Creating Nitrogen from water, the natural way

August 26, 2008

waterResearchers have split water into hydrogen and oxygen by replicating how plants use photosynthesis to make carbohydrates.

The team of Australian and US researchers says their findings could lead to a cheap and easy way of making hydrogen, which many experts believe is the green fuel of the future.

Although scientists have been able to split water into hydrogen and oxygen for years, current techniques use expensive chemicals as the catalyst which prohibits any move to a commercial product.

This latest research is different in its approach to other water splitting research because it copies nature by using similar processes and chemicals to those used in plants.

The team plans to further that connection by using chlorophyll-like molecules to harvest light rather than an electric current.

From ABC Science

Video: The Goblin Shark bite, its just plain strange…

August 19, 2008

The goblin shark is a deep-sea shark with a most unorthodox shaped head. It has a long, trowel-shaped, beak-like snout, much longer than other sharks. Some other distinguishing characteristics of the shark are the color of its body, which is mostly pink, and its long, protrusible jaws, which basically means it look like an Alien…

Goblin sharks are found in the deep ocean, far below where the sun’s light can reach at depths greater than 200 m. They can be found throughout the world, from Australia in the Pacific Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico in the Atlantic Ocean.They are best known from the waters around Japan, where the species was first discovered.

Goblin sharks feed on a variety of organisms that live in deep waters. Among some of their known meals are deep-sea squid, crabs and deep-sea fishes and occassionally they’ll have a go at diver’s arm, mmmhh!

Cheers for the tip Limbic

Original YouTube Vid

Photos: The Amazing Sunfish in Bali

July 24, 2008

The sunfish is the largest and most fertile bony fish in the world. It is also the wierdest looking fish you’re ever likely to see.

Some sharks (such as the whale shark and great white) can grow larger, but these are cartilaginous fish, rather than bony fish. Sunfish can produce massive numbers of eggs: one female caught off Florida was carrying 300 million eggs. This makes the cane toad look quite modest, producing a mere 60,000 eggs per clutch.

Sunfish tend to lie on their side close to the surface of the ocean, appearing to bask in the warmth of the sun, say researchers at the Large Pelagic Research Lab at the University of New Hampshire. They may be ‘thermally recharging’ after diving to depths where their bodies have been significantly cooled by the deep water.

From ABC Australia: Read more

Whale fin study directly improves wind turbine energy efficiency

July 17, 2008

Researchers are working to translate the natural innovations in Dolphin & Whale evolution into manmade technologies on land, air and sea.

Frank Fish of West Chester University in Pennsylvania began to study the humpback whale fin after he noticed bumps along the front edge of the flipper. “It just didn’t make sense,” Fish said. One of the cardinal lessons of fluid mechanics is that the leading edge of a fin or wing needs to be smooth to create the flow that provides lifting force.

Through modeling and wind tunnel studies done by colleagues, Fish determined that the bumps on the whales’ fins do indeed serve an important purpose. Among its advantages is it overcomes what’s known as “stall” — the angle at which a wing no longer experiences lift, but only drag, so it loses its ability to act as an airfoil.

Putting bumps across the leading edge of a wind turbine would mean that the blades can be oriented at a higher angle to capture more of the wind without worrying about stall — which can damage the turbines.

Fish has teamed up with Stephen Dewar to form the Toronto-based company WhalePower to commercialize this approach. They are also targeting industrial fans. “We can move more air and ventilate more area with fewer blades,” Fish added. The whale-inspired fans also use 20 percent less power and operate with one-fifth the noise of a standard fan, Dewar said.

From Discovery Channel: Read more

Croatia: Plitvice Lakes National Park

July 13, 2008

Living in Belgrade, Serbia, We’re always looking for oportunities for a weekend break in the region to do some filming for iStock and generally get away from city life for a few days. When we heard that Croatia’s most popular turist attraction, Plitvice Lakes National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site was only 4.5 hours from Belgrade, we jumped at the opportunity (Map).

plitvice lakes croatia video gallery To view videos of Pltivice Lakes and find out how to download stock videos from my iStockvideo portfolio, please click the image on the left

A bit of research, car-booking and hotel-finding later, we were on our way westwards on the E70 out of Belgrade towards Zagreb where we hit the E71 south towards Karlovac – total journey time so far: less than 3.5 hours. After Karlovac the roads get a bit trickier but Plitvicka Jezera is well sign-posted for most of the way and one hour later we were pulling up outside of Hotel Jezero, for dinner, drinks and and early night ready for the Lakes the next morning.

As soon as you arrive in Plitvice you’ll notice a background noise of waterfalls for that is what Plitvice is famous for, multi-level lakes interconnected with waterfalls on 7 or 8 different tiers. Its a strange experience with that background noise especially as you can’t see the Lakes/waterfalls until you enter the national park due to the heavy tree cover throughout the region, but relaxing in the dark on the hotel balcony with a drink, fresh mountain air and the sound of water rushing, truly is a wonderfully relaxing experience.

The national park itself isn’t open until 8am so don’t bother getting up early hoping for some sunrise shots… knew we should have done some more research…. but getting there at 8am sharp is advisable if you want to avoid the horde of ageing Japanse bus tourists who descend on-mass at about 10am.

Nature has been unkind to late-risers in laying out the lakes and waterfalls though – all of the waterfalls more or less face East which means the morning light is the best for photography/vidoe as the sun sets over the back of the falls creating unfavourable shadows, especially in the northern part of the park where the big watefall is. We’d suggest breaking up the day into two mini-trips, the morning one to the northern part and the afternoon trip to the southern part. Actually we did it the other way around but suffered from failing light behind the big waterfall….

For lunch, there’s a great restaurant outside the northern entrance to the park called Licka Kuca, well worth a visit to taste some authentic Croatian domestic food and take the weight off your feet between the two parts of the park.

The €15 entrance fee to the park is paid once for the whole park and you can leave the park and re-enter on the same ticket. For those of you who like walking (and are not carrying a tonne of equipment) you can walk/boat between the two parts of the park.

View gallery

Tip for videographers – the lakes are viewed from a raised wooden platform that snakes around and through the dozens of small lakes providing many different opportunities to get the angle you want however, beware, anyone walking within 5m of you will send vibrations through the floor to your tripod. We must have spent half the day waiting for a decent 10-20 second break in walkers to get some tripod-mounted shots – again, get there early to avoid the crowds or use a shoulder mounted bracket and absorb the vibrations with your legs.

On the eastern bank of the southern part of the park there is a road-train to get you up to the top if you want to short-cut the 1-hour hike but we didn’t bother because you really would miss out on the best views. On the opposite, western bank of the southern part of the park, higher up on the hillside there as a walking path (still under construction when we were there) which we believe would have far better viewing points for elevated shots of the waterfalls, as long as they clear the trees at the viewing points we think this will be the best path for shooting from, just watch out for the bears and wolves apparently….

All-in, with car hire, fuel, hotel, food and lake entrance we spent about €250 per head (based on a car of four people sharing two double rooms for two nights at hotel Jezero) for the weekend round-trip from Belgrade. Considering the awesome beauty of this amazing nature spot, we think that’s an absolute bargain!

If you’re in the neighbourhood, don’t miss it.

View gallery

Check back soon for video clips.

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