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Welcome to Science Saturday, where the Overnight News Digest crew, consisting of founder Magnifico, regular editors maggiejean, wader, Man Oh Man, side pocket, rfall, and JML9999, alumni editors palantir, Bentliberal, Oke, jlms qkw, Interceptor7, and ScottyUrb, guest editors annetteboardman and Doctor RJ, and current editor-in-chief Neon Vincent, along with anyone else who reads and comments, informs and entertains you with this week's news about science, space, health, energy, and the environment.

Between now and the end of the primary season, Overnight News Digest: Science Saturday will highlight the research stories from the public universities in each of the states having primary or special elections for federal or state office this year plus stories from all research universities in major cities having municipal elections as listed in the Green Papers or the 2014 Daily Kos Elections Calendar.  Tonight's edition features the research and outreach stories from Alabama, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, New York, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Utah.

This week's featured story comes from Reuters.

Arthur, no longer a hurricane, pelts Maritime Canada
By David Bailey
Sat Jul 5, 2014 11:26pm EDT

Arthur weakened from hurricane force on Saturday and pelted parts of Canada's eastern coast with heavy rain and strong winds, leaving 250,000 homes and businesses without power, as the storm swept away from New England.

Arthur weakened to a tropical storm on Saturday morning after having reached landfall on North Carolina's Outer Banks late on Thursday as a Category 2 hurricane, snarling plans for tourists at the start of the Fourth of July holiday weekend.

North Carolina reported only slight damage from the hurricane, which quickly traveled northeast.

Arthur, now a post-tropical storm, was centered about 90 miles (146 km) southwest of the Magdalen Islands on Saturday night after making a second landfall in Canada on Saturday afternoon.

More stories after the jump.


Bournemouth Echo (UK): VIDEO: Five skeletons uncovered during big dig near Roman Villa
By Gayle McDonald

ARCHAEOLOGISTS from Bournemouth have uncovered ancient burials during a dig near a Roman villa in north Dorset.

Staff and students from Bournemouth University unearthed five skeletons near a Roman Villa in Winterborne Kingston on Wednesday, June 15.

Smithsonian Magazine: 17 Amazing Photographs of Abandoned Places
By  Todd Stowell

Top places you should see before they die... or at least disappear

PetaPixel: Soldier’s Camera and Photos from Battle of The Bulge Found in Foxhole 70 Years Later
Gannon Burgett

The Battle of the Bulge is known as one of the most deadly and influential battles of WWII. Taking place over the course of five weeks, this surprise attack by the Germans caught allied forces off-guard, causing massive casualties, especially among U.S. Troops.

Among the 89,000 casualties was a soldier named Louis J. Archambeau, a Chicago native who left behind an interesting surprise in a foxhole he had been taking refuge in during the cold weather and rough artillery fire.

Hat/Tip to annetteboardman for these stories.

NASA: Carbon Observing Mission Launches on This Week @NASA

NASA's Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 mission is underway. Launched from California's Vandenberg Air Force Base, OCO-2 will help track our impact on the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and help us better understand the various human-made and natural sources of CO-2. This is one of five Earth-observing missions scheduled in 2014 -- the most Earth-focused missions launched in a single year, in more than a decade. Also, Saucer-shaped vehicle tested, Cygnus Orb-2 launch update, Space Launch System model tests and 10 years exploring Saturn.

Science at NASA: ScienceCasts: Fruit Flies on the International Space Station

A new species is about to join astronauts on the International Space Station: Drosophila melanogaster, also known as the "fruit fly." Genetically speaking, the bug-eyed insects have a lot in common with human beings, and they are poised to teach researchers a great deal about voyaging into deep space.


Polish Press Agency: Archaeologists discovered a meteorite fragment in a 9 thousand years old hut

Archaeologists from the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnology (IAE) PAS in Szczecin discovered a meteorite fragment inside the remains of a hut dating back more than 9,000 years in Bolków by the lake S'widwie in Western Pomerania.
It is a natural pyrite meteorite fragment with cylindrical shape and porous, corrugated side surface. It has a height of 8 cm, width of 5.3 cm at the base and 3.5 cm at the top.

Hat/Tip to annetteboardman for these stories.


University of Florida: Deforestation remedies can have unintended consequences, UF researchers say
Published: July 2nd, 2014

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — When it comes to fixing deforestation and forest degradation, good intentions can lead to bad outcomes.

That’s the take-away from a new study by two University of Florida researchers who say efforts to restore damaged and destroyed tropical forests can go awry if the people making the plans of action don’t choose wisely.

