Earth911 Quiz #40: Be a U.S. Recycling Trivia Champion

December 6, 2018 by  
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Are you a recycling trivia champion? In this Earth911 quiz, … The post Earth911 Quiz #40: Be a U.S. Recycling Trivia Champion appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Earth911 Quiz #40: Be a U.S. Recycling Trivia Champion

Pop Quiz! Eco-Questions for Trivia Buffs

January 15, 2018 by  
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Taking care of the earth isn’t all fun and games, … The post Pop Quiz! Eco-Questions for Trivia Buffs appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Pop Quiz! Eco-Questions for Trivia Buffs

Modern Architecture Game Tests Your Knowledge Of The Great Masters

January 31, 2012 by  
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We’re pretty big nerds when it comes to architecture and design, so when we saw this board game over on Archinect this morning, we immediately added it to our wish list. The Modern Architecture Game designed by NEXT Architects pits you head to head against your fellow intellectuals to see who knows the most about architecture and the architects behind their masterpieces. This trivia board game may not help you be a better designer, but at least you’ll be able to prove who has the biggest brain. Read the rest of Modern Architecture Game Tests Your Knowledge Of The Great Masters Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: Architecture , architecture education , architecture game , board game , green design , modern architecture game , next architects , the modern architecture game

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Modern Architecture Game Tests Your Knowledge Of The Great Masters

