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Why volcanoes are the clean energy source of the future

Why volcanoes are the clean energy source of the future | Aquascaping and Nature | Scoop.it

In Iceland, scientists have just completed a successful experiment in harnessing energy directly from a volcano.


After two years, the scientists were able to draw water from their well at 450°C (842°F), a world record. This contains an enormous amount of usable energy.


As a result, engineers estimated they could use the well to create a power plant capable of generating 36 megawatts of electricity. That’s 20 times less than what a typical coal-fired power plant can generate, but it’s often the case that a geothermal power plant will have more than one well.


Plus, geothermal power doesn’t come with any fuel costs or appreciable carbon emissions.


Read  more here:


http://qz.com/172642/why-volcanoes-are-the-energy-source-of-the-future/


http://www.zmescience.com/science/geology/volcano-electricity-iceland-05022014/


http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/icelandic-drilling-project-opens-door-to-volcano-powered-electricity/


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A Message From The Curator

A Message From The Curator | Aquascaping and Nature | Scoop.it

Aquascaping and Nature comprises a collection of articles curated from the web on related to our natural environment, climate change and of course aquascaping. The cover photo above shows whale sharks housed in Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium http://sco.lt/7XWQTp

 

I have been interested in fish tanks since I was a kid and have now moved to planted tanks. My passion for environmental issues was spurred on by my dad, Dr. Chan Hung Tuck, who was an ecologist by training.

 

Please follow my topic and share my scoops if you found the curated articles interesting, and check out the popular tags listed in the post above. I also welcome suggested scoops related to this topic and give credit where credit is due.

Eric Chan Wei Chiang's insight:

I teach chemistry at UCSI University, Malaysia and most of my research is centered around phytochemistry.

 

My research interests can be viewed here: http://scholar.google.com.my/citations?user=iVv3xbAAAAAJ&hl=en

 

I manage the Facebook and Google+ pages belonging to the Faculty of Applied Sciences, UCSI University. Curated scoops are shared here:

https://www.facebook.com/Applied.Sciences.UCSI

https://plus.google.com/117901649282247944098/posts

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13 Misconceptions About Global Warming

Common misconceptions about climate change presented by Derek Muller of Veritasium.

Eric Chan Wei Chiang's insight:

An amusing way of presenting hard facts on climate change. Much of the controversy surrounding climate change is on how much humans contribute to global warming and whether or not cutting emissions and sacrificing economic gain would indeed slow it down.

 

Regardless, of whether or not global warming is anthropogenic, the effects of climate change can be seen globally. Already, countries around the globe are searching of new agricultural methods to cope with an increasing population and circumvent any drop in productivity brought about by rising global temperatures http://sco.lt/7gNcoL

 

More scoops on climate change can be read below :

http://www.scoop.it/t/aquascaping-and-nature/?tag=Climate+Change

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The Chemicals Behind the Colours of Autumn Leaves [Infographic]

The Chemicals Behind the Colours of Autumn Leaves [Infographic] | Aquascaping and Nature | Scoop.it
With autumn looming on the horizon, the leaves on some trees have already begun the transition towards the vibrant hues of autumn. Whilst this change may outwardly seem like a simple one, the many vivid colours are a result of a range of chemical compounds, a selection of which are detailed here.

Before discussing the different compounds that lead to the colours of autumn leaves, it’s worth discussing how the colours of these compounds originate in the first place. To do this we need to examine the chemical bonds they contain – these can be either single bonds, which consist of one shared pair of electrons between adjacent atoms, or double bonds, which consist of two shared pairs of electrons between adjacent atoms. The colour causing molecules in autumn leaves contain systems of alternating double and single bonds – this is referred to as conjugation. A large amount of conjugation in a molecule can lead to them being able to absorb wavelengths of light in the visible spectrum. This leads to the appearance of colour.

 

Read more here: http://www.fromquarkstoquasars.com/chemicals-behind-colours-autumn-leaves/

Eric Chan Wei Chiang's insight:

Most of these pigments are used in natural dyes and paints. Quercetin, for instance, is used to give a bright yellow colour. Quercetin also has various bioactive properties including antiviral, anti-inflammation and antioxidative properties.

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Floating vertical farms offer food solutions to the densest countries on Earth

Floating vertical farms offer food solutions to the densest countries on Earth | Aquascaping and Nature | Scoop.it

Spanish architects have come up with a floating vertical farm system to give Singapore - a country with no land for farms - another option to produce its own food.

 

Singapore is the third most densely populated country in the world, with 7,669 people per square kilometre, which means they don’t have a lot of space lying around on which to grow food. Because of this, they import 90 percent of their food from elsewhere around the globe, sometimes from places as far away as Argentina and Uruguay. But there might still be a way for Singapore to grow its own crops in the future.

 

According to Adele Peters at FastCompany, architects from a Barcelona-based design firm called JAPA have designed a system of looping towers that would float in Singapore's harbours and grow crops throughout the year. Called FRA, which is short for 'floating responsive architecture’, the design was based on the floating fish farms that have been used by Singapore locals since the 1930s.

 

The odd shape of the vertical farms, which look like skinny “Ls” that face opposite directions and meet in the middle, was designed to capture the maximum amount of sunlight for the plants while saving space. "We used the Sun as a design driver," Javier Ponce, principal from JAPA, told Peters. "The loop shape enables the vertical structure to receive more sunlight without having significant shadows.”

