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Posts Tagged "water"

Anecdotes from the Archive

A Closer Look at New York City’s Tap Water Monsters

microscopic water

New York City is renowned for its great-tasting tap water, which is said to be amongst the purest in the country. However, when viewed under a microscope, the sight tends to disagree with the taste. Less than a year ago, it was reported that when looking at a microscopic droplet of this water, a NYC [...]

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Anthropology in Practice

Green Thumbery: Water, Sunlight, and Data

Peas in bloom. Photo by KDCosta, 2014 Garden.

All of those concerns I had at the beginning of the season have disappeared. My plants are healthy and flowering—and they’re slowly taking over the backyard, much to my delight. Now, if only I were home more often to enjoy them. My Flower Power has kept watch these past months and it’s been helpful is [...]

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Anthropology in Practice

A Right to Be Clean: Sanitation and the Rise of New York City’s Water Towers

These iconic structures are as much a part of New York City's skyline as any famed landmark. But they play a larger role in New York City's history.

During the morning rush hour in New York City, tourists stand out as being the ones looking up. It’s possible that they see more clearly what most New Yorkers take for granted: water towers. Those archaic looking wooden structures that grace the rooftops of almost every New York City building play an integral, though often [...]

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Dog Spies

Drinking: An Acrobatic Tongue Act

Dog Drink Water Small

IF YOU LIVE WITH A DOG, then you are familiar with this sound. Unlike barks, growls and howls — dog sounds that easily take center stage — a dog lapping up water is background, white noise. Dog drinking attracts little attention until you unexpectedly step in a puddle of slopped-over water while wearing socks. A [...]

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Expeditions

Counting Fish: Wrap Up and Conclusion

Since July 2012, I’ve been posting about a study of artificial reefs along the Texas coast. Scientists at the Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies in Corpus Christi conducted the research, funded by the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department, to determine whether these structures increase fish populations, and whether their location, type and [...]

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Expeditions

A tale of two Tanzanian villages: Mwamgongo steps up water monitoring while Kalinzi lags

Africa, Tanzania, water, Dartmouth

Editor’s Note: Students from Dartmouth’s Thayer School of Engineering are working in Tanzania to help improve sanitation and energy technologies in local villages. This series chronicles work being done by the student-led group, known as Humanitarian Engineering Leadership Projects (HELP), to design "rocket stoves" in the village of Mwamgongo and top-light updraft design (TLUD) gasification [...]

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Expeditions

On eve of EPA hearings, scientists sample lake for coal-ash toxins

Editor’s Note: Expedition Blue Planet, led by Jacques Cousteau’s granddaughter Alexandra Cousteau, is traveling 14,500 miles of road over 138 days to investigate and film some of North America’s most pressing water-use and management stories. Each week expedition members will file a dispatch from the field for Scientific American until the expedition concludes on November [...]

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Extinction Countdown

Japan Could Lose 561 Plant Species by the Next Century

Polemonium kiushianum

A massive new study of Japan’s native plants reveals an extinction crisis in the making. The study examined 1,618 threatened Japanese vascular plant species, most of which can be only be found in extremely limited ranges and many of which already face shrinking populations. According to a paper published June 12 in PLoS ONE, the [...]

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Extinction Countdown

Genetic Tests Reveal 10 Previously Unknown African Terrapin Species

african helmeted terrapin

Imagine living underground for six years waiting for water. That might seem like a challenge, but it’s just a normal part of the life cycle for the African helmeted terrapin. These common side-necked turtles, which bend their necks to the side until their heads are protected by one leg and an overhang of their shell, [...]

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Extinction Countdown

Killifishes Killed Off: 2 Fish Species May Be Extinct in the Wild

extinct

Is it time to add two more species to the list of recent extinctions? New research indicates that two critically endangered fish species may now be extinct in the wild following the destruction of their only habitats. The species in question were both killifishes, an order of thumb-size fishes that live in small bodies of [...]

