Planets in Other Star Systems

An extrasolar planet, or exoplanet, is a planet outside the Solar System. There are billions of stars in our galaxy and a significant percentage of these stars are likely to have planets orbiting them. There are also planets orbiting brown dwarfs and free floating planets between the stars. As of March 2010, over 400 extrasolar planets have been confirmed. The CoRoT satellite has discovered the coolest Jupiter like exoplanet so far to pass in front of its host star, enabling detailed studies of the planet as reported by a team from Oxford University.

Eggshell of extinct giant bird provides ancient DNA

In a world first an international team of researchers have successfully extracted ancient DNA from the eggshells of various species of extinct birds. The research, published in scientific journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, shows that fossil eggshell is a previously unrecognised source of ancient DNA and can provide exceptional long-term preservation of DNA in warmer climates. The findings will boost research in archaeology and biology where species identifications can add significantly to our understanding of biodiversity, evolutionary processes, past environmental change and dispersal of animal and human populations.

Air Quality is improving in much of the US

Do we really need all the regulatory programs at the federal and state levels of government? Do they really work to improve the quality of our air and water? Are they worth their cost in terms of regulatory burden and costs of compliance? In short, yes! To some extent, our regulatory programs are a trial and error affair. We can't always know the ultimate effectiveness of a new program nor its ultimate costs. We can't always predict the economic benefits of new regulations either since they invariably lead to innovation and generate new inventions and jobs. The US has been monitoring the quality of our air and water for decades, so we can track the effectiveness of our programs. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is making the most recent data available.

Deal nearing on Senate climate bill

The Senate is close to wrapping up talks ahead of introducing a compromise climate change bill, said a top Democratic lawmaker who discussed ideas with industry groups on Wednesday. "We're planning to button up our efforts somewhere I hope next week," Senator John Kerry told reporters after meeting with a coalition that represents automakers, forestry and paper companies, Big Oil, steel, mining, electricity and others. Kerry is working with Republican Senator Lindsey Graham and independent Senator Joseph Lieberman on a bill to require U.S. industry to cut emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases associated with global warming.

Blue Fin Tuna Decline and Fall

The Atlantic blue fin tuna is one of the largest, fastest, and most gorgeously colored of all the world’s fishes. Their torpedo shaped, streamlined bodies are built for speed and endurance. Their coloring (metallic blue on top and silver white on the bottom) helps camouflage them from above and below. They have an average size of 6.5 feet and 550 pounds. Unfortunately for them they are also delicious and may be on the brink of extinction due to overfishing. European Union ambassadors agreed to propose protecting blue fin tuna as an endangered species on March 10, a move that would effectively ban international trade in the species.

Are Utilities Ready for Smart Meters?

The rollout of the highly touted Smart Grid ran into another buzz saw this week, this time in Texas, when a hundreds of consumers showed up at a town hall meeting, and the Grand Prairie City Hall, in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, complaining that their recently installed wireless Smart Meters were responsible for higher electric bills. That led state senator Troy Fraser to get involved, asking the Texas Public Utility Commission to halt installation of the meters and to initiate an investigation.

New Analysis: 15% Cut in U.S. Carbon Emissions Achievable Through Simple Inexpensive Personal Actions

NEW YORK (March 12, 2010) – New analysis released today at a symposium on "Climate, Mind and Behavior" reveals that Americans can reduce U.S. carbon pollution by 15 percent – or one billion tons of global warming pollution – through collective personal actions that require little to no cost. The analysis released by NRDC and the Garrison Institute's Climate Mind Behavior (CMB) Project is part of a larger collaboration that seeks to integrate emerging research findings about what drives human behavior into new thinking on climate solutions.

Waste Management To Deploy First Plasma Gasification System

S4 Energy Solutions LLC, a joint venture by Waste Management, Inc. (NYSE: WM) and InEnTec LLC, announced plans to develop a plasma gasification facility at Waste Management's Columbia Ridge Landfill in Arlington, Oregon. The planned facility will convert municipal solid waste into fuels and energy. Construction is expected to begin in the early summer, with startup scheduled by year end. With the S4 system, waste materials are prepared and fed into a first phase gasification chamber that operates at temperatures of approximately 1,500 degrees Fahrenheit. After the first phase, the waste materials flow into a second closed chamber where they are superheated to temperatures between 10,000 and 20,000 degrees Fahrenheit using an electricity-conducting gas called plasma. The intense heat of the second stage plasma gasifier rearranges the molecular structure of the waste, transforming organic (carbon-based) materials into a synthesis gas (syngas).

California to get more water

California's drought-baked cities and farms will get considerably more water this year than last from federal officials, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said on Tuesday, making good on forecasts issued in February after a series of strong winter storms. Irrigation districts south of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, which represent farmers on the west side of the state's Central Valley, will get 25 percent of their contracted water allotment from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, Salazar said, up from just 5 percent in February.

Shrimp Under Glacier

Life thrives where one least expects it. In a surprising discovery about where life can exist, scientists for the first time found a curious shrimp like creature and a piece of a jellyfish beneath a massive Antarctic ice sheet. Six hundred feet below the ice where no light shines, scientists had figured nothing much more than a few microbes could exist. One day a scientist dropped a probe and camera beneath this thick glacier and found something more than mere microbes.