Agriculture
Growing Healthier Tomato Plants
Protecting Cows—and People—from a Deadly Disease
New Gene Fights Potato Blight
Amphibians
Toads
Salamanders and Newts
Frogs and Toads
Animals
Clone Wars
Spotting the World's Leggiest Animal
Baboons Listen for Who's Tops
Behavior
When Darwin got sick of feathers
Brainy bees know two from three
Eating Troubles
Birds
Blue Jays
Doves
Penguins
Chemistry and Materials
Cold, colder and coldest ice
A Framework for Growing Bone
Silk’s superpowers
Computers
A Light Delay
A Classroom of the Mind
Nonstop Robot
Dinosaurs and Fossils
The bug that may have killed a dinosaur
Feathered Fossils
Three strikes wiped out woolly mammoths
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E Learning in Jamaica WIN PRIZES and try our Fun Animated Games
Results of GSAT are in schools this week
2014 GSAT Results for Jamaican Kids
Earth
Undersea Vent System Active for Ages
A Grim Future for Some Killer Whales
Earth Rocks On
Environment
A Change in Time
Island Extinctions
Watching for Wildfires in Yellowstone
Finding the Past
Unearthing Ancient Astronomy
Salt and Early Civilization
Childhood's Long History
Fish
Goldfish
Electric Catfish
Barracudas
Food and Nutrition
Symbols from the Stone Age
Building a Food Pyramid
Eat Out, Eat Smart
GSAT English Rules
Capitalization Rules
Pronouns
Problems with Prepositions
GSAT Exam Preparation Jamaica
Scotiabank Jamaica Foundation Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT) Scholarships
Ministry of Education Announces 82 GSAT Scholarships for 2010
42,000 students will sit for the GSAT Exam in two weeks
GSAT Exams Jamaica Scholarships
GSAT Exam Preparation
GSAT stars reap scholarship glory
Access denied - Disabled boy aces GSAT
GSAT Mathematics
Monkeys Count
Math is a real brain bender
How a Venus Flytrap Snaps Shut
Human Body
Sea Kids See Clearly Underwater
Teen Brains, Under Construction
Fighting Off Micro-Invader Epidemics
Invertebrates
Caterpillars
Sea Urchin
Tarantula
Mammals
Wildcats
African Ostrich
Gray Whale
Parents
What Not to Say to Emerging Readers
Choosing a Preschool: What to Consider
Expert report highlights the importance to parents of reading to children!
Physics
Project Music
Black Hole Journey
Hold on to your stars, ladies and gentlemen
Plants
Underwater Jungles
Fastest Plant on Earth
Flower family knows its roots
Reptiles
Lizards
Komodo Dragons
Caimans
Space and Astronomy
Super Star Cluster in the Neighborhood
Slip-sliding away
Big Galaxy Swallows Little Galaxy
Technology and Engineering
Spinach Power for Solar Cells
Roll-Up Computer Monitors to Go
Model Plane Flies the Atlantic
The Parts of Speech
Pronouns
Countable and Uncountable Nouns
Adjectives and Adverbs
Transportation
Ready, unplug, drive
Charged cars that would charge
Reach for the Sky
Weather
Polar Ice Feels the Heat
Watering the Air
In Antarctica watch the heat (and your step)
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Bugs with Gas

You may know of propane as the gas that fires up camp stoves or fuels outdoor grills. Researchers have now found that microbes living under the ocean floor appear to produce propane and another gas called ethane. These microbes chew up ancient organic material, such as leaves and twigs buried in the sand, and they generate the gases as waste products. That's a surprise. Scientists had thought that propane and ethane could be produced only in the same way that petroleum is—by great heat applied to ancient, buried material. A team led by Kai-Uwe Hinrichs of the University of Bremen in Germany went on a research ship equipped with an enormous drill that dug out cylinders of sand or rock thousands of feet long. When the researchers examined these cylinders, they found traces of ethane and propane locked in the sediment. Normally, to generate these gases, Earth's heat cooks organic material in sand for many thousands of years. This can happen only at spots above cracks in Earth's crust, where heat can leak out from inside Earth, and where thick layers of sediment would act like a blanket. But the samples that Hinrichs and his coworkers had looked at contained thin layers of sediment. Some cylinders had also been obtained from places far from any cracks in Earth's crust. So where could the gases be coming from? Scientists already knew that microbes could break down organic material to produce a related, simpler gas called methane. So, undersea microbes were the only thing that made sense. "When you can't come up with any geologic source, then biology is an obvious candidate," Hinrichs says. The finding may someday lead to practical applications. Propane is valuable as a fuel, and ethane is used to make plastics. Pulling propane and ethane out of sediment is too difficult to be practical. But if scientists can better understand how microbes create the gases, they might be able to use the microbes' methods to make ethane and propane directly from organic material.—J. Rehmeyer

Bugs with Gas
Bugs with Gas








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