“We need to be careful about what is it we’re losing and gaining,” UF biology professor Francis E. “Jack” Putz said. Putz worked with UF biology professor Claudia Romero on the paper, which will appear in the July issue of Biotropica.

University of Maryland: UMD Researchers Demonstrate Alarming Indonesian Forest Loss
Deforestation Rate Surpasses Brazil's, Despite Moratorium
July 1, 2014

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - A new study published in Nature Climate Change demonstrates an alarming increase of rainforest loss in Indonesia during the past 12 years—this loss is greater and faster than the rate shown in Brazil in 2012 which gained global attention as a harbinger of environmental stability.

This new study indicates that forest loss rates are accelerating despite a 2011 moratorium on deforestation issued by the Indonesian government that was designed to combat climate change as well as to protect wildlife—for example, the conservation of orangutan and tiger habitat. The study also reveals a new scientific fact that demonstrates importance of preserving degraded forest, as more than 90 percent of the natural forest loss occurred within the degraded type, which contains significant carbon content.

The study, Primary forest cover loss in Indonesia over 2000–2012, was written by UMD geographical sciences professors Matthew C. Hansen and Peter V. Potapov, UMD geographical sciences graduate research assistant Belinda Arunarwati Margono and research associate Svetlana Turubanova, as well as Fred Stolle of the World Resource Institute. The researchers used earth observation data to quantify spatial and temporal trends of forest change in Indonesia.

Clemson University: Clemson scientists: Kudzu can release soil carbon, accelerate global warming
July 1, 2014

CLEMSON — Clemson University scientists are shedding new light on how invasion by exotic plant species affects the ability of soil to store greenhouse gases. The research could have far-reaching implications for how we manage agricultural land and native ecosystems.

In a paper published in the scientific journal New Phytologist, plant ecologist Nishanth Tharayil and graduate student Mioko Tamura show that invasive plants can accelerate the greenhouse effect by releasing carbon stored in soil into the atmosphere.

Since soil stores more carbon than both the atmosphere and terrestrial vegetation combined, the repercussions for how we manage agricultural land and ecosystems to facilitate the storage of carbon could be dramatic.


Agence France Presse via PhysOrg: Bigfoot hair samples mostly from bears, wolves
by Richard Ingham
Jul 02, 2014

For those who believe in the yeti, the news can only be described as, well, abominable. Science has cast its methodical eye on samples of hair reputed to have been left by the Himalayan snowman of legend... and determined they came from a bear or a goat.

Similarly crushing disappointment lies in wait for those who believe in Big Foot, the yeti's North American counterpart; in the almasty, the elusive man of the Central Asian wastes; and in the orang pendek, a bipedal hominid reputed to roam the mountainous forests of Sumatra.

Hat/Tip to annetteboardman for these stories.

University of Colorado: New study involving CU-Boulder tells the tale of a kangaroo’s tail
July 2, 2014

Kangaroos may be nature’s best hoppers. But when they are grazing on all fours, which is most of the time, their tail becomes a powerful fifth leg, says a new study.

Involving researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder, Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, Canada, and the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia, the study illuminates the seemingly mundane task of foraging by red kangaroos. While such activity appears awkward, it turns out their tails provide as much propulsive force as their front and hind legs combined as they eat their way across the landscape.

“We found that when a kangaroo is walking, it uses its tail just like a leg,” said Associate Professor Maxwell Donelan of Simon Fraser University, corresponding author for the study. “They use it to support, propel and power their motion. In fact, they perform as much mechanical work with their tails as we do with one of our legs.”


University of Alabama at Birmingham: Study finds method of HPV screening can be effective in developing countries
by Nicole Wyatt
June 30, 2014

Health screens for cancer-causing infections like HPV can be challenging in developing countries, where residing in rural areas can result in limited access to health services. New research from the University of Alabama at Birmingham examined the prevalence of high-risk HPV in Nepal, and finds that one method of screening for it can be effective.

Nearly all cases of cervical cancer are believed to be caused by HPV infection. Of the more than 270,000 deaths attributed to cervical cancer annually, around 85 percent are in developing countries, according to the World Health Organization. The incidence of cervical cancer in Nepal is 24.2 per 100,000, making Nepal a country with one of the highest cervical cancer rates in South Asia.

Sadeep Shrestha, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Epidemiology, is the senior author of the new study published to PLOS ONE that investigated HPV prevalence and screening methods in a remote district called Accham in Far Western Nepal.

University of Georgia: UGA experts warn of heat dangers for children and animals
June 30, 2014

Athens, Ga. - With summer temperatures on the rise, University of Georgia experts warn of the dangers of the Georgia heat-especially when caring for children and pets.

