Archive for March, 2013

Plants to detox land, generate nanoparticles

Publication: NBC News   Date: March 5, 2013   View Article

Common garden plants such as alyssum will be used to soak up toxic metals from polluted lands and then used to produce high-value metal nanoparticles for car parts and medical research, according to an innovative project launched Monday.

The use of plants to clean up polluted sites, a process called phytoremediation, is well known. But until now, the harvested plants were either burned or buried. The new project promises to bring value to the harvested plants by recovering the metals and using engineered bacteria to form metal nanoparticles.

Global warming to open ‘crazy’ shipping routes across Arctic

Publication: NBC News   Date: March 4, 2013   View Article

By the middle of this century, thanks to climate change, anyone with a light icebreaker can spend their Septembers going anywhere they want in the Arctic Ocean, including straight over the North Pole, according to a new study.

Ordinary vessels, which account for more than 99 percent of shipping traffic, could easily navigate the Northern Sea Route along the Russian coastline and, in some years, even find a route through the fabled Northwest Passage.

“That’s kind of crazy and, frankly, a little bit worrisome,” Laurence C. Smith, a geographer and sea ice expert at the University of California, Los Angeles, told NBC News. “It is not like these will be open blue seas and safe or open year round.”

The science of sinkholes: Common, but rarely catastrophic

Publication: NBC News   Date: March 1, 2013   View Article

A Florida man is missing after an apparent sinkhole opened in his bedroom in the middle of the night, sucking him and his bed deep into the earth. As frightening as it sounds, sinkholes happen all the time, according to geologists. Usually, though, they are slow-motion processes that can take years.

Sinkholes of the sort that swallowed the Florida man form when slightly acidic groundwater dissolves limestone or similar rock that lies beneath the soil creating a large void or cavities. When the overlying ceiling can no longer support the weight of the soil and whatever is on top of it, the earth collapses into the cavity.

© 2008-2010 Collected Writings By John Roach