Science & Environment

Animals
3:03 am
Thu August 1, 2013

Jack Longino, 'The Astonishing Ant Man,' Finds 33 New Species

A side view of the new ant species Eurhopalothrix zipacna. Mounting glue and paper appear beneath the ant, one of 33 new species discovered in Central America by Jack Longino, a biologist at the University of Utah.
John T. Longino University of Utah

Originally published on Fri August 2, 2013 6:01 pm

While many of us spend our working days staring into an electronic box or dozing at meetings, there are some who prefer to crawl through tropical rain forests. People like "the astonishing ant man."

That's what his students call Jack Longino. Longino started out collecting stamps in his childhood, but that got boring fast. Man-made things just didn't thrill, so Longino decided to "get small."

As in: "If you're shopping for a home entertainment system," he says, "you can't do better than a good dissecting microscope."

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The Two-Way
8:52 pm
Wed July 31, 2013

Sold! First Parcels Auctioned For Future Offshore Wind Farms

The offshore wind farm in the North Sea near Borkum, Germany, is nearly complete. The Riffgat facility, seen here on June 23, includes 30 turbines, each with a generating capacity of 3.6 megawatts.
David Hecker Getty Images

Originally published on Fri August 2, 2013 6:01 pm

A Rhode Island company was the highest bidder in the federal government's first-ever auction for the right to build an offshore wind farm.

After 11 rounds, Deepwater Wind outbid two other companies for two patches of ocean off the coasts of Massachusetts and Rhode Island. The winning bid was $3.8 million.

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Energy
6:05 pm
Wed July 31, 2013

Canadian Regulators Investigate Mysterious Tar Sands Spills

Roughnecks build a drilling rig at the MEG Energy site near Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada. In addition to large, open-pit mining operations, tar sands oil can be extracted from the ground by pumping down high-pressure steam.
Michael S. Williamson The Washington Post/Getty Images

Government regulators in Canada are investigating a series of mysterious oil spills around tar sands operations in Alberta. Thick oil is gurgling up unexpectedly from the ground instead of flowing through the wells that were built to collect it.

The spills are raising questions about a technology that's rapidly expanding to extract fossil fuels that could ultimately end up in the controversial Keystone XL pipeline.

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The Salt
1:44 pm
Wed July 31, 2013

Can The Smell Of Oranges Help Dieters Resist Sweet Treats?

Women in a recent study who were trying to diet ate about 60 percent less chocolate after smelling oranges.
GrenouilleFilms iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Fri August 2, 2013 3:00 pm

Whenever we give in to temptation, be it for a helping of something divine, like fine chocolate, or just a so-so piece of saltwater taffy abandoned next to the office coffeepot, there's something more than self-control at work.

Woven into the complexities of food choices and eating behaviors are all sorts of subtle factors that we're likely not even aware of.

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Krulwich Wonders...
1:28 pm
Tue July 30, 2013

Mysterious Dancing Lights In Afghanistan

Courtesy of Michael Yon

This isn't a painting. It's not from a movie. It's not a strange astronomical event. This is real — what you can see when certain helicopters in Afghanistan touch down on sandy ground, raising dust, causing mysterious arcs of light to loop and dance through the air.

This doesn't always happen. "The halos usually disappear as the rotors change pitch," wrote war photographer Michael Yon. "On some nights, on this very same landing zone, no halos form." How come?

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Research News
3:15 am
Tue July 30, 2013

For Some Mammals It's One Love, But Reasons Still Unclear

Golden lion tamarins are one species that are largely monogamous.
Felipe Dana AP

Originally published on Tue July 30, 2013 11:11 am

Fewer than 10 percent of all mammal species are monogamous. In fact, biologists have long disagreed over why monogamy exists at all. That's the subject of two studies published this week — and they come to different conclusions.

Animals that leave the most offspring win the race to spread their genes and to perpetuate their lineage. So for most mammals, males have a simple strategy: Mate with as many females as possible.

"Monogamy is a problem," says Dieter Lukas, a biologist at Cambridge University. "Why should a male keep to one female?"

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Law
5:20 pm
Mon July 29, 2013

Legal Battles Over Land Rights, Pipelines Are On The Rise

The Crosstex NGL Pipeline is just one such project in the country that has forced long, unwanted legal battles between oil companies and landowners.
Mose Buchele KUT

Originally published on Wed July 31, 2013 9:01 pm

At Margaret O'Keefe's farm in East Texas, they grow high-quality Bermuda grass. The fields are flat and vibrant green, surrounded by woods of a darker, richer green. The family loves this land. O'Keefe inherited it from her mother, who divided it among eight children.

"She used to call it 'enchanted valley,' " O'Keefe says.

But her "enchanted valley" also lies in the path of the Crosstex NGL Pipeline.

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Environment
5:20 pm
Mon July 29, 2013

Once Resilient, Trees In The West Now More Vulnerable To Fires

The remains of a tree are seen in front of a boulder in the Dome Wilderness area of New Mexico in August 2012. The Las Conchas Fire torched the land in 2011, burning through more than 150,000 acres of forest.
David Gilkey NPR

Originally published on Thu August 22, 2013 2:24 pm

On any given day, there's a wildfire burning somewhere in the U.S. — and that's not necessarily a bad thing. Many western forests have evolved with fire, and actually benefit from the occasional wildfire.

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Krulwich Wonders...
12:35 pm
Mon July 29, 2013

What It's Like To Drop 150,000 Feet Straight Down

YouTube

Originally published on Mon July 29, 2013 1:55 pm

If I say "meet me 28 miles from here," that doesn't seem very far, right? You could take a taxi, a bus; if pushed you might even make it on a bike.

But what if the 28 miles is not on a road or a highway, but straight up, 150,000 feet — that's high. So high, we're out of the life zone. Up in the silence.

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The Salt
12:05 pm
Mon July 29, 2013

Farm To Fido: Dog Food Goes Local

Producers of farm-to-dog-bowl food say the concept is more about locavorism and sustainability than about pampering pooches.
Heather Rousseau NPR

Originally published on Wed July 31, 2013 9:53 am

The email read: "We signed a contract for farm-to-bowl dog food product development today, I kid you not :)"

The note was from a friend, Wendy Stuart, who consults on food access and sustainability issues. Even so, our first reaction was: Really?

It's easy to dismiss the concept as the culinary equivalent of a diamond dog collar or a Versace pet bowl.

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