Discovering the growing magic of biochar

Posted on July 24th, 2017
By Lin Arison & Diana C. Stoll/The Desert and the Cities Sing for Israel21c    

New research by an Israeli scientist shows that biochar-stimulated improvements in plant growth are linked to increased microbial diversity in the root zone.

When scientists and laypeople alike learn about biochar for the first time, they usually are intrigued by the seeming “magic powers” of this black powder. People with gardens and farms want to know how to use it, and scientists want to understand whether the stories they hear about it can possibly be true, and if yes, how does it work?

Biochar is the solid product of treating organic matter wastes by pyrolysis, which is the technical word for burning organic materials in the absence of oxygen. Generally, we are familiar with combustion, that is, burning that takes place in the presence of oxygen.    

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We finally know why eggs are so different in shapes and sizes

Posted on July 17th, 2017
by Jaime Bender for FromtheGrapevine 

Scientists make a surprising discovering while studying hundreds of bird species.

How do you like your eggs? Scrambled, sunny side up, hard-boiled, over easy?

If you're one of the distinguished scientists studying the diversity in shapes and sizes of eggs, your answer might be somewhere in the area of "pointy, oblong, asymmetrical, coneheaded."

Those scientists – who hail from the U.K., the U.S., Israel and Singapore – have hatched some pretty revealing conclusions from studying more than 1,400 species of birds to determine how their eggs developed their unique shapes and sizes. For example, why are the eggs of brown hawk owls almost perfectly spherical, while those of the common murre and sandpiper are shaped more like teardrops?
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Ancient medicines find modern uses at SupHerbs farm

Posted on July 10th, 2017

Plants have been used for their medicinal powers for centuries. Now a farm in Zippori is cultivating these plants for sale all over the world.

Plants have been utilized for their medicinal powers since ancient times. Today such plants are shedding their “alternative healing” label, as researchers are analyzing and quantifying their properties, and as more and more allopathic medical doctors are incorporating them into their healing practices. 

Roni and Peretz Gan run the SupHerbs farm in Zippori, not far from Nazareth. Established in 1986, the company has been cultivating medicinal plants for Israel and for export since 1990.

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Scientists just found out how far back climate change goes

Posted on July 3rd, 2017
by Jaime Bender for FromtheGrapevine 

Turns out humans have been harming the planet for a very, very long time.

Long before industrialization and fossil fuels and ocean acidification, humans were undergoing an epic transition from hunting and gathering to agriculture and settlement, the result of which was a massive increase in population.

It was 11,500 years ago, according to Israeli researchers who just conducted a major geological study of the Dead Sea and found erosion rates that they call "dramatically incompatible with known tectonic and climatic regimes of the period recorded."

In other words, humans have been destroying the environment a whole heckuva lot longer than we thought.

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Archaeologists reveal what some of our ancestors ate for dinner

Posted on June 26th, 2017
by Jaime Bender for FromtheGrapevine

A new dig made some fascinating discoveries about the menus of a 2,000-year-old civilization.

Thanks to a huge discovery in Jerusalem, we now know what members of an ancient Mediterranean civilization ate for dinner.

A massive archaeological dig at the site of an ancient landfill in Israel turned up thousands of animal bones believed to have come from sheep and goats, Tel Aviv University archaeologists said. In all, 12,000 bones were found, and they were able to identify 5,000 of them. They also found smaller amounts of chicken and cow bones, in addition to remnants of figs and dates.

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