Thundersnow: The Sound And The Flurry

December 13, 2011 by  
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[ By Steve in History & Trivia & Nature & Ecosystems & Science & Research . ] Thundersnow… if there’s a more awesome-sounding meteorological phenomenon, then bring it on! While the name “Thundersnow” is eminently suitable for a Marvel superhero, a WWE wrestler or a heavy metal band, it’s actually an easily explainable (though rare and unusual) aspect of wild winter weather . Thundersnow, The Other White Noise (images via: To Be Sugarfree and Anokarina/Picasaweb ) Thundersnow is one of those odd occurrences that, while fully natural, just seem somehow “not right.” You’ve got your thunderstorms, which we associate with hot and humid summer days. You’ve got your snow, either blown forcefully by howling winter winds or delicately falling in silent flotillas of frilly flakes. But thunder? In my snowstorm? It’s not only less likely than you think, it’s not likely period. (image via: Night Sky Hunter ) Not likely perhaps but far from impossible, when one considers the same basic “weather physics” that spawn thunder and lightning can occur any time of the year, in any temperature range. What’s required above all is a powerful storm system that features significant vertical mixing of air masses resulting in a separation of positive and negative electrical charges. (images via: Rance Rizzutto and FamousDC ) Ice crystals are also seen as a catalyst for lightning formation; even in summer thunderstorms. A severe winter storm creates more than enough ice crystals to go around and their presence in cold-weather supercell systems may act to promote lightning strikes regardless of the lower degree (pun intended) of heat energy in winter storm clouds. (images via: The Courier , Scientific American and IMWX ) Though thundersnow isn’t a component of every blizzard, the aforementioned conditions that are most conducive to thundersnow also frequently produce high winds, heavy snowfalls, severe drifting and whiteouts. If you can hear thundersnow, be thankful you’re indoors or feel anxious if you aren’t. An erstwhile cameraman from Dundee, Scotland managed to capture multiple thundersnow lightning strikes on a wind turbine outside the city’s Michelin works. Image at above top, video goodness below: Dundee lightning strikes 28/11/10 11:45am, via Thegameof1 Shocks and Awe (images via: Baird’s Travel , BolgerNow and Deadspin ) The fact that thundersnow often accompanies strong storms producing heavy snowfalls – up to 4 inches per hour in some cases – means that the phenomenon is occasionally observed inadvertently by weathermen (weatherpeople?) who are familiar with the phenomenon… or should we say, “should” be familiar. (images via: Daily Mail UK ) Take Jim Cantore (above), for instance. The long-time Weather Channel on-air personality and storm tracker has acquired a reputation for really getting into his work, usually on live TV broadcasts. You’d think nothing weather-wise could faze Cantore but a 1996 thundersnow event in Worcester, MA, definitely threw him for a loop. It even made his “Best of Cantore” 25-year video retrospective. Here, check this out: Jim Cantore: Thunder Snow, via Illinoisfury (images via: CityRag and HipHopStan.com ) Fifteen years later, thundersnow still has the ability to astound the so-called “Thundersnow King” but Cantore’s thermodynamic theatrics aside, thundersnow is indeed rare if one goes by the official stats. A variety of sources referencing the NOAA note that between 1961 and 1990, only 375 occurrences of thundersnow were officially recorded with the state of Utah accounting for 36 of those events. (image via: Zazzle ) Thundersnow’s rarity may be somewhat of an illusion, however. Meteorological research has uncovered the fact that falling snow acts as an acoustic suppressor. That is, sounds emanating from within or behind a curtain of snow are effectively muffled. It’s estimated that thundersnow can be heard up to 3 miles from an individual lightning strike while in run-of-the-mill rainy thunderstorms the hearing distance is roughly double. So then, if a lightning bolt falls from a winter thunderstorm and no one is within 3 to 6 miles to hear it, does it make a sound? Thanks, It’s Been A Wintery Blast (images via: NovelTP , Web2txt and BearsEatPeople ) “Thunder shook loose hail on the outhouse again…” The eerie opening lyric from Magazine’s disturbing 1979 track “Permafrost” may be the only musical reference to thundersnow, albeit indirectly as hail often falls during summer thunderstorms. What’s worse, sitting in an outhouse during a hailstorm or while thundersnow rattles the walls? Perhaps being in an outhouse in winter, under ANY circumstances, is frightening enough in itself. (images via: Cerebraleye/DeviantArt , Everyday Odyssey and DatPiff ) Thundersnow, as awesome and unexpected as it is, surprisingly hasn’t made much impact on pop culture. When the writers of 1987′s The Running Man needed a name for an especially chilling villain, they picked Sub-Zero… isn’t that a refrigerator? Sub-Zero later inspired the creation of SubZero, who appears in the Mortal Combat universe. (images via: Bat-Mania , FoodCourtLunch and Gothamist ) Even Batman blew it, bringing in Mr. Freeze when “Thundersnow!” was a much better bet to finally kick the Caped Crusader’s ice. Then there’s Thundersnow Ice Cream Cone Guy … talk about yer 15 seconds of fame. (image via: Texas A&M News ) Perhaps thundersnow’s time to shine has yet to come. Weather channels the world over are pumping the Storm Chaser gig for all it’s worth, while at the same time the popularity of YouTube and the improving attributes of mobile phone cameras have turned almost anyone into an amateur weather reporter. With that said, thundersnow may indeed come out of the dark someday… but it’ll never come in from the cold. Want More? Click for Great Related Content on WebEcoist: Snow Foolin’: Completely Insane Pics of Japanese Snowfall Parts of the U.S. may be buried under unusual amounts of snow, but our snowfall pales in comparison to the 56-foot drifts found in parts of Japan every winter. Click Here to Read More »» Visually Celebrating Earth’s Changing Seasons This post celebrates each of the four seasons and the beauty they bring us. Click Here to Read More »» The Deadly Nature & Mind-blowing Beauty of Lightning The natural phenomena of lightning occurs 100 times per second around the globe. Here’s 39 photos to look at lightning’s deadly nature and mind-blowing beauty. 3 Comments – Click Here to Read More »» [ By Steve in History & Trivia & Nature & Ecosystems & Science & Research . ] [ WebEcoist | Archives | Galleries | Privacy | TOS ]

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Thundersnow: The Sound And The Flurry

