• California’s dreadful multi-year drought has left one of the world’s most hugely productive agricultural zones in dry and draining desperation.

    But a bold new water recycling scheme – greener, cleaner and far more efficient – is offering some urgently needed hope.

    In the state’s vast Central Valley, a company called WaterFX is developing a practical, potentially game-changing way to reclaim and clean agricultural waste water.

    “It’s typically thought that, because of the high energy consumption associated with distilling water – which is essentially boiling it – it’s not a good use of our energy resources,” WaterFX co-founder Dr. Matthew Stuber told Yahoo Canada.

    “However, once we couple it with renewable energy, it becomes a different proposition.”

    WaterFX's upcoming HydroRevolution project in California uses solar energy to turn waste water into steam, which cooks out all the impurities. As clean, fresh water condenses, that energy is released, recaptured and pumped right back into

    Read More »from Sun could hold key to solving California's water problems
  • Rabies spreading in New Brunswick raccoonsRabies spreading in New Brunswick raccoons

    They move like low, round shadows in the night.

    They are almost silent. But should you ever see one, you’ll also hear its silky, secret footfalls on the darkened city streets.

    They demolish garbage cans. And when we invent a better one, they think up all-new ways to trash our trash.

    They even wear cute little bandit masks, as if to say “Yeah, we know we’re thieves, but what are you going to do about it?”

    Raccoons. Sigh.

    Astonishingly clever, these big, persistent eaters of everything. Business is good for them. You almost never see a skinny one.

    But what if they weren’t here anymore? What if all the raccoons simply vanished, and you never again had to deal with shredded garbage at dawn?

    “Removing a mesopredator (raccoons are officially classified as mid-sized predators) from an ecosystem can have lots of unintended consequences,” Dr. Suzanne MacDonald, raccoon expert and psychology professor at York University, tells Yahoo News.

    Related link:

    What would happen if all the mosquitoes

    Read More »from What if we got rid of all the pesky raccoons? Much scarier things, expert says
  • Storm clouds in Alberta (DC Productions/Thinkstock)Storm clouds in Alberta (DC Productions/Thinkstock)

    You think your city is the stormiest?

    You may wonder how your city stacks up against others across Canada when it comes to record inclement weather. But ask a hundred people across Canada how bad their local weather can get, and many will claim they have the worst. However if we look at historical data, it turns out there are in fact some regions that are particularly prone to certain kinds of severe natural disasters, be they tornadoes or hurricanes, that make them stand out. 

     As far as the top five major cities go, here is our list from west to east that are prone to the worst weather bombs nature can throw at them:

    Flooded Caglary Stampede Grounds - June 2013Flooded Caglary Stampede Grounds - June 2013

    Calgary - Flooding

    Massive flooding caused by storms in the past century have swept through southern Alberta, and straight through the heart of Calgary, affecting hundreds of thousands of people, displacing countless number of residents and damaging homes.

    The most recent of which occurred in June  2013 when torrential rain caused a whopping downpour of 200mm in just 2

    Read More »from Forecast is looking grim: The most storm-prone cities across Canada
  • Driverless cars are becoming a thing.

    Google runs about a dozen of them on the roads of California and Nevada. They’ve logged over 1.7-million miles, and have been involved in 11 minor traffic accidents. That sounds low, but it’s more than double the national average of incidents per 100,000 miles, according to a recent posting on the Wall Street Journal’s Digits blog.

    (The driverless vehicles were apparently not responsible for the mishaps.)

    And now, researchers in California are kicking the tires on one of the logical extensions of this technology – driverless taxis. And the benefits could be endless.

    “A driverless car inherently has some advantages over a human-driven car, in terms of efficiency, because if it’s programmed correctly, it can accelerate and brake more smoothly, saving energy there,” says Jeffery Greenblatt, staff scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, in a conversation with Yahoo Canada.

    “It can plan its route perhaps more optimally – although that

    Read More »from Coming soon to your street: driverless taxis?
  • So if the extraterrestrials are out there, are they small and cute like E.T.? Or are they remorseless monsters like the aliens in Alien? Do they have thin bodies and big eyes like just about any other extra-terrestrial in just about any other movie?

    Or, maybe, do they look like us?

    Prof. Simon Conway Morris is a paleontologist at Cambridge University in England. His new book, The Runes of Evolution, argues that the enormous number of Earth-like worlds now being discovered could – and should – give rise to Earth-like creatures.

    “Over a number of years I’ve been arguing that evolutionary convergence – the ability for similar, sometimes almost identical structures to evolve independently – is something which is not merely widespread, but is basically ubiquitous,” he says in an interview with Yahoo Canada.

