How volcanic eruptions in Iceland and Alaska affected ancient Egyptians

October 24, 2017 by  
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Volcano eruptions could have helped precipitate unrest in ancient Egypt , according to a new study. An international team of researchers led by Joseph Manning of Yale University discovered volcanic eruptions in northern latitudes can impact the flow of the Nile River . Ancient peoples depended on Nile River flooding to irrigate crops, and if that flood didn’t happen, there could have been political or economic consequences. The researchers connected historical analysis with paleoclimatology – what Yale described as reconstruction of global climates in the past – to make the startling find. Volcanoes in Russia, Greenland, Iceland, or Alaska could have disrupted the daily lives of people in ancient Egypt. While volcanic eruptions weren’t the sole cause of unrest, the researchers think they did play a role. In years with volcanic eruptions, the Nile didn’t flood as much, which Manning said led to social stress. He told The Washington Post, “It’s a bizarre concept that Alaskan volcanoes were screwing up the Nile, but in fact that’s what happened.” Related: The world’s mightiest river is dying Manning and colleagues took an interdisciplinary approach, scrutinizing ancient papyri and inscriptions for descriptions of Nile flooding, and combining that historical information with climate modeling of big 20th century volcanic eruptions and yearly Nile summer flood height measurements between 622 and 1902. Manning told The Washington Post, “It’s an indirect response, but because of atmospheric circulation and energy budgets, we find that large volcanic eruptions cause droughts .” He described the Nile and Egypt as sensitive instruments for climate change , and said the research was important in today’s debate on climate change. The study offers new insight into how climatic shocks impacted societies in history. Manning said in a statement, “There hasn’t been a large eruption affecting the global climate system since Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines in 1991…Sooner or later we will experience a large volcanic eruption, and perhaps a cluster of them, that will act to exacerbate drought in sensitive parts of the world.” The journal Nature Communications published the study online this month. Five other researchers, from institutions in Ireland, California, and Switzerland, contributed to the work. Via Yale University and The Washington Post Images via Michael Gwyther-Jones on Flickr and NASA Goddard Space Flight Center on Flickr

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How volcanic eruptions in Iceland and Alaska affected ancient Egyptians

Light-manipulating algae could boost solar power technology

October 19, 2017 by  
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You probably learned about diatoms , a prolific type of algae , back in grade school. But you may not have learned these single-celled organisms, which are inexpensive and can be found in different types of water and even tree bark, can manipulate light . Now scientists are putting them in organic solar cells to enhance their energy efficiency. Could diatoms hold the key to better solar power ? A research team from Yale University , Princeton University , Lincoln University , and the NASA Glenn Research Center is utilizing them in organic solar cells, a lower-cost alternative to conventional solar cells . The so-called jewels of the sea have a nanostructured silica or glass skeleton, and study lead author and Yale Ph.D. student Lyndsey McMillon-Brown said, “They help trap and scatter light for the algae to photosynthesize, so we’re able to use something directly from nature and put it in a solar cell.” Related: Ancient Marine Diatoms Could be Used to Make Biofuels, Electronics and Health Foods Organic solar cells usually suffer from a design issue: they need to have thin layers, so their efficiency is restricted. Nanostructures that trap and scatter light can help overcome that issue – but are typically too expensive for production on a large scale. Not so with cheap diatoms. The researchers put the algae – abundant in nature – right in the solar cells’ active layer. They saw the same electrical output levels even as they cut the amount of material necessary for the active layer. The team employed a grinding process because at first the diatoms were too big for the active layer. They think they could obtain even better results by utilizing different species and tailoring them to the correct size. McMillon-Brown’s focus is biomimicry ; she said, “We’re always on the hunt for new patterns in nature because we believe that nature solves all our engineering problems – we just have to find the solutions.” The journal Organic Electronics published the research online this month. Via Yale University Images via Depositphotos , Wikimedia Commons and Yale University

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Solar-powered skyscraper with worlds tallest ceramic facade unveiled for Dubai

