Posts Tagged Science

Bacteria Could Help Gulf Oil Spill Cleanup

“Researchers have discovered a new strain of bacteria that can produce non-toxic, comparatively inexpensive “rhamnolipids,” and effectively help degrade polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, or PAHs — environmental pollutants that are one of the most harmful aspects of oil spills.

Because of its unique characteristics, this new bacterial strain could be of considerable value in the long-term cleanup of the massive Gulf Coast oil spill, scientists say.

More research to further reduce costs and scale up production would be needed before its commercial use, they added.

The findings on this new bacterial strain that degrades the PAHs in oil and other hydrocarbons were just published in a professional journal, Biotechnology Advances, by researchers from Oregon State University and two collaborating universities in China. OSU is filing for a patent on the discovery.

…The discovery is strain “NY3″ of a common bacterium that has been known of for decades, called Pseudomonas aeruginosa. It was isolated from a site in Shaanxi Province in China, where soils had been contaminated by oil.

P. aeruginosa is widespread in the environment and can cause serious infections, but usually in people with health problems or compromised immune systems. However, some strains also have useful properties, including the ability to produce a group of “biosurfactants” called rhamnolipids.

A “surfactant,” technically, is a type of wetting agent that lowers surface tension between liquids — but we recognize surfactants more commonly in such products as dishwashing detergent or shampoo. Biosurfactants are produced by living cells such as bacteria, fungi and yeast, and are generally non-toxic, environmentally benign and biodegradable. By comparison, chemical surfactants, which are usually derived from petroleum, are commonly toxic to health and ecosystems, and resist complete degradation.

Biosurfactants of various types are already used in a wide range of applications, from food processing to productions of paints, cosmetics, household products and pharmaceuticals. But they also have uses in decontamination of water and soils, with abilities to degrade such toxic compounds as heavy metals, carcinogenic pesticides and hydrocarbons.

Although the type of biosurfactant called “rhamnolipids” have been used for many years, the newly discovered strain, NY3, stands out for some important reasons. Researchers said in the new study that it has an “extraordinary capacity” to produce rhamnolipids that could help break down oil, and then degrade some of its most serious toxic compounds, the PAHs.

Rhamnolipids are not toxic to microbial flora, human beings and animals, and they are completely biodegradable. These are compelling advantages over their synthetic chemical counterparts made from petroleum. Even at a very low concentration, rhamnolipids could remarkably increase the mobility, solubility and bioavailability of PAHs, and strain NY3 of P. aeruginosa has a strong capability of then degrading and decontaminating the PAHs.” …

More: HERE

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Scanning Electron Microscopic Images From The Human Body

“Get up close and personal with your innards with these 15 amazing 3D-body shots. Almost all of the following images were captured using a scanning electron microscope (SEM), a type of electron microscope that uses a beam of high-energy electrons to scan surfaces of images. The electron beam of the SEM interacts with atoms near or at the surface of the sample to be viewed, resulting in a very high-resolution, 3D-image. Magnification levels range from x 25 (about the same as a hand lens) to about x 250,000. Incredible details of 1 to 5 nm in size can be detected.”

Here are a few examples from the Wellcome collection.  Check them out HERE.

Split end of human hair:

Split end of human hair

Tongue with taste bud:

Tongue with taste bud

Sperm on the surface of a human egg:

Sperm on surface of human egg


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Comet or Asteroid Smashes Into Jupiter – Captured on Video

“The spectacular moment that a space missile smashed into the planet Jupiter has been captured by amateur astronomers for the first time. The stargazers witnessed the brilliant flash from the cosmic collision from sites in Australia and the Philippines on Friday.

Anthony Wesley, an Australian computer programmer, first noticed the collision in Jupiter’s cloud tops and notified other astronomers. Christopher Go, another amateur astronomer from the Philippines, then independently photographed and videoed Friday’s incident.

Experts said the amazing impact was either a comet or an asteroid.

Source: HERE

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May Weather in Southern Oregon Compared to Portland

PORTLAND OR MEDFORD OR

Note the difference in sky cover – translated, sunny, not cloudy!

