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05/04/06 - MagCap claims of tree power, the Tate Power Module and Tree Antennas
- (Thanks to Robert Nelson at Rex Research for the headsup that leads to thinking that the MagCap claims are really just accumulating energy from nearby transmitters as described in various patents for collecting energy from ambient radio, TV and other EM waves. The claim needs to be tested using something like a Faraday cage or a proximate adjustable radio/tv transmitter to see if the power received by the tree will change proportionately, since EM waves are everywhere these days. - JWD)

#1 - MagCap claims 'Free' Unlimited Energy From the Environment
- Energy Generated by Non-Animal Organism Multiplied Into Clean, Free Electric Current. Basically, the existing system includes a metal rod embedded in the tree, a grounding rod driven into the ground, and the connecting circuitry, which filters and boosts the power output sufficient to charge a battery. In its current experimental configuration, the demonstration system produces 2.1 volts, enough to continuously maintain a full charge in a nickel cadmium battery attached to an LED light. "Think of the environment as a battery, in this case," said Lagadinos, "with the tree as the positive pole and the grounding rod as the negative."

#2 - Tate Power Module
- "Tate's Ambient Power Module (APM) converts radio frequencies to usable electrical power (albeit only milliwatts) sufficient to operate clocks, smoke alarms, Ni-Cd battery chargers, etc. I began calling this power supply the "Ambient Power Module" (APM) because it extracted power from ambient background radio noise. This small circuit, when connected to antenna and ground, used the potential difference between air and ground to generate a small direct current continuously. The APM operates at radio frequencies, receiving most of its power from below 1 MHz."

#3 - Tree Antennas
- It is not a joke nor a scientific curiosity, this strange discovery of Gen. George O. Squire, Chief Signal Officer, that trees --- all trees, of all kinds and all heights, growing anywhere --- are nature's own wireless towers and antenna combined. The matter first came to his attention in 1904, through the use of trees as grounds for Army buzzer and telegraph and telephone sets, which, in perfectly dry ground and in a dry season, functioned poorly or not at all with ordinary grounds. Right then he began experiments with a view to seeing what possibilities, if any, the tree had as an aerial. But in 1904 radiotelegraphy was far more undeveloped than at present, and vacuum amplifying tubes were not thought of. With the remarkably sensitive amplifiers now available, it was not only possible to receive signals from all the principle European stations through a tree, but it has developed beyond a theory and to a fact that a tree is as good as any man-made aerial, regardless of the size or extent of the latter, and better in the respect that it brings to the operator's ears far less static interference. It will puzzle the amateur as it has puzzled the experts, how a tree, which is certainly well grounded, can also be an insulated aerial. The method of getting the disturbances in potential from treetop to instrument is so simple as to be almost laughable. One climbs a tree to two-thirds of its height, drives a nail a couple of inches into the tree, hangs a wire therefrom, and attaches the wire to the receiving apparatus as if it were a regular lead-in from a lofty copper or aluminum aerial. Apparently some of the etheric disturbances passing from treetop to ground through the tree are diverted through the wire --- and the thermionic tube most efficiently does the rest. It is interesting to learn that the tree behaves very much like any other aerial; it receives better in dry clear weather than in muggy, damp weather. It plucks messages from the ether more clearly at night than in the day. It is affected very little by rain. It is affected not at all by the presence of other trees; so far as has yet been ascertained it makes little difference whether one drives his nail in a tree in the forest or a lone tree on the plain. "I have recently discovered that living vegetable organisms generally are adapted for transmission and reception of radio or high frequency oscillations, whether damped or undamped, with the use of a suitable counterpoise. I have further discovered that such living organisms are adapted for respectively transmitting or receiving a plurality of separate trains of radio or high frequency oscillations simultaneously, in the communication of either or both telephonic or telegraphic messages."

05/04/06 - Momentum Builds for Lucrative Hydrogen Energy Prize
"Suddenly, the whole nation is focused on gas prices and our 'addiction to oil' and the Congress is in a panic trying to figure out how to respond," said Science Committee Chairman Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY). "Our options in the immediate future are limited, but our options in the mid- and long-term are not. The hydrogen economy holds out great promise but it also presents great hurdles. We are pretty far away from knowing how to create, store, distribute and use hydrogen cleanly and efficiently. We need to devote all the ingenuity we can muster to attack this problem. H.R. 5143, introduced by Chairman Inglis, is carefully crafted both to encourage ongoing work that can lead to incremental improvements in hydrogen technology, and to draw more scientists and engineers into trying to remove the highest hurdles on the hydrogen highway. The Inglis H-Prize bill is modeled after the Ansari X Prize, which spurred the first privately funded suborbital human spaceflight. The H-Prize bill includes three prize categories: -- Technological advancements: Four $1 million prizes awarded annually in the categories of hydrogen production, storage, distribution and utilization. -- Prototypes: One $4 million prize awarded every other year for the creation of a working hydrogen vehicle prototype. -- Transformation technologies: A maximum $100 million prize -- $10 million in cash and up to $90 million in matching funds for private capital -- would be awarded for changes in hydrogen technologies that meet or exceed objective criteria in production and distribution to the consumer. The size of the prize did concern some lawmakers; Energy Subcommittee Chairman Judy Biggert (R-IL) questioned the size of the $100 million grand prize. "Isn't a billion or trillion dollar market prize enough? Isn't this enough of an incentive to encourage scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs, and energy companies large and small to invest in the development of fuel cells and new and innovative ways to produce and store hydrogen?" Biggert added, "I am in no way convinced that we need to spend $100 million on such a prize...The prize of all prizes -- the Nobel Prize -- is only a $1.3 million award." - Pithy comment "Why do they constrain this to H2? Shouldn't they focus on ANY energy source that displaces oil? Oh, wait, H2 is the 'Fuel of the future' and always will be!!! This way, they can look like they're going 'green' or whatever buzz word is used now, but not actually aide technology that might threaten the current energy regime. Just look at the studies, H2 is much more costly, much less efficient, and less likely to succeed than electricity as an energy carrier."

05/04/06 - Chemists debate value of Alcohol blend for Car Fuel
From the April 25, 1936 Science News - Through a maze of technical phraseology, chemical symbols, and graphs, five speakers spoke more than 20,000 words-not counting discussion-concerning how and by whom the motor fuel of America's trucks and automobiles shall be supplied. Three camps were distinctly apparent in the conflict. On one side was the powerful petroleum industry. At the opposite extreme were those led by the Chemical Foundation, working to demonstrate that a blend of alcohol and gasoline is a perfectly good and practical fuel for motor cars. Midway between these groups were those men who are concerned with the scientific sides of the problem only and not the vast economic aspects that constantly hovered in the background. The petroleum industry sees, in the rise of alcohol blends of gasoline, a potential competitor that will cut gasoline consumption. The millions upon millions of dollars invested in oil fields, wells, refining plants, and enormous distributing systems are at stake. Advocates of alcohol-fuel blends see the problem intimately linked with the agricultural salvation of the nation, for behind the drive for alcohol-gasoline blends as fuel is the hope that this alcohol will be made from farm crops. And that the American farmer will thereby have another outlet for his crops over and above the use for foodstuffs.

05/04/06 - Pedal Powered Prime Mover - DIY Electricity
David Butcher has constructed what he labels the ‘Pedal Powered Prime Mover’, and uses it to power all manner of appliances, including the venerable TV. No more loafing about on the sofa watching the tube. David is offering plans, so you can build your own power generator. Got a screwdriver, hacksaw, wrench, hand drill, and wood chisel, plus a spare day? Perfect. A bit of galvanised water pipe, and some particleboard later, you’ll soon be consuming both The Simpsons and calories. David lost 8 lbs over 5 months, pedal powering his own needs. The trick to his design is the huge timber disc, which acts as a flywheel “creating torque where human legs/pedals cannot generate any.”

05/04/06 - Mexico set to join space race
Mexican lawmakers are in the process of setting up a national space agency, according to Reuters. The lower house in Mexico City has given the green light to a proposal that could see rocketry in development within the year. The initial outlay would be just $2m, about enough for an inflatable globe and a bottle rocket, but it's a start. The early days of the agency will concentrate on developing technology and working with universities and industry on satellite launches.

05/04/06 - A Personal Wind Turbine For $500: The Air-X
The Air-X is a small wind turbine designed to be used by home owners. It has recently been updated to reduce the noise of the blades, and they've added some microprocessor-based technology to improve battery charging. The manufacturers say this turbine can charge “any size battery bank from 25 to 25,000 amp hours or higher”. The internal charge controller periodically stops charging, reads the battery voltage, and decides on the spot whether to continue charging or stop completely. The result is longer battery life and no overcharging.

05/04/06 - 'Clear' Human Impact on Climate
A scientific report commissioned by the US government has concluded there is "clear evidence" of climate change caused by human activities. The report, from the federal Climate Change Science Program, said trends seen over the last 50 years "cannot be explained by natural processes alone". It found that temperatures have increased in the lower atmosphere as well as at the Earth's surface.

05/04/06 - Coffee makes us say 'yes'
Australian researchers say a caffeine hit improves our ability to process information and increases the extent to which we listen to and take on board a persuasive message. They tested this by quizzing people about their attitudes to voluntary euthanasia and abortion before and after either the equivalent of about two cups of coffee or a placebo. They were also given a persuasive argument to read after having the caffeine. The experiments showed that "caffeine increases persuasion through instigating systematic processing of the message". But caffeine also puts people in a better mood, which makes them more likely to agree with a message, the researchers say.

05/04/06 - Wind Power Becoming Cheaper Than Conventional Power
A newly published report from the Earth Policy Institute says that wind power is now cheaper than conventional sources in at least two areas: Austin, Texas and Colorado. The report also says that this trend is will likely be seen in other parts of the U.S. It was during the fall of 2005 that climbing natural gas prices pulled conventional electricity costs above those of wind-generated electricity. Austin Energy, the publicly owned utility in Austin, Texas, buys wind-generated electricity under 10-year, fixed-price contracts and passes this stable price on to its GreenChoice subscribers.

05/04/06 - Tropics the hot spot for speedy evolution
Tropical plants evolve twice as quickly as their cousins from more temperate regions, researchers say. "For each pair we used two closely related species, one from the tropics and one from a temperate zone," says co-author Dr Len Gillman from Auckland University of Technology. The study compared plants included conifers, kauri pine, grevilleas and wattle from tropical areas of Australia, Papua New Guinea and the Amazon with their counterparts in temperate zones in countries including New Zealand, the US and Australia's island state of Tasmania. By sequencing a particular region of DNA in each pair and comparing it to the same region in an equivalent common ancestor, the team were able to measure the rate of evolutionary change. The study suggests that the faster rate of evolutionary change in tropical plants is due to higher metabolic and productivity rates. A higher metabolic rate leads to more cell division and increases the opportunities for mutation. Although it was suspected that more energy was responsible for the greater species diversity towards the equator, the New Zealand team is the first to demonstrate a mechanism - a faster rate of evolution.

05/04/06 - Paint-on lasers set to rescue silicon
Researchers have said they can rescue silicon from the interconnect bottleneck that is set to put the kybosh on increases in number-crunching pace by 2010. A 'paint-on' laser will make it possible for chips to use optical communication to remove the logjam, say a team from the University of Toronto. Their innovation, published in the journal Optics Express, uses a suspension of colloidal quantum dots, which are tiny particles of semiconductor. Integrating current bulky laser technology onto chips would be impossible, but the paint-on nanocrystal lasers could be powered by the electronics already on microchips, massively speeding up the links between microprocessor units. It was a breeze to manufacture too. Hoogland said: "I made the laser by dipping a miniature glass tube in the paint and then drying it with a hairdryer."

05/03/06 - Scientists Discover (Biggest Ever) Oil field off U.S. coast
Scientists from the University of Cornell have discovered a massive amount of Oil off the coast of Louisiana. The find is some 60 billion barrels or 3 Times more than current US recoverable Oil of 20 Billion barrels, and would bring US total reserves to 80 billion barrels which is on par with Venezuela. In comparison to other finds around the world, this is twice the size of all Oil ever found in the North Sea and 6 times larger than the estimates of the Alaskan ANWR oil deposits. The area is about 10,000 sq. miles in size, and was found under layers of salt dooms by a new method of oil discovery known as “gas washing”. A process in which geologist are able to track the movement of oil deposits by the way they interact with the flow of natural gas. Efforts are now underway to rush more equipment into the area and conduct more tests, but because of the devastation left by the hurricanes Katrina and Rita there is a critical shortage of equipment and manpower to do the kind of recovery work needed to bring the oil to the surface. Estimates now range from 1 to 2 years before oil can be pumped from the newly discovered area.

05/03/06 - Students in England show off CLEVER car
It has the compactness of a motorcycle but the safety of a car, and cornering is smoothed by a tilting technology developed by mechanical engineering students Matt Barker, 29, Ben Drew, 27 and their instructors. Equipped to handle both city streets and long-distance highway driving, the vehicle runs on compressed natural gas, is capable of 80 mph speeds. Running on compressed natural gas, its fuel consumption is equivalent to 108 miles per gallon. A commercial version could be a decade away, assuming a manufacturer is interested, Owen said. He said it would be priced in the micro-car bracket of around $8,500-$17,000....more info...

05/03/06 - Steam-Powered Aircraft: A Very Short History
"Well, how does she look?" Bill Besler asked observers at the Oakland Airport one morning in 1933. That he could be heard distinctly, though he spoke from the cockpit of an experimental biplane speeding 200 feet above their heads, spooked the crowd: "Dead stick," the whispers circulated. Besler then throttled up over San Francisco Bay, leaving a wisp of water vapor condensing in the sun--and a throng of squinting witnesses to the first documented flight of a controllable airplane powered by steam. William Besler's 1933 steam-powered Travel Air was likely the last attempt to mate a steam engine with an airframe. The late 1800s had seen a flurry of international efforts, none of which was capable of a sustained, controlled flight.

05/03/06 - Vampire Power costs us all
It's the electricity your appliances keep sucking down even when they're turned "off". (Also called standby power.) Sometimes it's surprisingly large: a DVD player might use 75% as much power when off as when on, and the average desktop computer sucks down 35 watts when in standby. Anything with a transformer, such as chargers for mobile devices or computer power supplies, keep using power whenever they are plugged in. Sometimes it's just a watt or two, but sometimes it's much higher. As GrinningPlanet points out, this still only amounts to 10% of most people's energy bills, but that still adds up, particularly in an office. Vampire power is an issue that's been known for quite a while, but industry is accelerating on things you can do to stop it.

05/03/06 - Horse Research applied to Humans
Horses have an oversized spleen that releases oxygen-rich red blood cells during a race. Important discoveries about heart rate, blood clotting, blood pressure, etc. have originated with horses and been applied to humans. And the research continues. McKeever, for instance, is currently doing research funded by the U.S. Army, looking at the anti-inflammatory properties of several foods. Soldiers, who run and walk with lots of heavy equipment, often develop inflammation, which can lead to injuries, he said. His team found that extracts of cranberry, black tea and orange peel reduced inflammation in horses, but ginger did not. This finding could help soldiers reduce inflammation by eating these foods. Horses •can breathe only through their noses •can only breathe in synch with their stride •have outsized spleens that release oxygen-rich red blood cells into the blood stream when they run •have hearts that can handle blood that thickens with the 50% increase in red blood cells •are the only animals, other than humans, that sweat through their skin. A horse’s body is like a huge bellows, McKeever explained. Its breathing is dictated by the movement of its body and is in synchrony with its stride. Horses can inhale only when their front hooves are striding outward, they exhale only when all four legs come together -- the in and out of the bellows. “The horse spleen is a giant bag of extra blood,” McKeever said. When the horse runs, its spleen contracts and forces a fresh supply of oxygen-rich red blood cells into its blood stream, effectively pumping extra oxygen into its cardiovascular system virtually on demand. Human athletes, on the other hand, must train at high altitude to produce a greater supply of red blood cells. When at rest, about 35% of the total blood volume in humans and horses is comprised of red blood cells. Humans maintain that proportion even during exercise. Horses increase their red blood cell numbers to more than 65% of blood volume during a race. This greatly increases the horse’s ability to carry needed oxygen, but also makes the blood thicker. Fortunately, the horse’s heart is able to overcome this viscosity. Horses also have a tremendous ability to use the oxygen it produces. An elite human athlete uses 70-90 milliliters of oxygen per kilogram of weight per minute, McKeever said. Thoroughbreds use more than 150 milliliters per kilogram per minute.

05/03/06 - Why It's Not About Sick People
(In truth it should be about PREVENTING illness rather than trying to fix what is now broken, much like the old Chinese system where the patient paid ONLY as long as they were kept well, otherwise, when the patient was sick, the doctor paid the patient. - JWD) Construction of our brand new hospital building, next-door to the current one, was completed about the time that "the Boss" was first able to take some steps. The building was tremendous. Gleaming opulence made of the finest stone and metal, its magnificence was perhaps best felt in the majestic entrance and lobby, which soared four stories high. We decided to walk him over to see it. Breathing pretty hard, Dr. Stinchfield finally leaned on a parking meter near the old hospital, and catching his breath, he declared, "Well I'll tell you one thing, boy, it's not about taking care of sick people". Glitzy buildings were just the beginning. Image consultants, PR firms, advertisements are all standard in the medical world today. Hospital administration is largely concerned with the question of "how can we get more (paying) patients through here?" Few of us are surprised, of course; the market for patients is competitive and payments are thin-hospitals and doctor's practices do fail quite often. Now my administrator says that the guy down the block will do the job if I don't persuade that patient to come to me. So what do I offer a patient who, we are told, really doesn't need me? A multi-million dollar lobby. The Boss saw what was really behind that glitzy facade, and he saw what lay ahead as well. And of all the things that take the joy out of practicing medicine, that is perhaps the most insidious.

05/03/06 - Earthly Gamma Rays: Lightning Trigger?
In at least one case a burst of gamma rays appears to have preceded a burst of cloud-to-cloud lightning, as if it were in some way a lightning trigger. Terrestrial gamma ray flashes (TGFs), are thought to occur when electrons that have been somehow sped to near light-speed slam into air molecules. The great burst of energy released by the collision is enough to create gamma rays, almost the most powerful form of "light," or electromagnetic radiation, there is. New research with an array of ground-based and space-borne instruments has located the gamma ray sources much deeper in the Earth's atmosphere, in thunderstorms. Stanley and his colleagues were also able to refine the timing of the events and in one case found that the gamma rays detected by RHESSI might have preceded the lightning, which was a complete surprise, he said. "In every way this was unusual," said Stanley. Until now it had been assumed that the TGFs were a product of the lightning initiation process. Now it also appears possible that they could play a role in triggering lightning as well. How?

05/03/06 - Nanotubes Act as 'Thermal Velcro' to Reduce Computer-Chip Heating
Engineers have created carpets made of tiny cylinders called carbon nanotubes to enhance the flow of heat at a critical point where computer chips connect to cooling devices called heat sinks, promising to help keep future chips from overheating. The materials, which are sandwiched between silicon chips and the metal heat sinks, fill gaps and irregularities between the chip and metal surfaces to enhance heat flow between the two. Purdue University researchers have made several new thermal interface materials with carbon nanotubes, including a Velcro-like nanocarpet. The nanocarpet, called a "carbon nanotube array thermal interface," can be attached to both the chip and heat sink surfaces. "We say it's like Velcro because it creates an interwoven mesh of fibers when both sides of the interface are coated with nanotubes," Fisher said. "We don't mean that it creates a strong mechanical bond, but the two pieces come together in such a way that they facilitate heat flow, becoming the thermal equivalent of Velcro. In some cases, using a combination of nanotube material and traditional interface materials also shows a strong synergistic effect." Heat is generated at various points within the intricate circuitry of computer chips and at locations where chips connect to other parts. As heat flows through conventional thermal interface materials, the temperature rises about 15 degrees Celsius, whereas the nanotube array material causes a rise of about 5 degrees or less.

05/03/06 - `Green roofs` growing more popular
The leafy rooftop of the American Society of Landscape Architects building in downtown Washington is a model of the techniques used increasingly to cool temperatures, filter air, and lessen the burden on sewers by absorbing rainwater. Green roofs, first championed in Germany, have grown in popularity around the world, and experts predict more growth as the practice sprouts as far away as China. In North America, green roof space grew 70 percent last year. The Beijing Linked Hybrid project, a self-contained city of linked vertical buildings designed by Holl, includes hundreds of apartments as well as stores and schools, and every roof is green. Storm water collected in rooftops will help feed a self-sustaining water system to protect the buildings against water shortages in Beijing, Holl explained. Experts say green roof installation can be as cheap as $9 per square foot, and increased property value, energy cost savings and longer life for the roof can offset the investment. "Green roofs should be treated as necessary infrastructure for a city," Perk said. "Like sewers and streets."

