Lichens surprisingly precise air quality monitors

Lichens, combinations of fungi and algae, are quietly trodden underfoot by animals and hikers the world over. Now a new study by a Brigham Young University father-son team has demonstrated that lichens could replace expensive environmental monitors since they accumulate some pollutants in concentrations that correctly manifest the amount of the pollutants in the surrounding air. “Previously, we knew that lichens took things up from the air, but no one had any significant results indicating that what is in the lichen accurately reflects what is in the air,” said Larry St. Clair, the chair of BYU’s department of integrative biology and co-author of the study published in the latest issue of “Atmospheric Environment.” “This is the first definitive data that shows not only do lichens take pollution up from the air, but they take it up in patterns that exactly reflect the amount of pollutants in the air.”

Popular sports supplement has no effect on endurance

An amino acid supplement called L-tyrosine, recommended by fitness trainers and sold by supplement outlets as an endurance booster, has no effect on endurance, according to a new Brigham Young University study. “There wasn’t any indication from our tests that tyrosine had an effect in the blood or in the brain,” said Allen Parcell, assistant professor in the Human Performance Research Center at BYU. “Tyrosine didn’t improve endurance performance in our subjects.”

Better detection, not global warming, behind iceberg increase

I've been here all along.Contrary to an opinion held by some researchers, a new analysis of more than 20 years of historical data has found no evidence that the increasing number of large icebergs off Antarctica’s coasts is a result of global warming trends. “The dramatic increase in the number of large icebergs as recorded by the National Ice Center database does not represent a climatic change,” said Brigham Young University’s David Long. “Our reanalysis suggests that the number of icebergs remained roughly constant from 1978 to the late 1990s.” Using BYU’s supercomputers, Long enhanced images of the waters around Antarctica transmitted by satellite. Comparing this data to records from the federal government’s National Ice Center, which tracks icebergs larger than ten miles on one side, he determined that previous tracking measures were inadequate, resulting in a gross undercounting.