02/28/06 - New Motor power saver uses wasted electricity
The Utilisaver is one of a number of power factor correction devices on the market that promise to overcome an inefficiency in most electric motors. The power factor of a motor is the ratio of electricity used to the output of work, and a perfect score would be 1 to 1. But motors normally waste from 20 percent to 40 percent of the electricity they draw, bouncing it back up the power line and eventually down a ground wire. The Utilisaver captures that wasted electricity and channels it back to the motor, typically raising the efficiency level to about 95 percent. "I'm not a techie, so I don't understand all of the workings, but bottom line, it makes our pool pumps run more efficiently," Julius said. Even better, "if they run more efficiently, they don't run hot, and consequently, the consumer's pump and motor will last longer." Titon officials contend that the Utilisaver is better than other devices because it places the correction circuitry next to the motor, where it is most effective, while competitors place their circuitry in a main electric panel far from the motors. For industrial motors, the correction devices are custom-made and fine-tuned. These units can cost from $1,000 to $3,000. For residential use in pools and spas, Titon uses ready-made units that cost from $200 to $250, Baugher said. The basic technology for power factor correction has existed for years and can't be patented, Rayburn said. But the company has applied for patents on its system for computer-analyzing motors and custom-engineering Utilisavers. It also hopes to patent improvements in design and manufacturing. The more electricity costs, the greater the savings with Utilisaver -- and the faster the payback for the equipment, he said. Titon also is working on new versions of the Utilisaver designed for home appliances -- heavy power users such as air conditioners, heat pumps, sump pumps and washing machines.
02/28/06 - Predators keep the world green
Predators are, ironically, the key to keeping the world green, because they keep the numbers of plant-eating herbivores under control, reports a research team lead by John Terborgh, a professor of environmental science at Duke University's Nicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences. Their findings confirm the answer to one of ecology's oldest and thorniest questions: why is the world green? It also seems to put to rest a competing theory that plants protect themselves from herbivores through physical and chemical defenses. Within Venezuela's Caroni Valley, an area of 4,300 square kilometres was flooded in 1986 to create a lake (Lago Guri) containing hundreds of islands that were formerly fragments of a continuous landscape. Terborgh and his team monitored the vegetation at 14 sites of differing size. Nine of the sites were on predator-free islands, while the others were on the mainland or on islands with a complete or nearly complete suite of predators. They found that, by 1997, small sapling densities on small islands were only 37 percent of those of large land masses and by 2002 this had fallen to just 25 percent. Most of the vertebrates present in regional dry forest ecosystem had disappeared from small islands, including fruit eaters and predators of vertebrates, leaving a hyperabundance of generalist herbivores such as iguanas, howler monkeys and leaf-cutter ants. Besides proving that the green world hypothesis is correct, Terborgh's team's results have important implications for the debate raging in many countries over reintroduction of top predators such as wolves. "The take-home message is clear: the presence of a viable carnivore guild is fundamental to maintaining biodiversity," the authors wrote.
02/28/06 - Phase Conjugated Laser Images in thin air
A new system which sends glowing three-dimensional images into thin air is being developed by the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology in Tokyo, in collaboration with Burton Inc. and Keio University. A spokesman for the company says, “We believe this technology may eventually be used in applications ranging from pyrotechnics to outdoor advertising.” According to Burton Inc., the technology might also be used for emergency distress signals or even temporary road signs. The display utilizes an ionization effect which occurs when a beam of laser light is focused to a point in the air. The laser beam itself is invisible to the human eye, but if the intensity of the laser pulse exceeds a threshold, the air breaks down into glowing plasma that emits visible light. The required intensity can only be achieved by very short, powerful laser pulses - each plasma dot, or "flash-point", lasts for only about a nanosecond. But the resulting image appears to last longer due to persistence of vision. As with film and television, the impression of a continuous image is maintained by refreshing the flash-points.
02/28/06 - Blocking Cosmic Rays for Astronauts
Galactic cosmic radiation poses a major challenge for spacecraft designers looking to protect astronauts on long missions into deep space. Without adequate shielding, these high-speed particles would cut through an astronaut's body, damaging DNA and increasing the likelihood of developing cancer. So far, no method of shielding has proved both effectie and practical. There are 3 basic shielding approaches; Materials, magnetic and biomedical. One idea being studied by NASA involves using a craft's liquid hydrogen fuel tanks to surround the crew quarters. This would provide shielding, but probably not enough to prevent an increased cancer risk.
02/28/06 - Chinese scientists use plants to battle pollution
Chinese scientists are now growing poison-accumulating plants to 'suck up' poisonous elements, mostly heavy metals like arsenic, copper and zinc, from polluted soil to repair contaminated lands. "In some parts of China, scientists have grown poison-accumulating plants, widely regarded as a 'hyperaccumulators' in academic circles, on poisonous soil to accumulate heavy metals," said Chen Tongbin, a researcher with the Geographic Science and Resources institute of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS). Chen's
research team has begun to renovate about 333.3 hectares of arsenic polluted fields in south China's Huanjiang County. According to Chen, water containing minerals at the upper reaches of rivers always pollute lower watercourses during floods in south China's Yunnan and Gianxi provinces, causing crop losses or even infertility in large areas of lower-reach fields. "The
soil pollution in Guangxi is serious. Soil contamination is the most dangerous because it is hidden, slow and fundamental," Chen told Xinhua.
02/28/06 - The Challenges of Longer Lifespans
Many of us can expect to live to more than a hundred. But until we treat old people with more respect, that's nothing to celebrate. Soon, reaching 100 will be normal. Some scientists predict lifespans of 1,000 years or more. Many older men live with young partners without being parodied as Viagra-popping Methuselahs scavenging for lost youth. Older women, conversely, get pity from a media that think anyone over 45 must be as seductive as the Turin shroud. The worst intolerance is reserved for couples in which both partners are elderly. Not long ago, a Portsmouth couple was put in homes five miles apart, refused the taxi they had been promised for daily visits and denied even the luxury of saying goodbye. They had not seen one another for four days when the wife died alone. Welcome to the departure lounge of prosperous Britain. This is how we treat the old. One in five pensioners lives in poverty, over-60s already well outnumber children and pensions policy is a shambles. God and the afterlife are being traded in for an engineered hereafter, in which you can spend a near-eternity in incontinence pants, forgetting your own name and going on grim bus tours of the Cotswolds. Even modestly stretched lives are changing the social topography. In an age of brevity - fast food, short careers, disposable partners - only life itself grows ever more durable. Relationships were never designed for such a marathon. The early Victorian marriage lasted an average of 15 years before one partner died, and divorce among the over-50s has increased by 50 per cent in two decades. Up to half of all baby-boomers are expected to be living alone by the time they are 75. If the social and financial problems of expanded lifespans have not been addressed, then neither have the ethical ones. Wanting to die is not just the reflex of the sick or desperate; it is also the natural reaction of affluent, happy people who feel that they have lived as long and as well as they found possible. Making people more death-proof is easy. The hard thing is going to be working out what all that extra life is really for.
02/28/06 - Hydrogen Fuel Cell bike
A British company, Intelligent Energy, opened up a California sales office to sell its hydrogen fuel-cell bike, the ENV. The ENV stands for "emissions-neutral vehicle." The bike runs on hydrogen stripped from bio fuels-anything from sunflower oil to soybeans. A five-ounce can of hydrogen will power the bike up to 100 miles. Top speed is 50 mph. The first ENV bikes are slated to appear in the United States and the United Kingdom in 2007. Retail prices will range from $6,000 to $8,000. The current cost of fueling is $4 per tank, but that price is expected to come down to 25 cents.
