If you have ever taken a prescription medicine, driven a car or drunk tap water, you likely have been exposed to chlorine. Chlorine, element No. 17 on the Periodic Table of Elements, has multiple applications. It is used to sterilize drinking water and to disinfect swimming pools, and it is used in the manufacturing of a number of commonly used products, such as paper, textiles, medicines, paints and plastic, particularly PVC, according to the Royal Society of Chemistry. Moreover, chlorine is used in the development and manufacturing of materials used in products that make vehicles lighter, from seat cushions and seat covers to tire cords and bumpers, according to the American Chemistry Council. The element is also used in organic chemistry processes — for example, as an oxidizing agent and a substitution for hydrogen, according to the Los Alamos National Laboratory. An oxidizing agent has strong disinfecting and bleaching qualities. When used as a hydrogen substitute, … [Read more...] about Facts About Chlorine
Deforestation is the permanent destruction of forests in order to make the land available for other uses. An estimated 18 million acres (7.3 million hectares) of forest, which is roughly the size of the country of Panama, are lost each year, according to the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). Some other statistics: About half of the world's tropical forests have been cleared, according to the FAO. Forests currently cover about 30 percent of the world’s landmass, according to National Geographic. The Earth loses 18.7 million acres of forests per year, which is equal to 27 soccer fields every minute, according to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). It is estimated that 15 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions come from deforestation, according to the WWF. In 2016, global tree cover loss reached a record of 73.4 million acres (29.7 million hectares), according to the University of Maryland. Location Deforestation occurs around the world, though tropical … [Read more...] about Deforestation: Facts, Causes & Effects
A strange plant that needs no sunlight and sucks on underground fungi for nutrients has turned up in Borneo, Malaysia, 151 years after it was first documented. Thismia neptunis is what's called a "mycoheterotroph," meaning it's part of a group of plant species that has given up photosynthesis entirely, in favor of living as parasites. They grow no functional leaves and do most of the work they need to survive underground. T. neptunis is most easily identified by its sexual organ: a small, 3.5-inch (9 centimeters) flower it pokes out of the ground, that looks like it might belong on an alien planet or perhaps deep in the ocean. Instead, it grows in the wet dirt of a rainforest alongside a river in an area called Matang massif. [Gallery: Scientists at the Ends of the Earth] The Italian botanist Odoardo Beccari first documented the little flowering weirdo in 1866, making beautiful drawings of its unusual shape that helped modern researchers identify specimens they found in the same … [Read more...] about Bizarre, Parasitic ‘Fairy Lantern’ Reappears in the Rainforest After 151 Years
Three thousand years ago, dense old-growth rainforests covered most of central Africa. But around 2,600 years ago, an event that ecologists call the Late Holocene Rainforest Crisis occurred, and the forests suddenly gave way to savannas dotted with islands of trees. Six hundred years later, the forests grew back almost as swiftly as they had vanished. But for the last 20 years, paleoecologists have debated what caused the Rainforest Crisis. Most thought that the region’s climate changed, bringing either less annual rain or a longer dry season with a short but intense monsoon. That climate shift, many paleoecologists argue, devastated the rainforests of central Africa but created perfect conditions for savannas. But a new study proposes that humans may actually have been the culprits. A question of timing Around the time of the Rainforest Crisis, farmers from northern Africa started migrating southward, bringing with them an advanced culture of pearl-millet cultivation, … [Read more...] about African rainforests vanished for 600 years, then bounced back—why?
About 300 million years ago, Earth didn't have seven continents, but instead one massive supercontinent called Pangaea, which was surrounded by a single ocean called Panthalassa. The explanation for Pangaea's formation ushered in the modern theory of plate tectonics, which posits that the Earth's outer shell is broken up into several plates that slide over Earth's rocky shell, the mantle. Over the course of the planet's 3.5 billion-year history, several supercontinents have formed and broken up, a result of churning and circulation in the Earth's mantle, which makes up most of planet's volume. This breakup and formation of supercontinents has dramatically altered the planet's history. "This is what's driven the entire evolution of the planet through time. This is the major backbeat of the planet," said Brendan Murphy, a geology professor at the St. Francis Xavier University, in Antigonish, Nova Scotia. History More than a century ago, the scientist Alfred Wegener proposed … [Read more...] about Facts About Pangaea, Ancient Supercontinent