Fire is an important agent of transformation in the Amazon landscape. Every year, low intensity fires burn thousands of square miles of Amazon forest. To study the effects of these fires on the forest, and the forests ability to recover from repeated burning, Woods Hole Research Center scientists will burn two and a half square kilometers of forest in the transition forest of northern Mato Grosso state, at Fazenda Tanguro in Querencia, from late August into early September.
The goal of this research is to better understand what is the impact of fire on the transition forests, which lies between the tall dense rainforests at the core of the Amazon and the "Cerrado" savannas of central Brazil. According to Daniel Nepstad, a senior scientist with the Center, "By studying the characteristics of fires in this transitional forest on the edge of the Amazon rainforest, Center researchers hope to learn how these accidental fires may affect the vigor, health, biodiversity, and animal habitat in these forests, and in the end, to learn whether recurring fire may threaten the very existence of the forest." Repeated burning of transition forests in the Amazon could cause their eventual replacement by fire-prone scrub vegetation through a process call "savannization."
This is the second phase of this work, the worlds largest tropical fire experiment. One square kilometer was already burned in August 2004. This year, from mid-August to early September, one half square kilometer of last years burned area will be burned for a second time, and two square kilometers of virgin forest will be burned for the first of several times, to simulate the repeated impacts of escaped agricultural fires that burn through the understory of frontier forests every dry season. These areas are already slated for destruction to expand soy fields.
Elizabeth Braun | EurekAlert!
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At the productronica trade fair in Munich this November, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be presenting Laser-Based Tape-Automated Bonding, LaserTAB for short. The experts from Aachen will be demonstrating how new battery cells and power electronics can be micro-welded more efficiently and precisely than ever before thanks to new optics and robot support.
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Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.
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Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.
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Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!
When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...
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