Sustainable Pesticide Use with Intelligent Spraying

Pesticides may be essential in ensuring abundant and healthy yields of many crops, but so far, the techniques used to spray them have led to considerable environmental damage. In his research, Dr. Mark Gleason, a plant pathologist at Iowa State University, assesses the performance of new technologies that can deploy pesticides on apple trees in …

Developing the Hardest Material on Earth

What is the hardest material on Earth? Traditionally, because of its extreme hardness, diamond is used as a cutting material in a multitude of fields, from aerospace engineering to geothermal energy. Recently, using ultra-high pressures and temperatures, scientists have created a new form of diamond, which is now the hardest material known to humankind.

Competition and Cooperation in Evolution

Despite the old adage “nice guys finish last”, cooperation is common in life – from the scale of genes or cells through to entire societies. Although these two ideas seem to contradict each other, Dr. Egbert Giles Leigh Jr. has demonstrated throughout his career at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama that working together …

Search for Life Beyond Earth: Developing a Guidebook

Are we alone in the universe? Searching for life beyond our Solar System is one of the most ambitious efforts humans have ever undertaken. Because we do not have the ability to travel to distant exoplanets, scientists must rely on indirect clues that could help us find extraterrestrial life. Dr. Edward Schwieterman and his colleagues …

Monitoring Atmospheric Pollution with Laser Imaging

Lidar (Light Detection and Ranging) is a laser-based remote sensing tool that can measure the concentration of small particles, called aerosols, in the atmosphere. Monitoring aerosols is crucial for climate modeling, air quality measurements, and understanding the health impacts of atmospheric pollution. However, existing lidar systems require sophisticated and expensive equipment and are usually deployed …

Developing Sustainable Water Purification Technologies using Nanotechnology

A significant proportion of the world’s population has little to no access to clean water, and the water consumed by industrial activities continues to grow. Researchers from the Nanotechnology Enabled Water Treatment (NEWT) Center, which is headquartered at Rice University, are developing cutting-edge water purification technologies that can provide communities with access to clean and …

From Destruction to Creation: Understanding Meteorite Impact Craters

Ever since the planets first formed, they have been bombarded with space rocks. Asteroid and cometary collisions are so forceful that planetary surfaces fracture and melt beneath them, leaving behind huge craters. These impact events have played an important role in our planet’s history, by shaping the geological landscape, producing valuable minerals, and affecting the …

Measuring Meteorites to Reveal the Origins of the Earth

The planet we call home has a 4.5-billion-year history, but humans have only been around for a tiny fraction of this time. To discover what happened before life arose on Earth, and even before Earth’s formation, scientists can study objects sent from space – from icy comets and rocky asteroids to tiny particles of interstellar …

Space Weather Underground: A Magnetometer Array with Educational Opportunities

The complex processes of Earth’s ionosphere may occur far above the planet’s surface, but when monitored from numerous locations at sufficient distances, they can be measured using inexpensive equipment on the ground. Dr. Charles Smith at the University of New Hampshire has assembled an extensive team to do just that, with participants ranging from space …

Creating Power Foods with Gene Technology

At least 820 million people suffer from hunger and malnutrition globally and human population growth is likely to exacerbate this problem in the future. It is becoming increasingly important to develop sustainable and efficient methods to meet food demands. To address this global issue, Dr. Sanju A. Sanjaya and Bagyalakshmi Muthan from West Virginia State …