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Extinction Countdown

Sunday Species Snapshot: Did the Axolotl Just Go Extinct?

axolotl

In 2009 scientists reported that the population of one of the world’s most bizarre creatures has dropped by 90 percent over the previous four years. Flash forward four more years and it now appears that Mexico’s “water monster” is approaching extinction in the wild. Species name: Axolotl (Ambystoma mexicanum), also known as the “water monster” [...]

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Extinction Countdown

Just 35 Devils Hole Pupfish Remain—Does Extinction Loom?

devils hole pupfish

One of the world’s rarest fish species just got a lot rarer. The latest twice-annual count of tiny Devils Hole pupfish (Cyprinodon diabolis) at their sole habitat in Nevada has revealed just 35 of the critically endangered fish remain, down from 75 this past fall. This is the lowest count since the species was federally [...]

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Extinction Countdown

Once Extinct in the Wild, Kihansi Spray Toad Returns to Tanzania (by Way of the Bronx and Toledo)

Kihansi Spray Toad

Two American zoos have helped to save an African amphibian from extinction. The Kihansi spray toad (Nectophrynoides asperginis) was declared extinct in the wild in 2009 after its only habitat, the waterfalls of Kihansi Gorge in Tanzania, dried up following the establishment of a nearby hydroelectric dam. But this month 2,000 toads returned to Kihansi, [...]

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Extinction Countdown

Tiny, Critically Endangered and Controversial Nevada Fish Experiences Dramatic Population Increase

moapa dace

First the good news: The world’s only population of the critically endangered Moapa dace (Moapa coriacea), a tiny fish endemic to the hot springs along a small stretch of Nevada’s Muddy River, has boomed this year. After a strange and still unexplained die-off in 2007 lowered the species’ population from 1,200 to 473 fish, its [...]

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Extinction Countdown

China Feeds Extra Fish to Finless Porpoises to Save Them from Starvation

Chinese officials added an extra 50,000 carp to the waters of Poyang Lake this week to help feed the endangered Yangtze finless porpoises (Neophocaena phocaenoides asiaeorientalis) that live there, according to a report from the Xinhua news agency. Around 300 to 500 porpoises live in Poyang Lake in northern Jiangxi Province, representing between one third [...]

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Extinction Countdown

New Conservation Plan Will Protect Endangered Zebra Species

grevy's zebra

The governments of Kenya and Ethiopia agreed last week to develop a new action plan to help protect the endangered Grevy’s zebra (Equus grevyi), the rarest zebra species and the largest equid species on the planet. The previous five-year conservation strategy for the species expired last year. Grevy’s zebra populations have declined from an estimated [...]

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Extinction Countdown

Survival denied: Birds, fish, plant, pygmy rabbits lose out on endangered species protection

A variety of rare and threatened species have been denied protection under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in recent weeks, including North America’s smallest rabbit and a plant that may already be extinct in the wild. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), which makes the final determination on which species get protected status, ruled [...]

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Guest Blog

Book Review: The Big Thirst by Charles Fishman

The Big Thirst: The Secret Life and Turbulent Future of Water, By Charles Fishman, Published in 2011 by Free Press, New York NY, ISBN 978-1-4391-0207-7 ____________________ Resorting only minimally to the standard statistics of water scarcity in various regions around the world, Mr. Fishman dives in to several specific case studies intended to help the [...]

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Image of the Week

Have a Heart, Kill Your Lawn

WaterButtons-200x200

Source: Katie McKissick’s Symbiartic post: Don’t Be a Water Jerk. Image © Katie McKissick Few things are more inviting than a flawless green turf, stretching out before you like a luscious green tumbling mat – unless, of course, that lawn is in the Southwestern United States and you are aware of the severity of the [...]

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Lab Rat

What makes things acid: The pH scale

The pH scale, with a list of substances at each pH. Image credit below.

I remember learning about acids and bases (or acids and alkalis) fairly early on at school. Acids were sharp vinegary substances like lemon juice, while alkalis were soapy substances, like limewater or caustic soda. We also learnt about the pH scale which measures the acidity or alkalinity of a substance. The pH scale goes from 1-14, [...]

