US Congress hears calls for drone safeguards
Washington (AFP) March 24, 2013 – Lawmakers and advocates on Wednesday called for safeguards to be placed on the domestic use of drones in order to protect the privacy of Americans. Congress has ordered the Federal Aviation Administration to open up airspace to the unmanned aircraft by October 2015, a decision expected to see thousands of drones criss-crossing the sky within a few years. Their imminent proliferation has … more

Megavolcanoes tied to pre-dinosaur mass extinction
New York NY (SPX) Mar 24, 2013 – Scientists examining evidence across the world from New Jersey to North Africa say they have linked the abrupt disappearance of half of earth’s species 200 million years ago to a precisely dated set of gigantic volcanic eruptions. The eruptions may have caused climate changes so sudden that many creatures were unable to adapt-possibly on a pace similar to that of human-influenced climate w … more

Mainz scientists create new flexible mineral inspired by deep-sea sponges
Mainz, Germany (SPX) Mar 24, 2013 – Scientists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) and the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research (MPI-P) in Germany have created a new synthetic hybrid material with a mineral content of almost 90 percent, yet extremely flexible. They imitated the structural elements found in most sea sponges and recreated the sponge spicules using the natural mineral calcium carbonate and a protein of … more

Breakthrough research shows chemical reaction in real time
Stanford CA (SPX) Mar 24, 2013 – The ultrafast, ultrabright X-ray pulses of the Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS) have enabled unprecedented views of a catalyst in action, an important step in the effort to develop cleaner and more efficient energy sources. Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory used LCLS, together with computerized simulations, to reveal surprising detai … more

NTU scientist develops a multi-purpose wonder material to tackle environmental challenges
Singapore (SPX) Mar 24, 2013 – A new wonder material that can generate hydrogen, produce clean water and even create energy. Science fiction? Hardly, and there’s more – It can also desalinate water, be used as flexible water filtration membranes, help recover energy from desalination waste brine, be made into flexible solar cells and can also double the lifespan of lithium ion batteries. With its superior bacteria-killi … more

World’s lightest material created
Hangzhou, China (UPI) Mar 22, 2013 – Chinese scientists say they have developed the world’s lightest material, lighter than air, which could play an important role in tackling pollution. The material dubbed graphene aerogel or carbon aerogel, developed at Zhejiang University in Hangzhou, weighs just 0.16 milligrams per cubic centimeter, a sixth that of air, China’s state-run Xinhua News Agency reported Friday. The m … more

Scripps scientists discover ‘lubricant’ for Earth’s tectonic plates
San Diego CA (SPX) Mar 24, 2013 – Scientists at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego have found a layer of liquefied molten rock in Earth’s mantle that may be acting as a lubricant for the sliding motions of the planet’s massive tectonic plates. The discovery may carry far-reaching implications, from solving basic geological functions of the planet to a better understanding of volcanism and earthquakes. The … more