"It is never safe to leave a child unattended in a car for any length of time," said Andrew Grundstein, a geography professor who researches climate and health. "Cars can get dangerously hot very quickly this time of the year."

Grundstein has helped to create an easy-to-use temperature table of vehicle temperature changes that may help public officials and media remind the public about the deadly consequences of vehicle-related hyperthermia in children.

In hot weather in an open parking lot, the inside temperature of a car can rise by 7 degrees Fahrenheit in five minutes, 13 degrees in 10 minutes, 29 degrees in 30 minutes and 47 degrees in an hour. This means interior temperatures can reach levels lethal to children and animals in less time than some drivers might think.

Already there have been 13 vehicle hyperthermia deaths involving children this year, including two in Georgia.


LiveScience: Happy Fourth of July? Americans Less Satisfied with Personal Freedom
by Kelly Dickerson
July 01, 2014 03:48pm ET

Many Americans will be celebrating their freedom this Fourth of July with barbeques, beach trips and fireworks, but a new poll shows a significant decline in the number of Americans who are satisfied with their freedom to choose what they do with their lives.

A Gallup poll released today (July 1) shows that the number of Americans who reported they were satisfied with their freedom has dropped 12 points in less than a decade, from 91 percent in 2006 to 79 percent in 2013.

The number of Americans who reported they were dissatisfied with their level of freedom more than doubled since 2006, climbing from 9 percent to 21 percent.

LiveScience: Men Prefer Painful Shocks to Gadget-Free Alone Time
By Tanya Lewis, Staff Writer
July 03, 2014 02:02pm ET

For many people, being forced to spend a few minutes alone with their thoughts is an unpleasant experience, new research suggests.

A series of studies revealed that people would rather do an activity, such as listening to music or playing with a smartphone, than sit alone in a room for several minutes. In fact, some people — especially men — would rather give themselves mild electric shocks than do nothing, the researchers found.

"Those of us who enjoy some down time to just think likely find the results of this study surprising," Timothy Wilson, a psychologist at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, said in a statement, "but our study participants consistently demonstrated that they would rather have something to do than to have nothing other than their thoughts for even a fairly brief period of time."


New Scientist (UK): Virtual flashlight reveals secrets of ancient artefacts
by Aviva Rutkin
17:29 30 June 2014

Have a look at any ancient artefact and there's probably something there that you cannot see: stone corners that have long since chipped off; carvings rubbed away by time; or once-glorious colours that have faded. Now those missing features can be brought back to life, thanks to Revealing Flashlight, a system that projects computer-generated models on to real objects, filling in missing details wherever its spotlight lands.

Aiken Standard: Blood residue from ancient tools reveals clues about past
 •Dede Biles

Blood residue on spear points and other ancient stone tools made by American Indians thousands of years ago is providing scientists based at the Savannah River Site with new clues about life in the Carolinas thousands of years in the past.

The research is producing interesting information that indicates what animals those early people hunted and when huge Pleistocene creatures such as mammoths and mastodons might have ceased to exist.

Hurriyet Daily News (Turkey): Tablet about payment of donkey debt discovered in Kültepe believed to be oldest trade document

Archaeologists working on the Kültepe-Kanis,-Karum trade colony in the Central Anatolian province of Kayseri have discovered a trade document believed to be the world’s oldest.

Ankara University Archaeology Department academic and the head of the excavations, Professor Fikri Kulakog(lu, said the artifact mentioned the payment of a “donkey debt.”

The Guardian (UK): Prehistoric circle dated to same summer as Seahenge neighbour
Holme II on Norfolk beach said to have been built in 2049BC as part of same timber complex honouring death as Seahenge
Maev Kennedy

A second prehistoric circle on a Norfolk beach has been dated to the same summer more than 4,000 years ago as its famous neighbour, Seahenge.

Archaeologists believe the two circles, which originally stood inland in boggy freshwater but are now being eroded gradually by the tides, were part of the same monumental complex connected with rites to honour the dead.

Al-Ahram (Egypt): King Mentuhotep II's chapel unearthed in Sohag
A well preserved limestone chapel from the reign of the 11th Dynasty king Mentuhotep II has been unearthed in Sohag
Nevine El-Aref

At the Arabet Abydos area in Sohag, where the large temple of King Seti I is located, an Egyptian excavation mission from the Ministry of Antiquities and Heritage (MAH) stumbled upon a limestone ancient Egyptian chapel from the 11th Dynasty.

The excavation work came within the framework of a cleaning programme carried out by the MAH in that area, after officers of the tourism and antiquities police caught red handed inhabitants trying to illegally excavate the area in front their residences in search of treasured artefacts.

