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September 13, 2006, 9:52 PM CT

Arctic Sea Ice Diminishing Rapidly

Arctic Sea Ice Diminishing Rapidly Image courtesy of
The Arctic Ocean's perennial sea ice, which survives the summer melt season and remains year-round, shrank abruptly by 14 percent between 2004 and 2005, according to a newly published study. Researchers found that the loss of perennial ice in the East Arctic Ocean, above Europe and Asia, neared 50 percent during that time as some of the ice moved to the West Arctic Ocean, above North America.

The overall decrease in winter Arctic perennial sea ice totaled 730,000 square kilometers [280,000 square miles]--an area the size of Texas. Perennial ice can be three meters [10 feet] thick, or more. It was replaced in the winter by new, seasonal ice, which was only about 0.3 to two meters [one to seven feet] thick and more vulnerable to summer melt. The research was published 7 September in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

The decrease in perennial ice raises the possibility that Arctic sea ice will retreat to another record low extent this year. This follows four summers of very low ice-cover, as observed by active and passive microwave instruments.

A team of seven scientists, led by Son Nghiem of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, used satellite data to measure the extent and distribution of perennial and seasonal sea ice in the Arctic. While the total area of all Arctic sea ice was stable in winter, the distribution of seasonal and perennial sea ice changed significantly.........

Posted by: Edwin      Permalink         Source

September 13, 2006, 9:10 PM CT

Clean Up With Edible Oil

Clean Up With Edible Oil
Oil and water don't mix, and that could be the key to edible vegetable-based oil being the answer to contaminant clean-up.

Clemson University researchers, in conjunction with the Savannah River National Laboratory (SRNL), are testing vegetable oil as a way to prevent contaminants from getting into groundwater aquifers. They say the method has the potential to help clean up chlorinated solvents, which are among the most common groundwater contaminants caused by industry. The study, which is taking place at the U.S. Department of Energy's Savannah River Site, is funded with a $35,000 grant from SRS through the South Carolina Universities Research and Education Foundation (SCUREF).

Clemson University geologist Larry Murdoch said the oil is injected through hydraulic fractures made 20 to 30 feet into the ground. When injected, the vegetable oil draws in oil-based contaminants that have leaked from pipes or tanks. If mixed with water, the contaminants separate as droplets, with small amounts dissolving into the water and making it hazardous. But, if another oil is introduced, the contaminants steer clear of the water, drawn instead towards the edible-oil source.

"Something else can happen to clean up the contaminants," said Murdoch. "Some microbes in the ground subsurface will degrade solvents. The edible oils create the right conditions for those kinds of microbes to flourish, so they seek out the contaminants and break them down. We hope the oil will both trap and destroy contaminants underground".........

Posted by: Edwin      Permalink         Source

September 13, 2006, 8:16 PM CT

Bijou Blanche

Bijou Blanche
After visiting London Fashion Week, the French model now based in London, Laure Brosson, decided to create her own online boutique with sexy and feminine accessories from inspiring designers. Laure named her boutique, Bijou Blanche, a name inspired by the movie, Seven Sinners in which Marlene Dietrich plays a beautiful cabaret singer; "it's such a beautiful cliche," says Laure Brosson.

In creating her online boutique, Laure says "I wanted to give customers a unique,and special choice, not so mainstream in accessories. I believe it's all about accessories in fashion, wearing a simple shirt or t-shirt, with the right handbag or the right necklace make a woman look great. And the idea is with my modelling work, I have the chance to travel, and see different influences or styles, to create a chic and original selection".

As you will see when you visit Bijou Blanche, this online boutique carries a wide range of classy accessories from talented designers including Martine Sitbon, Wilbur & Gussie whose bags are sold in some of London's most exclusive stores, Franziska Hubener, Eric Lopez, R&Y Augousti, Babette Wasserman, and Johnny Loves Rosie, the well recognised brand located in the fashion district of London's East End.........

Posted by: Edwin      Permalink         Source

September 13, 2006, 8:04 PM CT

Oh Kirsten

Oh Kirsten
Most of the online chatter about these pictures have been about how silly she looks flipping off the photographers or about Spiderman reshoots, but I am more concerned about the bag she is carrying.