05/03/06 - Nicotine prevents/cures Cholera?
In the letters to the editor section of Nexus - May/June 2005 is a comment from a Croatian reader that is of interest if it can be proven true. "..I thought to let them know of a simple cure for cholera that was used throughout Europe from the end of the 15th century: nicotine. People who smoked were not falling sick, so even children were given tobacco to smoke. - from Kristina, a reader of the Croatian translation of NEXUS"

05/03/06 - Hubble Provides Spectacular Detail of a Comet's Breakup
Hubble Space Telescope is providing astronomers with extraordinary views of Comet 73P/Schwassmann-Wachmann 3. The fragile comet is rapidly disintegrating as it approaches the Sun. Hubble images have uncovered many more fragments than have been reported by ground-based observers. Amateur and professional astronomers around the world have been tracking for years the spectacular disintegration of 73P/Schwassmann-Wachmann 3. As it plunges toward a June 6th swing around the Sun, the comet will pass Earth on May 12th, at a distance of 7.3 million miles, or 30 times the distance between Earth and the Moon. The comet is currently comprised of a chain of over three dozen separate fragments, named alphabetically, stretching across several degrees on the sky. (The Sun and Moon each have an apparent diameter of about 1/2 of a degree.) Images reveal that a hierarchical destruction process is taking place, in which fragments are continuing to break into smaller chunks. Several dozen "mini-fragments" are found trailing behind each main fragment, probably associated with the ejection of house-sized chunks of surface material that can only be detected in these sensitive and very high-resolution Hubble images. Sequential Hubble images of the B fragment, taken a few days apart, suggest that the chunks are pushed down the tail by outgassing from the icy, sunward-facing surfaces of the chunks, much like space-walking astronauts are propelled by their jetpacks. The smaller chunks have the lowest mass, and so are accelerated away from the parent nucleus faster than the larger chunks. Some of the chunks seem to dissipate completely over the course of several days. German astronomers Arnold Schwassmann and Arno Arthur Wachmann discovered this comet during a photographic search for asteroids in 1930, when the comet passed within 5.8 million miles of the Earth (only 24 times the Earth-Moon distance). The comet orbits the Sun every 5.4 years, but it was not seen again until 1979. The comet was missed again in 1985 but has been observed every return since then. During the fall of 1995, the comet had a huge outburst in activity and shortly afterwards four separate nuclei were identified and labeled "A", "B", "C", and "D", with "C" being the largest and the presumed principal remnant of the original nucleus.

04/30/06 - Holographic Solar Cells
The main limitation of solar power right now is cost, because the crystalline silicon used to make most solar photovoltaic (PV) cells is very expensive. One approach to overcoming this cost factor is to concentrate light from the sun using mirrors or lenses, thereby reducing the total area of silicon needed to produce a given amount of electricity. But traditional light concentrators are bulky and unattractive -- less than ideal for use on suburban rooftops. Now Prism Solar Technologies of Stone Ridge, NY, has developed a proof-of-concept solar module that uses holograms to concentrate light, possibly cutting the cost of solar modules by as much as 75 percent, making them competitive with electricity generated from fossil fuels. The system needs 25 to 85 percent less silicon than a crystalline silicon panel of comparable wattage, Lewandowski says, because the photovoltaic material need not cover the entire surface of a solar panel. Instead, the PV material is arranged in several rows. A layer of holograms -- laser-created patterns that diffract light -- directs light into a layer of glass where it continues to reflect off the inside surface of the glass until it finds its way to one of the strips of PV silicon. Reducing the PV material needed could bring down costs from about $4 per watt to $1.50 for crystalline silicon panels, he says. In their ability to concentrate light, holograms are not as powerful as conventional concentrators. They can multiply the amount of light falling on the cells only by as much as a factor of 10, whereas lens-based systems can increase light by a factor of 100, and some even up to 1,000. Holograms have advantages that make up for their relatively weak concentration power. They can select certain frequencies and focus them on solar cells that work best at those frequencies, converting the maximum possible light into electricity. They also can be made to direct heat-generating frequencies away from the cells, so the system does not need to be cooled.

04/30/06 - Wires find path of least resistance
TWENTY YEARS ago this month, two researchers discovered a class of materials that sparked dreams of electricity grids that would transmit power without any losses and trains that would levitate along friction-free tracks. Researchers now think they have overcome one of the key obstacles that have stopped these visions becoming a reality. They have shown how to fashion the high-temperature superconductors discovered in 1986 into the wires and cables that engineers need. High-temperature superconductors, usually made of copper oxides, conduct electricity without any resistance at temperatures around the point at which nitrogen becomes liquid: -196 degrees C. If these materials could be turned into wires, they could transmit energy without heating up, making them very efficient power cables. In theory, they should also be able to carry much higher currents than metal wires of the same size. But the materials are brittle and have to be plastered on to more ductile ones to create wires. Magnetic fields disrupt high-temperature superconductors because lines of magnetic flux, like those visible in iron filings scattered around a magnet, create mini vortices in the electrical current. These microscopic tornadoes wander through the material producing a kind of drag on the current, which creates electrical resistance. And that means the superconductivity is no longer perfect. To eliminate this drag, the flux lines and vortices need to be `pinned,' or fixed to particular points in the material. Various methods of pinning have been demonstrated over the past few years, with different degrees of success. To make the wires, they blast a mixture of YBCO and barium zirconate powder with intense laser pulses, creating a vapour that settles on to a metal strip. Nanoparticles of barium zirconate tend to align themselves into columns within the YBCO, and these act as great pins.

04/30/06 - Save on Gas by changing your driving habits
Web site Drive Far has a page of techniques describing different methods for reducing your fuel consumption when driving, like stopping your acceleration sooner than normal. I don’t know how many times I have hit the gas to get up an onramp onto the highway only to brake 10 seconds later as I get too close to the car in front of me. Stop accellerating sooner, slip into neutral and see how you go. (via lifehacker.com)

04/30/06 - Simpler and Cheaper Clean Coal Technology
Gasification, in which coal is converted to a gaseous fuel, is the front-runner as next-generation technology for cleaner coal-fired power plants. Vattenfall's technology modifies a conventional coal plant, by burning the fuel in pure oxygen instead of air (which is mostly nitrogen). Conventional coal plants generate a flu-gas mixture of mostly nitrogen with some carbon dioxide and water; capturing the carbon dioxide is expensive because it takes a lot of energy to separate the carbon dioxide gas from the nitrogen gas. In oxyfuels technology, the flu gas is mostly carbon dioxide and water, the latter being easily condensed and removed -- yielding pure carbon dioxide, which can be collected. These plants operate at up to 600 degrees Centigrade, and in doing so extract as much as 45 percent of coal's energy, compared with efficiencies below 40 percent for earlier-generation plants. Steam produced in the plant will be piped to the larger plant's turbines to produce power.

04/30/06 - Freezing your non-working hard drive to retrieve information
Web site Tech Republic presents a failed hard drive challenge to its tech support readers. One way to resuscitate the busted drive long enough to get a backup? Stick it in the freezer. One of the methods I have used before is to actually remove the drive from the PC, place it in the freezer for a day, then quickly put it back in the machine and try to access it. Why does this work? Who knows, but I heard about this tactic years ago, and it has saved my behind on a couple of occasions. …when the problem is data-read errors off the platters themselves, [I] freeze the hard drive overnight. It makes the data more ‘readable,’ but for a one-shot deal. If this data is critical, and you have a replacement hard drive (which, if it’s a drive failure, you probably do), then you can hook up your frozen hard drive and immediately fetch the data off before it warms up. (via lifehacker.com)

04/30/06 - Letting your Subconscious solve your problems
When I have an important (or tough) problem to solve, I often afford myself the luxury of shelving it for a few days, even if I think I can already see a solution. During this time, I don’t think about it and it does not weigh on my mind - I’m busy doing other things. Although I’m not consciously thinking about it, it percolates away in my subconscious, and a solution often announces itself when I least expect it. Itzy’s approach sounds similar to a previously-mentioned sleep on complex decisions suggestion. What do you think - is there something to letting your decisions “percolate,” or is this just a bunch of hooey? (via lifehacker.com)

04/30/06 - Psychic Baby predicts Stock Market?
The 28-year old New York resident Linda McDemeter became rich within four months while on her maternity leave. She began buying stocks “at the advice” of her unborn baby who would kick like crazy in her uterus every time the market was about to turn bullish. The would-be mother bought a stethoscope for listening to her child’s heartbeat. And soon she discovered a secret that made her rich. The heart of her unborn child started beating faster as Linda was reading stock-exchange quotations in the newspapers. The fetus was kicking like crazy and its heart rate was racing twice as fast. Later Linda felt her child going especially jerky as she examined the stocks of a particular petrochemical company. One day McDemeter decided to buy the shares of that company. According to her, her child was kicking within her belly frenetically the moment she made the decision to buy the shares. The price of the shares went skyrocketing on the following day. McDemeter made a handsome amount of money as a result. “We conducted an experiment involving 1,500 children aged 3 years and older. During the experiment, the children were supposed to guess a symbol painted on a card in a pack of 25 cards having the same back. Every card had one symbol on it e.g. a cross, a star, a circle, and a square. The kids were told to guess the symbol on a card drawn at random. According to probability theory, an ordinary person may guess one card out of five. We found out that most kids were guessing three cards out of five! Alas, our further studies showed that clairvoyance in a child would normally vanish without a trace as he approached eight years of age. It’s still unclear why things happen this way.”

04/30/06 - Singularity conference at Stanford on May 13+
The Singularity Summit takes place at Stanford on May 13, 9:00am-5:00pm at Stanford Memorial Auditorium. Speakers include - Ray Kurzweil, inventor, futurist, author of "The Singularity Is Near" - Douglas Hofstadter, cognitive scientist, author of "Gödel, Escher, Bach" - K. Eric Drexler, nanotechnology pioneer, author of "Engines of Creation" - Nick Bostrom, director of the Oxford Future of Humanity Institute - BoingBoing's own Cory Doctorow and many more. (via boingboing.com)

04/30/06 - Warnings over USB memory sticks
Smart phones, iPods and USB memory sticks are posing a real risk for businesses, warn security experts. Just over half of companies take no steps to secure data held on these devices, found a UK government-backed security survey. Vital business information, such as drug recipes or blueprints could easily be stored on a USB stick, he said. Recently it was discovered that USB sticks full of US military secrets were being sold on market stalls in Afghanistan. "Everyone expects a virus to come through the [e-mail] gateway," he said, "No one expects them to come in on a USB stick." An informal survey by Centennial showed that 66% of people mislay USB sticks and that 60% of those devices have business information on them.

04/30/06 - Disabling USB drive access for security
Web site IntelliAdmin has a simple how to for disabling your USB drives to keep people from copying data off your system. Keep in mind that this little software hack only disables USB drives - your USB keyboard, mouse, scanner, etc., will still work just fine. If you work in an environment where you might be concerned with the ease with which someone could walk up to your computer, pop in a USB thumb drive, and walk away with your precious data, this is a simple method that should help prevent that from happening. Disabling USB drives requires one simple change to your registry. If you’re not comfortable editing your registry directly, IntelliAdmin also has written a small program that’ll take care of the registry edit with a simple interface. (via lifehacker.com)

04/30/06 - Space Development conference in LA May 4-7
The speaker lineup for the 25th International Space Development Conference next week in Los Angeles looks amazing: Apollo astronauts Buzz Aldrin and Rusty Schweickart, NASA Deputy Administrator Shana Dale, SpaceShipOne designer Burt Rutan, "Science Guy" Bill Nye, Space Exploration Technologies' Elon Musk, X PRIZE founder Peter Diamandis, "space tourists" Dennis Tito and Gregory Olsen, JPL director Charles Elachi, and Neil deGrasse Tyson of the Hayden Planetarium. (via boingboing.com)

04/30/06 - Free Google 3d Sketchup software
Google SketchUp (free) is an easy-to-learn 3D modeling program whose few simple tools enable you to create 3D models of houses, sheds, decks, home additions, woodworking projects - even space ships. You can add details, textures and glass to your models, design with dimensional accuracy, and place your finished models in Google Earth, share them with others by posting them to the 3D Warehouse, or print hard copies. Google SketchUp (free) is a great way to discover if 3D modeling is right for you.

04/30/06 - Lost Manuals online
UserManualGuide.com links to hundreds of PDF manuals for consumer electronics from air conditioners to VCRs -- great for lost manuals and garage-sale scores. (via boingboing.com)

04/30/06 - Comet Fragments tracked
The comet continues to break apart with the official reports indicating that they are now tracking 36 major fragments and unofficial reports now putting the number into the 40 range (for major fragments). While the trajectory of the original comet would not have brought it overly close to Earth as the "String of Pearls" continues to grow I would suspect that the odds of some sort of smaller piece (say the size of the Russian hit back early in the 20th century) grows simultaneously (my opinion). Of the stuff they are tracking the dates of "closest approach" for the tracked fragments has TWO different time windows depending upon where you read the info: #1 has the dates of May 11-17, also http://www.spaceweather.com/ #2 has the dates of May 25 - June 9 2006 (this is NOT the closest pass of the trackable large chunks ... but the Debris Field area that is trailing the actual comet and which we will be very close to Earth's orbit in this time frame). Nothing may happen ... but other than Shoemaker Levy, which hit Jupiter, it is my understanding that we have little direct knowledge as to what happens when a comet breaks up. which may make this time period "interesting". Just a heads up FWIW (though I am sure you are already following this out of the corner of your eye).

04/30/06 - Second ice chunk falls in SF area - from a cloudless sky
First ice chunk created a 2-foot crater in an Oakland park, latest one busted a hole in a gym roof. On a cloudless day!

04/30/06 - Claim of Comet Collision with Earth on May 25, 2006?
Eric Julien, a former French military air traffic controller and senior airport manager, has completed a study of the comet 73P Schwassmann-Wachmann and declared that a fragment is highly likely to impact the Earth on or around May 25, 2006. Comet Schwassman-Wachmann follows a five-year orbit that crosses the solar system's ecliptic plane. It has followed its five year orbit intact for centuries; but, in 1995, mysteriously fragmented. According to Julien, this is the same year that a crop circle appeared showing the inner solar system with the Earth missing from its orbit. He argues the "Missing Earth" crop circle was a message from higher intelligences warning humanity of the consequences of its destructive nuclear policies. Julien concludes that impact is likely around May 25 precisely when the comet crosses the Earth's ecliptic plane. While the first fragment will cross at approximately 10 million miles, lagging fragments threaten to collide. Julien argues that the kinetic energy of even a 'car sized' fragment will impact the Earth with devastating effect. He concludes the May 25 event is tied in to the Bush administration's policy of preemptive use of nuclear weapons against Iran, and the effect of nuclear weapons on the realms of higher intelligences. Julien predicts that the comet collision will occur in the Atlantic Ocean between the Equator and the Tropic of Cancer, and generate 200 meter waves. (I recommend you download his more detailed paper, 'The Day of Destiny', at the Exopolitics Institute site, here are some quotes - "A heavenly object, hardly larger than a truck, but animated by an enormous kinetic energy - its speed will be approximately 40 kilometers/second - will strike the Earth after having crossed the thick atmosphere of 80 kilometers, then the oceanic depths of 1500 meters at this place, to reach and shake the zone of the dorsal the mid-Atlantic rift crossing from North to the South on the Atlantic ocean floor. Currently, tens of underwater volcanoes lie largely dormant, ejecting very small quantities of magma emerging from gigantic chambers. They will break out, heating the sea water to a boiling point." - Imagine a crop circle showing the solar system, MISSING the EARTH which does not appear on its proper orbit, a few weeks after this fragmentation. Imagine that this crop circle shows the position of the planets corresponding to the date May 14, 2006; the date of the closest approach of the comet, with the planet Mars slightly later, to show that the best date is after May 14 contrary to expectations.)

04/20/06 - I'm off 10 days on sabbatical for business and mischief......

04/19/06 - Solar dish supplies power for 8 houses
The dish, made by Stirling Energy Systems in Phoenix, is the world’s most efficient solar generator. It uses an old principle-that concentrated light is a great heat source-to achieve a level of efficiency on par with conventional power sources and far higher than traditional solar cells. Instead of converting sunlight directly into electricity, as those familiar rooftop solar panels do, it uses a concave array of mirrors to focus light on a central point, where the resulting heat causes compressed hydrogen to expand, driving a four-cylinder engine that turns a 25-kilowatt generator. Measuring 38 feet across and costing $250,000, this is no residential add-on.

04/19/06 - NZ Offers Geothermal Potential for Abandoned Oil and Gas Wells
Dr. Agnes Reyes, a geothermal scientist of GNS Science, reports that temperatures at the bottom of about half of New Zealand's 360 abandoned on-shore oil and gas wells are hot enough to produce geothermal power. By tapping in to the geothermal properties of these abandoned wells, she says, New Zealand could potentially harness up to 160 megawatts (MW) of electricity. Estimated temperatures at the bottom of abandoned wells in New Zealand range from 20 degrees C in the shallowest wells to nearly 180 degrees C in the deepest wells, some of which are nearly 5 kilometers deep. Abandoned oil and gas wells are not the only potential new energy source. New wells could be drilled into onshore areas around New Zealand to harness high temperatures at depths of 2500 meters and below. This could deliver another 800 MW of geothermal power for New Zealand, Reyes says.

04/19/06 - DIY Windmill Contest
For those of you feeling up for a challenge, gotwind.org has posed a design conundrum to make your head spin: design a complete wind generator for under $175 (£100). Your design (you aren’t required to actually build it) has to employ “readily available components” and produce a minimum of 20 watts at 12 volts. Win, and you get to make the world a better place, get famous, and win a sweet new flashlight. Lose, and we feed you to the turbines. Many of the units found on gotwind.org are made with adapted or salvaged parts, many of them from bicycles (bikes and wind generators have a lot of tech-genetics in common). Setting such a low cost limit is reminiscent of inventions that came out of Gaviotas, an intentional community in the grassy plains of Colombia, where maverick engineers built wind powered water pumps for peasants by borrowing designs from NASA spacecraft blueprints. The DIY Wind Generator Challenge is accepting submissions from April to October 2006 and it’s free to submit.

04/19/06 - Build Storage Batteries, not Power Plants
There is another, cleaner way to handle peak demands. In the same way that natural-gas generators dovetail with nuclear reactors, the natural complements to wind and solar power are storage systems, or batteries, that collect the power of the sun and wind and deliver it to us even on calm, still evenings. Storage systems can store power from the existing grid as easily as they can store power from renewable sources. Lead-acid batteries, with proper charge-controllers, can go for thousands of recharges, not 200! NiMH batteries can go for around 1,000 cycles, and LiIon are less: only approx 500 recharges. After time, all chemical batteries lose capacity, so the 1,000 charge-drain cycles of NiMH (and NiCad, incidentally) don't fully kill the battery, but reduce its charge storage capacity.

04/19/06 - Solar Gas 26% more energy than LPG
An arrangement of 200 mirrors surrounds a slender 24-metre silver tower supporting a metal and glass ring shaped like a basketball hoop minus the net. Not art work, though, but a source of fuel which turns water and natural gas into a storable `solar gas', which packs 26 per cent more energy than liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) and already powers road transport across the world. "Think of it as bottled sunshine," says Dr John Wright, director of the Energy Transformed national research group. "The old bogey of solar power - what happens when the clouds roll over, or it's night - is banished by this. We are turning natural gas into a super efficient gas." In fact the solar tower now running at Newcastle is sufficiently efficient to generate, in theory, all of Australia's electrical needs from a 50 sq km site located in the continent's remorselessly dry and sunny desert zones. Between the near vertical mirrors in a compact layout is a set of trough-like solar energy absorbers, which create a parallel path by which the concentrated heat drives a closed cycle of hot high pressure fluid through conventional turbines able to feed power into a normal electricity grid. Dr Wright says the essential design is sufficiently compact to install on a variety of scales in industrial estates, large retail malls, and landfill sites, which are a rich source of methane or natural gas. "You could for instance, use one of these towers to generate the hydrogen fuel the automotive and trucking industries are looking at to replace gasoline right on the site of a major hydrogen fuel depot - solving the challenge of transporting it in pressurised, refrigerated tankers or by special pipelines." The prototype tower produces more than 500 KW of energy and can create industrially useful temperatures of more than 1,000 degrees C at the focus points used to turn natural gas into the hydrogen enriched `solar gas.'

04/19/06 - Stem cell variation harvested from mice
Cells from the testicles of adult mice may have the same potential as embryonic stem cells to cure conditions such as diabetes and Parkinson's disease, possibly sidestepping ethical questions on the research, a study says. German researchers said the cells from the mice testicles have the same ability to grow into many different cell types found in the body. The researchers extracted cells from the testicles of adult male mice and grew them in solutions known to help embryonic cells grow into various other types. Using this technique, the scientists were able to coax the cells to grow into heart, liver, pancreatic and other types of cells.