Hereford Times (UK): Bizarre Bronze Age blade found near Hereford

A MYSTERIOUS Bronze Age axe blade unearthed near Sutton has left experts at the British Museum speculating about why its owners were trying to destroy it.

The blade contains a fragment of a sword, also dating from 1950-1750BC, that had been thrust into the axe to make it unusable.

And historians are split over why it was deliberately destroyed and left near a river.

Discovery News: Rome's Colosseum a Condominium in Medieval Times
by Rossella Lorenzi

Forget gory shows and gladiatorial combat. In the late Middle Ages, Rome's Colosseum was a huge condominium, says the latest archaeological investigation into Rome's most iconic monument.

Archaeologists from Roma Tre University and students from the American University of Rome unearthed evidence showing that ordinary Romans lived within the Colosseum from the ninth century until at least 1349, when the building was seriously damaged by an earthquake.

Western Digs: Evidence of Hobbling, Torture Discovered at Ancient Massacre Site in Colorado

The site of a gruesome massacre some 1,200 years ago in southwestern Colorado is yielding new evidence of the severity, and the grisly intensity, of the violence that took place there.

First excavated in 2005 near the town of Durango, the site known as Sacred Ridge was in some ways a typical early Pueblo settlement, a collection of pithouses situated not far from similar communities, dated to around the year 800.

But digs at Sacred Ridge soon revealed a scene of visceral conflict that archaeologists are still trying to piece together.

The Hamilton Spectator (Canada): Ancient site of Inuit found on coast of Hudson Bay
By Chinta Puxley

WINNIPEG — On the western coast of Hudson Bay in northern Manitoba there's a gravelly cliff, covered in grass and large rocks, with a 360-degree view of the stark and wild area around it.

It doesn't look like much to the untrained eye, but some 400 years before Europeans set foot in North America, the cliff was a thriving hunting camp for the ancestors of today's Inuit.

The Journal (UK): Three year dig uncovers medieval hospital
By Tony Henderson
Jun 27, 2014 19:00

The final days of a three-year community dig have uncovered firm evidence of a medieval hospital buried beneath a Tyneside park.

The volunteer-staffed archaeology project is part of a restoration project for Northumberland Park on the North Shields-Tynemouth border.

When the park was being laid out in the 1880s, there were reports of workmen finding medieval remains and there are documentary references to a St Leonard’s Hospital on the site from the 13th Century.

LiveScience: Native Americans Had a Precolonial Baby Boom
By Tia Ghose, Staff Writer

For hundreds of years, Native Americans in the southwestern United States had a prolonged baby boom — which would average out to each woman giving birth to more than six children, a new study finds. That baby streak, however, ended a little before the Spanish colonized the Americas.

"Birthrates were as high, or even higher, than anything we know in the world today," said study co-author Tim Kohler, an archaeologist and anthropologist at Washington State University.

Times of India: Shah Jahan’s summer palace found near Taj
Aditya Dev, TNN
Jul 2, 2014, 06.42AM IST

AGRA: In an interesting discovery following excavations carried out by the Archaeological Survey of India recently, remains of a summer palace, presumably a baradari, a pavilion designed to allow free flow of air - have been reportedly found at the centuries-old Mughal-era garden Mehtab Bagh located opposite the Taj Mahal.

The garden was reputedly Shah Jahan's favourite spot which he used to visit to get a view of the Taj at night, hence it's name (Mehtab means moonlight in Urdu).

Fox 11: Group says it’s found Le Griffon
By Ben Krumholz

FAIRPORT, Mich. – After searching for about four decades, an exploration group says it has found Lake Michigan’s oldest known shipwreck.

French explorer Robert La Salle’s Le Griffon and its six-member crew disappeared in 1679 after leaving Washington Island.

The Great Lakes Exploration Group thought it found the long-lost Griffon in 2001 when it found a wooden beam sticking out of the bed of Lake Michigan. After years of court battles, excavation around the beam last summer found it wasn’t connected to a ship.

Hat/Tip to annetteboardman for these stories.


Washington University in St. Louis via Science Daily: Insect diet helped early humans build bigger brains: Quest for elusive bugs spurred primate tool use, problem-solving skills
July 1, 2014

Figuring out how to survive on a lean-season diet of hard-to-reach ants, slugs and other bugs may have spurred the development of bigger brains and higher-level cognitive functions in the ancestors of humans and other primates, suggests research from Washington University in St. Louis.

"Challenges associated with finding food have long been recognized as important in shaping evolution of the brain and cognition in primates, including humans," said Amanda D. Melin, PhD, assistant professor of anthropology in Arts & Sciences and lead author of the study.