October 19, 2017 by  
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UNStudio and Werner Sobek have unveiled plans for a new Dubai skyscraper guaranteed to turn heads with its twisted form and a ceramic-tile façade said to be the world’s tallest. Sculptural and functional, the beautiful Wasl Tower will cut down on energy costs with its use of solar panels and optimization of natural light. Hotel group Mandarin Oriental will operate the mixed-use skyscraper that will comprise a 250-room five-star hotel along with offices, residences, and public spaces. Located near the Burj Khalifa on the Sheikh Zayed Road, the 300-meter-tall Wasl Tower stands out from Dubai’s rigid and cold metal-and-glass skyline. The sinuous and asymmetric skyscraper will use a programmed lighting system tucked behind the facade’s fin-shaped ceramic tiles—angled to provide shade and let in filtered natural light—and make the building look as if it were breathing at night. The lights will be powered with solar panels installed atop the car park. Related: Dubai to expand massive solar park to include world’s tallest solar tower Glazing runs up along the full-height of the building like a curved, open seam and houses outdoor balconies and greenery in a “vertical boulevard” that culminates in a top-floor infinity pool. Seventeen elevators will service the building and its diverse stacked programs. “As the project strongly relates to and interconnects with Dubai’s urban experience, the aim is to make a visit to the Wasl Tower as attractive and contemporary as possible,” said UNStudio founder Ben van Berkel. “”As such, a dedicated concept of health, comfort and well-being throughout was developed for the building.” Wasl Tower is slated for completion in 2020. + UNStudio + Werner Sobek Via Dezeen

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Newly discovered ‘ghost galaxy’ full of dark matter is as big as the Milky Way

August 26, 2016 by  
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Astronomers have discovered, with the aid of some powerful telescopes, a galaxy made up mostly of dark matter . Dragonfly 44, as it has been named, is roughly the same size as our Milky Way but with far fewer stars. Rather, the galaxy appears to be composed largely of dark matter, which does not emit light or interact with electromagnetic radiation. Although there is much more to learn about the mysterious dark galaxy, scientists’ initial findings have surprised astronomy experts more than once. Studies of Dragonfly 44 began with curiosity, as many deep space explorations do, after it was identified last year as little more than a smudge-like spot on an image of the Coma Cluster of galaxies captured by the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (above left). Right away, astronomers knew they had to investigate, and time-lapse images captured by the Gemini North telescope (above right) show the galaxy’s diffuse nature. “Very soon after its discovery, we realized this galaxy had to be more than meets the eye. It has so few stars that it would quickly be ripped apart unless something was holding it together,” Yale University astronomer Pieter van Dokkum, lead author of the study, told Phys.org. Related: Newly discovered dwarf galaxy may be falling into the Milky Way More powerful equipment was needed to get a better look, so the team turned to the W.M. Keck Observatory and the Gemini North telescope , in Hawaii, for help. Van Dokkum’s team was able to measure the velocity of stars in Dragonfly 44 by comparing images taken over six nights. Star velocity is a key element in gaining an understanding of the composition of a far-away galaxy, because it can help convey the galaxy’s mass. A higher velocity suggests a galaxy of higher mass. Knowing that the galaxy had very few stars (and thus not much light) but a mass closer to that of the Milky Way, researchers concluded that the newly discovered galaxy must be comprised mostly of dark matter . “Amazingly, the stars move at velocities that are far greater than expected for such a dim galaxy. It means that Dragonfly 44 has a huge amount of unseen mass,” said co-author Roberto Abraham of the University of Toronto. Further studies of Dragonfly 44 may help scientists finally come to an understanding of what dark matter actually is, which has eluded researchers since its existence was first suggested nearly a century ago. A paper on the initial study of Dragonfly 44 was recently published in the Astrophysical Journal Letters. Via Phys.org Lead image via Dean Rowe ; additional image via Pieter van Dokkum, Roberto Abraham, Gemini, Sloan Digital Sky Survey.