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Lab Rat

Niches of Sunlight

Just a quick visual to make it clear - MED lives near the top of the water, MIT near the bottom.

I’ve had an insanely hectic yet very important and productive time at work this month, so my blogging has fallen by the wayside. Next month I’ll be back to my normal blogging schedule, and just to kick things off here’s a post that first appeared in my old “Life of a Lab Rat” blog Niches [...]

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Lab Rat

Hydrogen bonds: why life needs water

Had to check the spelling of

Water is everywhere on our planet. In the air, in our bodies, in our food and in our breath. Without it life as we know it would not be possible. Water is vital for the survival of all living things, yet as a molecule it has some pretty odd behaviour. Water molecules stick to each [...]

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Life, Unbounded

Plant Life Floods Earth’s Atmosphere

629px-Cloud_forest_mount_kinabalu

A new study estimates that 80 to 90 percent of the atmospheric water vapor originating from Earth’s continents comes from plant transpiration rather than simple physical evaporation. This process uses up almost half of the solar energy absorbed by our landmasses and represents a major piece of our terrestrial climate system. There may be implications [...]

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Life, Unbounded

Billion Year Old Seawater

As it was, and as it is, an ocean on Earth (T. Fioreze)

If there is one thing our universe makes a lot of, it is water. This isn’t an immediately obvious property based solely on the universal inventory of stuff. Hydrogen utterly dominates normal matter throughout the cosmos, and despite some 13 billion years of stellar nuclear fusion only a small number of these primordial protons have [...]

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Life, Unbounded

Kepler 22-b: Another step closer to finding Earth-like worlds

Comparison of "habitable zone" of Kepler 22 system and our solar system (NASA/Kepler)

Today sees the announcement that one of the “candidate” planets listed from NASA’s Kepler mission back in February is now confirmed, and it’s a key one. At 2.4 times the diameter of the Earth the planet Kepler 22-b also orbits its parent star (which is a slightly less massive G-dwarf star than the Sun and [...]

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Life, Unbounded

Astrobiology Roundup

The Ghost of Astrobiology Past

The range of topics relevant to astrobiology is pretty staggering – from microbial populations, chemistry, geo-chemistry, geobiology, climate, non-linear systems, solar system exploration, robotics, planetary science, exoplanets, astrophysics, and even cosmology. I often call astrobiology an ‘inter-discipline‘, since so much of it is about the connecting threads, the metaphorical synapses between highly specialized areas of [...]

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Observations

Submersible Dives Deep and Dies, Disheartening Scientists

Wood Hole’s Nereus sub succumbed to extreme pressure and imploded six kilometers down while exploring the vast Kermadec Trench. Image courtesy of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI).

Efforts to explore the deepest recesses of Earth’s oceans were dealt a heavy blow last weekend when one of history’s most accomplished deep-sea explorers imploded several kilometers beneath the Pacific and resurfaced in pieces. Fortunately, the ill-fated Nereus submersible was a robot and no one was injured when it succumbed to overwhelming subsurface pressure during [...]

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Observations

How Many More Coal Ash Spills?

dan-river-coal-ash-ponds

What is the largest type of trash produced in the U.S.? It’s not whatever you’re thinking, most likely. It’s coal ash. Burning coal produces more than 100 million metric tons of coal ash per year—the gray or black sooty aftermath of our fossil fuel habit. Even though a good chunk of it is turned into [...]

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Observations

Global Water Shortages Grow Worse but Nations Have Few Answers

Image credit: José Manuel Suárez/Flickr

As we have been hearing, global water shortages are poised to exacerbate regional conflict and hobble economic growth. Yet the problem is growing worse, and is threatening to deal devastating blows to health, according to top water officials from the U.S. State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) who spoke before a [...]

