Science and the Environment

Science news

Clever story of a group of friends returning for their 30th/31st college reunion.


Last summer, Waco went on a record-setting 49 days without any rain. That’s not too uncommon in Texas, where areas of the state have been under drought-like conditions for years. Little to no rainfall can stress plant life, and that can lead to worried gardeners over watering their plants - which during a drought might not be the best idea. But as KWBU’s Carlos Morales reports, a new research site by the Texas Agrilife Extension Service and local master gardeners looks to study smart water use - and how gardeners can benefit from this research. 


via flickr.com/photos/brixton/ (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Are you addicted to your smartphone? Do you find yourself constantly checking for texts and emails? One researcher has found that smartphone use negatively impacts relationships and that smartphone addiction plays a significant role in our lives. 

    

via Wikimedia Commons Larry D. Moore CC BY-SA 3.0.

At least 1 in 4 of the 700,000 soldiers that served in the gulf war suffer from something called Gulf War illness. There are no known treatments for the sickness, but Dena Davidson, director of research at the Center of Excellence for Research on Returning War Veterans at Waco is undertaking a new study to change that. KWBU’s Carlos Morales sat down with Davidson to talk about the illness and a potential treatment.
 


via flickr.com/photos/48722974@N07/ (CC BY 2.0)

You may have noticed what appeared to be white chunks of ice floating in the Brazos river this week. While winter is coming, it isn't that cold in the Heart of Texas for that to actually happen. So what's the deal?

www.facebook.com/MindBodyMedicineResearchLaboratory

Gary Elkins – a professor of psychology and neuroscience at Baylor University - has recently been using hypnotic audio recordings to help his patients reduce pain. Specifically, his research has focused on using clinical hypnosis to treat symptoms that postmenopausal women face, like hot flashes and an inability to sleep.


Crop-dusting pilots are the adrenaline junkies of the agriculture world. They whiz through the air, flying under power lines to sow seeds or spread pesticides on farmers' fields.

It's a dangerous job, and now these pilots are facing a new challenge — short towers that can sprout up in fields overnight. These towers are used to gather data for wind energy companies.

Officials from countries around the word have met for the last two weeks in Lima, Peru to talk global climate change.   At the heart of those talks is how to limit billions of tons of CO2 that are pumped into the atmosphere every year from coal burning power plants.  

But how do we keep track of the CO2 we’re releasing? And just how do we weigh something that floats in the first place? 

It turns out there is a venerable history to the science of weighing smoke.

From StateImpact Texas:

Stanley Rabke’s family has lived and worked on their Hill Country ranch since 1889. Generations of Rabkes have struggled with the extremes of Texas weather, but one storm sticks out in Stanley’s memory: it came after the drought of the 1950s.

“It rained and rained and rained,” he says. “Back then we raised turkeys, we lost thousands of turkeys that washed away in the creek.”

The disaster underscores an irony of life in Texas. “You hope and pray that you’re going to get a good rain, [but] on the other side of it, you hope you don’t get a flood,” says Rabke.

A quick walk from where the turkeys met their fate, some new technology that will help manage that risk is being installed — soil monitoring sensors in the ground.

The clean energy plan put forth by the Environmental Protection Agency aims to combat climate change by reducing the amount of carbon dioxide emitted by power plants.  But it may come at a price, according to a report released Monday by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, the group that manages much of Texas electric grid.

The report says electricity bills could rise as much as 20 percent because of the carbon reduction goals, adding that the goals could also endanger electric reliability. Part of that is due to the way the plan would change Texas' energy mix.  

“What we found is that the likely impact of the clean power plan is going to be the retirement of a significant portion of the coal-fired capacity in ERCOT," says ERCOT Director of System Planning Warren Lasher.

The goal of the EPA’s clean energy plan is to reduce Texas carbon emissions by 30 percent by 2030.

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