Month: January 2014

  • Coffee and hydration

    I sometimes feel like I should be drinking more water. After all, look at all those people drinking bottled water! I usually go for coffee! Either strong black or perhaps a nice Cappuccino. I just love it, and my doctor told me at one point that it was a ok way to get hydrated, as long as it didn’t give me the jitters or cause sleep problems (it never does and I can drink regular coffee after an evening meal and have no trouble going to sleep. New research(1), published today in the PLOS ONE, has found no evidence for a link between moderate coffee consumption and dehydration. The research, conducted by researchers at the University of Birmingham School of Sport and Exercise Sciences, UK, found that drinking moderate amounts of coffee does not result in dehydration and contributes to daily fluid requirements in regular coffee drinkers just as other fluids do. Due to early research showing the acute effects of caffeine as a mild diuretic, there appears to be a common assumption that caffeinated beverages, such as coffee also have this effect.

  • “Super-Earths” May Be More Earth-y After All

    Super-Earths are massive terrestrial planets that are fairly common in the Milky Way. While the name implies that these extrasolar planets would be similar to Earth, the name only refers to the mass and does not imply anything about the surface conditions or habitability. However, Northwestern University astrophysicist, Nicolas B. Cowan and Dorian Abbot, a University of Chicago geophysicist, report the odds of these planets having an Earth-like climate are much greater than previously thought. The researchers new model challenges the conventional wisdom, which says super-Earths would be a waterworld, with its surface completely covered in water. They conclude that most tectonically active super-Earths, regardless of mass, store most of their water in the mantle and will have both oceans and exposed continents, enabling a stable climate such as Earth’s.

  • Spitting Sulfates!

    In 1991, Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines erupted in one of the largest volcanic blasts of the 20th century. It spat up to 20 million tons of sulfur into the upper atmosphere, shielding the earth from the sun’s rays and causing global temperatures to drop by nearly half a degree Celsius in a single year. That’s more than half of the amount the planet has warmed due to climate change in 130 years.

  • Increase in Tourism Impacts Seashell Loss

    Walking down the beach you see the perfect shell. You pick it up, put it in your pocket and decide to keep it to remind you of your trip to paradise. While different agencies, states, and countries have specific regulations on taking shells, vials of sand, or any other object from its natural environment, you are generally not allowed to bring these souvenirs home with you, especially to another country. Why? Mainly because if everyone did it, there would be none left. But despite airports seizing tons of shells each week, seashells are still disappearing at various tourist locations and according to a new study, as global tourism increases, human-induced seashell loss may harm natural habitats worldwide.

  • New compounds raise concern about health impacts of urban air and dietary exposure

    The combustion and exhaust in cars and trucks along with the reactions that occur while cooking on grills both can contribute to air pollution and can produce carcinogens. However, Researchers at Oregon State University have discovered that the chemical reactions that occur from these processes produce novel compounds that were not previously known to exist and are hundreds of times more mutagenic than carcinogens.

  • Down Under scorching: Australia experiences warmest year on record

    Australia had its warmest year on record, with annual temperatures 1.2 degrees Celsius (2.16 degrees Fahrenheit) above the 1961-1990 average, according to a new analysis from Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology (BOM).

  • I just knew dogs were good for you!

    Who doesn’t love a cute puppy? Too bad they have to grow up to be a dog! Not really, dogs are loved too and many become an important part of a family. But does having a dog (or more than one) in the same house as an infant benefit the infant or put it at risk? The safety of having a dog in the same house should be paramount, and aggressive dogs should not be left alone with an infant. Fortunately, the benefits of having a dog or two are significant. The University of California at San Francisco has published some interesting research findings related to dogs and children’s health. The research showed that children’s risk for developing allergies and asthma is reduced when they are exposed in early infancy to a dog in the household, and why this is so. Exposure of mice to dust from houses where canine pets are permitted both indoors and outdoors can reshape the community of microbes that live in the mouse gut — collectively known as the gastrointestinal microbiome — and also diminish immune system reactivity to common allergens, according to a new study by researchers led by Susan Lynch, PhD, associate professor with the Division of Gastroenterology at UC San Francisco, and Nicholas Lukacs, PhD, professor with the Department of Pathology at the University of Michigan.

  • U.S. Coast Guard Polar Star to the Rescue!

    Maritime drama in the Southern Ocean continues! Maritime rescue teams have been getting a great deal of practice lately; this time the U.S. Coast Guard is attempting the rescue of the Russian research ship, Akademik Shokalskiy and now the Chinese icebreaker, Xue Long aka Snow Dragon in Chinese.

  • Tracking tracks yields old story

    Scientists in the UK have dated a set of footprints found in 1961 in the Chihuahuan desert in northeastern Mexico helping us understand the climate conditions in this area more than 7,000 years ago. The footprints were excavated while workman were building a road and placed in the Museo del Desierto in Saltillo, Coahuila. The age of the footprints piqued the interest of researchers at the John Moores University in Liverpool. In 2006 their curiosity yielded a second set of prints in a Cuatro Ciénegas quarry.

  • Volume of electronic waste set to rise by a third

    The amount of electronic waste produced globally is set to grow by a third between 2012 and 2017, according to a forecast made by experts at a global partnership created to tackle e-waste.