The Wonder of the Eidetic Memory

Some people in this world such as The Big Bang Theory's Sheldon Cooper possess a memory with such extreme precision that they can recall events in detail from years or even decades in the past. They refer to this amazing skill as an eidetic memory. It turns out that individuals with this ability actually have different brains than normal people. A new study by University of California (UC) Irvine scientists found that these special people had variations in nine separate structures within the brain, and more robust white matter linking the middle and front parts.

Vertical Wind Turbines Go Offshore

Wind turbines tend to look like windmills or giant propellers, and the design does in fact borrow from that. But that isn't the only design that's ever been tried. At Sandia National Laboratories wind energy experts are looking at vertical axis wind turbines, (called VAWTs). VAWTs have a couple of advantages over traditional horizontal-axis designs, one of which is that the drive train mechanism is close to the ground and thus easier to maintain. They also aren't as complicated and have a lower center of gravity. If a VAWT system could be made to work, then it might make wind power cheaper.

Humpback Whales alter migration pattern, stay in Antarctic waters longer

Large numbers of humpback whales are remaining in bays along the Western Antarctic Peninsula to feast on krill late into the austral autumn, long after their annual migrations to distant breeding grounds were believed to begin, according to a new Duke University study. The study, published July 30 in the journal Endangered Species Research, provides the first density estimates for these whales in both open and enclosed habitats along the peninsula in late autumn.

Iapteus Landslides

Iapetus is the third largest moon of Saturn, and eleventh-largest in the Solar System. it is an odd one due to its steep topography. Giant ice avalanches on Iapetus provide clues to similar extreme slippage elsewhere in the solar system. "We see landslides everywhere in the solar system," says Kelsi Singer, graduate student in earth and planetary sciences in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis, "but Saturn’s icy moon Iapetus has more giant landslides than any body other than Mars."

Pacific Coral Triangle ‘at risk of collapse’

The Coral Triangle, a roughly triangular marine zone in the Indo-Pacific region that is considered to have the world's richest concentration of marine biodiversity, is facing potential ecological collapse due to heavy pressure inflicted by human activities, according to a new report. The warning appears in a collaborative study, 'Reefs at Risk Revisited in the Coral Triangle', produced by a consortium led by the World Resources Institute, a global environmental think-tank based in Washington DC, United States. It serves as a status report on the wellbeing of coral reefs in or near the six countries comprising the triangle.

Sediment Plume and Ecosystems

When dams go up, there is an effect on downstream water and sediment Quality. The same goes for when dams go down. Scuba-diver scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey, with support teams from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe, and Washington Sea Grant, are returning to the mouth of Washington’s Elwha River this week to explore and catalog the effect of released sediment on marine life following the nation’s largest dam removal effort. The underwater survey is taking place downstream of the Elwha and Glines Canyon Dams, which are nearing the one-year anniversary of the start of their removal, a gradual process that officials expect to be finished in 2013. The dive survey is helping scientists understand how underwater plant and animal life react and adapt to the downstream effects of dam removal and providing scientists a more detailed and complete picture of the ecological restoration.

London’s Eco-Friendly Olympic Games

The whole world has gathered in London for the Summer Olympic Games. It is the third time this city has hosted the games, and the nation is aiming to make it unique as the first "sustainable" Olympics. In fact, while they were bidding to host their games, part of London's pitch was to make it green, claiming that carbon emissions would be reduced by 50 percent. While not all sustainability goals were met, many factors were involved in making this year's Olympics eco-friendly. Site Remediation The massive Olympic Park was constructed on old brownfields in Stratford on the east side of the city. There were many derelict industrial sites with a deep history of hazardous waste and resulting soil contamination. Before any new structures could be built, the site had to be prepared. Old industrial buildings were demolished, sorted, and recycled or reused onsite as fill. Over a million cubic meters of soil was also cleaned. The enormous cleanup effort will not only help in the construction of Olympic Park, but in the entire area for years to come. After the games come and go, the land will be usable for real estate and should provide a boost to the economy.

Mineral Rush in Greenland; Independence May be Around the Corner

Greenland is an autonomous territory of the Kingdom of Denmark. The Danish government had ruled over it until 1979 when the island was granted home rule. However, the Danes still control Greenland's foreign affairs, defense, police, justice system, and financial policy. Recently, however, Greenland has been courted by multinational companies and foreign leaders looking to exploit its rare minerals and potential oil reserves. The new attention brought to the island is leading Greenland's premier, Kuupik Kleist, to seriously consider moving toward full independence.

Algeria Solicits Bids for Wind and Solar Plants

Finally poised to embrace renewable energy generation, little-known Algeria is accepting tender bids from solar and wind energy producers. Along with Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia, which are either in the process of or are planning to build solar plants in their home countries, Algeria supports the Desertec Foundation vision to line the Sahara with solar thermal plants.

Dozens of elephants massacred in Chad

Poachers killed at least 30 elephants in southwestern Chad during the early hours of Tuesday, July 24. During the night, Stephanie Vergniault, president of the organization SOS Elephants, described on her Facebook page how a group of armed horsemen chased a herd of elephants with war weapons near the SOS Elephants camp in the Chari Baguirmi area. After daybreak, the SOS Elephants team counted 28 carcasses, most with missing tusks.