NPR: Dance Of Human Evolution Was Herky-Jerky, Fossils Suggest
by Christopher Joyce

A trio of anthropologists has decided it's time to rewrite the story of human evolution.

That narrative has always been a work in progress, because almost every time scientists dig up a new fossil bone or a stone tool, it adds a new twist to the story. Discoveries lead to new arguments over the details of how we became who we are.

Science Magazine: Tibetans inherited high-altitude gene from ancient human
By Ann Gibbons

A “superathlete” gene that helps Sherpas and other Tibetans breathe easy at high altitudes was inherited from an ancient species of human. That’s the conclusion of a new study, which finds that the gene variant came from people known as Denisovans, who went extinct soon after they mated with the ancestors of Europeans and Asians about 40,000 years ago. This is the first time a version of a gene acquired from interbreeding with another type of human has been shown to help modern humans adapt to their environment.

UC San Francisco: In Human Evolution, Changes in Skin’s Barrier Set Northern Europeans Apart
UCSF Study Questions Role of Skin Pigment in Enabling Survival at Higher Latitudes
By Jeffrey Norris

The popular idea that Northern Europeans developed light skin to absorb more UV light so they could make more vitamin D – vital for healthy bones and immune function – is questioned by UC San Francisco researchers in a new study published online in the journal Evolutionary Biology.

Ramping up the skin’s capacity to capture UV light to make vitamin D is indeed important, according to a team led by Peter Elias, MD, a UCSF professor of dermatology. However, Elias and colleagues concluded in their study that changes in the skin’s function as a barrier to the elements made a greater contribution than alterations in skin pigment in the ability of Northern Europeans to make vitamin D.

Wyoming Public Media: Rare Mammoth Site Excavated In Douglas
By Melodie Edwards

Under the hot sun next to LaPrele Creek, UW anthropology professor Todd Surovell and several of his field school students are hunched over a curved mound protruding from the ground.  It’s the size and shape of a French baguette, and it’s the rib of an ice age mammoth.  They’re getting the bone ready to remove.  Very carefully

“What I’m thinking we’ll do is remove it as a block,” Surovell says.  “So we’ll wrap the whole thing in plaster.  And then take it out as one big piece.”

Hat/Tip to annetteboardman for these stories.

Georgia Tech: Evolution of life's operating system revealed in detail
Posted June 30, 2014 | Atlanta, GA

The evolution of the ribosome, a large molecular structure found in the cells of all species, has been revealed in unprecedented detail in a new study.

Around 4 billion years ago, the first molecules of life came together on the early Earth and formed precursors of modern proteins and RNA. Scientists studying the origin of life have been searching for clues about how these reactions happened. Some of those clues have been found in the ribosome.

The core of the ribosome is essentially the same in all living systems, while the outer regions expand and become complicated as species gain complexity. By digitally peeling back the layers of modern ribosomes in the new study, scientists were able to model the structures of primordial ribosomes.

University of Colorado: U. of Chicago, CU-Boulder-led study: Some sharks tolerated brackish Arctic Ocean 50 million years ago
June 30, 2014

Sharks were a tolerant bunch some 50 million years ago, cruising an Arctic Ocean that contained about the same percentage of freshwater as Louisiana’s Lake Ponchatrain does today, says a new study involving the University of Colorado Boulder and the University of Chicago.

The study indicates the Eocene Arctic sand tiger shark, a member of the lamniform group of sharks that includes today’s great white, thresher and mako sharks, was thriving in the brackish water of the western Arctic Ocean back then. In contrast, modern sand tiger sharks living today in the Atlantic Ocean are very intolerant of low salinity, requiring three times the saltiness of the Eocene sharks in order to survive.

“This study shows the Arctic Ocean was very brackish and had reduced salinity back then,” said University of Chicago postdoctoral researcher Sora Kim, first author on the study. “The ancient sand tiger sharks that lived in the Arctic during the Eocene were very different than sand tiger sharks living in the Atlantic Ocean today.”


LiveScience: How Extinct Undersea Volcanoes Trigger Rare 'Tsunami Earthquakes
by Kelly Dickerson
June 30, 2014 02:42pm ET

How unusual slow earthquakes can spawn powerful tsunamis is a long-standing mystery that researchers may have finally solved.

Called "tsunami earthquakes," these slow quakes are capable of creating huge waves that can cause serious damage to coastal cities. Tsunami earthquakes are not like typical earthquakes. They happen slowly and don't generate the same kind of violent shaking as typical earthquakes — the tell-tale sign that it's time to evacuate.