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Observations

Can the World Afford Cheap Water?

water

More people in India have access to cellphones than to basic sanitation. Meanwhile, more than 7,000 villages in the northwestern part of the country suffer drinking water shortages as the water table in this breadbasket region continues to drop. And the same story can be told all over the world, according to participants of a [...]

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Observations

Oil Addiction, Not Fracking, Caused the 2011 Oklahoma Earthquakes

Earthquakes have become more than 10 times more common in normally quiescent parts of the U.S., such as Ohio and Oklahoma, in the past few years. Given the simultaneous uptick in fracking—an oil and gas drilling technique that involves fracturing shale rock deep underground with the use of a high pressure water cocktail—it’s common to [...]

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Observations

The New Way to Look for Mars Life: Follow the Salt

Newton Crater on Mars

LOS ANGELES—There is probably water on Mars, but you wouldn’t want to drink it. It’s salty, viscous and quite possibly toxic. But astrobiologists are nonetheless excited about the possibility. Just in the past few years, orbiter cameras and Mars landers have gathered evidence that watery liquid does exist on the Red Planet, at least during [...]

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Observations

Come Hang Out with Some World Changing Ideas

Oil that cleans water. Pacemakers powered by our own blood. Drones that can spy on you in your backyard. Scientific American has chosen these and seven other innovations as the leading developments in 2012 that could ultimately change our world. The radical ideas are not pie-in-the-sky notions but practical breakthroughs that have been proved or [...]

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Observations

Fish Shoots Down Prey with Super-Powered Jet [Video]

archer fish water jet

With a juicy insect dinner perched on a leaf above the water, what is a hungry little archer fish down below to do? Knock it down with a super-powered, super-precise jet of water that packs six times the power the fish could generate with its own muscles, according to new findings published online October 24 [...]

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Observations

What Are the Warning Signs of Tipping Points?

largemouth bass, ecosystem, Peter Lake

Predictions of tipping points in ecology, climate change, medical outcomes and other complex systems are a primary goal for many researchers. The pursuit of insights into the timing of critical transitions is no easy way to make a living, particularly because random events can trigger such changes and warning signs are easily missed or misinterpreted. [...]

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Observations

Voters Should Pay More Attention to Freshwater Issues

http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/deed.en

We have passed the halfway point in our weekly examination of the 14 top science questions that President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney need to address as part of their quests to lead the United States for the next four years. Question #8 tackles increasing concerns about the health of the U.S. freshwater supply. [...]

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Octopus Chronicles

Octopus Suckers Have Groovy Secret for Strength

octopus sucker strength material tissue

Octopus suckers are extraordinary. They can move and grasp objects independently. They can “taste” the water around them. They can even form a seal on rough surfaces underwater. And as a many a diver, biologist and intrepid eater can attest, these little suckers are strong. This strength is astounding, especially considering that their tissue is [...]

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Oscillator

Bacterial Encounters at the Salton Sea

salton_sea

The Salton Sea is California’s largest lake, stretching 35 miles along the San Andreas fault about 150 miles east of Los Angeles and 200 feet below sea level. It is surrounded by harsh desert as well as productive agricultural land irrigated by water from the Colorado River and draining back into the Sea. The Salton [...]

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Plugged In

If Climate Change Was Not Real…

A Scarlet Ibis Water Bird in the once-receding Amazon rainforest. Courtesy: Brandon Hoover.

… there would be a lot of other environmental issues to deal with. This is no big revelation, but it’s a question I’ve been pondering recently: What is the state of the world, not counting climate change? Or rather, what if we managed to reduce CO2 emissions to necessary levels, what would our focus be on [...]

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Plugged In

Senate bill shines light on the energy-water nexus

Photo courtesy of Michael Melgar

In the United States, 410 billion gallons of water are withdrawn for use each day. Almost half (49%) of this water is used by the power sector. On the other side, more than 12%of the nation’s energy use is used to meet the country’s water and steam demand. In other words – a lot of [...]