02/28/06 - Planet Earth As Weapon and Target
Beginning with the use of nuclear energy for military purposes, mankind has entered a seemingly endless race to harness the natural forces within the planet, in the atmosphere and in space for waging war. The earth is already gravely affected by many of those secret research and testing programmes leading to unpredictable environmental and epidemiological consequences. "The term 'exotic weapons systems’ includes weapons designed to damage space or natural ecosystems (such as the ionosphere and upper atmosphere) or climate, weather, and tectonic systems with the purpose of inducing damage or destruction upon a target population or region on earth or in space." - (US Congress H.R. 2977: Space Preservation Act of 2001) Two areas of instabilities can be used to modify the climate-energy coming from the Sun, or energy escaping from the atmosphere of the earth. Huge manmade energetic explosions high up in the atmosphere used to trigger instabilities, might be possible at some time in the future; in fact the Navy exploded 3 nuclear bombs in the Van Allen belt in 1958 under Project Argus and violently disrupted it. Modification of long-wave outgoing radiation, changes in the transparency of the earth’s atmosphere to radiated energy, or of terrestrial regions (desert, vegetation, water, ice) provide the most likely possibilities for human "technogenic" intervention. The military has long wanted to eliminate civilian participation in space programmes in order to gain full control.
02/28/06 - Cyberthieves Silently Copy Your Passwords as You Type
Most people who use e-mail now know enough to be on guard against "phishing" messages that pretend to be from a bank or business but are actually attempts to steal passwords and other personal information. It has been eclipsed by an even more virulent form of electronic con - the use of keylogging programs that silently copy the keystrokes of computer users and send that information to the crooks. These programs are often hidden inside other software and then infect the machine, putting them in the category of malicious programs known as Trojan horses, or just Trojans. These criminals aim to infect the inner workings of computers in much the same way that mischief-making virus writers do. The twist here is that the keylogging programs exploit security flaws and monitor the path that carries data from the keyboard to other parts of the computer. The monitoring programs are often hidden inside ordinary software downloads, e-mail attachments or files shared over peer-to-peer networks. They can even be embedded in Web pages, taking advantage of browser features that allow programs to run automatically. And the SANS Institute, a group that trains and certifies computer security professionals, estimated that at a single moment last fall, as many as 9.9 million machines in the United States were infected with keyloggers of one kind or another, putting as much as $24 billion in bank account assets - and probably much more - literally at the fingertips of fraudsters. Being wary of unfamiliar Web links sent via e-mail is a first-line of defense, according to experts, as is avoiding questionable downloads and keeping up to date with Windows patches and antivirus updates. It is worth noting, however, that in a test of major antivirus programs conducted by Ms. Hoepers's group in Brazil last fall, the very best detected only 88 percent of the known keyloggers flourishing there.
02/27/06 - Fuel cell runs on charcoal
University of Hawaii researcher Michael Antal has developed a working fuel cell that uses charcoal as its fuel and operates at bread-baking temperatures. The Antal system, which he calls an aqueous alkali biocarbon fuel cell, is unlike other fuel cell technology both in that it uses a renewable fuel and that it does not require particularly high temperatures. "This is effectively a battery that uses charcoal to make electricity," Antal said. Antal's cell operates at about 400 degrees Fahrenheit. By contrast, a carbon cell developed by the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory operates at 1,500 degrees. The key to his cell's operation is the very chemically reactive property of charcoal, which has a large surface area and burns at relatively low temperatures, he said. The carbon cell functions something like a car battery. It has an anode and cathode positive- and negative-charged terminals in a liquid solution, and if you put an electrical load - like a light bulb - between them, electrical current flows from one to the other. But that's where the similarity ends. In Antal's cell, the electrolyte is alkaline potassium hydroxide, not sulphuric acid. It is kept under pressure to prevent it from boiling away at 400 degrees. The negative terminal, or cathode, which acts as a catalyst, is made of nickel and silver or platinum. The positive terminal, or anode, is a porous ceramic column filled with charcoal powder. A piston keeps it pressurized, and serves at the attachment point for the electrical connection. In operation, hydroxide ions in the electrolyte attack the carbon, creating carbon dioxide and water. The process releases energy. The cell is fed air to provide the process with new oxygen, and it vents carbon dioxide. The charcoal does not burn in the sense of a campfire burning. The reaction occurs entirely within the liquid of the fuel cell.
02/27/06 - NASA engineer invents seawater to electricity converter
In theory, the idea is simple. Almost any eighth-grader can tell you that spinning copper wires through a stable magnetic field makes electricity _ lots of electrons jumping off the magnetic field and zooming through a conductive metal. And since the ocean waves are already moving, why not cobble together a machine to harness that energy? The elder Woodbridge founded Aqua-Magnetics Inc., a small company that Tom now runs. Think Pogo Stick inside a floating drum. The rocking motion of the waves pushes a long cylinder of magnets up and down a copper coil. His prototypes stand about head-high, upside down in the family garage and are painted bright yellow, as the Coast Guard required. His small model generates 10 watts of power in a 6-inch wave chop. A full-scale version could generate 160 kilowatts. That one buoy is enough to power 160 houses, following the rule of thumb that the average U.S. home uses about 1,000 kilowatts of electricity each month. Smaller versions could make navigational buoys self-powered, providing warning lights and navigational signals to ships.
02/27/06 - Sub launched Robot bomber/spy Plane
Lockheed Martin is working on a robot airplane for the U.S. Navy called the Cormorant that is LAUNCHED FROM A SUBMARINE, swims to the surface, unfolds its wings, then fires rocket boosters to get airborne. After bombing or spying -- the plane would have a 500-mile capability -- it returns to the ocean, where it's picked up underwater by the sub with the use of a robot arm. I want one.
02/27/06 - Novel micro-reactor makes biodiesel
Chemical engineering researchers at Oregon State University have developed a tiny chemical reactor for manufacturing biodiesel that is so efficient, fast and portable it could enable farmers to produce a cleaner-burning diesel substitute on their farms using seed crops they grow on their own land. “This could be as important an invention as the mouse for your PC,” said Goran Jovanovic, the OSU professor who developed the biodiesel microreactor. “If we’re successful with this, nobody will ever make biodiesel any other way.” Current biodiesel production methods involve dissolving a catalyst, such as sodium hydroxide, in alcohol, then agitating the alcohol mixture with vegetable oil in large vats for two hours. The liquid then sits for 12 to 24 hours while a slow chemical reaction occurs, creating biodiesel and glycerin, a byproduct that is separated. This glycerin can be used to make soaps, but first the catalyst in it must be neutralized and removed using hydrochloric acid, a tedious and costly process. The microreactor developed at OSU eliminates the mixing, the standing time for separation and potentially the need for a dissolved catalyst. But more importantly, Jovanovic says, the microreactor, which is about half the size of a thick credit card, could help farmers reduce their dependence on mass-produced petroleum as well as reduce the need to distribute fuel via truck, tanker or pipeline. The microreactor, being developed in association with the Oregon Nanoscience and Microtechnologies Institute (ONAMI), consists of a series of parallel channels, each smaller than a human hair, through which vegetable oil and alcohol are pumped simultaneously. At such a small scale the chemical reaction that converts the oil into biodiesel is almost instant. Although the amount of biodiesel produced from a single microreactor is a trickle, the reactors can be connected and stacked in banks to dramatically increase production. “By stacking many of these microreactors in parallel, a device the size of a small suitcase could produce enough biodiesel to power several farms, or produce hundreds of thousands of gallons per year,” Jovanovic said. Using microreactors, biodiesel could be produced between 10 and 100 times faster than traditional methods, said Jovanovic, who is also developing a method for coating the microchannels with a non-toxic metallic catalyst. This would eliminate the need for the chemical catalyst, making the production process even more simple, a key to widespread use.
