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Test strip rapidly finds bacterial contamination in swimming water

May 1, 2012 11:33 am | News | Comments

Researchers at McMaster University have developed a rapid testing method using a simple paper strip that can detect E. coli in recreational water within minutes. The new tool can close the gap between outbreak and detection, improving public safety.

Scientists find night-warming effect over Texas wind farms

April 30, 2012 9:32 am | News | Comments

According to recent research into how wind turbines affect local weather, large wind farms in certain areas in the United States appear to affect local land surface temperatures, especially at night. The warming trend was spatially matched to the locations of wind farms, and caused warming by nearly three-quarters of a degree Celsius.

Nanotechnology meets safety, ethics in medical community

April 30, 2012 3:50 am | News | Comments

Engineers are developing new and innovative ways of coating medical materials with nano-sized particles of silver, an element that has long been known for its antimicrobial properties. However, a recent paper from the University of Notre Dame highlights the fact that a vast majority of bacteria are actually neutral, or even beneficial. Overuse of nanosilver might harm their useful functions in daily life, the paper reports.

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Atmospheric warming altering ocean salinity and the water cycle

April 27, 2012 8:54 am | News | Comments

A clear change in salinity has been detected in the world's oceans, signaling shifts and acceleration in the global rainfall and evaporation cycle tied directly to climate change, according to a recently published paper.

Student researcher spies odd lava spirals on Mars

April 27, 2012 3:24 am | by Alicia Chang, AP Science Writer | News | Comments

For more than a decade, scientists debated whether a maze of valleys near the Martian equator was sculpted by ice or volcanic processes. Now, aresearcher reports finding lava flows shaped like coils of rope near the equator of Mars, the first time such geologic features have been discovered outside of Earth.

Ohio man's fossil find in Kentucky stumps experts

April 26, 2012 3:06 am | News | Comments

A 150-pound fossil recovered last year in northern Kentucky is more than 6 feet long and 3 feet wide. To the untrained eye, it looks like a bunch of rocks or a concrete blob. Experts are trying to determine whether it was an animal, mineral or a form of plant life from a time when the Cincinnati region was underwater. So far, it has everyone at a loss.

Geophysicists find sea-level fingerprints, identify sources sea level rise

April 25, 2012 8:33 am | News | Comments

Seeking out statistical techniques that had not previously been applied to finding the current rate of sea level rise and the rates of ice sheet melting, scientists in Canada have developed a new method to distinguish sea-level fingerprints. The technique relies on the fact that the historical pattern for each ice sheet is unique and is preserved.

Research estimates lifetime of Titan’s chemical factory

April 25, 2012 8:26 am | News | Comments

Titan’s atmosphere has bee likened to a highly productive "factory", cranking out hydrocarbons that rain down on Titan's icy surface, cloaking it in soot and, with a brutally cold surface. With the help of data collected by the Cassini spacecraft, NASA-funded scientists have attempted to determine how long this complex chemical environment has been operating.

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Study: Fracking requires a minimum distance from sensitive rock strata

April 25, 2012 6:23 am | News | Comments

According to new research in the U.K. that looked at data from thousands of fracking operations in the United States, the chance of rogue fractures due to shale gas fracking operations decreases significantly beyond a certain distance from the injection source. This, the first analysis of its kind, could be used as a starting point for separating aquifers and fracking.

Compound from wild tomatoes is natural, effective herbicide

April 25, 2012 5:26 am | News | Comments

A naturally occurring compound derived from wild tomato plants is also a fast-acting, nontoxic herbicide, according to researchers at North Carolina State University. Previously working with the compound—known as 2-undecanone—as a natural replacement for the chemical DEET in insect repellents, the researchers decided to explore whether it could be used as an insecticide on plants, when they noticed an unexpected side effect: It killed the plants.

Company aims to strike it rich by mining asteroids

April 24, 2012 6:39 am | by Seth Borenstein, AP Science Writer | News | Comments

A group of high-tech tycoons wants to mine nearby asteroids wants to use commercially built robotic ships to squeeze rocket fuel and valuable minerals like platinum and gold out of the lifeless rocks that routinely whiz by Earth. The inaugural step, to be achieved in the next 18 to 24 months, would be launching the first in a series of private telescopes that would search for rich asteroid targets.

Climate change may create price volatility in the corn market

April 23, 2012 12:21 pm | by Rob Jordan, Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment | News | Comments

In a study from Stanford University and Purdue University, researchers have shown for the first time that climate change may force the U.S. corn belt to move north in the next 10 years, escaping devastating heat waves. In turn, this will bring substantial price swings to the corn market, adversely affecting industries like food and biofuels.

