environment

Eldest human ancestor has Lucy beat at 3.4 million years old

Eldest human ancestor has Lucy beat at 3.4 million years old

The fossilized remains of a jaw and teeth are discovered near the origin of the previous eldest human ancestor, Lucy. This jaw belonged to a species by the name of Australopithecus deyiremeda. This species would have existed between 3.3 and 3.5 million years ago, putting it at an age when Lucy's species Australopithecus afarensis could have walked the Earth. This oldest species is now one of three species that existed in eastern Africa more than 3 million years ago more closely related to humans than to chimps. The third was Kenyanthropus platyops, having lived in Kenya at roughly the same time.

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A scientist’s mission: LED bulbs that don’t attract bugs

A scientist’s mission: LED bulbs that don’t attract bugs

You turn on the porch light to complement your relaxing evening outdoors, only to have the light serve as a beacon for every insect in the region. The same happens in the middle of the night when you've one light on and the window screen fills with bugs hoping to get inside because of it. That can be bothersome, but in the case of mosquitos and some other insects, it could also potentially be deadly if the little bugs bring diseases with them.

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Galapagos Islands’ Wolf Volcano erupts for first time in 33 years

Galapagos Islands’ Wolf Volcano erupts for first time in 33 years

Wolf Volcano erupts on one of the Galapagos Islands for the first time in 33 years, threatening very little life in the process. While you'll see quite a few headlines today suggesting that "Darwin's Island animals are about to die," in fact this particular eruption on Isla Isabela is doing more good than harm. As with all eruptions in recent decades, this entirely natural process will destroy vegetation and very few animals - and no humans - as molten lava runs down the edge of Wolf Volcano.

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11 chameleon species newly split from one

11 chameleon species newly split from one

Fooled in the past by color variations, scientists discover the truth about this one panther chameleon: it's actually 11 different species. Using high-resolution color photographs and blood samples from a cool 324 Furcifer pardalis (panther chameleon) individuals along Madagascar's Northern coast, a team of scientists lead by Djordje Grbic from the Laboratory of Artificial and Natural Evolution in the Department of Genetics and Evolution, University of Geneva, Geneva, Switzerland, found that variations were such that one species must split into 11. Upon questioning, these chameleon brethren had no comment on their likely shared ancestry.

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Audi makes synthetic diesel again, this time from plants

Audi makes synthetic diesel again, this time from plants

Car makers are on a quest to develop more sustainable and more environment friendly sources of power for the cars of the future. Some have, at least for the time being, resorted to using electricity instead of conventional fuel. However, even electricity has its own eco footprint. And some car makers haven't entirely given up on the advantages of fuel. That is why companies like Audi are also investing in research and development that will produce fuel using nothing but carbon dioxide or, in this case, plants.

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Antarctic going from “in balance” to “massive ice loss”

Antarctic going from “in balance” to “massive ice loss”

Just one week after the last report of a massive melting ice shelf in the Antarctic comes another report of ice loss in the same region. While last week's 11,000 year old ice shelf break-apart suggested just one area was in danger, this new paper published in the journal Science suggests the entire Southern Antarctic Peninsula is at risk. A "major portion of the region has, since 2009, destabilized," says the paper, "a major fraction of Antarctica's contribution to rising sea level" is coming from this newly discovered acceleration in marine-terminating glaciers.

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Ocean spray controls more weather than you realize

Ocean spray controls more weather than you realize

Sea spray aerosol (SSA) particles are discovered to "profoundly impact climate" with their ability to scatter solar radiation. Clouds are formed when these particles spray forth - seeds for all forms of weather around the planet. A study has been published today which studies the effects of microbial control of sea spray aerosol, and the blooms therein. In an isolated ocean-atmosphere facility containing 3,400 gallons of natural seawater this study was carried out. Waves upon waves were studied as the atmosphere became moist.

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Researcher creates super-strong metal that can float

Researcher creates super-strong metal that can float

Metal is a commonly used material on boats, cars, and other similar structures because of its strength, but it brings with it downsides, one of the biggest being its weight. In the future this might not be a problem, in that work is being done now to retain (or even surpass) a metal’s strength while at the same time making the material considerably lighter. One researcher in particular, Nikhil Gupta of NYU Polytechnic University, has been working on something he calls “syntactic foam”, which are various composite materials that are super strong -- and in one case, boasting a low enough density to float on water.

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11,000-year old ice shelf about to disappear forever

11,000-year old ice shelf about to disappear forever

NASA confirms that Antarctica's Larsen B ice shelf is becoming unstable and will soon break up and melt. A team is currently investigating the ice shelf is lead by Ala Khazendar of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California. "Although it’s fascinating scientifically to have a front-row seat to watch the ice shelf becoming unstable and breaking up, it’s bad news for our planet," said Khazendar. "This ice shelf has existed for at least 10,000 years, and soon it will be gone."

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Bee aware: “unheard of” honey bee death rates in action

Bee aware: “unheard of” honey bee death rates in action

For the first time ever, summer losses of Honey Bee populations in the United States have outweighed the winter. While the Winter Season loss of Honey Bee populations has done down compared to last year, annual losses are up, in the second-largest loss of population in five years and one of the biggest losses in recorded Bee Keeping history. Why does this matter to you? Because approximately 1 out of every 3 mouthfuls of food you digest benefits directly or indirectly from honey bee pollination.

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Bee colony losses in the US decrease a tiny bit

Bee colony losses in the US decrease a tiny bit

Bee population numbers are important, so much so that data on colony information has been tracked for the past several years, but particularly the last handful of years. The Apiary Inspectors of America, Bee Informed Partnership, and United States Department of Agriculture recently published the preliminary data on honey bee colony losses as determined in the ninth annual national survey. Though there was still losses (as expected), the numbers are slightly better than the last year, with the losses dipping below the previous winter's numbers.

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Apple pledges to help take care of China’s environment

Apple pledges to help take care of China’s environment

Doing business in China doesn't mean simply wooing the market with products that appeal to them. It also means playing by their rules and sometimes playing the same game they are playing. Apple is doing part of that today by announcing its commitment to using, promoting, and establishing renewable resources in China, aligning with the country's own environmental initiatives. This involves multiple projects and endeavors, ranging from nurturing managed forests that produce essential virgin fiber to installing solar panels that will power Apple's Chinese offices and stores.

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