Beneficial Bacteria: 12 Ways Microbes Help The Environment

September 26, 2011 by  
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[ By Steph in Energy & Fuel & History & Trivia & Science & Research . ] We have become obsessed with eliminating bacteria, attacking with gels and wipes the microbes we associate with infection, illness and death. But not only are many types of bacteria actually helpful, some strains may hold the key to fighting global warming, cleaning up pollution, breaking down plastic and even developing a cure for cancer. These 12 amazing discoveries demonstrate the many ways in which microscopic organisms help maintain the health of our own bodies and the entire planet. Gulf Oil Spill Gases Eaten by Bacteria (images via: wikimedia commons ) Certain types of bacteria can actually clean up troublesome environmental pollutants like spilled petroleum. In fact, a specific strain called Alcanivorax drastically increases in population when an oil spill provides them with large amounts of food, so that they’re able to remove much of the oil. They’re at work on the Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico right now, and while they certainly can’t undo the vast damage that has been done to this region as a result, they definitely provide a beneficial effect. Bacteria Eat Pollution and Generate Electricity (images via: science news ) Bacteria with tiny wire-like appendages called nanowires not only digest toxic waste – including PCBs and chemical solvents – they produce electricity while they’re at it. One type in particular, called Shewanella, is a deep-sea bacteria that grows these oxygen-seeking nanowires when placed in low-oxygen environments. Researchers discovered that when the microbes’ nanowires are pricked with platinum electrodes, they can carry a current. If these capabilities can be harnessed effectively, they could one day be used in sewage treatment plants to simultaneously digest waste and power the facilities. Geobacter Consume Radioactive Contamination (images via: wikimedia commons , sharenator ) The nanowires grown by certain types of bacteria can also be used to immobilize harmful materials – like uranium – and keep them from spreading . A research team at Michigan State University has learned that Geobacter bacteria, which is found naturally in soil, essentially electroplates uranium, rendering it insoluble so it can’t dissolve and contaminate groundwater. These bacteria can be brought into uranium contamination sites like mines and nuclear plants in order to contain the radiation, potentially limiting the disastrous consequences of these types of spills. Plastic-Eating Bacteria Breaks Down Bags (image via: katerha ) Non-biodegradable and far too ubiquitous on this planet, plastic becomes a big problem when it comes to disposal. But in 2008, a Canadian student carried out a truly amazing science experiment in which bacteria were able to consume plastic. Since then, research teams have been working on developing this ability and using it to our benefit. A professor at the University of Dublin got the bacteria to metabolize cooked-down plastic bottles into a new type of plastic that’s actually biodegradable. Earlier this year, scientists discovered that bacteria are already breaking down plastic debris in the world’s oceans on their own, though they’re not yet sure whether this will have a positive or negative effect on the environment. Items like fishing line and plastic bags are devoured by these bacteria; the problem is that the waste that the bacteria then produce could potentially be harmful to ocean ecosystems as it travels up the food chain. Nylon-Eating Bacteria Clean Up Factory Waste (image via: ingrid taylar ) We count on a polymer called Nylon 6 for all kinds of everyday uses like toothbrushes, surgical sutures, ropes, hosiery and strings for instruments like violins. The manufacture of this material produces toxic byproducts that get carried out in waste water – but – you guessed it – there’s a bacterium for that, too. Flavobacterium actually evolved to produce special enzymes to digest these byproducts that they didn’t have previously, and that aren’t seen in similar bacterial strains. In fact, the ability to produce these enzymes in order to consume a material that didn’t even exist prior to the invention of nylon in 1935 is often used as evidence against the theory of creationism, which denies that any new information can be added to a genome by mutation. Metabolizing Methane, A Greenhouse Gas (images via: livescience ) One of the most dangerous greenhouse gases, methane is produced by all sorts of industrial and natural processes, including the decomposition of our own waste and that of livestock. Scientists fighting global warming are struggling to find ways to control the effects of methane, but one solution could come from a simple single-celled microorganism. Some types of bacteria use copper from the environment to metabolize methane, eliminating both the greenhouse gas and toxic heavy metals all at once. Researchers are still trying to determine how to use this in real-world applications, but some options may include venting methane emissions through filters of these bacteria. What’s more, after eating the methane, the bacteria turn it into methanol – so we can harvest their waste for use as fuel. Turning Newspapers into Car Fuel (images via: striatic ) Microbes named T-103, found in animal waste, can produce the biofuel