A team of researchers from Rutgers University, New Brunswick has found that microplastic particles are polluting the iconic Passaic and Raritan rivers. The recent study reports that the team found more than 300 organic chemical compounds from microplastics in the rivers: 299 compounds in the Passaic, with 255 in the Raritan River and 81 in the Newark and Raritan bays. These results highlight how serious the microplastics challenge is—and how tricky it is to research, in that “microplastics” really refers to so many different compounds.
Surveying waterways for defining habitats and ranges may soon be much quicker and easier thanks to the applied use of environmental DNA (eDNA). Traditional studies have relied upon the slow, difficult, and somewhat haphazard process of catching fauna in the field using any number of techniques. This is even more difficult than usual when the target of the study is an endangered animal. A new company NatureMetrics, which spun-out from the University of East Anglia (UEA), is taking on this challenge with its eDNA tech.
MIT scientists have developed an algorithm that can learn to recognize miniscule tics and expressions on the human face to quantify how much pain that person is experiencing, reports Matt Reynolds for New Scientist. The algorithm could help with what’s often a tricky task for doctors: gauging how a person is feeling, and whether they’re exaggerating or minimizing that pain. Currently, pain is reported by ranking scales using numbers or pictures, reports Luke Dormehl for Digital Trends. . . .
Your mother was right: eating your green veggies, not to mention your apple a day, might keep the oncologist away. Researchers have found that chewing up cruciferous vegetables transforms a precursor compound and enzyme they contain into a powerful cancer-preventing compound called phenethyl isothiocyanate (PEITC). The precursor compound and the enzyme it needs to become PEITC occur naturally in cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, and cauliflower....
Early-warning systems for earthquakes like the one that saved lives recently in Mexico City are highly effective, but the USGS ShakeAlert program is in jeopardy thanks to disputes over funding. After approximately 30,000 people died when an 8.0 magnitude earthquake rocked Mexico City on September 19th, 1985, the Mexican government developed the first early-warning system for earthquakes in the world. It was this system that limited the harm done by an 8.1 quake in the same city this September, followed by a 7.1 quake not two weeks later....
Honeybees are dying en masse all over the globe, and it's not just lovers of honey that should be concerned. These mass deaths will change our dinner plates forever, not to mention raise the cost of eating generally. In a world where food security and hunger are crucially important, this is bad news for everyone. The growing number of honeybee losses from the report is in step with the overall trend of bee colony die offs, and beekeepers say this is likely to affect our food supply dramatically...
Creativity and productivity are too often seen as opposing forces battling for your time and the soul of your work. But working longer and harder isn’t the only way to be productive, and thinking creatively can achieve amazing results. It’s all in how you approach your work. Even after decades of extensive research, we actually still know relatively little about creativity, let alone how to make ourselves more creative. What we have been able to identify are patterns and traits that affect creative thinking...
There are currently 3.7 million connected medical devices in use today, and market research predicts that the Internet of Things (IoT) healthcare market will be worth $136.8 billion worldwide by 2021.
Unfortunately, the cybersecurity risk posed by these devices is also increasing, with Kaspersky Labs predicting attacks targeting connected medical equipment for extortion, disruption, and data theft will rise this year. Other experts agree that compromised medical systems and devices are a real concern.
In 2014, the Department of Ecology (DOE) in the State of Washington began to work on water quality standards related to wineries in the Yakima Valley and the rest of the state. The specific concern is the handling of wastewater from winemaking; this kind of wastewater is toxic. Winery wastewater is high in sugar and filled with suspended solids such as grape plant matter and juice. Microbes can digest those solids, but only if there’s enough oxygen in the water.. . .
A recent study of Appalachian Ohio drinking water from private wells found no evidence of natural gas contamination from “fracking” (drilling for oil and gas) despite concerns about the practice. University of Cincinnati geologists investigated drinking water in Carroll, Harrison, and Stark counties, a rural area in the northeast portion of the state, where private underground wells are the only source of drinking water for many residents.
Scientists from New Zealand’s National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research, NIWA, are engaging in sedimentation research to help determine the effects of seabed mining and fishing on the environment. This work represents some of the most challenging underwater research ever undertaken by the NIWA team. The need for the work arises from the controversy surrounding proposed seabed ventures—each of which was met with serious opposition based on presumed environmental effects such as drifting sediment plumes.
Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are traditionally a haven for marine fauna under threat from human activities. However, new research confirms that greenhouse gases will continue to warm the world’s oceans and reduce their oxygen concentrations, rendering most existing MPAs uninhabitable by 2100. John Bruno, the study’s lead author, is a marine ecologist and biology professor in the College of Arts and Sciences at UNC-Chapel Hill. Dr. Bruno describes the impetus for the research as ongoing collaborations in the field...
Beginning in spring of 2017, drought conditions descended upon the Northern Plains region of the United States, causing Montana, South Dakota, and North Dakota livestock producers to experience reduced production, stock losses, and even property destruction as wildfires ripped across the plains. Part of the North Dakota State University Extension, livestock environmental stewardship specialist Miranda Meehan’s work is reaching out to producers to help them mitigate ongoing losses from the drought.
If you follow the news, you’ve seen large-scale harmful algal blooms (HABs) in Florida this summer. They are present in Lake Okeechobee and the Caloosahatchee (CE) and St. Lucie (SLE) estuaries and rivers, and they’re wreaking havoc on summer recreation and even the health of local residents.
Dr. Brian Lapointe of Florida Atlantic University’s Harbor Branch has been researching HABs for decades. The Lapointe HAB Lab site features his ongoing work, and Dr. Lapointe took the time to speak with EM about the HABs and his work studying them.
Just when you thought it was safe to read a journal again, a research team from the Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute at Florida Atlantic University (FAU) has confirmed the presence of a great white shark “nursery” in the North Atlantic Ocean using acoustic and satellite technologies. This marks a notable advancement in human understanding of the needs of this mysterious species at its most vulnerable life stage.