Friday, December 12, 2014

Making Salt Water Drinkable Just Got 99 Percent Easier


Making Salt Water Drinkable Just Got 99 Percent EasierExpand

Access to steady supplies of clean water is getting more and more difficult in the developing world, especially as demand skyrockets. In response, many countries have turned to the sea for potable fluids but existing reverse osmosis plants rely on complicated processes that are expensive and energy-intensive to operate. Good thing, engineers at Lockheed Martin have just announced a newly-developed salt filter that could reduce desalinization energy costs by 99 percent.

The Reverse Osmosis process works on a simple principle: molecules within a liquid will flow across a semipermeable membrane from areas! of high er concentration to lower until both sides reach an equilibrium. But that same membrane can act as a filter for large molecules and ions if outside pressure is applied to one side of the system. For desalinization, the process typically employs a sheet of thin-film composite (TFC) membrane which is made from an active thin-film layer of polyimide stacked on a porous layer of polysulfone. The problem with these membranes is that their thickness requires the presence of large amounts of pressure (and energy) to press water through them.

Lockheed Martin's Perforene, on the other hand, is made from single atom-thick sheets of graphene. Because the sheets are so thin, water flows through them far more easily than through a conventional TFC. Filters made through the Perforene process would incorporate filtering holes just 100 nm in diameter—large enough to let water molecules through but small enough to capture dissolved salts. It looks a bit like chicken wire when viewed under a microscope, John Stetson, the Lockheed engineer credited with its invention, told Reuters. But ounce for ounce, its 1000 times stronger than steel.

"It's 500 times thinner than the best filter on the market today and a thousand times stronger," Stetson explained to Reuters. "The energy that's required and the pressure that's required to filter salt is approximately 100 times less."


Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Some of Canada's Lakes Are Turning Into Jelly Thanks to Acid Rain


Some of Canada's Lakes Are Turning Into Jelly Thanks to Acid Rain

It's a real bummer to hear that 150 years of industrialization wrecked the Earth so bad that it'll take thousands to recover. It's a much bigger bummer to see the situation in real life. That's exactly what's happening in a large number of Canada's lakes, which are turning into jelly thanks to acid rain.



Monday, November 17, 2014

Toshiba joins other tech giants in growing super-clean vegetables


The name "Toshiba" conjures images of stacks of laptops piled high and maybe the occasional television, but the Japanese electronics giant is turning its attention to something just a little more humble: lettuce. Well, spinach too. And swiss chard. Quartz's Dan Frommer tells the tale of a Toshiba-owned clean room nestled in the industrial corners of Yokosuka where people clad in special suits dutifully plant seeds and plop them on tall racks under an array of fluorescent lights. The end result? Tasty veggies that you won't need to wash (though if you're a mild hypochondriac like your author, you'd probably give 'em a quick rinse anyway).

Toshiba isn't diving into the world of clean cuisine just because it wants to appease Japan's gourmands. No no -- it aims to produce some 3 million bags of greens a year to help firm up its position as an end-to-end healthcare company. It's actually pretty brilliant, if a bit paradoxical: Toshiba wants to sell those healthy, pristine greens and the technology (mostly centered around internal imaging for now) that'll help when something ails you. It's not the only Japanese megaconglomerate to dabble in a spot of indoor agriculture, either. Sony converted a closed semiconductor factory in Miyagi prefecture into an elaborate growing operation that churns out specially tweaked lettuce that's chock full of extra beta carotene, and Fujitsu -- a massive company that dabbles in some really obtuse stuff -- has a room in Wakamatsu churning out low-potassium lettuce for folks with chronic kidney disorders. Forget about hacking gadgets together, maybe the future is in hacking the very stuff that keeps us going.


Source: Quartz


Saturday, November 15, 2014

Google and conservationists are tracking boats to stop illegal fishing


Overfishing has been a problem for ages, but oceans are big and it's not as if the water police authorities can track where every boat drops its nets. At least, until now, since thanks to Google, SkyTruth and Oceana, we're now close to being able to pinpoint where every boat is in every ocean. Culling data from AIS - the automatic identification system that boats are required to broadcast so that they don't get lost - the trio can overlay that imagery with satellite maps to show if any boat is operating in a prohibited zone. Currently, GlobalFishingWatch can only show you data from 2012-2013 for boats that are either registered as fishing vessels or displaying "fishing like" activity, but the plan is to build out the system so that it works in near-to real time. Of course, there are still holes in the system, since any vessel can disable their AIS -- although that's almost enough of a reason to haul 'em in to be interrogated by the cops. Maybe this will be the inspiration for a whole new series called Law and Order: Environmental Crimes Unit.