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Dyson is releasing a combination air purifier, bladeless fan, and space heater for $599

August 26, 2016 by  
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Thanks to Dyson ’s newest innovation, you will only need one outlet to run an air purifier , cooling fan, and space heater. The Pure Hot + Cool Link combines all three devices into one , saving space and money. Dyson integrated its Cool bladeless fan, Hot heater, and Pure Cool Link air purifier into one multipurpose, climate-controlling product. The Pure Hot + Cool Link uses the same revered HEPA filter used in other products, which is said to remove 99.97 percent of bothersome air particles. Nasty smells, pet dander, pollen, mold, and other forms of pollution are safely filtered away. Related: Dyson has developed an LED lamp that lasts for 37 years Hot or cool air can be dispersed throughout an entire room or in a targeted blast toward your reading corner. Auto mode can be enabled to take the guess work out of creating a comfortable environment and the whole system can be controlled with a smartphone app. The app also monitors air quality and can turn on its sleep function for quiet filtering. The $599 device will be available online starting September 8 and will hit stores on September 18, 2016. + Dyson Via  Gizmodo Images via  Dyson

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Evolution Can’t Keep Pace with Climate Change

July 10, 2013 by  
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Image via Shutterstock Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson made headlines last year when he famously dismissed climate change as something that we should just adapt to, but new research shows that most species won’t be able to adapt soon enough to a rapidly changing climate. John J Wiens, an ecologist with the University of Arizona , compared past rates of adaptation for roughly 540 amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals, and found that many species evolve too slowly to cope with what most experts believe will be a four degree rise in global temperatures by 2100. Read the rest of Evolution Can’t Keep Pace with Climate Change Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: Animals , Climate Change , ecology letters , endangered species , Environment , evolution , extinction , global warming , News , rate of extinction , University of Arizona , Yale University        

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Yale University’s LEED-Platinum Kroon Hall is a Model of Sustainable Architecture

July 12, 2012 by  
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Read the rest of Yale University’s LEED-Platinum Kroon Hall is a Model of Sustainable Architecture Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: “energy efficiency” , arup , Centrebrook , Green Building , green technology , Hopkins , Kroon Hall , Solar Power , Sustainable Building , Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies , Yale University

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Yale University’s LEED-Platinum Kroon Hall is a Model of Sustainable Architecture

Map of Life Provides Online Resource to Monitor All Animal and Plant Life on Earth

May 14, 2012 by  
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A team of researchers from Yale University is developing the Map of Life , an online platform that will monitor the existence of all plants and animals on the planet. When completed, users can search for any species in the world, locate them on satellite or terrain maps and then add their knowledge and feedback. If Wikipedia, Google Maps and the best nature field guides were combined into one web site, the result would be Map of Life. This intuitive platform could help increase the understanding of the world’s biodiversity–and perhaps even save it. Read the rest of Map of Life Provides Online Resource to Monitor All Animal and Plant Life on Earth Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: Biodiversity , biodiversity loss , Climate Change , habitat destruction , map of life , threatened species , Walter Jetz , Yale University

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Yale Poll Finds Majority of Americans Now Believe Global Warming Causes Extreme Weather

April 18, 2012 by  
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In the wake of a bizarre array of extreme weather events throughout the United States, a study from Yale University has found that the majority of Americans have finally realized that yes, global warming is a problem. This spring’s unseasonably warm weather had many people — including Oprah and Obama — concerned and from Hurricane Irene’s path along the east coast to the Mississippi River floods a year ago, weird weather events had 69 percent of participants agreeing that global warming is the culprit . Note: There is a poll embedded within this post, please visit the site to participate in this post’s poll. Read the rest of Yale Poll Finds Majority of Americans Now Believe Global Warming Causes Extreme Weather Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: 2012 heat wave , anthony leiserowitz , Bill McKibben , Climate Change , disaster preparedness , george mason university , global warming , hurricane irene , mississippi flood , natural disaster , texas drought , Yale University

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