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October 22, 2007

El Nino slows the earth's spin

How El Nino slows the Earth's spin - earth - 21 October 2007 - New Scientist Environment

El Nino has an immense impact on the weather, so great in fact that the ocean warming phenomenon actually makes the planet spin more slowly. Until now, though, no one knew why.

It was also a mystery why the effect did not kick in for several weeks after ocean temperatures reached their peak. Now, Jean Dickey and her colleagues at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena says that the answer is blowing in the wind.

El Nino events warm Pacific surface waters in the tropics, resulting in strong westerly thermal winds. The total Earth system spins with a constant speed, but these winds make the atmosphere spin slightly faster. Due to the conservation of angular momentum the body of Earth then slows to compensate, making the days a little longer.

October 19, 2007

Scientsts figure out how cold weather spread flu

Cold weather really does spread flu - health - 19 October 2007 - New Scientist Space

Scientists have finally confirmed what your mother knew all along – that flu spreads best in cold, dry weather.

As the first few cases of the northern hemisphere’s annual flu epidemic are trickling in this week, scientists may finally know why winter is flu season. It appears the virus lasts longer in cold, dry air, and our sluggish, cold-weather mucus cannot clear it out.

Astonishingly it has taken until the publication of research this week to settle the basic question about how flu spreads, and why it girdles each hemisphere every year during winter. Ironically, that research was made possible by the rediscovery of a report by army doctors in 1919.

October 18, 2007

Because of global warming, Atlanta has only a few weeks of drinking water left

ABC News: Atlanta Drought: 3 Months of Water Left

An unprecedented drought stretching across the southeastern United States has forced some of the region's largest cities to declare water emergencies.

The situation has become so serious that officials in Atlanta, where rainfall totals are more than 16 inches below normal, said they could run out of drinking water in a matter of weeks.

October 14, 2007

The death of Lake Superior?

Ezra Klein: Who do we talk to about getting Lake...

October 12, 2007

Study of lap dancers' tips gives evidence of "heat"

Lap dancers 'in heat' are the ones to watch - being-human - 11 October 2007 - New Scientist

TAKE a bunch of lap dancers, some lustful men and a fistful of dollars, and you have the best evidence yet for the controversial idea that women send out signals which reveal their fertile periods.

Last month, biologist Randy Thornhill challenged the orthodoxy that women do not undergo regular bouts of hormone-induced oestrus, or "heat", when they are at their most fertile - something most female mammals experience (New Scientist, 15 September, p 18). Now a study of the tips men give to lap dancers, conducted by a colleague of Thornhill's, lends further support to the argument for oestrus.

Geoffrey Miller and his team at the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, compared the earnings of lap dancers who were menstruating naturally with those of dancers taking the hormonal contraceptive pill. During the non-fertile periods of their menstrual cycle, both sets of dancers earned similar tips. But when naturally cycling lap dancers entered their fertile period they earned significantly more in tips than their co-workers on the pill . . .

October 10, 2007

Moray eels have "Aliens-like" jaws hiden deep in their throats

'Alien' jaws help moray eels feed

Moray eels have a unique way of feeding reminiscent of a science fiction thriller, researchers at UC Davis have discovered. After seizing prey in its jaws, a second set of jaws located in the moray's throat reaches forward into the mouth, grabs the food and carries it back to the esophagus for swallowing.

"This is really an amazing innovation for feeding behavior for fishes in general," said Rita Mehta, a postdoctoral researcher in the Section of Evolution and Ecology at UC Davis.

October 08, 2007

Stored blood not as healthy as once thought

Studies: Stored blood lacks nitric oxide - Yahoo! News

WASHINGTON - Much of the stored blood given to millions of people every year may lack a component vital for it to deliver oxygen to the tissues. Nitric oxide, which helps keep blood vessels open, begins breaking down as soon as blood goes into storage, two research teams report in separate studies in this week's online edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

In recent years, doctors have become increasingly concerned about levels of heart attack and stroke in patients receiving transfusions and the new findings may help explain that.

"It doesn't matter how much oxygen is being carried by red blood cells, it cannot get to the tissues that need it without nitric oxide," said Dr. Jonathan Stamler of Duke University, leader of one of the research groups.

Holes in the web of life: Bumblebees extinct?

CBS | Plight Of The Bumblebee | Worsening State Of...