Month: March 2012

  • The Death of a Star

    Depending on the mass of the star, this lifetime ranges from only a few million years for the most massive to trillions of years for the least massive, which is considerably longer than the age of the universe. How a star will vary. Some explode like a Supernova. Others collapse into white dwarf or a black hole. Researchers using NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) have captured an infrared image of the last exhalations of a dying sun like star. The object observed by SOFIA, planetary nebula Minkowski 2-9, or M2-9 for short, is seen in a three color composite image.

  • The Value of Bringing Your Dog to Work

    Certain workplaces can be very stressful for employees. There are deadlines to meet, rules to follow, and social minefields to get through. As an effective way to relieve stress, a new study has come out that says employees should bring their dogs to work. Not only will having man’s best friend around help you get through the day, it will also help others around you. Even on the most difficult day at the office, people cannot help brightening up when a colleague brings their dog in, at least those who are not allergic.

  • Spotlight on: Tiny Reptiles

    Researchers in Madagascar have discovered the world’s smallest species of reptile, a tiny chameleon, Brookesia micra, that reaches just 29 millimetres in length. While people may be familiar with the appearance of a chameleon, with its slightly comical jerking gait and rotating eyes, to see these features in such miniature proportions is extraordinary.

  • One Person Adds 37 Million Bacteria to a Room

    Just one person in a room adds 37 million bacteria to the air every hour, according to a study published in the journal Indoor Air. Most of the bacteria are stirred up from the floor, where they were left behind by the room’s prior occupants. “We live in this microbial soup, and a big ingredient is our own microorganisms,” Jordan Peccia, associate professor of environmental engineering at Yale and the principal investigator of the study, said in a press release.

  • Grill Brushes and Their Evils

    Nothing like a good barbecue! Less to clean up, easy to cook, and tasty. Rhode Island Hospital physicians have identified six cases of accidental ingestion of wire grill brush bristles that required endoscopic or surgical removal. The paper calls attention to the need for the public and physicians to be aware of this potential danger. It is published in the American Journal of Roentgenology and is now available online in advance of print. David Grand, M.D., a radiologist in the diagnostic imaging department at Rhode Island Hospital, is the lead author of the paper. Grand explains that six patients were identified within an 18-month period who presented to the emergency department within 24 hours of ingesting grilled meat. Their symptoms were odynophagia (painful swallowing in the mouth or esophagus) or abdominal pain.

  • Scotland on the High Road to Sustainable Energy

    Scotland is on course to smash its renewable energy targets after official figures revealed record-high levels of green power generation. The Scottish Government’s Energy Minister Fergus Ewing welcomed the publication of the statistics that confirms Scotland will beat the 2011 renewables target. Statistics published today show that the amount of renewable electricity generated in 2011 rose 45 per cent on 2010 to 13,750 Gigawatt hours.

  • Smoking gun for bee collapse? Popular Pesticides

    Commonly used pesticides may be a primary driver of the collapsing bee populations, finds two new studies in Science. The studies, one focused on honeybees and the other on bumblebees, found that even small doses of these pesticides, which target insect’s central nervous system, impact bee behavior and, ultimately, their survival. The studies may have far-reaching repercussions for the regulation of agricultural chemicals, known as neonicotinoid insecticides, that have been in use since the 1990s.

  • Enviro News Wrap: Refining Climate Models; Tar Sands and Carbon Emissions; Slow Start for the Chevy Volt, and more

    Models of climate change for the next 40 years are becoming increasingly scary over time, suggesting a 3C rise in global temperatures by 2050. We all know that the Alberta tar sands produces super dirty oil, now there is yet another negative impact that is being tracked. And yet Obama still wants to build the Keystone XL pipeline all the way through the middle of the US, he wants to start the southern line as soon as possible.

  • GM Investing in Car-Sharing

    Corporate America is joining the access economy. You can already see signs of this trend with companies like Hertz, BMW, Ford and GM partnering with collaborative consumption companies, or even start a sharing service of their own. BMW, as we learned at SXSW has partnered, Ford partners with Zipcar, Hertz started its own car sharing service – Hertz on Demand, and GM has invested in RelayRides. It’s interesting to see the growing level of interest of large corporations in the sharing space, which sometimes seems to be at odds with the economic model their sales are based on. Take for example the case of GM.

  • Cloud forests may be particularly vulnerable to climate change

    Mexico could lose nearly 70 percent of its cloud forests due to climate change by 2080, according to new research published in Nature Climate Change, that has implications for cloud forests worldwide. “Given the narrow environmental tolerance of cloud forests, the fear is that human-induced climate change could constitute an even greater peril [than deforestation] in the near future,” says lead author Rocio Ponce-Reyes of the ARC Center of Excellence for Environmental Decisions (CEED) and The University of Queensland in a press release. Cloud forests are usually defined as tropical forests growing at an altitude of more than 6,600-10,000 feet (2,500-3,000 meters) in elevation, where the forest receives most of its moisture from fog. Unique ecosystems, cloud forests harbor many species found no-where else including a wide variety of orchids, hummingbirds, and amphibians.