Archive by date | March 2011

What International Polar Year discovered

What International Polar Year discovered

With 50,000 student, scientists, crew and technicians from more than 60 nations working on 170 projects with a total budget of US$1.3 billion, the International Polar Year (IPY), which ran from March 2007 to March 2009, was the largest research effort ever undertaken in the Arctic and Antarctica. A summary report released today (also here) describes its wealth of findings.  Read more

MIT scientist announces first “practical” artificial leaf

MIT scientist announces first "practical" artificial leaf

Daniel Nocera, a chemist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts, has unveiled a prototype solar-powered device the size of a playing card that can break water down into hydrogen and oxygen – valuable fuels for producing electricity via fuel cells.

NASA spacecraft vulnerable to cyber-attack

NASA spacecraft vulnerable to cyber-attack

Cyber criminals could have a field day with insecure computers at NASA, possibly including those controlling the Hubble Space Telescope (pictured), the Space Shuttle, the International Space Station and the Cassini and Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiters, according to an audit report from NASA’s inspector-general Paul Martin released today.  Read more

Breaking news: Fukushima — Radioactivity 10-million times normal detected at reactor 2

The Japanese TV channel NHK is reporting that radioactivity 10-million times higher than normal has been detected today in water flooding a basement of the turbine building of reactor number 2. The elements seems likely to have come from leaks from inside the reactor, or the water-filled supression chamber through which excess pressure from the reactor is vented and filtered. The reported dose level of 1,000 millisieverts/hr would appear to be lethal with just a few hours exposure. Workers have been evacuated from the site, which will hamper further attempts to bring the power plant under control. More later…  … Read more

Shortages of scarce natural resources coming, warn chemists

Shortages of scarce natural resources coming, warn chemists

Leading chemists from around the world have warned that scarce natural resources, such as phosphate minerals mined for fertilisers, are “dwindling at an alarming rate” and shortages could hit within a generation. (See Nature’s coverage of the phosphate crisis here and here.) Five scientific societies, including the Chinese Chemical Society, the German Chemical Society, and the UK’s Royal Society of Chemistry, warn in a report today that falling supplies of these essential elements are “a potentially more pressing concern than the decreasing supply of oil.” “Little public awareness exists about the uncertain supplies of these key materials that we face  … Read more

Pinning down past interactions: climate and civilization

Pinning down past interactions: climate and civilization

Santa Fe, New Mexico – This much we know: The pueblo population at Bandelier in the Jemez Mountains of northern New Mexico reached its height around 1300 and then held on for another two and a half centuries. Residents left the canyons and highlands of the Pajarito Plateau for the Rio Grande valley in the middle of the 16th century, around the same time that the region was struck by a multi-decade drought.  Read more