Science News Archive - March 26, 2008


Amid a long drought that has jeopardized this year’s harvest, Australia’s winemakers are reconsidering the areas in which they can grow grapes and the styles of wine they can produce.


Hikers and campers venturing into bear country this spring may be safer armed with 8-ounce cans of bear pepper spray than with guns, according to a new study led by a Brigham Young University bear biologist.


In an investigative report published today by Eyes on the Forest, evidence shows that a new logging road in Riau Province -- strongly indicated as illegally built by companies connected to Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) -- is cutting into the heart of Sumatra’s largest contiguous peatland forest, a rare hydrological ecosystem that acts as one of the planet’s biggest carbon stores.

The Mars Exploration Rover (MER) folks that operate the Spirit and Opportunity robots on the red planet have gotten some bad news. A directive has come from NASA Headquarters to take a 40 percent financial cut in their program -- some $4 million in the remaining months of fiscal year 2008. It all comes down to a financial stun gun for one of the rovers, both still busy at work doing science.

I don't know about you, but there's at least a backpack's worth of necessities I take on every trip I make. Between the laptop, iPod, cell phone, newest T.C. Boyle novel and toothbrush, my bag fills up pretty quickly.

A vast ice shelf hanging on by a thin strip looks to be the next chunk to break off from the Antarctic Peninsula, the latest sign of global warming's impact on Earth's southernmost continent. Scientists are shocked by the rapid change of events. Glaciologist Ted Scambos of the University of Colorado was monitoring satellite images of the Wilkins Ice Shelf and spotted a huge iceberg measuring 25 miles by 1.5 miles (41 kilometers by 2.5 kilometers) that appeared to have broken away from the shelf. Scambos alerted colleagues at the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) that it looked like the entire ice shelf - about 6,180 square miles (16,000 square kilometers - about the size of Northern Ireland)- was at risk of collapsing. David Vaughan of the BAS had predicted in 1993 that the northern part of the Wilkins Ice Shelf was likely to be lost within 30 years if warming on the Peninsula continued at the same rate. "Wilkins is the largest ice shelf on the Antarctic Peninsula

By Banholzer, William F Watson, Keith J; Jones, Mark E Considering the range of possibilities and constraints, a major transformation of the chemical industry's current capital structure is unlikely for at least a few decades.

By Douds, David D Jr Nagahashi, Gerald; Reider, Carolyn; Hepperly, Paul R Arbuscular mycorrhizal [AM] fungi are potentially important tools in sustainable agriculture due to their roles in crop nutrient uptake, disease resistance, and water relations and in stabilizing soil aggregates.

By Leroy, Ben L M Herath, Herath M S K; De Neve, Stefaan; Gabriels, Donald; Bommele, Lydia; Reheul, Dirk; Moens, Maurice Compost and other organic amendments have been proven to improve the soil physical quality.


Researchers in Massachusetts hope that one day fishing won’t require bait.

Word of the Day
  • A handkerchief.
  • Specifically— The legendary sweat-cloth; the handkerchief of St. Veronica, according to tradition miraculously impressed with the mask of Christ; also, the napkin about Christ's head (Johu xx. 7).
  • In general, any miraculous portrait of Christ.
The word 'sudarium' comes from a Latin word meaning 'a handkerchief'.