October 15, 2012

    Photo: Derek Keats/Flickr

100 Tons of Iron Sulfate Dumped in the Pacific

'Fertilization' in violation of two U.N. conventions

In what is being called the “world’s biggest geoengineering experiment,” an American businessman dumped around 100 tons of iron sulfate into the Pacific Ocean off the Canada coast in July. The project, led by Californian Russ George, is in violation of two international conventions that outlaw any for-profit ocean fertilization attempts. The scheme was designed to net a mass of carbon credits: The plankton would absorb carbon dioxide and then sink to the ocean floor. Satellite images show a massive plankton outgrowth of more than 6,000 square miles caused by the procedure.

Ocean fertilization is a contentious topic, and many scientists believe such dumps could permanently damage ocean ecosystems, create toxic tides, kill sea life, and worsen global warming. “History is full of examples of ecological manipulations that backfired,” said John Cullen, an oceanographer at Dalhousie University. George, on the other hand, calls the two conventions outlawing his project “mythology,” and maintains that the effort’s effects have been all positive. “We've gathered data targeting all the possible fears that have been raised,” George said. “And the news is good news, all around, for the planet.” George’s ships have previously been banned from Spanish and Ecuadorian ports after similar, unsuccessful large-scale dumps.

Via The Guardian


Dice.     Photo: Daniel Dionne

Study: Testosterone Is 'Truth Serum'

Decreased incidence of lying in subjects

Higher testosterone levels could make men more honest, according to a new study. A group of German researchers gave one group of men a testosterone patch and another a placebo, then had both groups play a dice game for money, with all players self-reporting their results. The experimenters found that the reported results for the placebo group were more skewed toward higher wins than the group that received testosterone. "This result clearly contradicts the one-dimensional approach that testosterone results in anti-social behavior," said Armin Falk, a professor at the University of Bonn and one of the study's authors. While the team says the mechanism through which testosterone affects honesty isn't clear, they list three hypotheses: testosterone direction influences "prosocial" behavior, increases concern for social status, or acts on player's beliefs about others' behavior.

Via The Atlantic


    Photo: Moritz Sirowatka/Flickr

Cities May Be Making Us Crazy

Link between urbanization and mental illness

Living in a dense urban environment may be making you crazy. Literally. A new article in Nature hypothesizes that there may be a strong link between the rapid urbanization of the world’s population and the increase in mental health issues, such as schizophrenia. While there have been no large-scale studies, more localized studies suggest that prolonged exposure to highly stimulating urban environments locks the brain in a kind of permanent stress response that can lead to further mental complications. To find out more, the Lieber Institute for Brain Development in Baltimore, Maryland, is planning a massive, long-term study in China, where urbanization rates are highest.

Via Nature


Mount Sinopah

Glacier Park's Mount Sinopah     Photo: Daniel Ewert

Search Continues for Hikers in Glacier

Snow hinders rescue effort in National Park

Rescue teams continued the search for two missing hikers in Montana's Glacier National Park on Monday, where rugged conditions and winter weather were making it difficult to cover the area. Neal Peckens and Jason Hiser of Herndon, Virginia, were reported missing Friday after they failed to catch a return flight following their October 9-10 backpacking trip in the park. The pair have been described by their families as experienced hikers. "They're both in very good physical condition," Hiser's mother said. "They're both intelligent young men, just lost. We're hoping for the best." Park officials reported that 18" of snowfall this weekend had made it difficult for the 50-person search team to cover the Nyack Drainage area, where the men were expected to have camped.

Via Baltimore Sun