History is key factor in plant disease

April 22, 2012 1:52 pm | by Ann Brody Guy | News | Comments

According to a new study from researchers at the University of California, Berkeley and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the virulence of plant-borne diseases depends on not just the particular strain of a pathogen, but on where the pathogen has been before landing in its host. The study demonstrates that the pattern of gene regulation, not just gene make-up, plays a big role in the aggressiveness of a microbe.

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FDA issues draft guidance on nanotechnology

April 22, 2012 1:41 pm | News | Comments

The U.S. government has issued its initial draft guidelines on the use of nanotechnology, particularly nanoparticles, in food and cosmetic products. These recommendations, intended to help guarantee consumer safety within these two industries, do not extend to the other products that fall under Food and Drug Administration oversights, such as drugs and medical devices.

Diesel technologies cut emissions in real-world conditions

April 20, 2012 11:33 am | News | Comments

New research from North Carolina State University shows that federal requirements governing diesel engines of new tractor trailer trucks have resulted in major cuts in emissions of particulate matter (PM) and nitrogen oxides (NOx)—pollutants that have significant human health and environmental impacts.

Commercial building owners can save big with energy controls

April 20, 2012 7:58 am | News | Comments

According to a recent report from Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, U.S. commercial building owners could save an average of 38% on their heating and cooling bills if they installed a handful of energy efficiency controls that make their heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems more energy efficient.

R & D through the Decades

April 20, 2012 6:35 am | by Rita Peters | Articles | Comments

As the April issue went to press, entries for the 2012 R&D 100 Awards were streaming in as the April 30 deadline approached. For the editors, this is both a busy and exciting time.

Monitoring system clarifies murky atmospheric carbon questions

April 19, 2012 2:14 pm | News | Comments

A University of Colorado Boulder-led team has developed a new monitoring system to analyze and compare emissions from man-made fossil fuels and trace gases in the atmosphere, a technique that likely could be used to monitor the effectiveness of measures regulating greenhouse gases.

Study: Nanoparticles may increase damage to plant DNA

April 19, 2012 6:14 am | News | Comments

Researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the University of Massachusetts Amherst have provided the first evidence that engineered nanoparticles are able to accumulate within plants and damage their DNA. They have shown that nanoparticles of cupric oxide, a common compound, can enter plant root cells and generate mutagenic DNA base lesions.

Recent Indonesia quake added pressure to key fault

April 19, 2012 6:07 am | by Robin McDowell, Associated Press | News | Comments

Seismologists say last week's powerful earthquake off western Indonesia increased pressure on the source of the devastating 2004 tsunami: a fault that could unleash another monster wave sometime in the next few decades.

Acoustics could guide dispersant use during subsea oil spills

April 18, 2012 5:40 am | News | Comments

Researchers at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science are investigating whether sound waves can be used to determine the size of oil droplets in the subsea—knowledge that could help guide the use of chemical dispersants during the cleanup of future spills.

Report: Diesel technologies drastically cut emissions

April 18, 2012 5:34 am | News | Comments

New research from North Carolina State University shows that federal requirements governing diesel engines of new tractor trailer trucks have resulted in major cuts in emissions of particulate matter and nitrogen oxides—pollutants that have significant human health and environmental impacts.

Ammonites found mini oases at ancient methane seeps

April 17, 2012 5:10 am | News | Comments

Research led by scientists at the American Museum of Natural History shows that ammonites—an extinct type of shelled mollusk that's closely related to modern-day nautiluses and squids—made homes in the unique environments surrounding methane seeps in the seaway that once covered America's Great Plains. These findings show that mobile shelled mollusk stayed put if conditions were right.

As ice cap melts, militaries vie for Arctic edge

April 16, 2012 7:22 am | by Eric Talmadge, Associated Press | News | Comments

To the world's military leaders, the debate over climate change is long over. They are preparing for a new kind of Cold War in the Arctic, anticipating that rising temperatures there will open up a treasure trove of resources, long-dreamed-of sea lanes and a slew of potential conflicts.

In a first, Uranus auroras glimpsed from Earth

April 13, 2012 9:09 am | News | Comments

For the first time, scientists have captured images of auroras above the gas giant Uranus from Earth-based telescopes. Carefully scheduled observations from the Hubble Space Telescope glimpse the short-lived faint light show, which are generated by Uranus’ little-understood magnetic field. These auroras could help build a better picture.

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