Meet Chernobyl's Wild Residents

It seems like a strange place to call a wildlife park: Nearly 30 years after the most catastrophic nuclear incident in global history, Chernobyl’s exclusion zone has turned into a paradise for animals of all species and sizes. A variety of raptors, deer, big cats, foxes, bears and birds have moved into the region, taking advantage of a vast habitat with almost no humans. That habitat, though, is contaminated with radioactive materials, and scientists still hotly debate the potential costs of radiation exposure to the animals of Chernobyl, some of whom have become famous.Researchers have seen an explosion of wildlife at the site in recent years, with camera traps providing an opportunity to look deep into the world of the region’s animals without disturbing them. Stunning photography shows animals like wolves and bears roaming freely in the exclusion zone, unconcerned about the potential for human visitors. Perhaps most astonishingly, a population of Przeswalski’s horses, an endangered species critical to the biological and evolutionary history of modern equids, is booming in the region—which isn’t exactly what one might expect, given the radioactive contamination.

Could pumpkins be the answer to the food/biofuel crop dilemma?

As concern remains over the need to convert millions of acres of crop land to meet the ever-increasing biofuel demand, a new study has found pumpkins could provide the answer to sharing between food and fuel.

Coffee roasting produces useful by-products

The coffee industry plays a major role in the global economy. It also has a significant impact on the environment, producing more than 2 billion tonnes of coffee by-products annually. Coffee silverskin (the epidermis of the coffee bean) is usually removed during processing, after the beans have been dried, while the coffee grounds are normally directly discarded.It has traditionally been assumed that these by-products ─ coffee grounds and coffee silverskin, have few practical uses and applications. Spent coffee grounds are sometimes employed as homemade skin exfoliants or as abrasive cleaning products. They are also known to make great composting agents for fertilizing certain plants. But apart from these limited applications, coffee by-products are by and large deemed to be virtually useless. As such, practically all of this highly contaminating ‘coffee waste’ ends up in landfills across the globe and has a considerable knock-on effect on the environment.

A moving Mother's Day story

Mother’s Day is a good time to reflect on the amazing lengths some moms go to to ensure the well being of their children. One such “supermom” is Debby Elnatan, a former Israeli stay-at-home mom who became a press sensation when she invented the “Upsee”, a harness that allowed her young disabled son, and other handicapped children around the world, to walk in tandem with their parents.When we first wrote about the Firefly Upsee harness a little over a year ago, the device was just gaining worldwide attention. A year later, NoCamels speaks to the inventor of the Upsee to hear about the future of the international company she is now heading.

Yellowstone Supervolcano found to have two magma chambers

There's more to Yellowstone National Park than meets the eye. Much more, as it turns out.You might already know that a supervolcano dominates the famous park that is situated on land in Wyoming and Montana. A shallow subsurface magma chamber has long been known.But now a second, much larger reservoir of partially molten rock has been discovered by researchers at the University of Utah. There's enough magma inside, they say, to fill the Grand Canyon more than 11 times.

In-active devices waste billions of dollars of electricity

Approximately $19 billion worth of electricity, equal to the  output of 50 large power plants, is devoured annually by U.S. household electronics, appliances, and other equipment when consumers are not actively using them, according to a groundbreaking study released today by the Natural Resources Defense Council.

California Resident Poll Expresses Wide Concern Over Drought

A recent Care2 poll has found that slightly over 90 percent of respondents express major concern over the current drought engulfing the state, despite the fact that only 60 percent of respondents consider themselves strong environmentalists. Fewer than 1 percent expressed no concern about the drought. Nearly 75 percent of respondents cited fears about the fate of wildlife. Concern for humans came in second at 71 percent and agriculture at 61 percent.

Undersea robots plan missions autonomously

For the last decade, scientists have deployed increasingly capable underwater robots to map and monitor pockets of the ocean to track the health of fisheries, and survey marine habitats and species. In general, such robots are effective at carrying out low-level tasks, specifically assigned to them by human engineers — a tedious and time-consuming process for the engineers.When deploying autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs), much of an engineer’s time is spent writing scripts, or low-level commands, in order to direct a robot to carry out a mission plan. Now a new programming approach developed by MIT engineers gives robots more “cognitive” capabilities, enabling humans to specify high-level goals, while a robot performs high-level decision-making to figure out how to achieve these goals.

Mysterious “Internal Waves” yield more of their mysteries

Once a day, a wave as tall as the Empire State Building and as much as a hundred miles wide forms in the waters between Taiwan and the Philippines and rolls across the South China Sea – but on the surface, it is hardly noticed.These daily monstrosities are called “internal waves” because they are beneath the ocean surface and though scientists have known about them for years, they weren’t really sure how significant they were because they had never been fully tracked from cradle to grave.But a new study, published this week in Nature Research Letter, documents what happens to internal waves at the end of their journey and outlines their critical role in global climate. The international research project was funded by the Office of Naval Research and the Taiwan National Science Council.

Birds abandon mating sites near wind turbines

Shifting to renewable energy sources has been widely touted as one of the best ways to fight climate change, but even renewable energy can have a downside, as in the case of wind turbines’ effects on bird populations.