• Non-lethal cures: new antibiotic cures disease by disarming pathogens, not killing them

    A new type of antibiotic can effectively treat an antibiotic-resistant infection by disarming instead of killing the bacteria that cause it; this is good news, since new drugs are badly needed for treating infections with the bacterium Acinetobacter baumannii, a pathogen that most often strikes hospital patients and immune- compromised individuals through open wounds, breathing tubes, or catheters

  • The Western hemisphere’s largest seawater desalination plant to be built in California

    The San Diego County Water Authority announced plans to build the Western hemisphere’s largest seawater desalination plant; the plant will produce fifty million gallons of fresh water per day, enough to supply about 7 percent of the San Diego region in 2020

  • New study tracks long-term sea-level rise

    Greenhouse gas emissions up to now have triggered an irreversible warming of the Earth which will cause sea-levels to rise for thousands of years to come, new research has shown; mankind has already committed itself to a sea-level rise of 1.1 meters by the year 3000 as a result of greenhouse gas emissions up to now; this irreversible damage could be worse, depending on the route we take to mitigating emissions

  • Explosives dumped into Gulf of Mexico pose big problems

    Millions of pounds of unexploded bombs and other military ordnance that were dumped decades ago in the Gulf of Mexico, as well as off the coasts of both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, could now pose serious threats to shipping lanes and the 4,000 oil and gas rigs in the Gulf, warns two oceanographers

  • Helping improve microbes’ ability to remediate toxic metal contamination

    Naturally occurring bacteria in the Gulf of Mexico did a great job helping to clean up 2010’s huge Deepwater Horizon oil spill, but bacteria can do even heavier lifting; routinely used to help clean up toxic metals at contaminated sites, bacteria and other soil microbes are fed to boost their ability to turn soluble metals into solids that will not leech into streams or aquifers

  • More ways to combat water shortages

    Water is the one element that every breathing, living organism on Earth needs, and unlike oil, there are no viable alternatives; in many undeveloped countries, water is becoming scarce. Concerns are growing about the availability of water in developed countries as well

  • DARPA solicits proposals for offensive cyberwar technologies

    DARPA, the Pentagon’s research outfit, announced that next month it will host a meeting for defense contractors in which the agency will outline the Pentagon’s need for “revolutionary technologies for understanding, planning and managing cyberwarfare”; the announcement is the latest indication of the greater willingness of military planners and policy makers to discuss U.S. offensive cyberwar capabilities and plans openly

  • Chile relies on new technologies to cope with frequent earthquakes

    Citizens of Chile are used to the ground shaking beneath their feet; in the past two years alone Chile has experienced more than forty earthquakes with magnitudes of six or higher; with so many earthquakes and the potential of thousands dying yearly, Chilean authorities are using new methods to protect their citizens from death and buildings from damage

  • Hurricane Irene polluted Catskills watershed

    The water quality of lakes and coastal systems will be altered if  hurricanes intensify in a warming world, according to a Yale study; researchers found that last summer during Hurricane Irene — the worst storm in the New York area in 200 years — record amounts of dissolved organic matter darkened Catskill waters and affected the Ashokan Reservoir that supplies New York City with drinking water

  • Large 11 April 2012 earthquake triggered temblors worldwide for a week

    This year’s largest earthquake, a magnitude 8.6 temblor on 11 April centered in the East Indian Ocean off Sumatra, did little damage, but it triggered quakes around the world for at least a week; the findings are a warning to those living in seismically active regions worldwide that the risk from a large earthquake could persist — even on the opposite side of the globe — for more than a few hours

  • Debate over causes of levee failure during Katrina intensifies

    A court case in which residents of two sections of New Orleans are suing a construction group has put millions of dollars at stake; residents of the Lower 9th Ward and St. Bernard Parish residents claim that Washington Group International (WGI), an Amy Corps of Engineers contractor, removed several buildings and pilings from land along the Industrial Canal as part of a construction plan to expand the canal’s shipping lock, then failed adequately to plug the holes left behind; the holes allowed rainwater from Hurricane Katrina to seep underneath the 14-foot wall, essentially lifting the wall and allowing the areas to be flooded

  • Keystone XL pipeline: reliability of remote oil-spill sensors questioned

    The oil industry plans to build thousands of miles of pipelines in the next five years, making leak detection a growing issue; many of the new pipelines will cross aquifers and rivers which are used for drinking water and irrigation; the Keystone XL pipeline has already experienced its share of controversies, and now there is a debate over the quality and reliability of the pipeline’s sensor system for remote detection of oil spills

  • Desalination losing ground as a solution to California’s chronic water shortage

    According to the July 2011 census, more than thirty-seven million people live in California, increasing the pressure on the state’s water sources; desalinating sea water as a solution to the scarcity of fresh water is not a new technology — it has been around for more than four decades — but it has more recently been considered as a way to address California’s chronic, and growing, water shortage; a closer examination of the technology and its cost has cooled the initial enthusiasm for it

  • Harvesting fuel for the fleet from seawater

    Refueling U.S. Navy vessels, at sea and underway, is a costly endeavor in terms of logistics, time, fiscal constraints, and threats to national security and sailors at sea; in Fiscal Year 2011, the U.S. Navy Military Sea Lift Command, the primary supplier of fuel and oil to the U.S. Navy fleet, delivered nearly 600 million gallons of fuel to Navy vessels underway, operating fifteen fleet replenishment oilers around the globe; the Naval Research Laboratory believes there is a better way: extracting carbon dioxide (CO2) and producing hydrogen gas (H2) from seawater and then catalytically converting the CO2 and H2 into jet fuel

  • Removing toxins from the environment

    A Florida State University chemist’s work could lead to big improvements in our ability to detect and eliminate specific toxic substances in our environment; the novel approach is based on stripping electrons from the toxic chemical known as fluoride; in addition to toxin removal, the approach has many other applications