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Via: The Verge, Wired

Source: Global Fishing Watch


Saturday, November 8, 2014

Dead fish in Rio Olympic bay baffle scientists


Thousands of dead fish have begun mysteriously washing up in the polluted Rio bay that will host sailing events at the 2016 Olympics -- and experts are at a loss to explain why

Rio de Janeiro (AFP) - Thousands of dead fish have begun mysteriously washing up in the polluted Rio bay that will host sailing events at the 2016 Olympics -- and experts are at a loss to explain why.

Guanabara Bay has already been the subject of concern amongst sailors who are to compete in Rio because of the human sewage that gets pumped into its waters.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has expressed confidence that Guanabara will be fit for purpose by the time of the games.

But the recent appearance of thousands of dead fish, and the foul stench of their rotting carcasses, has attracted further scrutiny with the Olympics less than two years away.

Scientists are baffled by the phenomenon but say there is no evidence so far to suggest pollution is the cause.

The foul odor first took over the usually peaceful Paqueta Island, where cars are banned and the population of 4,500 people travels on horseback or bicycle among the only baobab trees in Brazil.

With the help of a bulldozer, a municipal company has removed 20 tonnes of dead sabalo fish -- from the Clupeidae family of herrings and sardines -- as well as four dead sea turtles.

"Tests showed that this is not a matter of chemical or toxic water pollution," Rio do Janeiro State University oceanographer David Zee told AFP.

Leandro Daemon of the National Institute for the Environment, or INEA, agreed that water testing had not identified any toxic chemicals or any unusual change in the water's pH (potential of hydrogen), salinity or oxygen.

"We have no answer yet about what happened, but we can certainly exclude the hypothesis of a chemical pollution killing the fish," he said.

- 'Don't go in' -

But not everyone is so sure.

Worried fishermen and islanders are pointing the finger at the petrochemical activities of state giant Petrobras.

"We want to know why so many fish have died. The rotten smell is horrible and there are many flies on the island. The authorities tell us nothing," said Vilma Leocadio of the Paqueta citizens' association.

"We are afraid, we do not bathe in the sea any more and do not buy fish here."

Rosimere Figueiredo, 52, said Paqueta was in distress.

"I do not encourage you to step in the water with all those dead bodies of fish. We see them dying," she said.

Five of the fish were sent Tuesday to the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro's biology department for analysis, and the results will be announced in a week.

Experts want to know if there are any signs of pollution or disease in the entrails or gills.

- High temperatures to blame? -

One hypothesis is that the culprit is predatory fishing. 

At this time of year, fishing is prohibited, but it is common for fishermen to still work, catching fish like sabalo that have a lower market value, Zee said.

But the expert said the likeliest scenario was that the deaths are caused by "thermal pollution" of the water.

"Sabalo are very sensitive to any lack of oxygen. Warm water temperatures such as those recorded several days ago -- ranging from 27 to 30 degrees Celsius (81 to 86 Fahrenheit) -- in shallow water decrease the solubility of oxygen," Zee said.

He noted that Paqueta is located at the bottom of the Rio bay, where water circulation and exchange is more difficult, a phenomenon exacerbated by the low tide.

"What is striking is the duration of this mortality and also the high temperature of the water," said biologist Mario Moscatelli, who has studied the bay's waters for 20 years.

"I flew over the area in early October, and fish were floating. At first, we thought they were thrown into the sea by fishermen. But before too long, I saw them dying in a way that seemed they were missing oxygen."

He said the sabalo, being more sensitive, are the first fish to die in the Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon, which contains sea water carried through a canal in Rio's southern zone.

"But in case of chemical contamination, other species will die," he said. "We have more questions than answers. We must wait for the results of the analysis."

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Monday, October 27, 2014

Satellite Dishes Can Turn Toxic Waste From Fracking Into Clean Water


Satellite Dishes Can Turn Toxic Waste From Fracking Into Clean Water

In the past few years, earthquakes in Oklahoma have been on the mysterious rise—the state has had more earthquakes than even California. Why? One big fat finger has been pointed at fracking, in which toxic wastewater is injected into wells that can leak and lubricate faults. We clearly need a better solution for this wastewater, and that solution may involve satellite dishes .