Why on earth would Kirsten Dunst be carrying around almost the exact same Vera Bradley bag (or worse, a Vera knock off) that I myself had circa 2000? Now at the time I was pleased as punch with my little cotton bag. It cost me a bundle of my recent college grad salary, had fantastic pockets, and at the time it was the height of Boston preppy fashion.

But it is now 2006 and Kirsten must today have a WAY larger bank account then I did back then. And while I will admit to still having a soft spot for the Vera's (my weekend bag is a Miller in Java Blue) this is really unacceptable for someone rich and famous. Kirsten needs to get herself into Louis Vuitton or Prada store ASAP!

From the bag blog.........

Posted by: Edwin      Permalink         Source

September 13, 2006, 5:14 AM CT

Greener Path To Iron Production

Greener Path To Iron Production
MIT engineers have demonstrated an eco-friendly way to make iron that eliminates the greenhouse gases usually associated with its production.

The American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI) announced recently that the team, led by Donald R. Sadoway of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, has shown the technical viability of producing iron by molten oxide electrolysis (MOE).

"What sets molten oxide electrolysis apart from other metal-producing technologies is that it is totally carbon-free and hence generates no carbon dioxide gases -- only oxygen," said Lawrence W. Kavanagh, AISI vice president of manufacturing and technology.

The work was funded by the AISI/Department of Energy Technology Roadmap Program (TRP). The TRP goal is to increase the competitiveness of the U.S. steel industry while saving energy and enhancing the environment. According to the AISI, the MIT work "marks one of TRP's breakthrough projects toward meeting that goal".

Unlike other iron-making processes, MOE works by passing an electric current through a liquid solution of iron oxide. The iron oxide then breaks down into liquid iron and oxygen gas, allowing oxygen to be the main byproduct of the process.

Electrolysis itself is nothing new -- all of the world's aluminum is produced this way. And that is one advantage of the new process: It is based on a technology that metallurgists are already familiar with. Unlike aluminum smelting, however, MOE is carbon-free.........

Posted by: Edwin      Permalink         Source

September 13, 2006, 4:59 AM CT

Story Time

Story Time
Story ideas from the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory. To arrange for an interview with a researcher, please contact the Communications and External Relations staff member identified at the end of each tip.

For more information on ORNL and its research and development activities, please refer to one of our Media Contacts. If you have a general media-related question or comment, you can send it to

Materials-Monster cutters

Underground rock formations in Atlanta will provide a real-world test for monster disc cutters coated with an iron-based nano-composite developed by a team led by Oak Ridge National Laboratory researchers. The laser-fused composite has resulted in hardness values two to seven times greater than conventional steel, according to Narendra Dahotre of the University of Tennessee/ORNL Joint Center for Advanced Photonics Processing. The coatings are expected to result in up to a 25 percent improvement in energy efficiency, significant reductions in down time and potential improvements in tunnel boring health and safety. This work, which is funded by DOE's Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management Program, is part of an effort to improve tunnel boring disc cutters to cut repository tunnels for radioactive material storage. Other partners are Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and the Colorado School of Mines, where this coated disc cutter was the first in 25 years to survive testing on a hydraulic press that simulates in-field conditions. [Contact: Ron Walli; 865.576.0226;].........

Posted by: Edwin      Permalink         Source

September 13, 2006, 4:50 AM CT

Plastic Replicas Of Real Cells

Plastic Replicas Of Real Cells Real or replica?
Call them genuine fakes. Brown University biomedical engineer Diane Hoffman-Kim and her research team have made plastic replicas of real cells through a novel two-part molding process. The copies looked so authentic, Hoffman-Kim couldn't tell if they were real or rubber at first.

"When I saw the images from the microscope, I said, 'OK, I can't tell the difference,'" Hoffman-Kim said. "It was pretty amazing - and just what we wanted".

A description of the replicas, their ability to support cell growth, and their possible applications in science and medicine are published in Langmuir, a journal of the American Chemical Society.

The main cells used in the experiments were Schwann cells, which protect peripheral nerves by wrapping around their axons to create insulating myelin sheaths. Schwann cells also direct axon growth during cell development and repair.

Hoffman-Kim, an assistant professor in the Department of Molecular Pharmacology, Physiology and Biotechnology and the Division of Engineering, said the realistic replicas could be used in laboratories to help researchers understand how these critical support cells sustain and direct nerve growth.

