Gas leaks can be potentially life threatening in the home, but the presence of gas stresses out plants too. Professor Mike Steven and colleagues from the University of Nottingham have found that changes in the physical properties of plants can act as an early warning of leaks in natural gas pipelines. “Our study was about testing the ability of satellite remote systems to monitor gas leaks via the spectrum of reflected light from plants, which changes when the plants are stressed”, says Steven. “A satellite image of the stress responses in vegetation should identify gas leaks at least as well as a visual report from a helicopter, which is the current method, and would be safer and possibly cheaper.” Steven will present his research on Thursday 6th April at the Society for Experimental Biology’s Annual Main Meeting in Canterbury [session P3]
Satellite image of gas leaks from a pipe supplied by Prof. Mike Stevens
In the UK in 2001, emission of methane from the gas distribution system was 16% of the total UK methane emissions; such losses are not only costly to the gas distributors, but can contribute to global warming since methane has a global warming potential about 8 times that of CO2. When plant roots are starved of oxygen the stress caused to the plant can be quantified from the spectral quality of light reflected from the leaves, even before the plant looks to be stressed. In the area surrounding a gas leak the escaping methane means the plant roots cannot get enough oxygen and so aerial parts of the plant appear stressed in satellite images detecting reflected light.
This remote-sensing technology can be used to detect any type of stress that causes asphyxiation of the plant roots. Steven and his colleagues are already considering other uses for the detection system. One such application may be to detect carbon dioxide leaking from underground stores used in proposed carbon capture and storage schemes. These stores are intended to help to prevent global warming: the argument is that if CO2 is sequestered indefinitely in underground reservoirs then it can’t be acting to absorb heat in the earth’s atmosphere. “Our own research attempts to address some of the issues related to public acceptability and safety: Will there be leaks? What environmental effects will any leaks have? Can we detect leaks?” says Steven.
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The WHO reports an estimated 429,000 malaria deaths each year. The disease mostly affects tropical and subtropical regions and in particular the African continent. The Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research ISC teamed up with the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology IME and the Institute of Tropical Medicine at the University of Tübingen for a new test method to detect malaria parasites in blood. The idea of the research project “NanoFRET” is to develop a highly sensitive and reliable rapid diagnostic test so that patient treatment can begin as early as possible.
Malaria is caused by parasites transmitted by mosquito bite. The most dangerous form of malaria is malaria tropica. Left untreated, it is fatal in most cases....
The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.
Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...
Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.
That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...
Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.
During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....
The quantum world is fragile; error correction codes are needed to protect the information stored in a quantum object from the deteriorating effects of noise. Quantum physicists in Innsbruck have developed a protocol to pass quantum information between differently encoded building blocks of a future quantum computer, such as processors and memories. Scientists may use this protocol in the future to build a data bus for quantum computers. The researchers have published their work in the journal Nature Communications.
Future quantum computers will be able to solve problems where conventional computers fail today. We are still far away from any large-scale implementation,...
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