Thursday, October 23, 2014

Article: This everlasting battery is made from recycled vanadium and ready to plug in

After a decade of development, a $100 million in funding, and some twists and turns (including a name change), Silicon Valley startup Imergy Power Systems will soon start shipping the next generation of its batteries made from recycled vanadium. The 50-kilowatt battery will be available next mont...

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Monday, October 20, 2014

These Last 6 Months Were The Warmest Humans Have Ever Recorded On Earth


Los Angeles Heat Wave

Collectively, the past six months have been the hottest since humans started keeping track of global temperatures.

Last month was the warmest September humans have recorded, according to both NASA's Global Land-Ocean Temperature Index and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Climatic Data Center.

September came at the end of a record-breaking six months: April, May, June, and August of this year were all also the warmest on record, and July came in at fourth hottest.

According to Eric Holthaus at Slate:

Recent research shows the current warm stretch is probably the planet's warmest in at least 4,000 years. That means global temperatures may have already passed a level that human civilization has never experienced. The sheer size and depth of the world's oceans means that most of global warming's extra heat has been stored there. For the last decade or so, atmospheric warming has been playing catch up.

That means things will just keep getting warmer — and humans are doing a poor job of slowing things down. At the 2009 UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, world leaders agreed to take measures to k! eep glob al temperatures from rising more than 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above their historical levels.

Beyond that point, many experts agree that the world could see a disastrous series of climate change effects, including widespread floods, fires, storms, famines, and extinctions. Unfortunately, recent reports suggest that we're on track to miss our target by a good 2 C before the end of the century.

NASA's map below shows the difference in temperature between September 2014 and the average temperature from 1951 and 1980.

NASA_September_1You can see that the heat is affecting some parts of the world more strongly than others. Some areas are even "abnormally cold." Temperatures can fluctuate around the world, depending on weather patterns – for instance, in August, parts of the US saw temperatures below the baseline average, and in September the entire country was at or above the baseline. But the important takeaway is that there is a general pattern of warming temperatures across the globe.

The differences becoming greater as the colors move from yellow to orange to red. Some of the greatest temperature differences were seen in the Arctic and Antarctic regions.

The NOAA chart below shows temperature anomalies between the April-to-September months and the 20th century average every year since 1880. You can see below that 2014 deviates most from the average, and is a part of a much bigger trend of increasing temperature anomalies.

Global_Temperature_1September was also noteworthy for the flurry of climate change activism it saw around the world, including the People's Climate March in New York City, which spawned similar demonstrations around the world and at the UN 2014 Climate Summit, during which world leaders gathered to discuss their strategies for reducing carbon emissions and slowing down climate change.

September was also marked by a spree of climate-related events, including widespread drought in the western US and intense flooding in India.

NOW WATCH: Researchers Just Discovered 18 Mysterious Viruses In NYC's Rat Population

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SEE ALSO: 25 Devastating Effects Of Climate Change

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Sunday, October 19, 2014

Article: BBM goes all Snapchat with new ephemeral timer feature, will let you retract messages manually too

BlackBerry has announced a new update is a-comin' to BBM, with a couple of privacy- and control-focused features in tow. The Canadian company is following in the footsteps of numerous messaging apps with an ephemeral 'timer' feature, a trend that was popularized in recent years by Snapchat. With ...

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Monday, October 6, 2014

Earth Has Been Getting Warmer Way Faster Than We Thought


Earth Has Been Getting Warmer Way Faster Than We Thought

We know that the planet is getting warmer —but it turns out that it's happening faster than we thought. Turns out scientists have been underestimating warming increases because of inaccurate temperature recordings taken in the southern oceans.



Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Amazon's Using the Heat From Its Data Centers To Warm Its New HQ


Amazon's Using the Heat From Its Data Centers To Warm Its New HQ

Downtown Seattle is being slowly consumed by Amazon-funded infrastructure, thanks to the expansion of its corporate headquarters—glass domes , bike lanes, streetcar improvements. Now the company has figured out an innovative way to heat their new buildings by using the energy generated by their data centers across the street.



Monday, September 15, 2014

Wild Chinese sturgeon on brink of extinction: state media


Artificially bred Chinese sturgeons are released into the Yangtze river in China's Hubei province on April 13, 2014

Beijing (AFP) - The wild Chinese sturgeon is at risk of extinction, state media reported, after none of the rare fish were detected reproducing naturally in the polluted and crowded Yangtze river last year.

