Science news

LA Rolls Out Water-Saving 'Shade Balls'

Aug 12, 2015

Today, "shade balls" got their moment in the sun.

On Monday afternoon, the 20,000 black plastic balls tumbled down the slopes of Los Angeles Reservoir, joining 95,980,000 of their brethren already covering the surface of the water.

The final deployment of these shade balls was the last step in a $34.5 million water quality protection project aimed at preventing evaporation and algae growth in the reservoir.

Jacksonville Zoo To Host Experts For Shark Festival

Aug 7, 2015
Wikimedia Commons

Researchers and experts will speak at the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens’ North Florida Shark Festival this weekend.

The speakers will discuss research and efforts to save the animals worldwide.

During an appearance on WJCT's “First Coast Connect,” one of the events speakers, Peggy Sloan, talked about her research and misconceptions about sharks. Sloan is the executive director of the North Carolina Aquarium.

Coral reefs have suffered major declines over recent decades. But one bright spot in marine science is the newfound ability to grow corals from fragments in coral nurseries.

The Florida Forest Service has treated more than 246,000 acres with prescribed burns since last August. That surpasses the national record.

President Barack Obama and Environmental Protection Agency head Gina McCarthy are releasing a final version of the Clean Power Plan today, the first national standards to cut carbon pollution from power plants.

Pesticide Drift Threatens Organic Farms

Aug 2, 2015

Chert Hollow Farm sits nestled between rows of tall trees and a nearby stream in central Missouri. Eric and Joanna Reuter have been running the organic farm since 2006. That means they don't plant genetically modified crops and can only use a few approved kinds of chemicals and fertilizers.

"We've traditionally raised about an acre and a half of pretty intensively managed produce, so it's a very productive acre and a half," Eric Reuter says.

After a bunch of really nice humans helped a hitchhiking robot traverse the length of Canada and most of Germany, the robot was going to try to make it from Massachusetts all the way to California.

HitchBOT is the brainchild of two Canadian social scientists. As Frauke Zeller and David Harris Smith explained it in a piece for the Harvard Business Review, it was an experiment meant to spark a discussion "about trust, notions of safety, and about our attitude towards technology."

Cecil the lion's slaughter at the hands of trophy hunters in Zimbabwe has lit up the Internet and social media with protest and outrage in recent days.

The crash of a Virgin Galactic spaceship last fall in California's Mojave Desert was caused by pilot error and design problems, the National Transportation and Safety Board announced Tuesday after a nine-month investigation.

Australia’s decision to kill 2 million feral cats is the latest event in a battle among cat lovers, bird lovers and even celebrities over cats and their impact on wildlife. Feral cats roam in solitude, but issues surrounding the treatment of homeless cats is tangled in both pet owner and non-pet owners’ lives.

A solar ballot initiative faces a dim future in November, according to the latest Mason-Dixon poll.  Floridians for Solar Choice is scoring just 30 percent, far short of the 60 percent required to make it into the state constitution.

Jacksonville Zoo Named In Top 25 Best Zoos In US

Jul 21, 2015

TripAdvisor has named the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens (JZG) as one of the Top 25 Zoos in the United States. TripAdvisor has highlighted the world’s top attractions based on the quantity and quality of reviews and ratings for zoos and aquariums worldwide, gathered over a 12-month period.

“The staff and board of the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens have been working so hard and so long to make our zoo a place the entire community can love and take pride in,” said Tony Vecchio, Executive Director of JZG,

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk says a steel strut is the most likely cause of last month's explosion of an unmanned SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

"The preliminary conclusion is that the failure arose from a strut in the second stage liquid oxygen tank," Musk said Monday at a news conference.

He said one of the steel struts that held a helium bottle broke free during flight, likely causing the bottle to shoot to the top of the tank at high speed.

Scientists have unveiled the best photos of Pluto and its moons that humanity is likely to see for at least a generation. These images were taken Tuesday by NASA's New Horizons space probe as it hurtled past Pluto at more than 30,000 miles per hour.

Since its discovery in 1930, Pluto has revealed itself to be an oddball world. It's smaller than our own moon, and it orbits at an angle relative to the plane of the solar system. Because of its size and distance, even the Hubble Space Telescope could only make it out as a brown smudge, billions of miles away.

Mark Sadowski / Flickr

The Duval County Health Department is reminding people to avoid algae in the St. Johns River.

Health officials want people to know the dangers of blue-green algae in the St. Johns.