 

Inside the towers, a large number of sensors would monitor the crops and send real-time data on their status to various networks in charge of looking after them. This data would also keep track on how much food people are buying around the city, so the food produced by the farms could be adjusted accordingly. "The system will aim for zero food waste," Ponce said.

 

Read more here:

http://sciencealert.com.au/news/20140809-26143.html

Eric Chan Wei Chiang's insight:

There is already a viable vertical farming business in Singapore and this technology takes it one step further http://sco.lt/9IE1oX

 

The Japanese are also converting empty factories into high tech farms http://sco.lt/8Jecsr

 

These space saving methods to produce food would go a long way when floating oceanic cities become a reality as scooped here http://sco.lt/5vJluj; and here http://sco.lt/9K70an

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India is building a massive, floating solar power plant

India is building a massive, floating solar power plant | Aquascaping and Nature | Scoop.it
India will install a 50 megawatt solar power plant on a 1.27 million square metre floating platform by the end of the year.

 

Having already started on their plan to install 10 megawatt (MW) solar plants on top of several canals, India has taken the creative use of space one step further and is planning on floating a power station on one of the large stretches of water in Kerala, a state in south-western India. 

 

This floating solar power technology was developed by India's Renewable Energy College and the plant is being built by Indian energy company, the National Hydro Power Corporation (NHPC). The first plant is scheduled to be commissioned in October this year.

 

"NHPC had contacted us for offering technical know-how and installation assistance for their proposed 50-mw plant,” said SP Gon Choudhury, chairman of the Renewable Energy College, to Andrew Tarantola at Gizmodo. “Each station would require around 3000 square feet [914 square metres] of space to generate 20 kilowatt of power. There are many water bodies that could be used for this."

 

Read more here:

http://www.sciencealert.com.au/news/20140807-25843.html

Eric Chan Wei Chiang's insight:

More scoops on sustainable energy generation can be read here: http://www.scoop.it/t/aquascaping-and-nature/?tag=Sustainable+Energy

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Sunlight everywhere but what's holding back American-made solar panels?

Sunlight everywhere but what's holding back American-made solar panels? | Aquascaping and Nature | Scoop.it

The solar industry is positively booming in the U.S. The annual installation of solar systems rose from 1.265 megawatts in 2008 to 4.75 gigawatts in 2013. From nowhere, America has emerged as the third-largest market for solar. Installers are carpeting the nation’s deserts, parking lots, and rooftops with polysilicon panels that convert sunlight into electrons.

 

While the U.S. is manufacturing a lot of solar energy, production of solar panels has been another story entirely. The two biggest solar panel manufacturers headquartered in the U.S., First Solar and SunPower, have located most of their manufacturing capacity in Southeast Asia. Many recent startups have gone kaput, including Solyndra, which became a poster child for government-subsidized failure. In January, Sharp Solar said it would stop manufacturing solar panels in Memphis, Tennessee.

 

The U.S. is the world’s second-largest supplier of polysilicon, which is melted down to make the cells. But it sends a lot of it to China, whence it returns in the form of finished panels and modules; about half of the panels used in the U.S. last year came from China. U.S. module production fell from 1,200 megawatts in 2011 to 541 megawatts in 2012 and bounced back up to 988 megawatts in 2013, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association. “U.S.-based module production is currently limited to about 1 GW in practice,” says Finlay Colville, vice president at the solar-market research and analysis firm NPD Solarbuzz. “This represented just 2.5 percent of global demand in 2013.”

 

And the largest producer of panels in the U.S.—SolarWorld—is actually based in Freiberg, Germany. “We’re really the only manufacturer of any kind of size,” said Ben Santarris, director of strategic affairs at SolarWorld, which has about 500 megawatts of manufacturing capacity in Oregon.

 

How would the US increase its production of solar panels? How would it compete with China's cost advantage? Read more below:

http://www.slate.com/articles/business/the_juice/2014/08/u_s_solar_industry_lots_of_energy_not_many_panels.html

Eric Chan Wei Chiang's insight:

China is buying up American polysilicon and producing a lot of solar panels because it plans to ban the use of coal by the end of 2020. http://sco.lt/98RMf3

 

Recently, researchers at Michigan State University have developed new transparent solar cells that are able to convert windows, buildings and smartphone screens into solar panels. http://sco.lt/8SV8C1

 

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Could Farming Sustainable Tilapia Help Cut the Demand for Shark Fin Soup?

Could Farming Sustainable Tilapia Help Cut the Demand for Shark Fin Soup? | Aquascaping and Nature | Scoop.it

The unsustainable demand for the Chinese delicacy known as shark fin soup is directly responsible for the slaughter of more than 70 million sharks every year. In a process known as finning, the sharks are caught, pulled onto boats, stripped of their valuable fins and dumped back into the ocean where they slowly and painfully drown. As a result of this cruel practice, some shark species have seen population declines of 99 percent in the past 10 years.

 

But one man thinks there’s another way to curb the demand for shark fin soup: Replace it with an alternative. Wang Yi-feng, general manager of the Kouhu Fisheries Cooperative in Taiwan, tellsTaiwan Today that he is selling farmed tilapia fins as an alternative to shark fins. The tail fins “of Taiwan tilapia are a perfect stand-in for shark fins because they have the same appearance and texture,” he told the paper. Taiwan tilapia are a hybrid of two fish from Singapore, Oreochromis mossambicus and Oreochromis niloticus niloticus.

