Earth

How to generate Möbius strips - of light

How to generate Möbius strips - of light

A collaboration of researchers have experimentally produced Möbius strips from the polarization of light, confirming a theoretical prediction that it is possible for light's electromagnetic field to assume this peculiar shape.

Möbius strips are easy to create. Take a strip of paper, twist it once and join up the ends. That's it, you have created a Möbius strip: a three dimensional structure that has only one side. Millions of school children do exactly this in classrooms every year. But finding Möbius strips occurring naturally is another issue.

Have warming seas caused skyrocketing sea slug populations?

Have warming seas caused skyrocketing sea slug populations?

The warm ocean temperatures that brought an endangered green sea turtle to San Francisco in September have triggered a population explosion of bright pink, inch-long sea slugs in tide pools along California's central and northern coastline. The Hopkins' Rose nudibranch, while no strange sight in Southern California, is rarely spotted farther north.

Ancient skull proves modern humans colonized Eurasia 60-70,000 years ago

Ancient skull proves modern humans colonized Eurasia 60-70,000 years ago

While it is widely accepted that the origins of modern humans date back some 200,000 years to Africa, there has been furious debate as to which model of early Homo sapiens migration most plausibly led to the population of the planet -- and the eventual extinction of Neanderthals.

Biofouling: Ocean acidification changes make a difference

Biofouling: Ocean acidification changes make a difference

A new study of marine organisms that make up the 'biofouling community' - tiny creatures that attach themselves to ships' hulls and rocks in the ocean around the world - shows how they adapt to changing ocean acidification. Reporting in the journal Global Change Biology, the authors examine how these communities may respond to future change.

Heat waves more prominent in urban areas

The world's urban areas have experienced significant increases in heat waves over the past 40 years, according to new research published today.

These prolonged periods of extreme hot days have significantly increased in over 200 urban areas across the globe between 1973 and 2012, and have been most prominent in the most recent years on record.

Renewables: One crop, for both animal feed and biofuel

The efficient production of both biofuel and animal feed from one crop is now possible, and can be done on a farm without the need for off-site processes. The research, published in the open access journal Biotechnology for Biofuels, demonstrates the practical potential of an alternative to fossil fuels that does not compete with food resources.

Where did the missing BP oil go? The Gulf of Mexico floor

fter 200 million gallons of crude oil spilled into the Gulf of Mexico in April 2010, the government and BP cleanup crews mysteriously had trouble locating all of it.

Now, a new study led by Florida State University Professor of Oceanography Jeff Chanton finds that some 6 million to 10 million gallons are buried in the sediment on the Gulf floor, about 62 miles southeast of the Mississippi Delta.

In a role reversal, RNAs proofread themselves

Building a protein is a lot like a telephone list: information is passed along from one messenger to another and with that comes the potential for errors in each step. There are separate, specialized enzymatic machines that proofread at each step, ensuring that the instructions encoded in our DNA are faithfully translated into proteins.

Cantona: Long series of droughts doomed Mexican city 1,000 years ago

rchaeologists continue to debate the reasons for the collapse of many Central American cities and states, from Teotihuacan in Mexico to the Yucatan Maya, and climate change is considered one of the major causes.

A University of California, Berkeley, study sheds new light on this question, providing evidence that a prolonged period of below-average rainfall was partly responsible for the abandonment of one such city, Cantona, between A.D. 900 and A.D. 1050.

Erratic as normal: Arctic sea ice loss isn't predictable in the short term

Arctic sea ice extent plunged precipitously from 2001 to 2007, then barely budged between 2007 and 2013. Even in a warming world, researchers should expect such unusual periods of no change--and rapid change--at the world's northern reaches, according to a new paper.

"Human-caused global warming is melting Arctic sea ice over the long term, but the Arctic is a variable place, said Jennifer Kay, a fellow of the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences at the University of Colorado Boulder and co-author of the new analysis out today in Nature Climate Change.