04/19/06 - $99 Sub-Orbital Space Flights
Masten Space Systems has announced plans to launch 1 pound soda can sized payloads into sub-orbital space in 2007. For the low intro price of $99, amateurs can launch space telescopes, microgravity experiments, and multi-spectral Earth imaging missions... The launch vehicle then would return to a soft landing near its takeoff point. Typical payloads would include science experiments such as amateur space telescopes, cellular mitosis in microgravity, and multi-spectral Earth imaging missions, the company said in a statement. MSS said it plans to use its XA 1.0 sub-orbital rocket ? the first in a planned series of 14 extreme-altitude vehicles - to launch the CanSats to altitudes of at least 100 kilometers (62 miles), where they would experience several minutes of microgravity and can be exposed to the vacuum of space. The launch vehicle then would return to a soft landing near its takeoff point, where the CanSats would be removed and shipped back to their owners. The rocket is designed to provide power and data communications to each CanSat.(via newtechspy.com)

04/19/06 - Viewing magnetic energy fields
(Received an email from Timm A. Vanderelli referencing this site and I would love to know more about the viewing method. The patterns look like 'lens artefacts' except for the gold one with the ring around it. It would be interesting to approach one magnet to another in steps to see if the pattern changes in the images in response to the interferring energy. - JWD) Using pure and natural physics, I have revealed the magnets true vector potential. Electricity is not necessary to view these images. I have used the Sun, a candle, the planet Mars and even our Moon as light sources. In real-life, these images appear as 3 dimensional transmission holograms to our naked eyes.The images you view in the gallery were captured using a Canon S230 digital camera. I've also shot a couple of rolls of 35mm film with a Nikon SLR, for comparison. There are some visual differences between these two methods of image storage, but they are relatively minor. A thin stream of water is attracted to a strong magnet, and the water is said to be paramagnetic. A candle flame will be repelled by a magnet due to their diamagnetic interaction. Everyone has seen the effect of a magnet and iron filings. They align from one pole of the magnet around to the opposite pole. They become magnets themselves during this process due to their ferromagnetic properties. The electron orbits of an atom can be influenced by electrons in a magnetic field. My unique lens uses a combination of matter and method, of which I have balanced in such a way, to achieve a purpose, harmoniously and in accord with nature. The images you see in my gallery are real. They look like they are from outer-space, but they are from our space - a magnets' space.

04/19/06 - Spinal Cord Cures in China
A growing number of patients are heading to China for experimental therapies, such as cell transplants to treat spinal cord injuries and other diseases. Wise Young, a neuroscientist and director of Rutgers University's W.M. Keck Center for Collaborative Neuroscience at in Piscataway, NJ, says the availability of the enormous Chinese population will drastically speed up the clinical trial process, allowing new therapies to be tested more quickly and cheaply. In September researchers plan to start a placebo-controlled trial of lithium, which has been shown to boost cell growth and survival in animal models. The next step, if they get permission, will be a trial of stem cells derived from umbilical cord blood transplanted into 300 patients with chronic spinal cord injury. Young says the goal is to register the trials in both China and the United States.

04/19/06 - Chaff Pellets for fuel
A combine normally returns the chaff to the field to be broken down as a source of micronutrients in the next season. Last winter pellet manufacturers were caught by surprise when increasing demand outpaced supply. Thus, there now may be greater incentive to convert agricultural waste to pellets. With overall increases in the cost of energy, the challenge is to find cost-effective means of pellet processing, packaging, and delivery. For instance, grass pellets may soon overtake wood pellets as the predominant fuel in the pellet stove market because wood-based pellets have been rising in cost.

04/18/06 - Coal-to-diesel breakthrough could drastically cut oil imports
Professor Alan Goldman and his Rutgers team in collaboration with researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have developed a way to convert carbon sources, such as coal to diesel fuel. Goldman explained that the breakthrough technology employs a pair of catalytic chemical reactions that operate in tandem, one of which captured the 2005 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. This dynamic chemical duo revamps the Fischer-Tropsch (FT) process for generating synthetic petroleum substitutes, invented in 1920 but never developed to the point of becoming commercially viable for coal conversion. Fischer-Tropsch yields a wide distribution of molecular weight hydrocarbon products but without any way to control the desired mix. The molecular weight is the weight of a molecule of a substance, or the sum of the weights of all atoms in the molecule. The low-weight and the high-weight Fischer-Tropsch products are useful - the light as gas and the medium-heavy as diesel fuel, Goldman explained. "What we are now able to do with our new catalysts is something no one else has done before. We take all these undesirable medium-weight substances and convert them to the useful higher- and lower-weight products." Technically, this is accomplished by a catalyst that removes hydrogen from the molecules. This converts the hydrocarbons to olefins, products with double bonds which are necessary for the creation of the desirable, useful end-products. The beauty of the new process is that it is highly selective in which hydrogen atoms it removes from the hydrocarbons, channeling the reactions to produce specific, useful products.

04/18/06 - Prominent U.S. Physicists Send Letter to President Bush
Thirteen of the nation’s most prominent physicists have written a letter to President Bush, calling U.S. plans to reportedly use nuclear weapons against Iran “gravely irresponsible” and warning that such action would have “disastrous consequences for the security of the United States and the world.” The physicists include five Nobel laureates, a recipient of the National Medal of Science and three past presidents of the American Physical Society, the nation’s preeminent professional society for physicists. “The fact that the existence of this plan has not been denied by the Administration should be a cause of great alarm, even if it is only one of several plans being considered,” he adds. “The public should join these eminent scientists in demanding that the Administration publicly renounces such a misbegotten option against a non-nuclear country like Iran.” The letter, which is available at http://physics.ucsd.edu/petition/physicistsletter.html, points out that “nuclear weapons are unique among weapons of mass destruction,” and that nuclear weapons in today's arsenals have a total power of more than 200,000 times the explosive energy of the bomb that leveled Hiroshima, which caused the deaths of more than 100,000 people.

04/18/06 - Changing drive letters
When I disconnected my backup drive and plugged in a USB drive the other night, my Windows drive letters got all wonky. D: became G: became F: became H:, and a bunch of my shortcuts didn’t work anymore. But it’s easy to reassign the drive letters of your choice to add-on disks in Windows. Microsoft says you should log on as an administrator, and from Administrative Tools in Control Panel: Double-click Computer Management, and then click Disk Management in the left pane. Right-click the drive, the partition, the logical drive, or the volume that you want to assign a drive letter to, and then click Change Drive Letter and Paths. (via lifehacker.com)

04/18/06 - Milestone Achieved in the Development of Biological Fuel Cells
Researchers have developed an enzyme based hydrogen fuel cell to power real world devices. The enzyme technology is tolerant of gases that poison traditional fuel cell catalysts removing the need for separation membranes. The enzymes used are isolated from naturally occurring bacteria that have evolved to use hydrogen in their metabolic process. The unique features of these enzymes are that they are highly selective and tolerant of gases that poison traditional fuel cell catalysts, such as carbon monoxide and hydrogen sulphide. Since the enzymes can be grown they represent a cheap and renewable alternative to the expensive platinum based catalysts used by others in hydrogen fuel cells. The fuel cell consists of two electrodes, coated with the enzymes, in a small glass tank containing normal air with a few percent of added hydrogen. Since the catalysts are selective and tolerant the gases can be mixed avoiding the need for an expensive fuel separation membrane which is required for many other types of fuel cell.

04/18/06 - Sleep Debt
Have you ever got enough sleep at night and walked around the next day feeling groggy and tired wondering "Why do I feel so tired?" The answer may be that you have accumulated sleep debt. In order to be alert during the day each person needs a set amount of nightly hours of sleep. The brain carefully registers every hour of sleep that a person attains, and every hour obtained that is less than the person's nightly requirement is added up as sleep debt over time. Sleep debt is the summation of all the sleep hours you have lost from your nightly sleep requirement and need to regain. The more tired you feel and the easier it is for you to fall asleep during the day the more likely it is that you have accumulated a large amount of sleep debt that needs to be "repaid". This debt can only be repaid by extra hours of sleep.

04/18/06 - Man fined $50 for using device to change traffic signals
(How about a wide area spycam video scrambler to snuff invasive secret viewing? - JWD) A man from Longmont, Colorado was fined $50 when the cops caught him using a gizmo that supposedly changes traffic lights from red to green. he says he paid $100 on eBay for it. He had been using it for two years, and says the thing "paid for itself" by saving him time spent waiting for signal lights to change. The device, called an Opticon, is similar to what firefighters use to change lights when they respond to emergencies. It emits an infrared pulse that receivers on the traffic lights pick up. Niccum was cited after city traffic engineers who noticed repeated traffic light disruptions at certain intersections spotted a white Ford pickup passing by whenever the patterns were disrupted. (Buy your own "traffic control preemptive device" here for just $299.99.) (via boingboing.com)

04/18/06 - Automatic Bibliography Generator
For the writers out there who want to document their sources. Web site EasyBib helps you easitly generate the bibliography for your latest research paper. By providing us with the information you know about your sources, we can properly format, alphabetize, and print your citation list. For anyone who spends any amount of time putting together a works cited page, this could be a real time saver. (via lifehacker.com)

04/17/06 - Simple Microwave test to show how it saps life
(Thanks to Ross Hines for this headsup and do click and read the ENTIRE article! - JWD) If you have ever wondered whether or not microwaved food is safe, here’s an experiment you can do at home: Plant seeds in two pots. Water one pot with water that has been microwaved, the other with regular tap water. The seeds that received microwaved water won’t sprout. If microwaved water can stop plants from growing, think of what microwaved food can do to your health! In 1989, Swiss biologist and food scientist Dr. Hans Hertel studied the effects of microwaved food. Eight people participated in the study. For eight weeks, they lived in a controlled environment and intermittently ate raw foods, conventionally cooked foods and microwaved foods. Blood samples were tested after each meal. They discovered that eating microwaved food, over time, causes significant changes in blood chemistry...

04/17/06 - SpyCam abuses
We are told that surveillance cameras are never abused by their operators, each of whom can supposedly be trusted not to use the awesome technology at their disposal to engage in despicable or outright illegal behavior. But this information is false: camera-operators are not angels; they are subject to the same prejudices, temptations and corruptions that we all struggle with; camera-operators get bored or arrogant and abuse their cameras on a regular basis. To confirm this, one only has to keep up with the news being reported from around the world, which is precisely what we plan to do here, on this page, in chronological order.

04/16/06 - New Twist on Hydro Generation
Willi Henkenhaf, 86, has designed a two-wheel water turbine that he believes could be used in Canadian rivers without a need for dams, and without involving a risk of winter freeze-up. As well, he says, it would pose no threat to fish habitat, and it would help keep the waterway clean as the direction of current would be altered by the wheels, such that floating debris would be forced to the shores of the river. The old waterwheels sat on a static base. Mr. Henkenhaf's design can be lowered below ice level in deep rivers, or raised higher, depending on the season and need. He says waterpower is the most reliable and possibly the least costly. Whereas rivers run constantly, he says, the wind isn't always blowing. He does have a Canadian patent pending, so he safely owns the design in this country.

04/16/06 - Electric Superfast De-Icer
"Dartmouth College engineering professor Victor Petrenko, not to be confused with one of the Champions on Ice, has devised a way to use a burst of electricity to remove ice caked on walls or windows. For surfaces coated with a special film, the jolt gets rid of ice in less than a second, far less time than it takes to hack at it with an ice scraper. While drivers might find easy-cleaning windshields convenient, the technology--called thin-film pulse electrothermal de-icing, or PETD--could have significant economic impact if widely deployed. It could, for example, cut the costs of repairing power lines downed by ice storms and keep plane windshields frost-free, decreasing fuel consumption."

04/16/06 - Sharer - not using it, share it!
Sharer! connects borrowers and lenders in a same neighbourhood and allows them to earn money by securely renting out objects they seldom use to others in their area. Users can upload pictures, give a description and browse through other people's objects through a website. The system works in collaboration with the postal system and the postman is the point of contact to the lender. A series of secure electronic lockers are the transit point for the object and the borrower picks up the object and deposits it back there after the loan period is up. Besides, as each item lent has been fitted with an RFID tag, the owner can follow on a website the use of the object. If one of the paths towards sustainability is defining ourselves by the stuff we use, not the stuff we own, Sharer! points the way to that path by showing how local technology can help local people share more effectively, to the benefit of everyone involved. (via boingboing.com)

04/16/06 - Graphite circuitry may handle electrons as waves
A study of how electrons behave in circuitry made from ultrathin layers of graphite - known as graphene - suggests the material could provide the foundation for a new generation of nanometer scale devices that manipulate electrons as waves - much like photonic systems control light waves.

04/16/06 - Body Movement Generates Electricity in Miniature Device
A new class of devices aims to convert energy created from body movement, the stretching of muscles or the flow of water to power future nanoscale components. These so-called "nanogenerators" would be less bulky than traditional energy sources such as batteries. Zhong Lin Wang of the Georgia Institute of Technology and graduate student Jinhui Song have created a prototype nanogenerator that produces electrical current through the bending and relaxing of zinc oxide nanowires. When the nanowires flex, they emit a piezoelectric discharge, which is electricity generated by certain materials under mechanical stress. Wang thinks such devices could be used wherever mechanical energy is available. The hydraulic motion of seawater would work, or the motion of a foot inside a shoe. "You could envision having these nanogenerators in your shoes to produce electricity as you walk," Wang said. "This could be beneficial for soldiers in the field, who now depend on batteries to power their electrical equipment. As long as the soldiers were moving, they could generate electricity."

04/16/06 - Watching America - news outside the controlled media
This site shows how non-Americans view Americans, American politics, and American policies. The site provides access to news articles and editorials about the United States, which are written all over the world and translated into English wherever necessary. Does Watching America have any political perspective or agenda? No. We seek only to represent non-American views of America. We try to present views from all over the political spectrum.

04/15/06 - Nasa’s new Antimatter Mars spaceship
(The problem with space travel, as one astronaut pointed out in an earlier post, is radiation shielding. What good if they are dying or dead by the time they get there? - JWD) Nasa has unveiled their Positron Reactor Mars space ship. The new positron engine is 30 times more efficient at creating energy than a typical nuclear reactor. The hope is to one day come up with a propulsion system that takes astronauts to Mars in just 45 days.

04/15/06 - 100% natural light cool operating LED
Scientist’s at USC have developed a new process for making OLED lighting that gives off a warm natural light that can light up an entire room. Unlike incandescent light bulbs which are only 5% Efficient, they believe this new material could be 100% efficient, giving off no heat and run for years. The key is organic light that comes spilling forth from a new diode, appropriately named an OLED (organic light-emitting diode). It doesn't get hot, as do today's incandescent bulbs, so it is more energy efficient. It can also be produced in super-thin sizes, making true ceiling lighting possible. Carbon-based polymers, already the stuff of mobile phone displays, are the key. Scientists have stacked up enough of them while still keeping the resulting product razor thin. The plastics are covered with microscopic coatings of blue, green, and red dyes. Shoot an electric current through the thing, and you have white light. The only remaining obstacle to all of these outlandish-sounding lights, scientists say, is the sensitivity to moisture that such diodes still exhibit. The researchers are confident that they can solve that problem eventually.

04/15/06 - Scientist urges switch to thorium
Thorium oxide, which is three times more abundant than uranium, is also a radioactive material. But senior research scientist Dr Hashemi-Nezhad, from Sydney University, says it is safe to hold in your hand. "This is the future of the energy in the world - energy without green, without greenhouse gas production," he said. Dr Hashemi-Nezhad says thorium has all of the benefits of uranium as a nuclear fuel but none of the drawbacks. It can generate power without emitting greenhouse gases and it can be used to incinerate the world's stockpiles of plutonium. Dr Hashemi-Nezhad says thorium waste would only remain radioactive for 500 years, not the tens of thousands that uranium by-products remain active. Unlike uranium, thorium is not fissile, meaning it must be coaxed into a chain reaction. At present, there are two methods of achieving this: a mixed fuel thorium reactor, which uses a small amount of uranium to kick-start the nuclear reaction; and then there is the project that Dr Hashemi-Nezhad is working on. "A particle accelerator is coupled with a nuclear reactor," he said. "A beam of protons sent from the accelerator heats a heavy metallic target, such as lead, and produces huge number of neutrons. "These neutrons start the chain reaction in the reactor. And once you switch off the accelerator, everything dies down." The thorium reactor being proposed by Dr Hashemi-Nezhad can be switched off immediately in the event of an accident - an option not available in conventional reactors.

04/15/06 - Biomimetic Amphibious Robots and slapping ZPE
(I loved this description of how the robots stay on the surface without sinking, it makes me think of how we could 'slap' the ambient zpe/aether to produce thrust and lift...ergo, gravity/inertia control. In a couple of the newer Chinese Kung Fu type movies, reference is made to gravity/weight being a mental condition, that if you can move fast enough and will it, you can climb or swim in the air. The absolute best 'Lung Gom Pa' trance produced gravity reduction effect was in 'Crouching Tiger/Hidden Dragon.' - JWD) The 'Jesus lizard' walks on water and accomplishes this by slapping the water hard enough to boost itself up a while, and as it pushes mostly backwards for locomotion, also pushes to the side a bit to stay balanced; then does it again with the other foot. It's mostly a matter of being light, fast, and having wide slappy feet. This technique has been dupicated in biomemetic robots as a proof of concept, but ultimately they envision bots like this having features like "biochemical sensors that monitor water quality; deployed with cameras for spying, search-and-rescue or exploration; or outfitted with bacteria to break down pollutants."

04/15/06 - Interesting comment
Another reader offers this sober thought: "On another note. Consider the fact that we have 130 thousands troops occupying Iraq. There are 11 Million illegal’s in the US. So, who is REALLY an occupied country?"....Out of those 12 million, 6 million are non Mexican, so why do we only talk about Mexicans? Has anyone gone after 100's of thousands of Irish illegals, just for one?...Reader Vacation Plans. In Mexico, 'nothing gringo on May 1st' - "On May 1, people shouldn't buy anything from the interminable list of American businesses in Mexico," reads another. "That means no Dunkin' Donuts, no McDonald's, Burger King, Starbucks, Sears, Krispy Kreme or Wal-Mart." For some it's a way to express anti-U.S. sentiment, while others see it as part of a cross-border, Mexican-power lobby. For some, the boycott is fueled not just by debate on the immigration bill, but by long-standing resentment over the perceived mistreatment of Mexicans in the United States.

04/15/06 - Program forces Epson printers to use "empty" carts until they run out
"This is a free program (apparently made in Russia?) that will allow you to actually use your Epson ink cartridges until they truly run out, vs when the digital management chip on it stops you and forces a replacement." No idea if this works or not, but given how dirty the printer business is when it comes to forcing you to buy overpriced consumables, it seems plausible. - "I got a mailing today about a class action suit being settled by Epson. It is in regards to programming that indicates that ink cartridges are empty when they are not." (via boingboing.com)

04/15/06 - A Stark Warning On Climate Change
"In a report based on computer predictions, UK government advisor Professor David King said that an increase of even three degrees Celsius would cause drought and famine and threaten millions of lives The US refuses to cut emissions and those of India and China are rising. A government report based on computer modeling projects a 3C rise would cause a drop worldwide of between 20 and 400 million tonnes in cereal crops, about 400 million more people at risk of hunger and between 1.2bn and 3bn more people at risk of water stress."

04/15/06 - New Video from Steven Mark
Mark Jordan reports to the list about this new video posted at this site. Mark claims to have a free energy device in the form of toroidal coils which taps into the earths magnetic lines of force. I've seen this video and its quite amazing. The device is said to 'overheat' within about 30 minutes of operation and as the demonstrator walks with the device in his hands, powered a light bulb, it is PUSHED UP, when it encounters one of the earths flux lines, like a bump in your path. More info can be found on this by doing a search and in this intriguing article posted at zpenergy.com - "...The multiple frequencies begin to feed themselves and the multiple kicks become a combined big kick. I call it resonating. That is why if you notice in the video tapes that it takes just a few seconds for the coil to begin to function at maximum effort. You see, one little kick amounts to nothing. However imagine if you had hundreds of thousands of little kicks combining into one big current kick."

04/15/06 - Cold Fusion OU report from Dennis Cravens
(In Issue 62, on page 43 of the Infinite Energy magazine, is a brief comment from New Energy Times about this fascinating claim. - JWD) "Shortly after the APS conference, Dennis Cravens reported that he had scaled up the power levels of his experiments. His APS paper written before his latest laboratory achievements, describes many of the details of his experiment. To manage the higher levels of heat, he is working with a 35 gallon tank, filled with 125 liters of water for his calorimeter. The jumbo-size calorimeter houses a 200 ml cold fusion cell. With a 500-watt input, he is claiming 800 watts output. "It takes about a day to heat up," Cravens. said. He works at an elevation of 9,000 feet in northern New Mexico and is using his new cold fusion reactor to help heat his laboratory. He expects to serve hot tea soon."

04/15/06 - Vespa Electric Hybrid scooter
Vespa has unveiled two hybrid scooters that deliver 25 percent more power and use 20 percent less petrol. You plug them into a standard European 220V socket for three hours to charge them, or run them on normal gas-engine mode. They can run battery-only at low speeds, which is useful in indoor/zero-emissions environments. The helmet-space under the seat has been replaced with a stack of 12V/26Ah batteries. The company has developed two versions, based on their Vespa LX 50 (shown above, with 50cc gas & 1000W electric motor) and the more sleek and powerful Piaggio X8 125 (125cc gas & 2500W electic motor).

04/14/06 - Canada won't allow testing of suicide seeds yet
Suicide seeds, which are genetically altered to produce sterile plants, won't be planted in Canadian fields any time soon. Suicide seeds are probably the hottest topic in biotechnology now. They would give seed companies a sure method to protect patent rights on genetically engineered seed, which is gaining use around the world. Critics say GURT would place farmers at the mercy of seed companies and endanger the ancient tradition of saving seeds from year to year. Countries in less prosperous countries such as India and Brazil have banned GURT. The technology would relieve seed companies of the need to protect their patents with highly visible legal actions. Mooney said there's strong interest in using GURT for genetically modified trees because tree pollen can travel 2,000 kilometers, making contamination a greater concern than with field plants. Pollen from field plants travels only a few kilometers.

