Friday, November 26, 2010

Explorers Begin Voyage of Discovery

Scientists from the United States and Indonesia have begun a journey of discovery in a region of the deep ocean near Indonesia where almost no one has gone before, sharing what they learn as it happens with scientists, students and citizens around the globe.

The Indonesia-USA Deep-Sea Exploration of the Sangihe Talaud region, called INDEX 2010, is a three-year partnership between the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Indonesian Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries, and the Indonesian Agency for the Assessment and Application of Technology to map the seafloor and study the rich marine biodiversity of an area of southeast Asia where the Indian and Pacific oceans meet.

The expedition advances the approach that President Obama called for in his June 2009 commitment at Cairo University to renew U.S. engagement with Muslim-majority countries.

The expedition includes two specially equipped exploration and research ships and two state-of-the-art exploration command centers ― one in Seattle and one in Jakarta ― where U.S. and Indonesian scientists will work side by side during ship operations and open their discoveries to students and the public through a dedicated website.

Data and images from the seafloor are being sent from the ships and from the U.S. ship’s remotely operated vehicle (ROV) in near real time via broadband satellite and high-speed Internet, allowing scientists and other participants ashore to engage in the expedition via telepresence, giving them an up-close view of the area being explored.

“We’re very happy that the government of Indonesia has welcomed us in a partnership of science and technology development,” Craig McLean, acting assistant administrator of NOAA’s Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research, told, “to bring our relatively newfound exploration capabilities in the United States to share with our Indonesian colleagues at a scientific level and at a level of public interest and education.”

“The area of the ocean that we’re going to look at has been of interest to ocean explorers for some time,” McLean said. “Biologically it’s recognized as a particularly diverse, if not potentially the most diverse, area of ocean in the world.”

“The tectonic phenomenon of Indonesia, such as underwater volcanoes, hydrothermal vents and other natural activities, contributes to greater deep-sea biodiversity,” Indonesian Minister of Marine Affairs and Fisheries Fadel Muhammad told July 14.

“This scientific knowledge provides extensive understanding of climate crisis and its related challenges,” he added. “As we still know very little about our ocean, it is important to continue scientific exploration in order to discover nature’s benefits for our communities.”

The information gathered and products developed, like digital maps and high-definition video, will help experts better understand, use and protect ocean resources. Coral ecosystems, sponges and other marine organisms offer promise for treating diseases. Some deep-sea ecosystems include organisms that can be used as food. And information from deep-sea exploration can add to knowledge about earthquakes and tsunamis.

Only about 5 percent of the world’s oceans has been explored.


For the expedition, each nation is contributing a ship with special capabilities. INDEX 2010 is the maiden voyage of NOAA ship Okeanos Explorer, the only U.S. government ship dedicated to ocean exploration. Okeanos is from the Greek word for ocean exploration, and the ship was named in a contest for schoolchildren.

Among the ship’s many systems is a hull-mounted multibeam sonar, which uses sound pulses to detect shapes on the seafloor and produce high-resolution maps of the seafloor as deep as 7,000 meters. It also has a two-piece ROV, attached to the ship by a tether, that is able to operate to depths of 4,000 meters. One vehicle is suspended above the other to light up and record the surroundings.

“We’re putting the ship in a position where it’s going out to largely unknown areas of the ocean ― areas where, if there were a map, there would be a big question mark,” scientist John McDonough, deputy director of the NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research, told

“The mapping system will allow us to bring back good maps of an area,” he added, “creating a foundation of information that others can use to make determinations about going back and doing follow-up work.”

The Okeanos Explorer will map the deep ocean floor and water column, collecting oceanographic data and obtaining high-definition video through the ROV’s cameras. The Indonesian ship Baruna Jaya IV will map the seafloor in different locations and collect biological and other samples from the sea.


The expedition’s work has already begun. Between June 24–July 14 for Okeanos Explorer and July 14–19 for Baruna Jaya IV, Okeanos conducted multibeam mapping and ROV operations and Baruna Jaya conducted mapping operations and more traditional sampling.

The final leg takes place July 21–August 7 for Okeanos and July 20–August 7 for Baruna Jaya IV.

McDonough said the Okeanos Explorer plans to return to Indonesia in the summer of 2011 for a second year of operations. He said the results of exploration and discussions with the project’s science team and partners will determine activities for the rest of the three-year project.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Organic Light Emitting Devices To The Masses

One of the most recent inventions in the field of light emitting devices may modify the way people light their homes and design clothes. The device represents a thin film of plastic able to carry out electricity and generate solar power.
Scientists working on the international project are looking ahead to bring the organic light emitting devices to the masses. Thus the success of this invention could significantly cut costs by billions of dollars each year.
Due to the reality that the organic light emitting devices are very thin and supple, electronic display screens could be with no trouble created on nearly every material, thus, for example, clothing could, for the first time in history, display specific electronic information.
There are various ways of using this OLED, like for example modify the color of clothes, beer would be clever to display various sports results. In addition the OLED is much more resourceful than the light bulb used today.
Currently these plans are used in mobile phones and MP3 players. However, such OLED is not quite reliable for large TV or computer screens.
In order to create the device more efficient so later to open it to mass market, the international consortium of researches, Modecom, headed by the University of Bath, United Kingdom, started a three-year project which will cost about $1,700,000.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Robert that Discovers of its own

Scientists at Aberystwyth University and the University of Cambridge in the UK engaged to invent world's first robot that can carry out its own experiments, produce hypotheses as well as make scientific discoveries. Researchers dubbed their latest invention Adam.

