Animals, Videos

Amazing fungus gnat larvae group together to form a ‘snake’ [VIDEO]

Fungus gnats (Bradysia species) – also known as dark-winged fungus gnats, are small, mosquito-like insects often found in homes and offices, usually in the vicinity of houseplants. The larvae that hatch are legless, with white or transparent bodies and shiny black heads. From the first glimpse you’ll notice they’re not the prettiest sight, but what they lack in looks, they make up in cleverness….

Environment, Environmental Issues, News, Pollution

Ozone-depleting chemicals still spewed in atmosphere despite international ban

The ozone hole (purple and blue) covered much of Antarctica in 2006. Image: CAROLYN GRAMLING

NASA reports significant quantities of ozone-depleting chemicals are still leaching into the atmosphere despite an international ban signed by all the world’s governments thirty years ago. …

Animals, News, World Problems

One in eight birds threatened by biochemicals and climate change

Atlantic puffins live in cliffs along the Atlantic during summer time. Their colonies have been steadily vanishing. Photo: CYRIL RUOSO, MINDEN PICTURES/CORBIS

From the tropics to the poles, bird populations all over the world are facing a sharp decline, cornered by climate change and exposure to man-made biochemicals, namely pesticides. According to to BirdLife International, one in eight species (more than 1,300 species) of birds are under serious threat of becoming extinct. The list includes iconic birds of pray and song like eagles, vultures, swifts or swallows, but also seabirds like sandpipers, pelicans or storks. …

News, Renewable Energy, Technology

Stanford scientists split water with device that runs on an ordinary AAA battery

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Researchers from Stanford have found a way to split water into oxygen and hydrogen using very little energy; the hydrogen they obtain could be used to power fuel cells in zero-emissions vehicles. I’m quite excited for cars that run on hydrogen, which are set to hit the market in 2015; but while they are always presented as “zero emission cars”, many of the hydrogen cars will actually use hydrogen obtained with natural gas – which is still a fossil fuel and still has considerable emissions. Hopefully, that will only be a temporary stage, and pretty soon, manufacturers will move on to greener, more sustainable solutions – like this project from Stanford University….

Climate, Geology, News

‘Widespread methane leakage’ from ocean floor off US coast

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A worrying report states that over 500 bubbling methane vents were found on the seafloor off the US east coast. The unexpected finding suggests that there are large volumes of the gas contained in a type of sludgy ice called methane hydrate and as global waters continue to heat up, the methane will be released in large quantities. Methane hydrate (also called methane clathrate) is a compound in which a large amount of methane is trapped within a crystal structure of water, forming a solid similar to ice. It was initially thought to exist only in the outer regions of the Solar System, where temperatures are low and water ice is common, but since…

Animals, Genetics, News

Scientists find how lizards regenerate their tails

The green anole lizard (Anolis carolinensis) can lose and then regrow its tail, using cartilage and fat to replace the bone.

It’s one of the most remarkable adaptations in the animal world – growing a tail or a limb. Some lizards do it, salamanders do it, and by learning how they do it, we may soon be able to do it as well; with technology, that is. A team of researchers have discovered the genetic “recipe” for lizard tail regeneration which, at the very basic level, comes down to the right combination and quantity of genes. To make things even more interesting, we humans have the same genes used in tail regrowth, so the study has a lot of potential. “Lizards basically share the same toolbox of genes as humans,” said lead…

News, Renewable Energy

Wind Turbine Syndrome? Legal courts aren’t buying it

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After digging around on several articles and editorials, I still haven’t found an exact, concise definition of what Wind Turbine Syndrome is. It is not recognized by any international disease classification system and does not appear in any title or abstract in the massive US National Library of Medicine’s PubMed database. From what I could find, it has no scientific basis, and the idea that it exists is mostly spread by people who claim to be suffering from it. Alleged symptoms include physiological problems such as insomnia, headaches, tinnitus, vertigo and nausea. But judges aren’t buying it; the Energy and Policy Institute, a clean energy advocacy group, reviewed rulings from 49 lawsuits and…

Climate, Environmental Issues, News

63 trillion gallons of groundwater lost in 2013 drought in Western US

A snake-like trickle of water flows underneath Lake Oroville's Enterprise Bridge. Image credits:  Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

A new study shows that last an incredible 63 trillion gallons of groundwater were lost in the Western US alone - so much that it’s actually causing the ground level to rise. The Earth has lifted up about 0.16 inches over the last 18 months in the area, and up to 0.6 inches in the Californian mountains. California’s drought is already reaching chronic levels, affecting the state’s lakes and reservoirs. This is no longer just a bad year or a freak event – it’s a trend, it’s what will constantly happen from now on for years and years to come. Researchers from UC San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography and the U.S….

Climate, Environment, News

Study confirms “global warming hiatus” is in the deep oceans

(Top) Global average surface temperatures, where black dots are yearly averages. Two flat periods (hiatus) are separated by rapid warming from 1976-1999. (Middle) Observations of heat content, compared to the average, in the north Atlantic Ocean. (Bottom) Salinity of the seawater in the same part of the Atlantic. Higher salinity is seen to coincide with more ocean heat storage.
Credit: K. Tung / Univ. of Washington

Observations of climate change often report a “missing heat” – a hiatus in the global warming, which went unaccounted for; but now, a new study concludes that the heat absent from the Earth’s surface for more than a decade is plunging deep in the north and south Atlantic Ocean, and this is part of a naturally occurring cycle. Climate change deniers have used this argument for more than a decade: if the world is actually heating up, then why is it heating up so little? Where is all the heat? An increasing number of research is starting to show that while we are mostly focusing temperature measurements on the atmosphere, the…

Environment, News

Duke Energy Spilled At Least 5,000 Gallons Of Diesel Into The Ohio River On Monday

Image via Shutterstock.

Between 5,000 and 8,000 gallons of diesel were spilled into the Ohio River on Monday, but officials say drinking water in the area is safe. Duke Energy is responsible for the spill, which happened during a “routine transfer”. While the company is still investigating, Duke spokeswoman Sally Thelen told the Inquirer that the spill may have been caused by human error. “We have mechanisms for overflow valves,” Thelen said. “We are still investigating the exact cause, but what we do feel may have happened was one of the valves was opened, which caused them to overflow.” This is not the first time this year that Duke Energy is associated with…