BBC reveals a dirty secret about our sooty cities – the grunge doesn’t trap air pollution – it creates it: In rooftop experiments in Germany, the researchers tracked the content of grime in both sunshine and shade. They say sunlit grime releases nitrogen in two forms: the toxic pollutant nitrogen dioxide (NO2), plus nitrous acid – a key driver of smog formation. The findings, presented at a conference of the American Chemical Society in Boston, were welcomed by pollution experts – and may explain a “missing” source of smog-producing gas in the skies of London. … On a tower above the city they set up two large shelves filled with beads of window glass. Both sets of beads received the same air flow – and got thoroughly grimy – but only one was in the sun.
These are prehistoric animals compared to their modern relatives and, for scale, a human. A human who’s interested in what they’re like… except when…
Look out! HELL PIG!
There are plenty more of the majestic giants (and some terrifying ones) at NPR’s Skunk Bear tumblog.
The New Horizons Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) snapped this photo of Jupiter’s ring system on February 24, 2007, from a distance of 7.1 million kilometers (4.4 million miles).
This processed image shows a narrow ring, about 1,000 kilometers (600 miles) wide, with a fainter sheet of material inside it. The faint glow extending in from the ring is likely caused by fine dust that diffuses in toward Jupiter. This is the outer tip of the “halo,” a cloud of dust …
SOURCE:Based on “NASA Windbots Could Explore Gas Giant Jupiter”, Sky News, 24 July 2015, as used in the post as used in the post “Windbots to explore Jupiter – the bumpier the ride, the better..”
ABSTRACT: The planet Jupiter is 35 light-minutes from Earth (give or take a couple of minutes depending on where in its orbit the planet is).
So a robot floating in the turbulent winds of Jupiter would take that long to send a mes…
Three names for one little fish. And those are just the beginning.
I found this one on the Scientific Illustration tumblog, which quoted Wikipedia on the doree (etc.):
John Dory, St Pierre or Peter’s Fish, refers to fish of the genus Zeus, especially Zeus faber, of widespread distribution. It is an edible benthic coastal marine fish with a laterally compressed olive-yellow body which has a large dark spot, and long spines on the dorsal fin. The dark spot is used to flash an ‘evil ey…
These are ostensibly Cochin chickens, or forerunners of what we’d call Cochins today. They’re a breed with a *lot* of character, and are uniquely suited, temperamentally, for being “pet” chickens moreso than egg factories or walking meat supplies. Despite the name (after a part of India), they’re originally from China.
It’s the most Earth-like planet yet discovered. Kepler 452b sits in the “Goldilocks” zone around its star, not too hot and not too cold, and is about the same size (or is a little larger) and made of something like the same stuff as the planet we’re sitting around on right now. It takes 365 days to orbit around its sun, too. NASA’s calling it ou…
Nature greets a new one-atom-thick material – a super-thin sheet of tin scientists at Shanghai Jiao Tong University are calling “stanene”: Stanene (from the Latin stannum meaning tin, which also gives the element its chemical symbol, Sn), is the latest cousin of graphene, the honeycomb lattice of carbon atoms that has spurred thousands of studies into related 2D materials. Those include sheets of silicene, made from silicon atoms; phosphorene, made from phosphorus; germanene, from germanium; and thin stacks of sheets that combine different kinds of chemical elements…. Many of these sheets are excellent conductors of electricity, but stanene is — in theory — extra-special. At room temperature, electrons should be able to travel along the edges of the mesh without colliding with other electrons and atoms as they do in most materials. This should allow the film to conduct electricity without losing energy as waste heat, according to predictions2 made in 2013 by Shou-Cheng Zhang, […]
Not sure how it smells once you rub it on (despite assurances it doesn’t), but New Scientist is looking toward a blend of fish extract and shrimp shells to protect our skin and more against UV exposure: Some species of algae, bacteria and fish that spend a lot of time in the sun have evolved sun shields that absorb the DNA-damaging UV rays in sunlight. These chemicals, known as Mycosporine-like amino acids, have now been turned into a material that can be applied like a sunscreen to skin, as well as objects such as outdoor furniture that are at risk of UV damage. Besides potentially being a more effective UV-absorber than conventional sunscreens, this natural alternative is biodegradable and some of its ingredients could be scavenged from food waste. Vincent Bulone from AlbaNova University Center in Stockholm, Sweden, and colleagues from the University of the Basque Country in Leioa, Spain, reacted the amino acids with […]
