Writings

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.

Mini microscopes see inside the brains of mice

Publication: NBC News   Date: February 20, 2013   View Article

Mini microscopes embedded into the brains of genetically engineered mice are providing researchers a window onto the inner workings of the mammalian mind.

The tool provides an unprecedentedly wide field of view on the mouse brain – in one mouse, for example, the team recorded the firing of more than 1,000 individual neurons – and it can record for weeks on end, allowing scientists to study how brain activity evolves over time.

‘Nano-shish-kebabs’ are a recipe for better lithium-ion batteries

Publication: NBC News   Date: February 20, 2013   View Article

Powerful energy storage devices of the future may trace their roots back to a research lab that cooked up “nano-shish-kebabs” out of germanium sulfide, a semiconductor material.

Unlike the skewered meats and assorted veggies grilled on backyard barbeques, these kebabs are single, three-dimensional structures that consist of sheets of the semiconductor material grown along a nanowire. Each wire is about 100 nanometers long.

Turtles, snakes and lizards head toward extinction

Publication: NBC News   Date: February 15, 2013   View Article

Nearly one fifth of all reptiles — turtles, snakes, lizards and crocodiles — are on a slippery slope toward extinction due to loss of habitat, overharvesting and other factors, a new report says.

The study is the first of its kind to summarize the global conservation status of reptiles. More than 1,500 species were selected at random from around the world for conservation assessments in an effort to gain a representative sample.

Thick sea ice is disappearing from the Arctic, new satellite data show

Publication: NBC News   Date: February 13, 2013   View Article

Thick sea ice is disappearing from a broad swath of the Arctic, according to new satellite data that confirms estimates from computer models and suggests the region may be ice free during the summers sooner rather than later.

The Arctic sea ice reached a new record minimum extent in 2012, when it covered nearly half the average area it did from 1979 to 2010. The new data show the Arctic sea ice volume in the fall, when it is at its lowest, has declined more than a third between 2003 and 2012. Ice volume in the winter has declined 9 percent.

Middle East lost a Dead Sea’s worth of water, study finds

Publication: NBC News   Date: February 12, 2013   View Article

Freshwater resources in the water-stressed Middle East are rapidly declining at a time when global climate change is projected to make the region even drier, scientists report in a new study.

Between 2003 and 2009, parts of Turkey, Syria, Iraq, and Iran along the Tigris and Euphrates river basins lost 117 million acre feet of stored water, according to gravity measurements taken by a pair of wedge-shaped satellites. That’s nearly the equivalent of all the water in the Dead Sea.

Stinging needle ants overtaking invasive Argentines in U.S.

Publication: NBC News   Date: February 11, 2013   View Article

A stinging ant from Asia is spreading with a vengeance across the United States and may prove more devastating to people and the environment than the well-established aggressive Argentine ant currently is, according to new research.

“While Argentine ants cause a lot of damage, Asian needle ants are a really big health threat to humans,” Eleanor Spicer Rice, an entomologist at North Carolina State University, told NBC News.

© 2008-2010 Collected Writings By John Roach