04/14/06 - New Way to Make ‘Green Diesel’ from Coal
Coal fuel is seen by some as a potential bridge between the limited supply of oil and alternative fuels, many of which aren't ready for prime time. The United States is sitting on enough coal to make this idea feasible, if it can be extracted and processed cost-effectively. Some 95 percent of the country's energy reserves are coal, while oil and gas make up 2 and 3 percent respectively. The method for transforming coal and other carbon sources into liquid fuel has existed since the 1920s. Today, most large vehicles in South Africa are powered by diesel fuels produced by this method. American companies have expressed interest in the technology, but the process has proved too expensive to catch on, even though green diesel emits fewer particulate and less carbon monoxide pollution than gasoline engines. The researchers have improved the process by using special catalysts that rearrange carbon atoms in coal to form higher-energy molecules, which are then converted to usable diesel.

04/14/06 - Super-efficient Motors Enter U.S. Market
A practical die-cast copper rotor for electric motors has been the "holy grail" for motor manufacturers for many years. The new, copper rotor technology is the result of several years of research and development by the Copper Development Association (USA) and the International Copper Association. "Siemens has raised the bar on electrical motor efficiency, and we look forward to more manufacturers adopting the technology. The use of die-cast copper rotors reduces energy requirements, allows motors to run cooler, extends motor life and reduces overall weight and/or size." Siemens achieved superior efficiency in its new motors by combining the inherently low resistive (I2R) losses of high-conductivity copper squirrel cages with optimized rotor and stator designs. Other improvements include a redesigned cooling system, antifriction bearings, polyurea-based grease, dynamically balanced rotors and precision-machined mating surfaces for reduced vibration. Specially designed insulation enables the motors to meet NEMA standard MG1-2003 for variable speed (inverter duty) operation. According to Siemens, the new lines of motors are available up to 20 horsepower. Over the coming months, the aluminum-frame line will be expanded to 30 hp and the cast-iron frame line to 400 hp.

04/14/06 - Make your own liquid magnets
The composition of ferrofluid by volume is about 5% magnetic solids, 10% surfactant, and 85% carrier. The surfactant is what keeps the particles from sticking together permanently. Ferrofluids are often used for damping speakers and in disk drives. This procedure doesn’t seem to complex and one of the main components is ferric chloride, a.k.a. PCB etchant. Thanks go to [Jason Uher] who sent in this tip and says that it has worked out quite well for him in the past.

04/14/06 - Maxwell's Vortex Sea was not Four Dimensional
There has been alot of speculation recently that Maxwell was working within a four dimensional aether in order to explain electromagnetism, and that this fact has been deliberately covered up. Anybody can read Maxwell's 1861 paper 'On Physical Lines of Force'. Unlike Tesla's work, Maxwell's work has not been covered up, although its contents have rather been swept under the carpet. You can read the whole 1861 paper here on this web link. On a first reading of this paper, one might be forgiven for thinking that Maxwell is trying to explain magnetism using a two dimensional layer of vortex cells. In actual fact, it extends to three dimensions when we pile these layers on top of each other. There is no question of any fourth dimension being involved in Maxwell's thinking. It is the three dimensional vortex sea itself which has been swept under the carpet, and it should be further noted that although Maxwell mentions the aether in his 1861 paper, he does not use this word in connection with his vortex sea in this paper.

04/13/06 - Fabric repels stun gun attacks
The product is a polyester fabric that bonds a conducted material and sends the electricity coming from a stun gun back where it came from. It is now available for sale only to military and law enforcement agencies, but one wonders how long before it is being worn by those on the streets of America. A Taser or stun gun works by sending enough electricity into a person's body to overwhelm the neuromuscular system, rendering the person incapacitated. Specifically, the stun gun sends two probes into a person's body that create the equivalent of 50,000 volts. That's enough to zap you into passing out cold. But Thor Shield intercepts those electrical probes and prevents the wearer from being zapped. A company named G2 is the creator. A video put out by the company shows no ill effects of a stun gun to an executive wearing a Thor Shield hat and jacket.

04/13/06 - Interesting Ideas
Peter Brown's low-tech solution to cell-phone yakkers in movie-theaters: a water pistol. Though he cautions against copying his technique, Mr. Brown notes with pride that he and his accomplice have never been caught, he told the Monitor. If the guilty party looks back to see who watered his neck, "we simply practice the quick whip-around and affronted look that insinuates that you, too, have been hit." / The Chicago Cubs have hired a company to stop pigeons from dumping on fans at Wrigley Field. Bell Environmental Services will do this by installing its "patented and revolutionary" Bell Strip as "bird control." According to Wireless Flash News, the virtually invisible strip of plastic wiring delivers a mild electrical shock to birds that land on it. / Car-sharing. You don't own the care outright; you pay for the time to use it. Think condo time-share. Think libraries, video rentals and taxis. Five companies have sprouted up in the U.S. since 2000. One of them, Flexcar in Portland, Ore., has 75 vehicles that can be picked up at any of more than 30 places around the city, with arrangements made over the Internet. "The average American car is used less than an hour a day," said Bill Scott, general manager of Flexcar Portland. "Our cars average five to 12 hours a day, extending [the car's] useful product life-cycle while reducing the number of cars on the road." A Flexcar survey shows that 43 percent of its 30,000 members either got rid of their cars or didn't buy one they would have had to buy, reports emagazine.com

04/13/06 - Do your Homework to improve chances of the Aha! moment
If you’ve experienced the highs and lows of creative thinking, you know that sometimes the creative well is dry, while at other times creativity is free flowing. It is during the latter times that problem solvers often experience so-called “Aha!” moments - those moments of clarity when the solution to a vexing problem falls into place with a sudden insight and one sees connections that previously eluded you. “The new study shows that this ‘Aha! Moment’ is the culmination of a process that begins even before one starts working on a specific problem. People can prepare to solve an upcoming problem with a flash of insight by adopting a particular frame of mind for doing so.” The research suggests subjects can mentally prepare to have an “Aha!” solution even before a problem is presented. Specifically, as they prepare for problems that they solve with insight, their pattern of brain activity suggests that they are focusing attention inwardly, are ready to switch to new trains of thought, and perhaps are actively silencing irrelevant thoughts. Mental preparation that led to insight solutions was generally characterized by increased brain activity in temporal lobe areas associated with conceptual processing, and with frontal lobe areas associated with cognitive control or “top-down” processing. More than a century ago, Louis Pasteur said “Chance favors only the prepared mind.” By this, he meant that sudden flashes of insight don’t just happen, but are the product of preparation.

04/13/06 - Pacific Ocean Grows More Acidic
The Pacific has grown more acidic over the past 15 years largely because of the water's intake of carbon dioxide released by humans burning fossil fuels, the researchers said. The study found a decrease of about 0.025 units in pH, which indicates the rise in acidity. The seas serve as the biggest reservoirs for carbon dioxide belched by burning oil, gas and coal. They absorb about a third of the carbon dioxide humans put into the atmosphere each year. Scientists say the oceans will absorb about 90 percent of carbon dioxide produced by humans during the next millennium. As carbon dioxide levels in oceans climb, marine life suffers. Skeletons of pteropods, free-swimming planktonic mollusks, grow at a slowed pace in waters laden with carbon dioxide. These mollusks serve as an important food source for North Pacific salmon, mackerel, herring and cod. Similar detrimental effects in microscopic algae and animals could impact marine food webs and significantly change the biodiversity and productivity of the ocean, said team member Victoria Fabry of California State University, San Marcos.

04/13/06 - Forget oil -- water is what we will need
In the American West, water disputes are getting more heated and more frequent. The Rio Grande barely makes it all the way to the Gulf of Mexico anymore. Worldwide, more than a billion people don't have access to clean water. And yet, when most people think of a natural-resource crisis for the coming century, it's usually oil that comes to mind. Farmers are forced to either scale back on crop production, give up farming and head to a city, or find water from somewhere else. The same goes for people in need of drinking water and water for sanitation. In many parts of the world, this has led people to drill deep into aquifers that have been storing water over thousands of years. Each year, for example, California pumps out 15 percent more water from the ground than the rains replenish, and Arizona 100 percent more. A quarter of India's crops are irrigated with water pumped out of aquifers at an alarming rate, portending a major crisis in the coming years. This can't last for much longer. We need to restore sanity to irrigation, so as to bring down the amount of water needed to produce each morsel of food. The world grows twice as much food as it did a generation ago, but it takes three times more water from rivers and underground aquifers to do it.

04/13/06 - Cold, microwaveable foil
(This is an interesting technique that might have other uses for high frequency applications. - JWD) Qinetiq has cooked up an interesting idea, a metal wrapping that helps keeps food cold but can also be used in a microwave without sparking and damaging the machine, as ordinary metal foil does. The secret is to make the wrapping from thin polyester and cover it with tiny squares of aluminium, the Qinetiq patent reveals. The company has found that aluminium squares 300 micrometres wide, and spaced apart by 100-micrometre tracks of clear plastic, make the perfect heatwave-frequency filter. Microwaves at the standard frequency and wavelength ignore the grid of squares and can cook the food as normal. But normal heat is reflected, to help keep the food cool. Enough light passes through the polyester for a cook to see through the packaging and stored food will also stay fresh longer because the polyester is air-tight.

04/13/06 - Futuristic house made of spinach protein and soy-foam
Not only does the building run a photosynthetic and phototropic skin made with spinach protein, but it also produces more energy than a single family’s needs, allowing the excess to be distributed to neighbors. This radical shift, from centralized energy systems today, fosters community interdependence as neighbors benefit from the resources of others.

04/13/06 - Web 2.0's Startup Fever
Software toolkits and cheap hardware have led to the comeback of the garage startup. But this time the boom is more rational. This explosion of new Web sites -- a phenomenon often dubbed "Web 2.0" -- is great for all kinds of Internet users. But how long can this new crop of startups survive without charging for their products? The most common revenue source in the Web 2.0 world is contextual advertising -- but, as some analysts point out, the nickels and dimes earned when visitors click on ads provided by the likes of Google's AdWords barely bring in enough to cover the costs of Web server hardware. "Anybody who has the money to rent a server for $100-200 per month can actually write a Web 2.0 application, put it up, start sharing, and make a name for themselves. So there is not a dot-com type bubble, but there is a 'geek founding' bubble." "There's nothing wrong with being ad-supported, but you can't assume that AdWords will get you all the way to building a big company," says Clavier. "The vast majority of these companies do not need revenue -- because they don't have any expenses," says Seth Godin, a Web marketing strategist and author of the widely read Permission Marketing. "The people are doing it for love or in their spare time."

04/13/06 - Flash drive swells up when filled with data
Like a tick that balloons when engorged with its host's blood, the Flashbag blimps out when you fill it with ones and zeros. It's a standard USB flash drive that has a tiny pump in it that inflates when you load it with data. So if your drive is full of stuff, it blows up like a balloon, but if it's empty it remains flat and rectangular. It'll stay inflated even when powered down, so you'll be able to estimate how many more MP3s you can leech from your friend's computer just by taking a gander. (via boingboing.com)

04/13/06 - Higher carbon dioxide, lack of nitrogen limit plant growth
Earth's plant life will not be able to "store" excess carbon from rising atmospheric carbon dioxide levels as well as scientists once thought because plants likely cannot get enough nutrients, such as nitrogen, when there are higher levels of carbon dioxide, according to scientists publishing in this week's issue of the journal Nature.

04/12/06 - Things grow better with Coca-Cola
(This fascinating article is from the January-February 2005 Nexus magazine. - JWD) Indian farmers have come up with what they think is the 'real thing' to keep crops free of bugs. Instead of paying hefty fees to international chemical companies for patented pesticides, they are reportedly spraying their crops with Coca-Cola. Gotu Laxmaiah, a farmer in Andra Pradesh, is one of hundreds of farmers delighted with his new cola spray, which he applied this year to several hectares of cotton. "I observed that the pests began to die after the soft drink was sprayed on my cotton," he told the Deccan Herald newspaper. It is clearly not Coke's legendary 'secret' ingredient that is upsetting the bugs. The farmers also swear by Pepsi, Thums Up and other local soft drinks. The properties of Coke have been discussed for years. It has been reported that it is a fine lavatory cleaner, a good windscreen wipe and an efficient rust-spot remover. (Source: The Guardian, 2 November 2004)

04/12/06 - Proper Diet might postpone Old Age by 15 Years
The studies were conducted on rats because the chemistry of rat nutrition is so much like that of human nutrition that the data obtained with rats do not need to be discounted when applied to humans. The rats were divided into two groups. One group was fed a diet containing enough vitamins and other necessary food substances for the animals to grow, remain healthy, and bear young. The second group of animals was given what Dr. Sherman calls an optimum diet, differing from the first by having more milk in it. The extra milk supplied more calcium or lime, more protein, and more of vitamins A and G. The animals on this optimum diet lived much longer than the first group of animals, and in addition had more vitality. Interpreted in terms of human life, Dr. Sherman said that the gain the rats made was equivalent to extending the span of human life from 70 years to 77 years. The period known as "the prime of life" was extended even more in proportion. Signs of senility that would appear in normal individuals on an adequate diet at 65 years of age would be postponed by the optimum diet to 75 or 80 years.

04/12/06 - Harvesting energy from the RF signals that surround us
Hawaii-based Ambient Micro LLC, which has developed a way of harvesting small amounts of power from the ambient radiowaves that surround us every day. The company calls its process the "recycling of radiowaste," and it initially envisions its technology replacing batteries that would be used in smoke alarms, RFIDs and other sensor-dependent devices that consume very small amounts of power. The story, which appeared in the Honolulu Star Bulletin, reports that Ambient Micro recently snagged a $100,000 (U.S.) research contract with the U.S. Air Force to develop a prototype power supply for sensors on tiny intelligence drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles. The technology wouldn't collect nearly enough energy to power something like a laptop, let alone a car. But, "Things that used to require watts of power are now running on milliwatts and will soon only require microwatts." "Ambient Micro's goal is to develop a tiny device that harvests not only photons (visible light and invisible electromagnetic radiation), but also converts sound waves, vibrations and hot-cold temperature differences into power." If you can turn stray cellphone signals into power, then are we really doing damage to ourselves by pressing these devices to our heads for hours each day?

04/12/06 - Nuclear Power and Climate Change: Is Our Choice Glow or Cook?
The argument, as made by people like James Lovelock and the Wired crowd, goes something like this: we must make drastic cuts in our greenhouse emissions; renewable energy is not yet ready for prime time and efficiency improvements alone won't work; nuclear energy is safer than it was and is zero-carbon in operation; therefore, climate chaos demands a massive program of building nuclear reactors.

04/12/06 - Global Warming's Next Casualty: Igloos
It's becoming harder to find the right snow to build an igloo, and melting permafrost is turning land into mud. With climate change the nature of the Arctic is changing, too, in ways that worry the people who live there. The ocean is eating their land as sea ice melts and storms erode shorelines and wash away fishing communities, changing climate means new plants in some areas and changes in migratory routes of animals people depend on for food, weather is stormier and food sources for polar bears and caribou change. While change is unsettling for many, it isn't necessarily all bad, the exhibit notes. For example, a reduction in sea ice could improve navigation and industrial development, the growing season lengthens and rich northern fisheries may expand. "They are truly concerned,'' anthropologist Igor Krupnik said Tuesday of the Arctic natives.

04/12/06 - Propagated High Frequency Wave Propulsion
(Gene Hogan sent this interesting URL showing theoretical waveguides to provide thrust. - JWD) UFOs are sending out an electronic signature of super-high radio-frequency electromagnetic pulses (see the the USAF account of "UFO Encounter One"). The pulses are in the 3 GHz region (the microwave region) of the electromagnetic spectrum at a wavelength of 10 centimeters.Microwaves though are a very useful range of frequencies; at one particular frequency (3 GHz for atmospheric air) they can then create spin-resonance in the electrons of the atoms of the gases in the surrounding air. Electron spin resonance (ESR) raises the normal-mode 'lower energy' state of the electron up to the higher energy state, the visual effect of which is an emission of light photons of various colours (the subject of which is already covered elsewhere on this website). For current research suggests that the most efficient configuration is two power sources (of slightly different frequency), spaced a few wavelengths apart, so that the patterns of constructive and destructive interference work collectively to produce an electric field directional propulsion

04/12/06 - Radio Wave Controlled Electric Field Drive System
(On the High Frequency Propulsion item above, I found a link to a far more interesting page, in my opinion of course. It ties in perfectly with the 'spider effect' researched by Russian scientist Yuri Ivanov. - JWD) All the electric lines emanate outward from the sphere, but now they are bent in one direction because of the shift in frequency of that second radio wave. Now instead of all things being equal, the electric field is forced to follow the paths created by the channels of the radio wave's constructive and destructive lines. This huge field or grid, has a great amount of pressure distributed over a large area and it resists movement. But the radio wave puts the electric field close enough to the sphere to cause repulsion between the sphere and the grid - causing the sphere to move. After that each fraction of a second, as soon as the craft then moves the slightest bit, a new grid is created and more movement occurs, over and above the initial movement from the preceding one. Therefore, you have an acceleration occurring. Gravity is an acceleration, and so it mimics gravity. Movement occurs as long as you provide enough electric field and radio waves with just the right amount of power and frequency deviation.

04/12/06 - Flow batteries: The solution to Toronto's energy woes?
Massive flow batteries could be used today to help Toronto with its energy bottleneck. One of the problems with Toronto is that we've come to depend too much on energy generation located outside the city, and drawing that power into the city during peak times puts a major stress on transmission infrastructure. This includes imported power. As one provincial bureaucrat told me, Canada's largest city is "living off too many extension cords." This situation will only be made worse as more coal plants are shut down, which is why there's an effort underway to build natural gas plants within city limits -- four are envisioned at last count. The author of this article suggests that flow batteries -- either one massive one or several not-so-massive ones -- should be located in strategic spots throughout the city where electricity is most needed or where we have transmission bottlenecks. The batteries could store cheap energy drawn from the grid during non-peak times, and during more expensive peak times could be put into service to take pressure off the grid and the transmission infrastructure. It's an interesting approach to shaving peaks and levelling loads, and not the first time I've heard about it. Problem is flow batteries of this size are still highly experimental, and utilities are averse to taking risks.

04/12/06 - Updated technologies expose air's unseen eruptions
(I am always looking for visualization technologies that might be applied to seeing zpe or anomalous energies. - JWD) Researchers have combined modern high-speed digital video with techniques known as shadowgraphy and schlieren imaging, which date back centuries. Similar visualizations are illuminating the complex behavior and destructive impacts of shock waves in past and potential aviation disasters, says Penn State's Gary S. Settles, who heads the lab in University Park. The investigators have also been capturing extraordinary footage of gunshots, and their analyses may alter the way in which weapons experts interpret some types of forensic evidence. "A good fluid dynamicist knows you have to see the flow to know what's going on," says physicist Leonard M. Weinstein of the NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va., who pioneered some of the visualization techniques. They also record the images with a high-resolution digital video camera capable of taking thousands of 1-microsecond-long exposures each second. A particular advantage of digital video in place of bulky film cameras is that shadowgraphy setups have suddenly become portable. The screen, now the bulkiest piece of the equipment, rolls up for transport.

04/11/06 - A Laser that can burn Fat
Researchers at the Wellman Centre for Photomedicine at Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School and the Department of Energy's Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility (Jefferson Lab) have shown that a laser can preferentially heat lipid-rich tissues, or fat, in the body without harming the overlying skin. Laser therapies based on the new research could treat a variety of health conditions, including severe acne, atherosclerotic plaque, and unwanted cellulite. In the first part of the study, the researchers used human fat obtained from surgically discarded normal tissue. Based on a fat absorption spectrum, tissue was exposed to a range of wavelengths of infrared laser light (800-2600 nanometers) using the Free-Electron Laser facility at Jefferson Lab. The researchers then exposed fresh, intact pig skin-and-fat tissue samples, about two inches thick, to free-electron laser infrared light cantered around the two most promising wavelengths, 1210 and 1720 nm. Rox Anderson, lead author on the study and a practicing dermatologist at Harvard, says the results provide a proof of principle for the use of selective photothermolysis, selectively heating tissues with light, for several potential medical applications. Dr. Anderson is most excited about the potential for using lasers to target sebaceous glands. Dr. Anderson also envisions that laser treatments could emerge for other medical conditions involving lipid-rich tissues, such as atherosclerosis, which causes heart disease and stroke. Fatty plaques form in arteries, rupture, and kill millions of people each year.

04/11/06 - Tweak to minimize Firefox memory usage - 180mb to 60mb
This little fix will move Firefox to your hard drive when you minimize it, and as a result it will take up less than 10MB of memory while minimized. So far, from my experiences with using this today, when you maximize Firefox it will obviously increase the memory usage. However, it does not seem to go back up to the insane amount that it was at before minimizing it. For example, Firefox was at 180MB of memory usage and then I minimized it and after a few seconds I maximized it. After maximizing it and continuing on my routine business it appeared to only have gone up to 60MB.
# Open Firefox and go to the Address Bar. Type in about:config and then press Enter.
# Right Click in the page and select New -> Boolean.
# In the box that pops up enter config.trim_on_minimize. Press Enter.
# Now select True and then press Enter.
# Restart Firefox.
I have also set the browser.sessionhistory.max_total_viewers value to 0 because that will prevent Firefox from caching pages for the back button.

