Earth

Impurity size affects performance of emerging superconductive material

Impurity size affects performance of emerging superconductive material

Research from North Carolina State University finds that impurities can hurt performance – or possibly provide benefits – in a key superconductive material that is expected to find use in a host of applications, including future particle colliders. The size of the impurities determines whether they help or hinder the material's performance.

Better thermal-imaging lens from waste sulfur

Better thermal-imaging lens from waste sulfur

Sulfur left over from refining fossil fuels can be transformed into cheap, lightweight, plastic lenses for infrared devices, including night-vision goggles, a University of Arizona-led international team has found.

The team successfully took thermal images of a person through a piece of the new plastic. By contrast, taking a picture taken through the plastic often used for ordinary lenses does not show a person's body heat.

AGU: More, bigger wildfires burning western US, study shows

AGU: More, bigger wildfires burning western US, study shows

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Wildfires across the western United States have been getting bigger and more frequent over the last 30 years – a trend that could continue as climate change causes temperatures to rise and drought to become more severe in the coming decades, according to new research.

Clean air: Fewer sources for self-cleaning

Clean air: Fewer sources for self-cleaning

Drought and fire in the Amazon lead to sharp increases in forest tree mortality

Drought and fire in the Amazon lead to sharp increases in forest tree mortality

Ongoing deforestation and fragmentation of forests in the Amazon help create tinderbox conditions for wildfires in remnant forests, contributing to rapid and widespread forest loss during drought years, according to a team of researchers.

The findings show that forests in the Amazon could reach a "tipping point" when severe droughts coupled with forest fires lead to large-scale loss of trees, making recovery more difficult, said Jennifer Balch, assistant professor of geography, Penn State.

Lab researcher discovers the green in Greenland

At one point in history, Greenland was actually green and not a country covered in ice.

An international team of researchers, including a scientist from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, has discovered that ancient dirt in Greenland was cryogenically frozen for millions of years under nearly two miles of ice.

More than 2.5 million years ago. Greenland looked like the green Alaskan tundra, before it was covered by the second largest body of ice on Earth.

Thinnest feasible membrane produced

Researchers have produced a stable porous membrane that is thinner than a nanometre. This is a 100,000 times thinner than the diameter of a human hair. The membrane consists of two layers of the much exalted "super material" graphene, a two-dimensional film made of carbon atoms, on which the team of researchers, led by Professor Hyung Gyu Park at the Department of Mechanical and Process Engineering at ETH Zurich, etched tiny pores of a precisely defined size.

Surprising material could play role in saving energy

One strategy for addressing the world's energy crisis is to stop wasting so much energy when producing and using it, which can happen in coal-fired power plants or transportation. Nearly two-thirds of energy input is lost as waste heat.

Now Northwestern University scientists have discovered a surprising material that is the best in the world at converting waste heat to useful electricity. This outstanding property could be exploited in solid-state thermoelectric devices in a variety of industries, with potentially enormous energy savings.

Structure of sodium channels different than previously believed

Sodium channels are implicated in many serious conditions such as heart disease, epilepsy and pain, making them an important potential target for drug therapies. Unfortunately, there is still much scientists do not know about the molecules. New Cambridge research provides fresh and unexpected insight into the structure of sodium channels and, specifically, one of its components - β-subunit molecules - which are responsible for 'fine-tuning' the activity of the channel. The research is published in the most recent edition of the Journal of Biological Chemistry.

Methane climate change risk suggested by proof of redox cycling of humic substances

The recent Yokahama IPCC meeting painted a stark warning on the possible effects of gases such as methane – which has a greenhouse effect 32 times that of carbon dioxide. Now a team of Swiss-German researchers have shown that humic substances act as fully regenerable electron acceptors which helps explain why large amount of methane are held in wetlands instead of being released to the atmosphere. However, there are worries that if this system is disrupted it may enter into a vicious cycle to release large amounts of methane back into the atmosphere.