Tag Archives | Environment

Animal Sex: How Octopuses Do It

Screen shot 2015-02-03 at 1.13.13 PM

Joseph Castro Via Live Science:

Often considered the smartest invertebrates (animals without backbones) on the planet, octopuses can use tools, unscrew jar lids and tightly control their body color to match their surroundings. They use this sharp intelligence especially in situations of survival — including when they are trying to avoid getting eaten by their hungry mates.

Octopuses come in all shapes and sizes and inhabit diverse regions of the ocean. There are about 100 different species of octopuses in the genus Octopus, and at least another 150 species in other genera, said Jennifer Mather, a cephalopod expert at the University of Lethbridge in Canada. Scientists have witnessed the mating behavior of only about a dozen species, she added.

The marine animals have very short lives, generally lasting only a few years long and sometimes as short as 6 months. They spend their youth alone, eating and growing before reaching sexual maturity.

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U.S. to Develop DNA Study of One Million People

thierry ehrmann (CC BY 2.0)

thierry ehrmann (CC BY 2.0)

Antonio Regalado via Technology Review:

President Barack Obama is proposing to spend $215 million on a “precision medicine” initiative the centerpiece of which will be a national study involving the health records and DNA of one million volunteers, administration officials said yesterday.Precision medicine refers to treatments tailored to a person’s genetic profile, an idea already transforming how doctors fight cancer and some rare diseases.

The Obama plan, including support for studies of cancer and rare disease, is part of a shift away from “one-size-fits-all” medicine, Jo Handelsman, associate director for the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, said in a briefing yesterday. She called precision medicine “a game changer that holds the potential to revolutionize how we approach health in this country and around the world.”

The White House said the largest part of the money, $130 million, would go to the National Institutes of Health in order to create a population-scale study of how peoples’ genes, environment, and lifestyle affect their health.

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Super Bowl XLIX: Greenest Circus in History?

Parker Anderson (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Parker Anderson (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Silvio Marcacci via CleanTechnica:

Media days, star-studded halftime shows, and million-dollar television ads traditionally dominate the news leading up to every Super Bowl, but it’s probably time to add a new tradition to the list: Annual “Greenest Super Bowl Ever” claims.

This trend has picked as Americans become more involved with environmental and climate issues, and this year Super Bowl XLIX is primed to score as perhaps the greenest sporting event yet.

From solar and wind energy, to LED lights, landfill diversion, and even both teams playing in the actual game, the 2015 Super Bowl is set to score big for sports sustainability.

A 100% Wind Powered Super Bowl

As with most CleanTechnica post, this one starts with renewable energy. While Arizona’s University of Phoenix Stadium doesn’t have any on-site solar or wind power resources, local utility Salt River Project (SRP) has agreed to provide all of the big game’s electricity needs with 100% wind power.

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Police Find 21 Porcelain Dolls Tied to Stakes in a Swamp

 

Jill Reilly at The Daily Mail:

Twenty-one dolls on bamboo stakes have been mysteriously found in an Alabama swamp.

Autauga County sheriff’s deputies traveled by canoe into Bear Creek Swamp on Tuesday to recover the dolls, whose faces and hair were painted white.

Most of the dolls are porcelain and have the appearance of being antique, reports The Montgomery Advertiser.

Autauga County Chief Deputy Joe Sedinger said authorities tried to contact the timber company that owns the land, but no one got back to them.

‘I noticed the dolls several weeks ago while driving through the swamp working on a stolen vehicle report,’ he sad.

To see more pictures and continue reading, go here.

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Pot Is Making Colorado So Much Money They Literally Have To Give Some Back To Residents

Jeffrey Beall (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Jeffrey Beall (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Via High Times/Kristen Wyatt  AP:

DENVER (AP) — Colorado’s marijuana experiment was designed to raise revenue for the state and its schools, but a state law may put some of the tax money directly into residents’ pockets, causing quite a headache for lawmakers.

The state constitution limits how much tax money the state can take in before it has to give some back. That means Coloradans may each get their own cut of the $50 million in recreational pot taxes collected in the first year of legal weed. It’s a situation so bizarre that it’s gotten Republicans and Democrats, for once, to agree on a tax issue.

Even some pot shoppers are surprised Colorado may not keep the taxes that were promised to go toward school construction when voters legalized marijuana in 2012.

“I have no problem paying taxes if they’re going to schools,” said Maddy Beaumier, 25, who was visiting a dispensary near the Capitol.

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The State of the Union Address vs. Helena Norberg-Hodge, the Importance of Localization, and the Death of the Techno-Economic Juggernaut

Aaron Dames writes for Divided Core.