04/11/06 - Smart homes go mass market
As the recent housing boom slows down, new home builders need to find ways to compete with the used houses that are piling up on the market. Solution: the smart home. While it’s possible to retrofit an older home with digital bells and whistles, it’s far cheaper and easier to trick out a new home. When the walls are open, additional wiring is relatively inexpensive to add and other amenities - such as a killer home theater system - can be painlessly financed over a thirty-year mortgage. Home builders are now courting a new generation of younger buyers who consider technology a natural part of their lives. Even though wireless distribution of data, audio and video is rapidly improving, most experts agree that homeowners are better off having wires in place if possible. Whatever wireless is able to do, wires can do better and more cheaply, with the added benefit that there is no radio interference to worry about as the home airspace fills up with other wireless signals.

04/11/06 - Sunglasses that prevent Jet-Lag
Scientists in Edinburgh have found that people can adjust their body clocks when traveling to different time zones by altering their light patterns.Jet lag, which causes feelings of sleepiness and muscle inefficiency, is affected by the biological clock. (via lifehacker.com)

04/11/06 - Cheap VOIP calls from your landline, no computer needed
Web site Jajah lets you make VoIP-cheap phone calls from your land line. To use Jajah, you simply enter your phone number and the phone number of the person you’d like to call. After you press the green call button, your phone will ring. When you pick it up, Jajah will connect you to the destination number. You can give Jajah a free 5 minute try at their website. This is a really cool idea, especially for those of you who would like to try out VoIP prices but don’t have the hardware to make a phonecall from your computer.

04/10/06 - Major Mars Challenge Is Human Physiology, Not Equipment
Astronaut/physiologist tells day-long high school forum that protecting humans from high-level radiation, and bone and muscle loss pose greatest challenge in getting to Mars. During the 13- to 30-month roundtrip every cell in the body could experience a high energy event with heavy metal ions. Speaking as a veteran space traveler, Pawelczyk noted that as currently envisioned, the Mars probe would take as little 13 months to a maximum of 30 months. “We run the possibility of losing nearly half the bone mineral in some regions of the body, which would make the astronauts’ skeletons the equivalent of a 100-year-old person,” he said. Such fragile bones could fractures, which would be a most unwelcome challenge. “Another that’s less well-known,” he said, “is that in deep space there are more highly energetic particles that are ions of metals heavier than iron. On Earth, the only place we see such particles are in fallout from nuclear explosions. But it’s estimated that by the time travelers return from Mars, every one of the cells in their body will be transited by a high energy event. “What happens to the cells’ DNA?” Pawelczyk wondered. “How will that affect human biology and cancer risk? Our ability to predict these levels and the error in our estimates probably will be an order of magnitude - plus OR minus,” he warned. More positively, he said the U.S. recently activated a facility that will begin to study irradiating biological tissue.

04/10/06 - Government says 165 degrees (74C) kills bird flu, other viruses
Preparing for the arrival of bird flu, the government on Wednesday gave advice for making chicken safe to eat: Cook it to 165 degrees farenheit (74 Celsius). While the government has always offered "doneness" advice, it has never before declared what it takes to kill viruses and bacteria that may lurk in poultry. The cooking recommendation came from a scientific advisory panel that said raw poultry should be cooked to an internal temperature of at least 165 degrees (74 Celsius). The department's "Is it Done Yet?" campaign provides a range of temperatures, including for chicken breasts and for whole birds. Raymond said that's too confusing and from now on, the department will be sticking with a minimum of 160 degrees farenheit (71 Celsius) for all poultry. "That's based on the best science available 165 degrees is more than adequate to kill all food pathogens found in poultry, including avian influenza," he said. The department also strongly recommends that people use food thermometers and follow basic rules for kitchen safety: wash hands often, keep raw poultry and meat separate from cooked food and refrigerate or freeze food right away. The primary target of the recommendation is not bird flu but salmonella, a bacteria that causes food poisoning and can be deadly unless infected people are treated promptly with antibiotics, reports AP.

04/10/06 - New energy efficient buildings the wave of the future
More developers are coming up with fuel-efficient buildings that aim to cut thousands off a company’s power bill each year, conserve gallons and gallons of water and make workers more comfortable. They are known as “green buildings,” and they may be a common sight in the work force in coming years as energy prices remain a concern. Air coming from overhead vents needs to be at least 55 degrees, cool enough to penetrate the warm layer near the ceiling as it filters down to the worker’s desk. Not so in a green building, where the air comes from the under-the-floor system, which keeps it coming out at a constant 65 degrees. That simple change can conserve enough energy to save a company about $60,000 a year on the power bill, said Koll Senior Vice President Mike Rosamond. Other conservation steps that Koll takes include drought-tolerant plants that need less irrigation and white roofs to reflect sunlight. Some even suggest the buildings are actually healthier to work in. “You have increased productivity because of fewer sick days,” Rosamond said. Koll does get credit as a pioneer for bringing green buildings to the suburban office market, said Rives Taylor, sustainability director for Gensler, an international architecture firm. The buildings are catching on across the United States. Some counties and municipalities are even encouraging the practice by giving incentives, such as speeding up the permit process on “green” commercial developments.

04/10/06 - First fuel-cell police car delivered by Chrysler
The car will serve in the Wayne State University Police Department as a prototype that could aid in research for fuel cell technology. The Mercedes F-Cell has a range of 160 kilometers (100 miles) and a top speed of 135 kilometers (85 miles) per hour. It will be refueled at a newly built hydrogen fueling station. DaimlerChrysler has already developed fuel cell powered Dodge Sprinter vans and Mercedes-Benz Citaro buses, in addition to 100 fuel-cell vehicles in customer hands. Japan is currently considered the leader in fuel cell technology, and plans to operate fuel cell powered trains sometime next year. A fuel cell car developed by the Japanese automobile company Honda can start in temperatures as low as 15 below zero (four degrees Fahrenheit). Fuel cell technology is powered by a reaction between hydrogen, oxygen, and a catalyst, which releases energy into a fuel cell. Because the only byproduct is water, it is seen as a solution to pollution and rising oil costs. However, most experts said fuel cell cars are at least 10 years away from mass production.

04/10/06 - Mitochondria May Mechanically Regulate Nuclear Function
In a paper being presented in two American Physiological Society sessions at Experimental Biology 2006, a joint Estonian-French team demonstrated “for the first time that mitochondria are able to induce nuclear deformation, suggesting that mitochondria may mechanically regulate nuclear function.” In the experiment, the researchers found that in an artificial medium mimicking the cytosol, 10 micro-molar of valinomycin (a potassium ionophore that induces mitochondrial matrix swelling) decreased nuclear volume by a significant 12% ± 2%. And 150 micro-molar of diazoxide (a mitochondrial ATP-sensitive potassium channel opener) reduced nuclear volume a similar amount. “However, 150 micro-molar of 5-hydrooxydecanoate (thought to be a specific inhibitor of these channels), completely blocked the effect,” according to the report, leading to the conclusion that: “mitochondria are able to induce nuclear deformation, suggesting that mitochondria may mechanically regulate nuclear function.” Veksler said one idea that needs to be checked out is: If this mechanical communication changes nuclear geometry, does it also impact nuclear function, namely transcription?

04/10/06 - Japan: Brain Training to offset memory problems
"I want to delay becoming senile as much as possible," said Kondo, who lives in a Tokyo home for the elderly. "I know someone who gets things that happened recently mixed up with tales from the war days. I don't want to become like that," added Kondo, after attending a weekly "Healthy Brain Class" course run by the Shinagawa ward in Tokyo. At the class, 30 students -- all over 70 -- perform the drills for half-an-hour once a week and are given more exercises to work on at home, every day for six months. Scientists say a daily dose of such exercises improves the memory and even the condition of dementia patients.

04/10/06 - "Nano" Safety Recall
A product touted as “nano” has hospitalized six German consumers, prompting more warnings over the dangers of nanomaterials. Since March 27, after a German discount store began offering an aerosolized form of the product, which is a protective sealant for glass and ceramics, 79 people who used the spray have reported breathing problems and coughing. The six who were hospitalized for pulmonary edema have now been released, and typically the symptoms go away in about a day. The number of new cases dropped after the product was pulled from the market two days after its introduction. Previously, the product had been sold in a pump spray container, and during four years no problems with it were reported, according to Jurgen Kundke, a spokesperson for Germany's Federal Institute for Risk Assessment. The aerosol form creates a much finer mist of droplets than the pump, possibly allowing the droplets to stay in the air longer or to penetrate further into the lungs, says Kundke. "We have seen this effect in other sprays with no nanoparticles, so it's a question of the aerosol and not especially of the nanoparticles," Kundke says. Although the product is labeled "nano," Kundke says it might not contain nanotechnology. "The recipes are still secret, he says. "We don't even know if there was nano in the product."

04/10/06 - Oslo sewage heats its homes
In an extreme energy project tapping heat from raw sewage, Oslo's citizens are helping to warm their homes and offices simply by flushing the toilet. Large blue machines at the end of a 300-meter long tunnel in a hillside in central Oslo use fridge technology to suck heat from the sewer and transfer it to a network of hot water pipes feeding thousands of radiators and taps around the city. The heat pump, a system of compressors and condensers, cost 90 million Norwegian crowns ($13.95 million) and has an effect of 18 megawatts (MW), enough to heat 9,000 flats or save burning 6,000 tonnes (5,900 tons) of oil a year. And experts say sewers could be exploited elsewhere. "The technology is there, so if the infrastructure is also there, this is a feasible solution in many cities worldwide," said Monica Axell, head of the International Energy Agency's heat pump center. The agency advises 26 industrialized nations. She said a bigger heat pump in Sweden, with a 160 MW capacity, exploited heat from treated sewage. And in Finland, a 90 MW plant ran on waste water. In Oslo, untreated sewer flows -- from toilets, bathtubs, sinks and rainwater from the streets -- runs into the system past a filter that keeps out big objects such as dead rats. Sewage was flowing into the system at 9.6 Celsius (49.28 Fahrenheit) on Friday and coming out at 5.7 Celsius after heat is extracted with a refrigerant. The energy in turn goes to warming the water in the 400 km (250 mile) pipe system, fed to offices and homes, to about 90 C from a temperature of 52 C when it reaches the sewerage plant. Other plants, burning industrial waste, also heat the water. Sewer power is less polluting than burning fossil fuels but more than renewable energy like wind power. About a third of the heat energy comes from electricity to drive the system and the other two-thirds is the heat from the sewer.

04/10/06 - the Imagined Source of Food
You probably never wanted to look too closely at a chicken nugget. But what if you discovered that the true contents of that nine-piece box are a gallon of petroleum, at least a dozen pounds of processed corn and a touch of butane? You might switch to free-range chicken from Whole Foods and organic asparagus. But then you find out that the free-range chicken lived her life in a warehouse with 20,000 other chickens. And the asparagus was flown in from Argentina, using oil for which the US military is fighting and killing. What’s visible on our plates is only the tip of the iceberg-and I don’t mean lettuce. So what should we eat? That’s the genesis of Michael Pollan’s new book, The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals. Pollan follows each one of the four meals down its food chain to find out where, exactly, they originated and how. So is organic better? Whole Foods, with its pictures of happy chickens and cows in green pastures, certainly makes us feel virtuous about what we buy there. Pollan dubs this phenomenon “supermarket pastoral”-a fantasy that he squashes on a trip to the “free-range” chicken farm and to a large organic lettuce farm where huge amounts of energy are used to keep the crop (picked by migrants) chilled. Organic is undeniably better in terms of pesticide pollution, but Pollan finds that the enormous farms from which Whole Foods buys are not so different from traditional industrial farms that supply McDonald’s. The catch-22 is that if organic doesn’t go industrial it will forever remain yuppie food, too rarified for many to afford.

04/10/06 - Eddington's Rocket: the jet train to shrink Britain
Sir Rod Eddington, favours plans for a new high-speed rail link that could see jet-propelled trains ferrying passengers between Scotland and London in record times. The new trains would eschew conventional power sources and would instead be fired-up by a jet engine similar to those used in aircraft. A prototype, capable of travelling at 150mph, has been built in north America but manufacturers believe that, in the right conditions, it could achieve a much higher top speed. Virgin Pendolinos, operating at 125mph, are currently the fastest trains running up and down the country. He has also consulted officials at Bombardier, the Canadian maker of the jet train, and at Ultraspeed, a company that is proposing a magnetic levitation - or maglev - system for Britain. Ultraspeed claims its train could reach speeds of 311mph. A team of experts at Network Rail are now weighing up the merits of the competing technologies, as well as conventional high-speed trains such as the TGV in France, which travels at speeds of up to 186mph. The main advantage of the jet train is its autonomous power source - a 3,750kW gas turbine - which is much lighter than a diesel engine. However, this would only achieve maximum efficiency over longer distances. The turbine is also noisy and relies on expensive aviation fuel. Plans for a driverless maglev system - presented to Tony Blair in 2004 - involve carriages floating on electromagnetic “cushions” above a fixed guideway. Critics, however, claim maglev systems draw vast quantities of power and question the durability of the technology. The only commercial use of maglev is a 19-mile stretch linking Pudong airport to the outskirts of Shanghai in China. Government officials are believed to have reservations about a technology that has not been tested on longer routes. “We have seen in Europe that when you put a high-speed line in and shrink the distance between a capital and an outlying city . . . there are significant changes in the economic fortunes of the region,” he said.

04/10/06 - Why the United States will attack Iran in 2006
The master plan of the United States is to control the oil in the Middle East. Only two countries stood in the way of that plan: Iraq and Iran. Iraq has been neutralized and will remain impotent for the next decade because of civil war. Iran alone now stands in the way of the U.S. master plan.

04/09/06 - Eco-Motors - water > steam > gas intermixed efficiency (a translated page)
Any engine of internal combustion not only in vain throws out the most part (70 - 80 %) of thermal energy received in work, moreover he even collapses, if will lose an opportunity, through system of cooling to give water his heat. On the other hand, receiving it warmly water, converted up to the steam in process of the boiling or volatilization, at usual atmospheric pressure increases itself in the volume in 1700 times. Thus obtained the steam can help one's pressure of working gas to actuate pistons or turbines of thermal engines and to give an essential increment of a power, the maximal twisting moment and efficiency of these motors. Besides an increase of power and fuel economy on 15 - 20 %, the injection of water also essentially improves cooling itself of the motor as cylinders are cooled by water not so much from outside, how many from within.

04/09/06 - Water Fence for runoff storage and a property barrier
"I have a simple idea for storing rain water collected from any convenient roof via downpipes: slimline rectangular panels joined together which could double as a fence. If all terraced houses were built with this type of fencing they would have a constant supply of free water for their garden, topping up ponds etc. It's been quite some time that I have been trying to get a company to manufacture my idea. It's unfortunately too expensive to have a supply made. Most of our rainwater runs into soak-aways or into drains which is such a waste when we consider we are facing a water shortage crisis." In Germany, a not dissimilar system for water storage is being manufactured, in the form of plastic, interlocking blocks, which are built into a garden wall. There are also artificial "rocks", made from plastic, that double-up as rainholders, he says. "It makes huge sense to have people watering their gardens with rainwater," he says. But for the water-holding garden wall, he says "cost is the issue". "Compared to an upright barrel, or one sunk into the ground, the artificial wall is going to be much more expensive," he says. There is growing interest in water tanks below the ground, he says, which can have large capacity while remaining unobtrusive - and commercial schemes, such as gathering water to wash fleets of cars, can hold up to 20,000 litres of rainwater. But he says that Mr Jones is on the right track in terms of wanting to make better use of rainwater. A three-bedroom detached house has about 120,000 litres annual rainfall on its roof and guttering - and when parts of the country face water shortages, this is a scarce resource to see disappearing down the drain. And gardeners might be keen when they find out that the hosepipe ban doesn't apply to self-gathered water.

04/09/06 - Pedal Powered Electricity
David Butcher makes some of his own power riding on a pedal-powered generator. It's not a terribly effective way to create the amount of energy the average person living a developed-world lifestyle needs, but the point is as much conceptual as practical, connecting us bodily with the amount of power that runs through our lives (and often goes wasted). "To make any kind of significant contribution to your energy supply, you must use the most efficient devices you possibly can. For example, a small refrigerator designed to be powered by solar power would be much more practical. A rule of thumb: if the device was designed to be powered by batteries, even BIG batteries, you might be able to keep up with it. "If your electric bill shows KWH (kilowatt-hours), take the number, multiply by 4 (assuming you can crank out 250 watts for an hour, which is very ambitious) and that is how many hours you will have to be in the saddle to create the same amount of power. Sorry, it can be depressing. The moral: Using less power is as important, if not more important, than making more." Most of all, I think having a sense of the kind of actual work done by the machines we use to power our civilization is itself a worldchanging realization, a sort of making visible the invisible. (via worldchanging.com)

04/09/06 - Sound bubbles in matter
Isolated vibrations within a three-dimensional solid have been observed for the first time by researchers in the U.S. and Germany. The work could help explain how metals such as uranium behave when bent, compressed or heated. Normally, atoms in a crystal will pass their vibrational energy to their neighbors. But under some circumstances, theory predicts that a small patch of atoms could vibrate in place. This is the first time that these "lattice solitons" have been detected in a three-dimensional solid, said Michael Manley. The researchers used X-ray and neutron scattering experiments to identify lattice solitons in heated uranium crystals. The results show that the isolated vibrations play an important role in uranium metal, something no one had previously considered, Manley said. Lattice solitons should actually occur in all kinds of solid materials, but they are very hard to find because they appear and disappear so quickly, Manley said. The significance of the paper is that the researchers were able to see them, he said. Solitons, or solitary waves, were first described by Scottish scientist John Scott Russell in 1834 after seeing such a wave on a canal. In the late 1980s, scientists theorized that solitons might exist in solids and molecules, calling them intrinsic localized modes or discrete breathers, but had no physical evidence of their existence.

04/09/06 - Living on Impulse
Play hooky, disappear for the weekend, have a fling, binge-shop like a Wall Street divorcée. Spontaneity can be a healthy defiance of routine, an expression of starved desire, some psychologists say. In recent years, studies have linked impulsiveness to higher risks of smoking, drinking and drug abuse. People who attempt suicide score highly on measures of impulsivity, as do adolescents with eating problems. Aggression, compulsive gambling, severe personality disorders and attention deficit problems are all associated with high impulsiveness, a problem that affects an estimated 9 percent of Americans. Now researchers have begun to resolve the contrary nature of impulsivity, identifying the elements that distinguish benign experimentation from self-destructive acts. When life is short and dangerous, and resources are scarce, there is a premium on quick response. The combination of sensation seeking and lack of deliberation characterizes millions of healthy people but appears to be extreme in those whose impulsivity leads to chronic trouble or mental illness, Dr. Flory said. "The way I think of it is that one factor has to do with the urges people have, and the other has to do with the brakes they apply," she said.

04/09/06 - Scuderi Air Hybrid engine
The Scuderi design revives an evolutionary dead-end in automotive history known as the split-cycle engine. Each piston in a car's engine does four jobs: draw in air, compress it, burn fuel and push out the exhaust. A split-cycle engine divides those jobs between two pistons, one for pulling in air and compressing it, the other for burning fuel and pushing out exhaust. The results of that study convinced the Scuderis to pursue their father's goal. After more refinements, the Scuderi engine now compresses about 12 times more air than a similar conventional engine, allowing it to produce more power from the same amount of fuel and burn cleaner as well. Late last year, Sal was looking over his father's notes and found another invention. Because it moves air between pistons, Carmelo imagined the engine could store spare energy as compressed air instead of in expensive batteries. "The big impact is this is really the only hybrid system that makes sense economically," Sal Scuderi said. "We can make a hybrid system that is more effective than electric hybrids for a few hundred dollars versus several thousand dollars."

04/09/06 - Study Links Punishment to an Ability to Profit
Sociologists have long known that communes and other cooperative groups usually collapse into bickering and disband if they do not have clear methods of punishing members who become selfish or exploitative. Now an experiment by a team of German economists has found one reason punishment is so important: Groups that allow it can be more profitable than those that do not. The study, appearing today in the journal Science, suggests that groups with few rules attract many exploitative people who quickly undermine cooperation. By contrast, communities that allow punishment, and in which power is distributed equally, are more likely to draw people who, even at their own cost, are willing to stand up to miscreants. Dr. Ostrom has done fieldwork with cooperatives around the world and said she often asked other researchers and students whether they knew of any long-lasting communal group that did not employ a system of punishment. "No one can give me an example," she said. "The bottom line of the paper is that when you have people with shared standards, and some who have the moral courage to sanction others, informally, then this kind of society manages very successfully," said the study's senior author, Bettina Rockenbach...Being exploited appeared to cause deep frustration and anger in most students, she said.