One of the world's oldest living species, the wild Chinese sturgeon are thought to have existed for more than 140 million years but have seen their numbers crash as China's economic boom brings with it pollution, dams and boat traffic along the world's third-longest river.

For the first time since researchers began keeping records 32 years ago, there was no natural reproduction of wild Chinese sturgeon in 2013, according to a report published by the Chinese Academy of Fishery Sciences.

No eggs were found to have been laid by wild sturgeons in an area in central China's Hubei province, and no young sturgeons were found swimming along the Yangtze toward the sea in August, the month when they typically do so.

"No natural reproduction means that the sturgeons would not expand its population and without protection, they might risk extinction," Wei Qiwei, an investigator with the academy, told China's official Xinhua news agency on Saturday.

The fish is classed as "critically endangered" on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature's "Red List" of threatened species, just one level ahead of "extinct in the wild".

Only around 100 of the sturgeon remain, Wei said, compared with several thousand in the 1980s.

Chinese authorities have built dozens of dams -- including the world's largest, the Three Gorges -- along the Yangtze river, which campaigners say have led to environmental degradation and disrupted the habitats of a range of endangered species.

Many sturgeon have also been killed, injured by ship propellers or after becoming tangled in fishermen's nets.

Animal populations in many of China's ecosystems have plummeted during the country's decades of development and urbanisation, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) said in a 2012 study.

According to findings compiled by WWF from various sources, the Yangtze river dolphin population crashed by 99.4 percent from 1980 to 2006, while that of the Chinese alligator fell by 97 percent from 1955 to 2010.

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Friday, September 5, 2014

Article: Panasonic X940 4K Ultra HD TV Unveiled With Massive 85 Inch Screen

Panasonic has today unveiled a new selection of 4K Ultra HD TVs that its has launched with the flagship TV coming in the form of a massive 85 inch Panasonic X940 4K Ultra HD TV. Panasonic also unveiled the AX900 4K UHD TV and AX630 4K UHD TV as well as announcing that Netflix 4K […] (Read More .....

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Article: Skype for iPhone now lets you host group audio calls, add or remove people on existing calls

Skype today updated its iPhone app with calling features and accessibility improvements. You can download the new version now directly from Apple's App Store. The full Skype 5.4 for iOS changelog is as follows: Turn a chat, an audio call or a video call into a group audio call with up to four peo...

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Article: Motorola's new Bluetooth headset hides inside your ear

In case you need a stylish new Bluetooth headset to go along with your brand new Moto X, Motorola also announced the Moto Hint. Meant to be as discreet as possible, the Hint almost looks like an ear plug when worn. It's so discreet that the Hint doesn't even have buttons -- simply tap its capacit...

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Article: Firefox Beta Gets Built-In WebRTC Video Calls On Desktop, Chromecast And Roku Video Casting On Android

Mozilla is launching the latest batch of updates to the Firefox beta channels for desktop and Android today. While there weren't all that many exciting changes in the last few releases, today's updates include a couple of interesting new user-facing tools. Update: looks like we jumped the gun her...

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Monday, September 1, 2014

Mexico investigates huge fish kill in lagoon


Fishermen collect dead

Tlajomulco (Mexico) (AFP) - Fishermen used shovels, wheel-carts and trucks in western Mexico to pull tons of dead fish out of a lagoon that has been the scene of four fish kills this year.

Authorities are investigating whether negligence at wastewater treatment plants was to blame after millions of fresh water fish locally known as "popocha" began to float up in the Cajititlan lagoon last week.

Some 130 fishermen from the town of Tlajomulco continued to pull dead fish out of the water on Monday and buried them in pits, removing some 53 tons so far, according to the Jalisco state environment agency.

"We don't want this problem to worsen because we would end up in the street," said Rigoberto Diaz, a local fisherman who fears that other species such as tilapia, which unlike popocha is edible, will die too.

Fellow fisherman Mauro Hernan echoed concerns that authorities have yet to confirm the cause of the die-off.

"We were told that the state government will support us. We don't know when we will be able to fish again," Hernan said.

Jalisco state environment secretary Magdalena Ruiz said it was the fourth unexplained fish kill at the same lagoon this year.