 

Wang’s company shreds the tilapia fins and sells them for $120 per kilogram, reportedly about a quarter the price fetched by shark fins. Because both types of fin are just cartilage, they are tasteless, but the tilapia mimics the familiar consistency of shark fins. He says he is shipping one ton of fins per month to restaurants in Taiwan, Hong Kong and Japan, and that his sustainable farmed fish “guarantees stable supplies of the delicacy, which could prevent sharks from being wiped out.”

 

Read more here: http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/extinction-countdown/2011/10/18/could-farming-sustainable-tilapia-help-cut-demand-shark-fin-soup/

 

 

Eric Chan Wei Chiang's insight:

Shark finning may not be the only cause for their decline. High voltage underwater cable may also affect shark ecology as they are electroreceptive http://sco.lt/8T6fMv

 

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This underground cave system is so large, it has own weather system

This underground cave system is so large, it has own weather system | Aquascaping and Nature | Scoop.it

Stretching 42 kilometres under Southwest China, the Er Wang Dong cave system contains its own forests, rapids, and yes, clouds. Explored in its entirety just last year, Er Wang Dong (meaning “Second Royal Cave”) is an enormous cave system in the Chongquing province of Southwest China. With passages stretching 42,139 metres (138,251 feet) and a maximum depth of 441 metres (1,447 feet), the cave is so large, it has its own lush green forest, crystal clear pools and white water rapids, enormous stalagmites, and oddly enough, clouds. 

 

While local nitrate miners knew there was something big lurking beneath China's 195-metre-deep Niubizi tiankeng sinkhole, it was only when a team of 15 explorers and photographers from the Hong Meigui Cave Exploration Society plumbed the depths of the sinkhole to access and explore the Er Wang Dong cave system that its sheer size was realised. Until the explorers got there, none of the system’s major underground passages had ever been touched by light.

 

"I had never seen anything quite like the inside cloud ladder before," said one of the team, UK-based photographer and caver Robbie Shone, according to Wunderground. "Thick cloud and fog hangs in the upper half of the cave, where it gets trapped and unable to escape through the small passage in the roof."

 

Read more here: http://sciencealert.com.au/features/20141408-26015-2.html

 

Eric Chan Wei Chiang's insight:

China is well known for its scenic mountains, hills and caves. Hopefully, it does not end up like Geiranger Fjord which is threatened by the disputed plans to build power lines across the fjord http://sco.lt/8DciZ7; or the three gorges which houses the world's biggest dam http://sco.lt/64BUKf

 

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Floating cities: Is the ocean humanity’s next frontier?

Floating cities: Is the ocean humanity’s next frontier? | Aquascaping and Nature | Scoop.it

Floating cities are nothing new. In the early 1960s, Buckminster Fuller designed a city – Triton – that was intended to float off the coast of Tokyo Bay. It was later considered but never commissioned by the US government.

 

“Three-quarters of our planet Earth is covered with water, most of which may float organic cities,” Fuller explains in his book Critical Path. “Floating cities pay no rent to landlords. They are situated on the water, which they desalinate and recirculate in many useful and non-polluting ways.”

 

Fifty years on, with heavy pollution causing climate change and rising sea levels, Fuller’s floating city concept is being seriously considered as an antidote to those problems.

 

Read more here:

http://www.factor-tech.com/future-cities/floating-cities-is-the-ocean-humanitys-next-frontier


Via Lauren Moss
Eric Chan Wei Chiang's insight:

With the advent of climate change and sea level rise, such cities may be necessary in the near future.

 

China has may build a floating city. Chinese Construction Company has already has already commissioned plans to test this ambitious project from a smaller scale, beginning in 2015. http://sco.lt/9K70an

 

The eco-friendly project is expected to be self-sufficient, with on-island food production, power generation, and waste management systems. However, there is little information about how food security would be achieved out in the ocean.

 

More scoops on climate change and food security here:

http://www.scoop.it/t/aquascaping-and-nature/?tag=Climate+Change

http://www.scoop.it/t/aquascaping-and-nature?q=food+security

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Maricarmen Husson's curator insight, August 7, 11:18 PM

Ciudades flotantes....será la humanidad del océano la próxima frontera?....

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Indian scientists breed seedless mangoes

Indian scientists breed seedless mangoes | Aquascaping and Nature | Scoop.it
Seedless mangoes can be the next big thing when it comes to fruit.

 

A team of researchers led by V.B. Patel, chairman of the Horticulture Department at the Bihar Agriculture University (BAU) in India, developed it using hybrids of the mango varieties Ratnaand Alphonso.

 

The seedless mango has been dubbed Sindhu and trials are underway in different locations across India, reports India Today. And it's less fibrous than regular mangoes, a yellowish pulp and weighs an average of 200 grams.

 

BAU’s vice chancellor M.L. Choudhary mentioned that the university has plans to make the new variety available to mango growers during the next season. “The seedless variety also has good export potential. The university would provide quality plants to mango growers in 2015 to exploit the export market,” he added.

 

Read more here:

http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/indian-scientists-develop-seedless-mangoes/1/373573.html

 

Eric Chan Wei Chiang's insight:

Unlike popular perception, biofortification does not entail genetic modification. Seedless bananas and grapes were bred before the advent of genetic engineering.

