apostilb marginal illuminations on science

Undersea volcano type could contribute to carbon-dioxide emissions

Previous estimates for volcanic CO2 emissions had not accounted for “petit spot” volcanoes

Volcanoes eject more than just lava. They also pump carbon dioxide (CO2) from within the Earth’s surface into the atmosphere. Although CO2 emissions from volcanoes are less than one percent of the amount given out by human activity, determining this natural phenomenon’s contribution to the planet’s carbon cycle is valuable for understanding the evolution of the Earth’s climate over geological time scales. Previously, geologists accounted for the CO2 output of three types of volcanic activity: arc, mid-ocean ridge and hotspot. In a 2013 paper, however, researchers began to wonder whether a new type of volcano discovered in 2006 — the petit spot — might also contribute gases into the atmosphere.

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Copiers and printers puff out particulates

Office devices vent some unwelcome chemicals

Office air can contain many chemical compounds that come from sources like carpet cleaning, furniture, dry cleaned clothes, and computer peripherals. These can cause allergic reactions, respiratory illness, headaches, and other symptoms collectively called sick building syndrome. A recent study specifically looked at the amounts and types of chemicals released by printers and copiers.

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LEDs could be cheaper and just as bright without a common component

Simulations show reflectors used in LEDs may be unnecessary

Low-cost and low-power light-emitting diodes (LEDs), especially white LEDs, have revolutionised lighting. In fact, the inventors of blue LEDs — a crucial element for producing white light — won the 2014 Nobel Prize in Physics. Now, researchers have demonstrated that there may be even better ways to optimise how white LEDs are made, by eliminating one commonly used component. Changing the manufacturing process based on this work can further reduce the costs of white LEDs by 5–10%.

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X-rays show hair treatments don't penetrate or fix hair

But permanent waving does alter protein structure inside hair

Miracle products for fussy hair have probably been around longer than hair has even been studied. Though hair structure has now been investigated in great detail, with tools like X-ray diffraction and electron microscopy, hair repair products proliferate, and their benefits can be dubious at best. Beyond settling this cosmetic question, however, studying hair with imaging methods can be instructive for science — and health. Abnormally curly or twisted hair can actually be indicative of an underlying disease state; breast cancer, for example, can be accurately predicted using hair samples. Disease screening thus might benefit from hair imaging, but it’s only useful to study hair if the frequently used hair care products — shampoo, conditioner, and permanent waving treatments — don’t affect internal hair structure.

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Red shift, blue whale

Variation of whale-song pitch not fully explained by Doppler shift

Whale songs, the deep, reverberating vocalisations made by the largest mammal, have been the subject of research for decades. Recordings of the songs of the Antarctic blue whale show a pronounced drop in pitch between March and December before a “reset” over the following January and February. In addition to this intra-annual variation, the recordings also show an overall drop in pitch over several years. Several hypotheses have been proposed to explain both patterns. Marine biologists recently took to the oceans to test explanations for the intra-annual variation, including the idea that the changes could be caused by Doppler shifts.

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