 As for the developed countries from which this corrupting ethos of progress goes out: more and more their “growthmania” distorts their environments and robs the world of its nonrenewable resources for no better end than to increase the output of ballistic missiles, electric hairdryers, and eight-track stereophonic tape recorders.  But in the statistics of the economic index such mad waste measures out as “productivity,” and all looks rosy.

-E.F. Schumacher, Small is Beautiful

 

During the State of Union address last week, President Barack Obama insinuated that Congress should grant him Fast Track authority (trade promotion authority that cannot be blocked by Congress) to make real the embryonic Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TPP) without directly referring to this nascent legislative monstrosity by name.  He promised that, unlike previous trade agreements (such as NAFTA), the TPP would lead to domestic job creation, boost worker protections, and help the United States maintain its economic lead over China.… Read the rest

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Honeycomb Geometry

Karunakar Rayker (CC BY 2.0)

Karunakar Rayker (CC BY 2.0)

Via Alistair Bird at A Periodical:

Bees have encouraged mathematical speculation for two millennia, since classical scholars tried to explain the geometrically appealing shape of honeycombs. How do bees tackle complex problems that humans would express mathematically? In this series we’ll explore three situations where understanding the maths could help explain the uncanny instincts of bees.

Honeycomb geometry

Honeybees collect nectar from flowers and use it to produce honey, which they then store in honeycombs made of beeswax (in turn derived from honey). A question that has puzzled many inquiring minds across the ages is: why are honeycombs made of hexagonal cells?

The Roman scholar Varro, in his 1st century BC book-long poem De Agri Cultura (“On Agriculture”), briefly states

“Does not the chamber in the comb have six angles, the same number as the bee has feet? The geometricians prove that this hexagon inscribed in a circular figure encloses the greatest amount of space1.”

This quote is the earliest known source suggesting a link between the hexagonal shape of the honeycomb and a mathematical property of the hexagon, made more explicit a few centuries later by Pappus of Alexandria (sometimes considered to be the last Ancient Greek mathematician).

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Functioning brain tissue grown in 3-D structure

Examples of mature Purkinje cells grown from human embryonic stem cells CALB and L7 are Purkinje-cell specific late markers. GRID2 is a marker for a Purkinje-specific glutamate receptor. LHX5 is a marker for the early Purkinje cells.via RIKEN

Examples of mature Purkinje cells grown from human embryonic stem cells
CALB and L7 are Purkinje-cell specific late markers. GRID2 is a marker for a Purkinje-specific glutamate receptor. LHX5 is a marker for the early Purkinje cells.
via RIKEN

Via RIKEN:

Researchers at the RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology in Japan have succeeded in inducing human embryonic stem cells to self-organize into a three-dimensional structure similar to the cerebellum, providing tantalizing clues in the quest to recreate neural structures in the laboratory. One of the primary goals of stem-cell research is to be able to replace damaged body parts with tissues grown from undifferentiated stem cells. For the nervous system, this is a particular challenge because not only do specific neurons need to be generated, but they must also be coaxed into connecting to each other in very specific ways.

RIKEN researchers have taken up this challenge, and the work published in Cell Reports details how sequentially applying several signaling molecules to three-dimensional cultures of human embryotic stem cells prompts the cells to differentiate into functioning cerebellar neurons that self-organize to form the proper dorsal/ventral patterning and multi-layer structure found in the natural developing cerebellum.

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Another State Fights War on Solar and Energy Efficiency

Via Mary Anne Hitt at EcoWatch

Despite poll after poll showing that Americans want more clean energy, Indiana legislators are pushing bills that would reduce energy efficiency and make it harder for Hoosier state residents to go solar, just as the solar industry is getting on its feet in the state.

Last week, Indiana’s Senate Utilities Committee heard from a packed room about its bill that would let utilities set energy efficiency goals. Last year the state decided to end the popular Energizing Indiana efficiency program. Now some in the legislature have created Senate Bill 412, which is very one-sided in favor of utilities who sell electricity and doesn’t protect the average person from monopoly interests.

Energy efficiency is a proven tool to lower electricity bills and save money for people across the state.

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The coming food disaster

David Schubert via CNN:

One would expect that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has the best interests of the public in mind, but its recent decisions have cast serious doubt upon this assumption.

One in particular could have a dramatic impact on the safety of the U.S. food supply: It is the mandate of the EPA to regulate the use of agricultural chemicals like insecticides and herbicides, as well as to determine their allowable limits in food and drinking water.

Herbicides (weed killers) are mixtures of chemicals designed to spray on weeds, where they get inside the plants and inhibit enzymes required for the plant to live. The active ingredient in the most widely used herbicide is glyphosate, while some herbicides contain 2,4D. 2,4D is best known as a component of Agent Orange, a defoliant widely employed during the Vietnam War.

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