 

Nonetheless, the possibilities for biofortification is vastly expanded via genetic modification.  Scientists were able to reduce weight gain in mice by feeding them a genetically modified probiotics http://sco.lt/6TvQLB

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A cherry tree growing on a mulberry tree

A cherry tree growing on a mulberry tree | Aquascaping and Nature | Scoop.it
Meet Italy’s Bialbero de Casorzo, a 'two-tiered tree' that’s unlike anything else in the world.

 

Growing between the towns of Grana and Casorzo in Italy’s Piemonte region, the Bialbero de Casorzo is an old mulberry tree with a cherry tree growing on top. While a tree growing on another tree is not so uncommon, a fully-grown, perfectly robust tree growing atop another is a super-rare sight.

 

If a plant grows non-parasitically on another plant, getting its nutrients from the air, rain, and debris around it rather than from its host, it’s known as an epiphyte. In the case of the Bialbero de Casorzo, the cherry tree on top is the epiphyte, and a strangely healthy one at that - while most epiphytes are stunted and have just a brief lifespan, this cherry tree is as big as any regular cherry tree, and shows no signs of weakness or disease.

 

Read more here:

http://sciencealert.com.au/features/20140608-25978-2.html

Eric Chan Wei Chiang's insight:

Award-winning artist Sam Van Aken has grown a hybridised fruit tree that produces 40 different varieties of stone fruits each year. http://sco.lt/5VdNp3

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Amazing Natural Scenery, the Geiranger Fjord, Norway

Amazing Natural Scenery, the Geiranger Fjord, Norway | Aquascaping and Nature | Scoop.it

In case the title alone didn’t give it away, this is the Geiranger Fjord region, found in Møre og Romsdal county, Norway. It, for obvious reasons, is a hot spot for tourist activity. It’s so beautiful, in fact, that, in 2005, it was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, but like many things in this day and age, technological progression threatens to make its mark on a region with unmarred beauty.

 

Other than Geiranger Fjord, there are a few more Norwegian fjords that rival its beauty, called Nærøyfjord and Geirangerfjord (both are also listed as World Heritage Sites). Fjords, in a geological sense, are long and narrow inlets that form in valleys in response to glacial retreating.

 

Overall, it spans over an area roughly 9.3 miles (5 kilometers) long, connecting to the Sunnylvsfjorden fjord. It, in turn, branches off from the Great Fjord (officially known as Sunnylvsfjorden). As mentioned above, these so-called fjords are created as the result of glacial activity, but to expand on that, these fjords were forged into narrow and steep crystalline rock formations —which extend more than 1,640 feet (500 meters) below sea level and rise some 4,593 feet (1,400 meters) from the sea bed, at least in this example — when glacial bodies shrunk (or retreated). This led to the corrosion of u-shaped valleys that make up fjords (as a fun-aside, Norway has a higher concentration of them than any other place on Earth).

 

This mini-feature is part of a series, entitled “Earth: The Pale Blue Dot“, which explores and highlights some of the most amazing and beautiful natural features mother Earth has to offer. Read more here: http://www.fromquarkstoquasars.com/geiranger-fjord-norway/

 

Eric Chan Wei Chiang's insight:

Scenic landscapes such as these are worth preserving. The Three Gorges is a similarly beautiful landmark in China. However, some of its beauty has been irreversibly changed by the huge dam http://sco.lt/64BUKf

 

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Stanford biologist warns of an impending mass extinction

Stanford biologist warns of an impending mass extinction | Aquascaping and Nature | Scoop.it
Stanford biology Professor Rodolfo Dirzo and his colleagues warn that this "defaunation" could have harmful downstream effects on human health.

 

The planet's current biodiversity, the product of 3.5 billion years of evolutionary trial and error, is the highest in the history of life. But it may be reaching a tipping point.

 

In a new review of scientific literature and analysis of data published in Science, an international team of scientists cautions that the loss and decline of animals is contributing to what appears to be the early days of the planet's sixth mass biological extinction event.

 

Across vertebrates, 16 to 33 percent of all species are estimated to be globally threatened or endangered. Large animals – described as megafauna and including elephants, rhinoceroses, polar bears and countless other species worldwide – face the highest rate of decline, a trend that matches previous extinction events.

 

Loss of megafauna has various downstream effects and may eventually impact human health. For example, studies conducted in Kenya where patches of land were isolated from large animals such as zebras and elephants found that the areas rapidly became plagued with rodents due to increases in food availability and shelter. Concomitantly, the levels of disease causing pathogens that they carry also increases, thus enhancing the risk of disease transmission to humans.

 

Read more here:

http://news.stanford.edu/news/2014/july/sixth-mass-extinction-072414.html

 

Read the scientific review here:

http://www.sciencemag.org/content/345/6195/401.full

Eric Chan Wei Chiang's insight:

This is reflected by the growing IUCN Red List which now includes 90% of Lemur Species http://sco.lt/8mJJwH

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As World’s Population Booms, Will Its Resources Be Enough for Us?

As World’s Population Booms, Will Its Resources Be Enough for Us? | Aquascaping and Nature | Scoop.it
As world population projections soar, there are rising concerns about the impact billions more people will have on the planet.