Nature analyzes the new World Health Organization (WHO) determination that Roundup weedkiller causes cancer: The cancer-research arm of the World Health Organization last week announced that glyphosate, the world’s most widely used herbicide, is probably carcinogenic to humans. But the assessment, by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) in Lyon, France, has been followed by an immediate backlash from industry groups. … On 20 March, a panel of international experts convened by the agency reported the findings of a review of five agricultural chemicals in a class known as organophosphates. A summary of the study was published in The Lancet Oncology. Two of the pesticides — tetrachlorvinphos and parathion — were rated as “possibly carcinogenic to humans”, or category 2B. Three — malathion, diazinon and glyphosate — were rated as “probably carcinogenic to humans”, labelled category 2A. Why should I care about glyphosate? Glyphosate is the world’s most widely produced herbicide, by volume. […]
Popular Mechanics takes the 3D printer to the next level – synthesizing not new shapes, but new chemicals from scratch: In a new study published in the journal Science today, [University of Illinois chemist Martin] Burke has announced the specs of a chemistry’s own version of the 3D printer—a machine that can systematically synthesize thousands of different molecules (including the ratanhine molecular family) from a handful of starting chemicals. Such a machine could not only make ratanhine step-by-step, but also could custom-create a dozen other closely-related chemicals—some never even synthesized before by humans. That could allow scientists to test the medicinal properties of a whole molecular family. … Whether you’re trying to form a ring of carbon atoms or strip away hydrogen atoms, each step requires a dose of starting chemicals, which Burke separates into distinct building blocks. Think of them as simple groups of chemical compounds like O2 or CO2 that snap together. To […]
Science magazine is shaping up for a flexible future, with a whole new kind of 3D LCD screen: The moving images we see on a display are created by controlling the net orientation of the molecules, which changes the optical polarization of the liquid so that it either blocks or transmits light. But what if instead of producing an image on a flat screen, your LCD television could transform into different three-dimensional (3D) objects, and then back to a flat screen? Is it possible for soft materials to reproduce shapes instead of images? On page 982 of this issue, Ware et al. (1) demonstrate this possibility with liquid crystal elastomers (LCEs). There are images of the LCEs making different textures on Science‘s Twitter feed.
Washington Post reveals the natural substance that beats spider silk for toughness, and diamonds for hardness – and it’s limpet teeth: In a study set to come out this month in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface, British researchers announced that the teeth of shelled, aquatic creatures called limpets are the strongest biological material on Earth, overtaking the previous record-holder, spider silk. The teeth, which are so small they must be examined with a microscope, are composed of very thin, tightly-packed fibers containing a hard mineral called goethite. Limpets use them to scrape food off of rocks, but lead author Asa Barber said humans can adapt the technology to build better planes, boats and dental fillings. … He found that the material had a strength of 5 gigapascals, about five times the strength of most spider silks. “People are always trying to find the next strongest thing, but spider silk has been the winner […]
It just ain’t sanitary. Science magazine plumbs the depths of the million-dollar treasure hiding at the municipal waste treatment plant: Metals have long been known to concentrate in sewage, which mixes toilet water with effluent from industrial manufacturing, storm runoff, and anything else flushed down the drain. It’s a headache for sewage utilities that must cope with toxic metals lacing wastewater headed for streams or sludge that might otherwise be spread on farm fields. But what if those metals had value? In a new study, scientists at Arizona State University (ASU), Tempe, quantified the different metals in sewage sludge and estimated what it all might be worth. They took sludge samples gathered from around the country and measured the metal content using a mass spectrometer that can discern different elements as they are ionized in a superhot plasma. The upshot: There’s as much as $13 million worth of metals in the sludge produced every year […]
Science Daily reveals that two kinds of phthalates – chemicals found in ordinary stuff like dryer sheets, soap, lipstick and vinyl fabrics – can drop IQ points off developing babies: Since 2009, several phthalates have been banned from children’s toys and other childcare articles in the United States. However, no steps have been taken to protect the developing fetus by alerting pregnant women to potential exposures. In the U.S., phthalates are rarely listed as ingredients on products in which they are used. Researchers followed 328 New York City women and their children from low-income communities. They assessed the women’s exposure to four phthalates–DnBP, DiBP, di-2-ethylhexyl phthalate, and diethyl phthalate–in the third trimester of pregnancy by measuring levels of the chemicals’ metabolites in urine. Children were given IQ tests at age 7. Children of mothers exposed during pregnancy to the highest 25 percent of concentrations of DnBP and DiBP had IQs 6.6 and 7.6 points lower, […]