Working on its own, the robot-scientist already managed to find new functions for several genes of Saccharomyces cerevisiae, also known as brewer's yeast. The lead-researcher of the project is Ross King, a computational biologist at Aberystwyth. He says that up till now Adam made modest findings, but all the discoveries were real. Their latest invention consists of a room equipped with different laboratory instruments. It includes 4 personal computers that work as one brain. In addition, Adam has robot arms, a number of cameras, liquid handlers, incubators and more.

The robot was also supported with a database that enclosed information on the yeast genes, enzymes and metabolism, as well as a delivery of hundreds of metabolites. In case the strain was spotted to grow not very well, Adam registered new information about the function of the deleted gene.

It is worth mentioning that Adam is able to perform over 1,000 related experiments daily. So far, the robot came up with and tested 20 hypotheses about the coding of genes for 13 enzymes, from which 12 were confirmed by researchers, who carried out their own experiments.

According to Will Bridewell, an artificial intelligence researcher at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, this discovery is yet another step on the way of latest technological inventions.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Hazardous waste are harmful to human health and for the environment

Many things that are thrown out in the rubbish – like some household batteries, car oil, or old paint – can contain harmful chemicals that damage the environment. Find out how to dispose safely of domestic hazardous waste.

Waste is hazardous when it has properties that might make it harmful to human health or the environment. The term 'hazardous' does not always mean that such waste is immediately harmful, though some can be.

Domestic wastes that may be hazardous include:

* asbestos
* pesticides
* fluorescent tubes
* oils
* some paints
* some household and car batteries
* discarded electrical equipment like TVs and computer monitors, fridges and freezers
* discarded energy saving light bulbs (also known as CFLs)

Hazardous waste – including electrical items like TVs, computers and fridges – should not be put into the mixed municipal waste collection. Most of it can be taken to your local waste and recycling centre (sometimes referred to as the 'tip' or the 'dump'), which is run by your local council.

In some cases, your local council may be able to collect the waste from you. There may be a charge for this. They will also be able to advise you on where to take all types of hazardous waste in your area.


From February 2010, all shops that sell large amounts of household batteries must provide a collection bin for used batteries. You may also be able to put old batteries in your regular household recycling bins - check to see if your local council accepts them. You can also take batteries to a waste and recycling centre.

Car batteries should also be taken to a waste and recycling centre. Some shops that sell car batteries also accept old batteries for recycling. Check when you buy a new car battery to see if the shop will recycle your old battery for you.

Energy saving lightbulbs (CFLs) can be hazardous if not disposed of properly, as they contain mercury. 'Energy saving light bulbs' explains how to recycle them safely.

If medicines are flushed down the toilet, traces of them can end up in water courses, like rivers or the sea.

You can take any unwanted medicines to your local pharmacy, who will dispose of them safely.

You could also ask your GP about disposing of medicines that are still in-date and useable. Some GP practices are registered to donate unwanted medicines to charities, for use in developing countries.

Asbestos can become dangerous if it's broken. You should contact your local council for special advice on how to deal with asbestos. More information on dealing with asbestos can be found in the 'Asbestos removal' article in the Home and Community section.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Reduce plastic waste

Reducing the amount of plastic and other packaging you buy helps reduce the amount of energy and water used in manufacturing and recycling. This also helps reduce the amount of waste that ends up in landfill.

You might already be recycling hard plastics in your recycling bin. In some areas, plastic bags can be recycled at supermarkets. Most other types of soft plastics are not recycled and end up in landfill.

For most situations, the best solution to reducing plastics and packaging is to choose re-usable options as much as possible.
Refuse and reduce

An easy way to reduce plastic waste is to reduce the need for plastic shopping bags. You can:

* Remember to take your own bags with you when you shop. You can use re-usable bags, boxes, a backpack or your own shopping trolley.
* If you need bags for a specific purpose, ask your local shop if they have bags made from recycled plastic.
* Encourage and remind friends and family to use re-usable bags.
* Take note of where you are using bags and think about whether you can reduce them.
* Save on plastic wraps, freezer bags and other soft plastics by using re-usable containers as much as possible. Think about covering food in a bowl with a lid or plate instead of plastic wrap.

Re-use and recycle

Many of the plastics we use can be re-used for other purposes, and eventually recycled:

* Washed takeaway containers make good stackable containers for frozen food and can be used again and again.
* Use bread bags, cereal bags and any other plastic packaging to wrap wet and smelly rubbish like meat bones or dirty nappies. You could also use these as bin liners.
* Most supermarkets accept plastic bags for recycling.
* If you have left-over plastic bags, see if other people need them. Charities and community groups often need bags for markets and sales.