Inventions, Materials, World Problems

How to get wather from thin air

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MIT and Chilean researchers working together have developed a fog harvesting system which can provide drinkable water for even the world’s driest regions. In the full drought areas, where rainfall is extremely rare or virtually non existent, a few specialized plants and insects have devised ingenious strategies to cope with the harsh conditions and get the water they need –

Environmental Issues, Health & Medicine

Air pollution causes 200.000 early fatalities / year in the US

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Pollution is real, and it’s a global phenomenon; it doesn’t happen only in the Captain Planet cartoons, and it’s not restricted to Africa or China. Sobering data from MIT’s Laboratory for Aviation and the Environment has shown that air pollution is having a dramatic impact on American health: over 200.000 lives are claimed early because of it, the study concluded.

Animals, Climate

Whales suffer from sun burns too

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Just like we get a tan and our skin gets darker in response to sunlight exposure, whales increase the pigment in their skin as well, but not only do they do this, they also accumulate damage to the cells in the skin as they get older, just like humans. “Whales can be thought of as the UV barometers of the

Animals, Physics

Fluid dynamics shapes beautiful hexagon honeycombs, not the bees themselves

When first made, the comb cells of the Italian honeybee (Apis mellifera Ligustica) are circular (top), but after two days they already look more hexagonal (bottom). (c) Nature

Honeybees are exquisite and majestic beings, which have always caught the imagination of people. Bees are typically associated with feminine energy, because they are ruled by queens, particularly with the roman goddess Venus. In some cultures, bees also represent wisdom. From a biological point of view however, bees could be definitely associated with motherhood. Without bees, a myriad of plants would

Environment

Using Farms to Produce Energy as well as Food

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Farms produce food to feed the urban population but with some relatively simple modifications they are capable of supplying significant amounts of energy to the urban areas as well. This is being done in several ways across the United States, but in all fairness, the US is lagging significantly behind even third world areas in doing this effectively. Better utilization

Animals, Mind & Brain, Neurology

Crows remember and respond to people’s faces akin to humans themselves

" Whatcha' lookin' at, bub?" Crows know when humans are watching them.

Crows, like most other species from the corvid family (ravens, rooks, etc.), are some of the most intelligent animals on the planet, actually rivaling apes and dolphins. Tool use is common among these birds, but where they shine is in their social and emotional intelligence. For instance, a few years ago I reported how ravens point at things with their beaks

Animals, Biology

New generation eco-friendly pesticide might work by shutting down insect reproductive system

fruit fly life cycle

Farmers, with the help of researchers in the field, have been desperately trying to develop new insecticides that can ward off pests looking to claim their crops. These products work with a varying degree of effectiveness. For one, the insect pests tend to develop tolerance and new solutions have to be developed, and of course there’s always the issue of

Animals, Biology, Discoveries, Health & Medicine

Human activity drives evolution of bigger brains in animals

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It’s clear that humans are now, more than ever, a driving force in evolutionary biology. Early domestication efforts through breeding and training have changed some species to the point that they’ve grown to be as we wanted them to become. The effects of climate change, a great part of which is anthropogenic, actually influence animals all over the world in

Animals, Diseases, Health & Medicine

Deadly Mers virus found in tomb bat – not the one spreading it to humans

(c) EcoHealth Alliance

Many months later after scientists isolated thousands of samples taken from different bat species found close to the home of the first known victim of the Mers coronavirus – a deadly virus which first emerged in the Middle East last year, killing 47 so far (~50% fatality among infected) – scientists found the evidence of the presence of the virus in

Environmental Issues, World Problems

Ecuador plans to move ahead controversial drilling efforts in the Amazon

An aerial view of the Yasuni National Park, in Ecuador's northeastern jungle. Photograph: Dolores Ochoa/AP

Yasuni National Park to be one of the world’s richest biological hotspots, home to one of the densest biodiversity in the world. The region has been under threat, however, from oil drilling efforts for many years now, and a recent announcement from behalf of the Ecuador government further tightens the knot on the Amazon basin.  President Rafael Correa said that as the