The nerve gas sarin was released on several subway lines in Tokyo in 1995 in a terrorist attack. Thirteen people died, and many more had severe injuries. But while such an incident is going on, how do you determine what’s happening and what might be in th... more
Looking to nature for materials to use in everyday products has its appeal and has spurred earnest research efforts toward this end. The approach seems more healthful than turning to synthetic materials — but nature is not always benign. Luckily, there ar... more
While climate change discussions focus largely on carbon dioxide, emissions of the third-most important greenhouse gas is rising dramatically in China. And not only does this gas, nitrous oxide (N2O), contribute to the greenhouse effect, but it also threa... more
Warmer temperatures are finally upon us here on the East Coast, prompting many of us to get outside into the sunlight and play. To Bruce Parkinson and colleagues at the University of Wyoming, the sun is more than just a welcome sight after a long winter.... more
By any account, the Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in April 2010 was a disastrous event. Cleaning up required an infusion of cash to the tune of billions of dollars within a few months.
Now consider the “dead zone” phenome... more
Bugs are a big problem. They spread diseases, and people also can develop allergies to them. And, of course, they’re icky.
They often are a really huge problem in densely populated, urban, low-income public housing dwellings, where there’s lots of food, cl... more
Check the dictionary for the definition of versatile. You won’t find “cotton” there, and that’s a shame.
Here are just some of the products that come from this worthy plant: textile and yarn goods, automobile tire cord, plastic reinforcing, fertilizer, fue
Ah, nothing like heading out to the beach in the summer. The warm sun on your skin, the hot sand between your toes, the waves crashing around you.
Unfortunately, the water isn’t always as pristine as it seems at first glance. Sewage overflow from nearby tr... more
You never know what you’re going to find when you go digging. In 1974, a group of farmers digging a well stunned the world with their discovery of the now-famous Terracotta Warriors and Horses in China.
They unearthed over 8,000 soldiers and their associat... more
Jute, that scratchy, stiff vegetable fiber used to make burlap sacks and twine, could have a brand-new use in the near future. According to a study in Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research, it could serve as a sustainable strengthener for concrete a... more
We’ve all heard how coffee is good for you. Recent studies have linked drinking coffee with a lower risk for developing many conditions, including type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. It also has more healthful antioxidants than v... more
Yes, whale vomit — although some experts suspect that this smelly, grayish, waxy intestinal secretion actually comes from the other end of the whale. It’s actually been known throughout the ages as an aphrodisiac, a medication and a food flavoring. But am... more
Believe it or not, in those simpler days long ago, there was a buzz of excitement when the cereal mavens first dropped a handful of plump raisins into a box of breakfast flakes. For decades, breakfast-eaters only had a choice of a bowl of milk-drenched oa... more
Scientists are taking steps to cut down on greenhouse gas emissions of the Internet and telecommunications industries? Huh? Who knew doing a Google search produced greenhouse gases, thereby contributing to climate change?
It turns out that the “informatio... more
Every year, about 3,500 people die in fires in the U.S. Firefighters responded to almost 400,000 house fires in 2010. Common causes of house fires are overloaded electrical outlets, portable heaters, knocked over candles and smoking.
To help prevent house... more
A nutrient-rich clay long used to treat diarrhea might help to solve a problem related to the *ahem* other end of the digestive tract. A new report shows that the mineral attapulgite could be useful as a sustainable slow-release fertilizer, a key ingredie... more
Many Americans can still remember the high prices, long lines and rationing of the 1973 oil crisis. OPEC’s embargo only lasted five months, but the 1974 National Maximum Speed Law intended to reduce fuel consumption kept speed limits on many interstates a... more
It’s 2012. You can travel almost anywhere in the world in a matter of hours. You’re probably carrying a miniaturized computer in your pocket. But when the next major oil spill happens, like the Deepwater Horizon accident in 2010 that spilled enough oil to... more
The effects of carbon dioxide (CO2) in Earth’s atmosphere are well documented and well understood: as a greenhouse gas, it traps heat from the Sun and contributes to rising temperatures. But CO2 is also making life less comfortable beneath the waves by c... more
Many city dwellers have a special appreciation for a tree-lined street. The trees provide much-needed summertime shade to sidewalks and houses. Chirping birds make their homes in the branches. Dappled green light filters through the trees’ leaves. A new p... more
With the temperatures we’ve had this summer here in Washington, D.C., it’s hard to think of anything but the heat. I only got as far as cranking up the AC, but researchers in Georgia have come up with a device that can make electricity from waste heat tha... more
What should I do with that old bottle of seasickness medication rattling around in a drawer in my bathroom? The expiration date passed long ago, and it’s been at the bottom of the drawer for so long that the label is illegible.
By some estimates, more tha... more