environment

Google Sidewalk Labs: a think tank for building better cities

Google Sidewalk Labs: a think tank for building better cities

Google is, by nature, a tech company. But gone are the days when "technology" was confined in electronics inside the living room or, more recently, inside our pockets. All technology, no matter how diverse or different, are developed for one ulterior goal: making our lives better. That is the basic idea behind Google's launch of its new company, Sidewalk Labs. With Sidewalk, Google is dipping its toes into urban development, researching and developing technology that will hopefully be used to improve life in the city, whether it be for residents, business, or governments.

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Watch a chimp drink alcohol for science

Watch a chimp drink alcohol for science

Due to a local human village tapping in to raffia palm trees for their alcohol-rich sap, chimpanzees have found their own way to drink the drink in Bossou. This Guinea, West Africa environment sets the stage for a research paper which suggests that not only are African apes and humans both able to effectively metabolize ethanol, we're both voluntarily doing so now, too. This drinking of the contents of the raffia palm (Raphia hookeri, Arecaceae) by wild chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes verus) at Bossou in Guinea, West Africa, was observed from 1995 to 2012.

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Snapshot Serengeti snaps millions of wild photos without photographers

Snapshot Serengeti snaps millions of wild photos without photographers

Project Snapshot Serengeti captures 1.2 million sets of photos, all automated, all capturing wild animals in their natural habitats. That's SETS of photos, not just individual photos - there are millions in the full collection. Over a period of about 3 years, from 2010 to 2013, this camera project lived inside the Serengeti National Park, Tanzania. Whether or not you've been privileged to see the website, SnapshotSerengeti.org has had citizen-scientists classifying images in this project for several years. Now here in June of 2015, the full collection has been published for the public.

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Life on Mars may be preserved in meteorite-made glass

Life on Mars may be preserved in meteorite-made glass

A paper released this week by K. Cannon and J. Mustard shows how ancient life on Mars could be preserved by meteorite glass. Impact glass, or glass-rich impactites, have the ability to both encapsulate and preserve biosignatures on Earth. Because of this, these scientists show how Mars may have bio-rich preserves that rovers on Mars may not have even begun to explore. While we've been looking for signs of life - or ancient life - on Mars for many years, we might just have not been looking in the right place!

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Amazon conservation group use drones to fight rain forest logging

Amazon conservation group use drones to fight rain forest logging

While drones are getting a lot of press these days as either high-tech toys or dangerous hazards, they are also being used as effective tools for great causes. Take the Amazon Basin Conservation Association for example, who use a custom drone to fly above the rain forest in Peru, scanning for illegal logging and mining taking place, both of which damage the local ecosystem. The group uses a custom made wing-style drone to get more range than a quadcopter, and are able to protect a reserve that measures 550-square-miles.

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Sony details ambitious plan to go green

Sony details ambitious plan to go green

Sony has detailed a plan to go green over the coming years, with the various efforts being broken down into smaller more manageable blocks. Kicking it all off will be the company’s new “Green Management 2020” targets, of which the effort will start in Sony’s fiscal 2016 and run through 2020. If all goes as planned, the company will be slashing its annual energy consumption by a stated average of 30-percent in certain parts of the company, as well as reducing its overall environmental footprint.

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Seven toxic mini-frog species discovered in mountain cloud forests

Seven toxic mini-frog species discovered in mountain cloud forests

Seven new species of extra-tiny frog have been discovered in the Brazilian Atlantic Rainforest and shown in research published this week. The extent of what we know about the miniaturized frog genus Brachycephalus has expanded greatly, suddenly, as this paper shows 5 years of exploration revealing seven new species of the creature. Each of these frogs is very brightly colored, and each has a highly potent neurotoxin in their skin. In other words, though they may look tasty, you should not eat them.

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First Virgin Births in the Wild are No Miracle

First Virgin Births in the Wild are No Miracle

The endangered small tooth sawfish is discovered to have produced the world's first "virgin births" in the wild. When we first broke news of this wild parthenogenesis yesterday, we received a number of replies on Twitter and Facebook which suggested there was some confusion about how the process occurred. "If this really happened, it's nothing short of a miracle," said one [Name Redacted]. "This is just like those West African Frogs in Jurassic Park," said another commenter, "I can't honestly believe it." In fact while the circumstances might seem positively Hollywood, the reality of the situation is entirely scientific - proven and factual.

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Endangered sawfish enact Jurassic Park prophesy

Endangered sawfish enact Jurassic Park prophesy

Researchers find free-living parthenogenesis in the wild for the first time in history. Parthenogenesis is one type of asexual reproduction which, in this case, has a creature developing from an unfertilized egg. A female sawfish will give birth to a baby sawfish without the aid of a male sawfish. It's been observed that this type of reproduction is taking place in the wild in an area where this particular species of sawfish is endangered. In other words: "Life finds a way."

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Half of this antelope population may have been killed by rocket fuel

Half of this antelope population may have been killed by rocket fuel

A mysterious loss of life suddenly grips the remaining population of an endangered species throughout Asia. The Saiga Antelope is experiencing major loss over the past several weeks, and all in Kazakhstan. "This loss is a huge blow for saga conservation in Kazakhstan and in the world," said Kazakhstan's vice agriculture minister Erlan Nysynbaev. Scientists suggest that this scale of death in a single species is absolutely unprecedented. Why is it that in a place where more than 90% of this creature's population exists, is it dying so rapidly?

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