02/27/06 - Growing Energy
A short drive through the flowing fields of rural Southwest Missouri, begs the question: If energy is the key to economic independence and the path to disentangling from a historically troubled region that regularly puts the blood and treasure of the American people at risk, why don’t we grow it rather than import it? The short answer is we can and should. Perhaps the better question is why haven’t we? The advantages for growing energy rather than buying it overseas seem obvious. Among them, according to the National Corn Growers Association: Ethanol is a net energy gain, which means it produces 67 percent more energy than it takes to grow and process the corn into ethanol. A single acre of corn can make enough ethanol to run a car for some 72,000 miles on E-10 Unleaded. E-10 is 10 percent ethanol, 90 percent unleaded gasoline. For every barrel of ethanol produced, 1.2 barrels of petroleum are displaced. A bushel of corn yields about 2.8 gallons of ethanol. A typical 40-million-gallon ethanol plant creates 32 full-time jobs and generates an additional $1.2 million in tax revenue for a community. If there are drawbacks for the Midwest, I can’t find them. The petroleum industry creates wealth and jobs for whole swaths of the country. Moving from a mineral to an organic base for energy would ultimately displace thousands of workers, everybody from the guy working the drilling rig to refinery technicians to the oil tanker captain. The pain of transition is one reason, some critics argue, for moving slowly.
02/27/06 - Sharper Images of Biological Samples
Typically, microscope images of samples made of low-weight elements like hydrogen, carbon, nitrogen, and oxygen, are characterized by poor contrast. In the new approach, contrast will be improved for a transmission electron microscope (TEM) by imposing a large relative phase shift to the electron waves scattered from samples. In a TEM device most of the electrons pass through the thin electron-transparent sample without scattering. Scattering of electron waves, when it does happen, occurs not because of absorption -- the amplitude of the electron beam is largely undiminished -- but through the shifting of the electron phase. Scattered and unscattered waves are focused and recombine downstream of the sample in a recording medium, typically a charged coupled device (CCD). Unfortunately, in weak-phase objects the phase shifting is slight, resulting in poor contrast. What scientists at the University of Karlsruhe and the Max-Planck Institute for Biophysics in Frankfurt have done to remedy this situation is to interpose a special free-suspended, micro-scaled electrostatic lens beyond the sample; this electrostatic lens has the effect of shifting the phase of the unscattered waves by a further 90 degrees but leaving the scattered waves unshifted. This dramatically improves the contrast in the resultant images. This electrostatic lens is called a Boersch phase plate in honor of Hans Boersch, who proposed the technique in 1947. It has not been achieved until now because of its demanding size specifications.
02/27/06 - Stress can cause long running health issues
Stress can be insidious. The pressures of daily life - jobs, relationships, money, raising children and now, war and terrorism - have become such constant companions that many of us operate with ever-present feelings of pressure, anxiety or burnout. The stress can become so unflagging that many people have accepted it as a standard part of life. Although we may try to ignore its presence, stress doesn’t go away. It just goes to work inside the body. Prolonged stress contributes to many physical and psychological ills. It overrides natural defences against viruses that cause AIDS, chickenpox and the common cold; encourages the production of inflammatory hormones that drive heart disease, obesity and diabetes; sparks flare-ups of rheumatoid arthritis and digestive disorders; creates depression and ages the brain. Australia's National Heart Foundation recently released a study that strongly recognised the connection between mind and body, ranking stresses such as depression and social isolation at the same risk level for coronary heart disease as high cholesterol, smoking and high blood pressure. The study found that loneliness and isolation could increase the risk of coronary heart disease fivefold while situations of acute stress, such as bereavement or disaster, could trigger heart disease. But chronic stress opens the floodgates, regardless of whether there’s a threat, allowing bacteria, viruses or tumours to flourish and making blood more prone to clotting. As their understanding of the biochemistry of stress increases, scientists around the country are developing and testing ways to protect the body from its ravages, using yoga and meditation, tai chi, psychotherapy and medications, and even experimental devices.
02/27/06 - the Ultra Efficient Car - 157mpg
The car start-up developed a light-weight passenger car with outstanding aerodynamics. The Loremo LS is powered by a 2 cylinder Turbo Diesel engine with 20 hp and 160km/h top speed. The amazing thing is that the Loremo only needs 1.5l per 100km. This is approx. 157MPG! The Toyota Prius hybrid has only 55MPG (combined city and highway). With one tank (20l) you could drive 1,300km. Loremo AG plans to sell the Loremo LS for less than 11,000 Euros (~$13,000). he company designed the Loremo focusing on safety and efficiency and got rid of unnecessary functions. The car is small but still provides space for 4. The design of the car is very futuristic and has for instance no conventional doors. Loremo AG also plans to offer the Loremo GS with a bit stronger engine (50 hp, 2.7l/100km) that reaches top speeds of 220km/h (for the German Autobahn).
02/27/06 - Mashups = Hybrids
The term mashup comes from the music world where it means the combination of two or more songs to create a new musical work. HousingMaps.com is an example of a new type of Web site called a "mashup," which is a unique site that uses data from two or more other sites to add value to both of them. It's a relatively new phenomenon that some people are calling "the next big thing." Dan Gillmor, director of the Center for Citizen Journalism (housed at both Harvard and Berkeley) calls mashups "the Legos of the Internet except they don't all come from Lego. Anyone can plug anything into another piece." Rademacher's site takes data from Craigslist apartment listings and plots them on a Google map, creating a very useful site that neither craigslist nor Google had offered. Yet, Rademacher's site would have been impossible had it not been for the information supplied by these two popular sites.
02/26/06 - New energy saving technique
A new technique developed by Dr Hussein Zoubi from the Jordan University of Science and Technology (JUST) promises to increase the efficiency of using solar energy by 35-40 per cent. The new invention, presented to University of Michigan by Zoubi, works to decrease electric consumption in addition to utilising solar energy. By placing sensors in the glass of a building's windows, the lighting and cooling of a room can be automatically altered according to the amount of sunlight entering the room, Zoubi said. The system maintains constant heat and lighting levels with the sunlight and the sun's heat taken into consideration. In addition, photocells are placed on the window blinds, which move along with the sun throughout the day, thus maximising their exposure to sunlight. "The sensors are connected to a computer which analyses the information input. Also, the computer directs alterations in lighting and air-conditioning," Zoubi explained. He added that the system could be used to support the entire electrical needs of a house. When the computer is removed from the system, it can become affordable and easy to build, Zoubi said, estimating the cost of each unit at $50 to $60. Zoubi obtained the patent for his invention in the United States. He returned to the Kingdom last month to continue his work as assistant professor in the architectural engineering department at JUST and hopes to use the invention to benefit his country. "This concept can particularly benefit Jordan, since the number of sunny days in the year are estimated around 250. On the other hand, in Michigan, where the study was conducted, there are only 50 sunny days a year," Zoubi explained. Zoubi told The Jordan Times he hopes to apply his discovery on a commercial level, provided he can obtain support from local institutions.
