2012 set to be the warmest year on record in the US

The National Climatic Data Center have released their monthly report for November 2012, which means we have an almost perfect picture of the temperatures in 2012, and the situation is pretty bleak: 2012 will almost certainly be, with a comfortable margin, the warmest year on record in the US. November itself wasn’t extremely warm, being the 20th warmest November on

Dogs can be trained to detect extremely dangerous superbug

Researchers had already known that dogs can sniff out hospital superbug Clostridium defficile from stool samples of patients, but now, a really cute beagle has been trained to sniff out the bacteria from the air in the hospital. C. difficile infection generally occurs in patients who have been recently admitted in hospitals and were previously on antibiotics. In this research,

Amazon trees will withstand even the most pessimistic of global warming scenarios

Researchers from the University of Michigan and University College London have found that trees in the Amazon forest will be able to withstand even the most dreaded of forecasted  global warming scenarios from a century from now, after they showed they’ve withstood the test of time. The researchers found that most tree species had been around for millions of years, going through climates in

New slow loris species discovered in Borneo is already threatened

Biologists have identified a new species of small nocturnal primates, part of the slow loris family, in Borneo’s forests. Don’t be fooled by its cute grim though, this tiny critter packs a punch, as its bite is poisonous and can cause harm to humans. Nevertheless, barely as it was discovered, scientists issued a warning to environmental agencies that the new slow loris

Algae produce 3-D, complex proteins used for cheap, yet effective anti-cancer treatment

Scientists at UC San Diego have finally collected the fruits of their decade-long labor after they managed to genetically engineered algae that can produce complex antibiotics that prevent cancer, otherwise extremely expensive to develop in laboratories. Cheaper treatment would thus be possible, that’s not only limited to cancer, but a slew of other afflictions otherwise treatable would expensive designer-drugs. Typically, complex and foldable proteins

First results from James Cameron’s trip to the abyss

It may not be the Pandora, but James Cameron dove into one of the most fascinating environments from our planet: the Mariana trench, the deepest point on the face of the Earth. The scientists involved in the project presented the first results at the American Geophysical Union meeting (where else?) in San Francisco. They explained that at those depths, microbial

‘Green’ batteries made from a red dye plant as an alternative to toxic batteries

Researchers at Rice University and City College of New York have devised rechargeable lithium-ion batteries using a substance extracted from the madder plant as a cathode. The plant has been used since ancient times as a dye, and only recently have researchers learned about its fantastic capabilities it poses as an alternative green battery. The madder plant or  Rubia tinctorum is a potent source

Princeton nanomesh greatly increases the efficiency of organic solar cells

While we all have to recognize the huge potential that solar energy brings us, we also have to say that sadly, so far, we’re not very effective at harnessing this energy. The best modern silicon and indium-tin-oxide-based solar cells are approaching the theoretical limit of 33.7% efficiency. A big breakthrough The team led by Stephen Chou made two dramatic improvements:

This week’s amazing animal: the Regal ringneck snake

Diadophis punctatus regalis, or the regal ringneck snake, as it is most commonly referred to, is a species endemic to the US and Mexico. The snake is typically grey, with a dark-speckled white or cream underside, which becomes bright red or orange near and under the tail. However, sometimes, it looks like this.

Why climate change denial has almost no scientific credibility

I’ve received lots of emails from you people regarding climate change; as it turns out, some of you are mad at us because we accept that man-caused global warming is a scientific reality. I’d like to express my thoughts in a simple pie chart: Bear in mind, peer-reviewed articles are the absolute standard for a researcher. If there is some

Wikileaks reveals US bribes and cyber-espionage stop climate change action

Negotiating an official climate change pact is an extremely high-stake game, not only due to the threats posed to our entire civilization, but also because re-engineering the global economy to a low-carbon model will redirect a massive, multi billion dollar sum towards different sources. Of course, behind all the “save the planet” rhetoric lies the mucky realpolitik: money and threats

1990 climate change predictions turn out correct

In a significant blow to people who believe climate change predictions are just blowing hot air, an international study established that climate change predictions made over 20 years ago, in 1990, were actually pretty accurate. What the report did was to compare predictions from the first Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Assessment Report, published in 1990, with real-world global

Catfish hunt pigeons in France

Researchers have for the first time observed catfish lying in shallow waters and hunting pigeons – a weird and unexpected behaviour most likely caused by the lack of food. They released a set of rather gruesome images, highlighting how the catfish adopt a similar strategy to that used by killer whales hunting seals on ice floes. The catfish located in

Can phone recycling help save the Eastern African Gorilla?

It is common that most of our gadgets contain a substance by the name of Coltan, particularly our mobile phones.

New study highlights vulnerability of low lying Hawaiian areas

If current climate change trends continue, rising sea levels could prove devastating for low lying coastal areas around the globe, placing the biodiversity at extremely high risks. Islands are especially threatened by rising sea levels, and this study conducted on the Hawaiian islands offers the most detailed and multifaceted assessment available of how island biodiversity may be affected by climate

Synthetic fuels could eliminate U.S. crude oil addiction and hamper carbon emissions

Over the past few years, a series of papers looked on how the United States could benefit by switching from crude oil to alternative synthetic fuels. Their findings show that, given the current economic environment where oil prices have simply skyrocketed, synthetic fuels are more advantageous compared to crude oil from a number of perspectives, including environmental. Synthetic oils are chemical

Wave-powered swimming robots completes epic 9,000 journey at sea

After it was first cast out to sea less than a year ago from San Francisco’s bay, the PacX Wave Glider, also known as Papa Mau, finally reached the end of its epic journey after it reached Queensland, Australia setting a new world record for the longest distance traveled by an autonomous vehicle. PacX swam over 9,000 miles. Designed for data

Plant stress paints early picture of drought

It was a warm, drought plagued year – in July 2012, farmers in the U.S. Midwest and Plains regions watched crops wither and falter, after a series of unusually high temperatures and low precipitations. However, as the lack of rain continued to make its mark scientists observed another indication of drought in data from NASA and NOAA satellites: plant stress.

Exclusively solar-powered plane will circumnavigate globe in a non-stop flight, even at night

Solar Impulse, the now famous 100 percent solar-powered aircraft, made the headlines after it proved it could fly for 26 hours straight, be it day or night. Now the projects’ initiators want to take the plane and solar power to new dazzling heights – they want to circumnavigate the globe in 20 days and 20 night flight all powered by

Big cat crisis: lion populations dwindling in Africa

If things continue to move in this direction, a few decades from now, we will be living in a world with only a handful of tigers: just over 3000 tigers remain in the wild today! But if you think other species have it much better, then, you’d better take a seat. Africa’s lions have lost over 75 percent of their