 

There are more than 7 billion people on Earth now, and roughly one in eight of us doesn't have enough to eat. The question of how many people the Earth can support is a long-standing one that becomes more intense as the world's population—and our use of natural resources—keeps booming.

 

After all, how many of us there are, how many children we have, how long we live, and where and how we live affect virtually every aspect of the planet upon which we rely to survive: the land, oceans, fisheries, forests, wildlife, grasslands, rivers and lakes, groundwater, air quality, atmosphere, weather, and climate

 

One of our biggest impacts is agriculture. Whether we can grow enough food sustainably for an expanding world population also presents an urgent challenge, and this becomes only more so in light of these new population projections. Where will food for an additional 2 to 3 billion people come from when we are already barely keeping up with 7 billion? Such questions underpin a 2014 National Geographic series on the future of food.

 

As climate change damages crop yields and extreme weather disrupts harvests, growing enough food for our expanding population has become what The 2014 World Food Prize Symposium calls "the greatest challenge in human history."

 

Reducing fertility is essential if future population growth is to be reined in. Cynthia Gorney wrote about the dramatic story of declining Brazilian fertility as part of National Geographic's 7 Billion series. Average family size dropped from 6.3 children to 1.9 children per woman over two generations in Brazil, the result of improving education for girls, more career opportunities, and the increased availability of contraception.

 

Improved education, especially for girls, is cited as a key driver of declining family size. Having light at night can become a gateway to better education for millions of young people and the realization that opportunities and choices besides bearing many children can await.

 

Read more here: 

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/09/140920-population-11billion-demographics-anthropocene/

 

Read the audacious research article published in Science here:

http://www.sciencemag.org/content/early/2014/09/17/science.1257469

Eric Chan Wei Chiang's insight:

Sustainability, energy efficiency and food security would be the main hurdles in human evolution. Read more scoops on the topic here:

http://www.scoop.it/t/aquascaping-and-nature/?tag=Sustainability

http://www.scoop.it/t/aquascaping-and-nature/?tag=Sustainable+Energy

http://www.scoop.it/t/aquascaping-and-nature/?tag=Food+Security

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Three Irish Teens Win Google Science Fair Using Bacteria to Grow Food

Three Irish Teens Win Google Science Fair Using Bacteria to Grow Food | Aquascaping and Nature | Scoop.it
Dousing seeds with soil microbes speeds sprouting and promotes plant growth, teen biologists find.

 

A trio of Irish high-schoolers nabbed the top prize in this year's Google Science Fair with a project that speeds up crop growth by tapping into the naturally cozy relationship between soil microbes and plants.

 

After 11 months of experiments, the three 16-year-olds Ciara Judge, Émer Hickey, and Sophie Healy-Thow—found that seeds treated with bacteria sprouted 50 percent faster than untreated seeds did. At harvest, the microbes increased barley and oats yields by as much as 70 percent. The improved sprouting speed is instrumental to farmers in Ireland, where seeds can rot in the damp soil before sprouting, Hickey said. The trio hails from Cork County, the agricultural southern tip of the country. But the project really kicked off in Hickey's own backyard.

 

The bacteria act as an early warning system for the plants, kickstarting growth. When the microbes sense the presence of compounds called flavonoids on plants, they begin to build nodules, swellings on roots that house bacteria able to convert atmospheric nitrogen into forms the plant can consume. The presence of the nodules then tells the plants it's time to grow faster.

 

"The great thing about our theory is [that] any crop that contains a flavonoid can trigger bacteria. It'll work the same," Judge said.

 

Read more about their award winning experiment here: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/09/140924-google-science-fair-hunger-bacteria-ngfood/

Eric Chan Wei Chiang's insight:

A simple innovation which can improve crop yields and ensure food security.

 

Other inventions from Google Science Fair were scooped here:

http://www.scoop.it/t/world-of-tomorrow/?tag=Invention

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Why does this waterfall in Antarctica run blood-red?

Why does this waterfall in Antarctica run blood-red? | Aquascaping and Nature | Scoop.it

Antarctica's McMurdo Dry Valley is one of the world’s most extreme deserts, and also one of the strangest. Featuring a row of snow-free valleys and the longest river on the continent, the Onyx River, it’s also home to a five-storey-tall waterfall that runs bright red down the side of an enormous glacier.

 

To discover the reason behind the waterfall’s eerie hue, we have to trace its history back 5 million years, when sea levels rose and flooded East Antarctica. At the same time, a salty lake formed. Over millions of years, ice settled on the salty lake and formed huge glaciers, which cut the lake off from the rest of Antarctica and kept it 400 metres underground. Over time, the subglacial lake became even saltier - three times saltier than seawater, in fact - which means it was impossible to freeze. 

 

Cut off from its physical surroundings, the incredibly salty water that feeds Antarctic’s Blood Falls has not once been exposed to sunlight in several million years and is completely devoid of oxygen. "It's also extremely rich in iron, which was churned into the water by glaciers scraping the bedrock below the lake," says Natasha Geiling at Smithsonian Magazine. "When water from the subglacial lake seeps through a fissure in the glacier, the salty water cascades down the Taylor Glacier into Lake Bonney below. When the iron-rich water comes into contact with the air, it rusts - depositing blood red stains on the ice as it falls."


