Archives for posts with tag: Scientists

Tagging sharks to monitor their movements is nothing new, in fact, through organizations like OCEARCH, it has helped us learn a lot more about the threatened species and their behavior. Now scientists have taken tagging a bit further by using a gadget made up of sophisticated sensors and a video camera to get a sharks-eye-view of the ocean.

Researchers at University of Hawaii and University of Tokyo created the rig to see where sharks are going, how they are getting there, and what they are doing once they reach their destinations.

“What we are doing is really trying to fill out the detail of what their role is in the ocean,” said Carl Meyer, an assistant researcher at the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. “It is all about getting a much deeper understanding of sharks’ ecological role in the ocean, which is important to the health of the ocean and, by extension, to our own well-being.”

Green Halo - Gadget Made up of Sophisticated Sensors & Camera to get a Sharks-Eye-View of the Ocean

The gadget has already disproved some misconceptions about the way sharks travel, for instance, they found that sharks used powered swimming more often than a gliding motion, which is contrary to what scientists previously thought. They also found that deep-sea sharks swim in slow motion compared to shallow water sharks.

“These instrument packages are like flight data recorders for sharks,” Meyer said. “They allow us to quantify a variety of different things that we haven’t been able to quantify before.”

“It has really drawn back the veil on what these animals do and answered some longstanding questions,” he added.

Next up for the research team is creating an ingestible device that would help them to understand the sharks’ diets and feeding patterns. The instruments track ingestion and digestion of prey and can help researchers understand where, when, what and how much sharks are eating.

Check out the video below to get a glimpse of that shark’s eye view:

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Pomegranates are a super-food for humans, and now they’re inspiring scientists to make super batteries for your smart phone and other devices. Researchers at Stanford University have taken inspiration from the pomegranate to design a supercharged anode battery. Working in collaboration with the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, the team used the pomegranate’s unique seed design to make a battery that can store 10 times more charge than a standard rechargeable lithium-ion battery.

Green Halo - Stanford Scientists Engineering Pomegranate Powered Batteries to be used on Tech Devices

The pomegranate project could lead to smaller and lighter silicon anode batteries that could power cell phones, tablets and other devices. The silicon anodes could store 10 times more power than traditional graphite anodes, operating at 97 percent capacity even after being charged and used 1,000 times. Clustered like pomegranate seeds, the silicon anodes are light and powerful, encased in carbon shells that conduct electricity.

Traditional graphite anodes are also grouped in clusters, but during the cycling process they form gunk which gradually deteriorates the life of the battery. The silicon anodes, arranged like pomegranate seeds, are smaller than their carbon outer casing, which enables more leeway when cycling, and prolongs the life of the battery. As the silicon is charged, it expands within its carbon shell, which keeps the anode safe and intact and acts as a perfect path for electrical currents. The scientists are currently working on perfecting the process, and sourcing lower priced silicon nanoparticles to make the battery affordable for the consumer market.

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Scientists say that tuna swimming in the Gulf of Mexico during the Deepwater Horizon oil spill may have experienced heart damage. 

Lab research has demonstrated how crude oil chemicals can disrupt heart function in the fish. The study, published in Science magazine, is part of the ongoing work to try to understand the impacts of the disaster.

The gulf is an important spawning ground for bluefin and yellowfin tuna. Tracking studies have indicated that many of these fish would have been in the area during the 2010 disaster.

Green Halo - Tuna Fish Impacted from 2010 Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill

Scientists have long known that certain chemicals in crude oil – such as polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) – can be harmful to the hearts of embryonic and developing fish. These molecules, which have distinct ring-like structures, cause a slowing of the heart, irregularities in rhythm and even cardiac arrest at high exposures.

Pathways blocked

Earlier studies never explained the precise mechanisms involved. Now, scientists from Stanford University and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) think they have some answers. Working on tuna heart tissues in the lab, they have detailed how PAHs can block important cellular pathways. These are pathways where potassium and calcium ions move in and out of cells. Their ability to do so quickly is vital to the proper functioning of those heart cells.

“What we found was that oil blocked key processes in the cardiac cells involved with linking excitation to contraction, which means that beat to beat, we slowed the heart cells down and we also decreased their contractility,” Barbara Block, a professor of marine sciences at Stanford.

Human implications?

Because the mechanisms involved operate in the same way in the hearts of all vertebrates, it is highly likely, the team says, that other animals swimming in waters around the crippled rig would have been exposed to similar cardiac risks. And the questions also reach across to human health – because vehicle engines put PAHs into the air in our cities.

Green Halo - Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill 2010 Impacting Environment and Animal Life

“Impressively, the cardiac excitation-contraction coupling pathways are the most conserved pathways in all of animals. It means that the same ion channels present in tuna to make its heart beat are present in humans. So we’re interested in the impact of oil petroleum products on our own excitation-contraction coupling, and we’re interested in linking air pollution, for example – a place where petroleum products are often found, volatiles from our exhausts – to the problems of cardiac morbidity that are seen across the planet on a very smoggy day,” said Prof Block.

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