Arctic Contaminants

The Arctic is comparatively clean. Due to the prevailing worldwide sea and air currents, the Arctic area is also the fallout region for long-range transport pollutants, and in some places the concentrations exceed the levels of densely populated urban areas. An example of this is the phenomenon of Arctic haze, which is commonly blamed on long-range pollutants. It's been more than a decade since global leaders met in Stockholm, Sweden, to sign a treaty with the goal of eliminating persistent organic pollutants making their way into our food chain — such as harmful pesticides like DDT that nearly wiped out the American Bald Eagle. While leaders have come a long way in restricting these types of pollutants, contamination of the Arctic remains a problem. Researchers at MIT are working to help inform policies that more effectively address contamination problems with their latest research.

Omega 3 Fatty Acids Benefits

Omega 3 fatty acids are fats commonly found in marine and plant oils. The health effects of n-3 fatty acids supplementation are controversial. They are considered essential fatty acids, meaning that they cannot be synthesized by the human body but are vital for normal metabolism. A new study by the University of Oxford has shown that daily supplements of omega-3 fatty acids (Docosahexaenoic acid, or DHA) improved the reading and behavior of under performing children in mainstream primary schools. The researchers worked with children aged between seven and nine who had underperformed in standardized reading tests.

Waterloo Scientists Debate If Older People are Really Smarter

It is one of the oldest beliefs throughout the history of mankind; that with age, comes greater wisdom. For most cases this is true, particularly in learning a skill such as playing an instrument or constructing a house. But does knowing how to perform a skill more efficiently really make that person smarter, or have more wisdom? This then begs the question, what exactly is wisdom? There are many definitions, but one which stands out above all is that having wisdom means that one is good at resolving conflict. A new study from the University of Waterloo, Canada has found that acquiring greater conflict resolution depends on your culture, and more precisely, where you’re from.

Martian Climate

On Mars's poles there are ice caps of ice and dust with multiple layers that can tell us much about climate variations on Mars. Researchers from the Niels Bohr Institute have related the layers in the ice cap on Mars's north pole to variations in solar insolation on Mars, thus established the first dated climate history for Mars, where ice and dust accumulation has been driven by variations in insolation. The results are published in the scientific journal, Icarus. The ice caps on Mars's poles are kilometers thick and composed of ice and dust. There are layers in the ice caps, which can be seen in cliffs and valley slopes and we have known about these layers for decades, since the first satellite images came back from Mars. The layers are believed to reflect past climate on Mars, in the same way that the Earth's climate history can be read by analyzing ice cores from the ice caps on Greenland and Antarctica.

Climate change a mixed blessing for wheat, say experts

Climate change may have a profound effect on the world's ability to produce wheat — one of its staple crops — and adaptation efforts must take into account both the positive and negative effects of climate shifts, say wheat experts.

Fossils reveal flightless raptor preyed on flying dinosaurs

What you eat tells a lot about one's lifestyle. This is especially true in the animal kingdom and interestingly important for extinct species we know little about. Recent finds of two large compsognathid Sinocalliopteryx gigas in China's Liaoning province by a paleontology team from the University of Alberta have drawn conclusions that this species was a stealthy hunter based on what they found in the dinosaurs' bellies. The fossils of two Sinocalliopteryx paint a picture of how this wolf-sized, raptor-like dinosaur hunted and tells a lot about the species' prowess.

Creating Faster Charging Electric Car Batteries

The amount of time it takes to recharge lithium-ion batteries has been a major impediment to consumer acceptance of electric vehicles. But a host of companies and researchers are working intensively to develop a battery that can recharge in 10 minutes and power a car for hundreds of miles. If stopping for gas took five or six hours, would you rethink that road trip? How about an hour? When it comes to electric vehicles, topping up the "tank" does indeed take a long time, one of the primary barriers to more widespread adoption of EVs. So it is no surprise that there is an aggressive push to improve batteries and charging infrastructure, with a goal of making a stop for a recharge no different than a stop for gas.

Recycling Jobs Now Even Dirtier and More Dangerous

Recycling has long been the low-hanging fruit of sustainability in both neighborhoods and offices. More municipalities and office buildings have recycling programs and for the consumer, pitching those cereal boxes, bottles and cans are even easier than before. Single-stream or "commingled" recycling programs make it even easier for us: the days of separate and clunky bins of paper, metal and glass are no longer the norm. If you are a recycling fiend like me, the amount of garbage you pitch on a weekly basis probably fills an average sized plastic bag from the local supermarket. Advocates for green jobs tout recycling as a job opportunity for those seeking employment.

Hurricane Isaac

Hurricane Isaac was a slow-moving tropical cyclone that caused severe damage along the northern Gulf Coast of the United States in late-August 2012. Isaac reached hurricane strength the morning of August 28. The storm made its first U.S. landfall at 6:45 p.m. CDT that evening (2345 UTC), near the mouth of the Mississippi River. As it passed through the northern Caribbean, around south Florida, and into Louisiana and the Middle Mississippi Valley, Hurricane Isaac brought lots of rain, some of it beneficial, and some of it not. It is having an impact across all of the eastern US. In some places, it a flood nightmare and in some places it helps relive local droughts.

Arctic summer sea ice decline seems irreversible

Scientists say this year's record declines in Arctic sea ice extent and volume are powerful evidence that the giant cap of ice at the top of the planet is on a trajectory to largely disappear in summer within a decade or two, with profound global consequences. As the northern summer draws to a close, two milestones have been reached in the Arctic Ocean — record-low sea ice extent, and an even more dramatic new low in Arctic sea ice volume. This extreme melting offers dramatic evidence, many scientists say, that the region's sea ice has passed a tipping point and that sometime in the next decade or two the North Pole will be largely ice-free in summer.