Scientists first discovered tsunami earthquakes 35 years ago and they happen so rarely there has been little opportunity to study them since. Now, a new study suggests that tsunami earthquakes happen when two sections of Earth's crust, called tectonic plates, get hung up on extinct volcanoes on the ocean floor, called seamounts. The seamounts act like tread on a tire and make tectonic plates stick.


Cornell University: Four of 10 wells forecast to fail in northeastern Pa.
By Blaine Friedlander
June 30, 2014

About 40 percent of the oil and gas wells in parts of the Marcellus shale region will probably be leaking methane into the groundwater or into the atmosphere, concludes a Cornell-led research team that examined the records of more than 41,000 such wells in Pennsylvania.

In research published today (June 30) in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the researchers examined Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection inspection records that show compromised cement and/or casing integrity in more than 6 percent of the active gas wells drilled in the Marcellus region of Pennsylvania. This study shows up to a 2.7-fold higher risk for unconventional wells – relative to conventional wells – drilled since 2009 in the northeastern region of the Marcellus in Pennsylvania.

“These results, particularly in light of numerous contamination complaints and explosions nationally in areas with high concentrations of unconventional oil and gas development and the increased awareness of the role of methane in ... climate change, should be cause for concern,” said the researchers in the paper. Anthony Ingraffea, Cornell professor of civil and environmental engineering, an expert on drilling and hydraulic fracturing, led the study.

University of North Carolina: UNC gets millions in federal funding to expand solar energy research
June 30, 2014

The Energy Frontier Research Center for Solar Fuels (EFRC) at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill received $10.8 million from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Basic Energy Sciences to advance emerging solar energy technologies and to turn these technologies into devices that can efficiently produce fuels.

This award, part of a $100 million per year initiative from the Department of Energy for research, allows the UNC EFRC to continue to create innovative approaches to producing solar fuels with the energy of the sun stored for night-time use. It will build upon the center’s capstone project: the dye-sensitized photoelectrosynthesis cell. DOE support will be used to optimize device components and integrate them into devices for generating and storing solar fuels for long durations, at low cost and with earth-abundant materials.

The UNC EFRC for Solar Fuels is led by UNC-Chapel Hill’s Thomas J. Meyer, Arey Professor of Chemistry. It benefits from research collaborators at the University of Florida, Georgia Institute of Technology and Research Triangle Institute and strong institutional support from UNC.

University of Utah: Light Rail Reduces Auto, Gasoline Use and CO2 Emissions
U study quantifies impacts of rail line on existing traffic corridor

July 3, 2014 – For the first time, researchers have shown that installing light rail on an existing traffic corridor not only gets people out of their cars, but reduces congestion and air pollution.

In the study, planners at the University of Utah measured impacts of a new light rail line in Salt Lake City (University Line) on an existing major thoroughfare (400/500 South).  Their analysis showed that traffic near the University has fallen to levels not seen since the 1980s, even as the number of students, faculty and staff at the U has increased, and the commercial district along the corridor has expanded.

“This is the first study to document important effects of light rail transit on traffic volumes,” said Reid Ewing, professor of city and metropolitan planning at the University of Utah and lead author on the study. “Since the University TRAX line opened, there has been increased development in the 400/500 South travel corridor, yet traffic on the street has actually declined. Our calculations show that without the University TRAX line, there would be at least 9,300 more cars per day on 400/500 South, and possibly as many as 21,700 additional cars. The line avoids gridlock, as well as saves an additional 13 tons of toxic air pollutants. This is important knowledge for shaping future transportation policies.”


Georgia Tech: Study of animal urination could lead to better-engineered products
Sir Isaac Newton probably wasn't thinking about how animals urinate when he was developing his laws of gravity. But they are connected - by the urethra, to be specific.
Posted June 30, 2014 | Atlanta, GA

A new Georgia Institute of Technology study investigated how quickly 32 animals urinate. It turns out that it’s all about the same. Even though an elephant’s bladder is 3,600 times larger than a cat’s (18 liters vs. 5 milliliters), both animals relieve themselves in about 20 seconds. In fact, all animals that weigh more than 3 kilograms (6.6 pounds) urinate in that same time span.

“It’s possible because larger animals have longer urethras,” said David Hu, the Georgia Tech assistant professor who led the study. “The weight of the fluid in the urethra is pushing the fluid out. And because the urethra is long, flow rate is increased.”

For example, an elephant’s urethra is one meter in length. The pressure of fluid in it is the same at the bottom of a swimming pool three feet deep. An elephant urinates four meters per second, or the same volume per second as five showerheads.