"You can't deny that there's a contamination" due to suspected negligence at wastewater treatment plants, she said Monday.

Authorities are conducting tests on the dead fish while state environmental prosecutors are investigating local wastewater treatment plants.

Ruiz Mejia had said Sunday that such deaths were "more and more" frequent due to "bad management of the body of water." 

The Tlajomulco municipality, however, said the deaths were due to a cyclical change in water temperature that caused oxygen to drop.

The local fishermen agree with town officials, saying that other fish species would have been killed if it was a case of contamination.

In a separate incident in July 2013, some 500 tonnes of fish died in a Jalisco reservoir after a company that made food for livestock without a permit dumped huge amounts of molasses into the water.

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Tuesday, August 12, 2014

No, this isn't an alien forest, but a collection of organisms called rangemorphs.


No, this isn't an alien forest, but a collection of organisms called rangemorphs. One of the first complex organisms ever to exist on Earth, around 575 40 million years ago, a new study reveals that their strange structure evolved to maximize the quantity of nutrients they could absorb from their aqueous surroundings. [PNAS via New Scientist]



Saturday, August 2, 2014

Thousands Of These Bizarre Blue Animals Wash Up Along California Shores


August 1, 2014 | by Justine Alford

photo credit: Bettina Walter, "Velella velella," via Flickr. CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Monterey Bay is quite a spectacular sight right now, as parts are littered with thousands of electric blue, glass-like sea creatures that have been swept ashore by the wind. These bizarre cnidarians (a diverse phylum of animals including corals and jellyfish) are called Velella velella and they're normally found floating on the surface of warm and temperate oceans. Beach goers are treading carefully along the coast, but they're not dangerous and their sting isn't harmful.

Image credit: Velela, via Wikimedia Commons. 

These organisms have a flat, transparent float and an erect triangular sail that lets them take advantage of the wind. It's not unusual for them to wash up along beaches in late spring/early summer after they bloom, but according to marine biologist Nancy Black they hadn't been seen in the area for around 8 years. Why these creatures have decided to show up now and later in the year than usual is puzzling, but scientist Rich Mooi told LA Times that this is not necessarily indicative that anything is wrong with the ocean.


Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Plan to Save Bluefin Tuna By Using Science to Farm It On Land


The Plan to Save Bluefin Tuna By Using Science to Farm It On Land

The bluefin tuna is a magnificent creature. A silvery torpedo, it grows as big as 1,000 pounds, swims as fast as cars, and survives the cold waters of the ocean, weirdly enough, as warm-blooded fish. Oh, it also happens to be pretty tasty as sushi. Thanks to our growing sushi appetites, the bluefin tuna seems likely to be obliterated off the face of the Earth unless we do something drastic—like stop eating it or, what the hell, use science to start spawning them in tanks on land.



Tuesday, July 29, 2014

This Company Is Turning The Desert Green â And It Could Radically Change the Future Of Food


SFP Sahara Forest Project

In Qatar, the summers are long and hot. From April through October, the average high hovers between 90 and 104 degrees Fahrenheit, and there's hardly ever a drop of rain.

To meet the needs of a rapidly growing population, the oil-rich country must rely on imports for about 90% of its food. But there's a radical idea that's growing — against all odds — in the middle of Qatar's vast Arabian Desert.

It's called the Sahara Forest Project (SFP for short).

SFP was created to find a way not just to grow food in the desert, but to do so sustainably — to make the environment better, not worse. As the organizers explain in a fact sheet, it's "designed to utilize what we have enough of to produce what we need more of, using deserts, saltwater, and CO2 to produce food, water, and energy."

As the planet gets hotter and more crowded, this initiative in Qatar becomes relevant to us all. If we can learn how to sustainably grow food in such inhospitable conditions, the world's agricultural future might not be as bleak as it seems.

Construction of the 10,000 square meter pilot site in Qatar began in 2012. It's built on land near the capital city of Doha, adjacent to an industrial ammonia factory.

Source: Sahara Forest Project

The major technologies incorporated into the project include: concentrated solar power, revegetation, and saltwater-cooled greenhouses.

The SFP pilot facility includes the first "concentrated solar power" unit in Qatar. The unit uses mirrors to reflect and focus the sun's rays, amplifying the solar energy captured. In the next phase, this will be used to generate electricity by powering a steam turbine. In the pilot, the power it generates is used to turn some of the saltwater into freshwater.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider