04/30/07 - Sheer Myths
Eating eggs will raise your cholesterol. Eating carbohydrates makes you fat. Drink eight glasses of water a day. Everyone needs vitamin supplements. (Details at the link.)
04/30/07 - Ocean currents, not humans' CO2 emissions, causing global warming
Hurricane forecaster William Gray said Friday that global ocean currents, not human-produced carbon dioxide, are responsible for global warming, and the Earth may begin to cool on its own in five to 10 years. Gray, a Colorado State University researcher best known for his annual forecasts of hurricanes along the U.S. Atlantic coast, also said increasing levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere won't produce more or stronger hurricanes. He said that during the past 40 years the number of major hurricanes making landfall on the U.S. Atlantic coast has declined compared with the previous 40 years, even though carbon dioxide levels have risen. Gray said ocean circulation patterns are behind a decades-long warming cycle. He has argued previously that the strength of these patterns can affect how much cold water rises to the surface, which in turn affects how warm or cold the atmosphere is. He also disputed assertions that greenhouse gases could raise global temperatures as much as some scientists predict. "There's no way that doubling CO2 is going to cause that amount of warming," he said. Gray said warming and cooling trends cannot go on indefinitely and that he believes temperatures are beginning to level out after a very warm year in 1998.
04/30/07 - Vitamin D casts cancer prevention in new light
For decades, researchers have puzzled over why rich northern countries have cancer rates many times higher than those in developing countries - and many have laid the blame on dangerous pollutants spewed out by industry. But research into vitamin D is suggesting both a plausible answer to this medical puzzle and a heretical notion: that cancers and other disorders in rich countries aren't caused mainly by pollutants but by a vitamin deficiency known to be less acute or even non-existent in poor nations. Researchers are linking low vitamin D status to a host of other serious ailments, including multiple sclerosis, juvenile diabetes, influenza, osteoporosis and bone fractures among the elderly. In June, U.S. researchers will announce the first direct link between cancer prevention and the sunshine vitamin. Their results are nothing short of astounding. A four-year clinical trial involving 1,200 women found those taking the vitamin had about a 60-per-cent reduction in cancer incidence, compared with those who didn't take it, a drop so large - twice the impact on cancer attributed to smoking - it almost looks like a typographical error. Only brief full-body exposures to bright summer sunshine - of 10 or 15 minutes a day - are needed to make high amounts of the vitamin. But most authorities, including Health Canada, have urged a total avoidance of strong sunlight or, alternatively, heavy use of sunscreen. Both recommendations will block almost all vitamin D synthesis. Anyone practising sun avoidance has traded the benefit of a reduced risk of skin cancer - which is easy to detect and treat and seldom fatal - for an increased risk of the scary, high-body-count cancers, such as breast, prostate and colon, that appear linked to vitamin D shortages. Avoiding most bright sunlight wouldn't be so serious if it weren't for a second factor: The main determinant of whether sunshine is strong enough to make vitamin D is latitude. Living in the north is bad, the south is better, and near the equator is best of all.
04/30/07 - 10,000 year old Camel bones found in Mesa, AZ
Workers digging at the future site of a Wal-Mart store in suburban Mesa have unearthed the bones of a prehistoric camel that is estimated to be about 10,000 years old. "There's no question that this is a camel; these creatures walked the land here until about 8,000 years ago, when the same event that wiped out a great deal of mammal life took place," Archer told The Arizona Republic. "In my 15 years at ASU doing this work I can think of six or seven times when finds this important have been made," Archer said. "This is the first camel. Others have been horses, once a mammoth on Happy Valley Road. This sort of thing is extremely rare."
04/30/07 - There's more to ethanol than just corn
W.S. Pryor, a retired oil company executive, advocates continued development of the nation's petroleum resources. While he pointed out familiar concerns about corn grain-based ethanol as an alternative fuel, he failed to mention the variety of other ethanol sources under investigation. These additional sources aren't just the future of ethanol as a fuel; they are the future of energy - and the future of our state and nation. Plant residues form biomass, which is the raw material from which cellulosic ethanol is derived. The preferred biomass feed stocks are switchgrass and woody biomass crops like poplar trees. These grow well all over Tennessee on mostly idle, marginal lands. Biomass can also be derived from residue left behind after forest products have been harvested or from the elements of corn left in the field to rot after the grain has been harvested. Cellulosic ethanol comes from the part of the corn plant not used for food. So, in addition to corn grain-based ethanol, Tennessee has an array of potential new energy sources from biomass - cellulosic ethanol. This expands ethanol's potential availability well beyond corn grain, which greatly expands our alternative fuel options - and in no way competes with any utilization of corn. A unit of corn ethanol, made from grain, yields about 40 percent more energy than it takes to produce that unit, according to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. A unit of cellulosic ethanol yields more than 500 percent of the energy that goes into producing it. In contrast, gasoline made from petroleum returns 20 percent less energy than it takes to produce it. That's why cellulosic ethanol is the future of energy.
04/30/07 - Climate change sees fish grow faster in warmer water
Climate change is affecting the growth of fish, with those living in warmer, shallow waters growing faster and species in cooling deep ocean waters growing slower, according to an Australian study. The research by Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) found fish were growing faster in waters above a depth of 250 meters (825 feet) and had slower growth rates below 1,000 meters (3,300 feet). "Fish growth rates are closely tied with water temperatures, so warming surface waters mean the shallow-water fish are growing more quickly, while the deep water fish are growing more slowly than they were a century ago." Populations of large marine species are subject to two major stress factors, commercial fishing and climate change, and the heavy exploitation increases the sensitivity of species to environmental effects, said Thresher. Thresher's team studied 555 fish specimens, such as Banded Morwong, Redfish, Jackass Morwong and Orange Roughy, from waters around Maria Island off the east coast of Australia's island state of Tasmania. The fish were aged 2 to 128 years and had been born between 1861 to 1993.
04/29/07 - Are we safe from robots that can think for themselves?
Scientists told yesterday of a new generation of robots which can work without human direction. They predict that in the next five years robots will be available for child-minding, to work in care homes, monitor prisons and help police trace criminals. And while it may sound like something out of a science-fiction film, the experts say advances in technology have made the thinking robot possible. Until now most robots have been operated by humans, usually by remote control or verbal commands. But now autonomous machines such as toys and vacuum cleaners which cover the room without needing any human instructions or guidance are being introduced. Manufacturers are exploring ways to make robotic toys look after children, which experts say will lead to child-minding machines able to monitor youngsters, transmitting their progress to the parents by onboard cameras. In Japan, scientists are producing robots to act as companions for the elderly and check their heart rate. "But the danger is that we will sleepwalk into a situation where we accept a large number of autonomous robots in our lives without being sure of the consequences. "The outcome could be that when given a choice the robot could make the wrong decision and someone gets hurt. They can go wrong just like a motor car can. "We should be aware of the future that we are letting ourselves in for. We need to look at their safety and reliability."
04/29/07 - Nuclear reactions may produce phones' power
For several years a Chicago entrepreneur has labored quietly building a company to create an alternative to batteries for powering cell phones and other small gadgets. The company, Lattice Energy LLC, deliberately kept a low profile because its core technology, first called cold fusion 18 years ago, has long been ridiculed by mainstream scientists. Lewis Larsen, Lattice's founder, didn't want his enterprise tainted by the empty promises of unlimited cheap energy surrounding cold fusion. Larsen, who has had careers in investment banking and consulting, has worked with many scientists doing experiments with what now is called low-energy nuclear reactions (LENR) rather than cold fusion. Even with the name change, he said, many scientists mistakenly still believe they are creating nuclear fusion in a bottle when they thrust palladium or other metals into heavy water and add energy. The experimenters were convinced that atoms of a form of hydrogen called deuterium were fusing together to form helium. "That kind of fusion requires very high temperatures," Widom said. Rather than look for other explanations, most experimenters preferred to invent new laws of physics to account for cold fusion, Widom said. But instead of a strong nuclear force like fusion at work, he concluded that a weak force was at the core of the experimental results. Electrons were combining with protons to form neutrons, giving off energy in the process. The entrepreneur and the professor have published their Widom-Larsen theory of low-energy nuclear reactions and have been meeting with business executives and government officials to build credibility for their ideas. "Our model invokes no new physics," said Widom. "Everything we've done conforms to the Standard Model's predictions for weak interactions." With advances in nanotechnology, Larsen predicts it will become practical to design devices using LENR to power cell phones that can last 500 hours. The technology also might be used to produce power in other settings, but Larsen said, "We're going for the best available market with lots of demand, and that's electronic mobile devices."
04/29/07 - RIAA Claims Ownership of All Artist Royalties For Internet Radio
"With the furor over the impending rate hike for Internet radio stations, wouldn't a good solution be for streaming internet stations to simply not play RIAA-affiliated labels' music and focus on independent artists? Sounds good, except that the RIAA's affiliate organization SoundExchange claims it has the right to collect royalties for any artist, no matter if they have signed with an RIAA label or not. 'SoundExchange (the RIAA) considers any digital performance of a song as falling under their compulsory license. If any artist records a song, SoundExchange has the right to collect royalties for its performance on Internet radio. Artists can offer to download their music for free, but they cannot offer their songs to Internet radio for free ... So how it works is that SoundExchange collects money through compulsory royalties from Webcasters and holds onto the money. If a label or artist wants their share of the money, they must become a member of SoundExchange and pay a fee to collect their royalties.'"
04/28/07 - Sorry for the limited updates, I'm too sore and sick to do it. Bumpy roads all day = major bruises, but getting better.
04/28/07 - DARPA Developing Defensive Plasma Shield
"According to an article at New Scientist, DARPA is developing a plasma shield that would allow troops to stun and disorientate enemies. The system will use a technology known as dynamic pulse detonation (DPD), which involves producing a ball of plasma with an intense laser pulse, and then a supersonic shockwave within the plasma using another pulse. The result is a gigantic flash and a loud bang in a the air. 'The company has also pitched a portable laser rifle, which would be lethal, to the US Army. It would weigh about fifteen kilograms, would have a range of more than a mile, and could have numerous advantages over existing rifles - better accuracy and the ability to hit a moving target at the speed of light.'"
04/28/07 - Is Wind Power Full of Hot Air?
Wind power might be the ticket, as 4,000MW of wind power capacity is possible by the end of 2007, according to research reported by Manufacturing.Net earlier this month. Industrial Info Resources has found that China’s geography provides an estimated wind power potential of 3.2 billion kilowatts, and it is expected to surpass Germany and the U.S. as the world’s largest wind power producer by 2020. While these are no doubt impressive statistics, it is important to understand what it is involved to make wind power work. The National Center for Policy Analysis recently provided a short and sweet guide of examples to wind power that highlights both its merits and its shortcomings. Consider these NCPA facts that don’t exactly paint a rosy picture for wind power:
• In 2002, there were 54 days in western Denmark on which the wind power systems supplied less than 1 percent of demand, according to an analysis by Denmark energy consulting firm Incoteco.
• For half the days in Germany in 2004, wind plant output was less than 11 percent of rated capacity; in California, at the time of peak demand in July 2006, turbines generated 10 percent of capacity, and Texas generates about 17 percent. • In contrast, coal and natural gas plants generate at a little better than 70 percent of capacity, and nuclear plants at more than 90 percent. “If our electricity was generated only by wind turbines, such inefficiencies and variability in the electrical power supply would be routine and entirely unacceptable,” says Pete du Pont, chairman of the NCPA and former governor of Delaware. Du Pont also cites plenty of wind power benefits, though, and says the technology is best used as part of a larger, alternative energy strategy. Shortcomings notwithstanding, plenty of people are betting big on wind power’s potential.
04/27/07 - A diesel Honda? That gets 62.8 miles a gallon?
Feast your eyes on this, car technology and high-mileage nuts. It's a Honda Accord that runs on diesel. Honda expects to bring the clean-diesel car to the U.S. by 2010. It gets 62.8 miles a gallon on the highway, but otherwise looks and feels like a regular Accord.
04/27/07 - Top Hedge Fund Managers Earn Over $240 Million
James Simons, a 69-year-old publicity shy former math professor, uses complex computer-driven mathematical models to make bets on stocks, bonds and commodities, among other things. His earnings last year were $1.7 billion. And Mr. Simons, the founder of Renaissance Technologies, is not the only member of the billion-dollars-a-year club. Two other hedge fund managers, Kenneth C. Griffin and Edward S. Lampert, each took home more than $1 billion last year, with George Soros missing the hurdle by a hair, give or take $50 million, according to an annual ranking of the top 25 hedge fund earners by Institutional Investor’s Alpha magazine, which comes out today.
04/26/07 - Video - TrussMe Builder helper
Watch us put up trusses on this house in minutes instead of hours with the Truss-Me system!! New invention for really fast, safe and accurate placement and securing of trusses when building a house.
04/26/07 - Steorn's free energy seems curiously expensive
There are easy ways to tell pseudoscience: grand claims with no way to verify them, important facts that are alluded to and not presented, claims of conspiracy or closed-mindedness by the scientific community, production of claims by press release rather than scientific papers. Steorn more than fulfils all of these: it is, by any objective test, pseudoscience. Unpredicted science is even better, when you see something happen, go "Hold on a sec..." and try and work out why. If you can't work that out using the very best science of the time, then you could be onto something. Chances are, you're not. You've missed experimental error, an aspect of existing theory, even a straightforward misinterpretation of results. To catch this, you put out a paper saying: "I've found this, and I think it's important". Others - not as attached to your discovery as yourself - then check what you've done. They repeat the experiment, but not to reproduce the results: instead, the idea is to pick holes in your logic, find problems, show why it's not important after all. Get past that stage and then and only then is it deemed good enough to build further theories. McCarthy says Steorn won't do that bit, and won't really explain why. Or rather, he says it will - but in private with hand-picked scientists, because it wants to have a really good explanation of how it works before it's prepared to demonstrate that it does. Put the plans up on the site, I said. What would it hurt? Multiple independent demonstrations are difficult to refute. The conversation ended up with him saying in effect: "This is how we've chosen to do it". There was talk of intellectual property and patents, yet if you want to patent something you keep quiet about it, not take out full-page ads in the Economist. They don't have to have a theory for it to be science - in fact, it's clear that they don't - but that doesn't matter. Build a box. Show it working. That's enough. Hans Christian Ørsted showed electromagnetism in 1820 and it wasn't fully explained until James Clerk Maxwell's masterwork nearly 50 years later - but it was all science. For the price of that Economist advert and whatever they're paying their PR company, they could have built 10 apparatuses that actually demonstrated their effect and Fedex'd them to the major centres of scientific excellence on the planet. It wouldn't even cost them that much. If they'll send me the plans, I'll build one. Having built it, I'll convince myself that it does produce more energy than it takes in - which will take a glass of water, a resistor, a thermometer, a couple of test meters and some basic mathematics, all of which I already have. I shall then get on the train to Cambridge and refuse to leave until the nice people at the Cavendish take a look at it. I shall do all this at no charge to Steorn, because it will make me very famous if it turns out to be true and I'll get a great article out of it if it isn't. Whether it's being driven by madness, genuine misapprehension or some ulterior motive yet to be revealed, it's not being driven by science.
04/26/07 - Does Miracle Germ Killing Product Live Up To Its Hype?
A cleaning agent that not only kills potentially harmful bacteria, germs, mold and mildew, but removes odours and stains as well. The secret lies in the machine that puts ozone into the H20 from your kitchen tap. "We're taking the oxygen in that water and just converting it to super oxygen," explains inventor Steve Hengsperger. "So we're taking the O2 and converting it to O3." He calls ozone a "natural sanitizer" that's 50 percent stronger than bleach and works 3,000 times faster. And he maintains that not even mutated germs can survive its power. Water that's treated with the substance is harmless to kids, pets and plants and doesn't hurt the environment, unlike some cleaners laced with ammonia or other chemicals. It breaks down completely after about 15 minutes and is always potable. Researchers say you can spray it on a diaper pail or a laundry hamper as a disinfectant. You can use it to kill invisible nasties lurking on stove and kitchen countertops. And scientists swear you can even spray it on food to kill any microorganisms lurking there. The invention comes with a variety of different models, including one for your kitchen and food and even one for your toothbrush. Treating the water requires buying the unit and that involves a not so minor monetary outlay, although the manufacturers believe you'll make it back by not having to purchase any other clearing products at your store. It costs around Cdn.$200 to get it into your home, but once you've got one, it's supposed to last for years. E. coli reductions - Tomato: 99.9% Grapes: 99.9% Snow Pea: 99.8% Kumquat: 99.8% Listeria reductions - Tomato: 99.9% Grapes: 99.0% Snow Pea: 99.6% Kumquat: 97.5% Salmonella reductions - Tomato: 99.9% Grapes: 99.9% Snow Pea: 99.5% Kumquat: 99.2%
04/26/07 - WIPO winners - Drug Tester and Solar Dryer
Marina Myagkova, from the Russian Federation, received an award for inventing a drug screening test which diagnoses whether a person has consumed narcotics within a period of two to four months. The second award went to a national of Congo, Tsengué Tsengué, for the invention of a continuous and adjustable solar-powered dryer for agricultural use which collects thermal solar energy, stocks it and releases it on demand.
04/26/07 - Your Alcohol Habits Revealed Using A Tuft Of Hair
Alcohol has just been classified as the fifth most seriously harming drug, after only heroin, cocaine, barbiturates and street methadone. In 2005, 19% of men and 8% of women were classed as ‘heavy drinkers’. Even more shocking is the fact that liver disease is the fifth highest cause of death in Britain. Alcoholics are just as prevalent in society as diabetics. Before today, it has just not been possible to check on someone’s previous long term alcohol abuse. As the hair grows, it absorbs special markers called fatty acid ethyl esters (FAEE’s) and ethyl glucuronide (EtG) into its structure, which remain in the hair indefinitely. These patented markers are only produced when there is alcohol in the bloodstream, and the more markers there are, the more alcohol you have consumed. What makes this analysis revolutionary is that it gives a history going back month by month or even years if required. No other method can do this. Afterwards, an alcoholic’s treatment can be monitored periodically as their hair grows. What are the benefits of knowing someone’s alcohol history? • Identify long-term alcohol addicts, offer help and improve treatment success rate • Prove a parent is fit to have custody of their children • Identify an alcohol abuser in a safety critical job • For forensic use, e.g. to prove whether a driver in a road accident was or was not in the habit of overindulging alcohol. (example: Princess Diana’s chauffeur, Henri Paul) • To prove someone does not have an alcohol problem and is fit to lead (for example running a political party, or head of a corporate business - all hair colours are suitable) • To prove someone is long-term abstinent and a suitable candidate for a liver transplant.
04/26/07 - Revolutionary breakthrough in fighting a cold
Innovative Vicks First Defence - a drug-free nasal spray - is being hailed as one of the most exciting advancements in the cold industry for years. Until now, cold treatments have fallen into two categories; products reputed to boost the immune system such as Vitamin C and Echinacea, or products that relieve the symptoms of the infection, such as decongestants. The introduction of Vicks First Defence means there is now a cold intervention product that is scientifically proven to attack colds at their source before they have a chance to develop. Vicks First Defence attacks the cold by physical rather than pharmacological means, supplementing the body’s natural ability to disarm and remove the cold virus before it takes a strong hold in the nose and throat. When sprayed into the back of the nasal passage, the viscous gel coats the virus so it can’t dock to the body’s cells, disarms it by creating an environment in which it cannot flourish and then flushes out the viruses, aided by mucus secretions. Vicks First Defence was successfully launched in the United Kingdom in 2005. A survey of patients who had tried the treatment there reported that, after using it, 88 per cent claimed they did not catch a cold or their cold was less severe than usual. The average incubation period for a common cold is usually around two days. Research shows this incubation period offers an opportunity to inhibit the virus before it takes hold. As a result, Vicks First Defence is most effective when used at the early signs of a cold - a tickly sore throat and sneezing are the most common. For optimum results, Vicks First Defence should continue to be used for two days after the symptoms have subsided. It can also be taken when there is an increased risk of catching a cold, for example on public transport, in the office or when a partner or family member already has a cold. Vicks First Defence, $16.99, 15ml, available over the counter at pharmacies or in supermarkets.
04/26/07 - Deep brain implants show bionic vision promise
Most visual prosthetics rely on implants behind the retina. These stimulate surrounding nerve tissue to generate points of light, called phosphenes, in the mind's eye. Such prosthetics require a detailed map of where phosphenes appear in response to electrical stimulation. Once this map is complete, digital images, captured by a camera, can be converted to electrical pulses that produce multiple points of light, allowing a blind person to "see" simple shapes. In patients with severe eye trauma, however, there may not be enough surviving retinal neurons to stimulate. Or a patient's retinas may simply have degenerated over time. An alternative is to place implants directly in the brain, within the visual cortex. But this is a large and complexly folded part of the brain, making access and mapping of the visual field a serious challenge. Now John Pezaris and colleague R. Clay Reid, both at Harvard Medical School in Boston, US, have shown that phosphenes can be produced by stimulating the lateral geniculate nucleus (LGN) - an area deep in the centre of the brain that relays visual signals from the retina to the cortex. The LGN was previously thought to be too difficult to reach. But surgical advances for deep brain stimulation - including treatment used for movement disorders such as Parkinson's disease - have made accessing it relatively easy, via a single small hole in the skull.
04/26/07 - Questions follow reports of stem cell diabetes cure
Diabetes cured by stem cells! Or so you would think, judging from last week's media coverage. The excitement focused on a trial conducted in Brazil that resulted in people with type 1 diabetes being able to live without injections of insulin for months - in one case for three years. It is unclear, however, whether the treatment constitutes a cure, or even whether any benefit was due to stem cells. Indeed, the trial's real significance may be to highlight the fact that tests of potentially risky stem cell treatments are increasingly taking place in Asia and Latin America, where approval may be granted more readily than in the US or Europe. n type 1 diabetes, immune T-cells attack cells in the pancreas that secrete insulin - a hormone controlling blood sugar. Sufferers face a lifetime of insulin injections, which may not be fully effective. As an alternative, doctors led by Júlio Voltarelli of the Regional Blood Center in Ribeirão Preto in southern Brazil treated 15 newly diagnosed people with immunosuppressive drugs. They then gave infusions of stem cells that had previously been harvested from each person's own bone marrow (The Journal of the American Medical Association, vol 297, p 1568). The idea was that these cells would produce new immune cells that would no longer attack the pancreas. It is unclear whether this is what happened, say diabetes specialists.
04/26/07 - Single Fatty meal stresses Heart
Researchers found that people who ate a fatty, fast-food breakfast were more prone to suffer the negative effects of stress than those who ate a healthy, low-fat breakfast. "What's really shocking is that this is just one meal," says researcher Tavis Campbell, PhD, assistant professor of psychology at the University of Calgary, in a news release. "It's been well documented that a high-fat diet leads to atherosclerosis [hardening of the arteries] and high blood pressure, and that exaggerated and prolonged cardiovascular responses to stress are associated with high blood pressure in the future." "So when we learn that even a single, high-fat meal can make you more reactive to stress, it's cause for concern because it suggests a new and damaging way that a high-fat diet affects cardiovascular function."
04/26/07 - Can Migration change the World?
The standard rap on migration in well-intentioned circles in the global North seems to have been split between two camps: those who believe that migration is completely bad, because it changes cultures in the South while adding to the number of people who are over-consuming in the North, and those who think it is mostly bad, but okay in small doses as a means of creating a multicultural society. But what if migration, properly conceived, could be crafted into a powerful force for good? Already, remittances -- the money sent home from the two hundred million people who have migrated from the Global South to the North, often intending to return home -- may prove to be, as we're remarked before, one of the most important levers for creating the conditions for sustainable development. About 200 million migrants from different countries are scattered across the globe, supporting a population back home that is as big if not bigger. Were these half-billion or so people to constitute a state - migration nation - it would rank as the world’s third-largest. While some migrants go abroad with Ph.D.’s, most travel ... with modest skills but fearsome motivation. The risks migrants face are widely known, including the risk of death, but the amounts they secure for their families have just recently come into view. Migrants worldwide sent home an estimated $300 billion last year - nearly three times the world’s foreign-aid budgets combined. These sums - “remittances” - bring Morocco more money than tourism does. They bring Sri Lanka more money than tea does. ...In 22 countries, remittances exceed a tenth of the G.D.P., including Moldova (32 percent), Haiti (23 percent) and Lebanon (22 percent). Why do they head North? Many are pushed by desperation, but many more are lured by the desperate and growing need for young laborers created by the aging of the developed world.
04/26/07 - Fixya Stuff - Online Support Community For Repairing Consumer Stuff
The idea behind FixYa is to aggregate all support information that is scattered throughout the internet in a single user friendly location. In addition, FixYa is a huge knowledgebase that is constantly updated by a live community of users who share their experiences of technical problems and solutions. Through the site's unique rating system, FixYa is allowing users to find the best solution for every problem and even offer a new solution. Our aim is that over time, FixYa will offer the best solutions for the most common problems of each and every product the site is covering. The best thing about our knowledgebase is that it's based on true user experience rather than on projected FAQs by the manufacturer.
04/26/07 - GoLoco: The Ride Revolution
GoLoco is a service that helps people quickly arrange ride sharing between friends, neighbors, and colleagues. We also handle online payments from passengers to drivers for their share of the trip costs.
04/26/07 - Video - Best Invention Ever!
Too good to pass up but the title sounded so intriguing I had to check it out. CYA indeed!
04/26/07 - GlobalFreeloaders
GlobalFreeloaders.com is an online community, bringing people together to offer you free accommodation all over the world. Save money and make new friends whilst seeing the world from a local's perspective!
04/26/07 - Hotdoll: The Sex Doll for Dogs
(Forgive me for this one, too funny NOT to post! And be sure to read the comments. - JWD) Is your dog in heat and humping anything it can wrap its horny little legs around? Are you constantly having to pry your promiscuous pooch off the legs of guests, parents and members of your church? Protect your leg from a hump attack by getting Scruffy a Hotdoll. Yes, it's a sex doll for dogs. It's shaped like a dog and it'll allow your tension-filled pet to go to town as much as his little heart desires, humping away until he passes out in exhaustion, leaving a wispy coil of friction-singed dog-fur smoke wafting into the air.
04/26/07 - Fuel-Efficient Cars Dent
States' Road Budgets
The Federal Highway Administration estimates that by 2009 the tax receipts that make up most of the federal highway trust fund will be $21 billion shy of what's needed just to maintain existing roads, much less build new roads or add capacity. Trying to compensate for highway-budget shortfalls, a handful of states are exploring other, potentially more lucrative ways to raise highway money. In a year-long pilot program overseen by Mr. Whitty, the cars of 260 volunteers were outfitted with Global Positioning Systems and electronic odometers that recorded the number of miles driven. The drivers bought gasoline at specially equipped service stations, where computers on the pumps subtracted the 24-cents-a-gallon gasoline tax and added a 1.2 cent fee for every mile driven. The pilot program ended last month. State officials are reviewing the results to determine whether the system would raise more revenue than the gasoline tax. The initiative likely will be revived and expanded when a few bugs are worked out, says Mr. Whitty. If the program is fully implemented at some point, Oregon would likely have to keep dual tax methods. Out-of-state drivers, whose cars wouldn't be equipped with the required mileage devices, would continue to pay the gas tax, while Oregon drivers would be switched to the mileage-based fee.
04/25/07 - India's Successful Commercial Satellite Launch
"Yesterday India successfully launched an Italian astronomical satellite. A BBC article (view video clip) notes that the launch grants India membership in the exclusive group of nations that can sustain commercial satellite launches. India's launch vehicle has less overall capacity than the competition - up to 1,500 kg to orbit - but the country plans to sweep the low end of the market by offering the lowest cost per launched kilogram for smaller payloads."
04/25/07 - Study Shatters Myth of Hybrid Premium
A new study of 118 Prius drivers, recruited mostly through flyers placed on their windshield, shatters the conventional wisdom that hybrids do not pay for themselves. Most of the Prius shoppers wanted an eco-friendly car. But when asked what kind of car they would have purchased if they had not bought a hybrid, these shoppers would have purchased a vehicle costing thousands of dollars more than a Prius. Therefore, the Prius was not only their most desired vehicle; it was cheaper than other cars on their shopping list.
“This study captured the people that traded down from a luxury vehicle, such as Audi A6, BMW X3 or Acura TL,” said Jonathan Klein, general partner of the Topline Strategy Group, the Boston-based business and technology strategy firm which conducted the study.
04/25/07 - Video - Outdoor Coanda Ufo demo
Outdoor flight demo of a RC Flying Saucer based on the Coanda Effect by Jean-Louis Naudin. more info - The GFS-UAV, propelled by an electric engine, uses the Coanda effect to take off vertically, fly, hover and land vertically ( VTOL ). There is no big rotor like on an helicopter and the flight is very stable and safe for the surrounding. The design of the GFS-UAV N-01A is based on the Geoff Hatton' flying saucer from GFS Project limited.
04/25/07 - How Plugin Hybrids will Solve the Fuel Crunch
The future of American motoring can be found in any hardware store. It's not in the automotive section, but over in the power tools aisle. There it sits, proudly displayed as the newest must-have tool in DIY America: the high-powered cordless drill. It's the battery we're interested in, a lithium-ion pack so densely charged with energy that a new 28-volt power pack is slimmer than an older 18-volt nickel-metal-hydride (NiMH) battery. In just over a year, li-ion completed a leap from cellphones to power tools and grabbed the spotlight in that market. Now its boosters say the battery is preparing to graduate to the big time, 4 million miles of American road. Efficient, affordable, 110-volt-powered vehicles could be on dealers' lots within three years-if engineers can get the lithium-ion batteries right.
04/25/07 - Japanese Genesis magnetic motorbike
The EV-X7 uses a hybrid magnetic engine, allowing the electric motorcycle to travel 180 kilometers (112 miles) on a single charge. Japanese electric vehicle manufacturer Axle unveils a new electric motorcycle EV-X7 powered by new hybrid magnetic motor SUMO, developed with its partner company Genesis Corp. in Tokyo April 4, 2006. The magnetic motor - a hybrid of a electromagnet and a permanent magnet - greatly enhances energy efficiency and allows the electric motorcycle to travel up to 180 kilometres (112 miles) on one charge, the makers said. / The EV-X7 weighs 200kg (440.92 lbs.) and is equipped with a newly-developed high-efficiency electric motor which drives the rear wheel. It can travel up to speeds of 150 kilometers per hour (90+ mph) and has a maximum range of 110 miles. All this is possible thanks to a state-of-the-art magnetic motor which is a hybrid between a electromagnet and a permanent magnet. The new motor is called Sumo or "super motor" and is actually housed inside the bike's rear wheel. The manufacturers say the motor is seven times more cost efficient than gas-powered scooters. "There will be a lot of advantages when motor vehicles go beyond existing hybrids and develop into purely electric vehicles. They'll become noiseless and will not harm the environment," said Jiro Sato, VP, Axle Corporation. The company plans to start selling a mini-scooter version of the magnetic-powered bike next year, which will be priced at about $2100. Daisuke Ito, a professional racer who test rode the EV-X7 prototype said, "I just feel that in the near future, we'll be seeing these kinds of electric motorbikes running all around town. And when that happens, conventional vehicles could disappear from motor racing, too, and we'll be competing only in electric vehicles." - More Info
04/25/07 - Video - 10 years of funny inventions
Outrageous and crazy inventions.
04/25/07 - Video - Free energy using magnets
Claim that angled magnetics will produce a continual rotation which can be used to drive a generator and produce power. The system shown should be scaleable if it works as claimed. It is reminescent of several other self-powered magnets particularly the Perended wheel. The angle of the magnetic fields and the overlap seem to provide a self-resetting driving force.
04/25/07 - Quantum physics says goodbye to reality
Physicists from Austria claim to have performed an experiment that rules out a broad class of hidden-variables theories that focus on realism -- giving the uneasy consequence that reality does not exist when we are not observing it. This opens the door to all kinds of weird semi-religious thinking that some folks will have lots of problems with.
04/25/07 - Video - Free Energy Ocean Star
Patent number:WO2004091083 - Turkish inventors device produce electric energy without battery.patented.Muammer yildizin icadi bedava elektrik ureten cihaz.erke gibi.Dogruysa muthis! / From the patent - A system which generates electrical power via an accumulator that provides the initial motion for the system This isa portable systemthat generates electrical power via an accumulator that provides the initial motion for the system Already existing systems can generate electric power of whose duration depends on the lifetime of the battery. In these systems, the battery has to be reloaded in order to restart the system.12V electrical power provided by the batteries used m cars are increased to 220 V via transformers. Two accumulators are used in our invention. The system works on a continuous basis after the initial start up via these accumulators. There is no need for another transformer. Our system, which generates electrical power, does not need any other devices and it keeps on generating energy via its own mechanism. Also, the system works without connecting it to a network. Thus, it can be used at any place where no electricity exists. Nevertheless, when this system is connected to the entry of the buildings, there is no need for an additional network. The system can produce electrical power independentof a network. Ocean Star Website
04/25/07 - The Meaning of Longevity
Nobody wants to die and longevity has always been a hot topic. Indeed, the now-standard Google Search test returns more than 17 million results with more than a few of them selling nostrums that promise to extend life. (Hint: they don’t work.) The unspoken assumption is that the goal of extended life is to stay healthy enough to continue as in midyears to chase additional success, wealth and recognition. There was not an inkling during the program that not everyone finds these goals fulfilling (even in midlife), and that after one has lived for five or six or seven decades, one’s attention might shift to goals and pleasures as different from midlife as midlife is from childhood and adolescence. That in later years, there might be a more complex reality to investigate and realize than continued career-building. A big difference between elders and younger people is that elders have been the age of everyone younger; we know what it is like to be 20, 30, 40, 50. But no younger person can know what it is like to be older. Yet they assume, without ever considering differently, that their goals are ours. Now that the culture of perpetual youth is fully established, the media - which pretty much is our culture - is operated exclusively by midlife adults promoting their stage of life as the right way, the only way, for everyone to live. For many years, I’ve held to a not entirely unique idea of the stages of life. In this theory, there are three broad divisions. The first, up until about age 30, is the information-gathering phase: school, early career, gaining experience as professionals and at living. The next 25 to 30 years are the busy, go-get ’em period: growing a career, making a home, raising children while adding to one’s store of knowledge. The third stage, then, is for integrating all that information, making sense of the first 50 or 60 years and suggesting ways to put that experience to use for the good of society - be it as small as one's family or as large as the world. More people are living longer, healthier lives than in the past and there are as many ways to use that longevity as there are people who attain it.
04/25/07 - Video - Free Energy Scalar/Magnet/Capacitor claim
This is a very simple build at home free energy demonstration unit. It is built from a 1F 5.5v supercap sandwiched between 2 motor magnets with like poles facing. They are secured to the supercap with heat shrink tube, then a scaler winding around that and there you have it enjoy the video.
04/25/07 - Citizen journalism as a form of fascism
If you've ever lived in a small community or belonged to an affinity group online, you know how things go. I belonged to an online group for Harley-Davidson Sportster riders, and even that went south. From discussing bike mechanics and good rides, it devolved into politics and where you stand on Iraq with lots of name-calling to boot. Let's face it, besides the good things about living in a small community, there are also the busybodies, the ones who think they are the community watchdogs and censors. They don't see or understand the value of impartiality or the benefit of standing on the outside and looking in. Is that who you want to get your information from? I guarantee at some point some local citizen journalist will ask why Mr. Jones down the street doesn't put out a flag on July 4th. What's wrong with him anyway? Or why does that guy with the funny accent never say hello to me? What's he hiding?
04/24/07 - Imagine an Earth without calamities
Tornadoes, hurricanes, blizzards, floods, wildfires, earthquakes, tsunamis: Mother Nature seems to have it in for our world these days. In a way, though, we live in a relatively peaceful time. While it's no comfort to those hurting or grieving now, Earth saw far greater catastrophes in its long and troubled past. The planet has been frozen, roasted, smothered, battered, shaken, half-drowned. Entire species have been obliterated; so far, fortunately, that doesn't include Homo sapiens, but we've had a close call. And these are all natural calamities, not those caused by humans, such as war, terrorism or the Holocaust. Researchers have collected evidence of at least five major extinctions, dated at 65, 200, 250, 360 and 440 million years ago. In the most recent episode, an asteroid 6 miles across slammed into what is now an area off the Yucatan Peninsula, killing off the dinosaurs and many other creatures. The biggest extinction of all, 250 million years ago, is known as "The Great Dying" because more than 80 percent of the species then alive disappeared. This was a "far greater crisis than the extinction of dinosaurs 65 million years ago," said Douglas Erwin, a paleobiologist at the National Museum of Natural History in Washington. "Plants and animals came closer to complete elimination than at any point since they first evolved," he wrote in his 2006 book, "Extinction." Earth's calamities included collisions with asteroids and comets, eruptions of supervolcanoes, massive lava flows engulfing millions of square miles, shattering earthquakes and devastating tsunamis. Most catastrophes aren't bad enough to cause an extinction, but they create tremendous havoc. Sometimes they've contributed to the rise and fall of civilizations. A rash of climate disasters about 2,300 years ago may have led to multiple civilization collapses in Egypt, the Middle East, India and China, according to Benny Peiser, an anthropologist at Liverpool John Moores University in England. The world has experienced repeated episodes of global warming due to natural, not human, causes: variations in the sun's radiance, wobbles in the Earth's orbit, massive emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. These hot spells have alternated with lengthy ice ages that uprooted plants and animals and drove many to extinction.
04/24/07 - Fascinating page on Vortices
This is the evidence describing the Vortex nature of our curved and divided, Electric Universe of appearances, from the so-called "sub-atomic" to the super-galactic, as opposed to the curved space and time of einstein's imagination. This site details the cause of our Universe of appearances due to the optical nature of gravity controlled light, which "pushes light" into vortices of expansion or compression, thereby creating all the various conditions of matter and energy witnessed by mankind through our limited senses and instruments. The history of suppression of knowledge and inventions by the global elite and the mechanisms and machinations by which they operate in plain view, without being noticed by the populous at large, will be thoroughly addressed in the many links found upon this page as well as links to the many recent findings which validate this Cosmology of Light. I have woven together many disparate theories found in the links from this web page, which interface with one another in their central tenets, relating to vortices. The various theorists are describing similar perceptions of the mechanics of our Universe according to different terms at times and from different levels of observation at others. The point of my work here is to show via the latest discoveries, the similarity of all these alternative and dissenting theories which are diametrically opposed to the physics as taught by corporate academia. These theories have born technologies, which will free us from the present pyramidal systems of control administered by the global elite, central bankers, energy barons, and war mongers. When the people of this planet finally understand this dissenting science, they will demand the immediate release and production of all free energy machines for the benefit of mankind as a whole.
04/24/07 - July 2006 - Ukrainians put free energy generator on eBay
Here's one for the technically-minded among you to ponder: a Ukrainian "free energy electro power source" which has popped up on eBay. Quite how the 100kW+ wonder machine works is anyone's guess, and the vendors are remaining pretty tight-lipped on the matter. It doesn't run on petrol or diesel, but does consume 1200m3 of air per hour. Quite remarkably, in can apparently operate simultaneously in a vacuum, which attests to its hi-tech capabilities. There are, nonetheless, a couple of clues as to the possible power source. First up, the blurb carries this dire warning aimed at preventing purchasers from investigating the machine's innards: "With the purpose to provide technology safety, the case of electric power station will be closed, and at its unauthorized opening electric power station will be self-destructed." Secondly, the same outfit is punting rather a lot of ex-military Geiger counters. Long-term readers may remember that back in 2004, the Ukrainians admitted they had somewhat absent-mindedly mislaid hundreds of nuclear missiles. Based on the available evidence, we have pointed the UN's nuclear watchdog in the direction of this auction, where they can get an example of the electro power source right now for a mere £143,600.
04/24/07 - Simple filter may inspire smaller fuel cells
The device, developed by Chinese researchers, extracts by-products that normally impair the efficiency of "direct methanol" fuel cells (DMFCs), without requiring extra power. Electronics firms including Samsung and Toshiba are interested in using this type of fuel cell to power portable devices, since the conversion of methanol is potentially more efficient on this scale than using either hydrogen or standard batteries (see Batteries not included). In one half of a DMFC, fuel is oxidised by a catalyst, forming carbon dioxide, protons and electrons. The protons and electrons take different routes to the opposite side of the cell where they recombine to make water. On the way round, the electrons provide electrical power. Waste removal - However, waste CO2, along with water and methanol vapour, normally collect inside the cell, diluting the fuel concentration and reducing the power output. Pumps can remove these by-products, but require space and power, reducing overall efficiency. The new device acts like a filter, collecting gas and vapour in a few simple steps. Firstly, around a hundred 50-micron-wide holes, each coated with water-repelling Teflon, allow CO2 to escape into the surrounding air. At the same time methanol and water vapour condense on the surface around the holes. The condensed liquid then flows 5 millimetres towards a reservoir for collection. A surface treated to repel water strongly at the start, and less so towards the collection point, pushes the liquid into the collection chamber. It can then be disposed of or recycled by extracting the methanol.
UAE looks to tap the sun for energy
Masdar has announced plans to build a $ 350 million 100-MW solar plant. In the vast desert surrounding the capital Abu Dhabi, the authorities are planning to spread arrays of solar panels to transform the blazing sun into energy. The plan may be expensive, but the handsome surpluses currently earned from oil revenues can cover the cost. “In the UAE today we do not suffer from a lack of energy security, but we never want to suffer from it,” said Sultan Al Jaber, chief executive officer of the Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company (ADFEC).
“We are thinking ahead of ourselves,” he said as he explained ADFEC’s initiative to develop alternative energy - branded Masdar, or “source” in Arabic. The booming city-state of Dubai, which unlike Abu Dhabi has dwindling oil wealth, faces a surging demand for energy to power its rapid economic development. Such “green” talk brings wide grins to the faces of environmental activists. “This is a very good prospect for the country’s energy sector,” said Habiba Al Marashi, who chairs the non-governmental Emirates Environmental Group. “It is very encouraging to know that the leaders of the country are making moves to shift to renewable sources of energy,” she said, predicting that it will blaze a trail for other initiatives. Abu Dhabi’s ambition also aims to maintain its world reputation as an energy exporter. “It is time for Abu Dhabi to start positioning itself as a (solar) technology developer... This is to maintain, and hopefully expand, Abu Dhabi’s position in the global market,” Jaber said. In practical terms, Masdar has announced plans to build a $ 350 million 100-megawatt solar plant, which will later be boosted to 500 megawatts to help ease peak-time pressure on the national grid. The plant, which will use concentrated solar power (CSP) technology, will be tendered in August to foreign developers who it is hoped will also bring in investment.
04/24/07 - Chinese Automakers Showcase Eco-Cars
“The government is trying to find a solution as quickly as possible, but this is a difficult problem.” One experimental clean-energy car runs on natural gas. Another uses ethanol distilled from corn. A third has a zero-emissions electric motor powered by a hydrogen fuel cell. These alternative vehicles were created not by a global automaker but by China's small but ambitious car companies, which displayed them Sunday alongside gasoline-powered sedans and sport utility vehicles at the start of the Shanghai Auto Show. At a time when they are still trying to establish themselves in international markets, Chinese automakers are already investing in such avant-garde research in a bid to win a foothold in the next generation of technology.
04/24/07 - Mulit-Lever Phenomenon for Free Energy
The more pivoting weighted levers I added to a wheel in a even manner the more balanced the wheel became, this is because the levers on one side would counterbalance the levers on the other side, thus needing less energy to rotate the wheel. If the leverage ratios of the levers are large enough and they are provided with a means to extract there leverage energy's, when rotated the wheel creates more leverage energy than the energy required to rotate the wheel, so the potential for self rotation is relevant. Note if you do not have a sufficient numbers of levers then the phenomenon will not work. See the two devices on page 3 that use the multi lever phenomenon to gain rotary energy from the input of gravity's energy. I have discovered that one of the reason for the multi Lever phenomenon, is that because the device rotates slower than the speed of gravity's 9.8 metres a second acting on the falling levers, means that mechanical advantage (Leverage) is gained free from gravity, this is gained at the cost of a small lever system imbalance, this also means that gravity's energy input is larger than the devices rotary output which means my leverage devices on page three comply with the natural laws of mechanics.
04/24/07 - British Crime Victims Must Pay Police to Investigate
Motorists whose cars are stolen are being told they must pay the police at least £105 if they want them to recover their vehicle when it is found and check it for forensic clues. The scheme - being implemented by forces across the country - has been attacked by angry motorists. Only car owners who agree to pay the fee, which in theory is to cover storage, are assured their cars will be “forensicated” - which means dusted down for fingerprints or swabbed for DNA. A police letter approved by the Home Office warns motorists who recover their own vehicles that the cars will not be checked for clues. It states: “[The police force will accept] no further responsibility and will be unable to take further action to identify the person who took it.” David Davis, the shadow home secretary, said: “Taxpayers already pay twice for policing, through central taxation and council tax. “It’s ludicrous to charge them a third time for the police to do their normal job when their cars have been stolen through no fault of their own.”
04/24/07 - Caffeinated Soap
The soap, called Shower Shock, supplies the caffeine equivalent of two cups of coffee per wash, with the stimulant absorbed naturally through the skin, manufacturers say. Scented with peppermint oil, each bar is designed to provide a stimulant boost within five minutes. You can get it for between $6.99 to $37.99 at ThinkGeek.
04/24/07 - Marking your Territory
It looks like a harmless teenage prank - training shoes dangling from telephone wires in a quiet suburban street. But for residents in this affluent neighbourhood it is a sign of something far more sinister. It tells them violent gangs are operating in their midst. Police say the symbol has started springing up across the country as a warning sign from gangs to rivals to keep off their 'patch'. The shoes are often taken from mugging victims and hurled on to the wires by new members of the gangs as an initiation ritual. This method of marking territory was first adopted by gangs in the Los Angeles ghettos but can now be seen across Britain.
04/24/07 - Broadcast live events with Ustream.tv
Ustream.tv lets you broadcast any live event over the web using nothing more than a webcam. You could use this free service to broadcast your band's concert, your high school's football game, your company's training session or just about anything else. All you need is a Ustream.tv account, a video camera (either a webcam or a camcorder that has webcam capabilities) and a broadband Internet connection (cellular modem cards are recommended for on-the-run notebook users). You can schedule events, send out invites and archive broadcasts for later viewing.
04/24/07 - 'How we made the Chernobyl rain'
Russian military pilots have described how they created rain clouds to protect Moscow from radioactive fallout after the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in 1986. Major Aleksei Grushin repeatedly took to the skies above Chernobyl and Belarus and used artillery shells filled with silver iodide to make rain clouds that would "wash out" radioactive particles drifting towards densely populated cities. More than 4,000 square miles of Belarus were sacrificed to save the Russian capital from the toxic radioactive material. "If the rain had fallen on those cities it would've been a catastrophe for millions. The area where my crew was actively influencing the clouds was near Chernobyl, not only in the 30km zone, but out to a distance of 50, 70 and even 100 km." In the wake of the catastrophic meltdown of the Chernobyl nuclear reactor, people in Belarus reported heavy, black-coloured rain around the city of Gomel. Shortly beforehand, aircraft had been spotted circling in the sky ejecting coloured material behind them. Moscow has always denied that cloud seeding took place after the accident, but last year on the 20th anniversary of the disaster, Major Grushin was among those honoured for bravery. He claims he received the award for flying cloud seeding missions during the Chernobyl clean-up. A second Soviet pilot, who asked not to be named, also confirmed to the programme makers that cloud seeding operations took place as early as two days after the explosion.
04/23/07 - Ex-generals: Global warming threatens U.S. security
Global warming poses a "serious threat to America's national security" and the U.S. likely will be dragged into fights over water and other shortages, top retired military leaders warn in a new report. The report says that in the next 30 to 40 years there will be wars over water, increased hunger instability from worsening disease and rising sea levels and global warming-induced refugees. "The chaos that results can be an incubator of civil strife, genocide and the growth of terrorism," the 35-page report predicts. The report was issued by the Alexandria, Virginia-based, national security think-tank The CNA Corporation and was written by six retired admirals and five retired generals. They warn of a future of rampant disease, water shortages and flooding that will make already dicey areas -- such as the Middle East, Asia and Africa -- even worse. "Weakened and failing governments, with an already thin margin for survival, foster the conditions for internal conflicts, extremism and movement toward increased authoritarianism and radical ideologies," the report says. "The U.S. will be drawn more frequently into these situations." "We're going to have a war over water," Root said. "There's just not going to be enough water around for us to have for us to need to live with and to provide for the natural environment." University of Victoria climate scientist Andrew Weaver said the military officers were smart to highlight the issue of refugees who flee unstable areas because of global warming. "There will be tens of millions of people migrating, where are we going to put them?" Weaver said.
04/23/07 - What to do first to Save the Planet
Back in the 1970s during the oil shock that created long lines at gas stations, a man named Arthur Rosenfeld did some calculations and came to a surprising answer. When the OPEC oil embargo hit in October 1973, Rosenfeld did a little math. He discovered that if Americans used energy as efficiently as the Europeans or Japanese, the United States could have been exporting oil in 1973, rather than sitting in rationing lines at gas stations. The solution, he realized, was not to bend the Arab oil regimes to America's will but to end America's thralldom to them by wasting less energy. The following summer, Rosenfeld and a few like-minded physicists organized a month long workshop, held at Princeton, that attracted top scientists and engineers from fields such as building design, transportation, the manufacturing sector, and gas and electric utilities. "We began looking at some things that were all sort of common sense," he recalls. "Change incandescent lights to fluorescents, make better use of skylights, put more insulation in buildings, that kind of thing. By the end of the first week, we realized that we had blundered into one of the world's largest oil and gas fields. The energy was buried, in effect, in the buildings of our cities, the vehicles on our roads, and the machines in our factories. A few of us began to suspect that the knowledge we gained during that month would change our lives." So what should we do first? Let's follow California's sensible lead. * Waste less energy. * Use renewable power wherever we can. * Become carbon neutral.
04/23/07 - Is Travel Destroying the Planet?
Planes, trains and automobiles are playing havoc with the earth’s climate. Is it still possible to see the world’s marvels without creating lasting harm to the environment? Whether you want to call it global warming, climate chaos or a trough between ice ages, there’s no longer any disagreement that something is out of whack. A February 2007 report by the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned: “Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, as is now evident from observations of increases in global average air and ocean temperatures, widespread melting of snow and ice and rising global average sea level.” Climatologists have been ringing alarm bells about global warming for more than two decades. Finally, we may have come to a point when ordinary people stop talking about the weather and start doing something about it. In December 2006, the Indian island of Lohachara, once home to 10,000 people, sank below the rising water level in the Bay of Bengal. The low-lying South Pacific island nation of Tuvalu expects it might be next; it has signed an informal agreement to evacuate its entire population of 11,000 to New Zealand if sea levels continue to rise. Eight World Cup skiing events were canceled this year as a result of too little snow in the European Alps. Mount Kilimanjaro has lost 82 percent of the snow and ice that once covered its peaks. There’s no getting around it: Just moving about does harm to the environment. Cars use gas, planes use jet fuel (a shocking amount of it while on the ground), and ships pour tons of sludge into the ocean. Even the Transportation Security Administration is compounding the problem. Ever since Sept. 26, 2006, we’ve been required to keep our toiletries in landfill-clogging three-ounce bottles-and if that weren’t enough, bundle them all together in a zip-top bag, yet another disposable product made from petroleum. It could even be argued that so-called ecotourism, which often involves driving jeeps into untamed areas and mucking about with the local flora and fauna, is more harmful to those environments than a bus tour that stays on the paved road. By most accounts, a cross-country airline flight dumps close to a ton of CO2 per passenger(or about as much as a single tree absorbs over its lifetime). Automobile emissions are harder to pinpoint, but it’s safe to say that driving instead of flying isn’t any better for the planet. According to the Climate Trust, if you drive 12,000 miles per year at 20 miles per gallon, you’re adding more than 5 tons of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere annually. All in all, the average American emits more than 16 tons of CO2 into the atmosphere each year, a cost to the Earth that can be offset for about $200.
04/23/07 - Device Uses Solar Energy to Convert Carbon Dioxide into Fuel
Clifford Kubiak, professor of chemistry and biochemistry, and his graduate student Aaron Sathrum have developed a prototype device that can capture energy from the sun, convert it to electrical energy and “split” carbon dioxide into carbon monoxide (CO) and oxygen. Because their device is not yet optimized, they still need to input additional energy for the process to work. “For every mention of CO2 splitting, there are more than 100 articles on splitting water to produce hydrogen, yet CO2 splitting uses up more of what you want to put a dent into,” explained Kubiak. “It also produces CO, an important industrial chemical, which is normally produced from natural gas. So with CO2 splitting you can save fuel, produce a useful chemical and reduce a greenhouse gas.” Although carbon monoxide is poisonous, it is highly sought after. Millions of pounds of it are used each year to manufacture chemicals including detergents and plastics. It can also be converted into liquid fuel. “The technology to convert carbon monoxide into liquid fuel has been around a long time,” said Kubiak. “It was invented in Germany in the 1920s. The U.S. was very interested in the technology during the 1970s energy crisis, but when the energy crisis ended people lost interest. Now things have come full circle because rising fuel prices make it economically competitive to convert CO into fuel.” The device designed by Kubiak and Sathrum to split carbon dioxide utilizes a semiconductor and two thin layers of catalysts. It splits carbon dioxide to generate carbon monoxide and oxygen in a three-step process. The first step is the capture of solar energy photons by the semiconductor. The second step is the conversion of optical energy into electrical energy by the semiconductor. The third step is the deployment of electrical energy to the catalysts. The catalysts convert carbon dioxide to carbon monoxide on one side of the device and to oxygen on the other side. Because electrons are passed around in these reactions, a special type of catalyst that can convert electrical energy to chemical energy is required Researchers in Kubiak’s laboratory have created a large molecule with three nickel atoms at its heart that has proven to be an effective catalyst for this process.
04/23/07 - Solid State Flapping Aircraft
You're gazing at the horizon when you see a small dot moving across the sky. A plane? A bird? No, it's the solid-state aircraft. A futuristic plane concept created by a small research team, the solid-state aircraft will fly just like a bird; it will arch its broad wings up and then flap them down in one continuous, fluid motion. No turbines or propellers, no flaps or rudders, will interrupt the smooth surface of the plane's flattened body. "As currently envisioned," Colozza writes, "the ultraslim vehicle would be unmanned, solar-powered, and made of strong, lightweight materials." Rather than a conventional metal framework and hydraulically actuated parts, the plane's body would consist of a plasticlike material called an ionic polymer-metal composite, which deforms when exposed to an electric field. The plane will also use thin sheets of photovoltaics material and lithium battery. Colozza's team calls the aircraft "solid-state" because it has no moving parts and uses advanced materials. But why fly like a bird? Colozza says energy efficiency is the main reason. The solid-state aircraft will fly like an albatross, which can glide great distances and circle over the same area for long periods of time, flapping only to regain altitude. Another advantage is control. To maneuver, the solid-state aircraft will adjust its wings into complex shapes, much as birds do, rather than using flaps or other moving surfaces.
04/23/07 - Six Degrees: our future on a hotter planet
During the cold war, every person on earth knew what the worst endgame would look like: the three-minute warning, the futile scrambling under desks, and universal incineration. With the just-as-real, just-as-dangerous threat of global warming, there is a vague sense of doom, but no clear mental picture of what meltdown would look like - until now. One of the last jeers of the dwindling band of climate change "sceptics" is that a world that is six degrees warmer sounds rather nice, thank you very much. John Redwood, a leading figure in David Cameron's fake-green New Tories, wheeled this canard out only last month. At first glance, they're right: a warming of 1°C to 6°C - which is what the authoritative Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) predicts - doesn't sound like much. It is. Lynas talks us through the six degrees of separation between us and a planet we do not recognise and cannot survive on. Some 18,000 years ago, the world was six degrees cooler. It was an ice age. Most of England was a freezing polar desert where winter temperatures went as low as -40°C. There were almost no animals, and the only plants to be found were a few species of lichens and mosses. It was possible to walk to France across the channel. No agriculture was possible, because the climate fluctuated too wildly. So what happens as we move in the opposite direction, up to six degrees warmer? With just one degree of warming, here's what happens: the Great Barrier Reef bleaches and dies, the Greenland ice sheet melts, the Maldives and many islands in the South Pacific disappear beneath the waves, rockfalls from the Alps multiply as the mountains melt, the seasonal rainfalls in sub-Saharan Africa change leaving millions at risk of drought and famine, and hurricanes start to hit Brazil for the first time in millennia. One degree. At three degrees, the Amazon rainforest - the planet's lungs - will die. Lynas explains: "The trees in the Amazon are used to constant humidity, and have no resistance to fire." Once the humidity dries out, so does the forest. They will burn and turn to ash. And at six degrees - the IPCC's higher-end predictions for this century - humanity enters its endgame. "An entirely new planet comes into being - one unrecognisable from the Earth we know today," Lynas writes. The rainforests are gone, the world's ice supplies are only a memory, the seas are encroaching, and inland cities see temperatures ten degrees higher than today. In the world's major crop-growing areas - India, Australia, the inland United States - most crops are dying, and mass starvation is a perennial risk.
04/23/07 - Slowly but Surely We Are Skinning Our Planet
Throughout history civilizations expanded as they sought new soil to feed their populations, then ultimately fell as they wore out or lost the dirt they depended upon. When that happened, people moved on to fertile new ground and formed new civilizations. That process is being repeated today, but in a new book a University of Washington geomorphologist argues the results could be far more disastrous for humans because there are very few places left with fertile soil to feed large populations, and farming practices still trigger large losses of rich dirt. In essence we are slowly removing our planet's life-giving skin. "It only takes one good rainstorm when the soil is bare to lose a century's worth of dirt." Flat lands and areas with thicker, richer soil tend to have less natural erosion, while steeper areas have greater erosion from both wind and water. Removing vegetative cover just worsens the problem, Montgomery said. "If you take sloping land and strip the plants away, it leaves the soil bare and exposed. There will be a huge impact the next time it rains or when the wind blows," he said. "Plow-based agriculture can change the erosion rate of even a flat place like Kansas into the erosion rate of a place like the Himalayas. Basically that type of farming is remaking the surface of the planet." When the Earth's population was smaller people could move from one place to another and give soil a chance to regenerate. But now, with more than 6 billion people on the planet, that option no longer exists, Montgomery said. "We're farming about as much land as we can on a sustainable basis, but the world's population is still growing," he said. "We have to learn to farm without losing the soil." He advocates a wholesale change in farming practices, moving to no-till agriculture, which he says would reduce erosion closer to its natural rate. That method would eliminate plowing and instead crop stubble would remain in the field, to be mixed with the very top layer of the soil using a method called disking. Farmers might need more herbicides to control weeds, but it would take fewer passes of farm machinery - and thus less fuel - to tend crops. Currently about 5 percent of the world's farmers engage in no-till agriculture, the vast majority of them in the United States and Latin America, Montgomery said.
04/23/07 - Baking boosts efficiency of plastic solar cells
Heating plastic solar cells can alter their structure in a way that boosts efficiency, new research shows. The US and Korean scientists behind the discovery say it could ultimately allow flexible, lightweight plastic cells to replace rigid traditional cells. Solar cells are usually made from silicon, which is inflexible and relatively heavy. The best plastic solar cells are made from a light-absorbing polymer containing soccer ball-shaped carbon molecules called fullerenes. The fullerenes provide stepping stones in the plastic film for charge to hop across. The main efficiency-limiting factor is a kind of electrical "traffic jam" that occurs inside the plastic. "When you draw off the electrons freed when light hits these devices you leave behind an absence of electrons we call 'space charge'," Carroll told New Scientist. This presents a barrier to other electrons. "Charge isn't mobile enough in these materials to fill the gap and everything gets blocked up," he adds. Carefully heating plastic cells seems to solve this problem. Working with colleagues Jiwen Liu and Manoj Namboothiry, also from Wake Forest University, and Kyungkon Kim from the Korea Institute of Science and Technology in Seoul, Carroll found that heating can introduce crystal patterns into the plastic to diffuse these jams. "It's possible to create little 'highways' that prevent space charge from building up," Carroll says. Crystal whiskers By carefully heating finished cells to around 150ºC, Carroll and colleagues made the fullerene molecules form whiskers of crystal. These trigger crystallisation in the surrounding polymer as well. The fullerene-and-polymer crystal creates a network across the cell, allowing charge to move easily and preventing space charge blockages.
"Getting around space charge is a big step," says Carroll. The heating process can increase efficiency from 5% to 6%. "Some performed as well as 7%," Carroll told New Scientist. "We think we can probably push it up to 10%."
04/23/07 - Plastic Solar Cell Efficiency Breaks Record
The global search for a sustainable energy supply is making significant strides at Wake Forest University as researchers at the university’s Center for Nanotechnology and Molecular Materials have announced that they have pushed the efficiency of plastic solar cells to more than 6 percent. In a paper to be published in an upcoming issue of the journal Applied Physics Letters, Wake Forest researchers describe how they have achieved record efficiency for organic or flexible, plastic solar cells by creating “nano-filaments” within light absorbing plastic, similar to the veins in tree leaves. This allows for the use of thicker absorbing layers in the devices, which capture more of the sun’s light. Efficient plastic solar cells are extremely desirable because they are inexpensive and light weight, especially in comparison to traditional silicon solar panels. Traditional solar panels are heavy and bulky and convert about 12 percent of the light that hits them to useful electrical power. Researchers have worked for years to create flexible, or “conformal,” organic solar cells that can be wrapped around surfaces, rolled up or even painted onto structures. Three percent was the highest efficiency ever achieved for plastic solar cells until 2005 when David Carroll, director of the Wake Forest nanotechnology center, and his research group announced they had come close to reaching 5 percent efficiency. Now, a little more than a year later, Carroll said his group has surpassed the 6 percent mark. In order to be considered a viable technology for commercial use, solar cells must be able to convert about 8 percent of the energy in sunlight to electricity. Wake Forest researchers hope to reach 10 percent in the next year, said Carroll, who is also associate professor of physics at Wake Forest. Because they are flexible and easy to work with, plastic solar cells could be used as a replacement for roof tiling or home siding products or incorporated into traditional building facades. These energy harvesting devices could also be placed on automobiles. Since plastic solar cells are much lighter than the silicon solar panels structures do not have to be reinforced to support additional weight.
04/23/07 - The Climate Engineers
“Mitigation is not happening and is not going to happen,” physicist Lowell Wood declared at the NASA conference. Wood, the star of the gathering, spent four decades at the University of California’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, where he served as one of the Pentagon’s chief weapon designers and threat analysts. (He reportedly enjoys the “Dr. Evil” nickname bestowed by his critics.) The time has come, he said, for “an intelligent elimination of undesired heat from the biosphere by technical ways and means,” which, he asserted, could be achieved for a tiny fraction of the cost of “the bureaucratic suppression of CO2.” His engineering approach, he boasted, would provide “instant climatic gratification.” Wood advanced several ideas to “fix” the earth’s climate, including building up Arctic sea ice to make it function like a planetary air conditioner to “suck heat in from the midlatitude heat bath.” A “surprisingly practical” way of achieving this, he said, would be to use large artillery pieces to shoot as much as a million tons of highly reflective sulfate aerosols or specially engineered nanoparticles into the Arctic stratosphere to deflect the sun’s rays. Delivering up to a million tons of material via artillery would require a constant bombardment-basically declaring war on the stratosphere. Alternatively, a fleet of B-747 “crop dusters” could deliver the particles by flying continuously around the Arctic Circle. Or a 25-kilometer-long sky hose could be tethered to a military superblimp high above the planet’s surface to pump reflective particles into the atmosphere. Astronomer J. Roger Angel suggested placing a huge fleet of mirrors in orbit to divert incoming solar radiation, at a cost of “only” several trillion dollars. Atmospheric scientist John Latham and engineer Stephen Salter hawked their idea of making marine clouds thicker and more reflective by whipping ocean water into a froth with giant pumps and eggbeaters. Most frightening was the science-fiction writer and astrophysicist Gregory Benford’s announcement that he wanted to “cut through red tape and demonstrate what could be done” by finding private sponsors for his plan to inject diatomaceous earth-the chalklike substance used in filtration systems and cat litter-into the Arctic stratosphere. He, like his fellow geoengineers, was largely silent on the possible unintended consequences of his plan.
04/23/07 - The Global Warming Survival Guide
51 Things We Can Do to Save the Environment. Can one person slow global warming? Actually, yes. You-along with scientists, businesses and governments-can create paths to cut carbon emissions. Here is our guide to some of the planet's best ideas. "Doing simple things could drastically reduce your energy costs, by 40%," says Oru Bose, a sustainable-design architect in Santa Fe, N.M. For example, control heat, air and moisture leakage by sealing windows and doors. Insulate the garage, attic and basement with natural, nontoxic materials like reclaimed blue jeans. Protect windows from sunrays with large overhangs and double-pane glass. Emphasize natural cross ventilation. "You don't need to have 24th century solutions to solve 18th century problems," Bose says. Next, consider renewable energy sources like solar electric systems, compact wind turbines and geothermal heat pumps to help power your home.
04/23/07 - Stop coming to work and Save the Planet
The Institute of Directors is calling for flexible hours and more home working to help tackle global warming. Miles Templeman, the institute's director-general, said offering employees greater flexibility would ease pressure on transport networks and cut rush-hour power demand - thereby reducing emissions. Mr Templeman urged ministers not to rush into policies that risked harming the economy, such as caps on emissions and carbon taxes.
04/22/07 - Opposition expected from oil interests
(This article refers to the water to gas patent posted here on 04/16/07 - Water instead of Gas. - JWD) James Hunt is a little bit puzzled. The inventor of an on-demand hydrogen fuel generation system for automobiles can't understand why someone didn't come up with the system and mass produce it many years ago. "The idea itself, it originated in 1894," Hunt said. Actually, Hunt does have some ideas as to why the system that could eliminate the U.S. need for foreign oil is just nearing the prototype testing stage in Galesburg, a small city in west-central Illinois. "One of the major obstacles that I see for the implementation of my hydrogen fuel generation system is the vast infrastructure for the use and distribution of gasoline, which is already in place," Hunt said in a prepared release explaining his project. "Oil companies and petroleum processing plants have a lot to lose from an invention of this magnitude, but since future oil resources (sic) quantities are diminishing on a global scale, my invention could be an equitable alternative resource for the future." / Water into Gas - A short summary of the process has been named as "hydrogen extraction from water via plasmatic induction. By inducing a small amount of plasma into a water tank, we're able to extract hydrogen from the water." The "plasmatic induction," as been mentioned by Hunt mentioned as a form of electrolysis. The water used is ordinary drinking water. The present car is not a FuelCel having a tank of oxygen and a tank of hydrogen and is said "is destructive beyond belief”; this vehicle also carries a price tag of $95,000. Hunt said his system could be retrofitted into any vehicle for about $2,000 which is expected to be possible to do that by the early as next year. It has been emphasized that with the system is stationed in place, there shall be no fuel worries. It shall be possible to find that after a year, a motorist would take his vehicle to a special service station to have the carbon rods replaced, at a cost of about what it takes to fill a car with gasoline for a month, and be good to go for another year. / With his fellow student inventors, he also has launched a business called WarAngel Innovations to market the hydrogen fuel system, which one of his instructors claimed in a recent news article could eliminate the country's "need for fossil fuels altogether."
04/22/07 - Bangladesh Efficient Motor
THE recent news about the Bangladesh Machine Tools Factory in Gazipur having developed a fuel-efficient engine has revealed a seemingly big event. A local press report has stated, it runs on a mix of gas with 20 per cent diesel and consumes 40 per cent less fuel. It has not, however, indicated whether the fuel efficiency is in respect of operation per hour or based on performance -- output or rotation per hour. Yet, if it has been fabricated entirely locally, it is an achievement that merits serious attention. It ought to be locally patented and the action in this regard, notified to the pertinent international body. Even if modified designs of some crucial components of a foreign-made engine have secured its fuel efficiency, the innovations involved should be patented.
04/22/07 - Edison did not invent the Incandescent light bulb
Edison, bright though he was, did NOT invent the incandescent light bulb. The glory should belong to Henry Woodward and Mathew Evans, pals in Toronto in the 1870s. Henry was a medical student and electrician on Colborne St. Mathew ran the White Hart Hotel just up Yonge, across from today's Sam The Record Man. The two sometimes got together to muck about with Henry's induction coil. Electrical World and Engineer magazine, in 1900, described that eureka moment of 1873: "While seated at dusk one evening watching the buzzer of the induction coil, the light of the spark at the contact post attracted their attention. "It impressed them with the idea that if they could confine the spark in a globe a marvellous invention would be the result." GLASS TUBE Woodward is said to have held up his watch to the spark and exclaimed: "Why you can even see the time." So the friends scurried over to Morrison's Foundry on King St. W. near York and got to work. Their crude lamp was a glass tube filled with nitrogen, housing electrodes and a carbon rod. They made six, connected by battery. Imagine that moment in the foundry. Evans: "There were four or five of us sitting around a large table. Woodward closed the switch and gradually we saw the carbon become first red and gradually lighter and lighter in colour until it beamed forth in beautiful light. "This was the most exciting moment of my experience." Woodward was so inflamed he went to Paris to buy an advanced electric dynamo. By 1876, the two friends had patents here and in the U.S. They waited for the millions to roll in. Folks just laughed. Who needs a glowing piece of carbon? Investors bailed. Enter Thomas Alva Edison. The great man had been working on the same idea, but was light years behind the Canadians. So he bought the patent for five grand, a lot of glow back then. Suddenly, the light bulb was American. In 1880, Edison began to market his new, improved version. Woodward and Evans became a flicker of history.
04/22/07 - StupidMeter determines intelligence
A Russian inventor believes he has invented a device that can measure the intelligence or stupidity of a subject. Lev Galenkevich, inventor of the "StupidMeter," says that the wires and spirals of his machine are sensitive to lepton fields in people, and that by placing the contraption near a person's head he can instantly judge the person's intellectual capacity. When the StupidMeter is put near a person's head, the energy from his brain will create a moving impulse that causes the wires of the device to rotate. The more rotations it makes, the more intelligent the person. "I picked up the device description in ancient oriental manuscripts," claims Galenkevich. He says the average person can make his invention spin 2.5 times, but the students in his University class are only able to make it spin once. Source Pravda
04/22/07 - Human waste into Water and Power
The city of Flagstaff is looking to try out a machine that promises to turn millions of gallons of sewage waste into fuel for automobiles and clean water. Sewage sludge is what is left over at the Rio de Flag Water Reclamation Plant once the water and large items of trash, like boards, have been screened out. In Flagstaff, it's 7.33 million gallons of mud and what you might call solids, now being buried in the ground near the Wildcat Hill Wastewater Treatment Plant. A company called Magne-Gas has proposed sending the waste through a 10,000-degree arc of electricity that would separate the waste into sterilized water and other components. The process would produce a hydrogen-based gas that could be burned in alternative fuel vehicles or other vehicles with converters, said Bo Linton, MagneGas president. The sludge is dumped into a machine, pumped into a hollow carbon electrode and separated into its elements under intense heat that's similar to a welding arc, Linton said. Water, carbon, metals and other solids are magnetized and separated out, with the solids drying to form a carbon-impregnated coal. The water can be filtered as much as desired to remove more and more solids, to even drinking quality, he said. Meanwhile, hydrogen gases are produced, which are captured and can be used to power vehicles with less emissions than gasoline, Linton said. "Everything is 100 percent clean and recyclable. There's nothing that gets released to the environment. Not even smell," he said. A similar invention that turns garbage into energy and a waste used to pave roads has been written up in the magazine Popular Science. St. Lucie County, Fla., is planning to use such units to consume waste from old landfills, predicted to take in 3,000 tons of trash per day, administrators there said. The primary difference between the technology proposed for Flagstaff and the one in St. Lucie is the addition of water in the Flagstaff proposal. The machine can consume other wastes, but they must be chopped up and liquefied.
04/22/07 - Argentine cow clones to produce insulin in milk
Argentine scientists said on Tuesday they had created four cloned and genetically modified calves capable of producing human insulin in their milk, a step they said could cut the cost of treating diabetes. "This model of a genetically modified cow is a model that allows us to produce large quantities of products at very low cost," said managing director Marcelo Criscuolo, adding that insulin produced by cows would be at least 30 percent cheaper. To produce pharmaceutical products from cow's milk, scientists insert the human gene of interest into an embryo before implanting it into a surrogate mother cow. In this case they used a gene for insulin. Once milk is obtained from the genetically modified cow, it will be purified and refined to extract the insulin. Similar techniques have already been used to produce human proteins in goats and cows. Insulin is used to treat type-1 diabetes and the most severe cases of the more common type-2 diabetes, which is linked to obesity, poor diet and lack of exercise. Patients with type-1 diabetes normally inject the hormone to control their blood-sugar levels. There are about 200 million diabetics worldwide, and the Argentine scientists said just 25 insulin-producing cows would be enough for Argentina's 1.5 million diabetics. The initial source of insulin in medicine was from cow, horse, pig or fish pancreases, because it is almost the same as human insulin. Most insulin is currently produced by genetically engineered bacteria in tanks.
04/22/07 - You're rude, crude and in my face - and I've had enough
In an era devoted to personal space, our obsession with privacy means that we have forgotten how to behave in public. Music on a train was being broadcast by a bunch of schoolchildren. In place of wit to defend their behaviour, they unleashed a torrent of fierce obscenity and delirious aggression. Everyone else in the carriage held studiously blank expressions like those I imagine to have been on the faces of people in the Soviet Union ignoring the sight of the KGB making an arrest, afraid that the next victim is the one whose eyes flicker with solidarity for the last one. We were terrorised. Relating this story to friends, I have been surprised not by how many similar stories I get in return, but by how easily they segue into a liturgy of complaint about the decline in public mores. I am struck by how much people who still dress (rather optimistically) like teenagers sound like grumpy old men and women. Demographers say that Britain is ageing, but I'm not sure that a premature onset of Victor Meldrewism among thirty-somethings is what they mean. The focus of the lament is always rudeness and an apparent coarsening of relations between strangers. That is not the same as antisocial behaviour, the official label for public rowdiness. Antisocial behaviour is a political invention, a euphemism for petty crime. Vandalism, verbal assault and drunken disorderliness have long been against the law. But by giving them a new name, ministers can claim to have identified a new problem, which is preferable to admitting failure to solve an old one. The distinction is important. As Poole points out, groups of young people hanging around, listening to their favourite song, are displaying very social behaviour. Even when their socialising dominates public spaces, it isn't necessarily criminal, but it is rude. And it is not a habit exclusive to hooded teens. The colonisation of public space with private behaviour is well advanced: listening to loud music; bellowing into mobiles on buses; swearing noisily in libraries; failing to end a phone call while conducting a transaction in a shop. / Rude - ill-mannered: socially incorrect in behavior; uncivil: lacking civility or good manners.
04/22/07 - 1857 claim - Solidifying Coal Dust
"Solids from Atoms. -- It will be seen by his advertisement, that Mr. J.N. Tavares holds the secret of solidifying coal dust! and that, too, without the use of chemicals. This secret he offers to sell and in his advertisement, the many reliable appliances of his invention will be seen. In a city like ours, where fuel is so valuable, at a time when loss of navigation renders its procuration so difficult this use of coal dust may be rendered an important act of economy."
04/22/07 - Games Theory - the ESP game
Online play can help researchers tackle tough computational problems. I'm online wrapped up on the ESP Game, and I'm finding it hard to stop. As each round ends, I'm eager to try again to rack up points. The game randomly pairs players who have logged on to the game's Web site (www.espgame.org). Both players see the same image, selected from a large database, but they can't communicate directly. Each player types in words that describe the image. When the words match, both players earn points and move to the next image. Each round lasts 150 seconds and displays up to 15 images. I keep hoping that my invisible, anonymous partner's thoughts are in sync with mine-all the better to rise on the list of top players. I'm having fun, but there's more to this game than meets the eye. To its inventor, computer scientist Luis von Ahn of Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh and his colleagues, the game provides an innovative way to label images with descriptive terms that make them easier to find online. Most of the billions of images on the Web have incomplete captions or no labels at all, von Ahn says. Accurate labels would improve the relevance of image search results and make the information in images accessible to blind users. However, computers aren't good at looking at images and determining what's in them, and it's boring for a person to label images. "The ESP Game turns the tedious task of entering words that describe an image into something that's fun," von Ahn says. Moreover, the game is addictive, he admits. Since it debuted in late 2003, more than 100,000 people have registered to play. Some players spend more than 40 hours a week accumulating points at the site.
04/22/07 - 50% Good News Is the Bad News in Russian Radio
At their first meeting with journalists since taking over Russia’s largest independent radio news network, the managers had startling news of their own: from now on, they said, at least 50 percent of the reports about Russia must be “positive.” In addition, opposition leaders could not be mentioned on the air and the United States was to be portrayed as an enemy, journalists employed by the network, Russian News Service, say they were told by the new managers, who are allies of the Kremlin. How would they know what constituted positive news? “When we talk of death, violence or poverty, for example, this is not positive,” said one editor at the station who did not want to be identified for fear of retribution. “If the stock market is up, that is positive. The weather can also be positive.” In a darkening media landscape, radio news had been a rare bright spot. Now, the implementation of the “50 percent positive” rule at the Russian News Service leaves an increasingly small number of news outlets that are not managed by the Kremlin, directly or through the state national gas company, Gazprom, a major owner of media assets. The three national television networks are already state controlled, though small-circulation newspapers generally remain independent.
04/22/07 - BabelDisc: Linux for technophobes
BabelDisc, the brainchild of U.K. Internet pioneer and Pipex founder Peter Dawe, is a lightweight Ubuntu-based distribution that runs only from a CD and does not even require the host PC to have a hard drive, opting instead for subscriber-based hosted storage. "We are targeting the 60 percent of the population that are unhappy using computers," Dawe said, "but some of the other 40 percent will also find our proposition attractive because they're fed up with being the unpaid support engineers for Microsoft." The disc comes with a variety of preinstalled open-source applications, including Firefox, OpenOffice, Sylpheed (for e-mail), F-Spot (for viewing photos), Xine (for music and video) and Gaim (for instant messaging). Application upgrades are performed automatically at the boot stage. "A lot of the smartness of what we've done is actually removing features," Dawe said. "In our environment, you cannot add another application, as the BabelDisc user doesn't have root privilege--this is to make it as foolproof as possible." Dawe also claimed that the distribution would find a natural user base in the enterprise environment. "With an awful lot of staff, all they require is access to Web and intranet applications, word processing, e-mail and IM. The BabelDisc service is one where you can just take virtually any old PC made since the year 2000, put the disc in, and that person is instantly up and running." A critical element of the design is that "you can try Linux at no risk to your Windows installation," Dawe continued. For "virtually all the other Linux distributions, you have to install onto the hard drive. We've actually designed it so you cannot write to the hard drive, (although) you can read from the hard drive, so you can import your files into the BabelDisc environment." The BabelDisc CD also contains software to set up a "BabelBooster"--software installed on a USB hard drive to free up the PC's CD drive and accelerate start-up and performance.
04/21/07 - PowerBeam uses laser to power solar panel with energy beam
Who ever heard of wireless electricity? Seems impossible. I wouldn't believe it if I hadn't seen a demo myself at PowerBeam, a Sunnyvale start-up. PowerBeam co-founders David Graham and Xiaobing Luo showed me how they could power up a little toy with a spinning fan without using either batteries or a wired power source. They can do so with an invention that seems suspiciously simple. They pointed a laser beam at a solar cell. The solar cell collects the light energy from the laser and converts it into electricity. Light in, electricity out. Then the electricity travels from the solar cell into the device. They call it an "optical power beam." It's the same principle that powers your pocket calculator with a solar cell. But in this case, PowerBeam gets a lot more electrical power from a laser as far away as 65 feet. In a patent application, PowerBeam says it can produce much more electrical power than other methods because it has tamed a dangerous laser. It uses a powerful laser of the sort that could cut through your hand, but it has integrated a safety system, allowing it to channel a lot of energy into the solar cell. Graham envisions someone using a laptop without plugging it in at all. You could, for instance, sit at a cafe or in the middle of a hotel ballroom and draw power from a light fixture above the center of the room. A laser atop the light fixture would seek out any solar receptor in the room with help from a detection system, such as a camera. When it finds it, the laser would concentrate its light beam on the laptop's solar cell. The size of the solar cells needed would vary based on how much power is needed. A cell phone could be charged with a solar cell the size of a silver dollar, says Graham. For a laptop, the cell would be bigger and be mounted as a pad on the laptop's cover. If PowerBeam systems improved and became popular, you wouldn't need batteries for your laptop as you travel. Another application is security cameras, which often need to be placed where it's not convenient to string an electrical cord. A security camera can run on just four watts, which Graham says his device can produce using a very small solar cell. Still another application is to use the PowerBeam system to connect high-end audio speakers anywhere in a room without having an unsightly electrical cord attached to it. Last year, a research team headed by Marin Soljacic at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology said it could transfer electricity wirelessly using a concept called electromagnetic resonance. Powercast, a Pennsylvania start-up, says it has a safe wireless power system that uses radios to transmit power. The company says it will be used in lots of devices by the end of 2008. And another start-up, WildCharge, is preparing to start selling a pad that wirelessly charges cell phones that are placed on top of it. PowerBeam's Graham says his solution uniquely combines a powerful laser with a safety system.
04/21/07 - High-tech Tucson system could have helped police at Virginia Tech
The "Acoustic Sentri" is designed to pinpoint where gunshots are being fired. The computer system is designed to listen for and pinpoint the location of gunshots. Within 1/4 of a second, the system picks up a gunshot and cameras pinpoint its exact location, including the specific floor of a building.
The machine also has the ability to warn the public of danger. Fernandez says "[Virginia Tech] could have turned on the speaker system which would have allowed them to give an announcement to the students instantly telling them to run from the area." The makers of the Sentri system say since the Virginia Tech Massacre they've received several calls from universities interested in it.
04/21/07 - Sloth mother of invention
1,000 gizmos compete for attention. About 700 inventors from 42 countries brought 1,000 gizmos ranging from a multifunction umbrella with a built-in anti-mugger alarm to personal armour made of coconut fiber to the International Exhibition of Inventions this week. Labour-saving devices for people averse to exertion are a recurring theme this year. One notable invention is the spring-loaded fish hook -- the equivalent of an underwater mouse trap. After attaching the float to the fishing pole, the "sportsman" lowers a lever into position. The fish has only to nibble on the bait to trigger the spring and find itself with a dart through the lips. But isn't that cheating? "Well, it could be," admitted inventor Michael Adcock. "It's a lazy man's way of fishing," he explained. "That way you can drink more beer. That's what more fishermen are really out there for anyway ... With this, you can look away, take a sip, do whatever." Once they've nabbed their fresh fish, chefs who like to cut corners might be attracted to Easy Sushi, a contraption that resembles a cigarette roller and allows any clumsy cook to whip up a masterly-looking maki in minutes. Couch potatoes disinclined to diet or exercise can turn to custom-made body-shaping underwear. Taiwanese designer Pi-Yu Chuang, 47, donned one of the stylish body corsets, instantly reducing her waist from 29 to 23 inches. The outfit, which costs around $800, encases the torso and legs, is also bust-enhancing and has a handy full bottom snap-on flap. Karl Dorn's Standby Plug shuts down appliances completely after they go into standby mode, preventing the needless consumption of electricity. (A TV in standby mode uses up to 85% of the power it does when switched on.) Also shown, was the PAP Ion Magnetic Inductor -- also known as the Papimi -- claims to increase the efficiency of the body on a cellular level through rapid electromagnetic pulses, and thus relieve pain.
04/21/07 - The Next People Car
The People's Car is a rear-engined, four-door, four-seat car that will get around on 33hp--more pep than the Model T or the vw Beetle had when they drove onto the scene. The cheapest versions won't have air-conditioning or power steering, but Tata hopes its cute looks will make up for missing creature comforts. Tata Motors has not released a photo of its prototypes, but Ratan Tata, a trained architect with a penchant for designing consumer goods, sketched its outlines for a reporter's eyes only. He drew an egg-shaped car with a ceiling high enough to handle his tall frame. He pointed proudly to the air intake scoop in front of the rear tires and the vertical taillights similar to those found on the Tata Indica. Under the front hood it will have a small storage space, "like an overhead bin" on an airplane, Tata says. "It is not as small as a Smart," he says. "It is not a car with plastic curtains or no roof--it's a real car." If four wheels cost as little as two wheels, that could change fast. About 7 million scooters and motorcycles were sold in India last year, typically for prices between 30,000 rupees and 70,000 rupees, about $675 to $1,600. Tata is targeting a price of 100,000 rupees--1 lakh, in Indian terms of measurement--or about $2,500 at current exchange rates, for its small car. Trying to build a car cheap enough for motorcycle buyers seems to make sense now but seemed crazy several years ago when Ratan Tata, longtime chairman of Tata Motors and scion of the nation's giant Tata Group conglomerate, first mentioned his dream of building a 1-lakh car in 2003. "They are still saying it can't be done," he says, insisting that it can and will. "Everybody is talking of small cars as $5,000 or $7,000. After we get done with it, there will hopefully be a new definition of 'low-cost.'"
04/21/07 - How to discover your life purpose in about 20 minutes
How do you discover your real purpose in life? I’m not talking about your job, your daily responsibilities, or even your long-term goals. I mean the real reason why you’re here at all - the very reason you exist. Perhaps you’re a rather nihilistic person who doesn’t believe you have a purpose and that life has no meaning. Doesn’t matter. Not believing that you have a purpose won’t prevent you from discovering it, just as a lack of belief in gravity won’t prevent you from tripping. All that a lack of belief will do is make it take longer, so if you’re one of those people, just change the number 20 in the title of this blog entry to 40 (or 60 if you’re really stubborn). Most likely though if you don’t believe you have a purpose, then you probably won’t believe what I’m saying anyway, but even so, what’s the risk of investing an hour just in case?
04/21/07 - Human Blood May Contain A Cure For AIDS
"German scientists at the University of Ulm have identified a natural ingredient of human blood that prevents the HIV-1 virus from from infecting immune cells and multiplying. The molecule, which they call virus-inhibitory peptide (VIRIP), promises new types of effective treatment for HIV in the future. 'Tweaks to its amino acid components boosted its anti-HIV potency by two orders of magnitude. Tests also showed that some derivatives of the molecule are highly stable in human blood plasma, and non-toxic even at very high concentrations. A synthetic version of VIRIP also proved effective at blocking HIV, excluding the possibility that some other factor was responsible. VIRIP targets a sugar molecule which HIV uses to infect a host cell. '"
04/21/07 - Solar Powered Barbecue
A barbecue powered by the sun is now on sale in the UK. The Solar-Grill, available online for £125, is said to catch sunlight with mirrors and reflect it on to the hot plate, a strip of black metal running across the centre which absorbs the heat. To start grilling without smoke or flames, all the chef need do is lift the lid on the shiny silver device, aim it at the sun and place the food inside. Its makers claim it is ideal for use in places where naked flames are forbidden or unsafe, such as balconies in flats and campsites. The Swiss manufacturers say that if the clouds sweep in when food is half done, cooking can be continued with odourless alcohol-based fuel tablets.
04/21/07 - Daylight exacerbates warning
You may have noticed that March of this year was particularly hot. As a matter of fact, I understand that it was the hottest March since the beginning of the last century. All of the trees were fully leafed out and legions of bugs and snakes were crawling around during a time in Arkansas when, on a normal year, we might see a snowflake or two. This should come as no surprise to any reasonable person. As you know, Daylight Saving Time started almost a month early this year. You would think that members of Congress would have considered the warming effect that an extra hour of daylight would have on our climate. Or did they ? Perhaps this is another plot by a liberal Congress to make us believe that global warming is a real threat. Perhaps next time there should be serious studies performed before Congress passes laws with such far-reaching effects.
04/21/07 - Cloud of Lightning shoes banned in Hospitals
Blekinge hospital in southern Sweden suspects the slip-on shoes, made by US firm Crocs Inc, are to blame for at least three incidents in which respirators and other machines malfunctioned. The mishaps caused no injuries. Hospital spokesman Bjorn Lofqvist said staff wearing the clogs could turn into "a cloud of lighting" because of the static electricity.
04/21/07 - Low, slow and succulent
Cooking meat, or seafood, slowly and at extremely low temperatures does more than get the job done. It changes everything for the better - the texture turns more tender, the flavor becomes more concentrated - which is why chefs around the world, such as Ferran Adrià, David Bouley and, closer to home, Govind Armstrong, are so enamored of sous-vide. They seal food in plastic, then poach it at super-low temperatures. But it's astonishingly easy to get the same effect using only the appliance you have, not the one you dream of: Turn the oven to a setting just above what you would use to keep pancakes warm, or on the stove, bring a pot of water to just below a simmer. Insert ribs or sea scallops or whatever. And in very little time you will be biting into the most true-to-itself pork or shellfish you have ever experienced.
04/21/07 - Human Powered Boats
The term "Human Powered Boat" (HPB) can refer to row boats, paddle boats, pedal boats, canoes, kayaks, surf skis or even rowing shells. The term "WaterCycle", however, almost exclusively refers to a pedal powered boat. We focus on unique and innovative home-built or production manufactured designs involving lightweight and streamlined hulls, pedals, gears, propellers and even hydrofoils, in an effort to continually push the envelope and improve performance.
04/21/07 - Airships to Patrol Venezuela's Skies
"The BBC reports that officials in the Venezuelan capital, Caracas, have bought three airship UAVs to keep tabs on the local populace. From the article: 'The 15 metre (49 foot) long air ships are emblazoned with government slogans. Written in bright red are the words, We watch over you for your security.' They're not exactly black helicopters, but how long do you think until we see similar measures in high-crime American cities?"
04/21/07 - Fruity cocktails count as health food
Adding ethanol -- the type of alcohol found in rum, vodka, tequila and other spirits -- boosted the antioxidant nutrients in strawberries and blackberries, the researchers found. Any colored fruit might be made even more healthful with the addition of a splash of alcohol, they report in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture. They were exploring ways to help keep strawberries fresh during storage. Treating the berries with alcohol increased in antioxidant capacity and free radical scavenging activity, they found. Any colored fruit or vegetable is rich in antioxidants, which are chemicals that can cancel out the cell-damaging effects of compounds called free radicals. Berries, for instance, contain compounds known as polyphenols and anthocyanins. People who eat more of these fruits and vegetables have a documented lower risk of cancer, heart disease and some neurological diseases.
04/21/07 - 10 Steps to a more Sustainable Lifestyle
It all seems so daunting. Climate change. Carbon credits. Biofuels, hydrogen power, and solar energy. The vocabulary of a new century. There's a lot to learn. The news is full of disturbing reports about global warming, threatened species, and the gradual realization that the way we live -- particularly in the developed nations -- will have to change if we want to enjoy a clean and sustainable future. But there's no reason to feel overwhelmed. Every journey begins with a single step. At Lighter Footstep, we've rounded-up the ten easiest ways for you to start moving toward a lighter lifestyle. Some cost nothing at all. Others provide a lot bang for your eco-dollar. In every case, these ideas will save you money, cut energy use, and help balance your household's greenhouse gas budget -- the amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere to produce goods or electrical power. So pick a few, and give them a try. Before long, you'll establish the habits we all need to develop as we face the challenges of a resource-hungry planet. Check out the link for the details.(via lifehacker.com)
04/20/07 - And they all fiddled as the World Burned
The number of U.S. households with a net worth of more than $5 million, excluding their primary residence, surged 23 percent to surpass one million for the first time in 2006, according to a survey released on Tuesday. The survey by Chicago-based Spectrem Group found that the number of U.S. households with more than $5 million rose from 930,000 in 2005. In 1996, there were only 250,000 U.S. households in the "ultra-rich" category, Spectrem said. "The wealthiest households are the business owners," said McBreen. She also said broader ownership of stocks has helped overall household wealth. The survey found that U.S. households that are merely wealthy, defined as having assets of more than $500,000 excluding primary residence, rose 9 percent to 15.3 million in 2006 from the year before.
04/20/07 - Drought-hit Australia may stop irrigating farmland
Australia faced an “unprecedentedly dangerous” drought and unless rain falls within weeks irrigation will be cut to the nation's food bowl, Prime Minister John Howard said on Thursday. A contingency plan prepared for the government said unless water catchments across the country received heavy and widespread rainfalls before mid-May, allocations for irrigators and environmental river flows would be stopped. Mr. Howard said there would be enough water for basic human consumption in cities, as well as towns along the critical food bowl of the Murray-Darling River basin. The basin covers an area the size of France and Spain and accounts for 41 per cent of Australia's agriculture. Australians could face major food price rises if no water is allocated to Murray-Darling Basin farmers, irrigators warned. The country's worst drought in 100 years, which began in 2002, eased and then reappeared in 2006, and has already severely reduced production of major irrigated crops. Environment Minister Malcolm Turnbull said even normal winter rains in coming months would not be enough. “We need big rain to make a difference,” he said. Mr. Howard said he did not want to talk in “apocalyptic terms” about whether some towns may run out of water completely. “The longer it goes on the harder the impact. These are just stark facts,” he said.
04/20/07 - Free will is an illusion
The idea that, aside from mental illness and being too young to know better, people are free to choose how to behave and should be judged accordingly is taken for granted pretty much the world over. People are far more influenced by those around them than we'd like to think - being part of a group can make you do stupid, even despicable things. Take the 15 UK military personnel captured by Iran in the Arabian Gulf off the coasts of Iraq and Iran. Many commentators strongly criticised the way the British captives ingratiated themselves with their captors - appearing on Iranian television, where they admitted their wrongdoing and thanked their "hosts" for their kindness. Yet their behaviour is more understandable when you consider that they suffered solitary confinement and the threat of long imprisonment or even execution. What’s clear is that the Iranian authorities knew very well the power of environment over individual behaviour and used it effectively. Armies the world over do the same. So do terrorist groups. So, in a different context, do marketing companies, political parties and religious cults.
04/20/07 - EPA Stringent Emissions Rules for Small Spark-Ignition Engines
The US Environmental Protection Agency is proposing new, more stringent exhaust emissions rules for the small spark-ignition engines in lawn and garden equipment and small recreational watercraft. The engines and vehicles covered by this proposal are significant sources of air pollution. They account for about 25% of mobile source hydrocarbon (HC) emissions and 30% of mobile source carbon monoxide (CO) emissions.
04/20/07 - Cannabis compound slows lung cancer in mice
The active compound in marijuana, THC, can slow the growth of lung tumours and reduce the spread of the cancer in mice, a preliminary study reveals. Human lung cancer tumours grew less than half as fast in mice that received moderate doses of the compound, the researchers reveal. They hope that drugs mimicking the apparent anti-cancer effects of tetrahydrocanabinol (THC) could one day help treat patients. The team strongly discourage people from self-medicating by smoking marijuana, noting that doing so could potentially encourage tumour growth. Ganju believes that THC inhibits cancer growth by blocking the formation of blood vessels within tumours. Previous tests on human lung cancer cells in a dish suggested that THC blocked the signalling of a substance known as epidermal growth factor (EGF). Under normal circumstances, EGF may promote blood vessel development, Ganju says. Previous studies have also found that THC can shrink brain tumours. Nevertheless, experts caution people against smoking marijuana.
04/20/07 - Modified ink printer churns out electronic circuits
A desktop printer loaded with a silver salt solution and vitamin C has been used to produce electronic circuits. The UK researchers behind the feat say their experimental device could pave the way for safer and cheaper electronics manufacturing. Being able to print out electronic components and whole circuit boards could provide an alternative to current manufacturing techniques, which are energy intensive and environmentally unfriendly. Bidoki loaded two separate chambers in the printer's cartridge, which normally contain different ink, with the metal solution and the reducing agent. Using silver nitrate solution as the "metal ink" and ascorbic acid (vitamin C) as the reducing agent proved the most successful combination. He then programmed the printer to produce a variety of circuits and radio antennas on different surfaces including paper, cotton and acetate, all of which were placed in the printer like a normal sheet of paper. "One test involved patterning an antenna like that used in a mobile phone on transparent film," says Clark. "It was possible to bend it almost in half without any loss of conductivity." After a circuit is printed using silver nitrate, vitamin C is overlaid a few minutes later. Water can then be used to wash away other products, leaving the silver behind. Scanning electron microscope images reveal a rough surface of silver nanoparticles. Printing the same pattern two or three times improves conductivity because it increases the number of contacts between silver nanoparticles. Desktop printers make images from tiny dots of ink that do not overlap, but bleed slightly into each other, explains Clark: "In future, we'd like to use an industrial jet printer that can so we'll need fewer passes."
04/20/07 - Drinking fluids helps with weight loss
People who want to lose weight successfully should drink at least two litres of fluids a day, said the Consumer Rights Protection Centre in the German state of Rhineland-Palatinate.
The centre said that many overweight people drank too little and often mistook thirst for hunger. According to Gewicht im Griff (Weight Under Control), a how-to manual promoted by the consumer centre and recently reprinted, fluids spur metabolism and also improve skin tone. The body frequently has to "learn" thirst. People not used to drinking a lot of fluids have less of an urge to drink than those who drink fluids regularly. Keeping to a "drinking schedule" can ensure that the former reach for a glass of water more often.
04/20/07 - 150 round per minute Silent Electric Gun
Electricity replaces gunpowder in a silent, smokeless, machine gun recently perfected for defense against hostile aircraft. Without betraying its location, this weapon is declared capable of firing 150 bullets or high-explosive shells a minute. Projectiles are hurled from its muzzle by a series of electromagnets spaced along the barrel, which start the missile moving and successively raise its velocity as they become energized. / From the description given, it would be a coil gun, not a rail gun. A coil gun uses a series of electromagnets to propel the projectile down the barrel of the weapon. A rail gun uses a different effect called the Lorentz force.
04/20/07 - Pesticides and pollution linked to Diabetes
While obesity is believed to be the major cause, researchers found people with higher levels of some toxic man-made chemical compounds were at greater risk of developing insulin resistance. Last year South Korean experts reported people with higher levels of six different persistent organic pollutants (Pops) stored in body fat were more likely to have diabetes than those with lower quantities. Pops do not easily biodegrade and linger in the body fat of animals, fish and humans.They include polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), compounds used as coolants until most were banned because of health fears in 1986.
04/20/07 - Scientist says cremation should meet a timely death
An Australian scientist called Wednesday for an end to the age-old tradition of cremation, saying the practice contributed to global warming. Professor Roger Short said people could instead choose to help the environment after death by being buried in a cardboard box under a tree. The decomposing bodies would provide the tree with nutrients, and the tree would convert carbon dioxide into life-giving oxygen for decades, he said. "The important thing is, what a shame to be cremated when you go up in a big bubble of carbon dioxide," Short told AFP. "Why waste all that carbon dioxide on your death?" Short said the cremation of the average male in Australia, during which the body is heated to 850 degrees Celsius (1,562 degrees Fahrenheit) for 90 minutes, produced more than 50 kilograms (110 pounds) of carbon dioxide. And that doesn't include the carbon cost of fuel, or the cost of the emissions released during the production and burning of the wooden casket.
04/20/07 - How to Change the World with What You Buy
You cannot buy a better future, at least not the sort of bright green future we talk about here at Worldchanging. That sort of future -- a sustainable one, a future that itself has a future -- is not available for purchase: It doesn't yet exist. You can't find it on shelves, and you can't even order it up custom, no matter how much money you're willing to spend. You can be heroic in your efforts, but at the moment it's essentially impossible to live a North American consumer lifestyle and do no harm. You can buy only organic food, recycled products, and natural fibers and you won't get there. You can even trade your car for a hybrid, harvest your rainwater and only run your CFLs off your backyard wind turbine, and you still won't get there, both because the waste associated with consumerism is so massive and because the systems outside your direct control upon which you depend -- from your local roads to your nation's army to the design of the assembly lines used to build your car, rain barrel and windmill -- are still profoundly unsustainable. You quite literally cannot shop your way to a one-planet footprint. The best you can do is nudge the market in that direction. So, should we give up on trying to spend our money in ways that could do some good? Absolutely not, but we need to start getting better at buying in ways that make an impact. We need to begin to practice strategic consumption. What makes consumption strategic? Multiplied leverage. The ideal is to buy products that not only do their job more sustainably, but send market signals back through the economy that are likely to result in more meaningful systemic changes.
04/20/07 - Giant carbon vacuums could cool Earth
For a decade, Columbia University physicist Klaus Lackner has written about a way to stave off and even reverse climate change from human-emitted carbon dioxide: Scrub it directly from the atmosphere. And now, after three years of R&D, a Tucson, Ariz., company has unveiled a working model of a device based on Professor Lackner's idea. Nine-feet tall and able to remove 50 grams of CO2 from the atmosphere daily, the device is a far cry from Lackner's vision of a 300-foot-tall structure sucking 15,000 cars' worth of emissions from the atmosphere yearly. But it fulfills the basic criterion of removing more carbon than it emits. But Lackner's approach is not without its critics. Some surmise that the chemical processes involved in capturing CO2 directly from the air demand too much energy. Others think that, because it's likely decades away from functional deployment, the mere suggestion of such technology at this point is a distraction, and could divert resources away from more concrete steps. One scientist says that more can be done to harness photosynthesis, Mother Nature's carbon-capturing process, instead. Although CO2 is relatively scarce in the atmosphere, only 380 molecules for every million, Lackner figures there's enough to make going after it feasible. He imagines it this way: Assuming a brisk breeze, one American's yearly share of emissions '22 tons' would pass through a medium-size window. By extrapolating, he calculates that, in order to capture all of humanity's emissions, an area the size of Arizona would have to be planted with some 250,000 of his proposed devices. Each would capture 90,000 tons of CO2 yearly.
04/20/07 - The Way to Control - An Economic Hit Man Tells All
As an Economic Hit Man, John’s job was to convince Third World countries to accept enormous loans for infrastructure development-loans that were much larger than needed-and to guarantee that the development projects were contracted to U.S. corporations like Halliburton and Bechtel. Once these countries were saddled with huge debts, international corporations and the aid agencies allied with them were able to control these economies and to ensure that oil and other resources were channeled to serve the interests of building the global corporate empire.
04/20/07 - Guesser gets Weather Right
While day-to-day weather forecasting enjoys reasonable accuracy, meteorologists have still to work out a basis for long-range prophecies. Nevertheless, Dr. C. F. Marvin, head of the U. S. Weather Bureau, is experimenting with a “scientific guesser.” Small balls are marked for a certain kind of weather. The balls are thoroughly mixed and poured into troughs. Their sequence, depending solely upon laws of chance, has proved strikingly similar to actual weather records.
04/20/07 - Chinese make first artificial snowfall
Officials in the meteorological bureau in Tibet said they had used "rain-seeding" techniques to trigger a snowfall over the city of Nagqu last week. "This proves it's possible for humans to change the weather on the world's highest plateau," said Yu Zhongshui. The bureau said it had produced just under half an inch of snow at a height of 15,000ft. Mr Yu said the experiment was conducted in the hope it would lead to alleviating drought on the northern Tibetan plateau, whose grasslands are turning brown as global warming melts and drains its permafrost.
04/20/07 - Remember? - Mission Accomplished
On Tuesday, Democratic presidential candidates, hoping to make it a political liability for Bush, accused him of trying to shift blame for the stagecraft to the Navy. "Landing on an aircraft carrier and saying 'mission accomplished' didn't end a war, and standing in the Rose Garden and stating that 'Iraq is a dangerous place' does nothing to make American troops safer," Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts said in a written statement Tuesday. Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean also issued a critical statement. "Today, we heard him try to walk away from the USS Abraham Lincoln 'end of major combat operations' announcement, absurdly claiming that the White House was not responsible for the 'Mission Accomplished' banner that decorated the flight deck," Dean said. / 04/20/07 - War is Lost - Congressman Harry Reid drew a parallel with former US president Lyndon Johnson who decided to deploy more troops in Vietnam some 40 years ago when 24,000 US troops had already been killed. "Johnson did not want a war loss on his watch, so he surged in Vietnam. After the surge was over, we added 34,000 to the 24,000 who died in Vietnam," Reid said. The comments came a day after bombers killed more than 200 people in a slew of car bombings in Baghdad, dealing a savage blow to the US security plan which aims to deploy an extra 30,000 troops in the country to quell sectarian unrest.
04/19/07 - New superfast Freezing System
Pamukkale University (PU) Engineering Faculty has developed a system that refrigerates any kind of foodstuff, fruit and vegetable in two minutes and freezes them all in just five minutes. In refrigerators and cold storage, products take about 30-60 minutes to cool, whereas the system that we developed enables refrigeration in two minutes and that provides a great opportunity to save energy. Such a system has not existed before. We are the first in the world to refrigerate Döner and other meat products using a vacuum cooling system. Furthermore, warm products placed in cold storage can warm already refrigerated products. Apart from wasting a vast amount of time and energy, this naturally reduces the life span of the product. Öztürk emphasized that while preserving the food value, the system spends five times less energy. As a patent for the system is not officially registered yet, no information was given about its refrigeration technology.
04/19/07 - Floating Wind Turbines to Make Hydrogen
The WindHunter is the concept of an offshore, floating system of wind turbines that make electricity, electrolyze sea water, and make hydrogen. The architects of the idea envision four two-megawatt wind turbines mounted on a moveable framework connected to the deck of a ship. The electricity produced from the turbines is sent to four electrolyzers in the hulls or inside the deck, and then the collected hydrogen is compressed and stored in tube tank trailers until transported to shore. “This continuously manned, safe and stable system will be easily maintained on-board while relocating to the best wind conditions for the wind turbines…. These large ships or platforms will operate out of sight of land either moored or anchored while facing into the wind and the oncoming waves. Millions of them can operate on the world's oceans with minimal environmental impact and human resistance.” Windhunter website
04/19/07 - Hidden Agenda
I watched a documentary the other day called “The Great Global Warming Swindle” from the BBC. The basic premise of the documentary was to show that carbon dioxide is not the main cause of global warming, that the sun’s energy output is, and it is not the threat that certain political interests would have us believe. The science of the documentary seemed sound and I would be hard pressed to argue against the data without more study. They also showed how Al Gore had misused data to push a political agenda and a world government imposed solution. They discussed how certain scientists were included as authors in a United Nations report on global warming even though they had asked to be removed from the list of authors. They spoke of how they were not being paid by oil interests. It was all very interesting. They stated that there was no doubt climate change existed and that we were in the middle of it, the doubt was in what the main cause is. They gave me little reason to doubt them until near the very end. That’s when their true colors showed. They might not have been paid by oil interests, but they suddenly started advocating coal interests.
04/19/07 - Prepaid Electric Meters
Prepaid electric metering in its simplest form means paying for electricity before it is used. All consumers have to do is to purchase the amount of electric energy they desire in the form of recharge cards and then slot it to their meters which automatically gets recharged. And as they consume the electricity, the meter counts down until it gets to zero and power supply is automatically cut from such consumer unless he gets another recharge. It follows the same principle as GSM handsets. What are the possible reasons why the prepaid system should be better and are there other countries that have adopted this technology? Ordinarily, there are many reasons why a prepaid meter should be preferred. Apart from the fact that it takes away the burden of having to prepare monthly bills for consumers, the system compels consumers to develop a positive attitude towards payment. It also puts an end to the issues of over billing, wrong disconnection and reconnection fees usually associated with the current system. Prepaid system also enables consumers to imbibe a disciplined attitude towards energy consumption. People will no longer be careless leaving their electrical appliances on, even when they are not in use.
04/19/07 - Anti-Spam Suits and Booby-Trapped Motions
(They should test ALL lawmakers to verify they actually READ and UNDERSTAND what they are signing...though this is a neat trick. Witness the Patriot Act as one of the worst unread, misunderstood, rubberstamped bills that was ever passed. - JWD) "The last few times that I sued a spammer in Washington Small Claims Court, I filed a "booby-trapped" written legal brief with the judge, about four pages long, with the second and third pages stuck together in the middle. I made these by poking through those two pages with a thumbtack, then running a tiny sliver of paper through the holes and gluing it to either page with white-out. The idea was that after the judge made their decision, I could go to the courthouse and look at the file to see if the judge read the brief or not, since if they turned the pages to read it, the tiny sliver of paper would break. To make a long story short, I tried this with 6 different judges, and in 3 out of 6 cases, the judge rejected the motion without reading it."
04/19/07 - Claim Ionic Ring ages wine and liquor
The story began back in the late 1990s when Aaron Singleton had a series of dreams showing him how to build a generator to be used for healing purposes. The device - a net-neutral ion generator - embeds a "net-neutral" charge into molecules taking separate positive and negative ions from the air and bonding them together to become a neutral particle that has the ability to resonate its energy, or "ionic potential," to objects or substances, whether it be crystals or brass rings, the human body or wine, the Singletons say. The Singletons admit you won't find this in any physics book. It is a part of quantum physics that they have uncovered, they say. Aaron Singleton first used his creation to aid with healing and treatments, and his Web site lists a number of testimonials to its effectiveness. In other words, Aaron Singleton explains, the ring takes all parts of the aging that may happen over years in a barrel and speeds it up. Everything is affected from the aroma to the flavor to the crispness to the taste, he said. "The aroma of the wine has totally changed," Aaron Singleton said. "You can smell the difference." They're out to prove it with taste tests around Massachusetts, including one in Amesbury later this month. The best part about the ring, Sue Singleton said, is that it's healthy. It doesn't use electricity or magnets - it's safe to use, she said. It retails on their Web site for $99. Wine drinkers place an opened bottle of wine or a glass in the center of the ring and let it sit there. Depending on the size of the bottle or the glass, the stay time varies from 15 minutes to an hour. It's big enough to cover a box of wine. The ring works on all types of wine - red, white, rose or sparkling - something they learned through testing, they admit with a smile. "That part was fun," Sue Singleton said. The Singletons acknowledge that some may question the ring and say it's unusual, but they welcome hearing from skeptics. Ring of Oden website
04/19/07 - Room Color and how it Influences your Mood
To have a beautiful home, you do not have to worry about trends. Color trends will come and go. The people who live in a home make it beautiful by choosing colors that reflect their likes and their personalities. The trick is to blend those colors you like into a pleasing combination. Choosing color combinations is one of the most intimidating steps for beginners. Color has the power to change the shape and size of furnishings as well as the shape and size of the room itself. Understand that colors behave in three basic ways : active, passive, and neutral , and you can easily match every room’s colors to your personal desires and taste and to the room’s purpose. Light colors are expansive and airy, they make rooms seem larger and brighter. Dark colors are sophisticated and warm; they give large rooms a more intimate appearance. / Yellow captures the joy of sunshine and communicates happiness. It's perfect for kitchens, dining rooms, and bathrooms, where a happy color is energizing and uplifting. In halls, entries, and small spaces, yellow can feel expansive and welcoming. Blue, meanwhile, can lower your blood pressure, while red can raise it (but in a good way). Crimson is right out. It's an interesting article, especially if you're planning to venture beyond neutral colors for your next paint job. (via lifehacker.com)
04/19/07 - Thomas Edison Hoodwinks Reporters, Misjudges Markets in New Bio
Edison predicted that the phonograph's primary utility would be to replay fine oratory and church sermons; he remained stubbornly clueless even after the listening public displayed a preference for entertainment of a lowlier sort. He called radio a transient ``fad.'' He thought it unseemly to print the name of the artist on a record. He clung to the superiority of direct current long after electricity customers had flocked to the competing alternating current, which could be transmitted over cheaper wires for longer distances. Edison owed much of his financial survival to a succession of bright acolytes, notably Samuel Insull, a plucky Briton who joined the Edison team as an accountant, rose to be in effect its chief operating officer, and later became a titan of electrification in Chicago in his own right. Throughout Edison's life (1847-1931), he was known as the world's most famous inventor because he was able to beguile the public with his eccentric ways -- his 20-hour workdays (and habit of napping in his roll-top desk) at his laboratories in Menlo Park and, later, West Orange, New Jersey, and Lower Manhattan. Edison persuaded a toadying press and eager investors that his rollout of this or that revolutionary invention was days or weeks away, chronically ``blurring the distinction between what he hoped for and what he had achieved.'' Anyone in business knows the phenomenon. Such was his renown that he became an authority on matters about which he knew next to nothing -- diet, for example, and smoking. He attributed the ill effects of cigarettes to the paper, thus justifying his cigar habit. Americans love people who succeed on their hunches, and so loved Edison -- even when his hunches were wrong.
04/19/07 - Unstoppable Copier (Windows/Linux)
[Unstoppable Copier] allows you to copy files from disks with problems such as bad sectors, scratches or that just give errors when reading data. The program will attempt to recover every readable piece of a file and put the pieces together. Using this method most types of files can be made useable even if some parts were not recoverable in the end. If you've ever had a disk go bad and you've tried saving some of the contents, you've probably seen all of the error messages Windows can throw at you when you try to copy files to a new drive. Unstoppable Copier ignores the error messages and does its best to reconstruct your files with what's available, and since it runs from an .exe without installation, this is definitely a worthwhile utility to include in your system recovery toolkit. Unstoppable Copier is freeware, Windows and Linux only.
04/19/07 - Homes to get free energy monitors
Every household in the UK will be able to request a free device that shows how much electricity is being used in the home at any one particular moment. Ministers are set to announce the plan in the forthcoming Energy White Paper. They hope "real-time monitors" will help cut greenhouse gas emissions and the amount of energy wasted by appliances being left on standby. The government recently committed itself to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 60% from 1990 levels by 2050.
04/19/07 - Montana passes law to deny Real ID
"Montana's governor signed a bill yesterday in defiance of the Real ID Act. House Bill 287 [PDF] requires the Montana Motor Vehicle Division to not implement the provisions of the Real ID Act, and to report to the governor any attempts by any agent or agency of the Department of Homeland Security to attempt to implement the bill. Montana is the first state to implement such a law." / Gov. Brian Schweitzer said "no, nope, no way, hell no" Tuesday to national driver's licenses, signing into law a bill supporters say is one of the strongest rejections to the federal plan. The federal law says the federally approved identification cards eventually would be necessary to board airplanes or enter federal buildings. "We also don't think that bureaucrats in Washington, D.C., ought to tell us that if we're going to get on a plane we have to carry their card, so when it's scanned through they know where you went, when you got there and when you came home," said Schweitzer, a Democrat. "This is still a free country and there are no freer people than the people that we have in Montana."
04/19/07 - Ethanol cars may not be healthier
Ethanol vehicles may have worse effects on human health than conventional petrol, US scientists have warned. A computer model set up to simulate air quality in 2020 found that in some areas ozone levels would increase if all cars were run on bioethanol.
04/19/07 - Crematoria struggle with obesity
Crematoria are struggling to deal with spiralling rates of obesity. Expanding waistlines are forcing many councils to spend thousands widening their furnaces, the Local Government Association has warned. In some cases grieving relatives have to travel hundreds of miles to find crematoria that can accommodate over-sized coffins. Standard coffins range from 16-20 inches, but coffins up to 40 inches are becoming increasingly common. / Nearly 50,000 fewer Americans died in 2004 than in 2003, according to data based on about 90% of U.S. death certificates. The preliminary number of U.S. deaths in 2004 was 2,398,343, compared with 2,448,288 in 2003.
04/19/07 - US meat maker to produce diesel fuel from fat
Oil major ConocoPhillips and Tyson Foods Inc., the world's largest meat producer, said Monday that they're teaming up to produce and market diesel fuel for U.S. vehicles using beef, pork and poultry fat. Tyson said it also would make capital improvements this summer to begin preprocessing animal fat at some of its North American rendering plants. Tyson President and CEO Richard Bond said his company's potential investment would likely be less than that of ConocoPhillips. The oil company and Tyson, based in Springdale, Ark., said the finished product would be renewable diesel fuel mixtures that meet all federal standards for ultralow sulfur diesel. They expect to ramp up production over the next couple of years to as much as 175 million gallons a year, which Mulva said would amount to about 3 percent of ConocoPhillips' total U.S. diesel production. The rising cost of soybean and other oils, which account for the bulk of biodiesel fuel stock, has led to the push to use cheap and plentiful animal fats. That shift to animal fat as a fuel stock could be key to making the budding biodiesel industry a reliable fuel source for U.S. trucking fleets, among other uses, experts say.
04/19/07 - The Monster List of Freelancing Job Sites
When it comes to freelancing, one of the biggest challenges can be finding work. Even the most successful of freelancers will experience a lean month here and there, so it pays to have as many sources of potential work as possible. That's why we've compiled a monster list of job sites from around the net. There is sure to be a site in here that is listing a job tailor made for you!
04/18/07 - Oil Production Could Peak Next Year
Previous oil-peak models have used a “top-down” approach to estimate future production based on three factors-past rates of total production, estimates of how much oil is left and a steady decline rate. The new model, developed by Fredrik Robelius, a physicist and petroleum engineer at the University of Uppsala in Sweden, uses a “bottom-up” approach based on field-by-field analyses of the 333 giant oil fields in use today. These together account for more than 60 percent of today’s oil production. He pooled the contributions from all the smaller fields together, treating them as an additional giant field.
Robelius built his model, which serves as his doctoral dissertation, after analyzing the fields’ past production rates and their ultimate recoverable reserves. Then he predicted how production will decline after peaking by incorporating rates of drop-off observed at other fields, ranging from six percent in a best-case scenario to 16 percent in a worst-case scenario. Finally, he combined his results with estimated forecasts for new field developments from sources such as the deep ocean and oil sands in Canada, but he says that these are unlikely to offset the upcoming declines from the giant fields-and there is little chance that new giant fields will be discovered in the future.
04/18/07 - Five Modifications NOT to Do To Your Car
There are tons of modifications you can do to your car. Whether it be lightweight body parts, turbo kits, free flowing exhaust kits; they all aid to performance. However, if you own or want to own a more performance oriented car, here are 5 modifications that you shouldn’t do to your car. Many of these suggestions are opinionated, so take it with a grain of salt. However if I see anybody with these modifications on their ’street beast’, you will be made fun of. But all in all, just enjoy your car. If you enjoy the harsh ride of cut springs, the look of a combat style body kit with 24 inch chrome rims, the non-existent-extra-gas-millage Tornado, or the sound of a fart canister muffler, then go for it. Otherwise, stay clear of these parts, because they’ll do everything but make your car faster.
04/18/07 - DC/DC boost converter enables portables to tap new energy sources
Texas Instruments Inc. (TI) has introduced a low input voltage DC/DC boost converter that it says will enable portable electronic end-equipment to draw power from new energy sources, such as solar and micro-fuel cells. The tiny power circuit can efficiently operate with input voltages lower than 0.3V, allowing designers to overcome the low-voltage design barrier of incorporating these alternative energy sources in applications such as mobile phones, portable medical devices and media players. (via zpenergy.com)
04/18/07 - Artificial bones created from an inkjet
Scientists are creating artificial bones using a modified version of an inkjet printer.The technology creates perfect replicas of bones that have been damaged and these can then be inserted in the body to help it to heal. The process will revolutionise bone graft surgery, which currently relies on either bits of bone taken from other parts of the body or ceramic-like substitutes. "The "paper" in our printer is a thin bed of cement-like powder. The inkjets spray the cement with an acid which reacts with it and goes hard. "That deals with one layer. Then new layers of fresh powder are sprayed on top, and the layers build up to the shape we need." It takes only ten minutes for the printer, which is the size of about three filing cabinets, to print a typical bone graft. The printed graft acts as a bridge to allow the body to replace the damaged section with new bone. Crucially, the substance created by the printing process contains the same building blocks as real human bone, allowing the graft to eventually dissolve harmlessly into the body. The sections made by the printer are so precise that spaces can be left to encourage the regrowth of tissue and blood vessels through the graft, mirroring the make-up of normal bone.
04/18/07 - Afghanistan residents prefer Taliban over corrupt police
When the roadside bombs exploded this week in Sangisar, the local villagers acknowledged that the explosives were probably planted by Taliban fighters. But the Taliban would never have gotten back into Sangisar, they say, if it weren't for the topakan. Mr. Rahman, a wealthy landowner, said he saw groups of eight to 10 armed Taliban in his village this week. Residents had encouraged them to return, he said, because the corrupt police who recently replaced the Canadian troops were trying to muscle their way into the local opium trade. “This was an argument between the people and the topakan, and the Taliban took advantage of this,” he said.
04/18/07 - +50% of Americans can't survive without government welfare
Maybe the era of big government isn't over, after all. As Americans finish their annual tax-filing flurry to meet a Tuesday deadline, it is true that tax rates are lower than they were a few years ago. But according to a different yardstick, the federal government's reach is expanding. Slightly over half of all Americans - 52.6 percent - now receive significant income from government programs, according to an analysis by Gary Shilling, an economist in Springfield, N.J. That's up from 49.4 percent in 2000 and far above the 28.3 percent of Americans in 1950. If the trend continues, the percentage could rise within ten years to pass 55 percent, where it stood in 1980 on the eve of President's Reagan's move to scale back the size of government.Mr. Shilling's analysis found that about 1 in 5 Americans hold a government job or a job reliant on federal spending. A similar number receive Social Security or a government pension. About 19 million others get food stamps, 2 million get subsidized housing, and 5 million get education grants. For all these categories, Mr. Shilling counted dependents as well as the direct recipients of government income. Many Americans, in surveys, say they don't like the way their tax money is spent. And a majority now says, in a reversal from a year ago, that their federal income taxes are too high, according to an April Gallup poll.
04/18/07 - Hospital orders staff: Don't wash sheets - turn them over
(Wonder if they could be called an 'HMO'? - JWD) Cleaners at an NHS hospital with a poor record on superbugs have been told to turn over dirty sheets instead of using fresh ones between patients to save money. Housekeeping staff at Good Hope Hospital in Sutton Coldfield, have been asked to re-use sheets and pillowcases wherever possible to cut a £500,000 laundry bill. Posters in the hospital's linen cupboards and on doors into the A&E department remind workers that each item costs 0.275 pence to wash. The scheme is one of many ways that cash- strapped trusts are trying to save money. In January, staff at West Hertfordshire NHS Trust were amazed to receive a memo urging them to save £2.50 a day by prescribing cheaper medicines, reducing the number of sterile packs used, cutting hospital tests and asking patients to bring drugs in from home. Epsom and St Helier Trust in South London has removed every third light bulb from corridors.
04/18/07 - Too much bacon 'bad for lungs'
Eating large quantities of cured meats like bacon could damage lung function and increase the risk of lung disease. A Columbia University team found people who ate cured meats at least 14 times a month were more likely to have COPD - chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
04/18/07 - PG&E demonstrates Vehicle-to-Grid technology
V2G technology allows for the bi-directional sharing of electricity between Electric Vehicles (EVs) and Plug-in Electric Hybrid Vehicles (PHEVs) and the electric power grid. The technology turns each vehicle into a power storage system, increasing power reliability and the amount of renewable energy available to the grid during peak power usage. PG&E's prototype PHEV, converted in partnership with the Bay Area Air Quality Management District and Energy CS, adds a lithium ion battery to a traditional Toyota Prius. The additional battery capacity increases the vehicle's ability to run completely on electricity. In front of many of the Silicon Valley's industry and governmental leaders, PG&E showed the reverse flow of energy from the vehicle back to the outlet. Once connected to the outlet, PG&E then ran several lights and appliances to show how V2G could benefit its customers. PG&E's PHEV is currently in prototype form. In addition to reducing energy costs, V2G technology could provide the ability for customers to sell back energy to the utility during hot afternoons when demand is highest and most costly to avoid blackouts. During these periods, energy is worth several times more than overnight when vehicles charge. Vehicle owners will select a price threshold at which they are willing to sell energy, and when the price reaches this point the utility will be able to automatically draw energy out of the vehicle, leaving enough for the drive home if necessary. The utility's customers would then earn credit in the amount of energy used by the utility toward their monthly energy bill. V2G technology also serves as a way to increase the amount of renewable energy used during peak energy hours. During times of maximum demand, electrical utilities have to buy power from fossil fuel power generating sources. PHEVs will charge their batteries at night when energy is inexpensive and is generated with a larger percentage of renewable resources. When demand is high the next day, instead of turning on a fossil-fuel based generator, the utility can purchase the renewable energy stored in the vehicle batteries.
04/17/07 - Super Fast water flow in Pipes
Scientists at the University of Kentucky have built tiny pipes that move water 10,000 times as fast as the conventional laws of fluid flow allow. Mimicking for the first time the seamless way fluids progress through our cells. They’ve also found a way to control which molecules can pass through the pipes, a discovery that could yield safer, more efficient skin patches to deliver medicine into the body. The pipes are made of carbon nanotubes, thin sheets of graphite rolled into cylinders just seven billionths of a meter in diameter. The scientists poured a polymer between them to create a fine membrane that can embed 65 billion pipes per square inch. Lead researcher Bruce Hinds attributes the tremendous speed of the water flow (3.3 feet a second) to the nearly friction-free carbon nanotube walls. To keep out unwanted molecules, Hinds placed chemical receptors at the entrances to each tube, so that only those proteins that match the receptors are allowed passage. - Gregory Mone
04/17/07 - Build Yourself a Solar Space Heater
Plans, tools, and information to help you build solar projects that save money and reduce pollution. Projects are low cost designs for the do it you selfer. Some of the projects featured on the home page are for a thermal storage wall, building a sun space, plans for passive solar homes, how he is coming on a plan to cut his own energy consumption in half, ten energy saving projects with one year paybacks and a solar space heater. The simple and inexpensive passive solar space heater that he uses to heat his shop/barn is a project that could be completed in a weekend. The design can be adapted to suit a wide variety of spaces, including a living space. (via thefraserdomain.typepad.com)
04/17/07 - Update on the Green and Gold SolarCube
Green and Gold Energy of Australia just released this picture of their Sun Cube rooftop concentrating solar photovoltaic module. Shown left: 600 711kWh/year SunCube Mark 5 Solar Appliance™ with toughened glass lenses, internal 2 axis tracking motors / grid connect inverter. Retail cost of the AC SunCube = AU$1,500 inc GST at 10%. Cost in the US is expected to be US $1,000. Their website states: We anticipate the SunCube development process will be completed by the end March 2007 with the first Adelaide installations occurring before the end of April 2007. According to their discussion group, there are at least several months of backorders in the queue. SunCubes are not available for export, but will be built by local licensees. As far as I have been able to determine, outside of Australia there are licensees in Korea, India, Malta, Spain, Portugal, Israel, and Italy with ongoing negotiations in several other countries.
04/17/07 - Record High Frequency Achieved
"Researchers at UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science managed to push our control of frequencies to another level when they hit a submillimeter 324 gigahertz frequency. As any signal geek out there might tell you, this is a non-trivial task. 'With traditional 90-nanometer CMOS circuit approaches, it is virtually impossible to generate usable submillimeter signals with a frequency higher than about 190 GHz. That's because conventional oscillator circuits are nonlinear systems in which increases in frequency are accompanied by a corresponding loss in gain or efficiency and an increase in noise, making them unsuitable for practical applications.' The article also talks about the surprising applications this new technology may evolve into."
04/17/07 - DIY Newspaper Seedling Pots
Outside it may be Nor'eastering, but inside it's time to get your seedlings started for summer planting. Eric from Japan details how to recycle your newspaper into biodegradable seed-starting pots. You never have to de-pot these suckers - the newspaper will just break down and the roots grow through it once assembled and put into the ground. Lots of other resources on the net have instructions for making pots with staples or tape; Eric's method is pure paper using a modified origami technique.
04/17/07 - Firefox Usage Near 25% In Europe
"French researcher Xiti claims that Mozilla Firefox keeps winning terrain in Europe. 24.1% of Internet users in Europe use Firefox. Slovenia (44.5%), Finland (41.3%), Croatia (36.5%), and Germany (36.2%) lead the way, followed by a group of mostly Eastern European countries. Remarkably, The Netherlands is only at 13.3%, right before Andorra. Oceania maintains a slight lead over Europe, at 24.8%; the rest of the world trails at 11.9% to 15.1%."
04/17/07 - Clean dishwasher stains with Lemonade Kool-Aid
Forget fancy cleansers: Real Simple magazine says you can avoid dishwasher lime deposits and iron stains with a package of Kool-Aid: Pour a packet of lemonade Kool-Aid (the only flavor that works) into the detergent cup and run the dishwasher while empty... The citric acid in the mix wipes out stains, so you don't have to. Remember, lemonade only - the red stuff could be a disaster.
04/17/07 - National Secular Society: Challenging Religious Priviledge
We want a society in which all are free to practise their faith, change it or not have one, according to their conscience. Our belief or lack of it should neither advantage nor disadvantage. Religion should be a matter of private conscience, for the home and place of worship; it must not have privileged input into the political arena where history shows it to bring conflict and injustice. The National Secular Society is the leading pressure group defending the rights of non-believers from the demands of religious power-seekers. We campaign on a wide range of issues, including religious influence in the government, the disestablishment of the Church of England, the removal of the Bench of Bishops from the House of Lords and for conversion of religious schools (paid for by the taxpayer) to community schools, open to all. Stop by and get your very own Certificate of Debaptism. Liberate yourself from the Original Mumbo-Jumbo that liberated you from the Original Sin you never had. You can display your Certificate of De-Baptism proudly framed in your hallway (porch, loo, lean-to, etc.) as an outward sign of the inner rationality that inspires your being. / “When we start to question Santa and God, our parents come clean about Santa but not God. We see them continuing to believe and persist. We go to church and see people believing. We see others around us believing. So we put our doubts aside and keep following the crowd until eventually we convince ourselves.” - David Bruemmer, Daily Titan, California
04/17/07 - Defensive medicine
Defensive medicine is the deviation from sound medical practice to avoid the threat of malpractice litigation. According to a 2005 study in JAMA, over 90 percent of physicians surveyed admitted to practicing defensive medicine. This can range from "positive" defensive medicine, like ordering unnecessary tests, referring to consultants, or performing unneeded procedures; to "negative" defensive medicine, like avoiding high-risk patients or procedures. Defensive medicine is one of the most important drivers in rising health care costs today.
04/17/07 - Next X Prize: Build a practical, hyper-efficient car
'Auto X Prize' has announced a competition to design a 100 m.p.g. car, but some say 'why stop there?' If your dream is to build the world's greatest car - not just a science project or a concept car, but a real-world, 100-mile-per-gallon vehicle that's safe, can be mass-produced, and emits almost no pollutants - there's a big, fat prize waiting for you. It's expected to be at least $10 million, maybe much more. But here's the rub: If the first X Prize put a man in space on a shoestring budget, the 2009 Automotive X Prize by comparison looks timid to some. Why aim for just 100 miles per gallon or its energy equivalent? What about a vehicle that gets double that? What about a vehicle that burns no carbon-based fuel at all? Such are the criticisms already being leveled at the Automotive X Prize "draft guidelines," to be formally unveiled this week at the New York International Auto Show. Most questions are being raised not by skeptics but by the contemporary soul mates of the Wright brothers and Henry Ford, true believers who would love to enter the "great race." More than 1,000 people have already contacted X Prize organizers, including some auto companies. A number of concerns over the draft guidelines, which are open for public comment until May 31, are already being voiced by these Henry Ford wannabes. "Why stop at 100 m.p.g.?" asks Robyn Allen, student codirector of the Vehicle Design Summit at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Last summer she and colleagues were designing and building vehicles aiming for a 200 m.p.g. equivalent. "Given the magnitude of the climate-change problem, shouldn't we match that with commensurate effort?"
04/17/07 - Reticular chemistry gas storage
Chemists at UCLA have designed and developed a class of materials for the storage of very large quantities of gases which could be used in alternative energy technologies. Reticular chemistry is the chemistry of linking molecular building blocks by strong bonds into predetermined structures. The covalent organic frameworks, or COFs (pronounced "coffs"), one of these new classes of materials, are the first crystalline porous organic networks. The image shows the crystal structure of COF-108, which is synthesized from light elements (H,B,C,O) and is the lowest-density crystal ever produced (0.17 g/cm3). Yaghi and his colleagues believe that because of their functional flexibility and their extremely light weight and high porosity, COFs are uniquely suited to store hydrogen for use as a fuel, to use methane as an alternative fuel, and to capture and store carbon dioxide from power plant smokestacks before it reaches the atmosphere.
04/17/07 - Imus fired after threat to reveal 9/11 secrets
In a clear sign of its intent to reign in dissident American media personalities, and their growing influence in American culture, US War Leaders this past week launched an unprecedented attack upon one of their most politically 'connected', and legendary, radio hosts named Don Imus after his threats to release information relating to the September 11, 2001 attacks upon that country. According to European reports of the events surrounding Don Imus that have gripped the United States this past week, it was during an interview with another American media personality, Tim Russert, who is the host of a television programme frequently used by US War Leaders, wherein while decrying the state of care being given to American War wounded stated, "So those bastards want to keep these boys [in reference to US Soldiers] secret? Let's see how they like it if I start talking about their [in reference to US War Leaders] secrets, starting with 9/11." Unable to attack such a powerful media figure as Don Imus, directly, the US War Leaders, and as we have seen many times before, resorted to a massive media attack against him using as the reason a racial slur against a US woman's basketball team, but which has been pointed out by other media outlets was not by any means a rare occurrence for the legendary radio icon to make. But, to the US War Leaders, Don Imus represented the most serious threat, to date, of the growing assault against them by America's media personalities threatening to expose the truths behind the events of September 11, 2001 and the Iraq/Afghanistan Wars; and to such an extent that another American media personality, Rosie O'Donnell, has expressed concern that US Military Leaders could actually imprison Mr. Imus.
04/17/07 - Need Dental Work?
Choppers on the Cheap - How about a Filling for $15-$25 or a Crown for only $45-$95? Why not save Money and have a Vacation in Sunny Mexico for a lot less than you were quoted? This book can save you thousands of dollars off your needed dental bill! One recent visitor came to Mexico from England after reading my book. His teeth were wrecked and he wanted caps and repairs on all at a cost of $28,000 in England. Here he had them all done for $2,800! And they are perfect! WOW, 1/10th of the quote in England! For him, that was a savings of $25,200 and a vacation to boot! There are many such success stories you can ask the author about. I was quoted $1,500 for dental work in the states that I got for $600 here and that was 6 years ago with no problems! If you don't yet need dental work, remember your friends who might need work but can't afford it where they live. You can buy them a copy as a very nice gift to help them save money. They'll appreciate it! Don't worry, the picture is a joke photo which would be BEFORE WORK IS DONE. If this guy ONLY HAD THIS eBOOK, he could get himself new 'Choppers on the Cheap'! Only $10 to download this eBook.
04/16/07 - Water instead of Gas
(The big problem with this, I cannot find that he has built and tested any of it by reading the patent. It seems purely theoretical though fascinating. I still think it is wrong for the patent office to grant a patent on anything that hasn't been proven in a working device, PERIOD. It lets anyone patent anything without any real work or effort, just writing it up, doing the prior art search and paying the fee. Then they have a 17 year long future claim on those who really do spend money and time to build and perfect a working device. It's just not right. - JWD) James D. Hunt, a student at Carl Sandburg College, believes his on-demand, hydrogen fuel generation system can save consumers thousands of dollars. Hunt said large-scale versions could be converted into power generation plants, eliminating the exorbitant cost residents currently pay for electricity, as well as offering substantial savings for fuel for vehicles of all kinds. Hunt has a patent pending. Hunt said a short summary of the process is "hydrogen extraction from water via plasmatic induction. By inducing a small amount of plasma into a water tank, we're able to extract hydrogen from the water." The "plasmatic induction," Hunt mentioned is a form of electrolysis. The water used is ordinary drinking water. "It could run an internal combustion engine," Hunt said. "The goal is to replace gasoline." The hydrogen gas is directly ported into an engine, providing the fuel. The system has reserve batteries and solar cells. Carbon rods are also used, but these are, as Hunt said, "simple carbon rods." The process is not radioactive. Hunt said the entire system can be contained inside the area of a vehicle where the gas tank is now. "Forty percent of all the oil we buy is consumed in vehicles," Hunt said. "We wouldn't have to be dependent upon foreign oil." Hunt was quick to point out this is not a fuel-cell car, which has a tank of oxygen and a tank of hydrogen, which he said "is destructive beyond belief." Such a vehicle also carries a $95,000 price tag. Hunt said his system can be retrofitted into any vehicle for about $2,000. He said it may be possible to do that as early as next year. Once the system is in place, there are no fuel worries. After a year, a motorist would take his vehicle to a special service station to have the carbon rods replaced, at a cost of about what it takes to fill a car with gasoline for a month, and be good to go for another year. / United States Patent Application 20020100836 - Hunt, Robert Daniel - August 1, 2002 - Hydrogen and oxygen battery, or hudrogen and oxygen to fire a combustion engine and/or for commerce. The present invention can produce heat for space heat for buildings and for manufacturing, etc. or can produce mechanical drive that can generate electricity, power hydraulic systems, or provide thrust to propel airplanes, spaceships, rockets or submarines (which have their own oxygen supply for combustion in outer space or underwater from the oxygen contained in the water converted into hydrogen and oxygen) and can provide the energy needed to power automobiles, trucks, buses, trains, boats, etc. A heat/ignition process is utilized to accomplish complete thermolysis and burning of water: A thermolysis coil located at the core of the hydrogen thermolysis reactor preheats the water under pressure until it reaches a temperature of approximately 2500 deg. F., without intense pressure the water would become gaseous; and, the water is heated by a resistance electrical current or by masers and/or by lasers before it is ejected from the coil and becomes heated to approximately 5000 deg. F. Most of the water will dissociate into hydrogen and oxygen within the liquid state due to extreme temperature and pressure, according to the Second Law of Thermodynamics; and, in the final step the water is ejected from the high-pressure, high-temperature thermolysis coil into a vacuum zone of negative-pressure and high-temperature created by a hydraulically operated vacuum turbine within the thermolysis nozzle and is transformed into fuel plasma containing atomic hydrogen and atomic oxygen. The plasma passes through an electric arc capable of temperatures up to 90,000 deg. F. or passes through laser beams capable of temperatures of up to one million deg. F. within the vacuum inside the thermolysis nozzle and the hydrogen and oxygen is further heated and is ignited by the electric arc or laser beams. The burning hydrogen and oxygen is diffused into the hydrogen thermolysis reactor's core by the vacuum turbine. A self-sustained cycle is created because the hydrogen and oxygen (disassociated water) that burns provides the heat/energy to perform work, including the generation of electricity for the resistance electrical current or masers and/or lasers and electric arc or lasers, and to heat additional water in the thermolysis coil and enormous quantities of excess energy for any other useful purpose.
04/16/07 - New Taser looks like Cellphone
Designed to accurately resemble an actual cell phone but, emits a powerful 800K volts with the press of a button. Easy to operate and equipped with a safety swith to prevent accidental firing. Includes leather cse with belt attachment.Uses 3 CR123a batteries (not included) Please note this is not an actual cell phone, but, a very powerful self defense weapon. / $120 here
04/16/07 - Invention: All-knowing browser
Ever given false information when prompted for personal details by a website? Don't worry, the US copying and computing company Xerox hopes to eliminate that kind of questioning because it believes it can get the information without even asking. Even if you choose not to reveal who you are, Xerox says it can determine demographic information such as your age, sex and perhaps even your income by analysing the pattern of pages you choose to access on the web and comparing them to a database of surfing patterns from other users with a known background. Xerox suggests that the idea could be used by online merchants and advertisers who want to identify the types of users visiting their websites. Of course, the approach will only work so long as different people do not use the same browser profile. And, unfortunately, the patent application does not address possible privacy concerns.
04/16/07 - Software patch killed Mars Probe
Please! Everyone! Try to keep the Microsoft jokes to a minimum! NASA has reported that a SOFTWARE PATCH uploaded to the Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft in June 2006 directly caused its failure some five months later. Because of the patch, the spacecraft entered a special "error mode" and reoriented itself. The new position exposed one of the batteries to the sun, which fried it like a Dell laptop. The Surveyor had ten good years, though, the longest any probe has spent studying Mars.
04/16/07 - Why you should wear a seatbelt
In a collision, you have three or four sub-collisions all taking place in sequence. First, the vehicle hits some object. The vehicle abruptly slows, but unrestrained objects inside it continue at the same speed, in the same direction. Then the unrestrained body hits the interior of the vehicle, and starts to slow. That’s the second collision. That body’s internal organs are still moving at speed until they hit the inside of the chest (or get cheese-sliced by their supporting ligaments-and that’s where you get things like bisected livers or aortas). The fourth collision is when the bowling ball you left on the rear deck hits you in the back of the head, because that continued at the same speed in the same direction. Newtonian physics: Learn it, live it, love it. / (From a few years back-beautiful young princess, millionaire boyfriend, drunk driver, bodyguard-hit an abutment at a Whole Bunch of Miles Per Hour. Who lived? Answer: the guy who was wearing a seatbelt.)
04/16/07 - Hack - Laser Cam Rangefinder
This has been around for a while, but I thought it deserved some attention. [Todd] used a laser pointer, a webcam, some trig and (sigh) some windows development tools to create his own laser range finder. Given the position of the beam strike and that the camera is located at a right angle to the laser, calculating the distance is pretty simple. This could be handy if you're building a bot for defcon...
04/16/07 - New Laws of Robotics Proposed for US Kill-Bots
"The Register has a short commentary about a proposed new set of laws of robotics for war robots by John S Canning of the Naval Surface Warfare Centre. Unlike Asimov's three laws of robotics Canning proposes (pdf) that we should 'Let machines target other machines and let men target men.' Although this sounds OK in principle, 'a robot could decide under Mr Canning's rules, to target a weapon system such as an AK47 for destruction on its own initiative, requiring no permission from a human. If the person holding it was thereby killed, that would be collateral damage and the killer droid would be in the clear.'"
04/16/07 - The 150-Country Auto-Detecting Travel Adapter
The 150-Country Auto-Detecting Travel Adapter And Converter. This is the lightweight, compact device that automatically detects incoming voltage, converts it to 120-volt AC power, and provides plug adaptation for over 150 countries throughout Europe, Africa, Asia, the Americas and Caribbean, and Australia. The plug configures to fit a variety of international sockets, and it has a built-in USB port that allows you to leave chargers for cell phones, digital cameras, iPod's, and other devices at home. The device allows simultaneous AC and USB connection to charge two devices at once. An integral surge protector protects electronics from potential power spikes.
Willing Reality Changes
Dr. Eric D. Leskowitz, a psychiatrist who lives in Needham, will be testing some pretty eyebrow-raising theories about Fenway Park. He wants to see if fans, with their emotions, can will the Red Sox to victory. The experiment is part of a documentary film, "The Joy of Sox: 'Weird Science' and the Power of Intention," that he is coproducing. At Fenway, Leskowitz will be testing a theory that says events are less random in sacred places or when masses of people are concentrating on the same subject. It draws from research into alternative medicine by the Global Consciousness Project. He will hook a hand-held device that spews out random numbers to his laptop. During the game he'll see if fan vibes create patterns in the output. It may sound like a wild pitch, but Leskowitz says the truth is in the numbers.
04/16/07 - Nine Blunders of the World that lead to Violence - Gandhi
1. Wealth without work, 2. Pleasure without conscience, 3. Knowledge without character, 4. Commerce without morality, 5. Science without humanity, 6. Worship without sacrifice, 7. Politics without principle, 8. Rights without responsibilities, 9. Identity without self-respect
04/16/07 - Cowards kick away another piece of America's Soul
(Well written comments about the Imus fiasco. If you find you don't want to hear or see something, CHANGE THE CHANNEL! "Nobody can make you feel inferior without your consent." - Eleanor Roosevelt- JWD) There's no excusing Imus' recent ridiculous remark, but there's something not kosher in America when one guy gets a Grammy and one gets fired for the same line. Political correctness, a term first used by Joseph Stalin, has trivialized, sanitized and homogenized America, transforming us into a nation of chain establishments and chain people. Judge a man by the size of his enemies, my father used to say. / A popular term / Far Worse no retribution / Who can say What?
04/16/07 - Are mobile phones wiping out our bees?
Scientists claim radiation from handsets are to blame for mysterious 'colony collapse' of bees. Late last week, some bee-keepers claimed that the phenomenon - which started in the US, then spread to continental Europe - was beginning to hit Britain as well. The theory is that radiation from mobile phones interferes with bees' navigation systems, preventing the famously homeloving species from finding their way back to their hives. Improbable as it may seem, there is now evidence to back this up. Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) occurs when a hive's inhabitants suddenly disappear, leaving only queens, eggs and a few immature workers, like so many apian Mary Celestes. The vanished bees are never found, but thought to die singly far from home. The parasites, wildlife and other bees that normally raid the honey and pollen left behind when a colony dies, refuse to go anywhere near the abandoned hives. No one knows why it is happening. Theories involving mites, pesticides, global warming and GM crops have been proposed, but all have drawbacks. German research has long shown that bees' behaviour changes near power lines. Now a limited study at Landau University has found that bees refuse to return to their hives when mobile phones are placed nearby. Dr Jochen Kuhn, who carried it out, said this could provide a "hint" to a possible cause. An official Finnish study found that people who used the phones for more than 10 years were 40 per cent more likely to get a brain tumour on the same side as they held the handset. Equally alarming, blue-chip Swedish research revealed that radiation from mobile phones killed off brain cells, suggesting that today's teenagers could go senile in the prime of their lives. Studies in India and the US have raised the possibility that men who use mobile phones heavily have reduced sperm counts.
04/15/07 - Video - 5 seconds Self-Spinning Magnet Setup
Beginnings of a possible perpetual motion effect. Uses a hard drive magnet, 6 bearings and a toy elliptical magnet bought in Mexico. Moving the bearings changes the magnetic path to form new poles. As shown in frames 4 and 5, this is the configuration which gave 5 seconds of spin for a brief twist to get it started. In the video you can see it spinning rapidly for about 5 seconds. It might be possible to extend this effect into a continuous motion. / Comments: It appears 8 bearings would comprise a complete circle around the hard drive magnet, the configuration uses 6 bearings with 5 bearings next to each other (from 45 to 225 degress) and one separated at roughly 315 degrees to assist the spin effect.
04/15/07 - Eject! Eject! Eject!: Seeing the Unseen
Occam’s Razor is the idea that when confronted with competing theories that explain certain data equally well, the simplest one is usually correct. It’s called Occam’s Razor, and not Occam’s Hypothesis, or Occam’s Theorem, or Occam’s Bit of Useful Advice, because it is a razor - it cuts cleanly and with great efficiency. And though it pains me to say so, this culture is in desperate need of a shave. IT’S A CONSPIRACY! I want to forgo the niceties of the hot towel and go straight for the jugular on this one. My goal here is not to bust any of these four conspiracy theories; that has all been done much more effictively elsewhere. What I am trying to do here is to build a chain of evidence to show a progressively deteriorating epidemic of world-wide insanity, of truly diseased thinking -- not just a misunderstanding or difference of opinion but real, diagnosable mental illness. I want to get to that disease in a minute -- and the cause of it too - but first let’s examine what some people claim to believe in and the mountains of sand one has to carry in order to bury one’s head so deep.
04/15/07 - “Do you think this is the first 6-year-old we've arrested?”
This comment by Avon Park, Florida Police Chief Frank Mercurio to New York Times columnist Bob Herbert easily qualifies as the pull-quote of the day, perhaps of the month. Chief Mercurio was justifying the arrest -- complete with handcuffing, fingerprinting, and a mug-shot - of Desre'e Watson, who was eventually charged with a felony (as well as a few misdemeanors) after disturbing her kindergarten class. “The student became violent,” Mercurio told Herbert. “She was yelling, screaming - just being uncontrollable. Defiant.” Herbert recalls wondering if he'd somehow materialized inside a “Saturday Night Live” sketch (during one of its better years - say, circa 1981) as Mercurio explained the mechanics of applying police restraints to a tiny child: “You can't handcuff them on their wrists because their wrists are too small, so you have to handcuff them up by their biceps.” How did we become a country in which it's becoming common to treat misbehaving children as if they were hardcore offenders? One reason, I suspect, is the “Overkill” mentality now common to law enforcement, a side-effect of militarizing the police: Much of the rising generation of law enforcement officers see the civilian population as an enemy to be subdued, as opposed to fellow citizens whose rights are to be respected and protected. Criminologist Gene Stephens of the University of South Carolina suggests, we don't like having the government tell us what to do, which means that we're all criminals.
04/15/07 - Cheap power for all by 2015, says research body
Be it thermal, solar or wind energy, the Central Power Research Institute (CPRI) is harnessing all possible sources to provide electricity to all Indians at an affordable price by 2015. Set up in 1960, the CPRI is an autonomous research body under the federal power ministry that carries out applied research in electrical power engineering and has so far undertaken 300 research projects and commercialised 25 technologies. According to CPRI scientists, the power generation capacity in India has increased over the years to more than 130,000MW and the installed capacity is expected to increase to about 300,000MW by 2017. Considering the trends in global energy use, CPRI scientists have indicated a steep growth in renewable energy - 25% in solar energy and 30% in wind energy per annum. India is among the top five nations in the world using wind energy and is rapidly picking up in solar sector as well. “Solar Photovoltaic (SPV) is very popular in far-flung villages and human habitations where the grid power supply is erratic and the quality of power rather poor,” Kognolkar said.
04/15/07 - Debate over wind power blows hot
Arguments flare over adding turbines in breezy region of California. A proposal to build 50 windmills next to Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument has aroused passions in a region already dotted with 3,000 windmills, with opponents charging that the wind energy industry has neither delivered the promised power nor spared the environment. Around the country, blogs and anti-wind energy Web sites hum with angry postings about projects on picturesque ridge- lines, seascapes and farmlands from New England to Texas. Politicians and celebrities have weighed in. Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., and his Nantucket Island neighbors so far have successfully fought installation of offshore turbines. Their opposition has prompted criticism that rich liberals are all for alternative power providing it doesn't mar their views. Near San Gorgonio Pass, residents complain of a ceaseless high-pitched whine from windmills and, at night, bright, revolving lights. "It's like having a disco going ... all night long," said Joyce Manley, a retired Los Angeles schoolteacher who lives within half a mile of hundreds of windmills.
04/15/07 - "Scheer Nonsense" -- The Damage Idealistic Environmentalists Can Do
Some ideas could be downright harmful to the environment. This difference became vivid to me as we debated the role of PV technology versus that of solar thermal energy, the effectiveness of wind power, charging your cell phones with solar panels, on idealized distributed self contained homes and centralized power services and more. It did bring to mind a problem that has reared itself many times in renewably energy - the role of the idealist or dogmentalist versus that of the pragmatist. We must address some basic rules: For any energy scheme to be viable, it must be cost effective, and it must be scalable. If solutions don't get adopted in India and China global warming control efforts are futile. To scale they must make economic sense in China and India. The EIA projects that from 2003-2030, Asia's energy consumption will grow at 3.7% - faster than anywhere else in the world. India and China are also the home of more than one-third of the world's population and are likely to continue to grow furiously in the near future, using lowest cost energy. Politicians/True Believers (like Dr. Scheer) have a tendency to paint idealistic scenarios - especially because they have the ability to promise them with government funding. Moreover, enough people are always ready for a government handout (which are sometimes necessary because they get the right trajectory started and at other times are just subsides that lead to little multiplicative benefit to society over the longer term - in other words are poor public investments). Personally I'm focused on what is pragmatic given political and economic realities in the US, India, and China, and where I can make the most difference. I've backed my beliefs with my own, private capital while Dr. Scheer gets to spend taxpayer money irrespective of the economics. I spend time looking at likely technology and business trajectories. While anything is possible, I focus on the ones I think are most likely while keeping an eye out for others that might happen - and I always hope that other like minded people catch the ones I miss. I would prefer we all agreed to pay the much higher electricity rates they pay in Germany or Japan for solar power and allocate huge subsidies for distributed solar power in Germany (at least for a period to get these alternatives started - that is a very useful purpose that Germany has served).
04/15/07 - Catching Suicide bombers
One company claims to have developed the first technology that automatically discovers the bombs from a safe distance. The system involves aiming a low-power radar beam at people from as far as 100 meters (109 yards) away. Software within the system reveals concealed objects without showing the body underneath, which could violate subjects’ privacy, according to the developers. The technology was described last month in Technology Review, a magazine of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The system utilizes video-analysis software designed by Rama Chellappa, an electrical and computer engineer at the University of Maryland, according to Technology Review. The software is designed to track the subject’s movements, so the radar stays on target. (via alfin.com)
04/15/07 - Spray-On Computer Specks
SCOTTISH scientists have developed a 1 cubic mm computer the size of a matchstick head, thousands of which can be sprayed onto patients to give a comprehensive analysis of their condition. Speckled computing - some of the most advanced computing technology in the world - is currently being researched and developed by a group of Scottish experts. The individual appliances, or 'specks', will form networks that can be programmed like ordinary computers. Spraying them directly onto a person creates the ability to carry out different tests at the same time, for example muscle movement and pulse rate. This allows a complete picture of the patient's condition to be built up quickly. The sensors, called specks, are minute semiconductor grains that are independent with their own captive, renewable energy source but which can sense each other and communicate wirelessly to build up a complex web of connections. Light and temperature sensors could be placed in buildings to automatically react to who is using the building, potentially saving billions of pounds on energy per year, and medicine bottles could be sensitised to ensure that people take their prescribed medication at the correct times, dramatically reducing the amount of wasted drugs. The scientists are even considering the idea of a computer network in a spray-can, allowing more bandwidth or processing power by spraying a coat of paint containing specks onto a wall. This idea is developed from the concept of ubiquitous computing, where the computer is embedded in a person’s clothing so that information can be sent wirelessly for them to read either in some kind of display or electronic paper that can be rolled up and tucked into a pocket.
04/15/07 - Solar Powered Village Water Filtration
On the innovation front, one company I mention in the piece is Toronto-based Mobile Cube Corp., which is attempting to commercialize "water supply for a village in a box." Specifically, the product is a portable water-filtration system developed in Switzerland that's powered by a small wind turbine and foldout solar panels. It weighs only 850 kilograms, can be transported on the back of a big pickup truck, and after a two-hour setup can start generating up to 20 kilowatt-hours a day of electricity -- enough to produce up to 20,000 litres of pure drinking water from sewage or 3,000 litres from seawater through desalinization. At a cost of $50,000, it could be a low-cost way for some struggling villages to get access to clean water without the need to lay expensive infrastructure, such as pipelines and transmission.
04/15/07 - Video - (possibly) Self-running Magnetic Spindle
23 yildir çalisan gerçek dönergeç sadece bu videoda. I believe Donergec means free energy in Polish. Anyway, the video link has been posted on KeelyNet before and everytime I see it I am fascinated as it appears to be self-powered. To the left you can see what look like two packs of cigarettes as this guy smokes like a chimney. But the spindle spins for the duration of the video which runs for about 4:21 minutes and has contrast problems, too bright on the spindle and too dark elsewhere. I took two captures and cleaned them up as best I could. / Update: Some write in saying these off the shelf units can spin for many minutes with a quick twist of the spindle, so it might not be self-running. The video is in Polish, Russian or something, so not a clue.
04/15/07 - Scrapping the Internet and starting over
The idea may seem unthinkable, even absurd, but many believe a "clean slate" approach is the only way to truly address security, mobility and other challenges that have cropped up since UCLA professor Leonard Kleinrock helped supervise the first exchange of meaningless test data between two machines on Sept. 2, 1969. One challenge in any reconstruction, though, will be balancing the interests of various constituencies. The first time around, researchers were able to toil away in their labs quietly. Industry is playing a bigger role this time, and law enforcement is bound to make its needs for wiretapping known. There's no evidence they are meddling yet, but once any research looks promising, "a number of people (will) want to be in the drawing room," said Jonathan Zittrain, a law professor affiliated with Oxford and Harvard universities. "They'll be wearing coats and ties and spilling out of the venue." A new network could run parallel with the current Internet and eventually replace it, or perhaps aspects of the research could go into a major overhaul of the existing architecture. These clean-slate efforts are still in their early stages, though, and aren't expected to bear fruit for another 10 or 15 years - assuming Congress comes through with funding.
04/15/07 - Video - No Batteries - RC Solar Airship
This vehicle runs on sunlight, and thus can fly as long as the sun shines (which, of course, it always does above the clouds). You can see the panels inside. It's made it with off-the-shelf materials, for about $1,000. Location: Sugarhouse Park, Utah, June '06. (Pat. Pend.) If an elementary school teacher like myself can make this happen, with panels that are less than 6% efficient, it is worth contemplating what our country could have done by now if we'd made the effort. But as they say, better late than never. / United States Patent Application 20050263642 - Daniel Geery - Highly maneuverable powered airship - The present invention provides a powered airship. Embodiments of the powered airship of the present invention include a highly articulated, rear mounted motor capable of maneuvering the airship for rapid turning. An embodiment of the present invention provides a light-weight solar-assisted electrically-powered airship powered by the sun that does not require refueling and can stay aloft for sustained periods of time. Furthermore, the present invention relates to a highly maneuverable airship that can be precisely controlled within a much smaller airspace than conventional aircraft.
04/14/07 - Bloodless Scalpel for safer surgery
Paul Westhaver has invented the seemingly impossible: a surgical scalpel that stops the bleeding as it cuts. The scalpel is attached to a motor and radio transmitter, and cuts using high-frequency sound. Touching human or animal tissue with the scalpel creates a high-intensity pressure field around the blade. This allows the blade to make delicate cuts through the tissue while simultaneously coagulating it, or sealing it off, so it doesn’t bleed. One of the challenges of endoscopic surgery - minimally invasive surgery done through a trocar, or hollow tube - is tying off arteries to stop the bleeding. Westhaver’s scalpel eliminates that need. "It basically glues the vessels together with their own raw material," he said. Hospitals will probably be able to buy the scalpel for under $10,000. However, disposable parts for the scalpel could cost between $200 and $400 per procedure.
04/14/07 - Growing Leather and Meat
Is it possible to produce a fur coat without killing an animal? The answer, in a word, is yes. Artists Oron Catts and Ionat Zurr have done it, and the result is on view in an installation called "Victimless Leather" at the Israeli Center for Digital Art in Holon. The two grew a miniature coat from living skin cells, in an improvised laboratory they established for this purpose at the center. The growth process, which requires a special technology, took place in the lab. For 11 days the two artists "fed" the cells, which grew and multiplied, creating a miniature coat. On the last day they "killed" the coat by no longer feeding it. The audience that viewed the display was taught how to create this kind of system by themselves. "In the lab, we grew lamb muscle cells on degradable polymers, and we obtained a steak the size of a 10-shekel coin. After three months of growth, the polymers disappeared completely, but the problem was that we couldn't eat the small steak, because the lab didn't have a license to serve food. "From a French researcher we obtained a biopsy of engineered muscle cells from the legs of a frog. We built the laboratory and for two months we fed the steaks. Every day we had a ceremony of feeding the steaks. On the last day we held a big meal with the participation of eight volunteers, in which the steak was eaten. The thing is that we ate our art, which is the most interactive thing imaginable. "We removed the steak (which was, as described, the size of a coin) from the bioreactor in which it was growing, marinated it in Calvados overnight, and cooked it in gravy that included garlic and honey. It was the ultimate nouvelle cuisine. However, the steak was not really tasty, and four people spit it out. What happened was that the polymers did not completely degrade, and because the muscle cells had not 'exercised,' they were like jelly. (via impactlab.com)
04/14/07 - "Smart" Beer Vending Machines
A Czech firm has developed a "smart" beer vending machines that can check the buyer's age from his or her identification card or passport, local media reported on Friday. The Czech Future Art firm said the machines will be installed in places where it is forbidden to sell alcoholic beverages to people under 18-years-of-age. The system is based on the technology that Czech police use to identify people. If the buyer is not of the age required by the machine, it does not dispense goods and returns the coins inserted.
The firm said that the system had been patented in the Czech Republic and that they had also applied for an international patent. David Polnar, from Future Art, said that the system can also be used in door systems, turnstiles, gaming machines and Internet terminals.
04/14/07 - Print your Own House
Hammering, sawing, drilling and bricklaying could one day be replaced with printing, say UK researchers. They are building a room-size machine that will use rapid prototyping techniques to print walls, complete with brick, plaster, windows, insulation and conduits for wires and pipes. The technique could make walls stronger and more functional, the researchers say. Meanwhile it could reduce construction waste, minimising the amount of labour needed and liberating the building's form. "Maybe straight is not always the best shape. You can build a flat or curvy place and there is no more expense involved," says Dr Richard Buswell, a lecturer in civil and building engineering at Loughborough University. Buswell and his team are starting a four-year project to build the 4 by 5 metre printer. Their technique will borrow techniques from rapid prototyping processes currently used to produce items made of ceramics, polymers and metals. In rapid prototyping, products are drawn and developed using 3D computer-aided design software. The 3D shapes are sliced into cross sections and a machine fabricates each layer - usually with a material made in sheets or out of liquid, powder or paste - one on top of the other to build the product from the bottom up. The layers are then bonded together, sometimes with a laser, to produce the final shape. The process often involves using plastic-based materials. But in the case of constructing walls, Buswell and his team will be using mineral-based materials such as cement, gypsum, clay or lime. The machine will either squeeze out the moist material like toothpaste from a tube or it work like a large ink-jet printer head to place drops of the material in the precise location. The material will be designed to harden in the air and will not require a laser to fuse the layers together. Such precision will allow designers to incorporate elements into walls that would otherwise have to be built in separately.
04/14/07 - Lifehacker Top 10 Free Recovery Tools
Your data's trapped on a dead computer. You lost your login password. You never wrote down the product key on a non-working Windows installation. Your Mac won't start. Don't pay the extortionists at the computer repair shop 800 bucks to get your data back or start up your dead computer. Plenty of free tools can help you and are available for download right now. Today we've got our top 10 system recovery picks which span operating systems but all cost the same: exactly nothing.
04/14/07 - All Your Data Belongs to Us
Data servicing is another problem for data privacy. The April 5 issue of the blog the Consumerist has an interesting article about a significant data-privacy issue that has long been ignored. In the article, reader Chris wrote to the Consumerist about a problem she (or he?) was having with an Apple laptop. Apple wants to replace the hard drive, and Chris wants the hard drive back because the old, broken drive has confidential information on it. The problem is that Apple's policy (and most other companies') is not to return the dead hard drives of computers being serviced. So Chris needs to trust that Apple will properly destroy the drive, or at least its data, and Chris isn't so sure. Chris isn't the first person to experience this problem, of course; it's quite common. A few years ago, my company had a laptop that was filled with confidential information. The hard drive died. We called up Dell for a replacement, but Dell wouldn't ship a new one unless we promised to send back the old one. And, obviously, with all the confidential information on the hard drive, we wouldn't send it back, either broken or intentionally damaged. So we ended up buying a new hard drive, even though the drive was still under warranty. What's to be nervous about? Well, there are many documented cases in which a reputable service center nevertheless allowed the data from a customer's machine to leak back into the datasphere. Last year there were reports in the media about a hard drive that had been taken to a major electronics store for warranty repair, and it ended up being sold (with most of its data intact) at a swap fest.
04/14/07 - Download of the Day: 50kb Tooler (Windows)
Windows only: Freeware application Tooler lets you create lots of useful shortcuts to perform tasks like shutting off your monitor, running your screensaver, and ejecting your optical drive. We've talked about how to create shutdown shortcuts, but Tooler makes doing that along with creating several other shortcuts a really simple process. Even better, you can tell Tooler to create the shortcuts in the programs section of the Start menu, meaning that if you're using Lifehacker favorite Launchy, the shortcut will automatically be indexed and available for quick launching. Tooler is freeware, Windows-only, requires no installation. (via lifehacker.com)
04/14/07 - Waterproof your electronics Navy SEAL-style
DIY web site Instructables details how to wrap and waterproof your electronics just like the Navy SEALs - in two big condoms. Check out the video after the jump for a look at the dual waterproof solution in action. Surprisingly, even with the two layers of condoms over the top, the underwater video taken with the digital camera is impressively clear.(via lifehacker.com)
04/14/07 - Stem cells cure Type 1 diabetes
Jacob sez, "A stem cell treatment has cured type 1 diabetes in 14 of 15 people during experimental tests." 14 of the 15 patients were insulin-free for some time following the treatment. Eleven of these were able to dispense with supplemental insulin immediately following the infusion of stem cells and have not had recourse to synthetic insulin since then... "As a research scientist I am always hesitant to speak of a cure, but the initial results have been good and show the importance of conducting more trials," Dr Burt said.
04/14/07 - Iacocca: Bushies are "gang of clueless bozos"
Am I the only guy in this country who's fed up with what's happening? Where the hell is our outrage? We should be screaming bloody murder. We've got a gang of clueless bozos steering our ship of state right over a cliff, we've got corporate gangsters stealing us blind, and we can't even clean up after a hurricane much less build a hybrid car. But instead of getting mad, everyone sits around and nods their heads when the politicians say, "Stay the course." Stay the course? You've got to be kidding. This is America, not the damned Titanic. I'll give you a sound bite: Throw the bums out! You might think I'm getting senile, that I've gone off my rocker, and maybe I have. But someone has to speak up. I hardly recognize this country anymore. The President of the United States is given a free pass to ignore the Constitution, tap our phones, and lead us to war on a pack of lies. Congress responds to record deficits by passing a huge tax cut for the wealthy (thanks, but I don't need it). The most famous business leaders are not the innovators but the guys in handcuffs. While we're fiddling in Iraq, the Middle East is burning and nobody seems to know what to do. And the press is waving pom-poms instead of asking hard questions. That's not the promise of America my parents and yours traveled across the ocean for. I've had enough. How about you? I'll go a step further. You can't call yourself a patriot if you're not outraged. This is a fight I'm ready and willing to have.
04/14/07 - Photosynthesis May Rely On Quantum Effect
"Through photosynthesis, green plants and cyanobacteria are able to transfer sunlight energy to molecular reaction centers for conversion into chemical energy with nearly 100-percent efficiency. Speed is the key - the transfer of the solar energy takes place almost instantaneously so little energy is wasted as heat. How photosynthesis achieves this near instantaneous energy transfer is a long-standing mystery that may have finally been solved."
04/14/07 - Acupuncture Facelift
As baby boomers get older, many are looking for ways to get the look of a face-lift without surgery. In the past decade, the number of people undergoing cosmetic plastic surgery has more than tripled. However, there may be another way to make your face look younger. Look closely at the woman's face on the left. On the right is the same woman today. She didn't go under the knife to change her appearance. Neither did the women whose skin looks smoother, nor the women whose laugh lines have disappeared.
04/14/07 - Building Brainlike Computers
In an IEEE Spectrum article by Jeff Hawkins (founder of Palm Computing), titled Why can't a computer be more like a brain? Hawkins brings us up to date with his latest endeavor, Numenta. He covers progress since his book On Intelligence and gives details on Hierarchical Temporal Memory (HTM), which is a platform for simulating neocortical activity. Programming HTMs is different - you essentially feed them sensory data. Numenta has created a framework and tools, free in a "research release," that allow anyone to build and program HTMs.
04/13/07 - 3D Solar Panels produce 60 times more current
Traditional solar panels are often flat and bulky. The new design features an array of nano-towers -- like microscopic blades of grass -- that add surface area and trap more sunlight. Jud Ready, the senior research engineer who invented the panel, said the three-dimensional panels produce about 60 times more current than traditional solar cells. But current is only half the equation. To generate electricity, a cell has to churn out voltage as well. And so far, Ready's invention still has too much resistance within the cell to produce the type of electricity that's needed. But he said he'll now focus on reworking the interface to smooth out the kinks.
04/13/07 - PEAS farm gets grant to adapt alternate-fuel tractor
It's only a $3,000 grant, but the funding to test drive a German invention that allows engines to run on straight vegetable oil opens up a world of hope - and possibilities - for Missoula's Garden City Harvest PEAS farm. The Rattlesnake Valley farm recently received funding from the National Center for Appropriate Technology to retrofit its tractor with something called an Elsbett system, which has been used in European vehicles for years but has not yet been applied to heavy equipment. “If this works, it means we could, in all reality, grow crops like safflower and canola and grow our own fuel.” Advances in alternative fuel options won't happen unless individuals and agencies take a chance on new technologies and serve as pilot projects, said Slotnick, who also teaches environmental studies courses at the University of Montana. “If it isn't us, who takes the chance?” he said. “Who will it be?” Slotnick's students began looking into alternative fuel options to use on the farm, researched the Elsbett system and how to get the funding to pay for it, and developed a test plan. Three tractors are involved with the project: the PEAS farm tractor, which will operate on straight vegetable oil; a Garden City Harvest Community Garden tractor, which will operate on biodiesel; and a tractor owned by Clark Fork Organics, a privately owned Missoula farm, which will operate on petroleum diesel. The PEAS farm tractor is being retrofitted with the Elsbett system, and will be up and running in the field next week. Between now and late October, when harvest season ends, the tractors will be hauled into the shop for two checkups.
“If we find any changes, we'll open up the engines with the help of College of Technology students and find out why,” Slotnick explained. “We will determine if the problem is related to the retrofit, or if it's caused by something else.” If using straight vegetable oil is mechanically productive and if the farm's workhorse tractor stays healthy throughout the season, PEAS will have a hand in moving forward alternative energy technology.
04/13/07 - LED Forty Years Older Than Thought
"The discovery of the LED is usually credited to four US groups in 1962, but an unrecognized Russian genius got there forty years before. Oleg Losev even filed a patent on using his device for long range communications, and wrote to Einstein to ask for help with the theory - but got no reply." / More Info - Oleg Vladimirovich Losev was a radio technician with a fierce talent. In the mid 1920s he noticed that diodes used in radio receivers emitted light when current was passed through them. Then, in 1927, he published details in a Russian journal of the first ever LED. Nikolay Zheludev, at the University of Southampton, has dug up Losev's story. Losev also published on his discoveries in German and British journals. In sixteen papers between 1924 and 1930 he comprehensively detailed the function of his LED. He used Einstein's then new quantum theory to explain the way electrons dropping in energy produced the light without releasing heat. But a letter he wrote to Einstein asking for help developing the theory of LEDs received no reply. Most significantly, in 1927 Losev filed a patent for a 'light relay' that used his devices 'for fast telegraphic and telephone communication, transmission of images and other applications...' He therefore foreshadowed the development of opto-electronics, which is fundamental to the fibreoptic links that make modern communcations possible. Impressive stuff. But sadly not work that anyone picked up to take further. And Losev died of hunger in 1942 during the blockade of Leningrad, at the age of 39. In November 1941, he tried in vain to get a paper based on his discovery that "using semiconductors, a three-terminal system may be constructed analogous to a [vacuum] triode” out of Leningrad. It didn't make it. Zheludev asks: "Was it a paper on what we now know as a transistor? We shall never know for certain unless his manuscript is found." Zheludev also points out that Henry Round, assistant to radio pioneer Marconi, was the first to discover that semiconductors could produce light, some hundred years ago. He published only a very short note on the matter and made no further investigations. But the piece was never seen by Losev, who must be retrospectively declared the inventor of the LED.
04/13/07 - Mobile Phones powered by Sugar Cubes
Juicing up your cell phone or iPod may take on a whole new meaning in the future. Researchers at Saint Louis University have developed a fuel cell battery that runs on virtually any sugar source - from soft drinks to tree sap - and has the potential to operate three to four times longer on a single charge than conventional lithium ion batteries, they say. For consumers, that could mean significantly longer time to talk and play music between charges. A few other researchers also have developed fuel cell batteries that run on sugar, but Minteer claims that her version is the longest-lasting and most powerful of its type to date. As proof of concept, she has used a small prototype of the battery (about the size of a postage stamp) to successfully run a handheld calculator. If the battery continues to show promise during further testing and refinement, it could be ready for commercialization in three to five years, she estimates. Devices could be instantly recharged by adding virtually any convenient sugar source, including plant sap, Minteer said. Like other fuel cells, the sugar battery contains enzymes that convert fuel - in this case, sugar - into electricity, leaving behind water as a main byproduct. But unlike other fuel cells, all of the materials used to build the sugar battery are biodegradable. So far, Minteer has run the batteries on glucose, flat sodas, sweetened drink mixes and tree sap, with promising results. She also tested carbonated beverages, but carbonation appears to weaken the fuel cell. The best fuel source tested so far is ordinary table sugar (sucrose) dissolved in water, she said.
04/13/07 - Man survives 16-story fall
(When we were kids my mother told us when she was a teenager, one of their friends was very drunk, climbed the local water tower and fell off onto the earth. He was badly bruised but no bones broken. She said the doctor said if he'd been sober he would be dead, that his drunken condition relaxed his muscles enough to absorb the impact. In one of the Kung Fu movies one of the masters said air was like water and if you could move fast enough you could essentially fly or get a walking up stairs effect. - JWD) A Wisconsin man has multiple broken bones and injuries, officials said, after tumbling out ofa 17th-floor window at Minneapolis hotel. After a night out drinking, Joshua Hanson was horsing around with two friends on the 17th floor of the Hyatt Regency in downtown Minneapolis early Saturday morning when he apparently lost his balance and crashed through a floor-to-ceiling window. He fell 16 stories. Hanson, 29, landed feet first on a roof overhang near the hotel's main entrance along the Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis police said, and he was taken to Hennepin County Medical Center. It appeared that Hanson fell forward a few feet from the side of the building and landed on what appeared to be metal material on the overhang, which extends out several feet and is a floor up from the street. Compared with the concrete below, the surface probably had more give and apparently helped blunt the blow of the fall.
04/13/07 - Solar Turbine Generator
This technology is designed to revolutionize expanding gas turbine technologies and is capable of generating cost effective clean renewable power. The turbine operates similar to a garden sprinkler which spins underwater pressure through a hose. In the case of the turbine, it spins as a result of steam generated from a solar thermal collector, which drives the turbine and a permanent magnet alternator - which produces clean power. Rigorous trials are currently under way using steam from a boiler to drive the core technology, and take it to proof of concept. Once third party accreditation is received for the proof of concept, R & D will progress to the development of a fully closed loop system, whereby the steam is collapsed (condensed) and re-circulated as water and heated again to steam. The turbine has multiple applications in electric powered transportation vehicles, dehumidification-water production systems and power generation. It is fully scalable for use in individual dwellings and commercial buildings to larger applications such as solar farms, edge of grid booster systems and power plants. The company believes that its highest and best use will initially be in renewable energy systems, particularly solar thermal, aligned with the distributed generation - producing independent power at the point where it is used. It is also possible to feed power back into the grid using this system and to augment the solar source - with natural gas heating a boiler to drive the turbine outside sunshine hours. More Info - The turbine that the company is developing can be incorporated into: * Solar Thermal Systems (Ranging from 5 KW for residential to 1 MW for commercial and industrial applications); * Combined cycle system that utilise waste heat from reciprocating engines or gas turbines to generate steam; * Biogas (Biomass) to energy systems; and * Desalinisation (for potable water production) and/or Sterilisation units using the waste heat.
04/13/07 - Military thinktank sees dark future
In its rolling Strategic Trends Programme document, the MoD's Development, Concepts and Doctrine Centre (DCDC) seeks to outline the challenges the British forces might face in the period up to 2035. Admiral Parry won some notoriety last year when he told a conference of security professionals that Britain and Europe were threatened by "reverse colonisation", in which huge waves of migrants would overwhelm the native culture of Western nations. These migrants, rather than being assimilated like many in the past, would remain connected to their home cultures by the internet and cheap flights, thus taking on the character more of colonials than new citizens. No specific groups were mentioned, but it's possible to speculate that the Admiral was referring to Australians and Kiwis. Indeed, the MoD's Nostradamus went so far as to liken modern-day Blighty to the Roman Empire as it was overwhelmed by the Goths. In another historical allusion, he suggested that the Barbary corsairs might soon prowl the Mediterranean once again. "At some time in the next 10 years, it may not be safe to sail a yacht between Gibraltar and Malta," he said. The DCDC doom-mongers also see the middle classes as a possible source of strife. "The middle classes could become a revolutionary class," says the report. "The growing gap between themselves and a small number of highly visible super-rich individuals might fuel disillusion with meritocracy, while the growing urban under-classes are likely to pose an increasing threat...Faced by these twin challenges, the world's middle-classes might unite, using access to knowledge, resources and skills to shape transnational processes in their own class interest." "A cheap, simple-to-make and easy-to-use weapon might be invented that is effective against a wide range of targets and against which established countermeasures are ineffective," they warn, without going into further detail. A superb bit of bureaucratic ass-covering, if not terribly useful for the military planners of the future.
04/13/07 - Cash-strapped NASA looks to private industry
"At this stage in the development of our plans for a return to the moon and a lunar outpost, it is important that we at NASA not prescribe roles and responsibilities for future international partnerships," Griffin said. Instead, he said, NASA had defined a minimalist exploration architecture "with the hope that international and commercial partners will want to augment these capabilities with their own." In a follow-up session with reporters, he cited potential openings for companies to supply lunar habitats, provide logistics and bring solar power to activities on the moon and in space. In addition, he lauded Russia's sale of seats on its space flights to thrill-seekers such as Charles Simonyi, a U.S. billionaire who became the fifth space tourist last week on a journey to the international space station at a cost of $25 million. "I say more power to them," Griffin said of the tourism sideline. "NASA will only be able to afford to send manned missions to explore space if it allows private industry to lead," he said, referring to such areas as space tourism and cargo transport to low earth orbit.
04/13/07 - Simple Measures At Prison Save Taxpayers Big Bucks
Just about every Western state is paying big bucks to expand its prisons. Inmates at one lock-up near Olympia shaved more than a million dollars off the taxpayer's tab with some shockingly simple measures. Today's menu at the prison mess hall is French dip with carrot sticks and a cookie. 400 inmates chow down. By later next year, there's supposed to be 500 here. After the prisoners eat, they pass their trays through a window to Eric Ferguson in the dish room. Eric Ferguson: "Putting bread and stuff in one garbage can and plastic and stuff in the other garbage can." Ferguson scrapes the leftover food into a separate bin for composting. The extra step started two years ago. A conservation ethic took hold. It's also brought low-flow showerheads, water saving toilets and an organic vegetable garden. And wonder of wonders, Cedar Creek's business manager Tom Matthews says a costly sewage treatment plant expansion has just been scrubbed. Tom Matthews: "From these very simple steps here we got this great whopping outcome down there. The sewage treatment, that was $1.3 million. That was the big surprise for us when we saw the engineers' report on that. We really avoided that cost as far as our expansion goes." Matthews explains that scraping plates and composting significantly reduces the solids going into the sewage plant. It allows the state to bring in more prisoners without needing to expand treatment capacity.
04/13/07 - New cement conducts electricity like metal
A team of researchers led by professor Hideo Hono of the Tokyo Institute of Technology has developed a new type of alumina cement that conducts electricity like metal by altering the crystal structure at the nano level. Ordinary alumina cement made from a lime-alumina compound (C12A7) has a crystal structure consisting of asymmetric cages, making it a poor conductor of electricity. But by sealing the alumina cement compound along with titanium inside a glass tube and heating it to 1,100 degrees Celsius, the researchers were able to create a homogenized, symmetrical cage structure that conducts electricity like metal. Results indicate the cement’s electrical conductivity is on par with that of manganese at room temperature. Moreover, like other metals, the cement’s conductivity increases as its temperature decreases. The researchers say that forming the cement into thin membranes would make it nearly transparent, making it an ideal substitute material for rare metals such as indium, which is used in plasma and liquid-crystal displays. In addition to being cheaper than rare metals, the cement would make an environmentally-friendly alternative because its ingredients are more readily available.
04/13/07 - Bessler PMM design
Received this email today saying Bessler is discovered but I just see
diagrams, no working devices...can anyone translate better? - "The wheel of Orffyreus is under construction. You all come too late!!! Keyword Besslerdoppelrad in German where and how than???
- Peter Augustin". I translated the page using Systran and it says; "That is only one pattern and should not too seriously be taken, because the wings could be many thinner and manufacture made of titanium steel or clock metal. Main thing beautifully easily and hard. The small rectangles at the edge of the impellers are mostly you however with ease on the impellers hanging the opening and again closing weights for the air bags, which we left simply away, to actually present can - in the broken condition always closed and diagonally above outward always open them and leave themselves air with their weight influxes. If the impeller leans diagonally downward, then the bag closes and all can the air cloud see, which leaves the bag and it downward by means of recoil carried. If you look from above purely, then you see the two gear wheels interlinking, and the two wheels force to work in chiralischer symmetry (right into left hand). Against each other nevertheless at one of the two axles itself combining ever after the owner and where it wants pushes it. It turns then for all times the electricity producing attached dynamo into a direction and produces direct current. They must imagine again times that you could constantly maintain a pot with hot water with it and more does not need humans. It must drink and cook. At night you could offer also your bath tub to the equipment fully water. All much better than an accumulator. You could load that in addition, and the electric road vehicle wait before the house. Place underground and on the soil we would have probably enough. And the atmosphere, from which we all will originate us already still another while to remain. Million Besslerapparate in Germany to present is me an easy. The diameter was with Bessler two meters and it could a charge of clay bricks, which corresponds approximately to a continuous duty people strength, upward and down carry. They could build thus a house thereby without energy input from the outside. Two Hucker or more would constantly stand for you ready. All houses were built in former times with Huckern. In addition, the Cologne cathedral would be attainable in the height. They could set up several apparatuses in different heights. In addition the electricity permits to solve today the thing also completely differently. Here the newest construction in the pattern: The common axle of both wheels is a differential, which this forces itself mutually to propel. In the most general sense the Besslerdoppelrad is after Augustin thus like a constantly turning balance in the equilibrium, with which also the all-smallest impact is sufficient, in order to bring her from the equilibrium. Thus the drive can be made by the air pressure changed in air flow/air output.
04/13/07 - Corrected German Translation for the Bessler Wheel (above)
(Correction and link courtesy of Hans von Lieven, thanks Hans!) "Hi, Jerry, I read your notice about the bessler site in German and the atrocious mechanical translation that was attached. I have translated the web page into readable English and kept the German original with it to show that it is the author, not me, that is off the planet. I have posted the original page with my translation and comments on my website. http://www.keelytech.com/besslerdoppelrad.html If you want to have an amusing read have a look. - Hans von Lieven"
04/13/07 - Amplifying Chemotherapy Results
Scientists have conducted a series of pioneering experiments demonstrating a new way of making tumour cells far more susceptible to attack with extremely low doses of anti-cancer drugs. The development offers hope that the gruesome side effects of chemotherapy, suffered by tens of thousands of cancer patients, may at some point become a thing of the past. In addition to making chemotherapy more effective at eliminating tumour cells from the body, the study suggests that it is also possible to lower dosage levels to a point where toxic side effects from the drugs are unlikely to occur. The breakthrough was made possible with a revolutionary medical technique called RNA interference, which allows scientists to "silence" certain genes in a pioneering development first highlighted by The Independent in 2002. In one of the experiments, for instance, the scientists found that lung cancer tumour cells can be made to be 10,000 times more sensitive to the anti-cancer drug Taxol - an unprecedented improvement in the power of the treatment. Taxol - also known as paclitaxel - is also used to treat ovarian cancer and advanced breast cancer. Side effects include fatigue, nausea, numbness and bone marrow depletion leading to lowered immunity and vulnerability to infections. However, the scientists who conducted the study emphasised that further research in the laboratory and on animals will be needed before the first clinical trials on cancer patients can begin in no less than three to five years time. "There's nothing here that is immediately useful to those individuals with cancer," said Michael White, professor of cell biology at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Centre in Dallas.
04/12/07 - 'Rebuilt' immune system shakes off diabetes
Diabetics appear to have been cured with a one-off treatment that rebuilds their immune system, according to a new study. The technique, which uses patients' own bone marrow cells, has freed 14 of 15 patients with type 1 diabetes from their dependence on insulin medication. So far, participants in the trial have gone 18 months without insulin therapy following the procedure, on average. One patient has lasted three years without needing such injections. In patients with type 1 diabetes, which typically strikes in early childhood or adolescence, the immune system appears to erroneously attack cells in the pancreas that produce the hormone insulin. Without insulin, blood sugar levels in the body spiral out of control. People with diabetes receive insulin therapy, often in the form of self-injected shots, to keep their blood sugar levels under control. Scientists have speculated that "resetting" the immune system might stop it from attacking the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas.
04/12/07 - Bacteria can cut PCB contamination
Microbes replace the chlorine atoms with hydrogen. It might take a few years to degrade PCBs using the microbes. AROCLOR 1260 is a common, highly chlorinated PCB (polychlorinated biphenyl) mixture. Researchers have identified a group of bacteria that can detoxify this common type of PCB, which has contaminated more than 250 U.S. sites, including river and lake sediments. Researchers have known for more than two decades that naturally occurring microorganisms could slowly dechlorinate PCBs, which were once commonly used by industry. In microcosm studies in her lab, Bedard found that Aroclor 1260 was indeed being degraded by native sediment microbes, and she developed sediment-free enrichment cultures. These microbes replace the chlorine atoms in Aroclor 1260 with hydrogen, which fuels their growth and initiates the PCB degradation process, explained Loeffler, an associate professor in the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering and the School of Biology. The research indicates that the Dhc bacteria active in the enrichment cultures also contribute to PCB dechlorination in situ (that is, in the Housatonic River sediment), according to a Georgia Tech press release. Once Dhc bacteria dechlorinate Aroclor 1260 to a certain level, other microbial species will degrade it further and completely detoxify PCBs, Loeffler added. Loeffler is optimistic about a bioremediation strategy for PCBs because of his lab's earlier success in identifying microbes that degrade the common solvents tetrachloroethene (PCE) and trichloroethene (TCE). "The situation with PCBs is a little more complicated because they are in river and lake sediments instead of groundwater and subsurface environments, but in principle, the same sequence of events could occur," Loeffler said. "We need industry, engineers and scientists to work together to develop a bioremediation approach for PCBs."
04/12/07 - Sheer Power
Next time you decide to take a little joyride behind a Boeing 747 with its engines at full throttle cranking out 58,000 lb. of thrust each, think of this video from the Brit car series Top Gear. Simply amazing. Forget how small electronics fare in a blender. We want to see how large machinery stands up to a 747! These Top Gear guys are always good for a laugh and a thrill, and we especially like Richard Hammond's colorful cuss words such as "blimey!" and "crikey!" Video at Gizmodo.com
04/12/07 - Tight jeans could reduce fertility
A study conducted by AIIMS has revealed that the sperm count of a normal adult male in India, which used to be 60 million per ml around 30 years ago, has plunged to a third of that count - to around 20 million per ml. And this relatively swift decline in sperm count is being linked to habits which expose the scrotum to higher-than-normal temperatures. The 10-year-long study, funded by ICMR and conducted by AIIMS associate professor Dr Rima Dada, questioned 1,000 men from north India and found that lifestyle factors like tight clothing, hot tub dips and long visits to the sauna, pesticide exposure due to intensive gardening or farming as well as increased obesity rates were major causes for decreasing sperm count. Dada told TOI, "Tight-fit denim trousers result in tightly encased groins, causing the testicles to be pressed back into the warmth of the body. Obesity is also a major factor for this decrease in sperm production. Sudden weight gain leads to increase in abdominal fat, which causes high testicular temperature." Stress is another factor that lowers the sperm count, she said. An earlier State University of New York study showed how laptops damage fertility. Laptops reached internal operating temperatures of over 70 degrees C and because they are frequently positioned close to the scrotum, the user sits with his thighs close together. This, too, traps the scrotum between the thighs.
04/12/07 - Oil Soaked Servers Coming Soon
"A UK company will start selling server racks submerged in oil baths within a year. Very-PC is working on prototypes and says that because oil transfers heat more efficiently, power usage can be cut by fifty percent." / Computer in Oil for Cooling - Markus Leonhardt has come up with an ingenious way to cool his computer. He immerses the entire thing in vegetable oil: Markus Leonhardt has taken the shortest route possible to liquid cooling. 1. throw motherboard in fish tank / 2. cover in vegetable oil / 3. there is no step 3.
Markus has been using this system for over a year. It is quiet and is cooled by the still functional fans circulating the oil. he has swapped components and even successfully used pulled hardware in other pcs.
04/12/07 - Hire a Programmer
If you need a programming job done, like creating a specialized database, you can do a search on "freelance coders" at wGoogle.com or Yahoo.com. Programmers from all over the world will provide background information on their experience and abilities and quote rates that start as low as 50 cents an hour.
04/12/07 - California Utility hacks Prius for Home Power
California's big power utility, Pacific Gas & Electric Co., today rolled out a prototype PRIUS HACK that lets you plug the car into your house to power lights, PCs and blenders. The Toyota hybrid has been modified with what they call Vehicle-to-Grid (V2G) technology. You simply plug the Prius into a standard wall outlet, which charges the Prius batteries when the house has power, or lets those batteries power the house when it doesn't. Cool technology, but shouldn't the power company be working on preventing blackouts, rather than work-arounds for when the blackouts happen? (via therawfeed.com)
04/12/07 - FTC Threatens Spyware Distributors With Prison
"Federal Trade Commissioner William Kovacic said most wrongdoers in the spyware arena 'can only be described as vicious organized criminals. Many of most serious wrongdoers we observed in this area, I believe, are only going to be deterred if their freedom is withdrawn,' so it's important for the FTC to collaborate on its cases with criminal law enforcement authorities, Kovacic said."
04/12/07 - Hacker Battery Life increase
5V 1A Switching voltage regulator. The DE-SW0XX family of switch mode voltage regulators are designed to be the easiest possible way to add the benefits of switch-mode power to a new or existing project. A DE-SW050 will allow you to take a higher voltage and step it down to a 5V output in a compact, efficient manner. The DE-SW0XX family is pin-compatible with the common 78XX family of linear voltage regulators. They have integrated decoupling capacitors, so external capacitors are not generally necessary. In quantities >50, we can custom build these regulators to have nearly any output voltage you want. Please contact us if you need this service. Volume pricing is also available. Performance: Up to 30V input range / 83% typical efficiency, up to 87% / <2% ripple / 1A output (continuous) / 1.25A peak output (1 min) / 1.3V typical dropout voltage at full load / Can be put in parallel / Applications: Battery powered applications / Robots / Point of load voltage regulation / Any application where a linear or LDO regulator is dissipating too much heat or a large heatsink is undesirable / Example projects: Powering wireless video camera systems. Ben Heckendorn extends the battery life of his portable Atari 2600s by using a DE-SW050 on his custom built control board.
04/12/07 - Recycle your cell phone; save a gorilla
You can protect the environment from toxins found in cell phones such as lead and arsenic by recycling them. Also by recycling your phone through ECO-CELL, you can help raise funds for our friends in the animal world. For every donated cell phone, ECO-CELL will donate recycling proceeds to the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund.
04/11/07 - Empty and strange without plants
To most of us, it’s hard to imagine a home that has no plants at all. Why are plants so important? A new dissertation from Umeå University in Sweden provides insight into our relationship with potted plants in the home. The dissertation Life, Mood, and Meaning deals with the relationship between humans and things, addressing the feelings of humans in relation to plants in the home. It shows how potted plants affect people’s way of viewing their lives, their identity, and their space. Superficially speaking, potted plants have no indispensable function in a home. The fact that they are nevertheless found in virtually all homes is grounded in a feeling that a home is not a home without plants. Once in the home, plants come close to the everyday activities, feelings, and memories of the dwellers. They become saturated with meaning and, despite their apparent insignificance, they have a deep impact on people’s lives. Plants provide an image of the shifting of the seasons and the course of life, representing a link with nature, which has become more and more remote. They stand for what is beautiful and pleasant in life, and being able to nurture them is a confirmation that we have what it takes to create a real home. “People’s relationship to potted plants can be perceived as a free zone for our own thoughts, in contrast with our often stressful existence, with all its demands," explains Clas Bergvall. “They also remind us of situations and people we have encountered in life and create a sense of human communion across space and time. To individuals, potted plants are part of what both reminds them of and helps form the shifting phases of their lives."
04/11/07 - Assistive robot adapts to people, new places
In the futuristic cartoon series "The Jetsons," a robotic maid named Rosie whizzed around the Jetsons' home doing household chores--cleaning, cooking dinner and washing dishes. Such a vision of robotic housekeeping is likely decades away from becoming reality. But at MIT, researchers are working on a very early version of such intelligent, robotic helpers--a humanoid called Domo who grasp objects and place them on shelves or counters. A robot like Domo could help elderly or wheelchair-bound people with simple household tasks like putting away dishes. Other potential applications include agriculture, space travel and assisting workers on an assembly line, says Aaron Edsinger, an MIT postdoctoral associate who has been working on Domo for the last three years. Edsinger's team, overseen by Brooks, decided to focus on making a robot that can function in a real human environment--in someone's kitchen, for example. Robots that are designed to help people in their homes will have to be able to ignore the clutter found in most environments and focus only on certain stimuli, says Edsinger. "Typically robots are placed in very restricted worlds because then you can control the environment. If you put a robot in someone's home, that approach just doesn't extend to that," he said. "We want the robot to adapt to the world, not the world to adapt to the robot." Perched on a table in Edsinger's workspace, Domo can "see" everything going on in front of it. As the robot's large blue eyes roam across the room, cameras feed information to 12 computers that analyze the input and decide what to focus on. Domo's visual system is attuned to unexpected motion, allowing it to focus on important stimuli within human environments. For example, locating human faces is critical for social interaction, and people are often in motion. When Domo spots motion that looks like a face, it locks its gaze onto it. Edsinger recently demonstrated how Domo can interact with people to help them accomplish useful tasks. Once he captures Domo's gaze, they exchange greetings. "Hey, Domo," Edsinger says, to which Domo responds, "Hey, Domo." "Shelf, Domo," says Edsinger, prompting the robot to find a shelf. Domo looks around until it spots a nearby table that looks promising. The robot reaches out its left hand to touch the shelf, much like a person groping for a light switch in the dark, to make sure the shelf is really there. Once Domo has located the shelf, it reaches out its right hand towards Edsinger, who places a bag of coffee beans in the open hand. Domo wiggles them a little to get a feel for the object, then transfers the bag from its right hand to its left hand (nearest the shelf). Domo then reaches up and places the bag on the shelf.
04/11/07 - Research scholar ventures to produce power through tides
An engineer and research scholar, who had made extensive research on eco-friendly tidal energy and got the patent for his invention, has now ventured into producing power from tides. Susi Global Research Center, Peramapally, proprietor, Vijaykumar Hegde's dream child was also set to produce 20 kw power from tides with an investment of about Rs 1.25 crore at the sea shore at Katapady-Mattu. The working model '' Susi Tidal Power Project '' which would be mounted on a steel platform on the sea about 120 ft away from the sea shore could work with any small waves. However, the working model was installed at Mattu due to the occurrence of frequent high tide at the shore. Beaming Mr Hedge, who got the patent for his research from patent office at Chennai in 2006, told newsmen that the working model consisted of float balls for receiving the waves connected with other equipment like heavy gear and gear box, ratchet system, arms for leaner movement, compressor, Air tank, Air Motor and control system. The platform would also have a small work room for maintenance work, he added. He said the work on erection of the model had already commenced and would be ready for production of power by April 18 and Union Minister of State for Labour Oscar Fernandes inspect the plant. Mr Hegde claimed that the power produced by tides was very cheap and most eco-friendly since there would be no sound or Air pollution besides no question of felling of not a single tree. When the project was set up in industrial scale, the investment would also become very less. The sea waves are available all the 24 hours and 365 days. The efficiency of Plant Load Factor (PLF) would be 100 percent which was a unique feature of this project, he added.
04/11/07 - Steorn teases with a reveal date: Friday, April 13th
Steorn promises to be "releasing the update on the Jury process and so on" of its seemingly first-law-of-thermodynamics-denying Orbo "free energy" product on April 13th. Steorn has been promising technical information about the invention and jury results for a while now, originally saying "first quarter" 2007. So if we use our imaginations -- as we apparently are exercising to the fullest to even entertain Steorn's Orbo claims -- we can just pretend April 13th is still Q1 and sit tight for the (hopefully) big reveal. (via engadget.com)
04/11/07 - Planting trees falls short at saving the world
Plant a tree, save the world? Not exactly, according to Bay Area researchers who studied the role trees can play in slowing down global warming. Although a tree can remove more than a ton of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere during its lifetime - reducing the amount of the most common greenhouse gas behind the planet's warming - planting trees willy-nilly may not be the best strategy, researchers from Stanford University and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory said Monday. "Only tropical rain forests are strongly beneficial in helping slow down global warming," said Govindasamy Bala, an atmospheric scientist at the Livermore lab and one of the study's authors. While the study suggests it is more important than previously recognized to preserve and restore tropical forests, trees in snowy regions may actually increase local warming, the researchers said. It may sound counterintuitive, but forests in snowy latitudes absorb solar energy that would otherwise be reflected back out into space, producing a heating effect, said Ken Caldeira, a climate scientist with the Carnegie Institution at Stanford who also wrote the report.
04/11/07 - Top 10 Firefox extensions to avoid
Just because an extension is popular doesn't mean it belongs in your Web browser. Popularity shouldn't be the acid test to determine if you should install an extension. The important question is whether it enhances your browsing experience without any nasty side effects. The good news is that the extension community is actually pretty adept at self-policing. Most extensions that are truly "broken" (for instance, they crash your browser or suck up all your CPU power) either get fixed quickly or simply vanish. But some extensions are "bad" in unapparent ways, or just don't provide enough benefits to be worth running. So, in no particular order, let's look at 10 to avoid.
04/11/07 - New Way to Patch Defective Hardware
"Researchers have devised a new way to patch hardware. By treating a computer chip more like software than hardware, Josep Torrellas, a computer science professor from the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, believes we will be able to fix defective hardware by a applying a patch, similar to the way defective software is handled. His system, dubbed Phoenix, consists of a standard semiconductor device called a field programmable gate array (FPGA). Although generally slower than their application-specific integrated circuit counterparts, FPGAs have the advantage of being able to be modified post-production. Defects found on a Phoenix-enabled chip could be resolved by downloading a patch and applying it to the hardware. Torrellas believes this would give chips a shorter time to market, saying "If they know that they could fix the problems later on, they could beat the competition to market.""
04/11/07 - Things computers can only do in movies
Many movies -- even contemporary movies -- treat computers as plot devices, allowing them to do things that everyone in the theater knows is impossible. This is likewise true of other machines, of course. Think of all the cars that do impossibly things in pictures, but usually when a car leaps over a drawbridge, turns on a dime, and then reverses at 90mph, it's meant to be a moment of extraordinary accomplishment. On the other hand, when a computer beeps every time you press a key, that's just meant to be normal operations. 24. Most computers, no matter how small, have reality-defying three-dimensional active animation, photo-realistic graphics capabilities. 25. Laptops always have amazing real-time video phone capabilities and performance similar to a CRAY Supercomputer. 26. Whenever a character looks at a monitor, the image is so bright that it projects itself onto their face. (See “Alien” or “2001?) 27. Searches on the internet will always return what you are looking for no matter how vague your keywords are. (See “Mission Impossible”, Tom Cruise searches with keywords like “file” and “computer” and 3 results are returned.) (via boingboing.net)
04/11/07 - Online sheriff sought - bloggers unimpressed
THEY are calling them the blog cops - two internet bigwigs who want to clean out the potty-mouths of 70 million bloggers and civilise the virtual Wild West of online publishing. Boy, have they picked a fight. Concerned by recent high-profile cases of online bullying and worried about a general degeneration of civility on the internet, Tim O'Reilly and Jimmy Wales have proposed a code of conduct for all bloggers to adopt. On the internet, a bastion of rough language and anything-goes libertarianism, many have responded angrily (not to mention abusively) and joined a raging debate about what limits can and should be placed on free speech, particularly when that speech is bullying, hateful or offensive. "Code of Crap" complains American tech-blog Scobleizer. "The new Gestapo" screams another blog, Burningbird. O'Reilly and Wales have posted a draft seven-point code to deal with burgeoning abuse in the blogosphere, while still preserving the free spirit of the medium. Point one requires bloggers to remove unacceptable comments from their sites. Unacceptable content is defined as that which abuses, harasses, stalks or threatens others; is libellous or misrepresentative; or infringes copyright, confidentiality or privacy. Under the draft code, anonymous postings, a regular feature of virtually all blogs, would also be banned. Every commenter would need to include a recognised email address.
04/11/07 - MySpace is Free Speech, Case Overturned
"The Indiana Court of Appeals has ruled that a judge violated the constitution after placing a juvenile on probation for an expletive laden MySpace entry on the principal. The court decided that the juvenile's free speech rights had been unconstitutionally revoked, and the original judge had suppressed politically motivated free speech since the comments were directly attacking school policy. I think we are starting to see a fine line develop online as it did with print - bullying & slander are punishable while we have to allow criticism of ideas no matter how harsh it is."
04/11/07 - Ed Regis on the future of spaceports
The forces behind spaceport fever include national, state, and local governments, crown princes, private investors, dot-com billionaires, regular billionaires, aerospace engineers, test pilots, former astronauts, rocket hobbyists, and space cadets of every stripe. All seem to believe that spaceports will be the hot new industry, the next biotech, a completely novel sector of commerce that will produce tall geysers of cold cash and bring jobs, rocket paparazzi, and throngs of deep-pocketed tourists, spectators, and assorted space-niks swarming into the spaceport’s neighborhood. In a scrubby patch of southern New Mexico, for example, a spaceport-Spaceport America-is poised to bring economic salvation to a state that ranks 39th in gross state product. “Potentially it’s 6,000 jobs,” said New Mexico governor (and now presidential candidate) Bill Richardson last year. “The potential for tourism, for jobs, for new technologies moving into New Mexico is huge.” It was Richardson himself who was responsible for bringing Virgin Galactic to the state as Spaceport America’s anchor tenant-a feat akin to getting Microsoft to move to Santa Fe, perhaps, except for the minor detail that Virgin Galactic had, at that point, no operational spacecraft in the stable and wouldn’t for some time. Jerry Larson, president of UP (pronounced up!) Aerospace, another Spaceport America tenant, is also bullish on the spaceport’s future. “There’s this huge market waiting there,” Larson told the Rocky Mountain News last September. “It’s a multibillion-dollar industry waiting to be birthed.”
04/11/07 - Bush offers to negotiate with Democrats
...provided that he gets what he wants and they agree to cave. Seriously. That's what Bush said today. He wants to meet with Democrats to work out an agreement over the war funding, provided that the Democrats understand that this isn't a negotiation, that Bush isn't going to change his mind, and that the Democrats will have to accept Bush's position 100%. Really, that's what he said. "President Bush on Tuesday invited Democrats to discuss their standoff over a war-spending bill, but he made clear he would not change his position opposing troop withdrawals. The White House bluntly said the meeting would not be a negotiation. "At this meeting, the leaders in Congress can report on progress on getting an emergency spending bill to my desk," Bush said. "We can discuss the way forward on a bill that is a clean bill, a bill that funds our troops without artificial timetables for withdrawal and without handcuffing our generals on the ground. I'm hopeful we'll see some results soon from the Congress."
04/10/07 - Build a 100 mpg car
WANT A 100 MPG CAR? If you want a car that will get 100 miles per gallon of fuel, you can build your own right now. This plan is based on an idea I got from a friend, but it has worked in the past and will work again. The idea is this. Start with a small car that weighs no more than about 2000 pounds. Many small sedans and hatchbacks from Honda, Toyota, Ford, Geo, Suzuki, Nissan, and the like are available. It must have a standard transmission and a good clutch. Next, throw out (remove and sell) the 80 hp engine it comes with and replace it with a 20 hp diesel engine. EPA certified engines in this range can be purchased from Yanmar. Then connect a belt-drive torque converter between the engine and the manual clutch. These simple transmission systems are used in snowmobiles, ATV's and Jet-Ski water craft, and are available in power ranges up to 120 hp. As odd as this may sound, this system will give the following performance. First, mileage will be above 60 mpg in the city and close to 100 mpg on the highway. Second, for town driving, you can just stick the standard transmission in 3rd gear and drive around without shifting, just using the accelerator and brakes. Acceleration is peppy and smooth with your new, infinitely variable automatic transmission (torque converter). Third, out on the highway, speeds of 70 mph and 80 mph are still possible without a problem. The only performance compromise is found in climbing long, steep hills. The car can handle them with ease, but may slow down to 60 mph or 55 mph during the climb. This is a small price to pay for the other benefits. This is a no non-sense, practical solution to high fuel prices and is way cheaper and easier than converting the car to a hybrid-electric.
04/10/07 - From Europe, a No-Chlorine Backyard Pool
The “natural pools” that Total Habitat builds are bordered with wood, planted with lush vegetation and free of chemicals like chlorine; they resemble nothing so much as a swimming hole. “It’s natural-looking, like a pond,” Mr. Hilleary said. “But the water looks so clean. People really want to swim in it, more than in a farm pond.” Natural swimming pools (or swimming ponds, as they are called in Europe, where the concept originated 20 years ago) are self-cleaning pools that combine swimming areas and water gardens. Materials and designs vary - the pools can be lined with rubber or reinforced polyethylene, as in the case of Total Habitat’s, and may look rustic or modern - but all natural pools rely on “regeneration” zones, areas given over to aquatic plants that act as organic cleansers. The pools have skimmers and pumps that circulate the water through the regeneration zone and draw it across a wall of rocks, loose gravel or tiles, to which friendly bacteria attach, serving as an additional biological filter. Unlike artificial ponds, which tend to be as murky with groundwater runoff and sediment from soil erosion as the natural ponds they’re modeled on, in a natural pool the water is clear enough to see through to the bottom. The pools, which cost about the same as or slightly more than conventional ones, depending on landscaping, appeal to gardeners because of the great variety of plant life that can be grown in them, as well as to green advocates and others who don’t want to swim in chlorinated water.
04/10/07 - Video - Coke And Pepsi Used As Pesticides
In India, Coke and Pepsi are used as pesticides as they cost significantly less. (via impactlab.com)
04/10/07 - M.A.R.S. Floating Wind Generator
MARS is a lighter-than-air tethered wind turbine that rotates about a horizontal axis in response to wind, generating electrical energy. This electrical energy is transferred down the 1000-foot tether for immediate use, or to a set of batteries for later use, or to the power grid. Helium sustains MARS and allows it to ascend to a higher altitude than traditional wind turbines. MARS captures the energy available in the 600 to 1000-foot low level and nocturnal jet streams that exist almost everywhere. MARS rotation also generates the "Magnus effect" which provides additional lift, keeps the MARS stabilized, and positions it within a very controlled and restricted location to adhere to FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) & Transport Canada guidelines. The Advantages of MARS over Conventional Wind Turbines: Wind Power Anywhere™ removes all placement limitations. Coast-line or off-shore locations are not necessary to capture higher speed winds. Reaching winds at 1,000-feet above ground level allow MARS to be installed closer to the grid. MARS is mobile and can be rapidly deployed, deflated, and redeployed without the need for towers or heavy cranes. MARS is bird and bat friendly with lower noise emissions and is capable of operating in a wider range of wind speeds - from 4 mph to greater than 60 mph.
04/10/07 - A Plastic Wrapper Today Could Be Fuel Tomorrow
Scientists worldwide are struggling to make motor fuel from waste, but Richard Gross has taken an unusual approach: making a “fuel-latent plastic,” designed for conversion. It can be used like ordinary plastic, for packaging or other purposes, but when it is waste, can easily be turned into a substitute diesel fuel. Dr. Gross, a professor of chemistry at Polytechnic University, in Brooklyn, is turning plant oils, of the kind already used to make biodiesel, into “bioplastic.” The plastics can be films or rigid, as are commonly found in food packaging. Then he uses a naturally occurring enzyme to break down the plastic into fuel. “It works in very mild conditions, lukewarm tap water,” he said. The enzyme, cutinase, is present in nature, made by parasites to eat through the shiny surfaces of tree leaves, so the parasite can suck nutrients out of the inner parts.
04/10/07 - Early Earth Was Purple, Study Suggests
The earliest life on Earth might have been just as purple as it is green today, a scientist claims. Ancient microbes might have used a molecule other than chlorophyll to harness the Sun’s rays, one that gave the organisms a violet hue. Chlorophyll, the main photosynthetic pigment of plants, absorbs mainly blue and red wavelengths from the Sun and reflects green ones, and it is this reflected light that gives plants their leafy color. This fact puzzles some biologists because the sun transmits most of its energy in the green part of the visible spectrum. “Why would chlorophyll have this dip in the area that has the most energy?” said Shil DasSarma, a microbial geneticist at the University of Maryland.
After all, evolution has tweaked the human eye to be most sensitive to green light (which is why images from night-vision goggles are tinted green). So why is photosynthesis not fine-tuned the same way? DasSarma thinks it is because chlorophyll appeared after another light-sensitive molecule called retinal was already present on early Earth. Retinal...absorbs green light and reflects back red and violet light, the combination of which appears purple.
04/09/07 - German companies look to profits from climate doom
Berlin- The prophets of climate doom may predominate on the country's television screens, but many German companies are beginning to look to the profits to be made from beating the threats posed by climate change. German Federal Environment Agency head Andreas Troge has just outlined the need to spend 4 billion euros (5 billion dollars) a year now to avoid costs 20 times that amount within a generation. "If we are to halt global warning, we have to cut the emission of greenhouse gases by 80 per cent by 2050," Troge told the mass circulation Bild newspaper. The Association of Renewable Energy estimates its members exported to the tune of 6 billion euros last year, up 30 per cent on the year. Roland Berger consultants believe that by 2020, more families will be living off the income provided by green-tech than from machine tools or vehicle production - long the mainstays of the German economy. Environmental technology already employs a million people, according to a survey by the company, and competition for skilled personnel is stiff. German companies are eyeing China with special interest. China's energy needs are estimated to be rising by 20 per cent a year, and the population is suffering the polluting effects of inefficient coal-fired electricity generation. Huge opportunity beckons for providers of coal-based clean power. Germany is world-leader in generating electricity from low-quality lignite (brown coal) and in cutting the harmful emissions.
04/09/07 - One-cylinder alternative-fuel internal combustion engine
The new engine is entering operational testing, and is designed to run interchangeably on hydrogen, propane, natural gas, ethanol or gasoline. The one-cylinder engine greatly expands the potential market for HEC's engines and power generation products. This market includes applications such as powering industrial compressors, chemical and substance mixers and industrial conveyers. In addition to industrial applications, the one-cylinder Oxx Power engine generator-set system will be able to provide all of the heating and hot water demands for homes. The system is designed to allow for "fuel by wire," using lower cost, off-peak electricity or locally produced renewable energy to generate hydrogen -- which then fuels the Company's engines and generator sets to produce, full time, lower cost, non-polluting home power. The first of these engines are to be delivered to ITM this spring.
04/09/07 - Dealing With Venom on the Web
"In a world where nastiness online can erupt and go global overnight, BusinessWeek finds Corporate America woefully unprepared and offers suggestions for how to cope, including shelling out $10,000 to companies like ReputationDefender.com to promote the info you want and suppress the news you don't. And in what must be a sign of the Apocalypse, BW holds Slashdot's moderation system up as a model for maintaining civility in message boards."
04/09/07 - Hybrid Technologies L1X-75: Zero-60 in 3.1 Seconds, Batteries Included
Hybrid Technologies’ thoroughbred pulls from zero-60 in just 3.1 seconds as it launches towards a top speed of 175 mph and a maximum range of around 200 miles. This is no commuter car: Slipping into the racing seats is like folding yourself into a carryon bag, but once you’re strapped in, the cockpit hugs you with tailored precision. This is a racecar after all-you don’t sit in it. You wear it. Slung inches from the pavement, the L1X-75 is designed for the track, but we settled for the traffic of midtown Manhattan.
04/09/07 - Plastic Airmotor for precise control
Engineers at the Johns Hopkins Urology Robotics Lab report the invention of a motor without metal or electricity that can safely power remote-controlled robotic medical devices used for cancer biopsies and therapies guided by magnetic resonance imaging. The motor that drives the devices can be so precisely controlled by computer that movements are steadier and more precise than a human hand. “Lots of biopsies on organs such as the prostate are currently performed blind because the tumors are typically invisible to the imaging tools commonly used,” says Dan Stoianovici, Ph.D., an associate professor of urology at Johns Hopkins and director of the robotics lab. “Our new MRI-safe motor and robot can target the tumors. This should increase accuracy in locating and collecting tissue samples, reduce diagnostic errors and also improve therapy.” The new Johns Hopkins motor, dubbed PneuStep, consists of three pistons connected to a series of gears. The gears are turned by air flow, which is in turn controlled by a computer located in a room adjacent to the MRI machine. “We’re able to achieve precise and smooth motion of the motor as fine as 50 micrometers, finer than a human hair,” says Stoianovici. The robot goes alongside the patient in the MRI scanner and is controlled remotely by observing the images on the MR. The motor is rigged with fiber optics, which feeds information back to the computer in real time, allowing for both guidance and readjustment. “The robot moves slowly but precisely, and our experiments show that the needle always comes within a millimeter of the target,” says Stoianovici. This type of precision control will allow physicians to use instruments in ways that currently are not possible, he says.
04/09/07 - Alma inventor creates life-saving device
Inventor Paul Phenix said he knew a man who died of carbon monoxide poisoning when he used a generator during a power outage. Even though the generator was placed outside, the carbon monoxide still managed to seep into the window and it killed him while he slept. During the Hurricane Katrina devastation, 53 people died from carbon monoxide poisoning from generators. Nine people were killed in Washington state during the January storm that knocked out power. He calls his invention the ”Generator Automatic Safety Shut Down Emergency Device“ And that name pretty much explains it. Phenix hooked up his invention to a carbon monoxide detector and as soon as that detector goes off, the generator is shut down immediately. Nearly every day it seems as if someone dies from carbon monoxide poisoning and for Phenix it‘s frustrating that he can‘t get his product out to the people. But he‘s undeterred. He‘s completed another automatic shut down device for furnaces and hopes to interest others in his product. His web address is www.phenixinnovations.com
04/09/07 - Best of the Best Free and Open Source Software
Mohawke's Best of the Best Free and Open Source Software Collection from Dark Artistry. :: Windows :: Macintosh :: Internet :: Operating Systems :: Games :: Web-Sites :: TheOpenCD :: Here's a huge list of the best free/open source software out there.
04/09/07 - The Real Reasons Phones Are Kept Off Planes
"Mike Elgan argues that the the real reason that cell phones calls are not allowed is fear of crowd control problems if calls are allowed during flight. Also, the airlines like keeping passengers ignorant about ground conditions. The two public reasons, interference with other systems, could easily be tested, but neither the FAA nor the FCC manage to do such testing."
04/09/07 - The maximum mileage
Some hybrid car owners go to great measures to figure out ways of getting as much as possible out of a tank of gas. Toyota Motor Corp. says its Prius gasoline-electric hybrid car gets about 55 miles to the gallon, making it one of the most fuel-efficient cars on the road. That's not good enough for Takashi Toya. Toya, a 56-year-old manager for a tofumaker in central Japan, puts special tires on his Prius, tapes plastic and cardboard over the engine, and blocks the grill with foam rubber. He drives without shoes and hacks into his car's computer -- all in the pursuit of maximum distance with minimum gasoline. Toya is one of about 100 nenpimania, Japanese for "mileage maniacs," or hybrid owners who compete against each other to squeeze as much as 115 miles per gallon out of their cars. In a country where gasoline costs more than $4 a gallon, at least $1 more than the U.S. price, enthusiasts tweak their cars and hone driving techniques to cut fuel bills and gain bragging rights. The mileage maniacs strive to perfect what they call the "pulse and glide" driving method. Pulsing and gliding demands sensitivity when pushing or releasing the accelerator, so only his big toe touches the pedal. On a chilly Saturday in Aichi prefecture, not far from Toyota City, Toya removes his right shoe to demonstrate. Toya accelerates, or pulses, to 29 m.p.h., then glides down to 25 m.p.h. before pulsing again. The car uses no fuel when gliding.
04/09/07 - Minnesota Supreme Court Strikes Down Red Light Cameras
Minnesota Supreme Court says you don't have to pay up just because a city mailed you a picture of your license plate. The supreme court found that Minneapolis had disregarded a state law imposing uniformity of traffic laws across the state. The city's photo ticket program offered the accused fewer due process protections than available to motorists prosecuted for the same offense in the conventional way after having been pulled over by a policeman. The court argued that Minneapolis had, in effect, created a new type of crime: "owner liability for red-light violations where the owner neither required nor knowingly permitted the violation." "We emphasized in Duffy that a driver must be able to travel throughout the state without the risk of violating an ordinance with which he is not familiar," the court wrote. "The same concerns apply to owners. But taking the state's argument to its logical conclusion, a city could extend liability to owners for any number of traffic offenses as to which the Act places liability only on drivers. Allowing each municipality to impose different liabilities would render the Act's uniformity requirement meaningless. Such a result demonstrates that [the Minneapolis ordinance] conflicts with state law."
04/09/07 - America’s Shame - Preface from 'Prisoners of the Cave'
I believe that the American public is genuinely deceived, incredibly indoctrinated, and purposely and systematically kept ignorant. And that their condition of “ignorance” is the outcome of their institutional ruling elite finding this to be the most efficient way to conduct the “imperial” business of the state, because otherwise, “democracy is inimical to imperial mobilization”. These are the main assumptions in my book. I guess if you don't agree with them, then you are only left with the first alternative, that the American public is indeed incredibly self-serving, and consequently morally guilty of war crimes against humanity for their role in knowingly aiding and abetting their government in this fictitious “war on terrorism”. Take your pick. I believe that the invention of “war on terrorism” was largely for the benefit of the American public in order to gain their support - to provide a pretext to launch this overt attempt to remake the “New World Order” while America was still the unrivaled superpower. 9-11 gave them that launch pad. With both Russia and China too busy internally to interfere, with India China and the Pacific Rim nations rapidly developing and industrializing, with the countries of Europe finally uniting after fighting for centuries, and with the global ground reserves of oil rapidly diminishing, the American imperial planners foresaw having a margin of 30 to 50 years before the rest of the world caught on to America's industrial and military supremacy. Then it would be back to détente. If America could acquire monopolistic control over this black gold, and politically control critical regions of the planet, it would wield the upper hand and control the destinies of all potential rivals to America's supremacy on the planet.
04/08/07 - Thanks to heat of the Earth, I’m warm
I feel seasick, nursing my abused cheque book, comforted only by the knowledge that in a week’s time the field will be returned to its former aspect - save for two long strips of bare earth where trenching has been filled in again. I can reseed them. But deep beneath the surface will lie an invisible skein of black plastic piping, encased (against sharp rocks) in a core of sand. And the piping will converge on two valves beneath a manhole, from which will run two big conduits, leading through the wall of our holiday cottage into the utility room. Here will sit, humming softly, a machine about the size of a fridge-freezer. One conduit will bring “brine” (water laced with antifreeze) from beneath the field where it has been gently warmed by the soil, into the machine. The other will carry away the brine, refrigerated by the machine, to rewarm beneath the field. The machine will provide us with copious hot water for central heating and domestic use. it works; and on inspection the mystery dissolves. Did you know that the standard kitchen fridge is a heat pump in reverse? Your fridge cools its interior and dumps the heat outside: into your kitchen through the grill behind the back. My kind of heat pump will dump the cool and keep the heat. Indulge me - no physicist - in 500 words of explanation, for this idea may prove a big component of Europe’s future energy philosophy. Unlike combustion, heat pumps do not create heat: they move it from one place to another. “Fair enough,” you say, “but how come the place you heat gets hotter than the place you got the heat from? Isn’t this something for nothing?” No. Put a hot teaspoon into a bucket of cold water. The spoon will be cooled a lot, the water warmed just a little. Overall, you have not gained or lost heat by this move: you have simply transferred it, spreading out the heat from a small mass of hot material, into a large, cooler mass that it will slightly warm. Well, how about doing this in reverse and ending up with a hot teaspoon and a slightly cooler bucket? This is essentially what a ground-source heat pump does: it collects a lot of low-level heat from one place and “concentrates” it into a little high-level heat in another. It slightly refrigerates a waste of stuff that doesn’t matter - the soil around the house - and greatly heats a little of something that does - your hot water tank and central-heating system. How? Consider two everyday examples. When you use a bicycle pump the nozzle heats up. And after a long blast with an aerosol spray, the nozzle gets cold. This is because when you compress a gas (or condense it into a liquid) it gets hot; and when you evaporate a liquid into a gas (or decompress the gas) it gets cold. So to pump heat from one place to another, we make a closed loop and pump gas around it, compressing and liquefying where we want heat delivered, then decompressing and evaporating where we want it to capture its next load of heat. This does use energy, but not much: the electricity to drive the compressor/circulator pump. A ground-source heat pump gathers heat into a hot water tank for your house - and captures it from a much larger body of water (“brine”) which is being pumped round a huge circulatory system running in pipes hundreds of metres long, beneath your land. Here the refrigerated fluid warms up again, to be reused, bringing the heat back to the heat pump and its gas-filled loop. The whole system will deliver about four times as much energy (in the form of heat) as it consumes (in the form of the electricity). The ultimate energy source is sunshine - but a metre or so down, soil temperatures do not fluctuate wildly with sunrise, sunset and the seasons, but level out, varying gently around 10C. This unlimited supply of low-level heat at a fairly steady temperature is ideal for the delicately balanced gas-circulation system of the machine. Other heat-pump systems use the air, not the soil, for heat collection. Or you can take it from rivers or wells. And for ground-source you can go vertically down, putting pipes into bore holes if you are short of space. But I have chosen to use my field.
04/08/07 - Chinese Company Offers Nonelectric Air Conditioning
In the United States, Fallows notes, most of our air conditioners function as compression coolers - electricity is used to compress a refrigerant such as Freon, which, as it expands, cools the surrounding air. Broad’s nonelectric air conditioners use natural gas (or some other source of heat, such as photovoltaic panels) to boil a lithium bromide solution. When the vapors from the solution condense, they cool the surrounding air. By eschewing electric power, and thus freeing its air conditioners from and easing the burden on the grid, Broad offers several advantages. Fallows writes: “Compared with typical compression systems, nonelectric air-conditioning as Broad makes it will always require less energy per unit of cooling, because when energy is converted from one form to another, some of it is lost. Electric-compression cooling requires more stages of conversion - fossil fuel to electricity at the power plant, electricity to mechanical power at the compressor, both stages very wasteful - than does using natural gas to boil liquid. Nonelectric cooling will also always be more adaptable to other sources of energy, since it is easier to apply a variety of heat sources, including solar power and biomass burning, to do the boiling than to use them to generate electricity in a remote plant and transmit it to the air-conditioning site. And this method of cooling helps reduce the costly peak loads imposed on the power grid, because natural gas is cheapest and most abundant in the summer, exactly when the demand for air-conditioning goes up. Indeed, since storing natural gas is expensive and difficult, in many countries the available gas is simply burned off - wasted - during the summer, when no one needs it for heating. And while we’re at it: the nonelectric systems use a relatively benign natural salt (lithium bromide) rather than using - and inevitably releasing - Freon and other chlorine-based products that erode the Earth’s ozone layer.” In China, as in California, air conditioning accounts for much of the electricity load at peak times during summer - at least 30% in California, and in China, Fallows writes, the figure is 50%. In China, with its booming economy and rapidly expanding middle class, that percentage may rise even higher.
04/08/07 - Flexible Batteries That Never Need to Be Recharged
European researchers have built prototypes that combine plastic solar cells with ultrathin, flexible batteries. But don't throw away your battery recharger just yet. European researchers have integrated thin-film organic solar cells with a flexible polymer battery to produce a lightweight and ultrathin solar battery for low-wattage electronic devices, such as smart cards and mobile phones. The battery can recharge itself when exposed to natural or indoor sunlight, meaning that some electronic gadgets would never need a separate charger. It's not only ultraslim, but also flexible enough to integrate with a wide range of low-wattage electronic devices, including flat but bendable objects like a smart card and, potentially, mobile phones with curves. Prototypes of the solar battery weigh as little as two grams and are less than one millimeter thick. "The device is meant to ensure that the battery is always charged with optimum voltage, independently of the light intensity seen by the solar cell," according to the paper. Dennler says that a single cell delivers about 0.6 volts. By shaping a module with strips connected in series, "one can add on voltages to fit the requirements of the device." The organic solar cell used in the prototype is the same technology being developed by Konarka. (See "Solar-Cell Rollout.") It's based on a mix of electrically conducting polymers and fullerenes. The cells can be cut or produced in special shapes and can be printed on a roll-to-roll machine at low temperature, offering the potential of low-cost, high-volume production. To preserve the life of the cells, which are vulnerable to photodegradation after only a few hours of air exposure, the researchers encapsulated them inside a flexible gas barrier. This extended their life for about 3,000 hours.
04/08/07 - Warmer water leaves sea birds hungry
U.S. researchers say warmer currents from the Gulf of Alaska may not be producing enough plankton to support West Coast seabirds. For the third year in a row, scientists are finding an unusually large number of marine birds washed up on beaches along the West Coast, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. Bill Sydeman, the director of marine ecology at PRBO Conservation Science, said the trend appears to be linked to changes in the current that delivers "cold, nutrient-rich water from the Gulf of Alaska" that the plankton need to thrive, the newspaper said. Sydeman said plankton forms the basis of a food web that sustains everything from small fish to whales.
04/08/07 - £25 fridge gadget that could slash greenhouse emissions
It is made of wax, is barely three inches across and comes in any colour you like, as long as it's black. And it could save more greenhouse gas emissions than taxes on gas guzzling cars, low energy light bulbs and wind turbines on houses combined. It is the e-cube, and it is coming soon to a fridge near you. Invented by British engineers, the £25 ($49USD) gadget significantly reduces the amount of energy used by fridges and freezers, which are estimated to consume about a fifth of all domestic electricity in the UK. The patented cube mimics food and is designed to fit around a fridge's temperature sensor, which usually measures the temperature of the circulating air. Because air heats up much more quickly than yoghurt, milk or whatever else is stored inside, this makes the fridge work harder than necessary. With the cube fitted, the fridge responds only to the temperature of the food, which means it clicks on and off less often as the door is open and closed. Trials are under way with supermarkets, breweries and hotels. One of the largest, the Riverbank Park Plaza hotel in London, fitted the device to each of the hotel's 140 major fridges and freezers. David Bell, chief engineer, says energy use decreased by about 30% on average - enough to slash the hotel's annual electricity bill by £17,000. More Info
04/08/07 - Crowd-motion findings may prevent stampedes
Wherever dense crowds gather, an eruption of panic can have deadly consequences, as in the stampede that killed hundreds during a mass pilgrimage to Mecca in 2006. With methods from the physics of fluids, scientists have now dissected the events of that tragic day and come up with recommendations that may have contributed to making this year's pilgrimage proceed smoothly. Visual-recognition software to track and measure the motion of individuals in the crowd and, by following those individuals, analyzed the crowd's movements as the disaster unfolded. In normal conditions, pedestrians tend to spontaneously fall into ordered patterns, such as lanes going in opposite directions, previous research had shown. As crowds get denser, stop-and-go patterns begin to propagate in waves, as is typical for cars on heavily trafficked highways. But in critical situations-as when cars get into gridlock-people can break out in panics that result in random patterns of motion, similar to the turbulence of water in the wake of a boat. Crowd members can get squeezed and asphyxiated or fall and be trampled. The video recordings enabled the Dresden team to identify for the first time a factor that correlates with these transitions in crowd behavior. It can be regarded as a thermometer of chaos. "We tried dozens of different measurements," says team member Anders Johansson, but he and his colleagues found only one factor, which they called crowd pressure, that proved useful. It combines crowd density and the rate of change in the velocity of the flow. The team found that critical thresholds in crowd pressure correlate with the onset of stop-and-go patterns and turbulence. Salim Al-Bosta, a civil engineer in the Saudi government, says that measures based on the research helped the Hajj run smoothly this year. Image-recognition software now tracks the flow of pilgrims and warns organizers to slow the influx of pilgrims to the site when crowd pressure approaches a critical value, he says.
04/08/07 - Dallas Grandpa's Building Flying Car
Vernon Porter (72) and Clarence Kissell (70) might be in a race against time to get this thing finished but they're obviously still schoolboys inside. So far they have a fiberglass mockup in their shop, but plan to make a test flight in the Fall. It will run on a 232 hp Mazda engine, a rotary Wankel (stop sniggering at the back) and use a charmingly old school propellor when it's in the air. None of this new-fangled jet car nonsense for these boys. Expected to hit 150mph when in the air, on the ground it will be much more basic. The wings fold up and you only need a motorcycle license to drive the 3 wheeler.
04/08/07 - Ford NOT the true father of mass automated car production
Dr Paul Nieuwenhuis and Dr Peter Wells of the Centre for Automotive Industry Research, Cardiff Business School, suggest it was Edward G Budd of Philadelphia whose development of the pressed steel car body truly developed mass production as it is known today. While Ford did develop mass production of key mechanical components and sub assemblies, as well as the moving assembly line, the making and painting of early car bodies proved a bottleneck. Cars were built around a separate chassis, with the body fitted on top to enhance drive and passenger comfort. Bodies were built around a wooden framework clad with steel, aluminium or plywood, then painted. The paint could take many days to dry. Attempts to speed up the drying process by heating car bodies resulted in the wood catching fire, with disastrous consequences. The only answer was to remove all wood from the bodies. By 1914, Budd had a number of patents for a pressed steel car body - and a new start-up firm, Dodge Brothers (run by two ex-Ford directors), was interested in trialling the technology. The next major step - using the body to not only accommodate the people, but also to replace the chassis and carry all the mechanical components - was jointly developed by Budd with Citroen in 1934.
04/07/07 - Video - The Believe Machine
The magnetic shield, in the center of the picture, which resembles a propeller, turns. The magnetic flux cannot pass through the shield. When the shield is in front of the magnets, they are attracted, when the shield is no longer in front of the magnets they are pushed away, because the magnets are now in repulsion. Finally the shield is used as a flywheel, repeatedly taking up and then discharging its kinetic energy. Suitably modified, it can be used to generate electricity! Country of origin: France
04/07/07 - Randi beaten
James Randi is best known for a prize, which has grown from $1,000 to $1 million, which he offers, through the James Randi Educational Foundation, to "anyone who can show, under proper observing conditions, evidence of any paranormal, supernatural, or occult power or event". It has been running since 1968. No one has ever passed a preliminary test. Randi quotes Houdini: "It takes a flimflammer to catch a flimflammer". As Wired reports, earlier this year, Randi, emboldened by the deterrence of his main challenge, threw out another one. This time, he aimed it particularly at "remote viewers", people who claim they can cast their minds to distant places. For more, see the invaluable website of the Academy of Remote Viewing through Space and Time. He offered $1 million to anyone who could use their psychic powers to determine what was in a locked "target" box in his office in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. To guarantee that he would not change the object, he published a code that identified it: 0679 4388 66/27 5 -14 And that's where the Amazing Randi got into trouble, or what we prefer to call a flimflamming flimflammer's flimflam. He reckoned without the dogged, but not psychic, skills of America's cryptographers. Less than a week later, Matt Blaze, an expert on wiretapping, internet code and, to be frank, a lot of things we've never heard of, published the answer on his blog - a compact disc - and jauntily wrote: "James Randi owes me a million dollars". It turns out that Randi chose the ISBN number of a dictionary (the first ten digits of the code), then the page number (275) and then fourteenth entry from the bottom (-14) to identify his secret item. We would never have got it but we can see that it's hardly the Enigma code. In fact, it's not nearly complicated enough to win you £30,000 on ITV these days. Luckily for Randi, who has admitted that Blaze got it, the cryptographer, who is an admirer of the skeptic's work, has declined the money.
04/07/07 - What is Personal Tax Earmarking?
Suppose that each government agency selected a certain portion of its budget to be paid at the choosing of the taxpayers. This means any individual could use the IRS website to navigate through budgets and line items for a wide variety of government agencies. Want to help buy a plane? Head to the Department of Defense. Want to finance a new episode of Sesame Street? Try the National Endowment for the Arts. Although this model could be applied to any government that collects and redistributes tax money, we've chosen to stick with U.S. income tax for our examples.
04/07/07 - Flights by Country
Here is a map representing the world not according to landmass but according to the proportion of flights taken by each country. A number of these modified maps came out of a collaboration between Sheffield University and the University of Michegan (thanks to Treehugger for prompting the link). You can also look at the world according to its military spending, car use or military deaths since 2000. This one shows it according to CO2 emissions. Click here for further fascinating interpretations of our planet.
04/07/07 - 2003 - the Not Knowable costs of the War
A speech by Senator Byrd, from February 26, 2003, was right on target as to what was going to happen.
04/07/07 - Chlorophyll and Blood based Solar Power-Cell Breakthrough
(Thanks to Bill Ward for the headsup on this amazing breakthrough. - JWD) "Researchers from the Nanomaterials Research Centre at Massey University in New Zealand have developed synthetic dyes that can be used to generate electricity at one tenth of the cost of current silicon-based solar panels. These photosynthesis-like compounds work in low-light conditions and can be cheaply incorporated into window-panes and building materials, thereby turning them into generators of electricity." / Organic Dye Solar Cells - Dr Wayne Campbell and researchers in the centre have developed a range of coloured dyes for use in dye-sensitised solar cells. The synthetic dyes are made from simple organic compounds closely related to those found in nature. The green dye Dr Campbell (pictured) is synthetic chlorophyll derived from the light-harvesting pigment plants use for photosynthesis. Other dyes being tested in the cells are based on haemoglobin, the compound that give blood its colour. Dr Campbell says that unlike the silicon-based solar cells currently on the market, the 10x10cm green demonstration cells generate enough electricity to run a small fan in low-light conditions - making them ideal for cloudy climates. The dyes can also be incorporated into tinted windows that trap to generate electricity. He says the green solar cells are more environmentally friendly than silicon-based cells as they are made from titanium dioxide - a plentiful, renewable and non-toxic white mineral obtained from New Zealand’s black sand. Titanium dioxide is already used in consumer products such as toothpaste, white paints and cosmetics. “The next step is to take these dyes and incorporate them into roofing materials or wall panels. We have had many expressions of interest from New Zealand companies,” Professor Partridge says. He says the ultimate aim of using nanotechnology to develop a better solar cell is to convert as much sunlight to electricity as possible. “The energy that reaches earth from sunlight in one hour is more than that used by all human activities in one year”. The solar cells are the product of more than 10 years research funded by the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology. For more information about the cells please contact Professor Ashton Partridge: 06 356 9099 ext 5918 Or Dr Wayne Campbell: 06 356 9099 ext 3525
04/07/07 - Video - Thoughts on why Troops must win in Iraq
(Thanks to Ken Bozeman for sharing this. - JWD) I'm not sure if this is a television or cable show but the title is 'Black and Right'. The speaker quotes some interesting facts, most especially that Kerry, Pelosi, Clinton and others were urging action against Iraq back in 1998 and possibly earlier. He refers to the 'memory challenged media' who, by failing to recall the history of these and other politicians clearly against the war THEN, now allow them to blame it all on Bush before he ever even came onto the scene. Trying to portray themselves as having always been against any such action. Its worth the 9 minutes or so to watch.
04/06/07 - Power naps enhance memory consolidation
It is well established that memories are consolidated during sleep. Numerous studies show that the formation of different kinds of memories - motor learning and declarative memory, for example - is enhanced as we sleep during the night. Enhanced memory consolidation takes place during the non-rapid eye movement (NREM) stage of sleep. Now, a new study published online in the journal PLoS One, shows that afternoon naps have the same effect on memory formation, and provides further insight into the processes of sleep-dependent memory consolidation. The consolidation of motor memories is associated with a particluar stage of sleep (NREM), and that this in turn is correlated with electrical activity in an anatomically discrete region of the brain (the motor cortex). One interpretation of the findings is that power naps trigger accelerated memory consolidation. An alternative hypothesis is that a good night’s sleep consists of multiple stages which are devoted to the consolidation of memories encoded during waking hours; thus, a full night’s sleep may not be necessary for this consolidation to take place; as long as a sleep episode - be it a a short night’s sleep or an afternnon power nap - includes the corresponding stages (NREM), newly-encoded memories will be consolidated.
04/06/07 - Solar Electric Sailer
The solar wind is a very tenuous but high speed (300-800 km/s) plasma stream blowing radially outward from the Sun. The solar wind powers the aurora and governs space weather. The average dynamic pressure (force per unit area) of the solar wind is 2 nanopascal, corresponding to 0.2 grams weight per square kilometre. Using such a weak dynamic pressure for pushing a spacecraft requires a very large area sail, much larger than what can be provided by a solid surface. In the electric sail, the sail is formed by an electric field existing around a thin, charged tether whose voltage is maintained by an onboard solar-powered electron gun. A 20-km long tether made of wire which is thinner than human hair fits in a small reel, but gives a square kilometre effective area when stretched out in space and charged. In the paper published today in Annales Geophysicae , two-dimensional first-principles plasma simulations run on a supercomputer were used to compute the thrust per unit tether length in different solar wind conditions and tether voltages to check the feasibility of the method. Theoretical analysis and one-dimensional simulations were used to validate the results. The results indicate that ~50 nN/m force per unit length of the tether can be achieved in average solar wind, which could enable final speeds in the range 50-100 km/s (10-20 AU/year) for a lightweight spacecraft. At such high speed one could reach e.g. Pluto in less than four years and fly out of the heliosphere into interstellar space in less than 15 years.
04/06/07 - Electric Motorcycle Sets World Speed Record
The KillaCycle, the world’s quickest electric motorcycle and the official world record holder in the 1/4 mile drag, broke the world record again using a lithium-ion battery pack from A123Systems. The official record for any electric vehicle worldwide in the 1/4 mile is set now at an elapsed time of 8.16 seconds. Further, The KillaCycle holds the top speed record for the 1/4 mile, at 156 mph.
04/06/07 - Microeconomics - the art of being Jaded
The microeconomic law of diminishing marginal utility states that while accumulating a good-pretzels, pencils, nickels, whatever-each successive unit of that good will be less satisfying to acquire than the one before it. Finding a shiny quarter on the street is a real thrill. But, if you are carrying around a bag of coins, acquiring another one does not seem nearly as exciting. In fact, would you even bother to pick it up? Reporting in the current issue of Neuron, the scientists reveal that when a small sum of money is on the line, poorer people learn quickly how to maximize their profits, leaving their wealthier counterparts in the dust.
04/06/07 - Brain Hacking
Ted Berger has spent the past decade engineering a brain implant that can re-create thoughts. The chip could remedy everything from Alzheimer’s to absent-mindedness-and reduce memory loss to nothing more than a computer glitch. “Watch this,” says Srinivasan, a design engineer working with USC’s Center for Neural Engineering. A thin wire runs between the needle and a tiny silicon chip hooked up to a boxy signal transmitter. He flips a switch, and a series of small waves shimmers across a nearby screen-waves that mean exactly zilch to me. Watch what? I wonder. Srinivasan explains that the chip is sending electric pulses through the needle into the brain slice, which is passing them on to the screen we’re watching. “The difference in the waves’ modulation reflects the signals sent out by the brain slice,” he says. “And they’re almost identical in frequency and pattern to the pulses sent by the chip.” Put more simply, this iron-gray wafer about a millimeter square is talking to living brain cells as though it were an actual body part. Ted Berger, Srinivasan’s boss and the mastermind behind the tangle of coils and electrodes, has arranged this demonstration to provide a small but profound glimpse into the future of brain science. The chip’s ability to converse with live cells is a dramatic first step, he believes, toward an implantable machine that fluently speaks the language of the brain-a machine that could restore memories in people with brain damage or help them make new ones. Remedying Alzheimer’s disease would, if Berger’s grand vision plays out, be as simple as upgrading a bit of hardware. No more complicated drug regimens with their frustrating side effects. A surgeon simply implants a few computerized brain cells, and the problem is solved.
04/06/07 - Micro-CHP Home Heating and Power System for sale
American Honda Motor Co., Inc. and Climate Energy, LLC have begun retail sales of freewatt, their collaborative Micro-sized Combined Heat and Power (Micro-CHP) cogeneration system for homes. The freewatt Micro-CHP system consists of an MCHP cogeneration unit developed by Honda paired with a furnace or boiler produced by Climate Energy. The ultra-quiet MCHP unit-based on Honda’s GE160EV natural gas engine-produces 3.26 kW of heat and 1.2 kW of electric power.
04/06/07 - Are humans hard-wired for faith?
The accounts of intense religious and spiritual experiences are topics of fascination for people around the world. It's a mere glimpse into someone's faith and belief system. It's a hint at a person's intense connection with God, an omniscient being or higher plane. Most people would agree the experience of faith is immeasurable. Dr. Andrew Newberg, neuroscientist and author of "Why We Believe What We Believe," wants to change all that. He's working on ways to track how the human brain processes religion and spirituality. It's all part of [a] new field called neurotheology. After spending his early medical career studying how the brain works in neurological and psychiatric conditions...Newberg took that brain-scanning technology and turned it toward the spiritual...His team members at the University of Pennsylvania were surprised by what they found. Newberg calls religion the great equalizer and points out that similar areas of the brain are affected during prayer and meditation. Newberg suggests that these brain scans may provide proof that our brains are built to believe in God. He says there may be universal features of the human mind that actually make it easier for us to believe in a higher power. Interestingly enough, devout believers and atheists alike point to the brain scans as proof of their own ideas...
04/06/07 - Bush bypasses Senate to name ambassador
President Bush named Republican fundraiser Sam Fox as U.S. ambassador to Belgium on Wednesday, using a maneuver that allowed him to bypass Congress, where Democrats had derailed Fox's nomination. The appointment, made while lawmakers were out of town on spring break, prompted angry rebukes from Democrats, who said Bush's action may even be illegal. Recognizing Fox did not have the votes to obtain Senate confirmation in the Foreign Relations Committee, Bush withdrew the nomination last week. On Wednesday, with the Senate on a one-week break, the president used his power to make recess appointments to put Fox in the job without Senate confirmation. This means Fox can remain ambassador until the end of the next session of Congress, effectively through the end of the Bush presidency. "It's sad but not surprising that this White House would abuse the power of the presidency to reward a donor over the objections of the Senate," Kerry said in a statement. Recess appointments are intended to give the president flexibility if Congress is out for a lengthy period of time, such as the four-week adjournment in summer. But Dodd said the law was not intended to circumvent lawmakers' approval. "This is really now taking the recess appointment vehicle and abusing this beyond anyone's imagination," said Dodd, a candidate for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination. "This is a travesty."
04/06/07 - Worry About the Right Things
(Thanks to Chuck Henderson for this excellent URL. Read the entire article, its worth it and oh so true! - JWD) For the past two weeks I've written about how the media -- part of the Fear Industrial Complex -- profit by scaring us to death about things that rarely happen, like terrorism, child abductions, and shark attacks. We do it because we get caught up in the excitement of the story. And for ratings. Worse, because many reporters are statistically illiterate, personal-injury lawyers get us to hype risks that barely threaten people, like secondhand smoke, or getting cancer from trace amounts of chemicals. Sometimes they even con us into scaring you about risks that don't exist at all, like contracting anti-immune disease from breast implants. What do you think is more dangerous, a house with a pool or a house with a gun? When, for "20/20," I asked some kids, all said the house with the gun is more dangerous. I'm sure their parents would agree. Yet a child is 100 times more likely to die in a swimming pool than in a gun accident. Parents don't know that partly because the media hate guns and gun accidents make bigger headlines. Ask yourself which incident would be more likely to be covered on TV. Media exposure clouds our judgment about real-life odds. Of course, it doesn't help that viewers are as ignorant about probability as reporters are. Another is the illusion of control. People who fear flying are comfortable driving because they think they're "in control." Yet driving is probably the riskiest thing most of us do. Think about it: We drive at 65 mph, a few feet from other cars -- some of which are driven by 16-year olds! And our cameras have caught people curling their eyelashes and reading while driving. A hundred people die on the road every day. But the media are much more likely to do scare stories about plane crashes than car accidents. So take our reporting with heavy skepticism. Ignore us when we hyperventilate about mad cow disease and the danger of asbestos hidden behind a wall. Instead, worry about what's worth worrying about: driving, acting reckless, smoking cigarettes, drinking too much, and eating too much. "What is your blood pressure, what are you eating; are you exercising?" is what patients should think about, says internist Marc Siegel. "But obesity is boring. Heart disease is boring. So we tend to not think of the things that can really get us." The media make it worse. Instead of educating people to real dangers, we scare them about things that hardly matter.
04/06/07 - Mazda To Offer Back Up Camera
A state-of-the-art rearview mirror-mounted liquid crystal display system, from Mazda North American Operations (MNAO), will be the first to give SUV owners the ability to clearly see what’s happening behind the vehicle without taking their eyes off the road in front of them. The first of its kind to be installed in vehicles in the North American market, this rearview mirror-mounted Back Up Camera with Auto-Dimming Mirror Display will be available on CX-9 models not factory-equipped with DVD navigation systems - giving drivers the ability to see the display screen and the rearview mirror simultaneously.
04/05/07 - Electrifying Change
The greatest technological achievement of the last century, according to the National Academy of Engineers, was neither the internet nor the airplane, the artificial heart nor the satellite, the refrigerator nor the assembly line, but that which enabled them all: the electrical grid. There is no small irony in this as contrary to what one may expect, the electrical grid was not meticulously planned and executed but rather cobbled together somewhat haphazardly as utility companies discovered the benefits and efficiencies that could be realized from interconnecting their electrical systems, and over decades it grew into the nationwide network. The electrical grid’s development then was evolutionary, not revolutionary. The electricity industry is building momentum toward its next evolutionary leap - to an electronically-enabled electric grid delivering digital-quality power. This shift away from analogue mechanical operation will have the most profound effect on the electricity industry in its history. From an investment point of view, the beauty is in the simplicity of the premise. If the U.S. wants to maintain its economic competitiveness as well as its standard of living, both of which are directly correlated to electrical energy consumption,  the changes needed to adapt to the demands of the Digital Age must be made. In its most basic form, the transition from analogue to digital-quality electricity is a matter of reliability, and realizing the necessary level of service will take a considerable amount of time and involve staggering sums of money, with industry estimates running as high as two trillion dollars over the next two decades. Today digital-quality power demand in the U.S. constitutes roughly 10% of total electrical demand; by 2020, the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) projects digital-quality power demand will range from between 30 and 50% depending on the industry’s ability to meet accelerating growth. Historically, 95% of power outages are transmission-related. Increased bulk power transactions have led to a substantial drop in capacity margin, which is essentially the reserve of electrical power available to meet changes in demand at any given time. Allied Business Report’s claim in 2000 that lack of confidence in service reliability had driven so many companies to generating their own power that it accounted for as much as 10% of total U.S. generation - and that figure was set to grow 15% annually. In 2006, 51% of those polled were planning to purchase a backup generator in the next two years, and 47% were very interested in having base load capacity in order to insure reliability of supply.
04/05/07 - How to Live a Low-Energy Lifestyle
Americans can cut consumption and keep their affluence -- but it will take a change in priorities. The variety of federal and state incentives programs is confusing, so start by going to Findsolar.com, a website supported by the U.S. Department of Energy and the solar power industry. There you will find a database of qualified solar installers, along with a handy tool to estimate the size, cost and payback time of a system that meets your needs, taking into account your area's solar potential and the state programs you are eligible for. One word of caution: The estimator asks you to input your current average monthly power bill as a way of calculating your energy needs. This may lead to a much larger system than you really need. If you haven't already taken steps to reduce your use, do that first. In our experience of living off-grid, we have learned that it is much cheaper to invest in energy-saving light bulbs and appliances than to buy additional solar modules.
04/05/07 - Stop-N-Go traffic device
“The hybrid system we are displaying at Taxi ’07 represents an excellent fit for New York’s stop-and-go traffic”, said Jeremy Holt, president of Ricardo US. “Although called a micro hybrid, the benefits can be very significant. Most vehicles can accommodate this system, including taxis. If this technology were applied to all New York City taxis, Ricardo estimates that 10.8 million US gallons (40.9 million litres) of gasoline per year could be saved, reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 105,000 US tons (95,000 tonnes) of CO2 per year.” In Ricardo’s micro hybrid system the standard alternator is replaced by a more efficient electric motor-generator. The system is termed micro because the hybrid system is a small increment to the existing powertrain and represents minimal additional cost. When the vehicle idles in traffic jams and at stoplights, the micro hybrid system shuts the engine down. This reduces fuel consumption while also reducing carbon monoxide, hydrocarbon and nitrous oxide emissions. When the driver moves his or her foot from the brake to the accelerator pedal, the electric motor starts the engine instantly and silently. Also, energy generated during braking can be captured and used to power the vehicle, again contributing to further efficiency gains.
04/05/07 - From waste to clean energy
With the help of Russian scientists, Israeli firm Environmental Energy Resources (EER), has taken the laws of science and turned them into a useful invention for mankind - a reactor that converts radioactive, hazardous and municipal waste into inert byproducts such as glass and clean energy. The problem of radioactive waste is a global one, and getting increasingly worse. All countries in the industrialized world are waking up to the need for safer hazardous waste disposal methods. The journalists cautiously eye Shrem as he assures them that the shiny dark material, emitted from EER’s pilot waste treatment reactor near Karmiel in the north, is safe to touch. “It also makes a good recyclable material for building and paving roads,” he assures them. Earlier, Shrem told ISRAEL21c that EER can take low-radioactive, medical and municipal solid waste and produce from it clean energy that “can be used for just about anything.” Using a system called plasma gasification melting technology (PGM) developed by scientists from Russia’s Kurchatov Institute research centre, the Radon Institute in Russia, and Israel’s Technion Institute - EER combines high temperatures and low-radioactive energy to transform waste. “We go up to 7,000 degrees centigrade and end at 1,400 centigrade,” says Moshe Stern, founder and president of the Ramat Gan-based company. Shrem adds that EER’s waste disposal rector does not harm the environment and leaves no surface water, groundwater, or soil pollution in its wake. The EER reactor combines three processes into one solution: it takes plasma torches to break down the waste; carbon leftovers are gasified and inorganic components are converted to solid waste. The remaining vitrified material is inert and can be cast into molds to produce tiles, blocks or plates for the construction industry.
04/05/07 - Hydratus Generator
Chemical processes that produce hydrogen in a closed, looped system--where chemicals are not completely consumed or denatured--are being researched by the Department of Energy and many groups in the private and public sectors. The DOE is also looking at tapping into nuclear facilities because they already produce waste heat that could be used to reduce the amount of electricity needed for electrolysis, according to Patrick Davis, acting program manager for hydrogen fuel cells and infrastructure technologies at the DOE. Companies such as Ecotality are thinking of ways to generate hydrogen in a fuel-cell car as the vehicle's fuel cell needs it.
Ecotality's implementation of hydrogen-fuel technology features an apparatus called the Hydratus, which was developed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The Hydratus is built in to a vehicle and makes hydrogen for a fuel cell using a chemical reaction between magnesium and water to liberate the hydrogen. Drivers use a three-prong pump to fill up on magnesium pellets and water, and pump out spent magnesium oxide in powder form. The spent powder is 99.8 percent renewable and can be recycled (using electricity) right at the filling station. While the Hydratus can be adapted for use in other settings--as a support system for fuel cells powering cell phone towers and computers, for example--its first integration will be with hydrogen buses for cities and towns, which could install their own magnesium filling stations to service their fleet. Ecotality is already in touch with several interested municipalities and expects to produce the first prototype bus by the end of 2007.
04/05/07 - High Four Tech Fishing Lure
Russian scientists from Saint Petersburg have developed electronic lure for fish. The device looks like a small cylinder, which generates four types of signals. First of them - flashing light - attracts most curious fishes. Two other signals - vibration and weak electromagnetic impulses - affect fishes' lateral line, telling them that several small fishes are already eating something very tasty. The last signal generates sounds of particular frequency, which was proved to attract fish. Electronic lure needs only several minutes to attract fish - you throw it to the water and then start fishing several m away from it. The device works on the batteries, which are enough for 300 hours of operation.
04/05/07 - Harvesting Energy in the Sky
"The Economist magazine has an article on Flying wind farms. Mind you, we're not talking about ordinary, terrestrial windmills here. We're talking about actual airborne - up to 10km in the sky - wind farms intended to harvest the immense supply of energy in the jet stream. On the surface, the idea seems a little eccentric but, in fact, San Diego (California, US) based Sky WindPower has, apparently, thought their concept through pretty thoroughly and believes they can not only make this work, but do so profitably. The article discusses several other ideas for high-flying wind farming including a Dutch proposal to use pairs of kites to drive a generator."
04/05/07 - Dirt exposure 'boosts happiness'
Exposure to dirt may be a way to lift mood as well as boost the immune system, UK scientists say. Lung cancer patients treated with "friendly" bacteria normally found in the soil have anecdotally reported improvements in their quality of life. A lack of serotonin is linked with depression in people. The scientists say more work is now needed to determine if the bacterium Mycobacterium vaccae has antidepressant properties through activation of serotonin neurons. Lead researcher Dr Chris Lowry said: "These studies help us understand how the body communicates with the brain and why a healthy immune system is important for maintaining mental health. "They also leave us wondering if we shouldn't all spend more time playing in the dirt."
04/05/07 - filehippo.com Update Client
The Update Checker will scan your computer for installed software, check the versions and then send this information to filehippo.com to see if there are any newer releases. These are then neatly displayed in your browser for you to download. The client is FREE, only 100kb to download and only takes seconds to run! In fact on our test machines the process is complete in under 2 seconds! The Update Checker works on any Windows PC running Vista, XP, 2003, 2000 or 98.
04/05/07 - Spoofcard: Fake your caller I.D.
SPOOFCARD FEATURES: * Caller ID Spoofing * Voice Changer * Call Recording * Web Control Panel. No computer needed! Simply dial the toll free number from the calling card you purchase. 1.Enter your pin number. 2. Enter Any Caller ID Number you wish to display. 3. Enter Destination number. 4. Choose the voice you would like to use. 5. Your call is connected using the specified Caller ID Number.
