Earth

Japan's March 11 Tohoku Earthquake is among the strongest ever recorded, and because it struck one of the world's most heavily instrumented seismic zones, this natural disaster is providing scientists with a treasure trove of data on rare magnitude 9 earthquakes. Among the new information is what is believed to be the first study of how a shock this powerful affects the rock and soil beneath the surface.

What spreads the sea floors and moves the continents? What melts iron in the outer core and enables the Earth's magnetic field? Heat. Geologists have used temperature measurements from more than 20,000 boreholes around the world to estimate that some 44 terawatts (44 trillion watts) of heat continually flow from Earth's interior into space. Where does it come from?

Few studies have examined the acute effects of alcohol on myocardial or heart function. While moderate-to-high blood concentrations of alcohol acutely impair conventional echocardiographic measures of left ventricular (LV) performance, the effects of low concentrations are unclear. An examination of the acute effects of low blood concentrations of alcohol on the left and right ventricles, which collectively pump blood to the entire body, has found that low doses of alcohol can have very different effects on LV and right ventricular (RV) function.

July 15, 2011 — A sort of Holy Grail for physicists and information scientists is the quantum computer.

Such a computer, operating on the highly complex principles of quantum mechanics, would be capable of performing specific calculations with capabilities far beyond even the most advanced modern supercomputers. It could be used for breaking computer security codes as well as for incredibly detailed, data-heavy simulations of quantum systems.

Coastal communities along the U.S. East Coast may be at risk to higher sea levels accompanied by more destructive storm surges in future El Niño years, according to a new study by NOAA. The study was prompted by an unusual number of destructive storm surges along the East Coast during the 2009-2010 El Niño winter.

Exceptionally preserved fossils of insect cocoons have allowed researchers in Argentina to describe how wasps played an important role in food webs devoted to consuming rotting dinosaur eggs. The research is published today (15th July) in the scientific journal Palaeontology.

The decline of large predators and other "apex consumers" at the top of the food chain has disrupted ecosystems across the planet.

The finding is reported by an international team of scientists in a paper in this week's issue of the journal Science.

The study looked at research results from a wide range of terrestrial, freshwater and marine ecosystems and concluded "the loss of apex consumers is arguably humankind's most pervasive influence on the natural world."

If there were a Hall of Fame for materials, manganites would be among its members. Some manganites, compounds of manganese oxides, are renowned for colossal magnetoresistance – the ability to suddenly boost resistance to electrical conductivity by orders of magnitude when a magnetic field is applied – and manganites are also promising candidates for spintronics applications – devices that can manipulate electrons according to their quantum spin as well their charge.

Social studies of Facebook and Twitter have been adapted to gain a greater understanding of the swarming behaviour of locusts.

The enormous success of social networking sites has vividly illustrated the importance of networking for humans; however for some animals, keeping informed about others of their kind is even more important.

SANTA CRUZ, CA--The decline of large predators and other "apex consumers" at the top of the food chain has disrupted ecosystems all over the planet, according to a review of recent findings conducted by an international team of scientists and published in the July 15 issue of Science. The study looked at research on a wide range of terrestrial, freshwater, and marine ecosystems and concluded that "the loss of apex consumers is arguably humankind's most pervasive influence on the natural world."

STONY BROOK, NY–"Trophic Downgrading of Planet Earth," a review paper that will be published on July 15, 2011, in the journal Science, concludes that the decline of large predators and herbivores in all regions of the world is causing substantial changes to Earth's terrestrial, freshwater, and marine ecosystems. The paper claims that the loss of apex consumers from ecosystems "may be humankind's most pervasive influence on nature." The research was funded primarily by the Institute for Ocean Conservation Science at Stony Brook University with support from The Pew Charitable Trusts.

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Large, marine-calving glaciers have the ability not only to shrink rapidly in response to global warming, but to grow at a remarkable pace during periods of global cooling, according to University at Buffalo geologists working in Greenland.

Trees absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to grow, so forests have long been proposed as a way to offset climate change.

But rather than just letting the forest sit there for a hundred or more years, the amount of carbon dioxide taken out of the atmosphere could be quadrupled in 100 years by harvesting regularly and using the wood in place of steel and concrete that devour fossil fuels during manufacturing, producing carbon dioxide.

Trestles, a supercomputer launched earlier this year by the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC) at the University of California, San Diego, is proving itself as a valuable resource for researchers across a wide range of disciplines, from astrophysics to molecular dynamics, who need access to computational resources with rapid turnaround.

Researchers at the University of Illinois have become the first to record an airglow signature in the upper atmosphere produced by a tsunami using a camera system based in Maui, Hawaii.

The signature, caused by the March 11 earthquake that devastated Japan, was observed in an airglow layer 250 kilometers above the earth's surface. It preceded the tsunami by one hour, suggesting that the technology could be used as an early-warning system in the future. The findings were recently published in the peer-reviewed Geophysical Research Letters.