The connection of air pollution to lung cancer

It is widely known that smoking increases your risk of lung cancer. That is not the only risk factor, however. Air pollution plays a role as well. A study by Oregon State University suggests reducing air-polluting PAHs may lower levels of lung cancer deaths. High emissions of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) can be linked to lung cancer deaths in the United States and countries with a similarly high socioeconomic rank, including Canada, Australia, France, and Germany, according to a study by Oregon State University. Researchers reviewed a range of information from 136 countries, including average body mass index, gross domestic product per capita, the price of cigarettes, smoking rates, and the amount of PAHs emitted into the air. PAHs are a group of more than 100 chemicals, some of which are carcinogenic when inhaled or ingested. They most commonly come from vehicle exhaust and burning coal and wood.

Ocean bacteria found greatly impacted by CO2 in the atmosphere

Climate change may be weeding out the bacteria that form the base of the ocean's food chain, selecting certain strains for survival, according to a new study. In climate change, as in everything, there are winners and losers. As atmospheric carbon dioxide levels and temperature rise globally, scientists increasingly want to know which organisms will thrive and which will perish in the environment of tomorrow. The answer to this question for nitrogen-fixing cyanobacteria (bacteria that obtain energy through photosynthesis, or "blue-green algae") turns out to have implications for every living thing in the ocean. Nitrogen-fixing is when certain special organisms like cyanobacteria convert inert -- and therefore unusable -- nitrogen gas from the air into a reactive form that the majority of other living beings need to survive. Without nitrogen fixers, life in the ocean could not survive for long.

Automobile Production Sets New Record in 2012

World auto production set yet another record in 2012 and may rise even higher during 2013. According to London-based IHS Automotive, passenger-car production rose from 62.6 million in 2011 to 66.7 million in 2012, and it may reach 68.3 million in 2013. When cars are combined with light trucks, total light vehicle production rose from 76.9 million in 2011 to 81.5 million in 2012 and is projected to total 83.3 million in 2013.

What Color was that Dinosaur?

The past is in black and white. It is very hard to tell what color was a dinosaur from looking at its fossilized bones. In the past, experts have basically guessed what color ancient animals were as colors are rarely preserved in fossils. But recent discoveries of color-producing structures in fossil insects and feathers are helping scientists solve this mystery and learn about the evolution of color and its role in communication. The cutting-edge science and technology which has uncovered this new knowledge will be demonstrated at the Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition, which runs from 2 to 7 July in London and attracts 15,000 visitors each year.

Climate Change May Hinder Regeneration of Conifers after Forest Fires

From clearing out dead leaves and trees, to jump-starting new growth, to returning minerals to the soil, forest fires have many benefits. However, with increasing temperatures and droughts predicted with upcoming climate changes, it may be difficult for some plants to regenerate after forest fires. According to researchers from Oregon State University, moisture stress is a key limitation for conifer regeneration following major forest fires that occur on dry, low-elevation sites. As a result, reforestation post-fire recovery on dry sites may be slow and uncertain.

Cloudy Worlds Climate

Clouds are pretty to see. They are also much more potent than previously perceived in modifying climate. This is particularly important when considering habitable planets near red dwarf stars. A new study that calculates the influence of cloud behavior on climate doubles the number of potentially habitable planets orbiting red dwarfs, the most common type of stars in the universe. This finding means that in the Milky Way galaxy alone, 60 billion planets may be orbiting red dwarf stars in the habitable zone. Researchers at the University of Chicago and Northwestern University based their study, which appears in Astrophysical Journal Letters, on rigorous computer simulations of cloud behavior on alien planets. This cloud behavior dramatically expanded the estimated habitable zone of red dwarfs, which are much smaller and fainter than stars like the sun.

IUCN Red List reports decline in world’s oldest and largest species

The latest update to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species highlights a worrying decline in many economically and medicinally valuable species, from small freshwater shrimps and cone snails to gargantuan conifers, some of the world's oldest and largest organisms. An impressive 4,807 species have been added to the IUCN Red List this year, bringing the total number of assessed species to 70,294, of which 20,934 are threatened with extinction.

Texas A&M University plans huge solar project

The proposed "Center for Solar Energy" at Texas A&M University's Central Texas branch will make the school the world's first all-solar university. The university has come up with this innovative project to save power costs and reduce its carbon footprint. It will utilize nearby unused land for the world's biggest solar test farm. The solar farm will be developed exclusively for solar prototyping and R&D, and not as a commercial farm. As a test farm, it will host hundreds of solar cell designs from various manufacturers. The university hopes to have more than a hundred solar technology manufacturers and other players on board for the project. The project is expected to draw in very large investments in solar technology research and development over the next five to six years.

New forensic method tells the difference between poached and legal ivory

Forensic-dating could end a major loophole in the current global ban on ivory, according to a new paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). Scientists have developed a method to determine the age of ivory, allowing traders to tell the difference between ivory taken before the ban in 1989, which is still legal, and recently-poached ivory. Elephants across Africa are being slaughtered in record numbers for their tusks—the most recent estimate put it at 3,000 annually—due to rising demand for ivory in East Asia. Various loopholes have exacerbated the crisis.

Plants Under Attack Release VOCs, Attract Herbivore Predators and Caterpillars

Did you know that plants emit airborne distress signals when they are getting eaten? When damaged, plants release volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and according to a new study, these compounds can serve two functions, one to attract enemies that might attack the herbivorous insects eating the plant, and two, to ward off the herbivorous insects, which avoid the herbivore-induced VOCs. A team of researchers has found that the odor released by maize plants under attack by insects attract not only parasitic wasps, which prey on herbivorous insects, but it also attracts caterpillars of the Egyptian cotton leafworm moth Spodoptera littoralis, a species that feeds on maize leaves.