02/26/06 - Licensing versus Patents
Through years of dedicated work on their inventors’ behalf, Invent-Tech has developed and perfected a revolutionary method of securing licensing agreements, according to a press release. “2005 was our most successful year ever, in terms of maximizing the number of licensing agreements we’ve been able to secure for our inventors”, stated Juan Blanco, Invent-Tech’s Director of Product Licensing. “We are extremely confident that 2006 will prove to surpass all previous results using this approach. It has worked very, very well”. Invent-Tech’s proprietary invention licensing approach is so unique, innovative and effective, that they have recently applied for utility patent protection. Using this proven new methodology, Invent-Tech, in association with their patent attorneys and licensing subsidiary, has secured more than 100 licensing agreements for individual inventors from manufacturers and marketing companies. Only available from Invent-Tech, this method represents a tremendous shift in the status quo throughout the entire invention development industry. By providing such a significant advantage for their clients, Invent-Tech uniquely positions itself as the dominant market leader both now and for the future.
02/26/06 - The Disruptive Technology Office
“ARDA now is undergoing some changes of its own,” Harris continues. “The outfit is being taken out of the NSA, placed under the control of Negroponte’s office, and given a new name. It will be called the ‘Disruptive Technology Office,’ a reference to a term of art describing any new invention that suddenly, and often dramatically, replaces established procedures. Officials with the intelligence director’s office did not respond to multiple requests for comment on this story.” Disruptive technology, indeed-disruptive of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Obviously, the NSA is too hot for this “early-warning system,” a system we are told is designed to snoop “al-Qaeda” phone calls and instant messages (sent from caves), and it will now be moved into its own digs and continue to operate. Echelon, Carnivore, Magic Lantern, etc., these are all “systems” designed to render our former constitutional republic into a sprawling Panopticon, or surveillance prison. “A government engaging in escalating criminal actions and becoming more and more secretive should not be watching and tracking us as if we’re all criminals,” write Paul Joseph Watson and Alex Jones. “This is systematic. They built the electrically wired cage around us and then they turned it on. The state is doing all this for the moment when they take your pension funds, private property, and guns because you won’t be able to resist. Big Brother will be two steps ahead at all times and there will be nowhere to hide,” as Winston Smith, the protagonist in George Orwell’s nightmarish dystopian novel, 1984, ultimately had nowhere to hide.
02/26/06 - Singapore building Sub-Orbital Spaceport
"Singapore is one of the best-connected countries in the world. It is home to one of the world's busiest air and sea ports. Singapore, with its superior geographical and economic infrastructure, is primed to be the hub of a new, revolutionary form of travel - in space," said Eric Anderson, president and chief executive officer of Space Adventures. Space Adventures said it plans to offer parabolic flights to allow passengers to experience weightlessness, G-force training in a centrifuge, and simulated space walks in a neutral buoyancy tank, in addition to the sub-orbital flights. Visitors to Spaceport Singapore also would be able to fly aboard a variety of jet aircraft. Spaceport Singapore will cost an estimated minimum of $115 million, to be funded by a consortium of Singapore investors, and by Sheikh Saud Bin Saqr Al Qasimi, the Crown Prince of Ras Al-Khaimah, who last week announced he had partnered with Space Adventures on a spaceport in his country, part of the United Arab Emirates. KPMG Corporate Finance in Singapore also has begun to raise funds for the project. The consortium includes Octtane Pte, Batey Pte Ltd., Lyon Capital Inc., DP Architects, ST Medical and KPMG Corporate Finance, along with Space Adventures.
02/25/06 - Candle Heater for small rooms
The Kandle Heeter(tm) Candle Holder is an attractive ceramic radiator suspended above a candle flame on a solid steel frame. And it really works! The steel and ceramic radiator collects and concentrates the heat from the candle flame, becomes hot (but not burning), and gently radiates the heat from the candle into your room. Invented and manufactured in Fortuna, California from solid steel and ceramic components the candle heater is just over 9 inches tall and just under 7 inches wide and deep. It weighs over four pounds and ships in a 200 lb test cardboard box. The steel and ceramic radiator is comprised of three nested ceramic modulators held together and separated by a solid steel inner core. The steel inner core is positioned directly above the candle and is driven to very high temperatures by the flame. It gets very, very hot! The nested ceramic modulators transfer and moderate the high temperature of the inner core, one to another, until the outer ceramic modulator becomes a gently radiating thermal body that releases the concentrated heat from the candle into your home or office. If you burn candles, it only makes environmental and economical practical sense to capture the heat that is normally lost to the ceiling and use this heat in your own environment. (A typical 4.5 oz. jar candle contains over 1,000 Btu’s!) “The Kandle Heeter(tm) Candle Holder makes a real difference in a small room or bedroom,” says inventor Doyle Doss. “And if there is a temporary power outage you will be able to create a warm room for your family and friends.”
02/25/06 - Danger of Explosive Gas
(Wonder if hydrogen would do the same thing, were one silly enough to carry it in a balloon in a car? - JWD) All the windows were blown out, the vehicle doors were bent towards the outside and the roof was pushed about a foot higher than normal. [The occupants said] that they were taking a balloon to a Super Bowl party -- a balloon filled with acetylene, a very explosive gas used in welding -- so they could blow up the balloon while celebrating. However, on the drive, the balloon rolled across the back seat, possibly causing static electricity, and igniting the gas, causing it to explode.The couple said a passer-by gave them a ride home. Deputies called in an ambulance, who took the couple to Swedish Medical Center for possible shrapnel wounds and broken eardrums. Norman Frey, 46, faces a charge of possession, use, or removal of explosives or incendiary devices. He faces two to six years in prison.
Can fungi trim the gasoline habit?
Souped-up microscopic fungi could help cut the U.S. gasoline habit by converting a billion tons of agricultural waste into domestic fuel, while also slashing greenhouse gas emissions. Filamentous fungi and other microbes can be bred to break down an array of feedstocks, including wood chips, corn stalks and switch grass, that require no fertilizer and less input than traditional sources of the fuel. To make cellulosic ethanol, enzymes spewed from fungi convert cellulose from the fibrous parts of plants, such as stalks, into sugar that then is fermented. In traditional ethanol, yeast breaks down sugar from the starchy parts of plants, such as corn kernels. Scientists bioengineer fungi -- such as "jungle rot" that chewed through tents of the U.S. Army during World War Two in Guam -- to make the best enzymes for different fibrous plants. "Fungi are the scavengers in nature that break down cellulose anyway, so we're not trying to turn an elephant into a mouse," said Mark Emalfarb, president and chief executive of Florida-based Dyadic International Inc. Emalfarb said fungi Dyadic uses to soften and lighten blue jeans can break down corn stalks, sugar cane waste and rice straw into fuel. It's a step beyond making conventional ethanol in which yeast breaks down easier-to-process plant starch.
02/25/06 - ScubaDoo - The Underwater Scooter Invention
(Definitely hackable for a much cheaper price. - JWD) You are seated on your ScubaDoo, with your head and shoulders within a clear dome, your air constantly replenished from the external compressor, enabling you to breathe normally! At a rate of 2.5 knots you’re able to ride amongst the spectacular underwater world, or remain stationary while you feed the fish. You can wear your glasses or contact lenses in the ScubaDoo without a problem. There’s no need to be a strong swimmer. The ScubaDoo can even be used by people with minor disabilities. "The Scuba-Doo 's new-look air intake is now fed by its own towed compressor, eliminating the use of an air tank for breathing purposes. This is ideal for the hire industry, as it means operators don't need to fill air tanks as often. The towed compressor option adds US$2500 to the US$14,500 price."
