Sunday, February 28, 2010

State of Catastrophe After Chile Quake

A deadly 8.8-magnitude earthquake struck central Chile early Saturday, ripping apart buildings, highways and bridges and leaving a path of smoky rubble across a long swath of this earthquake-tested country before sending waves rumbling across the Pacific Basin.
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Friday, February 26, 2010

Promiscuous Plants and Gene Flow

What does it mean to be a species? For animals, the definition is, loosely, a population that can interbreed and produce fertile offspring.....

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Tiny Dinosaurs

Insular dwarfism is the process and condition of the reduction in size of large animals — typically mammals but also dinosaurs — when their population's gene pool is limited to a very small environment, primarily islands. This natural process is distinct from the intentional creation of dwarf breeds, called dwarfing.
There is also an inverse process, island gigantism, wherein small animals breeding on isolated islands lacking the predators of large land masses may become much larger than normal. An excellent example is the dodo, the ancestors of which were normal sized pigeons. There are also several species of giant rats, some extinct and some still extant.
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Saturday, February 20, 2010

Viruses Helped Shape Human Genetic Variability

Viruses have played a role in shaping human genetic variability, according to a study published February 19 in the open-access journal PLoS Genetics. The researchers, from the Don C. Gnocchi and Eugenio Medea Scientific Institutes, the University of Milan and the Politecnico di Milano, Italy, used population genetics approaches to identify gene variants that augment susceptibility to viral infections or protect from such infections.
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Thursday, February 18, 2010

Climate deniers and Friends of the Earth are both wrong

Denying the science of climate change is ill-informed, but then so is misreading a report to claim that the entire carbon market is flawed...
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Monday, February 15, 2010

Cambodia Condemns Google map of disputed Thai border

 Cambodia has hit out at Google (GOOG.O) over what it called a "radically misleading" map of the disputed Thai-Cambodia border, accusing the world's biggest search engine of being "professionally irresponsible".

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Evidence of Rapid Sea Rise Found in Coastal Cave in Mediterranean

An examination of mineral deposits in a coastal cave on the Spanish island of Mallorca shows evidence of rapid rises and declines in sea level as the planet warmed and cooled.
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Friday, February 12, 2010

Drilling may have caused Indonesia mud volcano

A team of scientists said in a report that they had found the strongest evidence yet linking a devastating mud volcano in Indonesia to drilling at a gas exploration well by local energy firm PT Lapindo Brantas.Lapindo has denied triggering the disaster through its drilling activities, arguing the mud volcano near Indonesia's second-biggest city of Surabaya was triggered by an earthquake.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Climatologists Forecast Completely New Climates

Geographers have projected temperature increases due to greenhouse gas emissions to reach a not-so-chilling conclusion: climate zones will shift and some climates will disappear completely by 2100. Tropical highlands and polar regions may be the first to disappear, and large swaths of the tropics and subtropics will reach even hotter temperatures. The study anticipates large climate changes worldwide.
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Monday, February 8, 2010

Measuring Rainfall With Mobile Phone Antennas

As rain interferes with radio signals, researchers have been able to measure rainfall using data supplied by the mobile telecommunications company Orange. The new method offers greater spatial resolution than traditional point measurements provided by rain gauges. In the future, this could be combined with intelligent control systems for sewer networks so as to reduce water pollution in urban areas.
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Sunday, February 7, 2010

Agni-III launch a complete success

The launch of Agni-III, the missile with the longest range in India’s arsenal, from the Wheeler Island off Orissa on Sunday was a complete success.

Lifting off majestically at 10.50 a.m., it travelled its entire range of 3,500 km. and came down accurately on its target in the Bay of Bengal.

During its 800-second flight, it reached an altitude of 350 km. and its re-entry module sliced into the atmosphere, withstanding searing temperatures of 3,000 deg. Celsius.

The two-stage, surface-to-surface ballistic missile can carry nuclear warheads.

