Scientific discoveries this week: 10/28/13

Stanford Woods Institute – Rebecca and Doug Bird have found that Aboriginal hunters in Australia use hunting methods that increase the populations of the animals that they hunt. The Aboriginal hunters use fire to clear patches of land. This practice creates areas of regrowth that enhance habitats. Scientists used the populations of monitor lizards to study the habitats and found that the lizards were more abundant in the Aboriginal hunting areas.
University of Montana, Missoula, Montana – James W. Sears of the University of Montana proposed that the Colorado River could have once flowed into the Labrador Sea. The river would have flowed toward the southwest corner of the Colorado Plateau and turned north into the vicinity of Lake Mead. The river would have then flowed across the Rockies to the Great Plains and joined the pre-ice age Bell River. The Bell River then discharged into the Labrador Sea.

Singapore – Zhaolin Liu of the A*STAR Institute of Materials Research and Engineering and Aishui Yu of Fudan University developed a new electrode that increases battery capacity in lithium-ion batteries. This electrode is made of iron oxide nanoparticles, which have a higher charging capacity from graphite. Researchers used alpha-Fe2O3 mixed with carbon black and bound with polyvinyllidene fluoride and coated in copper foil. These anodes had a 75-78% efficiency in the first charging/discharging cycle and this efficiency increased to 98% after several more cycles.

NIST – Researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology have found a new way to measure laser power. The light can be reflected off a mirrored scale, which detects the force of the light. This technique is a portable alternative to the conventional methods of calibrating lasers. Usually, lasers are aimed at a detector, researchers measure the temperature change, and then they calculate the electrical power required to cause that same temperature change. While this method is accurate, it is difficult to do with high-power lasers. The method outlined by researchers at NIST is much simpler in that it measures the laser’s force which can then be used to calculate the power. This method does not require calibrated instruments as other methods do; all calibration is done in the field.

Emily McNair is a down-to-Earth artist who is rarely seen without some form of video game regalia. She is from the small town of Monument, Colorado and loves to spend her precious spare time outdoors. She has been with The Oredigger for three years and is currently Managing Editor. She is working on a degree in chemical engineering and will graduate in May.

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