Environment, News, Technology

Thin metasurface absorbs sound near perfectly, while producing electricity at the same time

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Researchers at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology have created a thin metamaterial surface that is capable of absorbing nearly all of the acoustic energy (sound).  Unlike conventional sound absorbing material that is sometimes only effective when meters thick, the metasurface is deeply “subwavelength” and therefore much thinner. There’s a catch though: the system has been demonstrated for near perfect sound absorption…

Animals, Mind & Brain

Chimps outplay humans in strategy game

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For most people, it would seem clear that humans are the smartest creatures on the face of the Earth, but is this really the case? We are the ones who control the world, we create art, we understand our bodies and how the universe works – but are we innately more intelligent? A group of psychologists believe the answer to…

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…

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…

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…

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,…

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…