its banks.