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University of Florida and Florida Institute of Technology engineering researchers have narrowed the search for the source of X-rays emitted by lightning, a feat that could one day help predict where lightning will strike.

"From a practical point of view, if we are going to ever be able to predict when and where lightning will strike, we need to first understand how lightning moves from one place to the other," said Joseph Dwyer, a professor in the department of physics and space sciences at FIT. "At present, we do not have a good handle on this. X-rays are giving us a close-up view of what is happening inside the lightning as it moves."

Archaeopteryx is famous as the world's oldest bird, but reptiles were flying about some 50 million years earlier than that (225 million years ago), even before large dinosaurs roamed the Earth.

A new study of extinct reptiles called kuehneosaurs, by scientists from the University of Bristol, England, shows that these early flyers used extraordinary extensions of their ribs to form large gliding surfaces on the side of the body. The results were published today in Palaeontology.

Kuehneosaurs, up to 70 centimetres (two feet) long, were first found in the 1950s in an ancient cave system near Bristol. Their lateral 'wings' were always assumed to be some form of flying adaptation, but their aerodynamic capability had never been studied before.




Genomic imprinting is a mechanism that regulates gene expression in the developing fetus and plays a major role in regulating its growth. Research published in Nature Genetics by a team of international scientists has established an identical mechanism of genetic imprinting which evolved 150 million years ago.

"This paper shows that we share a common genetic imprinting mechanism which has been active for about 150 million years despite the differences in reproductive strategies between marsupials and humans," said Professor Geoffrey Shaw of the Department of Zoology at the University of Melbourne, a coauthor on the paper.

Penn State researchers say they can produce greener, less expensive hydrogen for fuel using water, solar energy and nanotube diodes that use the entire spectrum of the sun's energy.

Currently, the steam reforming of natural gas produces most of our hydrogen. As a fuel source, this produces two problems. The process uses natural gas and so does not reduce reliance on fossil fuels; and, because one byproduct is carbon dioxide, the process contributes to the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, the carbon footprint.

Craig A. Grimes, professor of electrical engineering, says their process splits water into its two components, hydrogen and oxygen, and collects the products separately using commonly available titanium and copper. Splitting water for hydrogen production is an old and proven method, but in its conventional form, it requires previously generated electricity. Photolysis of water solar splitting of water has also been explored, but is not a commercial method yet.

A group of scientists has used deep ocean-floor drilling and experiments to show that volcanic rocks off the West Coast and elsewhere might be used to securely imprison huge amounts of globe-warming carbon dioxide captured from power plants or other sources. In particular, they say that natural chemical reactions under 78,000 square kilometers (30,000 square miles) of ocean floor off California, Oregon, Washington and British Columbia could lock in as much as 150 years of U.S. CO2 production.

Interest in so-called carbon sequestration is growing worldwide. However, no large-scale projects are yet off the ground, and other geological settings could be problematic. For instance, the petroleum industry has been pumping CO2 into voids left by old oil wells on a small scale, but some fear that these might eventually leak, putting gas back into the air and possibly endangering people nearby.


Remnants of the bacterium that causes stomach ulcers, Helicobacter pylori, (H. pylori) have been discovered in gastric tissue from North American mummies.

A study of human remains believed to predate Columbus' discovery of the New World has shown for the first time that H. pylori infection occurred in native populations, according to research published in BMC Microbiology.

As well as stomach ulcers, H. pylori causes gastritis, duodenitis, and cancer. It is a helix-shaped bacteria that is believed to be transmitted by the ingestion of food or water contaminated with faecal matter.