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April 30 2015

Mystery of sun's corona solved? It's nanoflares, scientists say


One of the greatest mysteries of how stars behave has been right in our own backyard: the sun’s corona. Scientists have long wondered what heats this thin, ethereal shell of particles to roughly 300 times the temperature of the surface of the sun itself.

Now, after combining evidence from a sounding rocket and a black-hole-hunting telescope and computer modeling, researchers say they’ve found the cause: nanoflares.

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April 30 2015

Pluto may have icy cap


New images from NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft suggest that Pluto has a polar cap made of some kind of frozen substance.

The images, taken over the last few weeks and released on 29 April, show Pluto rotating in lockstep with its largest moon, Charon. Pluto's surface is mottled with light and dark patches, each measuring hundreds of kilometres across. But its pole remains bright no matter how the dwarf planet rotates, suggesting that a highly reflective icy cap may exist there.

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April 30 2015

Water Could Have Been Abundant in the First Billion Years


How soon after the Big Bang could water have existed? Not right away, because water molecules contain oxygen and oxygen had to be formed in the first stars. Then that oxygen had to disperse and unite with hydrogen in significant amounts. New theoretical work finds that despite these complications, water vapor could have been just as abundant in pockets of space a billion years after the Big Bang as it is today.


Related: The Solar System and Beyond is Awash in Water

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April 30 2015

Cars That Run on Air and Water? Audi Rolls Out E-Diesel


Cars that run on a synthetic fuel, made from water and air, represent the cutting-edge of innovation now sweeping the auto industry. In a German factory, Audi is making “e-diesel” that uses— rather than emits—carbon dioxide.

The carbon-neutral fuel contains no sulfur or fossil oil. If it catches on and is produced for a mass market, it could make internal combustion engines much cleaner in the future.


Related: European cars will automatically call emergency services after a crash

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April 30 2015

Artificial photosynthesis could help make fuels, plastics and medicine


The global industrial sector accounts for more than half of the total energy used every year. Now scientists are inventing a new artificial photosynthetic system that could one day reduce industry's dependence on fossil fuel-derived energy by powering part of the sector with solar energy and bacteria. In the ACS journal Nano Letters, they describe a novel system that converts light and carbon dioxide into building blocks for plastics, pharmaceuticals and fuels—all without electricity.

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April 30 2015

Transforming all donated blood into a universal type


Every day, thousands of people need donated blood. But only blood without A- or B-type antigens, such as type O, can be given to all of those in need, and it's usually in short supply. Now scientists are making strides toward fixing the situation. They report an efficient way to transform A and B blood into a neutral type that can be given to any patient.

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April 30 2015

Antarctica's Mysterious 'Blood Falls' Explained In New Study


Antarctica may seem hostile to life, especially the continent's vast and largely ice-free Dry Valleys. But new research shows there may be an entire world underground, with rivers of liquid salt water flowing to subsurface lakes, all of which could be teeming with microbial life.

One of the continent's most unique features, the rust-red Blood Falls, may even be a "portal" into that subterranean world.

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April 30 2015

Nepal Earthquake Lifted Kathmandu, but Shrank Everest


The first good view of the aftermath of Nepal's deadly earthquake from a satellite reveals that a broad swath of ground near Kathmandu lifted vertically, by about 3 feet (1 meter), which could explain why damage in the city was so severe.


Related: Ancient temples, key to Nepal tourism, suffer severe quake damage

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April 30 2015

Can Astronomical Tidal Forces Trigger Earthquakes?


The motion of the ocean is rocking our world, or at least helping to give it a vigorous shake in some locations when the conditions are right, a team of seismologists says.

The idea that celestial bodies can cause earthquakes is one of the oldest theories in science. In 1687 Newton’s universal law of gravitation revealed ocean tides are caused by the attraction of the sun and moon. And in the 1700s scientists started to wonder if these same distant bodies might also affect geologic faults. This idea flourished in the 19th century.

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April 30 2015

Dutch saltwater potatoes offer hope for world's hungry


A small field on an island off the Netherlands' northern coast promises one answer to the problem of how to feed the world's ever-growing population: potatoes and other crops that grow in saltwater.

Every day, swathes of farmland somewhere in the world become unusable because of salty soil, but farmers on windswept Texel are finding solutions using traditional methods.

The team headed by farmer Mark van Rijsselberghe has planted around 30 types of potato and their approach is simple.

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April 30 2015

Orchids' Lips Evolved to Lure Pollinators


Orchids, like humans, use their lips to attract and entice others, and now new research finds that intense competition underlies their formation and constant changes.

Two competing groups of proteins are engaged in an evolutionary war that helps to explain why orchids are so beguiling and come in many different shapes and sizes, according to a new study published in the latest issue of the journal Nature Plants.

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April 30 2015

Organic farming can reverse the agriculture ecosystem from a carbon source to a carbon sink


Approximately 35% of global greenhouse gases (GHGs) come from agriculture. Some argues that human can reverse global worming by sequestering several hundred billion tons of excess CO2 through regenerative, organic farming, ranching and land use. Increasing the soil's organic content will not only fix carbon and reduce emissions, it will also improve the soil's ability to retain water and nutrients and resist pests and droughts.

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April 30 2015

Hate Yard Work? Amazon Lets You Hire a Goat


To relieve customers of backbreaking yard work, various manufacturers have rolled out their versions of the automatic, robotic lawnmower.

Amazon, on the other hand, has a different solution: goats.

Yes, the same company that wants to revolutionize its delivery capabilities with drones is currently testing a service that allows you to hire a goat to trim your shrubs.

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April 30 2015

Some monkeys can understand danger calls made by different monkey species


A team of researchers with members from France, Ivory Coast, Switzerland and the U.K. has found that some monkeys of one species are able to listen in and respond to communications made by monkeys of another species. In their paper published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, the researchers describe a field study they conducted with two monkey species and what they learned from it.

Human beings are the only species known to have a complete language, though other animals make sounds that can be interpreted by others of their species, and now it appears that at least in one case, the sounds made by one species can be interpreted by members of another.

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April 30 2015

Bats use both sides of brain to listen—just like humans


Researchers from Georgetown University Medical Center and American University have shown that, like humans, mustached bats use the left and right sides of their brains to process different aspects of sounds. Aside from humans, no other animal that has been studied, not even monkeys or apes, has proved to use such hemispheric specialization for sound processing—meaning that the left brain is better at processing fast sounds, and the right processing slow ones.

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April 30 2015

Is it a bird? Is it a bat? Meet Yi qi, the dinosaur that is sort of both


Researchers today announced the discovery of a stunning new dinosaur fossil: a glider with wings similar to both birds and bats. It has been named Yi qi (meaning ‘strange wing’) and is a small feathered dinosaur from the Middle Jurassic age fossil beds of China that have yielded a host of important fossils in recent years. Yi qi, like so many other small dinosaurs, is preserved with a full coating of feathers and was a close relative of the lineage that ultimately gave rise to birds.

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April 29 2015

Human hunting weapons may not have caused the demise of the Neanderthals


The demise of Neanderthals may have nothing to do with innovative hunting weapons carried by humans from west Asia, according to a new study. The researchers say their findings mean that we may need to rethink the reasons humans survived Neanderthals - and that we may not have behaved as differently as we thought. The researchers looked at innovative stone weapons used by humans about 42,000-34,000 years ago. Traditionally, anthropologists believed that innovation in weapons enabled humans to spread out of Africa to Europe. However, the new study suggests that the innovation was not a driving force for humans to migrate into Europe as previously thought - they were no better equipped than the Neanderthals.

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