The proportion of land used to cultivate shade grown coffee, relative to the total land area of coffee cultivation, has fallen by nearly 20 percent globally since 1996, according to a new study by scientists from Univ. of Texas at Austin and five other institutions.
The study’s authors say the global shift toward a more intensive style of coffee farming is probably having a negative effect on the environment, communities and individual farmers.
Featured Report: Survey Predicts the Future of the Internet
Internet experts and highly engaged netizens participated in answering an eight-question survey fielded by Elon Univ. and the Pew Internet Project from late November 2013 through early January 2014. One of the survey questions asked respondents to share their answer to the following query:
Make your prediction about the role of the Internet in people’s lives in 2025 and the impact it will have on social, economic and political processes. Good and/or bad, what do you expect to be the most significant overall impacts of our uses of the Internet on humanity between now and 2025?
Engineers from UC San Diego have created new ceramic materials that could be used to store hydrogen safely and efficiently. The compounds are made from mixtures of calcium hexaboride, strontium and barium hexaboride. They also have demonstrated that the compounds could be manufactured using a simple, low-cost manufacturing method known as combustion synthesis.
The work is at the proof of concept stage and is part of a $1.2 million project funded by the National Science Foundation, a collaboration between UC San Diego, Alfred Univ. in upstate New York and the Univ. of Nevada, Reno. The manufacturing process for the ceramics is faster and simpler than traditional methods used to manufacture these types of materials. The researchers presented their work at the third International Symposium on Nanoscience and Nanomaterials in Mexico.
Researchers have succeeded in creating a surface on nanosized cellulose crystals that imitates a biological structure. The surface adsorbs viruses and disables them. The results can prove useful in the development of antiviral ointments and surfaces.
There are many viral diseases in the world for which no pharmaceutical treatment exists. These include, among others, dengue fever, which is spread by mosquitoes in the tropics, as well as a type of diarrhea, which is more familiar in Finland and is easily spread by the hands and can be dangerous especially for small children and the elderly.
Writing in the journal Icarus this week, Prof. Carl Murray from Queen Mary Univ. of London’s Astronomy Unit reports that recently discovered disturbances at the very edge of Saturn’s outer bright A ring result from a small icy object that formed within the ring and which may be in the process of migrating out of it. His team have nicknamed the object, “Peggy.”
"We hadn’t seen anything like this before," explains Murray. "We may be looking at the act of birth, where this object is just leaving the rings and heading off to be a moon in its own right."
Microscope Will Help Early Detection of Cancer, Diseases
An engineering researcher at the Univ. of Arkansas has developed an inexpensive, endoscopic microscope capable of producing high-resolution, sub-cellular images of tissue in real time. The fiber-optic device, which is portable, re-usable and easily packaged with conventional endoscopes, will help clinicians detect and diagnose early-stage disease, primarily cancer.
An endoscopic microscope is a tool or technique that obtains histological images from inside the human body in real-time. Some clinicians consider it an optical biopsy. The system, developed by Timothy Muldoon, assistant professor of biomedical engineering, also serves as an intraoperative monitoring device by providing a “preview of biopsy” – that is, helping clinicians target ideal locations on lesions prior to and during surgical biopsies – and by capturing high-resolution images of tumor margins in real time. The latter will help surgeons know whether they have totally removed a tumor.
Researchers Study Volcanoes with Manmade Explosions
We can learn a lot about volcanoes by studying explosions. The more we can learn about their explosive behavior, the more chance we have of saving lives when they suddenly erupt.
There are many volcanoes on the planet today – some still active such as Russia’s Sarychev Peak, Kilauea on Hawaii’s Big Island and others, currently dormant, including the beautifully symmetrical Mount Fuji in Japan. But there are also certain volcanic systems that misbehave. They are concealed beneath the surface of the planet, and we often only realize they’re there when they erupt.
From dental implants that are light, strong and porous enough to bond with bone to surgical implants that dissolve over time, modified metals are dramatically extending biomedical potential.
A new nanostructuring technique being researched by Prof. Yuri Estrin at Monash Univ.’s Centre for Advanced Hybrid Materials promises metals with greater strength, better corrosion resistance and increased biocompatibility.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) says the greatest danger to nuclear security comes from terrorists acquiring sufficient quantities of plutonium or highly enriched uranium (HEU) to construct a crude nuclear explosive device. The IAEA also notes that most cases of illicit nuclear trafficking have involved gram-level quantities, which can be challenging to detect with most inspection methods.
According to a new study appearing this week in the American Institute of Physics’ Journal of Applied Physics, coupling commercially available spectral X-ray detectors with a specialized algorithm can improve the detection of uranium and plutonium in small, layered objects such as baggage. This approach enhances the detection powers of X-ray imaging and may provide a new tool to impede nuclear trafficking.
Using just a single drop of blood, a team of Univ. of Wisconsin Madison researchers has developed a faster, cheaper and more accurate tool for diagnosing even mild cases of asthma.
This handheld technology — which takes advantage of a previously unknown correlation between asthmatic patients and the most abundant type of white blood cells in the body — means doctors could diagnose asthma even if their patients are not experiencing symptoms during their visit to the clinic.
Food is a personal thing; we savor some tastes and despise others. But how does the way we chew and eat our food impact our overall consumption? According to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research, published by Univ. of Chicago Press Journals, people perceive foods that are either hard or have a rough texture to have fewer calories.
"We studied the link between how a food feels in your mouth and the amount we eat, the types of food we choose and how many calories we think we are consuming," write authors Dipayan Biswas and Courtney Szocs of Univ. of South Florida, Aradhna Krishna of Univ. of Michigan and Donald Lehmann of Columbia Univ.
Zero-emission hydrogen fuel cell systems soon could be powering the forklifts used in warehouses and other industrial settings at lower costs and with faster refueling times than ever before, courtesy of a partnership between Sandia National Laboratories and Hawaii Hydrogen Carriers (HHC).
The goal of the project is to design a solid-state hydrogen storage system that can refuel at low pressure four to five times faster than it takes to charge a battery-powered forklift, giving hydrogen a competitive advantage over batteries for a big slice of the clean forklift market. The entire U.S. forklift market was nearly $33 billion in 2013, according to Pell Research.
A high-tech screening tool for cervical cancer is facing pushback from more than a dozen patient groups, who warn that the genetic test could displace a simpler, cheaper and more established mainstay of women’s health: the Pap smear.
The new test comes from Roche and uses DNA to detect the human papillomavirus, or HPV, which that causes nearly all cases of cervical cancer. While such technology has been available for years, Roche now wants the FDA to approve its test as a first-choice option for cervical cancer screening, bypassing the decades-old Pap smear.
A research team at the Univ. of Kansas has used high-powered lasers to track the speed and movement of electrons inside an innovative material that is just one atom thick. Their findings are published in the current issue of ACS Nano.
The work at KU’s Ultrafast Laser Lab could help point the way to next-generation transistors and solar panels made of solid, atomically thin materials.
The roar of the crowd is a major part of the excitement of attending a sporting event. A noisy, engaged crowd makes for a better experience for fans, and is often credited with helping the players on the field, too. “The players love it,” said Carl Francis, director of communications for the NFL Players Association. “Fan support definitely has an impact on the players.”
Stadium designers know this, and the new generation of stadiums now incorporate design features that help boost fan support by trapping and amplifying crowd noise. The most important aspects are to keep the size of the stadium as small as possible, and to provide reflecting surfaces that can turn the noise back to the crowd, said Jack Wrightson, a Dallas-based acoustical consultant who has worked on the design of dozens of athletic venues in North America.