Month: September 2012

  • Gold Catalyst

    Gold is a precious metal and looks great in a ring. How about a benzene ring? Biaryls, compounds containing two directly connected benzene rings, frequently feature in pharmaceuticals and agrochemicals as well as forming the core of many functional materials (for example LEDs, liquid crystals, conducting polymers). A new way to prepare biaryls – compounds that are essential building blocks in the creation of drugs and many modern materials such as LEDs – using gold as a catalyst is described by researchers from the University of Bristol in this week’s edition of Science. Gold catalysis is easier, cheaper and more environmentally friendly than current methods which use palladium as a catalyst.

  • Community Sharing: Saving Resources and Saving Money

    It started with Sam going around to his neighbour to borrow some milk. Things took a further step when one of them borrowed some chairs for a barbecue. Finally, the two neighbours decided the time had come to take down the fence between their gardens, to better enjoy the shared space. This is how StreetBank – an online tool sharing website – started. On a street in West London, two neighbours started to share what they each owned, replacing the idea of possessions with the more collaborative concept of shared tools.

  • Martian Stream

    Martian Water. The thought of Martian canals comes to mind. NASA’s Curiosity rover mission has found evidence a stream that once ran vigorously across the area on Mars where the rover is driving. There is earlier evidence for the presence of water on Mars, but this evidence — images of rocks containing ancient stream bed gravels — is the first of its kind. Scientists are studying the images of stones cemented into a layer of conglomerate rock. The sizes and shapes of stones offer clues to the speed and distance of a long-ago stream’s flow.

  • Go Slowly to tap Namibia’s groundwater

    The extraction of the much needed water from a large underground aquifer in northern Namibia may need to wait for further studies, officials have warned at a water investment conference. The aquifer, discovered in July, may contain enough water to sustain about one million people living in the area for 400 years at the current consumption rate, as well as boost development through irrigation in this poor, heavily overgrazed area where women and children walk for hours to get fresh water from boreholes. But officials and scientists have cautioned against too much optimism until further studies have been conducted. One reason is that the aquifer is under a smaller, polluted water resource, so it is still unclea

  • Tougher Air Rules for Europe?

    How tight should the air pollution laws be? There is a lot of argument and concern not only over health issues but over costs and technical limits. With an overhaul of air quality laws due within a year in Europe, health advocates are calling for the European Commission to resist pressure to tone down the EU’s pollution standards and instead replace them with stronger UN guidelines. The call for tougher anti-pollution measures came two days after a report by the European Environment Agency showed that nearly one-third of urban residents breathe air that is far dirtier than the law allows. The tally rises to well over 80% when the recommendations of the UN World Heath Organization are applied.

  • Recycling vs. Convenience: What Are You Doing With Your E-Waste?

    We all have managed to stockpile an old computer or two, maybe a couple of corded phones or even a two hundred pound TV set from 1985 that you simply don’t know what to do with. As your electronic waste, or e-waste accumulates in your garage collecting dust you decide it’s finally time to take action. You can either take everything to your local recycling facility, which is half an hour away and only open for two hours on the first Saturday of the month or you can throw the pieces out with your trash.

  • Green Success: Craft Microbrewery Revitalizes Kentucky Neighborhood

    The West Sixth Brewing Company in Lexington, Kentucky, is a craft brewery, founded by Joe Kuosman, Ben Self, Robin Sither, and Brady Barlow and located in the old Rainbo Bread Company building. The business is the first Kentucky brewery to can its beer and has the ability to produce 180 barrels per month. The redeveloped two-story building, which also has a basement and dates back to 1880, is now called The Bread Box and is located in the historic Northside Neighborhood.

  • Galactic Pool of Hot Gas

    Space is full of nothingness. However, the nothingness is not quite complete. Galaxies are vast clusters of stars surrounded by more nothingness (more or less. Astronomers have used NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory to find evidence our Milky Way Galaxy is embedded in an enormous halo of hot gas that extends for hundreds of thousands of light years. The estimated mass of the halo is comparable to the mass of all the stars in the galaxy. If the size and mass of this gas halo is confirmed, it also could be an explanation for what is known as the missing baryon problem for the galaxy.

  • Did Life on Earth start with life forms from another planet? A new theory!

    While evolution is an accepted theory of how species evolve over time, and how new species spring from existing ones, the fundamental question of what actually started life on this planet is still the subject of a lot of conjecture. Some scientists postulate that rocks from space carrying life from other planets or perhaps asteroids landed on earth and found a favorable environment, and the evolutionary process was on! New research indicates that microorganisms that crashed to Earth embedded in the fragments of distant planets might have been the sprouts of life on this one, according to research from Princeton University, the University of Arizona and the Centro de Astrobiología (CAB) in Spain. The researchers report in the journal Astrobiology that under certain conditions there is a high probability that life came to Earth — or spread from Earth to other planets — during the solar system’s infancy when Earth and its planetary neighbors orbiting other stars would have been close enough to each other to exchange lots of solid material. The work will be presented at the 2012 European Planetary Science Congress on Sept. 25.

  • Extreme Life Adaptation

    Life in extreme environments – hot acids and heavy metals exposure are particularly nasty – can apparently make very similar organisms deal with stress in very different ways, according to new research from North Carolina State University. One single-celled organism from a hot spring near Mount Vesuvius in Italy fights uranium toxicity directly – by eating the heavy metal and acquiring energy from it. Another single-celled organism that lives on a smoldering heap near an abandoned uranium mine in Germany overcomes uranium toxicity indirectly – essentially shutting down its cellular processes to induce a type of cellular coma when toxic levels of uranium are too high in its environment. Interestingly, these very different responses to environmental stress come from two organisms that are 99.99 percent genetically identical.