First fluorescent frog in the world found in South America

March 16, 2017 by  
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Scientists found the first fluorescent frog in the world – by accident – in South America . Researchers at Buenos Aires’ Bernardino Rivadavia Natural Sciences Museum stumbled across the discovery while studying pigment in polka dot tree frogs, which are common in the continent. Beneath an ultraviolet (UV) light , the otherwise dull-colored frog glows bright blue and green. Fluorescence – or the ability to take in light at short wavelengths and re-emit it at longer wavelengths – is found in several ocean creatures but is incredibly rare on land. Only some scorpions and parrots were known to possess it until now, and this is the very first amphibian we’ve found that fluoresces. Scientists don’t really know why creatures are fluorescent; they could be communicating, attracting mates, or concealing themselves. Related: Biofluorescent sharks glow bright green in the depths of the sea The scientists initially thought the frog might glow a faint red because it contains the pigment biliverdin, which gives some some insects a slight red fluorescence. But when the researchers shone a UVA flashlight on polka dot tree frogs that came from the Santa Fe, Argentina area, they were amazed to see the brown-green frogs glow bright green and blue instead. The journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences published their research on March 13. Study co-author Maria Gabriella Lagoria told Chemistry World, “This is very different from fluorophores found in other vertebrates, which are usually proteins or polyenic chains.” And there could be even more fluorescent frogs that we haven’t discovered yet. Co-author Julián Faivovich told Nature, “I’m really hoping that other colleagues will be very interested in this phenomenon, and they will start carrying a UV flashlight to the field.” He plans to seek fluorescence in 250 other tree frog species that have translucent skin like the polka dot tree frog. Via Nature and The Guardian Images via Carlos Taboada et al

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Amazing landscape carpets transform your living room into a lush, grassy meadow

June 27, 2016 by  
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These aren’t your grandmother’s shag carpets – Alexandra Kehayoglou creates incredible rugs that look like miniature pastures and meadows. Kehayoglou sources leftover scraps of wool thread from her family’s carpet factory to produce these wonderful hand-tufted artworks, which pay tribute to the landscape of her native Argentina. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dXkcwdEm1No As a granddaughter of Greek immigrants, Kehayoglou grew up following a textile tradition that was developed thousands of years ago in Asia Minor. After graduating with a degree in visual arts, Kehayoglou returned to her roots make carpets as her ancestors did, but with a twist. As varied as the grasses of South America, the carpets are beautiful representations of natural and cultural heritage. You can purchase Alexandra Kehayoglou’s works on Artsy . + Alexandra Kehayoglou

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Nearly every room in this lush Jakarta home connects with the outdoors

June 27, 2016 by  
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The London-based architecture firm created the home for a client in Puri Indah, an upscale residential area of West Jakarta. Completed earlier this year, the Wooden Box House sprawls across 5,300 square feet of living space. It includes a spacious owner’s suite, multiple guest rooms, as well as a housekeeper’s suite. Nearly every interior space (except for the bathrooms) is connected to the outdoors, either directly via a private balcony or terrace with a lush green garden , or visually through floor-to-ceiling windows. The unique multi-level building shape means the terraced gardens add to the view from inside the home. Related: RAW Architecture’s Scottish Highlands House as perfect views of mountain sunrises and island sunsets The architects called for five different types of locally-sourced wood to be used throughout the home’s design, both inside and out. The facade and interior ceiling are composed of dried pine wood planks of various dimensions, chosen for its durability and coloration. Iron wood reclaimed from a phinisi boat adorns the home’s floors, along with the slightly less expensive bengkirai wood, which also makes up the outdoor decking. The Wooden Box Home also features elegant teakwood in the main area bedroom, library, and foyer area. Merbau wood comprises the home’s single front door. It is the most readily available material in Jakarta, making it a sustainable option that is particularly suited to the environment because of its tolerance on expansion. + RAW Architecture Via ArchDaily Images via Eric Dinardi/bacteria photography

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Cambridge researchers are growing bone for greener buildings

June 27, 2016 by  
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Concrete and steel make up the bulk of today’s skyscrapers and city buildings. But both materials require huge amounts of energy to process, accounting for nearly 10 percent of global carbon emissions . University of Cambridge researchers led by Michelle Oyen are pursuing a solution in the lab: they think materials like bone and eggshell could offer a greener alternative. Knowing that the production of steel and concrete results in more carbon emissions than air travel , Oyen, a bioengineer, decided to tackle the problem from a new angle, drawing inspiration from nature for new building materials . She works in the field of biomimetics or “copying life.” With US Army Corps of Engineers funding, she’s made artificial eggshell and bone in the lab, materials that could be used for medical implants – or for constructing buildings. Related: Michael Green on Why Wood Skyscrapers are Better than Concrete and Steel Towers In a press release Oyen said, “What we’re trying to do is to rethink the way that we make things. Engineers tend to throw energy at problems, whereas nature throws information at problems – they fundamentally do things differently…Constructing buildings out of entirely new materials would mean completely rethinking the whole industry. But if you want to do something really transformative to bring down carbon emissions, then I think that’s what we have to do. If we’re going to make a real change, a major rethink is what has to happen.” The process to fabricate bone and eggshell happens at room temperature, and thus requires far less energy than processing concrete and steel. Proteins and minerals lend hardness and toughness. The researchers are also working to incorporate natural properties of bones – notably the fact that they can heal themselves – into the lab-made materials. According to the team, their process could be easily scaled up. But we probably won’t start building with eggshells and bones tomorrow. Oyen’s team is still using animal collagen to make bones and eggshells, though they are looking for a way to use synthetic material, perhaps a polymer or synthetic protein, instead. The construction industry would also have to rewrite building standards to accommodate the new materials. Via Engadget Images via eVolo and Zhang Yu on Flickr