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Plugged In

Dialogue on Sustainable Food and Agricultural Biotech Begins Today, Not Everyone’s Thrilled

Insect resistant corn growing in Kenya

How will humanity feed 9 billion people in the year 2050? That’s the question that helped harvest this year’s World Food Prize recipients, including Marc Van Montagu, Mary-Dell Chilton and Robert Fraley, from the field of food researchers. The trio will be honored at the 2013 Borlaug Dialogue, a symposium on agricultural research that is [...]

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Plugged In

Duke study finds radium and elevated salinity in treated oil and gas wastewater; highlights need for revised water quality regulations

PA effluent_385

A Duke University study of treated oil and gas wastewater finds that current water quality regulations are inadequate to prevent accumulation of radioactive material in surface waters.

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Plugged In

As a River Runs Dry

Unknown

Just outside of Thomaston Ga., a red dirt driveway winds its way through a forest of sweet gums, oaks, pines and beech trees, marking the lone driven track on a large swath of land. It’s peaceful here. The trees rustle softly and the rippling of the river is heard before being seen. Sam Brewton, a [...]

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Plugged In

Summertime and the Dams Come Down

Dam removal in Brownsville, Oregon.

Summer is called dam removal season by those who cherish the notion of dams being demolished. The hotter, dryer weather limits a river’s flow and seasonal fish migrations  pause, providing the necessary conditions for demolishing the commonly aging infrastructure once erected to provide irrigation, water storage, hydropower and/or flood control. The summer of 2013 is [...]

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Plugged In

The Best Protection Against Storms? Nature Herself

When the winds grow strong and the waves heavy, shorelines are proving to be an important shield from the damage these coastal storms can inflect. That’s according to a new study by a group of scientists at the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment. They have drafted a map of America’s shoreline that shows the amount [...]

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Plugged In

Summer of the Mosquito

I remember last summer as the summer of the mosquito. I wasn’t prepared. Those buzzing, itching, carbon dioxide-seeking missiles chased my family out of the backyard. The long anticipated lazy days laying in the backyard turned into short backdoor jaunts of necessity. No one wanted to take the chance. Mosquitoes were everywhere. So were warnings [...]

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Plugged In

Stormwater Film Festival

On January 30, Plugged In’s unquenchable interest in infrastructure expressed itself in an actual tour of an infrastructure system itself. As part of ScienceOnline2013, the fabulous science/scientist/communications convention/festival/love-in held every year in my own city of Raleigh,  I led a tour of the stormwater tunnels beneath the city of Raleigh. I know all about these [...]

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Plugged In

Appalachia’s Fall Colors Safe for Now

It was time to get away. Remove myself from the city and head to the Appalachian Mountains to watch its warm-weather greens turn to the auburns, tangerines and rusts of autumn. First thing I noticed on arriving at the mountain cabin in the southwestern part of the state,  just outside Highlands, NC, was the pressing quiet. No [...]

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Symbiartic

ScienceArt Exhibits Heat Up This Summer

14-021FEATURE

Take a break from the heat this summer to step into some cool galleries exhibiting scienceart. If the exhibits keep pouring in at this rate, I’ll have to split up this post by region. There are five scienceart exhibits in New York alone! But for those of you who are not in the NY-region, don’t [...]

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Symbiartic

Don’t Be a Water Jerk

WaterButtons-06

California is in the throes a serious drought, but driving around Los Angeles, you wouldn’t know it. Lush, green lawns. Sprinklers going off in the middle of the afternoon when much of the water will just evaporate. People using the hose to (inexplicably) clean off their sidewalk. I refer to people who maintain these habits [...]

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Symbiartic

Dublin’s Science Gallery In New York

12-015FEATURE

The following post is a guest contribution by Brooklyn-based Raphael Rosen, an independent science communicator and museum consultant. Science Gallery by Raphael Rosen Anyone who knows me knows I am in love with the intersection of art and science. Scientific illustrations, cool art pieces that combine laboratory research with an aesthetic sensibility, events that explore [...]

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