Legislative & Regulatory Update

The reasons for our left or right-handedness

Unlike hitherto assumed, the cause is not to be found in the brain.It is not the brain that determines if people are right or left-handed, but the spinal cord. This has been inferred from the research results compiled by a team headed by private lecturer Dr Sebastian Ocklenburg, Judith Schmitz, and Prof Dr H. C. Onur Güntürkün. Together with colleagues from the Netherlands and from South Africa, the biopsychologists at Ruhr-Universität Bochum have demonstrated that gene activity in the spinal cord is asymmetrical already in the womb. A preference for the left or the right hand might be traced back to that asymmetry.“These results fundamentally change our understanding of the cause of hemispheric asymmetries,” conclude the authors. The team report about their study in the journal “eLife”. 

NIST Quest for Climate-Friendly Refrigerants Finds Complicated Choices

Climate Change News - ENN - February 17, 2017 - 10:23am
Researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have just completed a multiyear study to identify the “best” candidates for future use as air conditioning refrigerants that will have the lowest impact on the climate.Unfortunately, all 27 fluids NIST identified as the best from a performance viewpoint are at least slightly flammable, which is not allowed under U.S. safety codes for most end uses. Several fluids among the list of refrigerants are highly flammable, including propane, the fuel for outdoor grills.

NIST Quest for Climate-Friendly Refrigerants Finds Complicated Choices

Researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have just completed a multiyear study to identify the “best” candidates for future use as air conditioning refrigerants that will have the lowest impact on the climate.Unfortunately, all 27 fluids NIST identified as the best from a performance viewpoint are at least slightly flammable, which is not allowed under U.S. safety codes for most end uses. Several fluids among the list of refrigerants are highly flammable, including propane, the fuel for outdoor grills.

Researchers Design Facial Recognition System as a Less Invasive Approach to Tracking Lemurs in the Wild

A team of researchers has developed a new computer-assisted recognition system that can identify individual lemurs in the wild by their facial characteristics and ultimately help to build a database for long-term research on lemur species. The scientists hope this method has the potential to redefine how researchers track endangered species in the wild. 

How untreated water is making our kids sick

Climate Change News - ENN - February 17, 2017 - 7:17am
A Florida State University researcher has drawn a link between the impact of climate change and untreated drinking water on the rate of gastrointestinal illness in children.

Printable solar cells just got a little closer

A U of T Engineering innovation could make building printing cells as easy and inexpensive as printing a newspaper. Dr. Hairen Tan and his team have cleared a critical manufacturing hurdle in the development of a relatively new class of solar devices called perovskite solar cells. This alternative solar technology could lead to low-cost, printable solar panels capable of turning nearly any surface into a power generator.

The Cute Robot That Follows You Around and Schleps All Your Stuff

IN THE SUMMER months of 2015, Jeffrey Schnapp and a few of his colleagues started collecting rideables. The hoverboard craze was in full swing, and OneWheels and Boosteds were showing up on roads and sidewalks. Schnapp and his co-founders rode, drove, and crashed everything they could find. For Schnapp, a Harvard professor and longtime technologist with a shaved head, pointy goatee, and a distinct Ben Kingsley vibe, this was market research.

Real-Time MRI Analysis Powered by Supercomputers

One of the main tools doctors use to detect diseases and injuries in cases ranging from multiple sclerosis to broken bones is magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). However, the results of an MRI scan take hours or days to interpret and analyze. This means that if a more detailed investigation is needed, or there is a problem with the scan, the patient needs to return for a follow-up.

How cancers trick the immune system into helping rather than harming them

Scientists at Trinity College Dublin have discovered how certain cancers hijack the immune system for their benefit -- tricking it into helping rather than harming them.

Less snow and a shorter ski season in the Alps

Climate Change News - ENN - February 16, 2017 - 11:42am
After long-awaited snowfall in January, parts of the Alps are now covered with fresh powder and happy skiers. But the Swiss side of the iconic mountain range had the driest December since record-keeping began over 150 years ago, and 2016 was the third year in a row with scarce snow over the Christmas period. A study published today in The Cryosphere, a journal of the European Geosciences Union, shows bare Alpine slopes could be a much more common sight in the future.

Antarctic sea ice extent lowest on record

Climate Change News - ENN - February 16, 2017 - 11:38am
This year the extent of summer sea ice in the Antarctic is the lowest on record. The Antarctic sea ice minimum marks the day – typically towards end of February – when sea ice reaches its smallest extent at the end of the summer melt season, before expanding again as the winter sets in.