butanol by eating paper. Tulane University developed a method for growing the cellulose-consuming microbes so they can produce fuel in the presence of oxygen, which is lethal to other butanol-producing bacteria. This could make the whole fuel production process far less expensive and thus more potentially applicable in the real world. The researchers say that butanol produces more energy than ethanol, which is produced from corn sugar, and doesn’t require engine modifications. It can also be carried through existing fuel pipelines. Soil-Dwelling Bacteria Kills Cancer (images via: wikimedia commons ) Cancer and bacteria don’t go well together – at least, when you’re talking about immune response. But one type of bacteria, called Clostridium sporogenes, may actually be used to deliver drugs in cancer therapy thanks to its ability to target tumors. Professor Nigel Minton of the University of Nottingham has learned that C. sporogenes will only grow in oxygen-depleted environments – like the center of solid tumors. When injected into a tumor log with cancer drugs, the bacteria can help the drugs kill the tumor cells without affecting healthy tissue. Researchers expect to have a streamlined strain developed for use in a clinical trial by 2013. Panda Poop Bacteria Makes Biofuel (images via: wikimedia commons) “Who would have guessed that ‘panda poop’ might help solve one of the major hurdles to producing biofuels, which is optimizing the breakdown of the raw plant materials used to make the fuels?” says Ashli Brown , Ph.D., co-author of a study on how bacteria in panda feces can break down a super-tough plant material known as lignocellulose. This discovery could speed up development of plant-based biofuels that don’t rely on food crops. Several types of digestive bacteria found in the panda feces are similar to those found in termites, which of course are pros at digesting wood. This doesn’t necessarily mean that panda waste will suddenly be in demand for the production of biofuels – that would probably be a lost cause, given the extremely precarious status of the species. The bacteria that have been identified for their cellulose-processing abilities will be isolated and grown on a commercial scale. However, it does prove how important biodiversity really is, and that many species around the world may have more to offer than we realize. Turning Human Waste into Rocket Fuel (images via: elvertbarnes , wikimedia commons ) Pandas aren’t the only species whose waste may hold the key to producing fuel. With the help of the bacteria Brocadia anammoxidans, human sewage could be transformed into hydrazine , better known as rocket fuel. The bacteria naturally consume ammonia and produce hydrazine in the process. Until their discovery, scientists thought that hydrazine was only a man-made substance. However, this is less of a boon to NASA than it is to sewage treatment plants. In standard plants, waste-eating bacteria require oxygen to be pumped in with power-chugging equipment, so this development could save a lot of money. Sulphur-Eating Bacteria Reduce Acid Run-Off (image via: wikimedia commons ) When sulphur in mine tailings from mining operations react with water and oxygen, they produce toxic sulphuric acid, a major environmental problem which may also be contributing to climate change. Researchers at McMaster University found that two species of bacteria isolated from a mine tailings pond in northern Ontario work together to use sulphur as an energy source, producing and consuming each other’s sulphur-containing waste in a cycle that reduces the amount of toxic runoff Acid Mine Drainage (AMD). This runoff dissolves carbonate rocks and releases CO2, worsening climate change, so the more it is reduced, the less carbon dioxide gas is released into the atmosphere. Probiotic Bacteria That Treat Depression & Anxiety (images via: alancleaver_2000 ) We already know that beneficial bacteria play an incredibly important role in our own biology, helping with everything from dental health to digestion. But probiotic bacteria may even alter brain neurochemistry, helping to treat anxiety and depression-related disorders. Researchers at McMaster University in Canada and University College Cork in Ireland demonstrated that mice fed with the probiotic Lactobacillus rhamnosus JB-1 showed a marked decrease in stress, anxiety and depression-related behaviors as well as lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol. This opens the door to potential microbial-based treatments for psychiatric disorders. Want More? Click for Great Related Content on WebEcoist: Fuel’s Gold: 10 More Unusual Alternative Energy Sources Mankind’s continuing quest for energy has sparked alternative options that may seem odd and impractical today, but could someday become quite commonplace. 1 Comment – Click Here to Read More »» Burning Green: 15 Cutting-Edge Biofuel Sources A new generation of bio-fuels, as well as new approaches to established fuel sources, are making a cleaner, greener future seem like more than a mere pipe dream. Click Here to Read More »» Trashy Times: Where Do Recycled Gadgets Really Go? If you thought your recycled electronics were always recycled safely and cleanly, think again. Many end up in toxic, unregulated dumps in developing countries. 9 Comments – Click Here to Read More »» [ By Steph in Energy & Fuel & History & Trivia & Science & Research . ] [ WebEcoist | Archives | Galleries | Privacy | TOS ]