02/25/06 - Split Second 3D Imaging
EW technology which can recognise a face in a split second has been developed by computer scientists at Sheffield Hallam University. The software, which could revolutionise security systems worldwide, can produce an exact 3D image of a face within 40 milliseconds. Other systems have previously tried and failed to perform the feat - they took too long to construct a picture and produced an inaccurate result. Hallam's groundbreaking invention could be in use soon to tighten security in airports, banks, government buildings - and to produce ID cards. With legislation just passed to bring in ID cards from 2008 when passport applications are made, the software could come into its own. The new technology works by projecting a pattern of light onto a face, creating a two dimensional image from which 3D data is generated. The Hallam team behind the research believe no other system in the world can match their technology for speed and accuracy of information, taken from a single video frame. Professor Rodrigues said there were also implications for industrial inspections, medical engineering, archaeology and even entertainment. "The system means we can make a 3D scan of a moving object, such as a person speaking," he said. "The combination of facial data and recorded speech would enable a speaking 3D model to be displayed together."
02/25/06 - Free Hard Drive Health Monitor
Freeware HDD Health monitors your PC’s hard drives for errors that predict an impending hard drive crash. HDD Health uses Self Monitoring and Reporting Technology (S.M.A.R.T.), which is built into all new hard disks to keep tabs on how your drive is doing. HDD Health also watches your hard drive’s temperature and sends you an alert email if it gets too hot or if the status changes to anything except “All’s well on the Western Digital front.” Free download, Windows only.
02/25/06 - Researchers Get Set to Test Biojet Fuel
University of North Dakota researchers say a new jet fuel they have developed from crop oils is almost ready for testing by the Air Force. Ted Aulich, a senior researcher at the Energy and Environmental Research Center, said the new fuel is cheaper and more environmentally friendly than the leading conventional jet fuel. He said the military is interested in the fuel because it could help reduce dependence on foreign oil. Wayne Seams, a UND chemical engineering professor working on the project, said scientists have improved the fuel so it performs at temperatures as cold as 60 degrees below Celsius. The Air Force specification is 50 below.
02/23/06 - New Walkman-type device to lower blood pressure
Scientists have developed a gadget that can lower blood pressure without the need for drugs. The device, which looks like a CDWalkman, helps open up blood vessels that have become narrowed, causing a build-up of pressure. Within days of starting on the machine, patients with high BP have reported dramatic drops. Resperate, which has been approved by the US FDA, is an interactive device that uses musical cues to encourage patients to alter their breathing. The device works by picking up the breathing rate of a patient through a sensor worn on a belt round the chest. Once the device has worked out the patient's resting breathing rate, it creates an individual programme to guide it from, on average, 18 breaths a minute to 10, using calming music to encourage slower breathing. Research has shown that just by making breathing slower and deeper, more oxygen is taken into the lungs and muscles surrounding blood vessels. If enough oxygen is not reaching these muscles they constrict, causing high blood pressure. Once the muscles relax, blood pressure is reduced.
02/23/06 - Heal warts with duct tape
When I was younger (early teens), I had a wart on one of my toes that wouldn’t go away for years. I saw a podiatrist and a dermatologist, each of which took several turns dousing it with acid, freezing it, scraping it, injecting who-knows-what into it, and sprinkling it with Holy water to no effect - I’d even tried every single over-the-counter wart remedy they made; this sucker would not die. One day my dad came home from the pharmacist with some peculiar advice: duct tape. My first thought was that he meant to affix duct tape to it, then rip it off like a leg waxing; “ouch”. No, he meant to put duct tape on the thing and leave it there. So, I started wrapping duct tape around the toe and leaving it there. Every week I’d snip it off, soak the foot in soapy water, then add another strip of duct tape. In a month, the monster was half its usual size. In two months, it was completely gone. Imagine that. Fourteen flavors of acid accomplished nothing, and duct tape solves it.
02/23/06 - Borg AI designed space antenna
For the first time, objects 'evolved by computers' will be launched into space in March 2006, if all goes to plan. The objects are antennas mounted on three small NASA satellites. Earlier, 80 personal computers, running artificial intelligence software, quickly 'evolved' the design of the small space antennas at NASA Ames Research Center in California's Silicon Valley. Here's a snip from a NASA article about the project: Like a friendly, non-biological form of the Borg Collective of science fiction fame, 80 personal computers, using artificial intelligence (AI), have combined their silicon brains to quickly design a tiny, advanced space antenna. If all goes well, three of these computer-designed space antennas will begin their trip into space in March 2006, when an L-1011 aircraft will take off from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The airplane will drop a Pegasus XL rocket into the sky high above the Pacific Ocean. The rocket will ignite and carry three small Space Technology (ST5) satellites into orbit. Each satellite will be equipped with a strange-looking, computer-designed space antenna. Although they resemble bent paperclips, the antennas are highly efficient, according to scientists. (via boingboing.com)
02/23/06 - Transparent Hybrid Canoe/Kayak
(This really has no place here, but I am a fan of canoeing/kayaking and would love to try this out! - JWD)
This kayak/canoe hybrid has a transparent polymer hull that offers paddlers an underwater vista of aquatic wildlife and waterscapes unavailable in conventional boats. Seating two people, the sturdy canoe hull is made of the same durable material found in the cockpit canopies of supersonic fighter jets. Easy to maneuver, the wide canoe displaces a greater amount of water for more surface stability, and the paddlers sit lower to the deck, resulting in better balance. Adjustable seats allow paddlers of different heights to personalize their leg room. With a lightweight anodized aluminum frame, it can be easily stored or transported to and from the water. Includes two double-headed paddles, a water bailer, and two flotation devices. For ages 16 and up with parental supervision on calm water and while wearing a U.S. Coastguard-approved life vest. Weight capacity 425 pounds.
02/23/06 - Store bought meats dosed to look red
The newer the redder, brown is an elderly hue, which of these steaks looks fresher to you? It’s a trick question as both were bought on the same date but one was dosed with carbon monoxide (CO), a technique that’s angering consumer advocacy groups. Supermarkets are trimming out their in-store butchers and buying pre-packaged cuts direct from the processing plants. The increasingly widespread use of “modified atmosphere packaging” replaces the oxygen inside with other gases, especially CO. Doing so makes the meat rosier. Customers buy meat mainly on how it looks. Better looking meat has a longer purchasability. “Michael Doyle, director of the Center for Food Safety at the University of Georgia, says one study found that when meat in modified packages that included carbon monoxide was stored at 10 degrees above the proper temperature, salmonella grew more easily.”
02/23/06 - Umbilical blood can cure 100 diseases
The stem cell is an immortal cell that is able to produce all the cells within an organ. The term is most usually applied to the hemopoetic stem cells of the bone marrow. Patents were reported to have recovered from the harmful effects of radiation after doctors transplanted a donor bone marrow to them. Later researchers learned how to secrete stem cells from the bone marrow. Then researchers found a way of secreting stem cells from the blood of an umbilical cord. The number of stem cells decreases as man grows older. For example, a 50-year-old human being has approximately 100 thousand stem cells. Now it is believed that stem cells from umbilical blood can be used for treating more than a hundred diseases. Today we inject the stem cells into a patient’s body in the hope to get them working on a damaged organ by transforming into cardiomyocytes in case of a myocardial infarction, or into hepatocytes in patients with cirrhosis. The diseases treatable with stem cells include certain kinds of leucosis, certain malignant tumors, which are usually incompatible with life. The stem cells can be used very effectively for treating strokes, myocardial infarctions, diabetes, chronic cirrhosis.
02/23/06 - WTO Forcing Unsafe GE Food on Consumers
The World Trade Organisation- already under pressure for failing to deliver it's trade objectives- could fall apart if it insists on forcing GE foods on countries around the world. An initial WTO decision backing the US and a handful of countries in their efforts to force European nations to import GE foods is likely to prompt a backlash from consumers, growers and manufacturers as they fight to protect basic rights. "On the surface the decision is a terrible one for food safety, the consumers' right to choose and national sovereignty," says Jon Carapiet from GE Free NZ. "But the decision is such a fundamental attack on the integrity of the global food system that the international backlash could result in the collapse of the WTO". Consumers have previously been promised by the Biotech industry and governments that people will have a choice to avoid GE foods. But the WTO decision sounds alarmingly like a means of enforcing a "New World Order" that literally forces people to eat food they do not want in order to serve the interests of multinational corporations intent on dominating the food suppply. It is important to remember that the US government's own scientists advised against approval of GE foods under the current regulatory regime but were deliberately ignored. Evidence continues to mount of harm caused by some GE products already in use. The absence of a global agreement on testing methodologies for such foods has prompted the British Medical Association and other medical professionals to warn that the young, the elderly, people with reduced immunity, pregnant women, and unborn children are all particularly at risk.
02/22/06 - Energy Intensifier
(This is an interesting series of pages though the writer seems to be a fan of the notorious Dennis Lee. In going through various pages, this 'intensifier' grabbed my attention as I have heard of such a design for many years and never found any details. The design looks like a standard hydraulic chamber which was in my college textbook. Here is a description of the 'energy intensifier that might explain his version of it a little better. Thanks to Paul Carlson for the headsup. - JWD) The rocket scientist was awed by Mr. Mentor's invention. He said that there were numerous “wrong turns” that his engine design could have taken, and that he estimated that Mr. Mentor’s engine should have taken a team of engineers twenty years to design. It came to him in a flash at a stoplight. The engine was an external combustion engine, not an internal combustion engine, meaning that the combustion took place outside the engine and not inside it, as with a car engine. The working fluid began its journey in a boiler. The boiler was subjected to a flame created by burning the fuel. As the working fluid boiled, the gas expanded and left the boiler through a pipe. The working fluid’s steam then met what Mr. Mentor called a pressure intensifier, which was one of his engine’s major innovations. The principle of the pressure intensifier was that high-pressure steam would come from the boiler and meet the piston head (area A in the drawing). As it pushed the piston down, it gave its energy to the piston, becoming a cooler gas at a lower pressure as it left the cylinder. The boiling point of any substance is determined by the attraction of the molecules to each other, and the temperature and the pressure it is subjected to. A pot of water, for instance, boils at 212° F at sea level on earth, but at less than 150° F on top of Mount Everest. If we put water in a jar and hook up a vacuum pump to create a vacuum, the water will boil at room temperature. The fluid that left the boiler was turned into steam by the heat applied by the flame. It gave energy picked up in the boiler to the piston, as it pushed it down. It left the cylinder cooler and at less pressure, which was closer to its condensing point than when it entered the cylinder. The journey of the working fluid makes its way to the piston’s other side in the pressure intensifier (area B in my drawing). The amount of force exerted by the piston is easily calculated, and is the pressure of the gas multiplied by the piston head’s surface. If the gas pressure was 100 PSI and the piston head’s surface area was 10 square inches, 1000 pounds of force would be applied to the piston (100 X 10) on side A. On the piston’s other side is another head. The pressure the piston exerted on the steam in area B would be the force exerted divided by the surface area of the piston’s head. So, if the piston’s other head was only two square inches in area, and 1000 pounds of pressure were exerted, the pressure the gas would be subjected to would be 500 PSI (1000 / 2). By knowing the pressure of the working fluid leaving the boiler (mainly determined by the boiler’s temperature), and adjusting the surface areas of both heads of the piston, any desired pressure could be applied to the working fluid in the back end of the cylinder. At a certain pressure and temperature, the working fluid would re-condense.
02/22/06 - Focusing incoming Waves for Power Plant
Pioneered by scientists at Energetech, a small alternative-energy company in Randwick, Australia, a prototype of the $1.5-million device is now in testing off the Australian coast, and Energetech hopes to build another one near Rhode Island by 2007. Moored several miles offshore, Energetech's 40-foot-tall rig relies on the up-and-down motion of waves to force air in and out of a chamber, turning a turbine that produces electricity. The company's president, Tom Engelsman, says that a full-scale unit could power up to 5,000 homes; the output depends on the size and regularity of the swells. But recent theoretical work of two Chinese scientists on amplifying wave energy could soon make devices like Energetech's even more effective. The height of a wave increases as it moves into shallower water-that's why waves get steeper as they approach the sand. According to scientists Xinhua Hu of Iowa State University and Che Ting Chan of the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, a football-field-size array of solid columns, situated some 300 feet from the rig, could effectively act as a false ocean bottom. The part of the wave that flows through the columns would behave as if it had reached the shallows, doubling in height. When the trough of the wave passes beneath the chamber, air is sucked downward [see diagram,facing page]. Then, as its peak rolls through, air is forced back up, spinning the turbine faster. Bigger waves mean more airflow and, according to Engelsman, "The more air you pump through, the more energy you get." A generator converts the mechanical energy of the spinning turbine into electricity, which flows by way of an underground cable to a power station that hooks up to the main grid onshore. If the Rhode Island project is approved, it will produce two megawatts of power a year, enough to power 1,200 homes.
02/22/06 - India - New technology to generate hydrogen
The Polymer Electrolyte Membrane-based hydrogen generator breaks down water into hydrogen and oxygen, and hydrogen is separated by a polymer membrane. ‘‘This membrane is selective and permits only hydrogen to pass through,’’ said TIFAC principal scientific officer P R Basak who is here to see the smooth conduct of the field trial. ‘The generator can even be redesigned to run on solar energy,’’ said Kerala Science Council for Science Technology and Environment director K R S Krishnan. ‘‘This will make hydrogen a clean green competitor to oil,’’ he said. These generators, can be an alternative to the traditional cannon-like hydrogen generators.
02/22/06 - Chatter Bug - Unlimited Long Distance, $9.95/Month, No PC
A small company will ship next month a tiny device that clips onto any phone line, offering unlimited long-distance calls to any number in the U.S. and Canada for only $9.95 per month. Best of all, the device uses VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol), but doesn't require broadband access -- or any kind of computer at all. You might say, "So what? I can download Skype software and make calls for nothing per month." The advantages of the new device, however, will make it an attractive choice for many consumers and businesses. Allow me to explain. The gizmo is called the Chatter Bug. It's a product of Lagunawave.com, a company in Tucson, Ariz., that previously sold high-speed Internet access through Sam's Club and other retail outlets. If you have a local phone line, the device represents a new way to think about long-distance, which I call "VoIP over dialup." No computer, DSL, Cable, broadband or Internet connection needed. Unlimited long distance phone calls to the US and to Canada for $9.95 per month. $9.95 Low monthly rate includes: no contracts, cancel service at any time, no unexpected charges, no calling cards to buy, no "800" or pin numbers to remember. Just plug into your existing home touch tone phone and existing local service. $24.95 for the Chatter Bug and $9.95 a month for the service. Details and Ordering
02/22/06 - New Hydrogen Extractor
A team at CSIRO Manufacturing and Infrastructure Technology has developed a small hydrogen device, the size of a domestic microwave oven, to fuel a family car. The device can extract enough hydrogen per day from water to power a family car for up to 150km. Currently, the hydrogen unit runs on main's power, but researchers are investigating how to power the unit with renewable energy, such as solar and wind power. While the idea of fuelling your car with hydrogen generated from a solar panel might sound like science fiction, project leader Dr Sukhvinder Badwal says concepts such as the hydrogen economy are real possibilities.
