A roiling sun collects 'moss'
Solar scientists have discovered moss on the sun. It's fast-changing patches of hot gas whose texture resembles that of the fluffy green stuff on Earth. The patches appear from 1,000 to 1,500 miles about the sun's visible surface, and they are 6,000 to 12,000 miles wide. NASA's TRACE ultraviolet observing satellite revealed this phenomenon at the base of a region where the temperature soars from 10,000 degrees to as high as 9 million degrees F. The patches themselves reach 2 million degrees. TRACE scientists say that this discovery gives them new insight into how the sun powers up the high-energy magnetically controlled activity in its outer atmosphere, whose influence can sometimes reach Earth.
- Robert C. Cowen
Invisible ink nabs loggers
BRASILIA, BRAZIL - Environmentalists fighting to curb illegal logging in Brazil's Amazon have developed an invisible ink to tag timber and are already notching up early successes. The ink, which is only detectable with ultraviolet light, was first used in a joint operation between Greenpeace and Brazil's state environment agency, Ibama, in the northern state of Para. The two agencies used the ink to mark 250 cubic feet of timber being shipped by river from a protected jungle reserve. It soon reached a site owned by a Japanese firm, which was promptly fined 3,900 reais ($2,050).
Superbug to clean up toxins
A team of researchers from the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Bethesda, Md., has breathed new life into the most radiation-resistant form of bacteria known. The bacteria can be engineered to devour toxic metals and organics. The goal: to use the bacterium Deinococcus radiodurans to clean up toxic waste left at radioactive waste sites, especially those involved in the production of nuclear weapons. There are about 1,000 such sites in the US.
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