Distracted driving among teens threatens public health and safety
Published Apr 17, 2014 - 8:45:22 AM
Motor vehicle crashes rank as the leading cause of teen deaths and in 2008, 16% of all distraction-related fatal automobile crashes involved drivers under 20 years of age. These grim statistics, coupled with an increasing nationwide awareness of the dangers of distracted driving for all ages, prompted the publication of an important supplement to the Journal of Adolescent Health that explores the causes of distracted driving and offers practical recommendations to reduce the incidence of distracted driving among teens.
Mass red abalone die-off caused by algal bloom
Published Apr 16, 2014 - 12:51:26 PM
In August 2011, thousands of dead red abalone washed up on the beaches of Sonoma County in Northern California. At the time, the cause was unknown, but scientists, including a biologist from the University of California, Davis, learned that a harmful algal bloom was to blame: the causative agent Yessotoxin.
Elevated Levels of Mercury Found in Fish in Western U.S. National Parks
Published Apr 16, 2014 - 8:49:34 AM
Mercury has been discovered in fish in some of the most remote national park lakes and streams in the western United States and Alaska. Mercury levels in some fish exceeded U.S. Environmental Protection Agency health thresholds for potential impacts to fish, birds, and humans.
Flaw in 'Secure' Cloud Storage Could Put Privacy at Risk
Published Apr 16, 2014 - 7:32:23 AM
Johns Hopkins computer scientists have found a flaw in the way that secure cloud storage companies protect their customers' data. The scientists say this weakness jeopardizes the privacy protection these digital warehouses claim to offer. Whenever customers share their confidential files with a trusted friend or colleague, the researchers say, the storage provider could exploit the security flaw to secretly view this private data.
Gut Capacity Limits Wildlife's Ability to Adapt to Rapid Climate Change
Published Apr 16, 2014 - 7:31:37 AM
An ornithologist at the University of Rhode Island who studies the physiological changes that birds undergo to migrate has found that the capacity of a bird's gut to change with environmental conditions is a primary limiting factor in their ability to adapt to the rapidly changing climate. And he believes that most other animals are also limited in a similar way.
Fire and Drought May Push Amazonian Forests Beyond Tipping Point
Published Apr 15, 2014 - 8:44:01 AM
Future simulations of climate in the Amazon suggest a longer dry season leading to more drought and fires. Woods Hole Research Center scientists Michael Coe, Paulo Brando, Marcia Macedo and colleagues have published a new study on the impacts of fire and drought on Amazon tree mortality. Their paper entitled "Abrupt increases in Amazonian tree mortality due to drought-fire interactions," published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found that prolonged droughts caused more intense and widespread wildfires, which consumed more forests in Amazonia than previously understood.
European Climate at the +2C global warming threshold
Published Apr 15, 2014 - 8:39:15 AM
A global warming of 2 °C relative to pre-industrial climate has been considered as a threshold which society should endeavor to remain below, in order to limit the dangerous effects of anthropogenic climate change.
Man-Made Particles From Asia Affect Global Weather
Published Apr 15, 2014 - 8:35:35 AM
In the first study of its kind, scientists have compared air pollution rates from 1850 to 2000 and found that anthropogenic (man-made) particles from Asia impact the Pacific storm track that can influence weather over much of the world.
Published Apr 15, 2014 - 8:31:09 AM
Somewhere in the cosmos an ordinary galaxy spins, seemingly at slumber. Then all of a sudden, WHAM! A flash of light explodes from the galaxy's center. A star orbiting too close to the event horizon of the galaxy's central supermassive black hole is torn apart by the force of gravity, heating up its gas and sending out a beacon to the far reaches of the universe.
Greenland ice cores show industrial record of acid rain, success of US Clean Air Act
Published Apr 11, 2014 - 9:55:27 AM
The rise and fall of acid rain is a global experiment whose results are preserved in the geologic record.
By analyzing samples from the Greenland ice sheet, University of Washington atmospheric scientists found clear evidence of the U.S. Clean Air Act. They also discovered a link between air acidity and how nitrogen is preserved in layers of snow, according to a paper published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Tamiflu: Shortens flu symptoms by half a day; no good evidence to support claims it reduces complications or admissions to hospita
Published Apr 10, 2014 - 7:29:35 PM
Was the government right to spend half a billion pounds in stockpiling the antiviral drugs Tamiflu and Relenza in preparation for a flu pandemic?