02/22/06 - Low-cost services launch remains, mementos, etc.
Even if you can't afford the $20 million for a launch into Earth orbit, you can still put a little piece of yourself into space for as little as $35. Cremated remains from 187 people - including "Star Trek" actor James Doohan and Mercury astronaut Gordon Cooper - are due to be sent into space aboard a SpaceX Falcon 1 rocket sometime in March. The families of the dearly departed paid between $995 to $5,300 for the sendoff, arranged by Houston-based Space Services Inc. Colorado-based Beyond-Earth Enterprises plans to launch a rocket on a brief flight in October with hair samples or fingernail clippings sent by people who paid $34.95 for the “DNA kit” package. The company will also transport science experiments - no animals allowed - for $2,500. Space Services’ planned launch of ashes on an unspecified date next month from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California will be the fifth “memorial spaceflight” for the privately held company and its previous incarnation, Celestis Inc. It conducted its first “space funeral flight” in 1997 with the ashes of “Star Trek” creator Gene Roddenberry and 23 other people from all walks of life. The ashes launched next month will be a secondary payload on the Falcon 1 rocket, with the Air Force's TacSat 1 satellite as the primary payload. A module containing capsules of ashes will orbit for years before falling into the atmosphere, Moore said.
02/21/06 - Claim of Self-Sustained Power source
At Flynn Research, Parallel Path electromagnetism is explained as a method of controlling and directing magnetic flux within the core of a motor to provide an exponentially greater motive force than conventional motors. A Parallel Path motor uses a pair of permanent magnets in addition to the familiar stator-coil-rotor arrangement of current motors. The magnets, along with an air gap, allow all of the magnetic flux within the core to be manipulated and directed--this ability to manipulate the magnetic flux in the core of a motor is what provides the exponential increase in efficiency with Parallel Path technology. Best of all, the Parallel Path technology can be used with linear as well as rotary electric motors. Independent replications of the Parallel Path technology appear to support Flynn Research’s claims. Testing and Finite Element Analysis show that the Parallel Path system indeed manages to not only increase the magnetic flux in the core by a factor of four over conventional electric motors, but manipulate the flux to act in the direction of motion, generating considerably more motive power than conventional motors. What lends even more credibility to Parallel Path is that Boeing Phantom Works is apparently backing the technology and has recently presented with Flynn Research on the technology at the latest STAIF conference held Albuquerque, NM this Feb 2006 Flynn Research Also has a patent that is certainly worth checking out its number is US Patent No. 6,246,561.
02/21/06 - 6,500-Year-Old Voices Recorded In Pottery
(Reminds me of a couple of 'Science Fiction Theater' episodes, using a slow curing crystalline material to capture sound and cooling lava that captured sound and video. - JWD) Belgian researchers have been able to use computer scans of the grooves in 6,500-year-old pottery to extract sounds -- including talking and laughter -- made by the vibrations of the tools used to make the pottery. Here comes the VIDEO (the interviews are in French, but you'll hear the pottery recordings as well). (via therawfeed.com)
02/21/06 - Things you don't want Google to find
McAfee Senior Vice President for Risk Management George Kurtz demonstrated at the RSA conference in Silicon Valley yesterday how easy it is to find CONFIDENTIAL PASSWORD FILES and other secret stuff using Google. Kurtz demonstrated today at RSA conference, that protection software didn't prevent users and organisations to post those goodies online for anyone to find. "You almost get bored finding all these password files. It used to be fun in the old days when you found a password file. Now you just go to Google and find thousands of them," Kurtz said. So you removed that file with the password, but did you think about Google cache? Yes, that's the management interface for a Netgear router that was found using Google. It still had the default login and password settings. What more do you want? Search for sites with "Remote desktop web connection" in the title, and you'll find... remote desktops that you can take over. If the user sees you taking over, simply say that you're the system administrator working to bolster the user's security. Kurtz did that once during a security audit and it worked well.
02/21/06 - Using the Voice to detect and treat Disease
Using anomalous vocal patterns, the acoustic architecture of the voice is being uniquely investigated for its potential to model biological function, disease process and environmental exposures. As remarkable as this idea may seem, groundbreaking studies have shown that the acoustic parameters of the voice have the capacity to provide biometric information regarding states of health. Omeris, a non-profit organization founded to build and accelerate bioscience research in Ohio, has recognized that vocal acoustic studies conducted by Sharry Edwards, MEd., through her company Sound Health, Inc., have “brought a revolutionary idea to the forefront of the Bioscience Community.” Preliminary studies completed by Edwards included vocal studies for exposures and susceptibility to invading pathogens. The therapeutic potential of vocal profiling is the identification of pre-diagnostic biometrics which can be used to enhance or render inert, disease based biomarkers depending on the desired outcome. The research protocols have also provided information that can be used to develop a therapy phase using a set of designer frequencies which precisely targets a specific normalizing response. One of the most important projects being slated is the development of an on-line vocal sampling program that could gather research data by testing for toxin or pathogen exposure. Using this method, strategically located centers throughout the world could systematically sample vocal patterns that would be reported to a central location. Exposure to the bird flu viruses could be monitored through established mathematical templates derived from the acoustic measurements of individuals or groups suspected of contamination. Vocal analysis has been used during two pilot studies to create protocols that were used to relieve the unrelenting fibromyalgia and back pain for long term sufferers.
02/21/06 - Automatic Book Scanner with page turner
ATIZ has developed an automatic book scanner that is of a somewhat-reasonable size. There are a couple other automatic book scanners out there but they are huge machines according to Art Sarasin, president of ATIZ. This machine uses a page-turning mechanism. It connects via USB 2.0 and all you do is designate how many pages you want to scan and it does the rest of the work. If you want the ease of this, you will have to pay for it. They are currently taking a preorders and it will be available next month for a hefty $35,000. BookDrive will digitize bound content in a variety of formats allowing the user to share and archive bound materials. It is just like any traditional flatbed scanners that you are familiar with, but BookDrive is unique in that it has an automatic page-turning mechanism inside. Simply entering the number of pages you want to scan, BookDrive then automatically outputs the entire content of the scanned book in a digital format without requiring constant supervision and interference.
