Culture

As the United States looks to alternate fuel sources, ethanol has become one of the front runners. Farmers have begun planting corn in the hopes that its potential new use for corn will be a new income source. What many don't realize, is the potential for other crops, besides corn, to provide an alternate energy source to fossil fuels. Scientists studied the greenhouse gas emissions and bioenergy of corn, hybrid poplar, switchgrass, and other crops to determine the efficiency of various biocrops in terms of energy consumption and energy output.

Henry Ford has long been heralded as the father of modern mass automotive production.

However, a controversial new paper by two Cardiff University researchers suggests that history may have got the wrong man. Dr Paul Nieuwenhuis and Dr Peter Wells of the Centre for Automotive Industry Research, Cardiff Business School, suggest it was Edward G Budd of Philadelphia whose development of the pressed steel car body truly developed mass production as it is known today.

Dr Alwyn Ruddock, a former reader in history at the University of London, was the world expert on John Cabot's discovery voyages from Bristol to North America (1496-98). What she was said to have found out about these voyages looked set to re-write the history of the European discovery of America. Yet, when Dr Ruddock died in December 2005, having spent four decades researching this topic, she ordered the destruction of all her research.

The story of some violent historic earthquakes may need to be revisited, according to a study published in the April issue of the Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America (BSSA). Seismologists rely on written accounts, mostly local newspaper articles, to judge how strongly the ground shook during earthquakes that predate the use of current instrumentation. Those news accounts have proven to be misleading, say scientists, and reliance upon them must be tempered when evaluating the size of past earthquakes.

A new study coordinated by the New York-based Wildlife Conservation Society and other groups found that Central Africa’s increasing network of roads – which are penetrating deeper and deeper into the wildest areas of the Congo Basin – are becoming highways of death for the little known forest elephant. The study, which appears in the journal Public Library of Science, concludes that forest elephants are severely impacted by ivory poachers who use roads to gain access into their remote jungle home.

Intimidation and threats are common throughout society, whether it’s in the school playground, sporting arena or boardroom. Threatening behaviour is equally widespread among non-human animals.

Individuals signal their superior strength to competitors to obtain food, resolve territorial disputes and acquire mates. Current theory insists that signals of strength should be honest. Surprisingly researchers have found that dishonest signals are used routinely during dominance disputes by male Australian crayfish.

Bacteria must talk to each other, in a sense. They use signals to inform neighbors whether to switch certain genes on or off and this allows them to adapt to changing circumstances.

Scientists have identified three different signals that indicate damage to chloroplasts— the photosynthetic factories of plant cells that give plants their green color —but little is known about how the signal gets passed on to the nucleus. Scientists at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies made a big step towards explaining how chloroplasts let a cell's nucleus know when things start to go wrong at the periphery so nuclear gene expression can be adjusted accordingly.

Combining precise observations obtained by ESO's Very Large Telescope with those gathered by a network of smaller telescopes, astronomers have described in unprecedented detail the double asteroid Antiope, which is shown to be a pair of rubble-pile chunks of material, of about the same size, whirling around one another in a perpetual pas de deux. The two components are egg-shaped despite their very small sizes.

Picture the flow of water over a rock. At very low speeds, the water looks like a smooth sheet skimming the rock's surface. As the water rushes faster, the flow turns into turbulent, roiling whitewater that can overturn your raft.