04/09/06 - Varibel - glasses that 'hear'
Today a new hearing aid in the form of a pair of glasses was unveiled. These hearing-glasses are called 'Varibel' and offer older people the chance to stay active longer - free from the aesthetically unpleasing and technologically limited traditional hearing aids. The Varibel cannot be compared to traditional hearing aids. In each leg of the glass' frame there is a row of four tiny, interconnected microphones, which selectively intensify the sounds that come from the front, while dampening the surrounding noise. The result is a directional sensitivity of +8.2 dB. In comparison, regular hearing aids have a maximum sensitivity of +4 dB. With this solution, the user can separate the desired sounds from the undesired background noise. Dr. Cor Stengs, ENT specialist involved in the clinical tests, said of the Varibel: "Practical experience with the hearing-glasses supports the theoretical claims that the ability to understand speech is much better. There is a significant improvement in the sound quality." With Varibel, natural sounds can still be heard. This solution allows people to hear naturally and clearly in the direction in which they are looking. This has great advantages for daily life. Martin de Jong, audio-technician, says: "With the Varibel, the natural sounds that people enjoy are retained. This works surprisingly well. People can hear good and at the same time clearly - and especially in rooms such as in a cafe or at a birthday party."

04/08/06 - Free site finds your lost/missing money
(And remember...KeelyNet (donate) gets a piece if you collect something, RIGHT??? - JWD) Dateline recently covered a legitimate, free site that helps you find unclaimed money and property due to you and your family. Beware of other web sites that require registration or email addresses to search! You should only have to enter a last name and a state. I didn’t have any unclaimed money, but two of my family members back in New York did. Give it a spin and see if you’ve got an unexpected Friday treat waiting for you, and let us know how it goes. Click here to find unclaimed money! (via impactlab.com)

04/08/06 - Dying and Desperate: The Lure of Quack Medical Clinics
In the fall of 2003, assisted by fellow investigator Vaughn Rees, I had gone undercover to Tijuana, posing as a terminally ill cancer patient. One hospital we visited offered homeopathic treatments. (Homeopathy is a form of quack medicine essentially based on the mystical principle of "like cures like.") Another, respectable-looking hospital offered such "alternative" treatments for cancer as shark cartilage, mega-doses of vitamins, and "prayer therapy." The hospital also offered Laetrile, a notorious cancer treatment discredited by repeated scientific studies. Donsbach's clinic had a reputation for providing questionable medical procedures, including "ultraviolet blood purification," colonics (a potentially dangerous colon-irrigation therapy), and the use of microwaves to "heat" cancer cells. The clinic was shut down by Mexican authorities shortly after Mrs. King's death. The officials noted that the facility had not only been using unproven treatments and carrying out unauthorized surgeries, but it lacked suitable sanitation and had also employed people who lacked proper training, and failed to follow appropriate procedures for treating the terminally ill. Doctors at the facility pointed out that Mrs. King died before receiving any treatments there. Moreover, "She wasn't stupid," the assistant administrator, Cesar Castillejos, told the Associated Press. "She was very smart. She wanted an alternative." Actually, that is another way of saying that she-along with the family that loved her-was desperate. "Were patients to return from Mexico cured and doctors saw the unbelievable, positive results, we would pursue it," stated Dr. Jack Lewin, the California Medical Association's CEO. "We don't have patients coming back with miraculous cures."

04/08/06 - NASA suffering string of accidents
Over the past three months, workers at the Kennedy Space Center have tripped, dropped things, banged into sensitive equipment and started fires in a baffling string of accidents that have left one person dead. NASA is investigating three of the accidents _ the death of a worker who fell off a roof, the bumping of space shuttle Discovery's robotic arm by a platform, and damage last week to an instrument that supplies power to the orbiters. But since the beginning of the year, there have been 20 other incidents in which a worker was injured or equipment was damaged in excess of $25,000. There were 14 incidents during the same period last year. "There's enough going on that we're very, very concerned," said Bill Parsons, deputy director of the Kennedy Space Center. In one incident in January, workers accidentally started a fire while repairing the roof of the Vehicle Assembly Building. In March, broken glass from a lamp fell into Discovery's payload bay. Workers cleaning it up the next day accidentally dented Discovery's robotic arm. Three days later, an X-ray film container was dropped on shuttle Endeavour. Space center director James Kennedy called a two-hour work stand-down in mid-March to re-emphasize safety after another fire was accidentally started by roofers at the assembly building. But the accidents didn't stop. The next day, roofer Steven Owens, 46, tripped on a wire and fell off a warehouse _ the first worker death at the space center since 1989. Last week, electronic equipment was damaged at a spare parts depot when the electricity was reversed, and workers from New Orleans dropped a lamp on the nose of the external fuel tank while repairing it.

04/08/06 - Easy Way to Cut Cancer Deaths in Half
Cancer deaths could be cut in half if people simply followed advice that's known to work, according to a new study by the American Cancer Society. None of the advice will surprise you: Don't smoke, don't be obese, improve your diet, exercise, and make use of cancer screening tests. Tobacco alone will kill 170,000 Americans this year, the report estimates. People who use tobacco have a higher risk of cancers of the lung, mouth, nasal cavities, larynx , throat, esophagus, stomach, liver, pancreas, kidney, bladder, and cervix. Second-hand smoke also raises cancer risk.

04/08/06 - Grills removed from suspected drug dealers
(I just couldn't pass this up as a way to carry your wealth...lol... - JWD) Two accused drug dealers almost had their teeth ripped out of their heads at the request of government officials. Flenard Neal Jr. and Donald Lewis both wear grills, and were told that the government had a warrant to seize the jewelry. Because their grills are permanently bonded to their teeth, this would have involved thousands of dollars of excruciating dental surgery. "I've been doing this for over 30 years and I have never heard of anything like this," said Richard Troberman, a forfeiture specialist and former president of the Washington Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. "It sounds like Nazi Germany when they were removing the gold teeth from the bodies, but at least then they waited until they were dead."

04/08/06 - Successful Inventor advises on patents
Roe dreams up ideas aimed at making people feel safer. His rural mailbox is a patented invention which gave the world rear and front-end access to mail. Sold at Home Depot and Lowe's, it was Roe's most successful invention to date. Others include a clamping device which attaches to shopping carts to secure ladies purses, a lost key locator, counterfeit bill detector and snake repellent. Roe's latest invention is a series of color-coded prescription drug vials with a built-in deterrent against over-medicating. Roe says he makes a sketch of his new invention, then he has an artist draw up the design. Next, he copyrights the drawings. Then he applies for a patent. Patents can be expensive, Roe said. Inventors can apply for a provisional patent for $100, good for a year. "You don't need an attorney to do that," he said. "But after a year, you have to act on it." Roe recommends using an attorney. He failed to do so with his mailbox invention and ended up regretting it, he said.

04/08/06 - Japan tests World’s Fastest Train
Trains are a good idea if you have lots of people crammed into a small area. Like Japan: so they’ve unveiled the World’s fastest six car wheeled train, that in a test run reached 310MPH, but is expected to travel 225MPH for real people hauling. The company qualifies its “world’s fastest” claim with the term “wheeled” because there are maglev trains that are faster, including Central Japan Railway’s JR-Maglev MLX01, a prototype that’s reached a speed of 361mph.

04/07/06 - 'Space ghosts' built Universe
Physicists have confirmed that neutrinos, which are thought to have played a key role during the creation of the Universe, have mass. This is the first major finding of the US-based Main Injector Neutrino Oscillation Search (Minos) experiment. Neutrinos are sometimes described as "ghost particles" because they can pass through space, the Earth's atmosphere and the Earth itself with almost no interaction with normal matter. This makes studying them very difficult. There are three kinds - or 'flavours" - of neutrinos: muon, tau and electron.

04/07/06 - Japan building first Fuel Cell powered Train
The test train will be made up of a single car and carry two 65-kilowatt fuel cells, the report said. It can travel at 100 kilometers (62.5 miles) per hour. Fuel cells produce electricity through a chemical reaction between hydrogen and oxygen, leaving water as the only by-product. Fuel-cell batteries in cartridges can be easily replaced in contrast to conventional batteries that take hours to recharge. The company plans to operate fuel-cell trains sometime in mid-2007 on its lines in mountain regions west of Tokyo, the report said.

04/07/06 - Culling due to bird flu causes protein shortage in Gaza
Poultry supplies, the primary source of protein in the Gaza Strip, were being severely affected by measures implemented to contain the spread of the H5N1 avian flu virus. The recent closures of the Karni border crossing with Israel have limited the import of alternative protein sources, further increasing concern over a nutrition gap in the Palestinian food supply. Some 250,000 birds have been culled by UN officials and PA agencies so far. The figure represents 10 percent of the total estimated number of fowl in the Gaza Strip. More than 30,000 farmers lost their chickens to the culling and were left unable to provide for their estimated 200,000 family members. An additional 250,000 birds were slated for culling, according to UN officials, who said they believed the process would be carried out within a few days. The culling is conducted by UN and Palestinian health officials through the poisoning of the chickens' water supply. This is only done once the farmers give their permission, after which the corpses are gathered and buried between layers of plastic sheeting in deep ditches outside the farms. The lack of animal protein in the Palestinians' food supplies during this time was particularly problematic for children.

04/07/06 - ProBright lightstrips transform outdoor lighting
It is the thinnest, longest and brightest electroluminescent lamp in the World. ProBright EL lighting is only 2mm thick and comes in lengths of upto 500'. The flexible lighting uses 1/10 the energy of neon and costs about $115 for a 60' strip.

04/07/06 - First Patent Auction Draws Buzz
In the first-of-its-kind live patent auction on Thursday in San Francisco generated plenty of excitement and also made a little history. The range of the more than 400 patents on the block included an online fashion fitting room, a three-dimensional filming system, and methods for using a cell phone for reading barcodes and connecting them to web sites. A patent on distribution of movies was bid up by members of the audience of about 400 to $1.4 million dollars. A flash memory fix for power outages owned by 3Com was sold for $950,000. Identities of the buyers have not been disclosed, and probably won’t be made public. But with 68 lots by owner and subject matter on offer, bidders failed to meet reserve prices for many of the groups of one or more patents. Those lots without reserve prices were mostly sold for a starting price of $10,000 to one or more absentee bidders. Despite the low number of successful bids, Jim Malackowski, CEO of auction organizer Ocean Tomo, called the auction “a great success.” Auctioning patents “has the great potential I think to move forward on what’s been a long-held goal for folks in IP-which is to bring a greater tangibility, a more defined value, to intellectual property,” Mr. Dickinson said. Many large companies were present to observe or bid at the auction, among them GE, Dupont, Microsoft, and AT&T. Amid negative perceptions of those who build their businesses on buying patents for the sole purpose of suing potential infringers-so-called “patent trolls” - many are eager to see the monetization of intellectual property put in a positive light.

04/07/06 - FEDs and Safety Deposit box privacy
First things first: I have had a couple of reports from readers about supposed changes to access to safety deposit boxes and what federal officials have planned as actions in the event of a market run/panic/run on banks/ and so forth. One reader reports running into less-than-cooperative bankers when the reader removed personal items from a safe deposit box. A different reader reported that mysteriously, because the box hadn't been opened in a while, that the keys had been changed without advising the customer. So this morning, you have a chance to report any "Safe Deposit Box" anomalies by clicking here. If you're a bank employee and would like to pass along what is really going on anonymously click here.

04/07/06 - Hard Liquor helps houseplants
Giving some plants diluted alcohol _ whiskey, vodka, gin or tequila _ stunts the growth of a plant's leaves and stems but doesn't affect the blossoms, said William Miller, director of Cornell's Flower Bulb Research Program. Miller began his investigation last year after receiving a call from The New York Times about a reader who had written to the garden editor claiming that gin had prevented some paperwhite narcissi from growing too tall and floppy and asked if it was because of some "essential oil" in the gin. Intrigued that diluted alcohol might act as a growth retardant, Miller began conducting experiments with ethanol. Because hard liquor is easier for consumers to obtain, he switched to alcohol and began trying different kinds, including dry gin, unflavored vodka, whiskey, white rum, gold tequila, mint schnapps, red and white wine and pale lager beer, on paperwhites. The beer and wine did not work, likely because of their sugar content, he said. Miller isn't sure why the alcohol stunts plant growth but he has three theories that he is exploring. Growth is caused when plant cells absorb water and expand. The alcohol could be injuring the plant roots, preventing the roots from absorbing the water as efficiently. When alcohol is mixed with the water, the plant has to use more of its growing energy to extract the water from the solution. The plant uses its growing energy to rid itself of the alcohol it has absorbed. Miller will be working this spring to see if a little booze works for amaryllis and such vegetables as tomatoes and peppers.

04/07/06 - Bone Stretching
Wanna walk tall? If Mother Nature has failed to give you that statuesque figure, worry not. Fitbone surgery, an advanced and high-tech option for leg lengthening, promises to add those crucial inches. This is a relatively-new surgical procedure for lengthening bones and skeletal deformities. It involves a fully-implantable, electronically-motorised, limb-lengthening device. The average length a limb can be elongated is between 5-9 cm. Of course, it comes at a painful price. The procedure is being done in Singapore, Bangkok, Malaysia and the Philippines. "Some 50% of the patients, who come to me for this surgery, want to do it for cosmetic reasons," says Dr Sarbjit Singh, orthopaedic surgeon, Tan Tock Seng Hospital, Singapore, whose health infrastructure is attracting many patients.

04/07/06 - Sustained blood pressure treatment lowers dementia risk in elderly
Maintaining high blood pressure treatment may reduce the risk of dementia in old age, researchers reported in the rapid access issue of Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association. Some physicians hesitate to treat hypertension in the elderly because of concerns that lowering blood pressure might impair cognitive functioning. However, clinical trials have shown no harmful effects on cognitive function in elderly patients undergoing hypertension therapy. "Hypertension treatment in the very old -- those aged 80 and older -- protects against stroke, heart disease and heart failure, and now we see that there is no harm -- and perhaps a benefit -- on cognitive function," said Peila, who is also a scientist at the Pacific Health Research Institute in Honolulu. "We found protection against both Alzheimer's disease and vascular dementia," Peila said. "There is more and more recognition that there is a vascular component to Alzheimer's disease." Long-term hypertension can damage blood vessels of the brain, and the brains of Alzheimer's patients often have tiny blood clots and small infarcts, she said.

04/07/06 - TabMix Plus with Session Saver Firefox extension
SessionSaver and Tab X with Tax Mix Plus; * Saved sessions and tab restoration when Firefox crashes * Progress bars on individual tabs as they load the web page * Tabs I haven’t viewed yet - opened in the background - visually marked red and italics (fantastic for RSS-reading!) * Undo close tab, with a history of the last 5 tabs that were closed * An x on each tab to close it individually (essential on the Mac, where right-click doesn’t work)

04/07/06 - Healing honey: The sweet evidence revealed
Scientists performed 22 trials involving 2,062 patients treated with honey, as well as an additional 16 trials that were performed on experimental animals. Honey was found to be beneficial as a wound dressing in the following ways: * Honey's antibacterial quality not only rapidly clears existing infection, it protects wounds from additional infection * Honey debrides wounds and removes malodor * Honey's anti-inflammatory activity reduces edema and minimizes scarring * Honey stimulates growth of granulation and epithelial tissues to speed healing. Molan concludes, "the barrier to using honey that has existed for many clinicians who have been constrained to using only licensed products has been removed now that honey is available in the form of various sterile products licensed for use in wound care. Clinicians should check the evidence that exists to support the use of honey."

04/07/06 - Order out of Chaos
While working on their model - a network of interconnected pendulums, or "oscillators" - the researchers noticed that when driven by ordered forces the various pendulums behaved chaotically and swung out of sync like a group of intoxicated synchronized swimmers. This was unexpected - shouldn't synchronized forces yield synchronized pendulums? But then came the real surprise: When they introduced disorder - forces were applied at random to each oscillator - the system became ordered and synchronized. Research on the role of disorder in complex systems is quite new and not well understood. Wessel hopes that one day its theoretical understanding will be better than it is today. A vital similarity between the model system and neurons is that they are both "nonlinear" - meaning that there is not a linear, or straight-ahead, correlation between the applied force and displacement. In other words, the oscillators in the model may be likened to a child on a swing. Within a mall range, the child will move in constant proportion to how hard you push them - if you push twice as hard, they will go twice as far. But nearly all complex systems in nature, like the physicists' model, are nonlinear. Once the child gets to a certain height, pushing twice as hard will not make the child go twice as far. Neurons are composed of many elements and are typically nonlinear. While other research has shown that disorder can create order, these studies often involved manipulating parameters within the systems such as changing pendulum length. The researchers say that their work is novel because it involves changing externally applied forces. Thus, they believe, their findings might have potential in the real world, where it would be more difficult to change parameters within the system - neurons, for example - but relatively simple to apply an external forcing.

04/07/06 - Cancer, Ginger and Peppers
Ginger can kill ovarian cancer cells while the compound that makes peppers hot can shrink pancreatic tumours, researchers said on Tuesday. Their studies add to a growing body of evidence that at least some popular spices might slow or prevent the growth of cancer. The study on ginger was done using cells in a lab dish, which is a long way from finding that it works in actual cancer patients, but it is the first step to testing the idea. Rebecca Liu, an assistant professor of obstetrics and gynaecology at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center, and colleagues tested ginger powder dissolved in solution by putting it on ovarian cancer cell cultures. It killed the ovarian cancer cells in two different ways - through a self-destruction process called apoptosis and through autophagy in which cells digest themselves, the researchers told a meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research. Ginger has been shown to help control inflammation, which can contribute to the development of ovarian cancer cells. A second study found that capsaicin, which makes chili peppers hot, fed to mice caused apoptosis death in pancreatic cancer cells, said Sanjay Srivastava of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. "Capsaicin triggered the cancerous cells to die off and significantly reduced the size of the tumours,"he said. The spicy compound killed pancreatic tumour cells but did not affect normal, healthy pancreas cells, researchers said.

04/07/06 - Flashy Paper - copy/print without equipment
Chen Chia-Chun from China presents his invention, ‘Flashy Paper’, a new printing technology that integrates copying and printing with no equipment or power required, at the 34th International Exhibition of Inventions, New Techniques and Products, in Geneva, Switzerland on Wednesday.

04/07/06 - Hybrids could change it all
The Pew Center on Global Climate Change says that if all the cars in the US were 60 mpg hybrids, "we would save more oil than we now import from the Middle East." And if we started using "plug-in hybrids," which could deliver 100 mpg or even more if you used them in cities, "there would be incalculable savings from the reduction in pollution and the ending of the nation’s dependence on foreign oil," as well as improved national security. That last benefit alone is enough to make it worthwhile for the government to give incentives to the auto companies to work on the problem, says former CIA director James Woolsey. Even so, automakers would be reluctant to make plug-in hybrids, because the price of oil is still relatively low and people don't want to give up their gas guzzling SUVs. That’s why many advocates say there must be a massive government commitment-something akin to the Manhattan Project, which produced the first nuclear bombs-to overcome the technological and economic obstacles. Forget about a manned mission to Mars. Let's challenge NASA to make a vehicle for earthlings. (via boingboing.com)

04/06/06 - Device Increases Internal Combustion Engine Efficiency
A device that reduces emissions and increases fuel efficiency has passed Europe's toughest air quality standards and could be headed to the U.S. Save The World Air, Inc., has developed technology that reduces NOX and CO2 emission by creating magnetic fields that reorganizes molecules prior to combustion. The company received a U.S. patent last year and is currently distributing products in China. According to SWTA, tests showed that emissions from a motorcycle engine were cut by more than 75 percent. Perhaps this technology would be a cost-efficient way for auto manufacturers to meet California's tough emissions laws. STWA patented/patent pending devices are specifically engineered to minimize environmental pollution, to enhance fuel system performance and to increase engine efficiency. Variations of these devices can be attached to the internal combustion engines or exhaust systems in most automobiles, motorcycles, off-road vehicles, generators and other stationary implements. ZEFS devices work to enhance the atomization of the fuel by affecting the Viscosity of that fuel. The effect is achieved by the use of specific and complex magnetic flux orientations that have the ability to influence fuel at the molecular level, reducing the structure of the molecular structures with in the fuel. These devices affect the fuel atomization process by breaking down the size of the molecular structure of the fuel. Reductions have been recorded in the scale from 760 microns down to 140 microns in carburetion fuel systems and as low as 3 microns in fuel injection systems. The devices create a more efficient burn rate, thus lowering the production of CO, THC and NOX. ZEFS devices are easily fitted to the base plates of carburetors and fuel injection systems; the devices are compact and there are no moving parts. Our testing to date on both two and four stroke motorcycles, two and four stroke generators and a 1995 Mexican fuel injection VW automobiles are most encouraging. Independent tests performed in August 2004 at the Hong Kong Exhaust Emissions Laboratory (HKEEL) on a HONDA NSR 150 two-stroke motorcycle produced a 75% reduction in NOX, a 78% reduction CO and the reduction in THC emissions was even greater at 95%. Another independent test performed at HKEEL in August 2004 on a two-stroke 63cc generator engine produced a 58% reduction of THC emissions, 86% reduction of NOX and a 57% reduction of CO emissions.

