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Ecosystem

A just-published paper suggests that the cultivation of perennial grain crops could revolu...

It has pretty much become a given that grain crops, such as wheat and barley, need to be started from scratch every spring. This means farmers must buy seeds, use seeding equipment to get those seeds into the soil, then apply a lot of fertilizer and hope for weather conditions that won’t be too hot, cold, wet or dry for germination. There are such things as perennial grains, however - plants that, like the grass in your lawn, simply pick up in the spring where they left off in the fall. While perennial versions of common annual grains have seen little in the way of development, a new research paper says it’s about time they did. The advantages of cultivating perennial grains, the paper’s authors submit, could be one of the biggest advances in the 10,000-year history of agriculture.  Read More

Cigarette butts contain chemicals that may keep steel from rusting

It has been estimated that every year, 4.5 trillion cigarette butts are added to the world’s ecosystem. That would be bad enough if they were simply disgusting, but when they’re left on beaches or washed down storm sewers, they can be lethal to fish. Unfortunately, there’s nothing that can be done with the butts, other than throwing them out... until now, perhaps. Researchers from China’s Xi’an Jiaotong University claim that cigarette butts can be used to make an excellent rust inhibitor.  Read More

NEPTUNE Canada: A rock fish at Folger Pinnacle

Deep-sea research is great and everything, but man, those submersibles can get pretty cramped. The other, bigger problem is that it requires going off and traveling on a ship, which is costly and can therefore only be done a few times a year. Fortunately, however, there’s now a way of obtaining real-time undersea data without leaving your office. NEPTUNE Canada, the world’s largest and most advanced cabled seafloor observatory, officially started going live to the Internet last December, giving anyone with an Internet connection free access to what will become an absolute mountain of data from the bottom of the sea.  Read More

A commercially-produced EcoSphere(R) closed ecosystem  (Photo courtesy EcoSphere Associate...

Have you ever wanted to create your own little planet? Do you like aquatic life, but think that aquariums are too much work? If your answer to either of those two questions is Yes, then you might quite enjoy owning a miniature closed aquatic ecosystem. All you need is a credit card, or a clear glass jar, some stuff from a pond, and an appreciation for things that exist on a small scale. The result will be a self-sustained miniature world that doesn’t need feeding, filtration, or anything other than light, from the outside world.  Read More

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