Not only is the blood-red, super-salty water severely lacking in oxygen and any exposure to light, it also happens to be home to some extremely odd wildlife. When the lake was forming million of years ago, tiny microbes moved in, and found themselves trapped when the glaciers grew and set on top. The microbes have been thriving in the lake ever since, sourcing the energy they need by breaking down sulphates - naturally occurring substances that contain sulphur and oxygen.


Read more here: http://www.sciencealert.com/features/20141109-26160.html

Eric Chan Wei Chiang's insight:

An amazing natural landscape. More scenic landscapes are scooped here: http://www.scoop.it/t/aquascaping-and-nature/?tag=Scenic

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Sky Greens: Vertical Farming

Sky Greens: Vertical Farming | Aquascaping and Nature | Scoop.it

Sky Greens is the world’s first low carbon hydraulic water-driven, tropical vegetable urban vertical farm, using green urban solutions to achieve enhanced green sustainable production of safe, fresh and delicious vegetables, using minimal land, water and energy resources.

 

Locally grown vegetables in Singapore currently constitute only 7% of local consumption. Demand for local vegetables exceeds supply. Singaporeans trust the quality, freshness and safety of local vegetables, grown using good agricultural practice under the supervision of the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore.

 

The A-Go-Gro vertical systems which are 9m in height (3 storeys), housed in protected-outdoor green houses, allow tropical leafy vegetables to be grown all year round at significantly higher yields (than traditional growing methods) that are safe, of high quality, fresh and delicious.

 

Read more about the viability of the technology and its environmental and economic sustainability: http://skygreens.appsfly.com/Media

 

Eric Chan Wei Chiang's insight:

Singapore would be taking this technology to the next level by adapting it for use in the sea http://sco.lt/7gNcoL

 

The Japanese are also converting empty factories into high tech farms http://sco.lt/8Jecsr

 

The Chinese are designing floating oceanic cities http://sco.lt/9K70an

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Japan is planning to build huge floating solar power plants

Japan is planning to build huge floating solar power plants | Aquascaping and Nature | Scoop.it
Japan has started construction two floating solar power plants, which will become part of a huge floating renewable energy network.

 

Japan may be short on free land space, but that’s not stopping them from investing in renewable energy. Solar panel company Kyocera Corp, Century Tokyo Leasing Corp and Ciel Terre have announced (release in Japanese) that they're teaming up to create two huge floating solar power plants which will be up and running by April next year. 

 

These are just the first two of a planned network of around 30 floating 2 megawatt (MW) power plants, capable of generating a combined 60 MW of power, a spokesperson from Kyocera toldChisaki Watanabe from Bloomberg.

 

The first of these floating solar farms to be build will have 1.7 MW of power capacity, making it the world's largest floating solar power plant. Construction will start this month, according to the announcement, on the surface of Nishihira pond in Japan's Hyogo Prefecture, west of Osaka. The second will have a capacity of 1.2 MW and will be built on Dongping pond, Jason Hahn reports for Digital Trends, and the plants are aimed to be finished by April 2015.

 

According to Digital Trends, just these first two floating solar power plants would be enough to power anywhere between 483 and 967 American households.

 

Read more here:

http://www.sciencealert.com.au/news/20140109-26104.html

Eric Chan Wei Chiang's insight:

China and India are also expanding the solar power capabilities. India is also building floating solar power plants http://sco.lt/7lXX17; and China plans to replace coal with solar power by 2020 http://sco.lt/98RMf3


China even has a grand ambition to colonize the seas http://sco.lt/9K70an

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China to install more solar power in 2014 than the US and Australia

China to install more solar power in 2014 than the US and Australia | Aquascaping and Nature | Scoop.it
China has committed to installing 13 gigawatts of solar capacity by the end of the year, which is more than the US and Australia have ever installed.

 

The Chinese government has installed 3.3 gigawatts of solar capacity over the first six months of 2014, which brings its total solar supply to 23 gigawatts. It has vowed to install another 13 gigawatts by the end of 2014 - an amount equatable to the US's total installed capacity of 12 gigawatts.

 

According to Reuters, the Chinese federal government is encouraging local governments to offer extra subsidies for solar power investments, particularly at schools, hospitals, and in rural areas. They are also promoting the installation of solar panels on public infrastructure with large roof space, such as railway stations and airport terminals. People who install solar cells on abandoned land, agricultural greenhouses and lakes will also be rewarded, Reuters reports, and the government has encouraged financial institutions to offer loans related to solar installations at discounted rates to make it happen.

 

Severe pollution from fossil fuel power plants is one of the main motivations for China’s commitment to solar power, and that Beijing plans to ban the use of coal by the end of 2020.

 

Read more here:

http://sciencealert.com.au/news/20141108-26003.html

Eric Chan Wei Chiang's insight:

In the past China would have scoffed at environmental concerns. However, as an emerging superpower, the Middle Kingdom is becoming more and more progressive minded.

 

Government subsidies have made China a leading producer of solar panels. In fact, China currently supplies about half of the solar panels used in the US. http://sco.lt/6Hc5lx

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Jan E. Boethius's curator insight, September 2, 3:33 PM

China is going Zero Emission big time


China is planing to install 16 gigawatts of solar power capacity in 2014 alone which is more than the total installed solar power capacity in the US.