04/06/06 - Tuning for Oil
Wealthy oil companies are always looking for ways to save money and time, and this simple invention for finding underground oil reserves may help them do both. The usual practice is to take fluid samples from the ground and wait several weeks for lab analysis to confirm the presence of H2S (hydrogen sulphide) and CO2 (carbon dioxide), which signals a likely oil strike. The new idea, from oil company Baker Hughes, 'part of the Howard Hughes empire' is to make compounds near oil reserves literally sing out. Or, more accurately, sing out of tune. A vacuum cylinder, sealed with a semi-permeable membrane of silicone rubber, would be lowered down into a shaft. Gases should diffuse into the chamber and settle on a pair of gently vibrating "tuning forks", one coated with a thin layer of silver, which absorbs H2S, and the other with a layer of sodium oxide, which takes up CO2. As the fork's surfaces absorb the gases, they will get slightly heavier and their resonant pitch will fall in frequency. This is detected by an audio sensor which signals detection of the gases. The more the pitch falls, the higher the gas concentration and the better the chances of finding "black gold".

04/06/06 - Challenging Living for Older Folk to stay mentally/physically vigorous
Reversible Destiny Lofts by Shusaku Arakawa and Madeline Gins, whose motto is Architecture Against Death, unveiled a few months ago a small apartment complex in the Tokyo suburb of Mitaka that is anything but comfortable and calming. "People, particularly old people, shouldn't relax and sit back to help them decline," Arakawa insists. "They should be in an environment that stimulates their senses and invigorates their lives." Inside the apartments, the floor of the dining room slopes erratically, the one in the kitchen is sunken and the study features a concave floor. Electric switches are located in unexpected places so you have to feel around for the right one. A glass door to the veranda is so small you have to bend to crawl out. You constantly lose balance, gather yourself up, and occasionally trip and fall. There's no closet space; residents will have to find a way to live there. "[The apartment] makes you alert and awakens instincts, so you'll live better, longer and even forever," says Arakawa. Completed last October, the apartments are selling for $763,000 each-about twice as much as a normal apartment in that neighborhood. 10 years ago the pair opened the Site of Reversible Destiny-Yoro Park in Gifu. The theme park consists of attractions designed to throw people off balance, made up of warped surfaces and confusing directions. Visitors often fall-but so far nobody has sued.

04/06/06 - Sunscreen chemicals disrupt thyroid in rats
UV-absorbing compounds also affected thyroid hormones in human cells in the lab - but for now the benefits of sunscreen still outweigh the risk.

04/06/06 - Detroit Sweats as China Prepares
The company that has partnered with GM to produce cars for the Chinese market is readying to compete head-on in the U.S. For years, Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp., a government-owned behemoth, has worked side by side with General Motors Corp. and Volkswagen AG on world-class assembly lines to build cars for the Chinese market. Now, the giant auto maker is getting ready to use the technical expertise and experience it has gained from these partnerships -- which turn out hundreds of thousands of Buicks and Chevys as well as VW Santanas and Passats a year -- to make its own high-end sedan. "This is a watershed in the development of the auto industry in China," says Michael Dunne, president of consultancy Automotive Resources Asia. "The Chinese formed joint ventures for one purpose: to learn how to do it themselves one day. That day is here." So far, the response from General Motors and Volkswagen has been muted. In a prepared statement, GM said it "understands" Shanghai Automotive's "desire for further growth" and that it is confident "SAIC recognizes that the success of both companies in the China market is closely linked to the success of our joint ventures."

04/06/06 - New Invention To Prevent Misfuelling Misery
MagneCap, a simple and low cost invention to help drivers avoid misfuelling. Magnecap is a magnetic disc that is attached to your fuel cap. There’s a diesel and unleaded version - customers simply choose the right one for their car. Once the disc is attached, customers stick the fuel cap to the MagneCap base on the fuel pump every time they fill up. If their cap sticks and stays in place, they’ve chosen the right fuel. If it falls to the ground, they’re at risk of misfuelling and need to check their fuel selection. According to the RAC 150,000 drivers misfuel every year. Misfuelling repairs cost UK drivers in excess of £800 million. MagneCap is supported by the Petrol Retailers Association. Misfuelling can prove a costly error leaving drivers with repair bills running into thousands of pounds. Last year around 150,000 people misfueled, an average of over 400 per day, and one in seven motorists has admitted misfuelling at some time*. Due to the fine tolerances of todays fuel systems the wrong fuel can lead to major fuel pump and high-pressure injection-system damage. This damage may not be covered by insurance because many policies exclude misfuelling. Misfuelling presents a dilemma about how best to eliminate the problem. Should car manufacturers alter the design of cars, although that would overlook their existing models, or should the design of the service station fuel nozzles be altered by oil companies, again creating difficulties for existing customers. MagneCap is a low cost and practical solution that looks to overcome the dilemma for all parties concerned.

04/06/06 - MIT Research Links Cancer, Inflammatory Disease
(I have always thought inflammation gives rise to cancer. Having seen it spontaneously appear in women who frequently have mammogram manipulation, as well as long standing inflammations that turn into cancer, it just made sense, now comes the 'orthodox' link. - JWD) The researchers looked at tumor necrosis factor (TNF), a substance produced by the immune system that promotes cell death, and two prosurvival hormones, epidermal growth factor (EGF) and insulin. TNF and EGF induce conflicting prosurvival and prodeath signals, and the "crosstalk" between these signals is not well understood. The MIT studies provide the first big picture of how these two key factors interact in time and space. The studies uncovered a surprising link between inflammatory diseases and cancer that may change how these diseases are treated in the future. Drugs that inhibit TNF are used to treat debilitating chronic inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis. Yet TNF, which causes inflammation, also leads to generation of the EGF signals that play a role in many cancers. Among the cells lining the intestines of a person with inflammatory bowel disease, two different camps are at war. TNF launches an attack, killing many of the epithelial surface cells, while EGF struggles to keep the cells alive and dividing to repair the damage.

04/06/06 - Buy PC Without an OS... Get a Visit From Microsoft?
"'Don't sell PCs without operating systems or we'll send the boys round.' That seems to be the general message coming out of microsoft's antipiracy unit, according to ZDNet. While MS seems to accept that people might want to get hold of PCs without Windows so they can put Linux on them, they don't think that's a good enough excuse. "We want to urge all system builders -- indeed, all Partners -- not to supply naked PCs. It is a risk to your customers and a risk to your business," says Microsoft. The FSF has given this policy short shrift, saying: "It looks like a private sniffing service which is supposed to spy on these who do not want to pay the Microsoft tax anymore. It is an incredible piece of impudence.""

04/06/06 - Cancer Cure Worth $50 Trillion
University of Chicago economists say finding a cure for cancer would be worth about $50 trillion in social value. The study by Kevin Murphy (L) and Robert Topel (R) of the university's graduate school of business suggests even a 1 percent reduction in cancer mortality would be worth nearly $500 billion. Social value of improved health and longevity is the amount in dollars additional life years or other health improvements are worth to people, the report said. The value of improved longevity is based on what individuals gain from the enjoyment of consumption and time during an additional year of life, rather than how much they earn.

04/06/06 - Transcendence and the Singularity approaching Mankind
When greater-than-human intelligence drives progress, that progress will be much more rapid. In fact, there seems no reason why progress itself would not involve the creation of still more intelligent entities -- on a still-shorter time scale. We humans have the ability to internalize the world and conduct "what if's" in our heads; we can solve many problems thousands of times faster than natural selection. Now, by creating the means to execute those simulations at much higher speeds, we are entering a regime as radically different from our human past as we humans are from the lower animals. From the human point of view this change will be a throwing away of all the previous rules, perhaps in the blink of an eye, an exponential runaway beyond any hope of control. Developments that before were thought might only happen in "a million years" (if ever) will likely happen in the next century. Once human technology passes a certain threshold, roughly that described by Vinge and other Singularity enthusiasts, human beings will potentially enjoy the kind of powers and pleasures traditionally assigned to gods or beings in heaven: Limitless lifespans, if not immortality, superhuman powers, virtually limitless wealth, fleshly pleasures on demand, etc. These sound like the sorts of things that religions have promised their followers throughout human history.

04/06/06 - Health Problems Related to the Geek Lifestyle
"A doctor and former programmer has written a good article on common geek health problems. From the article: 'If I were to go and try to run a few miles this weekend, I would not be able to easily do so. [...] However, if you take one of the these college basketball athletes, any of them would be able to run miles without even breathing heavy. However, if you made them sit down and try to learn Java for 12 hours a day, most of them would be asleep at their desk before lunch. The typical geek trains their brain to be heavily focused while multitasking day after day. Is it surprising that this same brain does not do well when forced to isolate down to one task?'"

04/05/06 - Alkaline Battery Charger Hack
As we all know, it costs a fortune to continuously feed our devices with fresh batteries. Not to mention the cost of rechargeables. As for safety the first thing you will hear is that during charging these batteries can generate hydrogen gas. This is true but the amounts are so small that you would need many batteries to achieve a satisfactory explosion. I normally only charge the batteries to around 10% over their rated voltage so two 1.5 volt batteries in series get charged to 3.3 volts which does wonders for reusability. I tried overcharging one set of batteries but after about 6 hours I got bored and gave up. There are definite benefits to using this device. The most obvious is the savings you will see. AA batteries can cost as much as $4.00 a pack in the U.S. so if you can reuse the batteries even once then you cut that price in half. You will also benefit the environment by reducing, by half or more, the amount of hazardous battery waste that you dump each year. Take the appropriate safety precautions when using this device. However, in my limited experience I have yet to do anything worse than ruin an already dead battery.

04/05/06 - ESA Announces Gravity-Modification Breakthrough
The European Space Agency announced on March 21st the results of an experimental test in which a superconductor rotating at 6,500 rpm is shown to gain acceleration as the result of what is believed to be a gravity-modification effect. As reported by the ESA, "The experiment demonstrated that a superconductive gyroscope is capable of generating a powerful gravitomagnetic field, and is therefore the gravitational counterpart of the magnetic coil. Although just 100 millionths of the acceleration due to the Earth’s gravitational field, the measured field is a surprising one hundred million trillion times larger than Einstein’s General Relativity predicts." Tajmar's experimental results follow in a long thread of anecdotal claims & theoretical predictions from scientists such as Dr's Ning Li, Evgeny Podkletnov, Douglas Torr, Robert Baker, Raymond Chiao, and David Maker. While Li & Podletnov have described seeing remarkable large-scale experimental results, other experiments have produced no results whatsoever, creating a general uncertainty in the scientific community as to whether gravitomagnetic effects do in fact exist in superconductors. Dr. Clive Woods of Iowa State University addressed the issue of gravitational-coupling in superconductors in a recent publication entitled "High-Frequency Gravitational Wave Optics". His research revisits earlier calculations by Li & Torr showing that gravitational waves inside a Type-II superconductor propogate with a phase-velocity 300 times slower than in free-space, and leading to the hypothesis that a superconductor may require focusing in order to correctly absorb & re-radiate gravitational waves. This notion may explain in part at least some of the difficulty found in obtaining consistent experimental results, as illustrated by the experimental failure of Dr. Raymond Chiao's "gravity-radio" experiment in 2003.

04/05/06 - 2-4 Drinks Daily Fuels Blood Vessel Growth & Cancer Tumors
University of Mississippi researchers say they have created the first-ever mammalian model of how alcohol consumption spurs tumor growth, showing that even moderate drinking resulted in larger and more robust tumors. The research shows the links between alcohol, vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), and tumor growth. It increases understanding of how alcohol over-stimulates production of VEGF. The research could lead to a way to block VEGF over-production, and reduce the incidence of cancer, researchers said.

04/05/06 - Professor Predicts Human Time Travel This Century
With a brilliant idea and equations based on Einstein’s relativity theories, Ronald Mallett from the University of Connecticut has devised an experiment to observe a time traveling neutron in a circulating light beam. Mallett, a U Conn Physics Professor for 30 years, considered an alternative to these time travel methods based on Einstein’s famous relativity equation: E=mc2. “Einstein showed that mass and energy are the same thing,” said Mallett, who published his first research on time travel in 2000 in Physics Letters. “The time machine we’ve designed uses light in the form of circulating lasers to warp or loop time instead of using massive objects.” To determine if time loops exist, Mallett is designing a desktop-sized device that will test his time-warping theory. By arranging mirrors, Mallett can make a circulating light beam which should warp surrounding space. Because some subatomic particles have extremely short lifetimes, Mallett hopes that he will observe these particles to exist for a longer time than expected when placed in the vicinity of the circulating light beam. A longer lifetime means that the particles must have flowed through a time loop into the future. “Say you have a cup of coffee and a spoon,” Mallett explained to PhysOrg.com. “The coffee is empty space, and the spoon is the circulating light beam. When you stir the coffee with the spoon, the coffee - or the empty space - gets twisted. Suppose you drop a sugar cube in the coffee. If empty space were twisting, you’d be able to detect it by observing a subatomic particle moving around in the space.” And according to Einstein, whenever you do something to space, you also affect time. Twisting space causes time to be twisted, meaning you could theoretically walk through time as you walk through space.

04/05/06 - Researchers say low-cal diet cuts aging
Longevity researchers say they've shown for the first time that following a strict low-calorie diet can decrease DNA damage linked with aging. Some people who took part in the six-month diet study ate as little as 890 calories a day. Their insulin levels fell and metabolisms slowed - changes that are thought to increase longevity. "They are the first proof that what has been observed in rodents seems to be also working in humans," Ravussin said. The 48 participants, all slightly overweight, were randomly assigned to one of four groups: calorie restriction, which cut usual daily calories by 25 percent; calorie restriction plus exercise, which cut daily calories by 12.5 percent and increased physical activity by 12.5 percent five days a week; very low calories, with an 890-calorie liquid diet for up to about three months followed by a weight-maintenance diet; and a control group that aimed to keep weight steady. Government dietary guidelines for weight maintenance recommend about 2,000 to 3,000 calories a day, depending on age, gender and activity level, with the higher amount generally for very active men. The non-liquid diets used in the study were high in fruits and vegetables with less than 30 percent fat. Average weight loss was about 18 pounds, slightly more in the liquid-diet group. Blood tests showed substantial decreases in the amount of age-related DNA damage in each of the three dieting groups, compared with their initial levels. That kind of microscopic damage is linked to cancer and other age-related ailments, but it's unknown whether the small changes seen in the study would affect the study volunteers' disease risks. No changes were seen in the control group. Insulin levels also decreased after six months in all three reduced calorie groups. Core body temperature also dipped slightly in two low-calorie groups but not in the liquid-diet or control group. The results show that the diets are safe, and not impossible to follow, Hadley said.

04/05/06 - RFID shielded Wallet
With the proliferation of RFID devices and related privacy concerns, it seemed due time to create the RFID Blocking Duct Tape Wallet. There are many ways to prevent Radio Frequency ID tags from being transmitted from devices. It seemed to be pretty well known online that aluminum foil prevented the transmission of RFID signals. A quick test at my work place using my badge confirmed this. The next step was to design a wallet with aluminum foil embedded inside. Using the plans to make Duct Tape Wallets I created previously, it was simple to modify them to include the aluminum foil.

04/05/06 - Geneticially modified Grass for easier maintenance
"Tired of watering your yard? Don't like using herbicides and pesticides? If so, be excited. Wired is running an article about the future of grass and how biotechnology is helping it get there. ScottsMiracle-Gro CEO Jim Hagedorn has visions of everything from uniform, weed-resistant grass to make the most perfect golf courses, to parks that need less water and mowing to remain beautiful. With the help of natural DNA processes, scientists are already inserting genes into plants to meet these visions. If the company can get past the gauntlet of government regulators, the $7 billion lawn care industry could explode into a whole new arena."

04/05/06 - Bird Flu scare produces fake, dementia causing pirate eggs in China
Evil food pirates in China have developed a way to make fake eggs out of gelatine, benzoic acid, alum, and other ingredients of varying toxicity. The eggs are sold at a very low price to unsuspecting consumers and can be cooked just like the real thing. The good news: no cholesterol. The bad news: eating too many can lead to dementia. (via boingboing.com)

04/05/06 - U.S. and Mexico Collaborate on Capture and Reuse of Methane
In an agreement to develop clean energy projects in Mexico as well as improve energy security, economic benefits, and public health, the U.S. and Mexican governments will collaborate on the capture and beneficial use of methane gas. U.S. Agency International Development (USAID) Acting Administrator Frederick Schieck announced that the agency will be providing more than $800,000 for such initiatives in Mexico. U.S. EPA Deputy Administrator Marcus Peacock and USAID Acting Administrator Frederick Schieck recently joined Mexico's Undersecretary of Environment Jose Ramon Ardavin in signing the letter of cooperation, which contains terms that further efforts toward technologies that recover and use methane gas currently released from natural gas and oil systems, landfills, underground coal mines, and agricultural operations. Under the terms of this agreement, EPA, USAID, and the Mexican Secretariat of Environment and Natural Resources will work with local governments and the private sector. Methane is a clean-burning fuel that is the main component of natural gas. The U.S. Government is committing up to $53 million over the next five years to support the Methane to Markets Partnership.

04/04/06 - Cheaper and smaller inverters for solar panels
New technology could enable people to generate their own power economically at home and then feed it into the national grid on a very small scale. Cuauhtemoc Rodriguez, a PhD student at the University of Cambridge, has come up with a new generation of cheaper and smaller inverters for solar panels which can be plugged into standard electricity sockets. The focus of the research is on the development of new electronic systems for efficient power conversion, in particular the problem of efficiently converting solar generated power so that it can be continuously fed into the standard domestic AC electricity supply. The output power from solar panels is DC (similar to that from chemical batteries) so an electronic interface is essential to convert it into electricity at 220 - 240 V 50 Hz AC whilst controlling variations in sunshine levels. The energy output from solar panels changes continuously as the level of light varies during the day. To maintain high efficiency when the power output from the solar panels is low is particularly challenging. Most solar installations which are connected to the grid need to be at least 1kW to ensure overall system efficiency can be maintained even in low sunlight conditions. Cuauhtemoc's research is aimed at breaking this limit while maintaining high efficiency, to allow much smaller solar installations of around 100 W, requiring much smaller capital investment, to be connected to the electricity grid. Previous devices would need at least five solar panels to work whereas this technology only requires one. The reduced size, easy connectivity and integrated conversion unit allow these solar panels to be plugged into a standard power socket in a domestic building. Instead of drawing power from the socket, power will be fed into the system. The research has the potential to change how we generate our electrical energy, giving householders the opportunity to be electric power generators as well as consumers. Electric power generation using photovoltaic cells can thus become a truly consumer-driven technology.

04/04/06 - Abdominal fat linked to higher death rate in men
A new study by Queen's University researchers shows for the first time that visceral fat in the abdomen is directly associated with a higher risk of mortality in men. Since visceral fat is strongly correlated with waist circumference, the researchers recommend that waist measurement be a routine measure in clinical practice. (At present tests of visceral fat are not available for clinicians in Canada.) Using computed tomography (CT) images, the researchers acquired slices of the abdomen to measure visceral, subcutaneous and liver fat in 291 men. They found that visceral fat alone independently predicted risk of mortality. "We're trying to find out which factors are most associated with disease," says Dr. Ross, noting that earlier studies have shown weight is not the most important indicator. "It's possible to exercise and decrease your risk even though weight may stay the same." When looking at diet weight loss versus exercise weight loss, those who exercise tend to lose more visceral fat and maintain muscle fat better than those using strictly a diet approach, he points out. "This reinforces the importance of maintaining regular physical activity." Although the current study was restricted to men, excess abdominal fat is a risk factor for women as well, says Ms Kuk. "For both men and women we need to stress the importance of physical activity and measuring your waist. The emphasis of obesity reduction strategies should move away from diet alone and from focusing solely on body weight."

04/04/06 - New plastic can better convert solar energy by 5X
Researchers at the University of Toronto have invented an infrared-sensitive material that's five times more efficient at turning the sun's power into electrical energy than current methods. Sargent and other researchers combined specially-designed minute particles called quantum dots, three to four nanometres across, with a polymer to make a plastic that can detect energy in the infrared. Infrared light is not visible to the naked eye but it is what most remote controls emit, in small amounts, to control devices such as TVs and DVD players. It also contains a huge untapped resource -- despite the surge in popularity of solar cells in the 1990s, we still miss half of the sun's power, Sargent said. "In fact, there's enough power from the sun hitting the Earth every day to supply all the world's needs for energy 10,000 times over,'' Sargent said in a phone interview Sunday from Boston. The film can convert up to 30 per cent of the sun's power into usable, electrical energy. Today's best plastic solar cells capture only about six per cent.

04/04/06 - Solving The U.S. Oil Dependency
How about if I narrow your question to what it would take to replace our current gasoline consumption with electricity? Here's a rough estimate. An electric vehicle (EV) uses less energy per mile traveled than a vehicle powered by an internal combustion engine. Exactly how much less depends on many factors, but let's assume that it is around 70 percent (including the amount of energy "lost" when a battery is recharged), or in other words, an EV would use only about 30 percent as much energy, or 10.88 kWh, to travel the same distance as an average car burning one gallon of gasoline. A couple hundred 1GW power plants coupled with an electric hybrid fleet would solve the US oil dependence issue.