The replicas could also, eventually, be used in hospitals to help doctors regenerate nerves. If a patient's nerves are severed during an auto accident or other injury, a device coated with the imitation cells - a contraption called a nerve guidance channel - could be implanted into the injured area to help stimulate nerve growth and repair damaged tissue. Tissue engineers around the world are testing nerve guidance channels in animals and, in a few cases, in humans.........

Posted by: John      Permalink         Source

September 13, 2006, 4:34 AM CT

Black-white IQ Gap Has Narrowed

Black-white IQ Gap Has Narrowed
Image courtesy of
In a paper would be published in the October issure of the journal Psychological Science, William Dickens and James Flynn show that the gap in measured cognitive ability between blacks and whites has narrowed by at least a quarter since 1972. The researchers analyzed nationally representative samples of blacks and whites on four different tests of cognitive ability. On all four tests, blacks show large gains relative to whites with results varying somewhat across the different tests. Pooling the results, the researchers find that blacks have gained an average of.18 IQ points a year on whites from 1972 to 2002 for a total gain of 5.4 IQ points. Further, blacks have gained on whites at all points in the distribution of ability, with gains being only modestly lower for those in the top 10 percent.

These gains in cognitive ability have come during a time when blacks have made notable progress towards social and economic equality in some areas and suggest the possibility that further progress will bring further IQ gains.........

Posted by: Edwin      Permalink         Source

September 11, 2006, 10:13 PM CT

Wearing A Helmet Puts Cyclists At Risk

Wearing A Helmet Puts Cyclists At Risk
Drivers pass closer when overtaking cyclists wearing helmets than when overtaking bare-headed cyclists, increasing the risk of a collision, the research has found.

Dr Ian Walker, a traffic psychologist from the University of Bath, used a bicycle fitted with a computer and an ultrasonic distance sensor to record data from over 2,500 overtaking motorists in Salisbury and Bristol.

Dr Walker, who was struck by a bus and a truck in the course of the experiment, spent half the time wearing a cycle helmet and half the time bare-headed. He was wearing the helmet both times he was struck.

He found that drivers were as much as twice as likely to get particularly close to the bicycle when he was wearing the helmet.

Across the board, drivers passed an average of 8.5 cm (3 1/3 inches) closer with the helmet than without.

The research has been accepted for publication in the journal Accident Analysis & Prevention.

"This study shows that when drivers overtake a cyclist, the margin for error they leave is affected by the cyclist's appearance," said Dr Walker, from the University's Department of Psychology.

"By leaving the cyclist less room, drivers reduce the safety margin that cyclists need to deal with obstacles in the road, such as drain covers and potholes, as well as the margin for error in their own judgements.........

Posted by: Edwin      Permalink         Source

September 11, 2006, 9:48 PM CT

Insights Into Research Of Sir Issac Newton

Insights Into Research Of Sir Issac Newton Kenneth Knoespel
Known primarily for his foundational work in math and physics, Sir Issac Newton actually spent more time on research in alchemy, as well as its interrelationships with science, history and religion, and its implications for economics.

Alchemy, as Newton practiced it in the 17th and 18th centuries, was research into the nature of chemical substances and processes primarily the transmutation of materials from one type of matter to another. Newton and others conducted experiments, but also incorporated philosophical thought in their attempts to uncover the mysteries of the physical universe.

"Newton's extensive work on universal history (which presents human history as a coherent unit governed by certain immutable principles) provides an essential setting for linking his work on alchemy and his work heading England's mint in the 1690s," said Georgia Institute of Technology Professor Kenneth Knoespel, who chairs the School of Literature, Communication and Culture. "It is not at all farfetched to think of history as a kind of alchemical process that looks to the creation of value and wealth".

Knoespel will present an invited talk titled "Newton's alchemical work and the creation of economic value" at 9 a.m. Pacific time Sept. 11 at the American Chemical Society's 232nd national meeting in San Francisco. The talk is part of a session dedicated to scholarship based on the unpublished manuscripts of Newton, most of which are housed at the University of Cambridge and in the Edelstein Center at Hebrew University in Jerusalem. For the past 15 years, Knoespel has studied both collections -- some portions of which weren't available to scholars until the 1970s.........

Posted by: John      Permalink         Source

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