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Google has to reinforce its internet cables because sharks keep biting them

Google has to reinforce its internet cables because sharks keep biting them | Aquascaping and Nature | Scoop.it
Google’s undersea data cables are under attack by sharks, and the company has responded by reinforcing them with a Kevlar-like coating

 

Sharks have been attacking underwater fibre-optic cabling ever since it was first installed. In 1985, shark teeth were found stuck into a cable, and in 1987, shark attacks caused four segments of brand new cabling to fail. At the time, The New York Times reported: “sharks have shown an inexplicable taste for the new fibre-optic cables that are being strung along the ocean floor linking the United States, Europe, and Japan.” 

 

Scientists still aren’t sure why sharks are so into the cables, but there’s a hypothesis that they’re attracted to the magnetic fields generated by the high voltage running through the cables. The theory hinges on the fact that sharks have an ability called electroreception, which allows them to detect weak bioelectric fields generated by fish - this helps them hunt fish down in the ocean. The sharks use tiny detectors located near their nose called ampullae of Lorenzini, which look sort of like freckles, to sense even tiny changes in electrical fields in the water.


Read more here: http://sciencealert.com.au/news/20141808-26032.html

.

Eric Chan Wei Chiang's insight:

These underwater cables may affect the ecology of sharks as well other cartilaginous fishes which are capable of electroreception such as rays and chimaeras

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Gallium, melts in your hand not in your mouth

Gallium, melts in your hand not in your mouth | Aquascaping and Nature | Scoop.it

There is an incredible metal that shatters like glass, melts in a human hand, attacks other metals but is non-toxic to humans, and acts like an alien life form when exposed to sulfuric acid and dichromate solution. It sounds too amazing to be true, but gallium is an absolutely real chemical element that’s found in some of the gadgets we use every day.


But perhaps more interestingly, there are a ton of insane experiments scientists like to do with gallium such as:
Gallium attacks a coke can http://youtu.be/FaMWxLCGY0U
Gallium "beating heart" http://youtu.be/N6ccRvKKwZQ
Melting gallium spoon http://youtu.be/cvRcUeWjBu0

 


Eric Chan Wei Chiang's insight:

Amazing demonstration of material science.

 

Watch more videos of science trivia here:

http://www.scoop.it/t/biotech-and-beyond/?tag=Trivia

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Plants respond unexpectedly to climate change

Plants respond unexpectedly to climate change | Aquascaping and Nature | Scoop.it

Not all species flee rising temperatures. As the mercury has inched upward across western North America over the last 40 years, many plant species have moved downhill, toward—not away from—warmer climates, according to the results of a new study. The finding adds to growing evidence that temperature isn’t the only factor influencing how Earth’s life will respond to climate change.

 

In an effort to understand how plants may cope with changing climates, researchers at the University of Washington, Seattle, compiled geographic coordinate data for the locations of nearly 300 plant species within seven topographically distinct regions across western North America, ranging from the western Sierra Nevada mountain range in Nevada to the eastern Rocky Mountain Foothills of northern Canada, spanning the last 40 years. They then compared these findings with changing climate conditions, such as temperature, rain, and snowfall. The study is the most extensive of its kind to date.

 

The results of the analysis were unexpected. More than 60% of plants shifted their distributions downward, toward warmer, lower elevations—despite significant climate warming across the regions under study, the team reported online on 24 July in Global Change Biology. Even more striking, all plants within a region—regardless of species—moved in the same direction.

 

“Initially, we thought there was something wrong with our analysis—species distributions are expected to shift upward, not downward,” says team leader and plant ecologist Melanie Harsch. “But we redid the analysis and we got the same results.”

 

Read the research article here: 

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/gcb.12697/abstract

 

The full news article from Science also compares the results of the study with those of several smaller studies:

http://news.sciencemag.org/climate/2014/08/plants-have-unexpected-response-climate-change


Via Mary Williams
Eric Chan Wei Chiang's insight:

High altitude plants are adapted to growing at lower temperatures. Therefore, conventional wisdom would predict that global warming would cause species from higher elevations to die off and be replaced by low altitude plants better adapted to warmer temperatures. 

 

This North American study is very interesting because it shows plants from higher altitudes colonizing lower altitudes which are warm and becoming warmer due to climate change.

 

Care must be taken however, not to over generalize finding as climate change is resulting in lower crop yields, and affecting food security.

http://www.scoop.it/t/aquascaping-and-nature/?tag=Food+Security

 

A report by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, urges the Obama Administration to step up research funding – especially in developing countries – to help make up a projected gap in future food supply. http://sco.lt/5CifIH

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A tree that produces 40 different types of fruit

A tree that produces 40 different types of fruit | Aquascaping and Nature | Scoop.it

Award-winning artist Sam Van Aken has grown a hybridised fruit tree that produces 40 different varieties of stone fruits each year.

 

An art professor from Syracuse University in the US, Van Aken grew up on a family farm before pursuing a career as an artist, and has combined his knowledge of the two to develop his incredible Tree of 40 Fruit. 

 

In 2008, Van Aken learned that an orchard at the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station was about to be shut down due to a lack of funding. This single orchard grew a great number of heirloom, antique, and native varieties of stone fruit, and some of these were 150 to 200 years old. To lose this orchard would render many of these rare and old varieties of fruit extinct, so to preserve them, Van Aken bought the orchard, and spent the following years figuring out how to graft parts of the trees onto a single fruit tree. 