04/04/07 - Houses of the Future could be made of Trash
“Bitublocks,” created by engineer John Forth of the University of Leeds in England, are composed of recycled glass, sewage sludge, incinerator ash, the by-products of metal purification and pulverized fuel ash from power stations. “Bitublocks use up to 100 percent waste materials and avoid sending them to landfill, which is quite unheard of in the building industry,” Forth said. Forth hopes his new invention will revolutionize the building industry by providing a sustainable, low-energy replacement for concrete blocks. “Less energy is required to manufacture the Bitublock than a traditional concrete block, and it’s about six times as strong, so it’s quite a high-performance product,” Forth said. Bitumen, a sticky substance used in paving roads, binds the waste products together before they are compacted in a mold to for a solid block. The block is then heat-cured , which causes the bitument to harden like concrete. Using bitumen means a higher proportion of waste products can be used in the blocks than if cement or clay were used to bind the materials. These blocks could put to use millions of pounds of crushed glass and incinerator ash.
04/04/07 - PVC = Guilty As Charged
PVC has been repeatedly linked to many health concerns. So, you may ask yourself, why isn’t it a subject of the supposedly comprehensive LEED certification criteria? That is the question that the LEED steering committee recently asked the US Green Building Council Technical and Scientific Advisory Committee (TSAC) to investigate further. And the results, while mixed, point to a definitive answer: PVC, when ranked throughout its life cycle, is consistently found as one of the worst materials for cancer related impacts.
04/04/07 - Surprising Tests WITH Household AMMONIA
Simple Experiments and Home-made Apparatus Extend Your Knowledge and Speed the Work You Can Accomplish in Your Own Laboratory. Being a mixture of ammonia dissolved in water, this pungent-smelling liquid offers an ever-ready supply of ammonia gas for the home laboratory. Even at room temperature, the gas is released from the liquid. By heating it, the experimenter can obtain the gas in larger quantities. Strictly speaking, household ammonia is not ammonia at all, but ammonia water or ammonium hydroxide. Although ammonia can be liquefied, it is a colorless gas at normal temperatures. The fact that it dissolves readily in water makes the manufacture of ammonia water possible. You hardly would suppose that the fumes rising from an open bottle of house-hold ammonia are inflammable. Yet, ammonia gas can be burned. To demonstrate this, place an ounce or two of household ammonia in a small flask. Fit the mouth of the flask with a cork containing a metal or glass outlet tube and heat it. Ammonia gas will flow from the outlet tube and a match held close to the tip will cause the gas to burn as long as the match flame is present. If the outlet tube is placed in an atmosphere of oxygen, the ammonia gas will not only flame but will burn steadily. Like hydrogen, ammonia gas is lighter than air. For this reason it can be collected by holding an inverted bottle over the mouth of the generator flask. When the bottle has filled, it can be tipped upright by closing its mouth with a flat card or square of glass. Since ammonia and all its compounds contain nitrogen and hydrogen, the gas can be decomposed by the experimenter to obtain nitrogen. This is done by passing the gas over a hot metallic oxide. In the process, the hydrogen in the ammonia combines with the oxygen of the oxide, forming the metal and water, and the free nitrogen gas is released. No discussion of ammonia gas would be complete without some mention of its commercial uses. The most important uses of ammonia are as a refrigerating agent and for the preparation of ammonia water. Large quantities of ammonia, however, are also used in the manufacture of sodium carbonate, ammonium salts, and nitric acid.
04/04/07 - 102 Year Old Man Gets 25-year Mortgage
A 102-year-old has been granted a 25-year, £200,000 mortgage. It will run until he is 127. The pensioner, from East Sussex, is believed to be the oldest person in the UK to be granted a mortgage. The revelation was greeted with alarm by debt advisors. He faces repayments of £958 a month on the interest-only loan and intends to pay them from rental income and make money from the property's increase in value over time.
He is said to want "to get into buy-to-let" and to become a late-in-life property entrepreneur.
The man, who has not been named, is one of thousands of pensioners, including many in their seventies and eighties, now borrowing huge sums of money to buy property. Most lenders will now give mortgages to over-65s who fulfil the lending criteria but impose an age limit of 75. A handful, however - Bristol & West, Woolwich, Preferred and Mortgage Trust - have no age limit. "It's a new phenomenon," said Jonathan Moore, of Kent-based Mortgages for Business, the broker that arranged the loan for the 102-year-old and has given mortgages to hundreds of pensioners.
04/04/07 - MULTIMACHINE: DIY Open Source Machinery
Made from recycled scrap metal and old truck engines, the open-source Multimachine can drill press, lathe and mill. It originally started as a project by Pat Delaney as a way to easily create a machine that was cheap to create and accurate enough for metal work. The project, now hosted at its own Yahoo group, can be used in developing countries as a way to create jobs and assist in the fields of agriculture, transportation, education and food preparation. The very making of the machine imparts the skills needed to use it.
04/04/07 - Rocket Belts soon for Sale
Forty-two years after being used in the James Bond movie 'Thunderball', improved versions of the hydrogen peroxide propelled rockets are going on sale. The original power belt could fly only up to the height of 27 ft and had a maximum speed of 10 mph, but their improvised version can take its wearer up to 300ft and has a maximum speed of 60 mph. Juan Manuel Lozano, the Mexican inventor of the rockets, claims that his invention is "the most spectacular flying machines ever developed," reports the Mirror. These flying machines have been priced at a whopping 130,000 pounds ($256,604.58 USD) each.
04/04/07 - Broadcasting Station Uses Novel Headset
WDAP, the broadcasting station of the Chicago Board of Trade, located at the Drake Hotel, Chicago, has a couple of novel headsets which are used to test the transmission from any point in the studio. The set is a combination phone and receiver; the receiver unit is a 50-turn coil, wound on a bakelite tube firmly fastened to the head-hand, and connected to a small crystal detector screwed to a piece of wood spanning the top of the tube. With the headset on, the transmission of the concerts, lectures, etc., can be checked from any part of the studio or instrument room, without the necessity of sitting down at the standard receiving set. The connections are simple, and are shown in the upper detail of the illustration.
04/04/07 - Portable power, water filtration and Internet
One of the most brilliant inventions we’ve seen to date is this mobile, portable structure which provides water purification, electricity and even wireless internet access - all through the power of the wind and the sun. The Ecos LifeLink was released earlier this month by Ecosphere Energy Systems Inc (EES) at the Cleantech Venture Forum in San Francisco, CA. The design of the two 20 foot modules make the Ecos LifeLink system easily portable to disaster relief sites and to provide water and electricity to remote locations. The portable wireless satellite system provides internet connectivity which allows for voice over IP and VSAT communication reaching a 30 mile range, while providing 16 kW of power and water filtration that provides 30 gallons per a minute making the most contaminated water sources comply with World Health Organization standards.
04/04/07 - Texas signs new self-defense by gun law
Criminals in Texas beware: if you threaten someone in their car or office, the citizens of this state where guns are ubiquitous have the right to shoot you dead. Governor Rick Perry's office said on Tuesday that he had signed a new law that expands Texans' existing right to use deadly force to defend themselves "without retreat" in their homes, cars and workplaces. "The right to defend oneself from an imminent act of harm should not only be clearly defined in Texas law, but is intuitive to human nature," Perry said on his Web site. The new law, which takes affect on September 1, extends an exception to a statute that required a person to retreat in the face of a criminal attack. The exception was in the case of an intruder unlawfully entering a person's home. The law extends a person's right to stand their ground beyond the home to vehicles and workplaces, allowing the reasonable use of deadly force, the governor's office said.
04/04/07 - WEAPON FOR MOTORISTS BRANDS THUG WITH DYE
A new weapon for the protection of motorists and shopkeepers not only subdues the most vicious thug, but also brands him for identification in case he should escape. When he is struck with the club-shaped weapon, an airtight membrane breaks, releasing a chemical similar to tear gas and also a spray of aniline dye that indelibly stains, his face, hands, and clothing, thus identifying him.
04/04/07 - GHERKIN BUILDING GOES GREEN!
Under pressure from other more sustainable buildings popping up around the world, such as the recently featured Bahrain World trade Center, London’s Gherkin Tower, designed by Norman Foster, has recently begun testing an innovative vegetated facade panel which promises to change the face of building design forever. This new “Green wall” product, known as the Core Hydraulic Integrated Arboury panel, promises to bring the benefits of green roofs to any exterior surface of skyscraper.
04/03/07 - Coastal living - a growing global threat
One person in 10 worldwide, including one in eight city-dwellers, live less than 10 metres above sea-level and near the coast - an "at-risk zone" for flooding and stronger storms exacerbated by climate change, a new study reveals. McGranahan explains that low coastal cities pose a double risk. Firstly, they attract large human populations to a zone that is at higher risk of suffering the impacts of worsening storms, rising sea-levels and more floods. Furthermore, these urban developments degrade ecosystems - such as mangroves in Asia - that can provide natural barriers against the damage of rising sea-levels and strong storms. The 10 countries with the largest number of people living within the at-risk zone are: China, India, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Indonesia, Japan, Egypt, the US, Thailand, and the Philippines. The 10 countries with the largest share of their population living within 10 m of sea level are: Bahamas (88% of population); Suriname (76%); Netherlands (74%); Vietnam (55%); Guyana (55%); Bangladesh (46%); Djibouti (41%); Belize (40%); Egypt (38%); and the Gambia (38%).
04/03/07 - The East River Generates Electricity
It seems that back in December 2006, an innovative energy company known as Verdant Power planted two state-of-the art turbines in the East River. They spin with the ebb and flow of the river's tides, turning the water's boundless energy into electricity (as long as dead bodies don't get stuck in the blades). Eventually, Verdant hopes to generate as much as 10 megawatts in the East River, and 500 megawatts statewide, with the help of the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority and New York University.
04/03/07 - Companies Find Solutions to Possible Biodiesel Ban in Texas
Now that Texas biodiesel producers have another year before a decision is made on whether or not to ban B20 in many areas of the state, companies are using the extra time to make fuels that are compliant with Texas diesel standards. B20 is a blend of 20 percent biodiesel and 80 percent petroleum-based diesel. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) is considering banning current fuel mixes because of worries that it will raise nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions and other volatile organic compounds (VOC) that contribute to smog. TCEQ delayed a decision for a year so that more scientific analysis could be performed on NOx emissions. "I think the science has shown that B20 does not raise NOx levels, but we'll see when the [EPA] study comes out. We could run into a situation were we are double additizing the product and spending a lot more money," Plowman said. But ORYXE's Cleary said that the additive would add very little cost to the final product.
04/03/07 - Homebrew Biodiesel Makers Running Afoul of Tax Laws
The other day I told you about a pair of Wisconsin biodiesel homebrewers who have been sent a tax bill by the state for about 33 cents a gallon of what they’ve been making and using in their vehicles. Now, a Virginia man has pleaded guilty to misdemeanor tax evasion on biodiesel he’s been making and selling. According to this story in the Roanoke (VA) Times, Sam Bolt of Carroll County, Virginia got suspended one-year jail sentences and a $250 fine. A plea bargain ended up dropping a related felony charge. Bolt was making biodiesel out of vegetable oil. He made about 5,600 gallons during a three-month period. According to the article, even the judge in the case admitted Bolt might be a pioneer… but he said homebrewers need to get up-to-speed on fuel regulations.
04/03/07 - X Prize For a 100-MPG Car
The X Prize Foundation, which spurred innovation by offering US $10 million for the first privately built spacecraft, now plans to offer millions for the first practical car that increases mileage five-fold. The specs for the competition are out in draft form amd call for cars in two categories that are capable of 100 MPG in tests to be run in 2009. The categories are: 4-passenger/4-wheel; and 2-passenger/unspecified wheels. The cars must be manufacturable, not "science projects. The prize is expected to top $10 million. The X Prize Foundation says that so far it has received more than 1,000 inquiries from possible competitors.
04/03/07 - Video - Population Growth and Immigration
(Thanks to Jack Veach for ruining my week with this. It is very disturbing. - JWD) Roy Beck's celebrated demonstration of the population consequences of current U.S. immigration policies has entertained and shocked audiences across the country. This video is packed with the facts and analysis that make moral and practical sense of a complex and highly contentious issue. / Details at numbersusa.org - The White House has begun to circulate details of a new immigration plan negotiated with Republican Senators. The plan would: * Reward most of the 12 million illegal aliens with the very things they broke immigration laws to obtain; * Increase annual immigration by at least 50%; * Force communities to accommodate another 200 million people by mid-century; and * Impose trillions of dollars in costs on American taxpayers.
04/03/07 - Ferrofluid Sculptures
This technique uses one electromagnet, and its iron core is extended and sculpted. The ferrofluid covers the sculpted surface of a three-dimensional iron shape that was made on an electronic NC lathe. The movement of the spikes in the fluid is controlled dynamically on the surface by adjusting the power of the electromagnet. The shape of the iron body is designed as helical so that the fluid can move to the top of the helical tower when the magnetic field is strong enough. The surface of the tower responds dynamically to its magnetic environment. When there is no magnetic field, the tower appears to be a simple spiral shape. But when the magnetic field around the tower is strengthened, spikes of ferrofluid are born; at the same time, the tower’s surface dynamically morphs into a variety of textures ranging from soft fluid to minute moss, or to spiky shark’s teeth, or again to a hard iron surface. The ferrofluid, with its smooth, black surface that seems to draw people in, reaches the top of the tower, spreading like a fractal, defying gravity.
04/03/07 - Scientists grow part of human heart
A British research team led by a world-renowned heart surgeon has grown part of a human heart from stem cells for the first time.
04/03/07 - Biofuels Coming With a High Environmental Price?
"With the spectre of global warming on the horizon, biofuels have been touted as the solution to motor vehicles' greenhouse gas emissions. But with biodiesel use on the increase, it appears a distinctively environmentally unfriendly footprint is being left behind by some of its prime sources; affected food prices are surging out of reach of the poor and rainforests are being destroyed to create larger plantations."
04/03/07 - Blood groups can be converted
Scientists have developed a way of converting one blood group into another. The technique potentially enables blood from groups A, B and AB to be converted into group O, which can be safely transplanted into any patient.
04/02/07 - Electricity from traffic flow?
BAHRAIN'S heavy traffic flow could be used to generate electricity, says a top councillor. The country should adopt a British invention, which generates power every time a vehicle passes over metal plates on the road, says Manama Municipal Council services and public utilities committee chairman Hameed Al Basri. He was referring to Dorset inventor Peter Hughes' Electro-Kinetic Road Ramp, which generates around 10 kilowatts of power each time a car drives over its metal plates. The system could replace speed bumps and create power for street lights in poorly-lit neighbourhoods, said Mr Al Basri. Plates in the ramp move up and down as vehicles pass over them, driving a generator. The ramp is silent, comfortable and safe for vehicles, according to Mr Hughes. Depending on the weight of the vehicle passing overhead, between 5kw and 50kw electricity can be generated, says the inventor.
04/02/07 - Haptics Technology Turns Phones into Weapons
(Caveat Emptor) "Virtually all of our phones have little motors that make vibration possible. Now there's a company working on taking the abilities of these mini motors much, much further. Touch-Bak's technology allows for users to send 'virtual punches' and jabs, and can send phones flying from the hands of users if they're unaware of the service. It's all a bit on the extreme side and, to his credit, the PCMag.com author recognizes that, but it's still a fascinating application of the little understood Haptics technology. '"Imagine," Galsworthy continued, "that you know your buddy Kyle is in an important meeting and you know that he keeps his phone in his pocket. You can deliver a digital punch right to his thigh. He jumps out of his seat during the meeting and . . . it's hilarious!" Galsworthy was so tickled by this description of events that he was lost in fits of laughter on the other side of the phone. To me, this service is childish and, well, kind of stupid.'"
04/02/07 - Death of the cell phone charger
A Pennsylvania entrepreneur has developed technology that gives you all the battery juice you need directly from the air. How much money could you make from a technology that replaces electrical wires? A startup called Powercast, along with the more than 100 companies that have inked agreements with it, is about to start finding out. Powercast and its first major partner, electronics giant Philips, are set to launch their first device powered by electricity broadcast through the air. It may sound futuristic, but Powercast's platform uses nothing more complex than a radio--and is cheap enough for just about any company to incorporate into a product. A transmitter plugs into the wall, and a dime-size receiver (the real innovation, costing about $5 to make) can be embedded into any low-voltage device. The receiver turns radio waves into DC electricity, recharging the device's battery at a distance of up to 3 feet. Broadcasting power through the air isn't a new idea. Researchers have experimented with capturing the radiation in radio frequency at high power but had difficulty capturing it at consumer-friendly low power. "You'd have energy bouncing off the walls and arriving in a wide range of voltages," says Zoya Popovic, an electrical engineering professor at the University of Colorado who works on wireless electricity projects for the U.S. military. That's where Shearer came in. A former physicist based in Pittsburgh, he and his team spent four years poring over wireless electricity research in a lab hidden behind his family's coffee house. He figured much of the energy bouncing off walls could be captured. All you had to do was build a receiver that could act like a radio tuned to many frequencies at once. "I realized we wanted to grab that static and harness it," Shearer says. "It's all energy." So the Powercast team set about creating and patenting that receiver. Its tiny but hyperefficient receiving circuits can adjust to variations in load and field strength while maintaining a constant DC voltage. Thanks to the fact that it transmits only safe low wattages, the Powercast system quickly won FCC approval--and $10 million from private investors. Powercast says it has signed nondisclosure agreements to develop products with more than 100 companies, including major manufacturers of cell phones, MP3 players, automotive parts, temperature sensors, hearing aids, and medical implants. The last of those alone could be a multibillion-dollar market: Pacemakers, defibrillators, and the like require surgery to replace dead batteries. But with a built-in Powercast receiver, those batteries could last a lifetime.
04/02/07 - Car Dealerships Rip You Off With The "Four-Square" system
Former used car salesman Alan Slone grows a conscience and reveals one of the major strategies dealership use to screw you when buying a new car. At the heart of it all is the "4-square," a sheet of paper (sample above) divided into four boxes: your trade value, the purchase price, down payment, and monthly payment. This is supposed to help you and the dealership come to an agreement, but as you'll see, it's really more akin to three-card monte dealer's deck of cards. Many, but not all, dealerships use this tool. Here's 5 tips to get you started, and then a very detailed breakdown of how the dealership manipulates buyers with the four-square.
04/02/07 - Good Free Energy Overview
(Thanks to Dr. Patrick Bailey of the INE for sharing this URL. - JWD) The purpose of this web site is to provide you with an introduction to a series of devices which have been shown to have very interesting properties and some are (incorrectly) described as 'perpetual motion' machines. Quantum Mechanics has shown that the universe is a seething cauldron of energy with particles popping into existence and then dropping out again. Knowing that E = mC2, we can see that a tremendous amount of energy is needed to create any form of matter. Scientists remark that if we could tap even a small part of that energy, then we would have free energy for our lifetime. The material on this web site describes more than thirty different devices, with diagrams, photographs, explanations, pointers to web sites, etc. As some of the devices need an understanding of electronic circuitry, a simple, step-by-step instruction course in electronics is also provided. This can take someone with no previous knowledge of electronics, to the level where they can read, understand, design and build the type of circuits used with these devices.
04/02/07 - 'Transplant Tourism' on the Rise
The United Nations agency said it was concerned about a rise in cases where people in countries such as Pakistan, Egypt and the Philippines were persuaded to sell their body parts to outsiders, mostly through a broker. The practice has increased over the past decade, said Luc Noel of the WHO's health technology and pharmaceuticals unit. "We believe 5 to 10 per cent of all kidneys transplanted were in 2005 transplanted in this setting," he told a news conference in Geneva, home to the WHO's headquarters. Transplantation is increasingly regarded as the best solution to end-stage organ failure, according to the WHO. Long waiting lists for organs from cadavers have caused frustrated patients to look overseas for new sources, he said. "The wealthy, in search of their own survival, will sometimes seek organs from the poor," Chapman said after experts convened by the WHO recommended stricter organ donation and transplantation rules to confront the practice. Farhat Moazam of the Sindh Institute of Urology and Transplantation in Karachi, Pakistan, said increasing numbers were travelling to her country to buy kidneys. "There are villages that are in the poorer parts of Pakistan where as many as 40 to 50 per cent of the population of the village we know only has one kidney," Moazam told the briefing. She said donors are often promised as much as 150,000 rupees (150,000.00 INR = $3,457.81 USD) for an organ but may only get a fraction of that after brokers' fees and associated medical costs are paid.
04/02/07 - Mars ice cap has enough H20 for a 'waterworld'
The southern ice cap on Mars has long been seen as a frozen holding tank of water - enough, it seems, to cover the planet in a bath 36 feet deep, according to recent measurements by Europe's Mars Express orbiter. The spacecraft's radar probed the ice cap to depths of up to two miles, giving the best estimate yet for the amount of water there. Although the cap contains frozen carbon dioxide as well as water, the results suggest that the cap is 90 percent frozen water, say scientists. Despite the enormous weight of the ice cap, the crust underneath it is not depressed, as is the crust on Earth beneath enormous glaciers and ice caps. The team suspects that the lack of glacial "dimples" on Mars can be traced to a planetary crust and upper mantle that are stiffer and colder compared with Earth's. The results appear in the current issue of the journal Science.
04/02/07 - Ethanol-blend auto emissions no greener than gasoline
An unpublished federal report appears to undermine the belief that commercially available ethanol-blended fuel produces cleaner emissions than regular gasoline. Many Canadians believe filling up with ethanol-blended gasoline reduces the emission of greenhouse gases that damage the environment. Advertising sponsored by the Canadian Renewable Fuels Association encourages the idea, telling Canadians renewable fuels are "good for the environment," and even some provincial governments, including Manitoba and Saskatchewan, say the fuel "burns cleaner" than gasoline.
04/02/07 - UK headed for prison meltdown
The former head of the prison service has warned that up to 100,000 people could be in jail by the end of the decade unless drastic and immediate action is taken by the government. The prediction from Martin Narey came as the prison population in England and Wales reached an all-time high yesterday of more than 80,300, with only four spare places left in emergency police cells anywhere in the country. The crisis meant prison service officials were, for the first time, forced to turn to cells in magistrates courts with hard benches, no beds and no toilets. The move had near disastrous consequences. "I wouldn't be surprised at all if by 2010 there were 100,000 people in prison. I think there is every chance that, at the end of the decade, we will look back nostalgically at a figure of 80,000. The US experience shows there is no end to this." Ministers are in the process of building 10,000 extra prison places with "temporary custodial modules" being rushed into existing prison perimeters to create 700 more places this year. The last three years has seen a 26% increase in the number of children and young people criminalised and seven times as much is spent on youth custody as on prevention schemes. We lock up 23 children per 100,000 population, compared with six in France, two in Spain and 0.2 in Finland.
04/02/07 - Inmate Costs = BIG MONEY
Mississippi Department of Corrections (MDOC’s) FY 2006 general cost per inmate day for a 1,000-bed facility totaled $45.49 and included the following components: Direct Costs: Basic housing & visitation: Salary costs $18.57 / Other costs 5.62 / Education & training 1.41 / Food 2.80 / Medical 6.91 / Parole Board 0.06 / Allocated administrative costs 2.55 / Total operating costs $37.92 / Annual Debt Service 7.57 / Total Average Daily Costs $45.49. MDOC’s FY 2006 costs per inmate day for individual security classifications in a 1,000 bed facility were as follows: minimum security, $40.86; medium security, $42.05; and maximum security, $72.44. MDOC’s FY 2006 costs per inmate day for security classifications in a 500-bed psychiatric correctional facility were $54.78 for medium security and $76.03 for maximum security. (365 days a year at $45.49 average per prisoner = $16,603.85 per year) / 15 ways to Fix the Prison System - We’ve all heard the statistics: America incarcerates a greater percentage of its citizens than any other nation in the world, overtaking longtime front-runner Russia in 2000. Although the growth has finally stopped, incarceration rates have skyrocketed 500 percent since 1970. Ever since 1980, the incarceration rate has been higher than it was during the height of the Al Capone mobster era. Nine percent of all black adults are in jail, in prison, on probation, or on parole. An estimated 1.5 million children have a parent behind bars. And according to the Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Statistics, one in every 32 Americans is in prison, on probation, or on parole.
04/02/07 - The Once and Future Republic of Vermont
(Texas should be next. When things are out of control, only three choices remain, 1) bear down and try to make the necessary changes, 2) learn to live with it or walk away and find a better situation! - JWD) The winds of secession are blowing in the Green Mountain State. Vermont was once an independent republic, and it can be one again. We think the time to make that happen is now. Over the past 50 years, the U.S. government has grown too big, too corrupt and too aggressive toward the world, toward its own citizens and toward local democratic institutions. It has abandoned the democratic vision of its founders and eroded Americans' fundamental freedoms. Vermont did not join the Union to become part of an empire. Some of us therefore seek permission to leave. It's quite simple. The United States has destroyed the 10th Amendment, which says that "powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people." (Note well this. Anything not expressly granted to the Federal government is reserved for the States or the People. Although this amendment is very liberally interpreted, it is one of the tenets of the Constitution. This amendment is also known as the States' Rights Amendment.) The present movement for secession has been gathering steam for a decade and a half. In preparation for Vermont's bicentennial in 1991, public debates -- moderated by then-Lt. Gov. Howard Dean -- were held in seven towns before crowds that averaged 230 citizens. At the end of each, Dean asked all those in favor of Vermont's seceding from the Union to stand and be counted. In town after town, solid majorities stood. The final count: 999 (62 percent) for secession and 608 opposed. Secessionists from all over the state will gather in June to plan a grass-roots campaign to get at least 200 towns to vote by 2012 on Independence. / Public servants or our masters? - Presidents are free to fire and hire U.S. attorneys for the crassest of political reasons -- just as they are free to grant pardons out of sleazy motives. But if they do, they should not expect everyone to swallow the fiction that they are strengthening law enforcement. A few Chicago cops also made the same mistake of thinking they are masters of the public rather than servants. One off-duty officer, Anthony Abbate, allegedly got drunk and was videotaped kicking and beating a female bartender who refused to quench his thirst. His fellow officers took a month to arrest him, exhibiting a nonchalance they do not show when a bartender beats up a cop. To his credit, Police Supt. Philip Cline apologized, vowed to change the way these things are handled, and demoted the commander. But cops shouldn't need to be told that, off duty as well as on, they have a duty not to abuse their position of trust. Sometimes that obligation is lost on the lowest and the highest public employees. They might all do well to start each day by reading the Constitution to remind themselves of the foundation of our system of government. Not the whole thing, just the first three words: We the people.
04/02/07 - DHS requires government contractors' health, credit and travel records
I have examined the “e-QIP” form. The questions include all the standard questions one would expect on a job application (name, social security information, address and telephone numbers, education-all degrees earned, and work history), but that is just the beginning. Employees are required to go back seven years and list all residences, all education, and month, year and purpose of trip for each foreign country visited for any reason, within that time period. Not only must employees give their marital status (to the level of specificity of whether one is separated versus legally separated); they must also provide all of the following information: date and place of marriage, spouse’s social security number, spouse’s place and date of birth, and spouse’s citizenship. They must also provide name, birthdate, citizenship information, and address for each parent, step-parent, foster parent, and child. Separate references must be provided to confirm both residence information and education information, plus 3 other people’s names and contact information must be given as general references. While many of these questions seem overly intrusive (for example, Homeland Security knowing that I have visited Paris is irrelevant and useless information to my non-secret job of counting photons), my biggest concern is with the very end of the form. In order to complete the process-before the form can be submitted-the employee must print out 3 signature forms: “Certification That My Answers are true,” “Authorization for Release of Information,” and “Authorization for Release of Medical Information.” Instructions state that these three forms, plus a “Credit Check Release Form,” must be printed and taken with you to your “Badging Appointment.” While I have no problem with the “Certification That My Answers are true,” taken together the other two documents give the government a “blank check” to explore anything about me that it wishes. The documents fail to provide any explanation of why this information is needed, or to identify who will have access to it and for what purpose(s). I am extremely reluctant to sign these forms, but if I do not comply, I will lose access to my worksite and therefore will lose my job. Of course I see a need for security clearances to work for the FBI or the Secret Service, but to study the visible spectrum of light at Goddard? Give me a break.
04/02/07 - 14 Ways to Save Money on Fuel Costs
This eBook is the result of years of research into various methods to increase mileage, reduce pollution and most importantly, reduce overall fuel costs. It starts out with the simplest methods and offers progressively more detailed technologies that have been shown to reduce fuel costs. As a bonus to readers, I have salted the pages with free interesting BONUS items that correlate to the relevant page. Just filling up with one tank of gas using this or other methods explained here will pay for this eBook. Of course, many more methods are out there but I provided only the ones which I think are practical and can be studied by the average person who is looking for a way to immediately reduce their fuel costs. I am currently using two of the easier methods in my own vehicle which normally gets 18-22 mpg and now gets between 28 and 32 mpg depending on driving conditions. A tank of gas for my 1996 Ford Ranger costs about $45.00 here so I am saving around $15-$20 PER TANK, without hurting my engine and with 'greener' emissions due to a cleaner burn! The techniques provided in this ebook begin with simple things you can do NOW to improve your mileage and lower your gas costs.
04/01/07 - Pig cells still work in diabetic man after 10 yrs
Cells from a pig transplanted into a diabetic man from New Zealand are still producing insulin nearly 10 years later, prompting a biotechnology company to plan research to see if others could benefit. The case, profiled in a scientific journal issued on Friday, may pave the way for a cure for diabetes, said Bob Elliot, medical director of Australia's Living Cell Technologies.
04/01/07 - the Risk of DCA as a cancer cure
Lab studies have shown that it can kill cancer cells by reactivating mitochondria, which will then recognise a cell as cancerous and destroy it. But until we see whether this mechanism applies to cells in the human body it is impossible to know whether it will work in human cancer. We also have no idea of the doses that could produce this effect; of their side effects in cancer patients, or about whether DCA interacts with existing cancer medications. DCA is not a harmless drug - as Lawrence Burgh’s example illustrates, it can have side effects. Fortunately, Burgh is a physician whose oncologist was aware that he was taking DCA. He was taking supplements to try and reduce side effects, and at the first sign of trouble, he stopped taking it. Not everyone who is experimenting with DCA is so cautious. Self-medicating with DCA could cause nerve or liver damage, and perhaps even death. People with terminal cancer may feel that they have nothing to lose - but there may be a different option. Statistically speaking, if a cancer drug has passed initial safety tests in phase 1 clinical trials, it has a one in 20 chance of being approved. If it has passed phase 2 trials (the stage before large scale trials in patients with the disease) it has a one in 5 chance of being approved. Yet doctors are struggling to recruit patients into these trials. In the US, fewer than 5% of adult cancer patients are enrolled. True, not everyone can take part in clinical trials because they have other physical ailments, their insurance companies won’t cover them, or because they live too far away from trial centres. But it seems at least worth trying, before opting for the ultra-gamble of DCA.
04/01/07 - Oilrich Arabs Turning Away from U..S Dollar & U.S. Investments
Three articles from Reuters report that investors from the oil rich Gulf Arab nations are “eager” to diversify away from the U.S. currency. Reuters reports movement to the Euro and Asia “to invest windfall oil revenue, eager to ride the rise of China and India.” On Monday, Reuters reported that the Dubai International Financial Centre Authority said “More Gulf economies will move away from a dollar currency peg and shift foreign exchange reserves away from dollar to other currencies.”
04/01/07 - Auto-snug clothing
Philips hopes that fitting-room fiascos will become a thing of the past if it ever forays into the world of fashion. The consumer electronics giant has come up with a way to change the size, shape and style of clothes by weaving "muscle wires" into the fabric. The wires are made of shape-memory alloys that change length according to the small current passed through them. Here's the idea: you try on a special pair of Philips' trousers, and connect up to a power source that changes the length of the wires in the fabric until the trousers have the correct waist size, inside leg and width. Then simply disconnect to try the trousers in exactly your size. Philips says the technique could also be used to correctly fit shirts, socks and bras, or indeed any other article of clothing.
04/01/07 - Sex doesn't sell
Sex won't sell ads, say British researchers who found that sexual content in a TV show prevents viewers from remembering accompanying ads. “The fact that recall of adverts was hindered by sexual content in the programs suggests that there is something particularly involving or disturbing about sexual programs,” said study author Adrian Furnham. Furnham and co-author Ellie Parker recruited 60 volunteers between the ages of 18 and 31, half males and half females. Randomly dividing them into two groups, half were shown the highly sexual “Was it good for you” episode of Sex and the City, and half watched an emphatically non-sexy episode of Malcolm in the Middle. The team found that the study subjects were less able to recall the content of advertising embedded the sexual program than in the more chaste offering.
04/01/07 - The 300 Workout: Can You Handle It?
The training regimen that whipped actors of the movie 300 into fighting shape may be too much for most of us. The now not-so-secret training regimen, discussed all over the Internet in messages complete with how-to videos, is called the 300 workout. It's the brainchild of Mark Twight, a self-taught exercise guru and former world-class mountain climber who apparently still clings to the "no pain, no gain" mantra. At Gym Jones, his invitation-only, no-frills gym in downtown Salt Lake City, where he says there's no air conditioning, no mirrors, and no place comfortable to sit, his mission was to whip the 300 actors and stuntmen into warrior-fighting shape, most of them in eight to 10 weeks. Butler trained for 12 weeks. Twight warns that his Spartan workout is not for the faint-hearted, nor the out-of-shape. The workout gets its name from the total number of repetitions. But those 300 reps weren't done daily, as some media accounts report, Twight says. Rather, the 300 workout was the finale of months of training, a kind of graduation test, after actors had weight lifted and trained with tools such as medicine balls and Kettlebells (cast iron weights with handles). It's daunting, and includes these weight-training moves: * 25 pull-ups * 50 deadlifts at 135 pounds * 50 push-ups * 50 box jumps with a 24-inch box * 50 "floor wipers" (a core and shoulders exercise at 135 pounds) * 50 "clean and press" at 36 pounds (a weight-lifting exercise) * 25 more pull-ups -- for a total of 300 reps. There's no rest between movements and the score is based on total time, Twight says. Training for the actors required 90 minutes to two hours a day, five days a week, Twight says, plus the same amount of time fight training. Stuntmen trained 90 minutes to two hours, five days a week, and another four to six hours fight training, Twight says. Everyone was given just enough food to recover from the workout, he notes. At the end of the training, about half of those who trained took the 300 test, Twight says. Andrew Pleavin, who plays Daxos, leader of the Arcadians, was the only actor to take it. He finished in 18 minutes and 11 seconds.
04/01/07 - Is straw the new gasoline?
Purdue University will get up to $5 million in federal money to work on converting straw and other biomass material into fuel, the Department of Energy announced Tuesday. Nancy Ho has developed a yeast that will convert straw, wood and other matter into fuel, but the cost needs to be reduced to make it commercially feasible. Most of the ethanol produced in the United States comes from corn and is used as a blending agent in gasoline. But another source besides corn will be needed for ethanol production to significantly reduce the nation's dependence on fossil fuels. "These projects will play a critical role in furthering our knowledge of how we can produce cellulosic ethanol cost-effectively," said Alexander Karsner, assistant secretary for energy efficiency and renewable energy.
04/01/07 - Photos of the Borneo Mermaid
04/01/07 - The Next Big Thing
Springwise claims to have enlisted some 8000 "springspotters" in 70 countries - each working to ensure that the website (and its various affiliated newsletters) are keeping visionary businesspeople in tune with "the next big thing". Springwise is required brain food for entrepreneurial minds! Whether you're a budding entrepreneur, head of a start-up, management consultant, marketing manager, consumer insights expert, trend watcher, journalist, private investor, business development director, or venture capitalist, Springwise will instantly inspire you by getting the world's most promising new business ideas and young ventures right in front of you. At this particular moment, Springwise is headlining something called SMS Jukebox technology, which allows bar and pub patrons to text message the jukebox across the room.
04/01/07 - Pencils from the Dead
Artist Nadine Jarvis can fabricate pencils from carbon left over by incinerating human remains -- it's part of a larger "research project into post mortem." She notes that "240 pencils can be made from an average body of ash - a lifetime supply of pencils for those left behind."
04/01/07 - AllPeers Share exactly what you want (XP, MAC, LINUX, OSX)
Need to share files? Forget e-mail, BitTorrent, and instant messaging apps--you won't find a better program than this. AllPeers, which works from within Firefox (an Internet Explorer version is planned, but not yet available), lets you set up folders for file sharing. You can specify who has access to those files, and you can send messages to those people to alert them when files are ready. In addition, you can share Web pages or images from Web pages, and you can view any media files you receive from other people right inside Firefox. AllPeers includes chat and logging capabilities, too. It's the easiest way to share files of any kind with anyone.
$5 Alt Science MP3s to listen while working/driving/jogging
No 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.
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!
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