The nuclear triggering mechanism worked well although the missile carried only chemical explosives as payload.
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Genes. Spots and Butterflies

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Google wins dispute against Indian cybersquatter

Indian Express reports thatInternet search engine Google has won a domain name dispute against an Indian cybersquatter at the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO).
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Friday, February 5, 2010

Dinosaur Had Vibrant Colors, Microscopic Fossil Clues Reveal

 Deciphering microscopic clues hidden within fossils, scientists have uncovered the vibrant colors that adorned a feathered dinosaur extinct for 150 million years, a Yale University-led research team reports online Feb. 4 in the journal Science.
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Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Soil Pollution

Soil sustains innumerable microbes and a large number of plants and animals along with plenty of mineral reserves for purposeful exploitation. Soil has different meanings for different people. Chemists consider the soil an object endowed significantly with high buffering capacity while to a geologist, the soil is a means for ascertaining the age of the earth from a large number of isotopes present in it. The soil to a limnologist is a dependable source of nutrition for the biota, and to a farmer, the soil in the form of land is a source of living whereas to a sanitary engineer, it is nothing more than dumping ground for all kind of wastes. Above all, the soil is a living record from where originated all major ecological events of the past.
    India is loosing nearly 6000 million tons of topsoil per year in Ganga Basin alone, caused mainly by ruthless deforestation, thus leading to severe erosion problem.
Sources of Soil Pollution
There are numerous sources. Important among them are listed here:

  1. Indiscriminate discharge of industrial effluents on land and in watercourse.

  2. Open defecation by animals and human beings especially in the rural parts.

  3. Unscientific disposal of solid waste on land
In developing countries like India, the major source of soil pollution is of the third type, and is prevalent in both rural and urban as well as in rural regions. The garbage generated by the community in India contains 30-40 percent of composable matter from which good qualities of manure can be obtained from anaerobic process. Indian refuse, usually contain less than 1 percent of plastic and glass material. The paper content of the refuse varies between 3-7 percent. Generally, the people with modern scientific vision produce less refuse than those with poor and dirty living habits. Based on the comprehensive survey conducted by it on the overall physico-chemical composition of the refuse NEERI has recommended scientific conversion of the refuse into compost. Accordingly, a composting plant with a capacity of 200 tons per day of manure production has been installed at Calcutta. All other big and medium size Indian cities must follow similar practice to keep their environment clean. Radioactive substances produced during fission and fusion enters in to the life supporting environmental cycles.
More widespread than desertification, if less dramatic, is the gradual deterioration of agricultural soils, particularly in, dry land areas. Results of a global assessment of soil degradation sponsored by U.N.E.P. show that 1.2 billion -hectares-almost 11% of the earth's vegetation, surface have undergone moderate or worse soil degradation over the past forty five years because, of human activity. As a result of this deterioration yields and total harvests of important crops are declining in a number of countries. Erosion is one of the key components of soil degradation.
Its irreversibility and its potential effects distinguish it from the other critical elements of soil deterioration. Loss of plant nutrient, organic matter, and microorganisms. Soil erosion is actually removal or erosion of top layer of the soil hence involving loss of fertile layers of the soil. Its main causes are high velocity and heavy rains.
As rainwater drains over the surface of the ground, it picks up, and transports particles of soil more or less proportional to the rate of flow. This is a continuous process that has gone on throughout geological time, resulting in base level in mountains, and the formation of river-deltas. Normally this is a slow process, the changes becoming apparent only in thousand years. With the ground covered with vegetation, the flow of water is retarded arid more of it percolates into the ground or is evaporated. In fertile areas, new soil is formed faster than it is eroded or at least there is stabilization.
With removal of the native vegetation and cultivation of the soil in agriculture, surface particles are more easily moved and surface water drainage is more rapid. As a result, topsoil is being lost at an alarming rate. Much land has been so badly damaged that there is little likelihood that it will ever again be productive crops. Conservation of the fertile topsoil is one of major problems facing modern agriculture. Putting in underground drainage tiles in level farmlands helps to draw rainwater into the soil and to decrease surface run off and erosion. Soil conservation procedures should be strictly followed.

Agronomic research and project experience are revealing that erosion is best prevented through balanced management of soil moisture, nutrition and organic matter. Low cost techniques for soil conservation, designed to improve soil moisture levels, can increase yield sufficiently within the first several years to make the inventions profitable in their own right, regardless of the long run benefits of soil conservation. Compared with traditional cropping methods, practices such as mulching, manuring, low tillage, contour cultivation and agro forestry can reduce surface runoff, water sediment loss and erosion by 50 percent and more. They will contribute to the control of soil degradation only if practical constrains such as shortage of cash and labour and the use of dung and mulching material as household fuels are first alleviated.

With the rapid expansion of irrigation over the past forty years have come growing problems with salinisation and waterlogging that are eating away at the productivity of irrigation investments. Irrigated land is deteriorating in parts of many countries including China, Egypt, India, Pakistan, the Central Asian Republics and Western United states.



Monday, February 1, 2010

Astronomers Discover Coolest Sub-Stellar Body Outside Our Solar System

An international team, led by astronomers at the University of Hertfordshire, has found what may be the coolest sub-stellar body ever found outside our own solar system.
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