Source: HERE

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Antelopes Intentionally Deceive Sexual Partner

…”The study of topi antelopes in Kenya’s Masai Mara National Reserve Park found that male antelopes snort and look intently ahead if an ovulating female begins to stray from their territory. This type of behaviour suggests to the female that there is predator danger ahead. Typical predators of the topi include lions, cheetahs, leopards and humans. When scientists examined the behaviour closely they discovered that the male antelope’s snort and intent look were a false call made to keep the female in his vicinity and there was no danger nearby. Rather than risk any danger of a predator the female stays within the male antelope’s territory, which increases his chances of mating with her.”…

Source: HERE

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Study: Electricity Production From Algae Negates Carbon Release Into the Atmosphere

“In an electrifying first, Stanford scientists have plugged in to algae cells and harnessed a tiny electric current. They found it at the very source of energy production — photosynthesis, a plant’s method of converting sunlight to chemical energy. It may be a first step toward generating “high efficiency” bioelectricity that doesn’t give off carbon dioxide as a byproduct, the researchers say.

….The Stanford research team developed a unique, ultra-sharp nanoelectrode made of gold, specially designed for probing inside cells. They gently pushed it through the algal cell membranes, which sealed around it, and the cell stayed alive. From the photosynthesizing cells, the electrode collected electrons that had been energized by light and the researchers generated a tiny electric current.

….Plants use photosynthesis to convert light energy to chemical energy, which is stored in the bonds of sugars they use for food. The process takes place in chloroplasts, the cellular powerhouses that make sugars and give leaves and algae their green color. In the chloroplasts, water is split into oxygen, protons and electrons. Sunlight penetrates the chloroplast and zaps the electrons to a high energy level, and a protein promptly grabs them. The electrons are passed down a series of proteins, which successively capture more and more of the electrons’ energy to synthesize sugars until all the electron’s energy is spent.

In this experiment, the researchers intercepted the electrons just after they had been excited by light and were at their highest energy levels. They placed the gold electrodes in the chloroplasts of algae cells, and siphoned off the electrons to generate the tiny electrical current.

The result, the researchers say, is electricity production that doesn’t release carbon into the atmosphere. The only byproducts of photosynthesis are protons and oxygen.” …

Source and More: HERE

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Giant Lizzard Determined To Be A “New Species”

MANILA, Philippines (AP) – “Researchers have concluded that a giant, golden-spotted monitor lizard discovered in the forested mountains of the Philippines six years ago is a new species, according to a study released Wednesday.

The 6.5-foot (2-meter) -long lizard was first spotted in 2004 in the Sierra Madre mountains on the main island of Luzon when local researchers saw local Agta tribesmen carrying one of the dead reptiles.

But it took until last year to determine it was a new species. After capturing an adult, researchers from the University of Kansas and the National Museum of the Philippines obtained DNA samples that helped confirm the lizard was new to science.

The Northern Sierra Madre Forest Monitor Lizard or Varanus bitatawa feasts on fruits and snails rather than carcasses, unlike many monitors, including its larger relative, the Komodo dragon, according to American and Filipino researchers who wrote about the discovery in Wednesday’s peer-reviewed Royal Society journal Biology Letters. It spends much of its time in the treetops and has unique claws that allow it to reach its favorite fruits.” …..

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New Research: The Earth Was Once a “Snowball”

ScienceDaily (Mar. 5, 2010) —” Geologists have found evidence that sea ice extended to the equator 716.5 million years ago, bringing new precision to a “snowball Earth” event long suspected to have taken place around that time.

Led by scientists at Harvard University, the team reports on its work in the journal Science. The new findings — based on an analysis of ancient tropical rocks that are now found in remote northwestern Canada — bolster the theory that our planet has, at times in the past, been ice-covered at all latitudes.

“This is the first time that the Sturtian glaciation has been shown to have occurred at tropical latitudes, providing direct evidence that this particular glaciation was a ‘snowball Earth’ event,” says lead author Francis A. Macdonald, an assistant professor in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences at Harvard. “Our data also suggests that the Sturtian glaciation lasted a minimum of 5 million years.”….

Read more HERE

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Honey Bees Communicate “Stop” Signals

“A biologist at UC San Diego has discovered that honey bees warn their nest mates about dangers they encounter while feeding with a special signal that’s akin to a “stop” sign for bees. The discovery resulted from a series of experiments on honey bees foraging for food that were attacked by competitors from nearby colonies fighting for food at an experimental feeder. The bees that were attacked then produced a specific signal to stop nest mates who were recruiting others for this dangerous location. Honey bees use a waggle dance to communicate the location of food and other resources. Attacked bees directed “stop” signals at nest mates waggle dancing for the dangerous location.” ….

