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Where We Go by shadowgirl
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Tunnel View, Oregon  |  glassjudah
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Solar energy that doesn’t block the view

A team of researchers at Michigan State University has developed a new type of solar concentrator that when placed over a window creates solar energy while allowing people to actually see through the window. It is called a transparent luminescent solar concentrator and can be used on buildings, cell phones and any other device that has a clear surface. And, according to Richard Lunt of MSU’s College of Engineering, the key word is “transparent.”

[read more at MSU] [paper] [picture credit: Yimu Zhao]
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Vermont by: Patrick Zephyr
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Rhacophorus lateralis: a species with an inusual nesting behavior
 Rhacophorus lateralis (Rhacophoridae) is a very rare frog endemic to India. Two color morphs of the species have been observed, one morph with a dominantly green dorsum (was shown in the photo), and the other with  brown dorsum with a mixture of varying shades of green.
It is an arboreal frog with a specialized nest building behavior, unique among Rhacophorus species. A purse-like nest is made over water by folding a single leaf around the egg mass (embryos and translucent foam) by the female alone after oviposition. The function of this parental investment is to prevent desiccation of eggs in open sunlight. 
In 204, the IUCN assessed this species as Endangered and considered its range to be restricted to two small areas of Wyanad and Coorg in southern Western Ghats of India. However, in 2009 this species was reported also from Shanthi Estate, Coorg; and, in 2010 from the surroundings of Bhadra Tiger Reserve and Kudremukh National Park.
References: [1] - [2] - [3] - [4]
Photo credit: ©Vipin Baliga
Locality: Virajpet, Karnataka, Western Ghats, India.
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Only 25 Minutes of Mindfulness Meditation Alleviates Stress
Mindfulness meditation has become an increasingly popular way for people to improve their mental and physical health, yet most research supporting its benefits has focused on lengthy, weeks-long training programs.
New research from Carnegie Mellon University is the first to show that brief mindfulness meditation practice — 25 minutes for three consecutive days — alleviates psychological stress. Published in the journal “Psychoneuroendocrinology,” the study investigates how mindfulness meditation affects people’s ability to be resilient under stress.
"More and more people report using meditation practices for stress reduction, but we know very little about how much you need to do for stress reduction and health benefits," said lead author J. David Creswell, associate professor of psychology in the Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences.
For the study, Creswell and his research team had 66 healthy individuals aged 18-30 years old participate in a three-day experiment. Some participants went through a brief mindfulness meditation training program; for 25 minutes for three consecutive days, the individuals were given breathing exercises to help them monitor their breath and pay attention to their present moment experiences. A second group of participants completed a matched three-day cognitive training program in which they were asked to critically analyze poetry in an effort to enhance problem-solving skills.
Following the final training activity, all participants were asked to complete stressful speech and math tasks in front of stern-faced evaluators. Each individual reported their stress levels in response to stressful speech and math performance stress tasks, and provided saliva samples for measurement of cortisol, commonly referred to as the stress hormone.
The participants who received the brief mindfulness meditation training reported reduced stress perceptions to the speech and math tasks, indicating that the mindfulness meditation fostered psychological stress resilience. More interestingly, on the biological side, the mindfulness meditation participants showed greater cortisol reactivity.
"When you initially learn mindfulness mediation practices, you have to cognitively work at it — especially during a stressful task," said Creswell. "And, these active cognitive efforts may result in the task feeling less stressful, but they may also have physiological costs with higher cortisol production."
Creswell’s group is now testing the possibility that mindfulness can become more automatic and easy to use with long-term mindfulness meditation training, which may result in reduced cortisol reactivity.
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