La Brea Tar Pit fossil research shows climate change drove evolution of Ice Age predators
Published Apr 10, 2014 - 8:10:29 AM
Concerns about climate change and its impact on the world around us are growing daily. New scientific studies at the La Brea Tar Pits are probing the link between climate warming and the evolution of Ice Age predators, attempting to predict how animals will respond to climate change today.
Heartbleed Bug Puts Computer Users at Risk
Published Apr 9, 2014 - 9:01:07 AM
A major vulnerability affecting a large number of encryption systems on the Internet was disclosed this week, and an Indiana University informatics and cybersecurity expert says anyone with an online connection could be at risk.
Study Tests Theory that Life Originated at Deep Sea Vents
Published Apr 9, 2014 - 8:27:49 AM
One of the greatest mysteries facing humans is how life originated on Earth. Scientists have determined approximately when life began (roughly 3.8 billion years ago), but there is still intense debate about exactly how life began. One possibility - that simple metabolic reactions emerged near ancient seafloor hot springs, enabling the leap from a non-living to a living world – has grown in popularity in the last two decades.
US schoolchildren exposed to arsenic in well water have lower IQ scores
Published Apr 8, 2014 - 10:09:27 AM
A study by researchers at Columbia University reports that schoolchildren from three school districts in Maine exposed to arsenic in drinking water experienced declines in child intelligence. While earlier studies conducted by the researchers in South Asia, and Bangladesh in particular, showed that exposure to arsenic in drinking water is negatively associated with child intelligence, this is the first study to examine intelligence against individual water arsenic exposures in the U.S. Findings are reported online in the journal, Environmental Health: http://www.ehjournal.net/content/13/1/23/abstract
Human safety thresholds for endocrine disrupting chemicals may be inaccurate
Published Apr 8, 2014 - 10:06:39 AM
Human and rat testes respond differently to endocrine disrupting chemicals such as BPA in two thirds of all cases, according to a recent review. As human safety levels are extrapolated from rodent data, the study could lead to a re-evaluation of the acceptable daily intake for many endocrine disruptors. The review is published in a special April issue of the journal Reproduction dedicated to endocrine disruptors.
Field study shows why food quality will suffer with rising CO2
Published Apr 7, 2014 - 8:44:43 AM
For the first time, a field test has demonstrated that elevated levels of carbon dioxide inhibit plants' assimilation of nitrate into proteins, indicating that the nutritional quality of food crops is at risk as climate change intensifies.
"Like a giant elevator to the stratosphere"
Published Apr 4, 2014 - 9:02:33 AM
An international team of researchers headed by Potsdam scientist Dr. Markus Rex from the Alfred Wegener Institute has discovered a previously unknown atmospheric phenomenon over the South Seas. Over the tropical West Pacific there is a natural, invisible hole extending over several thousand kilometers in a layer that prevents transport of most of the natural and man-made substances into the stratosphere by virtue of its chemical composition. Like in a giant elevator, many chemical compounds emitted at the ground pass thus unfiltered through this so-called "detergent layer" of the atmosphere. Scientists call it the "OH shield". The newly discovered phenomenon over the South Seas boosts ozone depletion in the polar regions and could have a significant influence on the future climate of the Earth – also because of rising air pollution in South East Asia.
Hummingbird evolution soared after invading South America 22 million years ago
Published Apr 4, 2014 - 8:44:38 AM
A newly constructed family tree of the hummingbirds, published today in the journal Current Biology, tells a story of a unique group of birds that originated in Europe, passed through Asia and North America, and ultimately found its Garden of Eden in South America 22 million years ago.