SOURCE:  ScienceDaily (Feb. 11, 2010)

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In Perspective – “The Galaxy Song”

Lyrics

Just remember that you’re standing on a planet that’s evolving
And revolving at nine hundred miles an hour,
That’s orbiting at nineteen miles a second, so it’s reckoned,
A sun that is the source of all our power.
The sun and you and me and all the stars that we can see
Are moving at a million miles a day
In an outer spiral arm, at forty thousand miles an hour,
Of the galaxy we call the ‘Milky Way’.

Our galaxy itself contains a hundred billion stars.
It’s a hundred thousand light years side to side.
It bulges in the middle, sixteen thousand light years thick,
But out by us, it’s just three thousand light years wide.
We’re thirty thousand light years from galactic central point.
We go ’round every two hundred million years,
And our galaxy is only one of millions of billions
In this amazing and expanding universe.

The universe itself keeps on expanding and expanding
In all of the directions it can whizz
As fast as it can go, at the speed of light, you know,
Twelve million miles a minute, and that’s the fastest speed there is.
So remember, when you’re feeling very small and insecure,
How amazingly unlikely is your birth,
And pray that there’s intelligent life somewhere up in space,
‘Cause there’s bugger all down here on Earth.

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Global Warming: “An Enormous Case of Organized Scientific Fraud” (video)

…. “The picture that emerges is simple. In any discussion of global warming, either in the scientific literature or in the mainstream media, the outcome is always predetermined. Just as the temperature graphs produced by the CRU are always tricked out to show an upward-sloping “hockey stick,” every discussion of global warming has to show that it is occurring and that humans are responsible. And any data or any scientific paper that tends to disprove that conclusion is smeared as “unscientific” precisely because it threatens the established dogma.

For more than a decade, we’ve been told that there is a scientific “consensus” that humans are causing global warming, that “the debate is over” and all “legitimate” scientists acknowledge the truth of global warming. Now we know what this “consensus” really means. What it means is: the fix is in.

This is an enormous case of organized scientific fraud, but it is not just scientific fraud. It is also a criminal act. Suborned by billions of taxpayer dollars devoted to climate research, dozens of prominent scientists have established a criminal racket in which they seek government money-Phil Jones has raked in a total of £13.7 million in grants from the British government-which they then use to falsify data and defraud the taxpayers. It’s the most insidious kind of fraud: a fraud in which the culprits are lauded as public heroes. Judging from this cache of e-mails, they even manage to tell themselves that their manipulation of the data is intended to protect a bigger truth and prevent it from being “confused” by inconvenient facts and uncontrolled criticism.

The damage here goes far beyond the loss of a few billions of taxpayer dollars on bogus scientific research. The real cost of this fraud is the trillions of dollars of wealth that will be destroyed if a fraudulent theory is used to justify legislation that starves the global economy of its cheapest and most abundant sources of energy.

This is the scandal of the century. It needs to be thoroughly investigated-and the culprits need to be brought to justice.”

Source: “ClimateGate the Fix Is In

See related articles: “Hiding Evidence of Global Cooling“   ” Climategate: the final nail in the coffin of ‘Anthropogenic Global Warming’?“   “Climategate reminds us of the liberal-left’s visceral loathing of open debate

Climate Audit by Steve McIntyre
Watts Up With That

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Global Warming: New Study “Extremely Important” – Greater CO2 Capacity?

earth04.gif

ScienceDaily (Nov. 11, 2009) — “New data show that the balance between the airborne and the absorbed fraction of carbon dioxide has stayed approximately constant since 1850, despite emissions of carbon dioxide having risen from about 2 billion tons a year in 1850 to 35 billion tons a year now.

This suggests that terrestrial ecosystems and the oceans have a much greater capacity to absorb CO2 than had been previously expected.

The results run contrary to a significant body of recent research which expects that the capacity of terrestrial ecosystems and the oceans to absorb CO2 should start to diminish as CO2 emissions increase, letting greenhouse gas levels skyrocket. Dr Wolfgang Knorr at the University of Bristol found that in fact the trend in the airborne fraction since 1850 has only been 0.7 ± 1.4% per decade, which is essentially zero.

The strength of the new study, published online in Geophysical Research Letters, is that it rests solely on measurements and statistical data, including historical records extracted from Antarctic ice, and does not rely on computations with complex climate models.

This work is extremely important for climate change policy, because emission targets to be negotiated at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen early in December have been based on projections that have a carbon free sink of already factored in. Some researchers have cautioned against this approach, pointing at evidence that suggests the sink has already started to decrease.” ….

