Fiery volcanos seed lightning-generating ice

American Geophysical Union, December 2012

Volcanic eruptions conjure up images of huge fiery explosions, searing hot magma and charred, decimated landscapes. But some eruptions also create something very different: ice crystals.

Building a Better Battery

Inside Science, December 2012

Lithium-ion batteries generate electricity when tiny charged lithium atoms move from a negatively charged electrode to a positively charged one. As the battery charges, the lithium atoms move in the opposite direction. The problem is that with each cycle of charging and discharging, the battery’s electrodes degrade and the battery’s capacity drops. To fix this dying battery dilemma, scientists need to see what’s happening inside the battery in realtime at a resolution of one billionth of a meter — something that hasn’t been possible until just recently.

Pluto probe peril

Out of the Fog, December 2012

As the Curiosity rover safely studies rocks on the surface of Mars, a NASA mission on route to Pluto may find itself on a treacherously rocky path. NASA announced last month that the $650 million New Horizons space probe’s planned trajectory during its July 2015 flyby could turn into a collision course with unknown moons and debris circling the dwarf planet—an unfortunate end to the mission’s three-billion-mile cosmic road trip.

Keeping Hammerheads Out of the Haul

Science, November 2012

Special fishing weights could take a bite out of endangered hammerhead shark deaths. The global population of these distinctive sharks has fallen by about 89% in the last 2 decades, largely due to illegal poaching and accidental fishing bycatch. But now, scientists have come up with a shocking way to reduce this collateral damage: generating a mild electric field near fishing lines to keep the sharks away.

Mosquito Flight Fails in Fog

Inside Science, November 2012

Mosquito bites are a scourge to campers and spread deadly malaria infections. While nets and insecticides have long been the answer to blocking the winged menaces, researchers have discovered a simple way of grounding mosquitoes: fog.

Investigating the Venus Flytrap’s Speedy Snap

Inside Science, November 2012

Plants aren’t typically known for their speed, but the carnivorous Venus flytrap can close its jaw-like leaves in the blink of an eye. Charles Darwin once referred to the Venus flytrap as “one of the most wonderful plants in the world.” But despite the plant’s notoriety, its closing mechanism remains a mystery 250 years after its discovery.

Syndicated by Business Insider, Fox News and LiveScience, and others.

House windows may kill 22 million Canadian birds each year

Mongabay, November 2012

The sickening thud of a bird crashing into a window is an all-too-familiar sound for many Canadian homeowners. Birds often mistake windows for openings, flying into the glass at full speed. A startling new analysis suggests about 22 million Canadian birds die each year from such crashes, researchers reported Sept. 4 in Wildlife Research.

Bubbles of Trouble for Tumors

Inside Science, November 2012

Researchers are in the early stages of creating a new method that uses bubbles within bubbles to deliver chemotherapy drugs, and could someday reduce the treatment’s significant side effects.

Syndicated by The Daily Mail, LiveScience, and others.

The Case for GMOs

Out of the Fog, November 2012

On Tuesday we Californians will vote on Prop 37 to decide whether or not to force companies to label their genetically modified foods. The European Union already requires the labeling of these GMOs, and some European countries ban genetically modified products outright. This labeling paints the picture that GMOs are dangerous and shouldn’t be developed let alone eaten.