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Twitter - Wed, 2013-05-22 22:25
coniferr: Armchair Taxonomy. http://t.co/bam858yMWw
Nature Newsblog - Wed, 2013-05-22 19:20
After a two-year, $41 million upgrade, the venerable Alvin submersible is about to return to sea.
On 25 May, the research ship Atlantis will leave the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, with Alvin on board, bound for Astoria, Oregon. After a series of Navy certification cruises in September and a scientific verification cruise in November, Alvin will return to full service in December studying the deep ocean off the US Pacific Northwest.
The main improvement in this first phase of the Alvin upgrade is the new titanium sphere where the sub’s three-person crew sits (See Nature’s feature story: “Deep-sea research: Dive master“). It is 18% bigger than the previous sphere, and has two extra windows and high-definition cameras, giving the scientists a better view of the deep ocean. It also has more comfortable seats. In addition, the manipulator arms have longer reach, and the sample collection basket can carry twice as much weight – up to 400 pounds.
Though the new sphere was designed to travel to depths of 6,500 metres, Alvin will still be limited to its old depth of 4,500 metres after the first phase of the upgrade. Holding it back from greater depths are battery limitations, says Susan Humphries, who is in charge of the upgrade programme at WHOI. Alvin uses lead-acid batteries, which do not provide enough power for longer, deeper dives. Lithium-ion batteries would be better, but are considered to have too great a risk of fire for now. “In a few years, once the battery technology has matured, we’ll complete phase two,” says Humphries. She hopes that within five years, when Alvin is scheduled for regular maintenance, the problem will be solved.
In the meantime, ocean scientists are eager to get back below the waves. Over its five-decade career, Alvin has been responsible for revealing some of the deep ocean’s biggest surprises, including the famous ecosystems powered by hydrothermal vents rather than sunlight. Julie Huber, a microbiologist at the Marine Biological Laboratory, also in Woods Hole, has been on three Alvin dives in the past. She is looking forward to the new exploration opportunities, but sounds a note of caution: “I want to wait for them to have 50 safe dives under their belt before I go back.”
Image credit: Brian Owens
Disclosure: Brian Owens is in Woods Hole as part of the Logan Science Journalism Fellowship at the Marine Biological Library.
Biology News - Wed, 2013-05-22 19:10
The carnivorous pitcher plant Nepenthes bicalcarata (A) and the ant Camponotus schmitzi (B) team up to fight fly larvae (C) that steal the plant's prey. An insect-eating pitcher plant teams up with ants to prevent mosquito larvae from stealing its nutrients, according to research published May 22 in the open access journal PLOS ONE by Mathias Scharmann and colleagues from the University of Cambridge and the University Brunei Darussalam.
Nature - Wed, 2013-05-22 13:45
Voyager: Outward bound
Nature 497, 7450 (2013). http://www.nature.com/doifinder/10.1038/497424a
Author: Alexandra Witze
Ed Stone has spent 36 years guiding the twin Voyager spacecraft through the Solar System. Next stop, interstellar space.
Nature - Wed, 2013-05-22 13:45
The big fat truth
Nature 497, 7450 (2013). http://www.nature.com/doifinder/10.1038/497428a
Author: Virginia Hughes
More and more studies show that being overweight does not always shorten life — but some public-health researchers would rather not talk about them.
Nature Newsblog - Wed, 2013-05-22 08:55
A bid by two Swiss billionaires to turn a mothballed pharma campus into the hub for a huge new biotechnology initiative has taken a major step forward today.
The Campus Biotech project announced that it had bought the 45,000-square-metre Sécheron site in Geneva, formerly occupied by Merck Serono, for an undisclosed amount.
The École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne and the University of Geneva will create a new institute for bio- and neuroengineering on the site, backed with a donation of 100 million Swiss francs (US$103 million) from the Wyss Foundation. Other research groups from the two universities are also expected to join the initiative.
Plans for the site were announced last year, but at that point the purchase of the real estate had not been secured (see ‘Cash injection set to revive Swiss drug site’).
Campus Biotech has been bankrolled by Hansjörg Wyss, the philanthropist who established the Wyss Foundation, and the Bertarelli family, headed by philanthropist Ernesto Bertarelli, whose grandfather founded Serono, a pharmaceutical company sold to Merck KGaA in 2007.
In statement, Ernesto Bertarelli said: “We are absolutely delighted to be moving forward with Campus Biotech. A central element of our plan is the creation of a Wyss Institute focusing on bio- and neuro-engineering. We have been much encouraged by the wide support for our project which we believe will bring immense value to the Geneva Lake region and Switzerland as a whole.”
Ernst Mayr Library Blog - Thu, 2013-05-16 09:41
Australian lizards: a natural history.
By Steve K. Wilson. Collingwood, Vic.: CSIRO Pub., c2012. HOLLIS# 013668050
QL666.L2 W55 2012
Birds of prey of Australia: a field guide.
By Stephen Debus; illustrated by Jeff Davies. 2nd ed. Collingwood, Vic.: CSIRO Pub. in association with Birdlife Australia, c2012. HOLLIS# 013668069
QL696.F3 D43 2012
A cameo from the past: the prehistory and early history of the Kruger National Park.
By U. de V. Pienaar and contributors, E.J. Carruthers … [et al.]; translated by Helena Bryden. 1st ed. Pretoria : Protea Book House, 2012. HOLLIS# 013668052
SB484.S5 P5413 2012
Designing wildlife habitats.
John Beardsley, editor. Washington, D.C.: Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, c2013. HOLLIS# 013657310
Field book of giant fishes.
By J. R. Norman and F. C. Fraser. New York, G. P. Putnam, . HOLLIS# 002594877
A healing landscape: environmental and social history of the site of Mass Audubon’s Boston Nature Center.
By Steven Pavlos Holmes. Lincoln, Massachusetts: Mass Audubon, . HOLLIS# 013673137
QH76.5.M3 H65 2013
Life: the state of South Africa’s biodiversity 2012.
Pretoria: South African National Biodiversity Institute, c2013. HOLLIS# 013673141
QH77.S62 L53 2012
Report of the Expert Workshop on Greenhouse Gas Emissions Strategies and Methods in Seafood: Rome, 23-25 January 2012.
Expert Workshop on Greenhouse Gas Emissions Strategies and Methods. Rome: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 2012. HOLLIS# 013675986
TD885.5.G73 E96 2012
Text by Jean-Franois Mongibeaux ; prefaces by Jacques Perrin and Jean Dorst ; Galatée Films photographers, Mathieu Simonet … [et al. ; English translation by David Wharry]. San Francisco, Calif.: Chronicle Books, c2003. HOLLIS# 013673120
The world of the bottlenosed dolphin.
By David K. Caldwell and Melba C. Caldwell. [1st ed.]. Philadelphia, Lippincott, [c1972]. HOLLIS# 013673125
QL737.C432 C27 1972
- coniferr: Armchair Taxonomy. http://t.co/bam858yMWw
- Refurbished Alvin submersible returns to sea
- Ants and carnivorous plants conspire for mutualistic feeding
- Voyager: Outward bound
- The big fat truth
- Multimillion-dollar biotech project buys out former pharma site in Geneva
- New book list, May 15, 2013