    “The classic example being something like the eye of the squid and octopus, which developed separately from the eye of the human. It’s very, very common, and I think its importance is

    Read More »from What do aliens look like? The answer may be suprisingly familiar
  • In a rare alignment, the crescent moon, and the planets Venus, center, and Jupiter shine above a farmhouse in the eastern pre-dawn sky.(AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)In a rare alignment, the crescent moon, and the planets Venus, center, and Jupiter shine above a farmhouse in the eastern pre-dawn sky.(AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)

    Just in time for Canada Day holidays sky-watchers will get treated to a stunningly close encounter between two of the brightest planets in the evening sky.

    Just after sunset on both June 30 and July 1, our neighbouring worlds, Venus and Jupiter will appear to pair up very close together in the sky and dazzle us - appearing like a super bright double star at dusk. Known as a conjunction - when two celestial objects assemble close together in the sky - the two bright planets will appear less than half a degree apart - a spacing that is equal to only the width of your pinky finger at arms length.

    However if you have been looking up, you may have noticed this sky show has been a few weeks in the making as both Venus and Jupiter have both been dominating the late spring and early summer evening skies as they have been steadily converging from night to night. They have been hard to miss because they are the brightest objects in the sky after the Sun and Moon.

    Their proximity to each other

    Read More »from Holidays kick off stunning planetary close encounter in the sky
  • Traditionally, the summer solstice – June 21 in 2015 – is considered the longest day of the year.

    But this year, June 30 will be one second longer.

    That’s because a so-called “leap second” is being added. This will compensate for an infinitesimal slowing of the Earth’s rotation in the past two centuries.

    “Earth's rotation is gradually slowing down a bit, so leap seconds are a way to account for that,” Daniel MacMillan of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, told ScienceDaily.com.

    A new report from NASA/Goddard notes that our entire system of time is based on the idea that a single day lasts 84,000 seconds. In reality, though, the average day is approximately two one-thousandths of a second longer. Over 365 days, that’s an annual slowing of about .73 seconds.

    So every now and then, one of these “leap seconds” is added to keep our clocks on pace with our planet.

    Why does this happen?

    It turns out there are a few factors that can, in fact, alter the rotation of the

    Read More »from Why June 30 will be one second longer
  • Lots of people go on lots of diets. Many try to ease the transition by incorporating some of their favourite foods. Not only is that a bad idea, it may be sabotaging the diet before it even starts.

    A new study in the Annals of Internal Medicine suggests dieters actually do a little better when they are not allowed to choose the foods they eat.

    “A lot of investigators had concluded [previously] that we should give people a choice among diets, because that might optimize their weight loss,” the study’s lead author, Dr. William Yancy of the V.A. Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina, told Yahoo Canada.

    “There were reasons to think they would do better. But they didn’t.”       

    Over 200 subjects were tested in the study. Half were given the choice of whether to go on a low-fat or low-carb diet. The other half were assigned one randomly.

    After a study period lasting almost a year, the dieters who chose their own plan had lost an average of 12.6 pounds. And the ones who didn’t? They

    Read More »from A common diet mistake is limiting weight loss
  • It’s summer.  It’s nice out.

    Just as you’re starting to really enjoy it, you hear a high, whining, familiar buzz in your ear.

    Two things are almost certainly about to happen.  You’re about to be bitten by a small, blood-sucking insect – and you’re about to whack yourself in the side of the head.

    Mosquitoes.  Sigh.

    Wouldn’t it be nice, we’ve all wondered, if these buzzing, biting, bliss-busting bugs were all just blown to bits?

    What would the world be like, if every last mosquito was gone?

    “It’s one of those unusual things,” Mike Jenkins, mosquito expert and biological sciences technician for the City of Edmonton, tells Yahoo News.

    “Ecologists have taken a look at that a few times, and oddly enough it seems like there might not be an ecological disaster if they were gone.  There’s not really anything – that we know, anyhow – that really depends on them.  There’s no plants that absolutely require a mosquito to pollenate them.  There’s no other species that specifically require

    Read More »from What would the world be like without mosquitoes?
  • Raymond Wang shows his model for better airplane air filtration at the world's largest high school science fair. Raymond Wang shows his model for better airplane air filtration at the world's largest high school science fair.

    When Ebola broke out in West Africa last year, one of the biggest concerns was how to keep the virulent, deadly virus from being spread by international air travel.

    Most of us felt helpless. Raymond Wang got to work.

    The 17-year-old science-whiz student at St. George’s School in Vancouver fired up his computer and set out to model the way air circulates in the passenger cabins of commercial aircraft.

    What he came up with won the $75,000 (USD) first prize at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in Pittsburgh in May.

    And that was just the beginning.

    “I started looking into epidemics, and I came across these pretty scary statistics.” Wang tells Yahoo Canada. “For example, the CDC has found that when an infected passenger walks onto a plane, he can actually infect up to 17 other passengers per flight. It’s clearly a huge issue.

    “My goal was to generate the first high-resolution simulation of cabin airflow in the entire industry. And what you’re actually getting is three

    Read More »from B.C. teen's award-winning invention set to help travellers breathe better on airplanes


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