‘Can’t touch these’ Hammerhead sharks

February 27, 2017

What do you call a shark that can’t stop singing ‘You Can’t Touch This?’ An M.C Hammerhead (this is the moment you laugh out loud). No, but all jokes aside, the instantly recognizable Great Hammerhead shark, is a target of both the recreational fishing and shark-fin trade which has led to the global population of the species declining by around 80% in the past 25 years. The Great Hammerhead has…


Plastic recycling revolutionized by polymer additive

February 24, 2017

When Geoffrey Coates, the Tisch University Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, gives a talk about plastics and recycling, he usually opens with this question: What percentage of the 78 million tons of plastic used annually for packaging – for example, a 2-liter bottle or a take-out food container – actually gets recycled and reused in a similar way? The answer, according to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, is just 2%….


Ultraviolet light used to convert carbon dioxide into fuel

February 23, 2017

Tiny nanoparticles that help convert carbon dioxide into methane using only ultraviolet light as an energy source have developed by researchers at Duke University. Having found a catalyst that can do this important chemistry using ultraviolet light, the team now hopes to develop a version that would run on natural sunlight, a potential boon to alternative energy. Chemists have long sought an efficient, light-driven catalyst to power this reaction, which…


Plan Bee for farmers with a pollination calculator app

February 22, 2017

If a farmer wanted to plant wildflowers to nurture the bumble bees that pollinate her crops, currently, she would have to walk through her fields, assess possible locations, take measurements, spend hours crunching costs and still only guess at the amount of bees and pollination the effort will generate. Soon, the farmer can do it all on her phone or computer with a mobile app that will calculate the crop productivity…


Ponds to accelerate climate change with methane

February 21, 2017

By reducing the amount of carbon dioxide stored in ponds and increasing the methane they release, new research shows that rising temperatures could accelerate climate change. The scientists experimentally warmed an array of ponds over seven years by 4-5°C and studied the impacts on greenhouse gas emissions and rates of metabolism. Changes observed after the first year became “amplified” over a longer period, according to the study by the University…


Facial recognition identifies lemurs from mug shot database

February 20, 2017

Used to find criminals, identify passport and driver’s license fraud, and catch shoplifters, facial recognition is a biometric system that identifies or verifies a person from a digital image. But can it be used to identify endangered lemurs in the jungles of Madagascar? Yes, said Anil Jain, biometrics expert and university distinguished professor at Michigan State University. Jain and his team modified their human facial recognition system to create LemurFaceID,…


Robot mission aborted inside Fukushima reactor

February 17, 2017

Tokyo Electric Power company has said that a ‘scorpion’ robot sent into a Japanese nuclear reactor to learn about the damage suffered in a tsunami-induced meltdown had its mission aborted after the probe ran into trouble. TEPCO, the operator of the Fukushima nuclear plant, sent the remote-controlled device into the No. 2 reactor where radiation levels have recently hit record highs. The ‘scorpion’ robot, so-called because it can lift up its…


Drones count small birds in ornithological surveys

February 16, 2017

A new study from The Auk: Ornithological Advances tests a new approach to wildlife monitoring, using drones, and concludes that despite some drawbacks, the method has the potential to become an important tool for ecologists and land managers. Bird surveys provide crucial data for environmental management, but they have limitations–some areas are difficult to access, and surveyors vary in their skills at identifying birds. Using audio recordings made by unmanned aerial…


Tropical Cyclone Dineo caught on camera

February 14, 2017

Yesterday (February 13th) saw the fifth tropical cyclone of the Southern Indian Ocean season formed, and NASA’s Aqua satellite captured a visible image of the storm. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer or MODIS instrument aboard NASA’s Aqua satellite captured a visible image of newly developed Tropical Cyclone Dineo in the Mozambique Channel on February 13th, 2017. Madagascar is to the east of the storm and Mozambique lies to the west….


It’s all about the eyes – down in the deep dark sea

February 13, 2017

The bottom of the ocean is a very mysterious and sometimes dangerous place. Deep-sea dwellers and creatures often have to adapt and develop some features to help them survive the cold, dark habitat. For example, from eyes the size of basketballs, to extra limbs that can blink and glow, the one that takes home gold is the ‘cockeyed’ squid (Histioteuthis heteropsis) with one normal and one giant, bulging, yellow eye…