Earth

New research has revealed that some events in Earth's history happened more recently than previously thought. Scientists from the British Geological Survey and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, publishing this week in the journal Science, have refined the data used to determine how much time has passed since a mineral or rock was formed. They report uranium isotopic composition of minerals, used to date major geological events, which are more accurate than previously published. The major effect of this is to reduce previous age determinations by up to 700,000 years.

A new type of hybrid material developed at the University of California, Berkeley, could help oil and chemical companies save energy and money – and lower their environmental impacts – by eliminating an energy-intensive gas-separation process.

Bremerhaven/Bern, 29 March 2012. Why did the atmosphere contain so little carbon dioxide (CO2) during the last Ice Age 20,000 years ago? Why did it rise when the Earth's climate became warmer? Processes in the ocean are responsible for this, says a new study based on newly developed isotope measurements. This study has now been published in the scientific journal "Science" by scientists from the Universities of Bern and Grenoble and the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research in the Helmholtz Association.

Physicists at the University of California, San Diego have discovered patterns which underlie the properties of a new state of matter.

Researchers have discovered a new way in which computers based on quantum physics could beat the performance of classical computers. The work, by researchers based in Singapore and the UK, implies that a Matrix-like simulation of reality would require less memory on a quantum computer than on a classical computer. It also hints at a way to investigate whether a deeper theory lies beneath quantum theory. The finding is published 27 March in Nature Communications.

BOZEMAN, Mont. – The land around Yellowstone and Glacier national parks might look like it's filling up with people and houses, but it's nothing compared to the rate of development around some other U.S. national parks, according to a new Montana State University study.

MADISON – An independent commission of scientific leaders from 13 countries today released a detailed set of recommendations to policymakers on how to achieve food security in the face of climate change.

In ancient Earth history, the sun burned as much as 30 percent dimmer than it does now. Theoretically that should have encased the planet in ice, but there is geologic evidence for rivers and ocean sediments between 2 billion and 4 billion years ago.

Scientists have speculated that temperatures warm enough to maintain liquid water were the result of a much thicker atmosphere, high concentrations of greenhouse gases or a combination of the two.

Scientists working at the Institut Laue-Langevin, one of the world's leading centres for neutron science, have carried out the first investigation of two-dimensional fermion liquids using neutron scattering, and discovered a new type of very short wave-length density wave. The team believe their discovery, published in Nature, will interest researchers looking at electronic systems, since high temperature superconductivity could result from this type of density fluctuations.

Quantum theory describes the world of atoms very precisely. Still, it defies our macroscopic conception of everyday's world due to its many anti-intuitive predictions. The wave-particle dualism probably is the best known example and means that matter may spread and interfere like waves. Now, an international team of researchers has recorded the interference process of individual molecules. The recordings were published by the journal Nature Nanotechnology online.

Los Angeles, CA -- While government officials have argued that "enhanced interrogation techniques" are necessary to protect American citizens, the effectiveness of such techniques has been debated. According to a recent study, when torture is used to elicit information, it is likely to be unexpectedly harsh yet ineffective. This study was published in a new article in Political Research Quarterly (PRQ) published by SAGE on behalf of the Western Political Science Association.

LONDON (28 March 2012) — Nearly one billion people in the world are undernourished, while millions suffer from chronic disease due to excess food consumption. Global demand is growing for agricultural products and food prices are rising, yet roughly one-third of food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted. Climate change threatens more frequent drought, flooding and pest outbreaks, and the world loses 12 million hectares of agricultural land each year to land degradation.

Modern methods for mass production of biological agents and fine chemicals require precise control of pH. However within these systems it is not always possible to use traditional methods for measuring acidity and alkalinity. Biomed Central's open access journal BMC Biotechnology describes a new and user friendly method for measuring pH, which uses luminescent dual life-time referencing (DLR), to provide real-time characteristics of enzyme reactions.

A three-arm randomized trial conducted by Ivo Mueller of the Papua New Guinea Institute of Medical Research, Madang, Papua New Guinea, and colleagues among infants in Papua New Guinea estimates the preventive effect against malaria episodes of intermittent preventive treatment, in an area where children are exposed to both falciparum and vivax malaria.

In this week's PLoS Medicine, the PLoS Medicine editors discuss new research studies on the risks associated with mode of childbirth following caesarean section. In the first, Caroline Crowther and colleagues found that the risks of very severe outcomes—such as fetal or infant death—were lower among women who planned a repeat caesarean section than among women who planned a vaginal birth.