Method to predict surface ozone pollution levels provides 48-hour heads-up

A novel air quality model will help air quality forecasters predict surface ozone levels up to 48-hours in advance and with fewer resources, according to a team of meteorologists.The method, called regression in self-organizing map (REGiS), weighs and combines statistical air quality models by pairing them with predicted weather patterns to create probabilistic ozone forecasts. Unlike current chemical transport models, REGiS can predict ozone levels up to 48 hours in advance without requiring significant computational power.

Snow Science in Support of Our Nation's Water Supply

Climate Change News - ENN - February 16, 2017 - 11:29am
Researchers have completed the first flights of a NASA-led field campaign that is targeting one of the biggest gaps in scientists' understanding of Earth's water resources: snow.NASA uses the vantage point of space to study all aspects of Earth as an interconnected system. But there remain significant obstacles to measuring accurately how much water is stored across the planet's snow-covered regions. The amount of water in snow plays a major role in water availability for drinking water, agriculture and hydropower.

Snow Science in Support of Our Nation's Water Supply

Researchers have completed the first flights of a NASA-led field campaign that is targeting one of the biggest gaps in scientists' understanding of Earth's water resources: snow.NASA uses the vantage point of space to study all aspects of Earth as an interconnected system. But there remain significant obstacles to measuring accurately how much water is stored across the planet's snow-covered regions. The amount of water in snow plays a major role in water availability for drinking water, agriculture and hydropower.

How an Ice Age paradox could inform sea level rise predictions

New findings from the University of Michigan explain an Ice Age paradox and add to the mounting evidence that climate change could bring higher seas than most models predict.The study, published in Nature, shows how small spikes in the temperature of the ocean, rather than the air, likely drove the rapid disintegration cycles of the expansive ice sheet that once covered much of North America.

How an Ice Age paradox could inform sea level rise predictions

Climate Change News - ENN - February 16, 2017 - 10:26am
New findings from the University of Michigan explain an Ice Age paradox and add to the mounting evidence that climate change could bring higher seas than most models predict.The study, published in Nature, shows how small spikes in the temperature of the ocean, rather than the air, likely drove the rapid disintegration cycles of the expansive ice sheet that once covered much of North America.

Crystal Growth, Earth Science and Tech Demo Research Launching to Orbiting Laboratory

The tenth SpaceX cargo resupply launch to the International Space Station, targeted for launch Feb. 18, will deliver investigations that study human health, Earth science and weather patterns. Here are some highlights of the research headed to the orbiting laboratory:Crystal growth investigation could improve drug delivery, manufacturingMonoclonal antibodies are important for fighting off a wide range of human diseases, including cancers. These antibodies work with the natural immune system to bind to certain molecules to detect, purify and block their growth. The Microgravity Growth of Crystalline Monoclonal Antibodies for Pharmaceutical Applications (CASIS PCG 5) investigation will crystallize a human monoclonal antibody, developed by Merck Research Labs, that is currently undergoing clinical trials for the treatment of immunological disease.

How much biomass grows in the savannah?

Savannahs form one of the largest habitats in the world, covering around one-fifth of the Earth's land area. They are mainly to be found in sub-Saharan Africa. Savannahs are home not only to unique wildlife, including the 'Big Five' - the African elephant, rhinoceros, Cape buffalo, leopard and lion - but also to thousands of endemic plant species such as the baobab, or monkey bread tree.

New Methods Further Discern Extreme Fluctuations in Forage Fish Populations

Climate Change News - ENN - February 15, 2017 - 4:34pm
California sardine stocks famously crashed in John Steinbeck’s “Cannery Row.” New research, building on the pioneering work of Soutar and Isaacs in the late 1960’s and others, shows in greater detail that such forage fish stocks have undergone boom-bust cycles for centuries, with at least three species off the U.S. West Coast repeatedly experiencing steep population increases followed by declines long before commercial fishing began.Natural population fluctuations in Pacific sardine, northern anchovy and Pacific hake off California have been so common that the species were in collapsed condition 29 to 40 percent of the time over the 500-year period from A.D. 1000 to 1500, according to the study published today in Geophysical Research Letters. Using a long time series of fish scales deposited in low-oxygen offshore sedimentary environments off southern California, the authors from NOAA Fisheries and the University of Michigan described such collapses as “an intrinsic property of some forage fish populations that should be expected, just as droughts are expected in an arid climate.” 

Newly engineered material can cool roofs, structures with zero energy consumption

A team of University of Colorado Boulder engineers has developed a scalable manufactured metamaterial — an engineered material with extraordinary properties not found in nature — to act as a kind of air conditioning system for structures. It has the ability to cool objects even under direct sunlight with zero energy and water consumption.When applied to a surface, the metamaterial film cools the object underneath by efficiently reflecting incoming solar energy back into space while simultaneously allowing the surface to shed its own heat in the form of infrared thermal radiation.

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