Archive for February, 2013

Legal horn trade could save rhinos from cliff of extinction, experts argue

Publication: NBC News   Date: February 28, 2013   View Article

Surging demand for rhino horn to decorate daggers and treat everything from hangovers to cancer is driving the iconic animals to the brink of extinction. The only way to save them is to humanely harvest rhino horn and sell it legally, scientists argue in a controversial new paper.

Only 5,000 black rhinos and 20,000 white rhinos remain, mostly in South Africa and Namibia, the scientists note. The western black rhino was declared extinct in 2011.

The paper, published Thursday in the journal Science, is a bid to spark “serious discussions around establishing a legal trade” at an international conference on the trade in endangered species that starts Sunday in Bangkok, lead author Duan Biggs told NBC News.

Stretchable batteries are here! Power to the bendy electronics

Publication: NBC News   Date: February 26, 2013   View Article

The next frontier in electronics are the flexible, stretchable kind. Yes, that means a rubber, bouncy smartphone (eventually), but it also means heart monitors threaded into cardiac tissue. For devices like that to work, they require flexible, stretchable batteries. And such batteries are here, according to researchers who just published their work.

Global warming to make work miserable, study says

Publication: NBC News   Date: February 24, 2013   View Article

Hot and muggy weather over the past few decades has led to about a 10 percent drop in the physiological capacity of people to do their work safely and those drops will be even greater as the climate continues to warm, a new study finds.

People may continue to work in the hot and muggy conditions, “but their misery will increase while they are productive,” John Dunne, a research oceanographer with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Princeton, N.J., told NBC News.

Holy flight plan: Researchers build a robotic bat wing

Publication: NBC News   Date: February 22, 2013   View Article

A robotic bat wing flapping in a university lab is providing researchers with a new appreciation for the wonders of nature and hints at a new generation of mini flapping planes to be deployed on reconnaissance missions.

The robot is modeled after the lesser dog-faced fruit bat and flaps while attached to instruments that measure the forces generated by various joints, allowing the Brown University researchers to calculate the energy required to execute wing movements.

Hawaii to suffer most as global sea levels rise, study says

Publication: NBC News   Date: February 21, 2013   View Article

Melting ice in Greenland, Antarctica and elsewhere will push up seas unevenly around the world, according to a new study that finds some of the highest waters will inundate Honolulu, Hawaii.

At the poles, sea levels will actually fall because of the way sea, land and ice interact. For example, the sheer mass of water held in ice in Greenland and Antarctica generates a gravitational field that pulls in the surrounding water. As ice there melts, the gravitational pull weakens and the water is redistributed.

Sunlight forecasts to benefit electric utilities and … NASCAR

Publication: NBC News   Date: February 21, 2013   View Article

Race car drivers are likely to benefit from a newly-launched $4.1 million U.S. government-funded program to improve 36-hour forecasts of incoming energy from the sun.

Cloud cover impacts racetrack temperature, which in turn affects how well tires grip the pavement, researchers working on the program explained.

Birders tally ‘huge’ numbers in global count

Publication: NBC News   Date: February 21, 2013   View Article

Birdwatchers counted more than 25.5 million birds during the largest worldwide bird count ever conducted, according to preliminary results streaming in from the four-day event held earlier this month.

The global Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) builds on the success of the program run for 15 years in the U.S. and Canada. More than 120,000 checklists have been reported, accounting for 3,144 species. That’s a third of the world’s birds, and results will flow in until March 1.

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