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Beneficial Bacteria: 12 Ways Microbes Help The Environment

Garden to Go: Vegetation Takes Over Chicago Train Car

September 25, 2011 by  
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[ By Delana in Art & Design & Nature & Ecosystems & Transit & Auto . ] As part of the world’s largest mobile art exhibit, Art on Track, one Chicago Transit train car was taken over by grass and other local plants. For five hours, passengers had the pleasure of walking on lush grasses, admiring lovely blossoms and sitting on a thick lawn – all while riding the train around Chicago’s downtown loop. (images via: Colossal ) The Mobile Garden car is the work of nonprofit arts group noisivelvet . Thanks to donations from local businesses and gardens, the train car was outfitted with a variety of indigenous plants that helped to bring the outdoors into the normally-barren transit system. Members of the Chicago art community were on hand to discuss not only the Mobile Garden car, but the entire Art on Track exhibit. The Mobile Garden is in itself an opportunity for noisivelvet to garner support for their dream project: an open-air CTA car planted with a mobile garden that will be towed behind a CTA train for an entire month. The project will promote urban stewardship encourage the use of sustainable, responsible materials. Want More? Click for Great Related Content on WebEcoist: Acoustic Botany: Nature’s Music Produced Scientifically Artist David Benque explores humans’ aesthetic relationship with nature in this intriguing conceptual art project: a genetically engineered musical garden. 1 Comment – Click Here to Read More »» Greens on Wheels: Rolling Greenhouse Will Feed + Educate A forthcoming project aims to turn an old diesel truck into a mobile greenhouse and education center that will bring gardening to the whole country. 2 Comments – Click Here to Read More »» Serious Scrap Metal Recycling: Crazy Can Sculptures Food cans aren’t usually seen as beautiful, and they aren’t the standard choice for sculpture. But Canstruction uses them to make beautiful things happen. 2 Comments – Click Here to Read More »» [ By Delana in Art & Design & Nature & Ecosystems & Transit & Auto . ] [ WebEcoist | Archives | Galleries | Privacy | TOS ]

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Garden to Go: Vegetation Takes Over Chicago Train Car

TreeHugger Trivia: Google’s Carbon Footprint and Electricity Consumption

September 10, 2011 by  
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Photo credit: espensorvik via Flickr/ Creative Commons/BY We all know Google as the giant Internet company that serves the world billions of pages of search results , YouTube videos, email messages , and lots more, every single day around the globe. All of that computing, powered by farms of servers in

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TreeHugger Trivia: Google’s Carbon Footprint and Electricity Consumption

Cave of Forgotten Dreams: Oldest Known Pictorial Creations

June 24, 2011 by  
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[ By Steph in Geography & Travel & History & Trivia & Science & Research .

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Cave of Forgotten Dreams: Oldest Known Pictorial Creations

Anatomical Drawings Bring Mythical Monsters to Life

June 1, 2011 by  
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[ By Delana in Animals & Habitats & Art & Design & History & Trivia . ] It is a question that has plagued mankind for centuries yet has been solved with no credible answers: how do mermaids…you know…mate? Artist Walmor Corrêa wondered about this and other questions of mythical creature anatomy, so he set out to create a series of anatomical drawings exploring the bodies of the mermaid and several other famous mythical beings.

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Anatomical Drawings Bring Mythical Monsters to Life

Cold, Bold & Old: 10 Monumental Volcanic Plugs

May 17, 2011 by  
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[ By Steve in Geography & Travel & History & Trivia & Nature & Ecosystems .

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Cold, Bold & Old: 10 Monumental Volcanic Plugs

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