Georgia Tech: Hollow-Fiber MOF Membranes Could Cut Separation Costs, Energy Use
Posted July 3, 2014 | Atlanta, GA

Researchers have developed a microfluidic technique for fabricating a new class of metal-organic framework (MOF) membranes inside hollow polymer fibers that are just a few hundred microns in diameter. The new fabrication process, believed to be the first to grow MOF membranes inside hollow fibers, could potentially change the way large-scale energy-intensive chemical separations are done.

The researchers believe the process can be scaled up to inexpensively provide large membrane surface areas in compact modules. By replacing energy-intensive distillation or cryogenic techniques, these molecular sieving membranes could cut the cost of gaseous and liquid separations, reduce energy consumption – and lead to industrial processes that generate less carbon dioxide. The researchers have demonstrated that membranes produced with the new technique can separate hydrogen from hydrocarbon mixtures, and propylene from propane.

Development of the membrane fabrication methodology was described in the July 4, 2014, issue of the journal Science.

Cornell University: Professor proves textbooks wrong on steroid protein
By Stacey Shackford
June 30, 2014

Assistant professor of animal science Vimal Selvaraj inadvertently courted controversy when he published a paper last October refuting long-held beliefs about a protein assumed to be essential to the production of steroids. His research stirred debate among endocrinology researchers and pharmaceutical companies who had spent decades – and millions of dollars – targeting the wrong protein in their quest to create treatments for hormone disorders.

A new paper published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry (June 16) provides further proof that the textbooks are wrong when it comes to the translocator protein (TSPO).

Cholesterol is key in the production of steroid hormones, including testosterone, estrogen and the stress hormone cortisol. To be transformed, it must cross two mitochondrial membranes, and it needs help to do so. TSPO was thought to be the vital transport vehicle.

SUNY Binghamton: Study helps unlock mystery of high-temp superconductors
By Rachel Coker
Published on June 30, 2014

A Binghamton University physicist and his colleagues say they have unlocked one key mystery surrounding high-temperature superconductivity. Their research, published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found a remarkable phenomenon in copper-oxide (cuprate) high-temperature superconductors.

Michael Lawler, assistant professor of physics at Binghamton, is part of an international team of physicists with an ongoing interest in the mysterious pseudogap phase, the phase situated between insulating and superconducting phases in the cuprate phase diagram.

“Evidence has been accumulating that this phase supports an exotic density wave state that may be key to its existence,” the physicists write in the new journal article. A density wave forms in a metal if the fluid electrons themselves crystalize.

North Carolina State University: Inspired by Nature, Researchers Create Tougher Metal Materials
July 2, 2014

Drawing inspiration from the structure of bones and bamboo, researchers have found that by gradually changing the internal structure of metals they can make stronger, tougher materials that can be customized for a wide variety of applications – from body armor to automobile parts.

“If you looked at metal under a microscope you’d see that it is composed of millions of closely-packed grains,” says Yuntian Zhu, a professor of materials science and engineering at NC State and senior author of two papers on the new work. “The size and disposition of those grains affect the metal’s physical characteristics.”

“Having small grains on the surface makes the metal harder, but also makes it less ductile – meaning it can’t be stretched very far without breaking,” says Xiaolei Wu, a professor of materials science at the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Mechanics, and lead author of the two papers. “But if we gradually increase the size of the grains lower down in the material, we can make the metal more ductile. You see similar variation in the size and distribution of structures in a cross-section of bone or a bamboo stalk. In short, the gradual interface of the large and small grains makes the overall material stronger and more ductile, which is a combination of characteristics that is unattainable in conventional materials.

“We call this a ‘gradient structure,’ and you can use this technique to customize a metal’s characteristics,” Wu adds.

Science Crime Scenes

The Telegraph (UK): Iraq's 'Exorcist' temple falls into Isis jihadist hands
Ancient pre-Christian temple in northern Iraq featured in film The Exorcist at risk of destruction by Isis jihadists
By Colin Freeman, Baghdad

An ancient temple made famous in the film The Exorcist has fallen into the hands of the Islamic militants who have taken over northern Iraq, the Telegraph has learnt.

The pre-Christian worship complex at Hatra, a vast network of 200-ft high sun-god temples that is a Unesco world heritage site, features in the opening sequence of the 1973 horror classic.

May Pazuzu curse the Sith Jihad.

Recorder via Daily Hampshire Gazette: Deerfield farmer wants UMass to return 'several thousand' Indian relics archaeology students have dug up on his land since 1989
Recorder Staff
Monday, June 30, 2014
 (Published in print: Tuesday, July 1, 2014)

DEERFIELD — After allowing the University of Massachusetts Archaeological Field School on its private farmland for years, a Deerfield family is asking for the return of Indian artifacts found on their property.

