Tag Archives: british columbia

Opposing phenomena possible key to high-efficiency electricity delivery

The coexistence of two opposing phenomena might be the secret to understanding the enduring mystery in physics of how materials heralded as the future of powering our homes and communities actually work, according to Princeton University-led research. Such insight could help spur the further development of high-efficiency electric-power delivery.

Published in the journal Science, the findings provide a substantial clue for unraveling the inner workings of high-temperature superconductors (HTS) based on compounds containing copper and oxygen, or copper oxides. Copper-oxide high-temperature superconductors are prized as a material for making power lines because of their ability to conduct electricity with no resistance. It’s been shown that the material can be used to deliver electrical power like ordinary transmission lines, but with no loss of energy. In addition, typical superconductors need extremely low temperatures of roughly -243 degrees Celsius (-405 degrees Fahrenheit) to exhibit this 100-percent efficiency. A copper oxide HTS, however, can reach this level of efficiency at a comparatively toasty -135 degrees Celsius (-211 degrees Fahrenheit), which is achievable using liquid nitrogen. (more…)

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Movement of marine life follows speed and direction of climate change

Scientists expect climate change and warmer oceans to push the fish that people rely on for food and income into new territory. Predictions of where and when species will relocate, however, are based on broad expectations about how animals will move and have often not played out in nature. New research based at Princeton University shows that the trick to more precise forecasts is to follow local temperature changes.

The researchers report in the journal Science the first evidence that sea creatures consistently keep pace with “climate velocity,” or the speed and direction in which changes such as ocean temperature move. They compiled 43 years of data related to the movement of 128 million animals from 360 species living around North America, including commercial staples such as lobster, shrimp and cod. They found that 70 percent of shifts in animals’ depth and 74 percent of changes in latitude correlated with regional-scale fluctuations in ocean temperature. (more…)

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Amount of dust blown across the West is increasing, says CU-Boulder study

The amount of dust being blown across the landscape has increased over the last 17 years in large swaths of the West, according to a new study led by the University of Colorado Boulder.

The escalation in dust emissions — which may be due to the interplay of several factors, including increased windstorm frequency, drought cycles and changing land-use patterns — has implications both for the areas where the dust is first picked up by the winds and for the places where the dust is put back down. (more…)

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2001-02 Drought Helped to Shift Rocky Mountain Pine Beetle Outbreak into Epidemic

A new University of Colorado Boulder study shows for the first time that episodes of reduced precipitation in the southern Rocky Mountains, especially during the 2001-02 drought, greatly accelerated development of the mountain pine beetle epidemic.

The study, the first ever to chart the evolution of the current pine beetle epidemic in the southern Rocky Mountains, compared patterns of beetle outbreak in the two primary host species, the ponderosa pine and lodgepole pine, said CU-Boulder doctoral student Teresa Chapman. The current mountain pine beetle outbreak in the southern Rockies — which range from southern Wyoming through Colorado and into northern New Mexico –is estimated to have impacted nearly 3,000 square miles of forests, said Chapman, lead study author. (more…)

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University of Toronto Study Demonstrates Impact of Adversity on Early Life Development

Study part of growing body of knowledge surrounding gene-environment interplay

TORONTO, ON – It is time to put the nature versus nurture debate to rest and embrace growing evidence that it is the interaction between biology and environment in early life that influences human development, according to a series of studies recently published in a special edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

“Biologists used to think that our differences are pre-programmed in our genes, while psychologists argued that babies are born with a blank slate and their experience writes on it to shape them into the adults they become. Instead, the important question to be asking is, ‘How is our experience in early life getting embedded in our biology?’” says University of Toronto behavioural geneticist Marla Sokolowski. She is co-editor of the PNAS special edition titled “Biological Embedding of Early Social Adversity: From Fruit Flies to Kindergarteners” along with professors Tom Boyce (University of British Columbia) and Gene Robinson (University of Illinois). (more…)

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Sea Floor Samples Help Explain Arid Southwest

Surface-dwelling algae adjust their biochemistry to surface temperatures. As they die and sink to the bottom, they build a sedimentary record of sea-surface temperature across millennia. Brown’s work on surface temperatures, coupled with work from Texas A&M on rainfall and weather patterns, has helped chart the wetter, lake-filled geological history of the currently arid American West.

During the last ice age, the landscape of the American West was very different. Where now there are deserts and salt flats in the Southwest and Great Basin regions, there once were giant lakes and wetlands. The Great Salt Lake, for example, is a tiny remnant of the prehistoric Lake Bonneville, which at one time covered almost 20,000 square miles. (more…)

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Criminology and the Global Financial Crisis

The first overt indications of the impending global financial crisis manifested themselves in August 2007, when BNP Paribas announced it was severing ties with three hedge funds specializing in mortgage debt for American real estate properties. The crisis was exacerbated by the immediate freeze on credit by banks to their customers – and to each other. The crisis came to a head in 2008 when the United States government refused to rescue investment firm Lehman Brothers from financial collapse. Subsequent actions by the American government and by foreign governments, as well as actions taken by commercial enterprises world wide, have been focused on repairing the financial damage to sovereign economies and to individuals thrown out of work – and out of their homes.

It is not unreasonable that everyday individuals failed to comprehend the exotic and opaque financial instruments and transactions employed by companies like Enron and individuals like Bernie Madoff. Powerhouse accounting firm Arthur Andersen was also taken in by Enron, and paid for its error in judgment by being forced to close its doors after nearly a century of operation. Madoff utilized the services of investment firm JP Morgan Chase for years, nearly until the time of his arrest. (more…)

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One Year Later: Japan Quake, Tsunami a Cautionary Tale for Pacific Northwest

Sunday marks the one-year anniversary of the great Tohoku earthquake and tsunami that devastated Japan, killing more than 16,000 people and causing billions of dollars in damage.

University of Washington scientists say the event has some important lessons for the Pacific Northwest – most notably, not that a similar event can happen here but that it WILL happen here, and that this region is still much less prepared than Japan was a year ago. (more…)

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