Sturgeon Thunder

A giant among Wisconsin's inland freshwater fishes, the bottom dwelling lake sturgeon is a living fossil - a relic from the Middle Ages of fish evolution. This ancient species made its first appearance about 100 million years ago in the Upper Cretaceous period of the Mesozoic era, just about the time that the dinosaurs made their abrupt exit from Earth's ever-changing stage. Today the lake sturgeon retains many primitive characteristics that have been lost or modified in other modern-day fishes. Research into the mysterious sounds that lake sturgeon produce resumes in April, or whenever the water warms to a temperature conducive for fish spawning, which is the best time to experience sturgeon thunder. In spring, Ron Bruch, a biologist with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, and Chris Bocast, an acoustic ecologist with the UW Sea Grant Institute, will conduct additional biological examinations and collect detailed field recordings of the infrasonic sounds of this ancient fish.

Arrested for Excessive Sweetness

Put your hands up and step away from the sugar! No, not really. But one day, sugar may be a regulated substance, on par with alcohol and tobacco. The notion seems draconian at first, but once you look at the reasoning behind it, it begins to make a lot of sense. Researchers from the University of California (UC) San Francisco stipulate that excessive consumption of sugar is behind the global obesity pandemic. Sugar contributes to over 35 million deaths per year from diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and other diseases. Their desire is to see a healthier world with fewer health-related costs through the restriction and regulation of sugar.

DuPont and Suntech Sign Strategic Agreement

To help increase the supply of photovoltaic materials and technologies for the growing global market for solar energy, the world's largest producer of solar panels has signed a strategic agreement with DuPont. The agreement focuses on technology advancements, supply chain optimization cost reduction initiatives, and DuPont™ Tedlar® polyvinyl fluoride film supply.

Electric Vehicle Market Forecast – 10 Year Horizon Looks Strong

IDTechEx has been tracking developments in the electric vehicle market for the last eleven years by touring the world's companies, research institutes and conferences to gain insights into key technology changes and business opportunities in the EV market. They have just published their new 2012 forecast with a 10 year horizon, and whether you like EVs or not – their take is that they are here to stay.

Alaskan Yellow Cedar

Yellow-cedar, a culturally and economically valuable tree in southeastern Alaska and adjacent parts of British Columbia, has been dying off across large expanses of these areas for the past 100 years. But no one could say why. "The cause of tree death, called yellow-cedar decline, is now known to be a form of root freezing that occurs during cold weather in late winter and early spring, but only when snow is not present on the ground," explains Pacific Northwest Research Station scientist Paul Hennon, co-lead of a synthesis paper recently published in the February issue of the journal BioScience. "When present, snow protects the fine, shallow roots from extreme soil temperatures. The shallow rooting of yellow-cedar, early spring growth, and its unique vulnerability to freezing injury also contribute to this problem."

The Super Green Bowl

For the past 18 years, the NFL has been working to decrease the environmental footprint of the largest annual sporting event in the U.S. – the Super Bowl. Two years ago, we wrote about several initiatives aimed at reducing the events’ impacts. Last year, we covered how Super Bowl XLV was slated to be the greenest NFL championship game in history. This year, the NFL is trying to outdo itself yet again by working with the Green Mountain Energy Company and the Indianapolis community to make Super Bowl XLVI the greenest yet. I talked with Jack Groh, Director of the NFL’s Environmental Program, to get the details on this year’s efforts.

Nano Improved Transformer Oil

Rice University scientists have created a nano-infused oil that could greatly enhance the ability of devices as large as electrical transformers and as small as microelectronic components to shed excess heat. Research in the lab of Rice materials scientist Pulickel Ajayan, which appears in the American Chemical Society journal ACS Nano, could raise the efficiency of such transformer oils by as much as 80 percent in a way that is both cost-effective and environmentally friendly. The Rice team focused their efforts on transformers for energy systems. Transformers are filled with mineral oils that cool and insulate the windings inside, which must remain separated from each other to keep voltage from leaking or shorting.

Study Reveals Impacts of Environmental Changes on Southern Ocean Food Web

In January of this year, a comprehensive study of animals in the Southern Ocean was completed, showing that the region is under threat from climate change. The scientific journal Deep Sea Research Part II: Topical Studies in Oceanography featured the findings of an international group of researchers who wrote over 20 papers about the effects on the Scotia Sea food web by above average water temperatures.