Friday, March 11, 2011

Japan Earthquake & Tsunami Footage

Here are a series of videos capturing the raw power of the earthquake and subsequent tsunami that struck Japan. Videos captured massive waves hitting the port of Sendai city. Youtube erupted with cell phone videos documenting the flooding in nearby towns, a gigantic whirlpool forming, and an airport runway being submerged. This video was shot from inside the same airport as it faced the oncoming waves.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Celery Rose

After being picked, if given proper care, a rose might last about two weeks before wilting. Petal blight - the reason for wilting - is caused by invading fungal pathogens that produce a sugar alcohol called mannitol, which breaks down the flower's defense system. It turns out that the enzyme mannitol dehydrogenase, found abundantly in celery, improves the life of rose petals when the gene responsible for its production is spliced into the rose genome. North Carolina State's Dr. Dole and Dr. Williamson are leading the research aiming to create a hybrid rose that is more resistant to disease.

The roses won't smell or feel any different, the only thing that should change is their vase life. "This gene is naturally found in many plants, but it's uncertain whether the rose already has it," said Williamson. "If it does, it doesn't produce enough enzyme to help the plant fight against petal blight." The team is also studying the type of sugar-water mixture that would best suit the rose after being harvested.

Ultimately, they are hoping to double the survival time of your generic flower shop rose. This could have a huge impact on the flower industry, especially when you consider that 1.2 billion rose stems are sold within the USA annually.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Frozen Smoke

A group of scientists have engineered a new form of "frozen smoke" that could potentially detect pollutants, store energy, and improve robotic surgeries. Frozen smoke is popular term used for aerogel, a manufactured material originally created in 1931 by Samuel Stephen Kistler, which has the lowest bulk density of any known porous solid. In fact, aerogel holds 15 titles in the Guiness Book of World Records, including 'best insulator' and 'lowest density solid'.

The current team of researchers including Professor Lei Zhai and Jianhua Zou have been able to use nanotubes to add some practical uses to aerogel. A press release from the University of Central Florida explains how these improvements allow the material to detect the slightest changes in pressure, making it perfect for robot hands used in precise surgical procedures. The nanotubes also increase the material's surface area, which enhances its ability to store renewable energy.

Although some skeptics question the safety nanotechnology, new advancements continue surrounding aerogel. Zhai thinks his innovations are just the tip of the iceberg and said "This has many potential applications and could really open up new areas to explore that we haven't even imagined yet."