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Gizmorama - April 4, 2017

Good Morning,

Researchers are attempting to make cows a bit more eco-friendly. We all got to do our part.

Learn about this and more interesting stories from the scientific community in today's issue.

Until Next Time,

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*-- Scientists are trying to make cows more eco-friendly --*

Researchers are trying to develop a more eco-friendly diet for the world's bovine population.

Cows account for between 10 to 15 percent of global methane emissions. Though the odd viral story has previously suggested cow flatulence is to blame, some 95 percent of a cow's methane contribution is belched through the mouth as the cow chews cud.

As a team of researchers in Europe determined, the harder it is for a cow to digest its food, the more the cow belches out the greenhouse gas. That's bad news for the climate, as methane has 25 times the heat-trapping potency of CO2.

The latest research suggests plants grown for cow feed in warmer, southern climates tend to be hardier and more difficult to digest. As beef becomes more popular globally, cattle are expanding into warmer climes. And as the planet warms, warm-weather grains and grasses are becoming more ubiquitous.

"The vicious cycle we are seeing now is that ruminant livestock such as cattle produce methane which warms our planet," Mark Lee, a research fellow at Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew, England, said in a news release. "This warmer environment alters plants so they are tougher to digest, and so each mouthful spends more time in the animals' stomach, producing more methane, further warming the planet, and the cycle continues. We need to make changes to livestock diets to make them more environmentally sustainable."

Warmer temperatures can alter flora in several ways. Hardier plants can move in and take over as climate changes. Temperature changes can also alter the behavior of native plants. Some species flower earlier or develop thicker leaves in response to heat.

The latest analysis -- detailed in the journal Biogeosciences -- suggests cow populations in North America, Asia and Central and Eastern Europe will likely produce more methane emissions as the climate warms and their fare becomes hardier.

Over the last half-century, meat production has increased 78 percent, and grazing lands across Asia and South America continue to expand to meet the demand for beef.

"Now is the time to act, because the demand for meat-rich diets is increasing around the world," Lee said. "Our research has shown that cultivating more nutritious plants may help us to combat the challenges of warmer temperatures. We are undertaking work at Kew to identify the native forage plants that are associated with high meat and milk production and less methane, attempting to increase their presence on the grazing landscape."

*-- Scientists recreate space particle collisions inside Large Hadron Collider --*

Experiments at the Large Hadron Collider in Italy are aiding the study of dark matter.

Last week, researchers smashed protons against helium nuclei inside LHC's chamber. Typically, LHC hosts proton-on-proton collisions.

The latest collisions are meant to replicate the interactions between cosmic-ray particles and interstellar 'dust' particles. Cosmic-ray particles are high-energy particles originating from outside the solar system. Interstellar dust particles are the most common interstellar medium, made up of mostly hydrogen and helium.

Scientists hope the collisions will aid the search for black matter -- the invisible matter that makes up 25 percent of the universe. Researchers have yet to directly confirm the existence of dark matter, but scientists hypothesize the collision of dark matter particles produces ordinary particles and antiparticles, including antiprotons.

Proton-helium collisions also produce antiprotons. The latest experiments will help scientists measure the number of antiprotons yielded by proton-helium interactions. The information could potentially help physicists identify antiprotons produced by dark matter collisions in interstellar space.

For example, an expected number of antiprotons could reveal the presence of dark matter. But currently, scientists need a more precise understanding of proton-helium collisions.

Scientists are currently analyzing proton-helium collisions using a pair of cosmic-ray research satellites, PAMELA and AMS-02. Scientists hope the LHC experiments will help astronomers interpret PAMELA and AMS-02 data with greater clarity.


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