environment

How Silver Ants use hair like NASA’s new heat shield tech

How Silver Ants use hair like NASA’s new heat shield tech

The Saharan Silver Ant is discovered to dissipate heat using shiny silver hairs covering its entire body. Norman Nan Shi, assistant professor of applied physics at Columbia Engineering, has shown that the hairs of the Saharan Silver Ant act like heat shields, not entirely unlike NASA's space suit materials being developed for use by firefighters here on Earth. These ants live in an environment which can get extremely hot, up to 70°C (158°F). To make due when they need to forage for food, they've developed a rather intense bit of natural resistance, making them as shiny as they are cool.

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Researchers pinpoint major hotspots to curb poaching

Researchers pinpoint major hotspots to curb poaching

Elephant poaching continues to be a big problem despite efforts to battle it, but some recent research might help change that. Ivory that has been seized was genetically analyzed to find out where it originated from. That information was amassed, and the result are a pair of newly published papers showing the biggest hotspots where elephants are poached. The data takes it a step further, though, and also shows how to tackle the problem in a (hopefully) more effective manner than in the past.

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While dinosaurs didn’t rule the ancient tropics, alligators did

While dinosaurs didn’t rule the ancient tropics, alligators did

University of Utah paleontologist Randall Irmis and his colleagues have discovered some of the reasons why dinosaurs avoided the ancient tropics. It's partially because they just did not like the weather. You like what you're used to, after all. These researchers suggest that while dinosaurs did not enjoy the dry, hot landscape, other creatures roamed relatively freely. This included the armored aetosaurs and long-snouted phytosaurs you see in the image above. The latter is of the family that eventually gave rise to what we know today as alligators and crocodiles.

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Chimps are now an Endangered Species: scientific research restricted

Chimps are now an Endangered Species: scientific research restricted

Primate researcher Jane Goodall calls today's decision "an awakening." The United States has named chimpanzees as full endangered species, giving them protection from a far wider variety of threats. This includes threats from scientists. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have made clear this week that permits issued for the scientific testing of chimpanzees from this point on will be issued only when the purpose is to "benefit the species in the wild" or to "enhance the propagation or survival of the affected species." Habit restoration, and all that good stuff.

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Dyson’s desk light lasts for 37 years

Dyson’s desk light lasts for 37 years

Forget bulbs that burn out after a month of use. Heck, forget lights that burn out after one year. Jake Dyson of the Dyson electronics group just introduced the Jake Dyson Light, a lamp that uses LED light that lasts for 37 years. "Their lights are built to fail and don't seem to mind," said Dyson of his company's competitors, "We mind. So we've invented the first light that cools LEDs properly. As a result, it lasts for 37 years." Dyson then dropped the mic and walked off the stage.

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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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