Nature surveys the plastic in the seas, expects to see things like detergent bottles and Barbies breaking up into tiny “microplastic” particles, and doesn’t. So the question becomes… where does the plastic go?: More than 5 trillion plastic pieces, with a combined mass of more than 250,000 tonnes, are floating in the ocean, researchers reported on 10 December in PLoS ONE. On its face, the estimate is shockingly high — but it is still much lower than expected, amounting to less than 1% of the annual global production of plastic, says study co-author Hank Carson, a marine biologist at the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife in Olympia. A team led by Marcus Eriksen, research director at the Five Gyres Institute in Los Angeles, California, took samples with fine-mesh nets and visually counted pieces of trash on 24 expeditions through all five subtropical gyres — areas of rotating ocean currents where plastic collects — as […]
Nature celebrates more wonders – potential ones, from flexible armor to affordable fuel cells – that we can make from graphene: Protons’ ability to travel through graphene suggests that the material could be used as a membrane to sieve hydrogen from air, and to help extract energy from that hydrogen in a fuel cell, says co-author Andre Geim, a materials scientist at the University of Manchester, UK, who won a Nobel prize in 2010 for his pioneering experiments on graphene. Fuel cells convert the chemical energy stored in hydrogen (or other fuels) into electricity by breaking it apart into protons and electrons: the electrons race around an outside wire to create a current, with the protons flowing through a membrane within the cell. (Electrons and protons recombine at an electrode to react with oxygen.) Today’s membranes, such as a commercial polymer called Nafion, are tens of micrometres thick but do not entirely prevent hydrogen fuel […]
Jesus lived 2,000 years ago. There was no such thing as the English language, and most human beings had never even seen paper. 2,500 years before *that* is when we thought the first Egyptian mummies were made. But now, as New Scientist reports, we’ll have to move the date of the first mummies back by another 2,000 years: It had been assumed that before about 2500 BC, when Egyptians wanted to mummify their deadMovie Camera, they placed the wrapped bodies outside and let the hot, dry air and desert sand do the hard work. Deliberate mummification with preserving oils and resins was thought to be a much later development. But the earliest known Egyptian burials date from 4500 to 3350 BC. These led some Egyptologists to suspect that mummification began early, but there was no hard evidence of this. For the first time, the bandages, skin and wadding from these ancient burials have been chemically […]
Science 2.0 has more on the discovery of lots of phthalates in fine European wines: It isn’t just the booze itself, a group of scholars contends it’s the packaging. Phthalate compounds are widespread in our environment and present in many plastics. Obviously, any toxicity of phthalates varies depending on their chemical composition and some compounds are considered to be potential hormone disruptorrs, so they are regulated on an international level, including for those likely to come into contact with food and drink packaging. A study published in Food Additives&Contaminants: Part A analyzed phthalate concentrations in a variety of French wines and spirits and found that 59% of the wines analyzed contained significant quantities of one particular form of phthalate, dibutyl phthalate, and only 17% did not contain any detectable quantity of at least one of the reprotoxic phthalates. “Reprotoxic” means they change our sexual characteristics, basically. The study is published over here. Two key lines: […]
Science Daily pokes a hole in the optimism around electronic cigarettes with findings that they’re really not that different from the kind you light and burn: The devices, which are rapidly gaining a foothold in popular culture particularly among youth, are marketed as a healthier alternative to tobacco smoking, as an effective tool to stop smoking, and as a way to circumvent smoke-free laws by allowing users to “smoke anywhere.” Often the ads stress that e-cigarettes produce only “harmless water vapor.” But in their analysis of the marketing, health and behavioral effects of the products, which are unregulated, the UCSF scientists found that e-cigarette use is associated with significantly lower odds of quitting cigarettes. They also found that while the data are still limited, e-cigarette emissions “are not merely ‘harmless water vapor,’ as is frequently claimed, and can be a source of indoor air pollution.” … While most youth using e-cigarettes are dual users, up […]
The Guardian (with a little help from Harvard) confirms what folks have suspected for a while – that Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) is largely due to neonicotinoid pesticides: In the new Harvard study, published in the Bulletin of Insectology, the scientists studied the health of 18 bee colonies in three locations in central Massachusetts from October 2012 till April 2013. At each location, two colonies were treated with realistic doses of imidacloprid, two with clothianidin, and two were untreated control hives. “Bees from six of the 12 neonicotinoid-treated colonies had abandoned their hives and were eventually dead with symptoms resembling CCD,” the team wrote. “However, we observed a complete opposite phenomenon in the control colonies.” Only one control colony was lost, the result of infection by the parasitic fungus Nosema and in this case the dead bees remained in the hive. Previously, scientists had suggested that neonicotinoids can lead to CCD by damaging the immune […]