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INFOGRAPHIC: The endangered animals of Latin American and how you can help

January 15, 2016 by  
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Hunting , poaching , industrialization and other eco-threatening human activities are proceeding at a pace that nature can’t sustain. According to conservationists, many animal species are unable to adapt fast enough to survive the dramatic changes of their habitat and climate that result from human activity. Consider the sloths of Central and South America, which move on average only 40 yards per day and sleep for 15 to 20 hours per day. Such ingrained biological habits leave them with virtually no chance of adapting to the rapid pace of industrial deforestation. Cox & Kings created this extraordinary infographic that identifies the most popular endangered species in Latin America in hopes to bring more awareness to the dangers they face. Hunting, pollution, global warming, urbanization, and agriculture are among the many man-made factors responsible for the large-scale destruction of natural animal habitats. According to the World Wildlife Fund, habitat loss is the greatest threat to biodiversity on this planet today. The impact of habitat destruction can trigger a wave of destructive forces. For example, the howler monkey—found in the tropical regions of Central and South America—is threatened by its inability to find food as a result of deforestation. When its food supply is threatened, the howler monkey is less likely to reproduce, thus compounding the threat to the health of its population. Deforestation, in particular, is a devastating driver of habitat loss. Half of the world’s original forests are already gone, and they continue to be removed at a rate 10x faster than they can be regrown. The impacts of human behavior are not felt only by the creatures of the land. There are currently only 8,000 nesting Hawksbill sea turtles left in the wilderness, many of whom inhabit the waters surrounding Costa Rica and other Latin American territories. The hawksbill and other sea turtles are facing extinction due to man-made climate change and human interference with its nesting sites and food sources. In addition to contributing to and volunteering for the many worthy conservationist organizations, you can also do your part by learning more about the animals that are currently threatened, where and how they live, and how they contribute to their respective ecosystems. + Cox and King

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INFOGRAPHIC: The endangered animals of Latin American and how you can help

Airbus starts 3D-printing airplane parts in collaboration with Autodesk, APWorks and The Living

January 15, 2016 by  
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Sculptural new UC Berkeley museum and film archive opens this month

January 15, 2016 by  
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Tim Peake becomes the first British atronaut to go on a spacewalk

January 15, 2016 by  
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Major Tim Peake will make history today when he steps out of the International Space Station and becomes the first British astronaut to go on a spacewalk . Peake will venture out with NASA ’s Colonel Tim Kopra on a carefully choreographed spacewalk to repair a broken power unit. The two will wear pressurized suits, sip water from pouches, and flex their bladders of steel during the repair mission outside the space station, which is scheduled to last for six and a half hours with no bathroom breaks. Read the rest of Tim Peake becomes the first British atronaut to go on a spacewalk

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Outbreak of mosquito-borne virus is shrinking babies’ brains throughout South America

January 6, 2016 by  
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A rare virus is causing babies to be born with abnormally small brains and skulls, and the number of cases are drastically increasing. The Zika virus is spreading rapidly throughout South America and now Puerto Rico has been added to the list of countries where babies are suffering from the potentially life-threatening microcephaly. In Brazil, thousands of cases have been reported in the past year, and the government is scrambling to address the problem amid criticism for not acting sooner. Babies with this birth defect have been reported in ten Central and South American countries so far, and it is believed that the virus will continue to spread. Read the rest of Outbreak of mosquito-borne virus is shrinking babies’ brains throughout South America

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Peru plans to dam Amazon River’s main source and displace thousands

May 29, 2015 by  
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Plans by the Peruvian government, alongside a Brazilian firm, to build some 20 hydroelectric dams across the main truck of the River Marañón would cause the displacement of thousands of individuals, and contribute to the “eco-system collapse” of the Amazon basin , according Paul Little, a U.S.-based environmental anthropologist. Additionally, according to a detailed report on Mongabay , the dams would cause a significant uptick in methane emissions, and produce far more power than is needed for the entire Peruvian population—raising fears the ecologically and economically risky hydroelectric dams are being built to serve mining companies, or to generate power for export sale to neighboring nations. Read the rest of Peru plans to dam Amazon River’s main source and displace thousands Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: amazon basin , amazon environment , amazon river , chile energy , environmental destruction , fish migration , hydroelectric power , hydropower , peru energy , peru renewable energy , river maranon , south america , south america energy , south america renewable energy

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