The Yazwinskis of Yazwinski Farm say they are seeking site reports and inventory lists of artifacts found on their land during field school archaeology digs from the state university and are asking for the artifacts back.

Hat/Tip to annetteboardman for these stories.

Science, Space, Health, Environment, and Energy Policy

Al-Jazeera America: Suburban expansion threatens prehistoric sites near St. Louis
As development continues westward, a new batch of artifact-rich sites lies at risk
by Ryan Schuessler

CHESTERFIELD, Mo. — Mark Leach remembers the moment he discovered his passion for archaeology. Years ago, he and his sons were playing in their neighborhood creek in this outer suburb of St. Louis. They found a funny-shaped rock, which Leach thought resembled a knife.

He took it to an archaeologist, who confirmed its authenticity: It was a tool, probably about 4,000 years old. The archaeologist didn’t seem fazed, but Leach was fascinated.

Cortez Journal: Mesa Verde seeks plan to battle crowding at park
Popular sites are often overrun, leaving Wetherill mostly unvisited
By Jim Mimiaga

At Mesa Verde National Park, officials have been struggling with how to prevent congestion and improve the park experience.

 “It is no secret Chapin Mesa gets overrun,” says deputy superintendent Bill Nelligan. “The plan has always been to redirect visitors and traffic to Wetherill Mesa, but that has not worked out as well as we had hoped.”

Now the park is asking the public for ideas to solve the problem.

Hat/Tip to annetteboardman for these stories.

University of Maryland: UMD Researcher Aims to Close Climate Change Policy Information Gap
Team of Scientists Addresses Critical Policy Discussion by Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
July 3, 2014

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - While a significant body of widely accepted scientific evidence demonstrating human impact on climate change is mounting, political hurdles are preventing policymakers from accepting these findings, thus affecting meaningful mitigation actions, according to a new report in Science. A team of leading researchers including Giovanni Baiocchi, an associate professor in UMD's Department of Geographical Sciences, is reporting that information gaps between scientific consensus and what is deemed politically acceptable to present publicly are severely hindering discussions on environmental policy and best practices.

In April in Berlin, governments approved the third of three scientific reports comprising the fifth assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). However, scientists were barred from presenting their complete findings.

"This report was designed to disseminate climate change mitigation options, but important information was removed from the summary for policymakers by government delegates for political reasons," Dr. Baiocchi said. "What happened again raises important questions on how complex scientific findings can be reported to politicians and to the general public.

Science Education

Colorado State University: Colorado research universities to lead U.S. contribution to global environmental initiative
July 2, 2014

The United States has been selected as one of five international hubs for Future Earth, an ambitious 10-year research initiative to address global environmental change solutions and actions. The U.S. hub will be headquartered in Colorado and managed jointly by Colorado State University and the University of Colorado-Boulder.

Other Future Earth global hubs will be located in Canada, France, Japan and Sweden. In addition to these global hubs, a number of regional hubs are established or in development in Latin America, the Middle East, Asia, and in Africa.

The selection was announced July 2 by the International Council for Science, or ICSU, based in Paris and the interim secretariat for Future Earth.

Science Writing and Reporting via LiveScience: 'Innovation the NASA Way' (US 2014): Book Excerpt

R NASA's approach to leadership has inspired the public for decades, achieving results and overcoming obstacles that so often seemed impossible. Rod Pyle has provided leadership training to top executives at the agency and learned first-hand the situations that have guided the space agency at its most critical moments. With his latest book, he shares what he has learned and offers insight into both the inner workings of NASA and leadership lessons that span disciplines.

Below is an excerpt from his book, the first chapter of  "Innovation the NASA Way: Harnessing the Power of Your Organization for Breakthrough Success" — problem-solving anecdotes and lessons from the Mars Curiosity mission.

Science is Cool

Entertainment Weekly: Fox cancels sexy Egypt fantasy 'Hieroglyph' before premiere
By James Hibberd

Fox has decided not to make its ambitious Ancient Egypt drama series after all.

The network is shutting down Hieroglyph, the network’s sexy historical-fantasy thriller that was previously given a straight-to-series order for midseason.

The show’s writers were informed earlier Monday, sources say. The show starred Max Brown, Reece Ritchie, Condola Rashad and John Rhys-Davies. Only one episode had been shot, but scripts had been written for several more episodes. We’re told that the series wasn’t creatively coming together the way executives had hoped.

Hat/Tip to annetteboardman for these stories.

Originally posted to Overnight News Digest on Sat Jul 05, 2014 at 09:08 PM PDT.

Also republished by SciTech and Astro Kos.

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