Tracking the Transition of Early-Universe Quark Soup to Matter-as-We-Know-It
Published Apr 4, 2014 - 8:21:57 AM
Ever wonder how the hot soup of subatomic particles that filled the early universe transformed into the ordinary matter of today's world? Nuclear physicists exploring this question can't exactly travel back 13.8 billion years to watch what really happened, but they can recreate matter at the extreme temperatures and densities that existed just after the Big Bang by smashing together ordinary atomic nuclei at the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC). At peak performance, this extraordinarily versatile atom smasher at the U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory reproduces the primordial soup thousands of times per second. Using sophisticated detectors to track what happens as exotic particles emerge from the trillion-degree collision zone and "freeze out" into more familiar forms of matter, scientists are turning up interesting details about how the transition takes place.
Video: Sentinel-1 Lanch set to Mike Oldfield soundtrack
Published Apr 3, 2014 - 4:23:54 PM
Sentinel-1A, the first satellite for Europe's environmental monitoring Copernicus programme, is being launched from Europe's Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana on 3 April 2014. It will be lofted into orbit on a Soyuz rocket.
New research finds "geologic clock" that helps determine Moon's age
Published Apr 3, 2014 - 8:52:12 AM
An international team of planetary scientists determined that the Moon formed nearly 100 million years after the start of the solar system, according to a paper to be published April 3 in Nature. This conclusion is based on measurements from the interior of the Earth combined with computer simulations of the protoplanetary disk from which the Earth and other terrestrial planets formed.
To Boldly Go? Experts Issue Ethics Guidelines for Health Standards on NASA's Next Generation of Risky Missions
Published Apr 3, 2014 - 8:49:56 AM
Nearly two years after the conclusion of its space shuttle program left Americans wondering what would become of the spacefaring dreams of decades past, NASA has sought the advice of health and ethics experts for protecting astronauts on its "next generation" of long duration and exploration-class human spaceflights.
Earth and Mars converging for a close encounter
Published Apr 2, 2014 - 12:22:41 PM
By the time you finish reading this story, you'll be about 1,000 km closer to the planet Mars.
Earth and Mars are converging for a close encounter. As March gives way to April, the distance between the two planets is shrinking by about 300 km every minute. When the convergence ends in mid-April, the gulf between Earth and Mars will have narrowed to only 92 million km--a small number on the vast scale of the solar system.
SNAP: A New Model for Tackling the Biggest Global Challenges
Published Apr 2, 2014 - 8:44:25 AM
Science for Nature and People (SNAP) is pioneering a new model for using science to help solve the world's most pressing conservation and human development challenges.
Galactic serial killer
Published Apr 2, 2014 - 8:42:48 AM
Several clues in the structure of NGC 1316 reveal that its past was turbulent. For instance, it has some unusual dust lanes  embedded within a much larger envelope of stars, and a population of unusually small globular star clusters. These suggest that it may have already swallowed a dust-rich spiral galaxy about three billion years ago.
Limiting climate change to 2 degrees C means shutting down coal power plants
Published Apr 1, 2014 - 8:45:29 AM
Limiting climate change to 2°C means shutting down coal power plants - an unpopular proposition for coal power companies. But a new study shows that delaying climate policies could prove even worse for power plant owners.
Periodic puns: Chemistry jokes just in time for April Fools' Day (video)
Published Apr 1, 2014 - 8:37:37 AM
It's almost April Fools' Day, and the American Chemical Society's (ACS') Reactions video series is celebrating with an episode featuring our favorite chemistry jokes. Which two elements look cute together? Why is father water concerned about his "iced out" son? What do you get when you combine sulfur, tungsten and silver?
Warming Climate May Spread Drying to a Third of Earth, Says Study
Published Apr 1, 2014 - 8:09:36 AM
Increasing heat is expected to extend dry conditions to far more farmland and cities by the end of the century than changes in rainfall alone, says a new study. Much of the concern about future drought under global warming has focused on rainfall projections, but higher evaporation rates may also play an important role as warmer temperatures wring more moisture from the soil, even in some places where rainfall is forecasted to increase, say the researchers.
The Atlantic Ocean dances with the sun and volcanoes
Published Mar 31, 2014 - 8:37:33 AM
Natural fluctuations in the ocean temperature in the North Atlantic have a significant impact on the climate in the northern hemisphere. These fluctuations are the result of a complex dance between the forces of nature, but researchers at Aarhus University can now show that solar activity and the impact of volcanic eruptions have led this dance during the last two centuries.