On Nov. 2, The Wall Street Journal‘s Jeffrey Ball reported some inconvenient data. Soon after the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change—it shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with the Thinking Man’s Thinking Man—reported that global warming is “unequivocal,” there came evidence that the planet’s temperature is beginning to cool. “That,” Ball writes, “has led to one point of agreement: The models are imperfect.”

Models are no better or worse than their assumptions, and Ball notes how dicey these assumptions can be: “The effects of clouds, for example, are unclear. Depending on their shape and altitude, clouds can either trap heat, warming the earth, or reflect it, cooling the planet.” It gets worse: “The way that greenhouse gases affect cloud formation—and how clouds in turn affect temperature—remains a subject of debate. Different models treat these factors differently.”

Some scientists say the cooling is a product of what Ball calls “the enigmatic ocean currents.” Others say that even if the cooling continues for several decades, as some scientists think it might, warming will resume.

And if it does not? A story in the April 28, 1975, edition of NEWSWEEK was “The Cooling World.” NEWSWEEK can recycle that article, and recycling is a planet-saving virtue.

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A New Ocean in the Making

Sailing the seven seas ….Now, scientists from several countries have confirmed that the volcanic processes at work beneath the Ethiopian rift are nearly identical to those at the bottom of the world’s oceans, and the rift is indeed likely the beginning of a new sea.

The new study, published in the latest issue of Geophysical Research Letters, suggests that the highly active volcanic boundaries along the edges of tectonic ocean plates may suddenly break apart in large sections, instead of little by little as has been predominantly believed. In addition, such sudden large-scale events on land pose a much more serious hazard to populations living near the rift than would several smaller events, says Cindy Ebinger, professor of earth and environmental sciences at the University of Rochester and co-author of the study.

“This work is a breakthrough in our understanding of continental rifting leading to the creation of new ocean basins,” says Ken Macdonald, professor emeritus in the Department of Earth Science at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and who is not affiliated with the research. “For the first time they demonstrate that activity on one rift segment can trigger a major episode of magma injection and associated deformation on a neighboring segment. Careful study of the 2005 mega-dike intrusion and its aftermath will continue to provide extraordinary opportunities for learning about continental rifts and mid-ocean ridges.”

…. the rift did not open in a series of small earthquakes over an extended period of time, but tore open along its entire 35-mile length in just days. A volcano called Dabbahu at the northern end of the rift erupted first, then magma pushed up through the middle of the rift area and began “unzipping” the rift in both directions, says Ebinger.

Since the 2005 event, Ebinger and her colleagues have installed seismometers and measured 12 similar — though dramatically less intense — events.

“We know that seafloor ridges are created by a similar intrusion of magma into a rift, but we never knew that a huge length of the ridge could break open at once like this,” says Ebinger. She explains that since the areas where the seafloor is spreading are almost always situated under miles of ocean, it’s nearly impossible to monitor more than a small section of the ridge at once so there’s no way for geologists to know how much of the ridge may break open and spread at any one time.” ….

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19.5 foot Giant Squid Netted in Gulf of Mexico

Squid WASHINGTON (Reuters) – “U.S. scientists in the Gulf of Mexico unexpectedly netted a 19.5-foot (5.9-meter) giant squid off the coast of Louisiana, the Interior Department said on Monday, showing how little is known about life in the deep waters of the Gulf.

Not since 1954, when a giant squid was found floating dead off the Mississippi Delta, has the rare species been spotted in the Gulf of Mexico.

The squid, weighing in at 103 pounds (46.7 kg), was caught July 30 in a trawl net more than 1,500 feet underwater as it was pulled by a research vessel.

The giant squid, which did not survive the rapid change in water depth when brought to the surface, was preserved and sent to the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History for further study.” ….

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Sex in the Pond Altered by Traffic Noise

FrogPrince.gif

CANBERRA, Australia — Traffic noise could be ruining the sex lives of urban frogs by drowning out the seductive croaks of amorous males, an Australian researcher said Friday.

A well-projected and energetic croak is the male frog’s most important asset in the quest to attract mates to his pond, Melbourne University ecologist Kirsten Parris said.

But competition from traffic noise in Melbourne could be a reason why frog numbers have declined in Australia’s second-largest city since her survey of more than 100 ponds began in 2000, she said.

“If there are a number of different males calling, the one that sounds the best often gets the girl,” Parris told The Associated Press. “You have to be pretty clear about your assets if you’re a male frog.” …

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