Fertilizers are responsible for almost 50 percent of the greenhouse gas emissions embodied in a loaf of bread according to a new study in Nature Plants. The results come from a life cycle analysis (LCA) conducted on one of the United Kingdom's largest bread producers by a team of researchers across disciplines ranging from operations research to plant science. An LCA quantifies the environmental impact of a given process—including its energy usage. It's a cradle-to-grave assessment of what an item truly costs the environment.
Most galaxies in the universe have at least one thing in common: supermassive black holes tend to sit in their centers, silently gorging on interstellar gas and dust and obliterating anything that comes within range of their event horizon. But scientists know very little about the origin of these behemoths or how they got to be so supermassive.
SpaceX is already on track to make history by becoming the first private company to carry astronauts to the International Space Station in 2018. As if that wasn't ambitious enough, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk announced on Monday that the company is planning to send two private citizens into orbit around the moon a mere six months after carrying its first crew to the ISS.
In 1970, Republican President Richard Nixon signed an executive order creating the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). It was a time when pollution made many of our nation's rivers and streams unsafe for fishing or swimming. Back then, New York City's air pollution was so thick that you often couldn't see the city's iconic bridges. Forty-seven years later, there is serious talk of dismantling the agency, or at least slashing its size by two-thirds.
Dr. Adam Watts of the Desert Research Institute is standing by the side of the road near Donner Pass, shouting over the wind into his phone to talk about a recent test flight. “We built a robot that can fly itself and bring more water out of clouds,” he says, capturing the technological promise at hand in just a few words. Together with Nevada's Drone America, the team flew a cloud-seeding drone beyond the pilot's line of sight. It's the next step in a gradual and ambitious process, aimed at solving a decades-old problem: can the desert pull more water from the sky, and can it do so without injuring anyone along the way?
The phrase "reinventing the wheel" usually means someone is wasting time and effort trying to fix something that isn't broken. The same could be said for reinventing straws, which is something that McDonald's has half-jokingly tried to do with its new STRAW (Suction Tube for Reverse Axial Withdrawal).
Have you heard the good news? On Wednesday, scientists announced a fleet of new planets. And not just any old exoplanets: they unveiled a solar system seemingly jam-packed with Earth-sized worlds. Those seven probably-rocky bodies could be an excellent place to search for life. And the good folks at NASA have created a whole new website devoted to the TRAPPIST-1 system. There's a lot to unpack here.