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Science Prize Helps Get Arsenic Out Of Well Water

Today NASA Watch ran a story on the power of prizes for sci/tech innovation featuring the Granger Foundation's $1 million Challenge Prize for Sustainability for removing arsenic from contaminated well water in Bangladesh. The winner, Dr. Abul Hussam, a chemistry professor from George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia not only came up with a solution that costs $35 to manufacture and only needs to be changed every five years, he also used most of the prize money to help pay for its distribution.

arsenic project sufferer
©Arsenic Foundation

Report slams Edinburgh observatory job cut threat

A POWERFUL committee of MPs today published a damning report criticising the ministers and funding body behind cuts which threaten job losses at Edinburgh's Royal Observatory.

The House of Commons science and skills committee said mismanagement of research funding had put some of Britain's most prestigious science facilities at risk.

It found ministers were largely to blame for their poor handling of the Government's science budget.

UK: Mass grave may have been plague pit

Gloucester: More than 90 skeletons found in a mass grave could be the remains of victims of the Antonine plague, an outbreak of smallpox that swept across the Roman empire between 165AD and 189AD, archaeologists now believe.

plague pit in uk
©South West News Services
Archaeologists unearth a mass Roman grave, believed to be one of the rarest finds in British history

Canada space mission targets asteroids

Canada is preparing to launch the first space mission ever to search for asteroids between Earth and the sun -- the type of asteroid most likely to slam into our planet.


Fittingly for this country, the Near Earth Object Surveillance Satellite is not a Hubble-sized monster. It's a 60-kilogram microsatellite, costing a mere $10 million, yet able to deliver science results never seen before.

NEOSSat will search for asteroids that are closer to the sun than Earth. These are nearly impossible to see from our planet's surface -- there's too much atmosphere and sunshine -- but easier to spot from space.

Did The Solar System Bounce And Kill Off The Dinosaurs

The sun's movement through the Milky Way regularly sends comets hurtling into the inner solar system - coinciding with mass life extinctions on earth, a new study claims. Scientists at the Cardiff Centre for Astrobiology built a computer model of our solar system's movement and found that it "bounces" up and down through the plane of the galaxy.

Solar System Bounce
Bounce, Bounce

Comment: For a more in-depth study as to the frequencies of comets, read Laura Knight-Jadczyk's article located HERE.


The eta Aquarid meteor shower peaks

The eta Aquarid meteor shower peaks this year on Monday, May 5th, and Tuesday, May 6th. The best time to look, no matter where you live, is during the hours immediately before sunrise. If you can, get away from city lights; you will see more meteors from the dark countryside.

2008 should be a good year for the eta Aquarid meteors. The Moon is new, which means no lunar glare, and Earth is expected to pass through an unusually dense region of comet dust, driving meteor rates as high as 70 per hour in the southern hemisphere. Sky watchers in Australia, New Zealand, South America and southern Africa are favored. It is possible to see the shower from the northern hemisphere, too, but rates are reduced to less than 30 per hour.

Plan To Send A Probe To The Sun

The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory is sending a spacecraft closer to the sun than any probe has ever gone - and what it finds could revolutionize what we know about our star and the solar wind that influences everything in our solar system.

NASAs Solar Probe
©NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory
Artist's concept of NASA's Solar Probe spacecraft making its daring pass toward the sun, where it will study the forces that create solar wind. The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Md., will design and build the spacecraft, on a schedule to launch in 2015. Preliminary designs include a 9-foot-diameter, 6-inch-thick, carbon-foam-filled solar shield atop the spacecraft body, and two sets of solar arrays that would retract or extend as the spacecraft swings toward or away from the sun -- making sure the panels stay at proper temperatures and power levels.

NASA has tapped APL to develop the ambitious Solar Probe mission, which will study the streams of charged particles the sun hurls into space from a vantage point within the sun's corona - its outer atmosphere - where the processes that heat the corona and produce solar wind occur. At closest approach Solar Probe would zip past the sun at 125 miles per second, protected by a carbon-composite heat shield that must withstand up to 2,600 degrees Fahrenheit and survive blasts of radiation and energized dust at levels not experienced by any previous spacecraft.
Better Earth

Coherent Description Of Earth's Inaccessible Interior Clarifies Mantle Motion

A new model of inner Earth constructed by Arizona State University researchers pulls past information and hypotheses into a coherent story to clarify mantle motion.

mantle of the Earth
The image is shown from space, centered over the Pacific Ocean, with a cut-away displaying anomalous heterogeneities in the mantle of the Earth: red and blue regions depict zones where seismic waves propagate slower or faster than average, respectively. Distant earthquakes (e.g., the red star) send seismic energy throughout the planet, which traverses anomalous structure and brings information about Earth's internal structure to the planet's surface. The large red region beneath the Pacific Ocean sits atop the hot molten iron core (orange ball), is best explained as chemically distinct from the rest of the mantle, and possibly plays an important role in guiding convection currents in the mantle over geologic time scales. The blue regions underlay subduction zones at Earth's surface, where cold and dense material falls into the planet in the recycling of Earth's surface as part of plate tectonics. Thus the fields of seismology coupled with geodynamics are providing a self-consistent framework for depicting the evolution and dynamics of Earth's interior.

"The past maybe two or three years there have been a lot of papers in Science and Nature about the deep mantle from seismologists and mineral physicists and it's getting really confusing because there are contradictions amongst the different papers," says Ed Garnero, seismologist and an associate professor in Arizona State University's School of Earth and Space Exploration.


China experts identify gene for yield, height in rice

KABUL - Scientists in China have identified a single gene that appears to control rice yield, as well as its height and flowering time, taking what may be a crucial step in global efforts to increase crop productivity.

In an article published in Nature Genetics, the researchers said they were able to pinpoint a single gene, Ghd7, which appears to determine all three traits.

 farmer plants rice sprouts
©REUTERS/Chaiwat Subprasom
A farmer plants rice sprouts in a paddy field in Nakhon Sawan province, north of Bangkok May 4, 2008.
Magic Wand

Apple that's in the pink

Australian scientists have created an apple that does not go brown when cut open. The new variety - called Enchanted - stays pale pink for several hours after being exposed to air. The apple was bred naturally in Australia from the varieties Lady Williams and Golden Delicious without genetic modification.