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FDA issues draft guidance on nanotechnology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.

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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.

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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.

Resurfacing urban areas could offset 150 billion tons of CO2

April 13, 2012 8:57 am | News | Comments

Albedo is measured on a scale ranging from 0 for a non-reflecting, perfectly black surface to 1 for a perfectly white surface. A new estimate developed by researchers in Canada suggests that increasing the reflectance—commonly known as albedo—of every urban area by 0.1 will give a carbon dioxide offset between 130 and 150 billion tons.

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Naval research office taps research teams to help reduce jet noise

April 12, 2012 12:28 pm | News | Comments

A person whispering is 20 decibels and a lawn mower is 90 decibels. Jet noise from tactical aircraft can reach 150 decibels on the flight line, and can cause permanent hearing loss to sailors and marines. The Office of Naval Research is funding a new project to help reduce this noise.

Study: Climate change boosts, then stunts, plant growth

April 11, 2012 10:59 am | News | Comments

Global warming may initially make the grass greener, but not for long, according to new research results. Ecologists subjected four grassland ecosystems to simulated climate change during a decade-long study. Plants grew more the first year in the global warming treatment, but this effect progressively diminished over the next nine years and finally disappeared.

What triggers a mass extinction?

April 10, 2012 8:32 am | News | Comments

A team led by scientists at the California Institute of Technology has created a framework for weighing the factors that might have led to mass extinction and has used that framework to determine that the majority of extinctions were caused by habitat loss due to falling sea levels and cooling of the tropical oceans.

Miniature Sandia sensors may advance climate studies

April 10, 2012 4:10 am | News | Comments

An air sampler the size of an ear plug is expected to cheaply and easily collect atmospheric samples to improve computer climate models. The novel design of Sandia National Laboratories' phase-change micro-valve sensor employs a commonly used alloy to house an inexpensive microvalve situated above the sample chamber.

Which plants will survive droughts, climate change?

April 9, 2012 11:04 am | News | Comments

New research by University of California, Los Angeles biologists could lead to predictions of which plant species will escape extinction from climate change. Droughts are worsening around the world, which poses a great challenge to plants in gardens and forests. Scientists have debated for more than a century how to predict which species are most vulnerable.

Study ties oil, gas production to Midwest quakes

April 9, 2012 8:28 am | by Malcolm Ritter, AP Science Writer | News | Comments

According to findings by the U.S. Geological Survey, the rate of earthquakes in the United States’ midsection has jumped six-fold from the late 20th century through last year, and the changes are "almost certainly man-made." Most of the earthquakes resulting from drilling activities are relatively mold, falling into the magnitude 3 range on the Richter scale.

Study shows unified process of evolution in bacteria

April 6, 2012 10:50 am | by Denise Brehm, Civil and Environmental Engineering | News | Comments

Bacteria adapt to habitats through random genetic mutations and gene exchange. But how does an advantageous mutation spread from a bacterium to a population? Does the gene sweep through a population or does an individual bacterium obtain the gene, then replicate its genome to form an adapted population? Researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology show that genes can sweep through populations, indicating that the process of evolution in bacteria is very similar to that of sexual eukaryotes.

Impact of warming climate doesn't always translate to streamflow

April 6, 2012 9:44 am | by Mark Floyd, Oregon State University | News | Comments

An analysis of 35 headwater basins in the United States and Canada found that the impact of warmer air temperatures on streamflow rates was less than expected in many locations, suggesting that some ecosystems may be resilient to certain aspects of climate change.

Defying conventional wisdom, water can float on oil

April 5, 2012 5:50 am | News | Comments

Scientists are reporting that it is possible for water to float on oil, despite the fact that water is denser than oil. Other factors like droplet and surface tension play part in the phenomenon, and it’s a discovery the researchers say has important potential applications in cleaning up oil spills.

Study: Replacing coal the least expensive way to reduce emissions

April 3, 2012 1:22 pm | News | Comments

According to a new study using SWITCH, a highly detailed computer model of the electric power grid, University of California, Berkeley researchers have learned that goals for decarbonization of the electric power sector are most easily achieved using renewable or nuclear energy sources in lieu of coal.

FDA rejects call to ban BPA from food packaging

April 3, 2012 10:27 am | by Matthew Perrone, AP Health Writer | News | Comments

Despite concern from some scientists who believe exposure to BPA can harm the reproductive and nervous systems of humans, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has turned down a petition from environmentalists that would have banned the plastic-hardening chemical bisphenol-A from all food and drink packaging, including plastic bottles and canned food.

Research brings new understanding to past global warming events

April 3, 2012 6:08 am | News | Comments

A series of global warming events called hyperthermals that occurred more than 50 million years ago had a similar origin to a much larger hyperthermal of the period, the Pelaeocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM), new research has found. The findings represent a greater understanding of the major "burp" of carbon that occurred during the PETM.

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