Earth

It is an unlikely application, but researchers in China have discovered that chicken manure can be used to biodegrade crude oil in contaminated soil. Writing in the International Journal of Environment and Pollution the team explains how bacteria in chicken manure break down 50% more crude oil than soil lacking the guano.

DURHAM, N.C. -- To avoid creating greenhouse gases, it makes more sense using today's technology to leave land unfarmed in conservation reserves than to plow it up for corn to make biofuel, according to a comprehensive Duke University-led study.

"Converting set-asides to corn-ethanol production is an inefficient and expensive greenhouse gas mitigation policy that should not be encouraged until ethanol-production technologies improve," the study's authors reported in the March edition of the research journal Ecological Applications.

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - A Purdue University researcher has found a way to eliminate bacteria in packaged foods such as spinach and tomatoes, a process that could eliminate worries concerning some food-borne illnesses.

Kevin Keener designed a device consisting of a set of high-voltage coils attached to a small transformer that generates a room-temperature plasma field inside a package, ionizing the gases inside. The process kills harmful bacteria such as E. coli and salmonella, which have caused major public health concerns.

Alexandria, VA – The American Geological Institute (AGI) Workforce Program has released the final chapter, entitled Economic Metrics and Drivers of the Geoscience Pipeline, of the Status of the Geoscience Workforce report. All chapters of this report are now available through the AGI website at http://www.agiweb.org/workforce/.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — Planetary geologists at Brown University have found a gully fan system on Mars that formed about 1.25 million years ago. The fan offers compelling evidence that it was formed by melt water that originated in nearby snow and ice deposits and may stand as the most recent period when water flowed on the planet.

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - The South Asian summer monsoon - critical to agriculture in Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Pakistan - could be weakened and delayed due to rising temperatures in the future, according to a recent climate modeling study.

A Purdue University research group found that climate change could influence monsoon dynamics and cause less summer precipitation, a delay in the start of monsoon season and longer breaks between the rainy periods.

Potsdam, 26.02.2009 – Geothermal energy is increasingly contributing to the power supply world wide. Iceland is world-leader in expanding development of geothermal utilization: in recent years the annual power supply here doubled to more than 500 MW alone in the supply of electricity. And also in Germany, a dynamic development is to be seen: over 100 MW of heat are currently being provided through geothermal energy.

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Ice in Antarctica suddenly appeared — in geologic terms — about 35 million years ago. For the previous 100 million years the continent had been essentially ice-free.

The question for science has been, why? What triggered glaciers to form at the South Pole?

Matthew Huber, assistant professor of earth and atmospheric sciences at Purdue University, says no evidence of global cooling during the period had been found.

New Haven, Conn. – Global climate rapidly shifted from a relatively ice-free world to one with massive ice sheets on Antarctica about 34 million years ago. What happened? What changed? A team of scientists led by Yale geologists offers a new perspective on the nature of changing climatic conditions across this greenhouse-to-icehouse transition—one that refutes earlier theories and has important implications for predicting future climate changes.

Ancient footprints found at Rutgers' Koobi Fora Field School show that some of the earliest humans walked like us and did so on anatomically modern feet 1.5 million years ago.

Published as the cover story in the Feb. 27 issue of the journal Science, this anatomical interpretation is the conclusion of Rutgers Professor John W.K. Harris and an international team of colleagues. Harris is a professor of anthropology at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, member of the Center for Human Evolutionary Studies and director of the Koobi Fora Field Project.