 

Sixteen of these trees are now growing in the US. Read more here:

http://sciencealert.com.au/news/20142107-25892.html


Eric Chan Wei Chiang's insight:

Bialbero de Casorzo in Italy is a natural example of a cherry tree growing on top of a mulberry tree. http://sco.lt/57n4td

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Empty Japanese factories converted into high-tech farms

Empty Japanese factories converted into high-tech farms | Aquascaping and Nature | Scoop.it

Seven years ago, Fujitsu shut one of its three chip-making lines in a factory in Fukushima, and that sterile room has been turned into a farm that produces 3,500 heads of lettuce a day.

 

This lettuce isn’t grown in soil, says Eric Pfanner at the Wall Street Journal, it sits in water that receives fertiliser and nutrients through a drip-feeder. Because everything can be so precisely metered out this way, the staff are able to keep potassium levels low, and because there’s no bacteria anywhere near the lettuce, it keeps much longer - reportedly two months if refrigerated.

 

"Panasonic is trying to find the right mix between high-tech and traditional farming know-how,” says Pfanner at the Wall Street Journal. "At its smart greenhouses, farmers prepare the soil and plant seeds the usual way. As the plants grow, sensors measure temperature and moisture levels. If it is too hot, Panasonic's system automatically closes the curtains to block sunlight and opens windows to let a breeze in, and vice versa if it is too cold."

 

Read more here:

http://sciencealert.com.au/news/20141007-25854.html

http://online.wsj.com/articles/in-japan-idled-electronics-factories-find-new-life-in-farming-1404700202

Eric Chan Wei Chiang's insight:

If the economics are viable, such a method could make for cost effective farming in areas where there were previously no farms.

 

The sterile environment also means no pests and no pesticides, a big plus for proponents of organic food.

 

Furthermore, should climate change kick in,  the productivity of such controlled environment farms may eventually be comparable to conventional farming. Read more scoops about climate change and food security here:

http://www.scoop.it/t/aquascaping-and-nature/?tag=Climate+Change

http://www.scoop.it/t/aquascaping-and-nature/?tag=Food+Security

 

 

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Self-sustaining urban ecosystem within Bangkok, Thailand

Self-sustaining urban ecosystem within Bangkok, Thailand | Aquascaping and Nature | Scoop.it

Thailand’s capital is a vibrant city full of surprises, and this abandoned shopping mall in old town Bangkok is certainly no exception. Tucked away behind an unassuming looking gate is New World shopping mall which burned down back in 1999. Because it doesn’t have a roof anymore, the basement is flooded all year round.

 

When cook and photographer Jesse Rockwell descended the stairs of this abandoned mall, he was shocked to see the basement filled with umpteen number of fishes.

 

At some stage, a person started introducing Koi and Catfish into the basement. The population thrived and now this abandoned building has transitioned into a self-sustained, urban aquarium!

 

Read more at: http://www.iflscience.com/plants-and-animals/self-sustaining-urban-ecosystem-discovered-abandoned-building-thailand

 

See more photos here: http://netdost.com/profiles/blogs/an-abandoned-shopping-mall-in-bangkok-is-filled-with-fishes

Eric Chan Wei Chiang's insight:

This could be converted into a tourist attraction with a little investment. 

 

Check out more scoops on nature photography:

http://www.scoop.it/t/aquascaping-and-nature/?tag=Photography

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Eric Chan Wei Chiang's comment, July 30, 4:47 AM
@Rakesh Nair, thanks for suggesting this scoop.
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Great Green Wall of the Sahara planted to improve farmlands

Great Green Wall of the Sahara planted to improve farmlands | Aquascaping and Nature | Scoop.it

Twenty African nations have banded together to build a monumental Great Green Wall of Africa - a forest of drought-resistant trees stretching across the edge of the Sahara Desert. Stretching over a space of 9,400,00 square kilometres and covering most of North Africa, the Sahara is the largest non-polar desert in the world. And it’s getting bigger. 

 

According to the US’s Public Education Center website, the effects of climate change are causing the Sahara to creep into bordering countries such as Senegal, Mauritania, and Nigeria, which poses a serious threat to their farmlands and agricultural productivity. By 2025, two-thirds of Africa's arable land could be lost to the desert if nothing is done to stem its expansion. 

 

The initiative will be ongoing, and has garnered the support of several international organisations including the UK's Royal Botanic Gardens, the World Bank, the African Union, and the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation. Together they have pledged $3 billion and the expertise of their botanists for its advancement.

 

"Examples of success [so far] include more than 50,000 acres of trees planted in Senegal,”says Ryan Schleeter at National Geographic. Even more dramatic is the project’s potential social impact, says Schleeter. By providing better quality land and more opportunities to earn an income from cultivating it, the Great Green Wall will open up thousands of job opportunities to the local population.

 

Read more here: http://sciencealert.com.au/news/20142407-25916.html

Eric Chan Wei Chiang's insight:

Environmental concerns are a priority in the developing world as less developed nations would be the first to feel the impact of climate change. While food security is an important issue, developing nations are also much more innovative when it comes to clean technologies http://sco.lt/4iOK01

 

Read more scoops on food security and climate change here:

http://www.scoop.it/t/aquascaping-and-nature/?tag=Food+Security

 http://www.scoop.it/t/aquascaping-and-nature/?tag=Climate+Change

 

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