04/04/06 - Organs grown from Patients Cells
Seven patients who needed new bladders received transplants of organs grown from their own cells. Dr. Anthony Atala, a pioneer in engineered organ research, and his colleagues at Wake Forest University in North Carolina conducted the operation on the patients who range in age from toddlers to teenagers and all suffer from spina bifida, a congenital birth defect. Normally, a hunk of intestine is modified to replace a faulty bladder, common in people who have the disease, but that procedure can lead to other problems. In the new procedure, doctors extract muscle and bladder cells from a small piece of the patient's own bladder. The cells are grown in a Petri dish, then layered onto a three-dimensional mold shaped like a bladder. In a few weeks, the cells produce a new bladder, which is implanted into the patient. Within a few more weeks, the new bladder has grown to normal size and has started functioning. Atala is working to grow 20 different tissues and organs, including blood vessels and hearts, in the laboratory, according to the university. "We're not using any type of stem cell population or cloning techniques, but mainly the patient's own cells that we're using to create these organs and put them back into the patient," Atala told CNN. Because the bladders are grown from a patient's own cells, there is no risk of rejection, as in a traditional transplant. (via boingboing.com)

04/04/06 - Honeycomb glass enhances Plant Growth
Nathan Van Heyst and Tobi Sogbesan, who I'm presuming are elementary school students somewhere in Ontario. The two boys created two small greenhouses -- one built with regular glass and the other using Advanced Glazings' honey-combed, insulating glass, which evenly lets light shine through but without the sharp slivers that cause glare. Anyway, they let the two greenhouses sit in the sunlight under the same conditions for several days and watched to see if there was a difference in the growth rates of the seedlings (onions, lettuce and radishes). And sure enough, there was a noticeable difference, as you can see by the photos alongside this post. The insulating glass clearly encouraged faster growth. Not only is this a great science fair project, but in demonstrates how the technology can improve the business case for a greenhouse in the real world -- you get energy efficiency through better insulating and you get better quality light, which helps boost plant yields.

04/04/06 - De-Sucking the Government
"For reasons probably rooted in the sheer complexity of modern society, to which our governmental structure may not be well adapted, we have experienced in recent years a series of policy fiascoes, many of which seem to reflect an inability to plan ahead." Bob Walker has a big idea-solution. Walker's idea, which makes it print debut here in TCSDaily, is this: Take the functions of the federal executive branch and turn them all into five "super departments." That is, take the existing unwieldy 15 Cabinet departments -- and umpty-ump independent agencies -- and collapse them into a user-friendly quintet: * National Security - including Defense, State, the CIA * Economy & Trade - including Treasury, Commerce, Special Trade Representative * Justice, Border & Homeland Security * Energy, Environment, Science & Technology * Human Resources & Transportation. Each of the Super Secretaries would report to the President; they'd have to, because they would be right at his side. Everybody knows that small groups of heavyweights get more done than big groups of lightweights, but that lesson comes doubly clear in a new book, Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin. The illustration on the dust jacket underscores Walker's point: We see President Lincoln with seven advisers -- that's it. Of course, if the Big Five spend their time hanging with the President, that leaves open the question of who will run the departments. Answer: strong deputies and agents. Or, to put it another way, the federal government has to be well-run by its executives. If not, then the President needs to look his failures right in the eye and tell them that they are no longer needed. If the executive branch were made, once again, exciting and elite, it wouldn't be hard to find superior replacements for failures. So the real answer is to find better people, give them plenty of authority -- but also lots of responsibility, including responsibility for failure.

04/03/06 - Soaring with High-Flying Zeppelin Hybrid
Called a Dynalifter, this $500,000, 117-foot-long prototype vessel fires up the runway like a jet, still sucks in a very less amount of fuel as compared to a real jet engine. “Rather than spending a quarter of a billion dollars on a new airplane,” Martin says, “you can build an airship to perform the same function for much less.” Ohio Airship’s Dynalifter opens up a plethora of usability options ranging from luxury travel to military installations.

04/03/06 - Bio-Engineering Mythical Beasties
With luck, you may soon be able to buy a mythological pet. Biology and computing have a lot in common, since both are about processing information-in one case electronic; in the other, biochemical. Virtual cell biology aspires to make a software model of a cell that is accurate in every biochemical detail. That is possible because all animal cells use the same parts list-mitochondria for energy processing, the endoplasmic reticulum for making proteins, Golgi body for protein assembly, and so on. Armed with their virtual cell, GeneDupe's scientists can customise the result so that it belongs to a particular species, by loading it with a virtual copy of that animal's genome. Then, if the cell is also loaded with the right virtual molecules, it will behave like a fertilised egg, and start dividing and developing-first into an embryo, and ultimately into an adult. Because this “growth” is going on in a computer, it happens fast. Each computer starts with a search image (dragon, unicorn, gryphon, etc), and the genome of the real animal most closely resembling it (a lizard for the dragon, a horse for the unicorn and, most taxingly, the spliced genomes of a lion and an eagle for the gryphon). The virtual genomes of these real animals are then tweaked by random electronic mutations. When they have matured, the virtual adults most closely resembling the targets are picked and cross-bred, while the others are culled. This involves synthesising, with actual DNA, the genetic material that the computer models predict will produce the mythical creatures. The synthetic DNA is then inserted into a cell that has had its natural nucleus removed. The result, Dr Fril and his commercial backers hope, will be a real live dragon, unicorn or what have you. Readers with long memories may recall GeneDupe's previous attempt to break into the pet market, the Real Goldfish (see article). This animal was genetically engineered to deposit gold in its skin cells, for that truly million-dollar look. Unfortunately Dr Fril, a biologist, neglected to think about the physics involved. The fish, weighed down by one of the heaviest metals in existence, sank like a stone, as did the project.

04/03/06 - Emergency light could save lives
(This is something simple but would be a great help for ambulances and emergency responders when trying to find the source of the call. - JWD) One night a local man awoke to the sound of sirens blaring through his neighborhood. The ambulance passed his home a few times, interrupting his sleep, but also leading him to wonder, "It still can't find the house?" Precious minutes wasted searching. That question plagued Suffolk resident Robert Happer Jr. all through the night and for the next three weeks. Then he happened by a truck with its emergency flashers on, "And it dawned on me what I was supposed to do," he said. From that epiphany, The Emergency Light was born. The red metal pole is made to hang over the top of a front door. At the end is a plastic red light that resembles a bicycle reflector, but in reality it is a powerful strobe that blinks continuously. The light, which can be seen from two miles away and can last for more than 500 hours, is meant to help emergency response personnel find the home in need. Happer suggests when giving an address to a 911 dispatcher, add that emergency response personnel should look for the flashing red light. It helps them find people faster, and enables those in the home to continue assisting the person in crisis without having to worry about flagging down help, said George Happer Jr., Robert's first cousin and business partner. Anyone interested in buying The Emergency Light, which costs $19.95, can find it at Borders Station on the Virginia/North Carolina border, Mitchell's Complete Upholstery on Great Bridge Road in Chesapeake, by Global Lighting LLC calling (757) 538-3161 or online at www.TheEmergencyLight.com

04/03/06 - Electric currents to treat depression
'When we turn the current on, the patients report the emptiness suddenly disappears.' Sufferers from depression who do not respond to existing treatments could soon benefit from a new procedure in which electrodes are inserted into the core of the brain and used to alter the patient's mood. Later this year, scientists at Bristol University will conduct the first trials of the so-called deep brain stimulation method on sufferers from depression. They will use hair-thin electrodes to stimulate two different parts of the brains of eight patients who suffer from an extreme form of recurrent unipolar depression - where mood only swings in one direction. If the trials are successful, deep brain stimulation could be extended to the estimated 50,000 people in the UK who suffer from depression but cannot be helped by drugs or electroconvulsive therapy. By inserting electrodes into the brain while the patient is conscious (so that the surgeon knows if they have hit the right spot), Dr Mayberg found remarkable results. When she published her work, she said: "In the operating room, when we first turn the current on and get into the right location, the patients report that the heaviness or emptiness suddenly disappears. If they had a sense of a black cloud, they report it physically lifting." The moment the electrodes were turned off, some of the positive effects vanished, but the overall results - four out of six patients were lifted from depression for six months - were encouraging.

04/03/06 - Warm air threat to icy pole, says study
BRITISH scientists have found the first evidence of rapid, broad-scale climate change in the air above Antarctica. A review of 30 years of records shows the atmosphere has warmed more than two degrees in places, or three times the rate of the world as a whole. Dr Turner said it was not yet possible to be sure what was behind the warming. The new evidence came from records of weather balloons launched daily at many polar stations for nearly 50 years. Many of the records have been assembled for the first time. They show a winter warming throughout the troposphere, which extends about eight kilometres up, and a cooling in the stratosphere above. The largest warming, of almost 0.75 of a celsius degree a decade, was found close to five kilometres above the surface. "Greenhouses gases could be having a bigger impact in Antarctica than across the rest of the world, and we don't understand why. "Current climate model simulations don't reproduce the observed warming, pointing to weaknesses in their ability to represent the Antarctic climate system." Greenpeace said the rise was an alarming demonstration of the pace and scale of climate change.

04/03/06 - Company produces clones from cutting horses
A company that offers horse owners exact duplicates of their animals says it has successfully cloned two top-earning horses.

04/03/06 - UT professor says death is imminent
A University of Texas professor says the Earth would be better off with 90 percent of the human population dead. So what’s at the heart of Pianka’s claim? 6.5 billion humans is too many. In his estimation, “We’ve grown fat, apathetic and miserable,” all the while leaving the planet parched. The solution? A 90 percent reduction. That’s 5.8 billion lives - lives he says are turning the planet into “fat, human biomass.” He points to an 85 percent swell in the population during the last 25 years and insists civilization is on the brink of its downfall - likely at the hand of widespread disease. “[Disease] will control the scourge of humanity,” Pianka said. “We’re looking forward to a huge collapse.” But Pianka, a 38-year UT educator, maintains he’s not campaigning for genocide. He likens mankind’s story to an unbridled party on a luxury cruise liner. The fun’s going strong on the upper deck, he says. But as crowds blindly absorb the festivities, many fail to notice the ship is sinking. “Humans are so dense (in population) that they constitute a perfect substrate for an epidemic,” he says. He contends Ebola is merely an evolutionary step away from escaping the confines of Africa. And should an outbreak occur, Pianka assuredly says humanity will quickly come to a “grinding halt.” “Although [Ebola Zaire] Kills 9 out of 10 people, outbreaks have so far been unable to become epidemics because they are currently spread only by direct physical contact with infected blood. However, a closely-related virus that kills monkeys, Ebola Reston, is airborne, and it is only a matter of time until Ebola Zaire evolves the capacity to be airborne.” Pianka urges humanity to heed his call to be prepared, saying “we’re going to be hunters and gatherers again real soon.” “This is gonna happen in your lifetime,” he told his St. Edward’s audience. “Do you wanna go there? We’ve already gone there. We waited too long.”

04/03/06 - Scientists 'make stem cells' from testes
US researchers say they have transformed immature cells from men's testicles into powerful stem cells, which they have then coaxed into becoming nerve, heart and bone cells. "Germ cells isolated from adult human testis can be therapeutically reprogramed to have the ability to differentiate into cells that can be used therapeutically for cell-based regenerative medicine," they wrote for a presentation at the meeting in Spain. "We've already been able to reproducibly differentiate heart, brain, bone and cartilage cells, and we are excited to begin testing how these cells incorporate into tissues," Silva said in a statement. Stem cells are the body's master cells, and scientists are working to learn how to find and use them to replace tissue, to grow new organs, and to study diseases. Silva's team took cells from the testes of men aged 26 to 50 years old. They grew them in various formulas of cell culture, first to re-program to act as malleable stem cells, and then to use them to grow various cell types. "Our goal is to create the most potent cell lines to enable the most effective treatments and therapies for as many diseases as possible," said Silva.

04/02/06 - Levi-Car the perfect synthesis
The LeviCar System would combine the privacy and convenience of an automobile with the efficiency of a railroad, and door-to-door speed competitive with that of a jet aircraft, for distances of up to a thousand miles or more, using power from clean stationary sources. This five-car, manned MagLev train set hit a top speed in excess of 550 kph (340+ mph) on Japan's Yamanashi test track in April 1999. Picture how your trip would be much simpler. You would, as before, start by packing your car and driving - not to an airport that might be twenty to fifty miles away or more, but to a MagLev station within ten miles. Then, instead of taking your bags out of the car and schlepping them from one place to another, you leave them in the car. You might even stay in the car yourself. What happens is that the lower part of your car, the road chassis, is removed, and the upper part is placed on a MagLev bogie, which is on a spur of MagLev monorail. If needed, a streamlined fairing or dome can be placed over the car body. After a few automated safety checks, including a wind-tunnel check, the combined vehicle, or LeviCar, glides towards its destination on the MagLev system. Your car will now travel to another MagLev station within ten miles of your final destination, at speeds up to 300 m.p.h., or maybe more. There, it would removed from the MagLev bogie, and placed on another road chassis, similar to the one you left behind at the MagLev station near home. You can then drive to your final destination.

04/02/06 - Scottish Spacecraft catapult
Researchers at Glasgow University are working on the production of a giant stellar “slingshot” that they believe can be used to propel spacecraft to the moon. The technology would involve launching giant rotating wires, up to 62 miles long and made of a high-strength polyethylene fibre, into orbit. Spacecraft would launch as normal from earth, but with a substantially reduced payload of fuel. They would be fitted with a catch mechanism that would attach to the tether, which would then catapult the craft deeper into space at twice the force of gravity, minus the nose cone, which would drop back to Earth. The tether would use solar cells to produce an electric current, which would push against the earth’s magnetic field to create the huge force required to fling the craft into space. Once hurled away from the tether, it is estimated a spacecraft could reach the moon’s atmosphere within four days, where it would be caught by another tether in low orbit, which would deposit it safely on the lunar surface. Because there is no atmosphere on the moon, the tether would be able to touch the moon surface, allowing it to pick up objects and fling them back into space for the return journey. If the lunar tether collects a payload as it deposits another of equal mass, this would conserve the orbital energy and momentum of the system, eliminating the need for propellant. “Tether systems are an extremely attractive possibility for space transportation because they do not require any fuel,” said Radice.

04/02/06 - Cheap Solar Water Sterilizer
In Tanzania, villagers have been placing plastic water bottles full of dirty spring water in the sun on their black tar rooftops. After eight hours (or less in very hot areas), UV rays and heat have killed off the bacteria that cause cholera, dysentary, and typhoid. The water bottle approach has benefits beyond the reduction of digestive illness. Most villagers sterilize their water by boiling it, which is taxing, time consuming, and sometimes dangerous, requiring trips into the bush to gather wood. Additionally, the open fires cause respiratory troubles and eye irritation.

04/02/06 - Electrical Stimulation Reverses Drug Resistance in Cancer Cells
Treatment of drug-resistant tumor cells with low intensity, low frequency AC electrical stimulation can improve the efficacy of chemotherapy by interfering with intrinsic drug extrusion mechanisms, new research shows. The team had previously shown that such stimulation can reduce tumor cell proliferation through effects on potassium channels and can disrupt cytoskeletal mechanisms of cell division. Treatment with the electricity did, in fact, make the tumor cells more sensitive to doxorubicin. Further analysis showed that the stimulation achieved this effect by reducing MDR1 expression and by changing the distribution of the encoded protein from the plasma membrane to the cytoplasm. Together, these changes allowed doxorubicin to gain entry into the cancer cell, rather than be actively extruded. "These findings suggest a potential application of low intensity AC in the treatment of tumor growth by synergistically reducing neoplastic cell division and intrinsic tumor drug resistance," the authors state. "In view of the widespread use of stimulators and stimulating electrodes for the treatment of a variety of other diseases, it seems possible that coupling electrical stimulation to current chemotherapy protocols will improve the efficacy of our therapeutic approach to neoplasms," they add.

04/02/06 - FUSO Regenerative truck engine introduced
The new Mitsubishi Fuso Canter Eco Hybrid features a parallel hybrid system, which couples a conventional internal combustion engine with an electric motor/generator in an effort to improve overall vehicle efficiency. When slowing down or braking, the electric motor/generator functions as a generator to brake the vehicle. In the Fuso Eco-Hybrid, every time the driver lifts his or her foot off the accelerator, the diesel engine is taken offline and an inverter automatically switches the electric motor/generator into generator mode, feeding electrical power to the lithium-ion battery. It's this regenerative braking, as it's known, that is at the heart of the efficiency, says the company, it's the equivalent of pouring some diesel fuel back into the tank of a conventional truck every time it slows or stops. The hybrid system switches its operational mode according to the driving situation. The electric motor is used to drive the vehicle when starting off, then during hard acceleration both the diesel engine and electric motor/generator power the vehicle and while cruising the vehicle is driven by the diesel engine only.

04/01/06 - DIY Patents
I have been told that no one should apply for a patent without the help of a lawyer and that any inventor who does so is foolishly risking making a mistake that could cost him or her dearly. But I have six patents under my belt, and I wrote them and applied for all of them myself. I've been through pretty much the whole gamut of U.S. Patent Office travails: rejections, (successful) appeals, and even that rare event-a patent reissue. Much as I revel in being a distinctive and unique individual, I don't believe I possess a special aptitude, and I think most inventors would benefit from writing their own patents. Consider the following: * It is very unlikely that your invention (despite its brilliance) will ever be commercially successful, since only about one in 1000 is, so any mistakes on the application probably won't matter. * Most patents held to be invalid were drafted by attorneys, so a lawyer is not a silver bullet against risk. Among other problems, attorneys can fail to understand the invention adequately and thus make claims that are too broad or too narrow. * Doing the work yourself-known legally as acting pro se-will save you a lot of money.

04/01/06 - New scientific review shows vegetarian diets cause major weight loss
A scientific review in April's Nutrition Reviews shows that a vegetarian diet is highly effective for weight loss. Vegetarian populations tend to be slimmer than meat-eaters, and they experience lower rates of heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and other life-threatening conditions linked to overweight and obesity.

04/01/06 - BBC used to entice cyber victims
People are being warned about spam e-mails containing BBC News stories designed to trick them into visiting malicious websites. Cyber criminals are using the messages to exploit a recently discovered flaw in Microsoft's Internet Explorer.

04/01/06 - The vicious contrived circle of fear and terrorism
(Be sure to see V for Vendetta! I saw it tonight and was appalled at the 'correlations' to the world today. Ring any bells for you? "People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people." - Viva November 5th!! - JWD) One may say that wise is he who is afraid of his own fear, but, for the time being, how many of us have wondered about terrorism and its consequences? With a deep lack of thought, and probably due to our technological progress - which drags us to an increasing acceleration that needs the fastest decisions - we have been swept away by the emotional rush and the immediate reaction caused by tragic terrorist attacks. Let’s try to imagine, just for one moment, that the terrorism is only an invention, created, kept alive and propagandized to prepare the real war against the real enemy, an enemy that could come in the near future, even if is already becoming visible. Who can this enemy be? The people. Or, to say it better, that segment that becomes poorer day by day, whose discontent could grow to such a critical mass that it will spark a violent and unforeseeable reaction. Suspect, potentially and possible: the three words that contain the emotional defeat suffered by western democracies due to terrorism and in which you can sense the spark of regimes founded on suspicion, also known as dictatorship.

04/01/06 - Saab Unveils Gas Free Hybrid
GM today unveiled a Saab concept vehicle that runs on ethanol and battery power. Producing three times as much torque as a gasoline vehicle and it cuts the 0-60 speed by almost two seconds, according to GM. The BioPower Hybrid can be switched to city mode to run purely on electricity for short trips. The vehicle has two electric motors, including one in the back to drive the rear wheels. Saab is currently selling a flex-fuel version of the BioPower in Sweden. The Saab BioPower Hybrid Concept convertible is on display at the Stockholm Motor Show. (via impactlab.com)

04/01/06 - Cancer drug debate: What's 6 more months of life worth?
The high cost of many new cancer drugs has doctors, patients and health-plan administrators debating how much should be spent to give people a few extra months of life. Of the 15 cancer drugs approved in Canada over the past decade, three-quarters cost more than $20,000 for a normal course of treatment. For some, it means exhausting the family's retirement savings or losing their homes.The extra strain placed on provincial health budgets by new cancer drugs is forcing officials to ask some tough questions, said Dr. Malcolm Moore, a Toronto cancer specialist. "What sort of degree of benefit justifies the kind of costs that are associated with these drugs?" he asked.

04/01/06 - FileZilla FTP open source software (free)
FileZilla is a fast FTP and SFTP client for Windows with a lot of features. FileZilla Server is a reliable FTP server. (via lifehacker.com)

$5 Alt Science MP3s to listen while working/driving/jogging
KeelyNetNo time to sit back and watch videos? Here are 15 interesting presentations you can download for just $5 each and listen to while driving, working, jogging, etc. An easy way to learn some fascinating new things that you will find of use. Easy, cheap and simple, better than eBooks or Videos. Roughly 50MB per MP3. - Source

15 New Alternative Science DVDs & 15 MP3s
An assortment of alternative science videos that provide many insights and inside information from various experimenters. Also MP3s extracted from these DVDs that you can listen to while working or driving. Reference links for these lectures and workshops by Bill Beaty of Amateur Science on the Dark Side of Amateur Science, Peter Lindemann on the World of Free Energy, Norman Wootan on the History of the EV Gray motor, Dan Davidson on Shape Power and Gravity Wave Phenomena, Lee Crock on a Method for Stimulating Energy, Doug Konzen on the Konzen Pulse Motor, George Wiseman on the Water Torch and Jerry Decker on Aether, ZPE and Dielectric Nano Arrays. Your purchase of these products helps support KeelyNet, thanks! - Source to Buy

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