Eco tips, Materials

Silly Putty ingredient helps improve batteries

Silicon polymer and battery used for the research. Photo: University of California

When you think about Silly Putty toys, the last thing that comes to mind is high-tech. A group of researchers, however, used a novel trick to incorporate  an ingredient in Silly Putty to improve lithium-ion battery life between charges by three times the industry standard. For what’s it worth, Silly Putty is actually one of the most fascinating man-made materials. One…

Animals, Biology, Science

Moving snails at least 20m away reverses homing instinct

snail

For the casual nature enthusiasts, snails are a infinite source of joy whenever people come across them. People like to study them and revere how beautiful they are in their own microcosmos – for a while at least, until they get bored that is; it’s a slow paced microcosmos after all. For others, snails are nothing more than pests; slimy…

Animals, Biology, News, Physics

Who’s got the most efficient muscle engine : the tuna or the grey whale?

whale

The humongous grey whale and the skipjack tuna, though of contradicting sizes, both employ similar propelling mechanisms through water. Pound per pound, however, which of the two animals is most energy efficient? Engineers at Northwestern University have developed a new metric for analyzing such problems and found that the two marine animals are almost just as energy efficient despite the great…

Environmental Issues, Green Living, News, Science

Cutting down CO2 emission might save the economy $71 trillion by 2050

cutting_down_on_emission

“We can’t give up oil and coal because it will ruin our economy.” This is an argument often thrown about by politicians, ignorant policy makers and Fox News peeps. In reality, they couldn’t be more wrong. It’s enough to read the extensive report published by the IEA, titled  Energy Technology Perspectives 2014, which analyzes how the energy sector might look like…

Climate, Eco tips, News, World Problems

West Antarctic Ice Sheet collapse is irreversible; to cause 10 feet sea level rise

Various measurements have captured the West Antarctic ice sheet changing very rapidly in the region where it flows into the Amundsen Sea. Credit Landsat

The  West Antarctic Ice Sheet , a massive system of glaciers, is collapsing as a result of glacier melting (global warming). The process is most likely irreversible and cause a global sea lever rise of at least 10 feet, a pair of independent studies conclude. A warmer planet gives way to rising oceans Previously, the two-mile-thick (3.2 kilometers) glacier system was…

Animals, Biology, News

Brawls for colony domination transforms winning worker ants into queens without DNA changes

Harpegnathos saltator ants undergo dramatic physiological changes triggered by heightened dopamine levels, following ascension of the colony's social ladder. It's not just in their heads, when these ants climb in their society, they change their bodies as well!

In the animal kingdom, especially among those that are social, you’ll see a number of strategies employed to help the group’s chances of surviving. To each his own. For instance most ant colonies employ a social hierarchy where most members, like the worker ants, are rendered functionally sterile and only the absolute top of the ladder is allowed to reproduce…

Environment, News

Insecticide is killing honeybees, causing colony collapse disorder

Image via Wired.

A Harvard study shows insecticides with neonicotionoids are devastating honeybee colonies, triggering colony collapse disorder. Recently, we’ve written a lot about bees – because it’s a big deal. The National Agriculture Statistics Service reported that there were 2.44 million honey-producing hives in the United States as of February 2008, down from 4.5 million in 1980 – and it’s not much better in other…

Environment, News

Arizona could get non-stop clean energy from hot air drafts

solar-wind-energy-tower

The problem with many sources of clean energy is the limited conditions which they can use to produce energy – solar energy doesn’t work during the night, wind energy requires wind (heh), geothermal energy is complicated and can only be applied to some places. But if Solar Wind Energy Tower has its way, Arizona may soon get clean electricity around the clock….

Environment

Stanford stops investing in coal companies

David J. Philip/AP

Following a recommendation of Stanford’s Advisory Panel on Investment Responsibility and Licensing, the Board of Trustees announced that Stanford will not make direct investments in companies which have coal mining as their principal activity. Put your money where your research is Major Universities are very active in terms of investments – which makes a lot of sense. If you have some of…

Animals, Biology

Dogs follow human voice direction to find hidden food

zoom

Dogs and puppies are really good at interpreting human vocal and visual cues, with previous studies already showing they can pick up even subtle hints, finding hidden food with just a slight look from a human. Researchers of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, have now studied for the first time whether dogs can locate hidden food based…