02/21/06 - More on Kamens Generator and Water Still
The electric generator is powered by an easily-obtained local fuel: cow dung. Each machine continuously outputs a kilowatt of electricity. That may not sound like much, but it is enough to light 70 energy-efficient bulbs. As Kamen puts it, "If you judiciously use a kilowatt, each villager can have a nighttime." The Slingshot [water purifier] works by taking in contaminated water - even raw sewage -- and separating out the clean water by vaporizing it. It then shoots the remaining sludge back out a plastic tube. Kamen thinks it could be paired with the power machine and run off the other machine's waste heat. Compared to building big power and water plants, Kamen's approach has the virtue of simplicity. He even created an instruction sheet to go with each Slingshot. It contains one step: Just add water, any water. (via worldchanging.com)
02/21/06 - Recover Scratched CDs with Toothpaste
If you’ve ever owned a CD or DVD, you’ve certainly had to deal with scratched up, unreadable media. Hardware Secrets has a simple solution: a scratched CD can be recovered by polishing its plastic surface. If, after carrying out the above cleansing, the CD persists in giving reading errors, just polish the CD with toothpaste. That’s right, toothpaste. It works wonders, and you won’t spend a fortune buying professional cleaning kits. Having learned this trick in college, I can vouch for it. Don’t expect to recover your most damaged CDs, but you certainly can work a little magic. (via lifehacker.com)
02/20/06 - Claim of invention for Chaining Maxwell's Demon
This is an experiment report on a special energy conversion. Two similar and parallel Ag-O-Cs cathodes in a vacuum tube eject electrons at room temperature continuously. A static magnetic field applied to the tube plays the role of the famous "Maxwell's demon". The thermal electrons are so controlled by the magnetic field that they can fly only from one cathode to the other, resulting in a charge collection and an electric potential. A load, a resistance for example, is connected to the cathodes, getting an electric power from the tube continuously. Here, the air within the laboratory is a single heat reservoir and all of the heat extracted by the electronic tube from the reservior is converted into electric energy, without producting any other effects. The Authors believe that the experiment is in contradiction to Kelvin's statement of the second law of thermodynamics. To better understand how the Demon works, play either of these two JAVA applets, Maxwell's Demon Game #1 (with yellow background and better explanation) or Maxwell's Demon Game #2 (with black background).
02/20/06 - Celebrate Engineers Week February 19th-25th
Engineers turn ideas into reality. Feb. 19-25 is Engineer's Week, with the theme this year of "Engineers Make a World of Difference." Many engineering companies will send volunteers into classrooms to tell students and teachers what life is like as an engineer. Locally, we are focusing on middle schools and hope to encourage students to pursue classes in science and mathematics, skills crucial to engineering. Another focus is encouraging women and minorities to consider engineering careers. The numbers associated with engineering in the United States indicate clearly that our dominance in the field is threatened. Total numbers of engineers graduating from U.S. schools continue to decline, as do the numbers of women and minorities entering engineering programs. Despite very competitive salaries, it is a struggle to interest young people in pursuing degrees in engineering. The Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2003 reported that average engineering salaries ranged from $64,000 for industrial engineers to over $88,000 for nuclear engineers. Perhaps Thomas Edison summed it up best. He said, "Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work." When it comes to attracting students to my field, we might say: "Engineering is missed by most people because it carries a pocket protector, wears tape on its glasses and looks like work." By applying the ideas of great thinkers, engineers have rewarded the world with freedom from drudgery, advancement of the human condition and an incredible growth in worldwide wealth. Please celebrate Engineer's Week with us and help us mold the next generation of engineers.
02/20/06 - Clean water from Solar Power
EnergyQuest, Inc. will be testing its new portable solar powered water purification technology near El Paso, Texas at an agricultural testing facility operated by the Texas Water Resources Institute of Texas A & M as early as February 2006. The system purifies water using only solar power. It is easy to store and portable making it invaluable for use in providing drinking water during disaster relief efforts. The system also has promising applications for agriculture in areas where water is brackish or unsuitable for crop development. The system purifies water while also reserving for future use or sale, any minerals or other useable by-products collected during the purification process, such as sea salt from an ocean water source.
02/20/06 - Cleve Backsters Primary Perception
(I heard an Art Bell interview of Cleve Backster which evoked some memories of our meeting years ago. - JWD) Cleve Backster is a pioneer in research demonstrating how plants, or for that matter, any live cells have some surprising abilities to respond to thoughts and feelings and communicate in ways they wouldn't traditionally be expected to. It is very easy to do, and any skeptic ought to check it out for themselves. It is just that you need some kind of galvanic skin response meter. Like this. Which is essentially just an electronic instrument that measures resistance and that is very sensitive. A regular ohm meter isn't good enough as it isn't nearly sensitive enough. It takes something like a wheatstone's bridge, which gives large and fast readings on minute resistance changes. Or some more modern equivalent. And it needs to be attached to some suitable electrodes. For humans that would be something similar to a pair of tin cans. For a plant, the clips that otherwise would attach to the cans would do it. So, now, for the simple and interesting experiments. You attach the clips to some plant you have standing around the house. Any plant will do, but a big leafy thing would be good. The meter will just show the needle standing rather still. If you cut off a leaf of the plant, the needle will give a sizable reaction. Not very surprising. But the surprising part is that if you take your scissor and approach the plant, intending to cut a leaf off of it, it will also react in a similar fashion, without you having touched it. It seems to react to your intention somehow. Likewise if you have several plants, maybe of the same kind. Put them in different rooms, to rule out that they can, eh, see each other. Attach the meter to one of them and have somebody watch it. Then go to the other plant and either treaten to cut one of its leaves off, or actually do so. Either way, the plant in the first room will react as if it was happening to itself. Very simple to do. And it should certainly raise some questions in the mind of anybody who believes this would of course be impossible. And you can of course do this more scientifically and systematically, trying to exclude all sorts of other factors. And you can take it much further. And that is the kind of work that Cleve Backster has been doing.
02/20/06 - Claim of Sleep Inducing Machine
EarthPulse Sleep On Command® emits sequences of electromagnetic waves at tempos that gently tune down the mind and body enabling just about anyone to fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. Sleep On Command® magnetic waves are sequenced to intentionally guide consciousness toward deep sleep. 9 out of 10 clients sleep far better the very first night of use without any of the drawbacks of sleep medication. Instead of waking groggy, the built in timer tunes the user back to an alert mind state prior to their alarm clock ringing.
Once a small digitally controlled disk is placed under any mattress, it turns that bed into the world’s first electromagnetic sleep machine. The device is small and portable, and solves the problem of jet lag when traveling. To investigate whether EarthPulse® could improve the sleep of chronic lower back pain patients, the founder of an Ivy League University Hospital Pain Center conducted two informal pilot evaluations that indicated EarthPulse significantly improved sleep quality in over 80% of participants. EarthPulse Sleep On Command® is affordably priced at around US$500 and sold with a 90 day satisfaction guarantee. Deep sleep in the EarthPulse® field triggers a host of recognizable effects like enhanced strength and stamina, better mental focus and improved flexibility.
02/20/06 - Recyclers Raft from empty soda bottles
Anyone who can unzip the ends and insert empty soda bottles into the polyester duc shell can use it. The need for a dependable float that is lightweight, easily transportable, doesn't require blowing up, and won't go flat has been ever present. Utilizing (recycling) empty 2 liter soda bottles as extremely durable bouyancy cells, that are easily replaced, and virtually free, is the type of "new millenium" thinking that RSEE Innovations is trying to promote. By getting consumers to recycle in order to use the product he hopes to inspire all ages to become more active in community recycling programs and unleash their creative side to the endless possibillities of reducing, reusing, and recycling.
02/20/06 - Troubleshooting can be just resetting power
"One of the most effective methods for troubleshooting electronics is unplugging power." The most effective troubleshooting/repair tool available for computers or microprocessor-controlled systems is turning power off, waiting a period of time, and turning power back on. Here’s why it works: Computers and microprocessors are control systems which are generally not fully controllable. This means that either the hardware or software can put them into a state where normal control inputs have no effect on the system. This topic is called “Controllability” in formal Control Theory jargon. I will use the term “computer” to mean computer or any microprocessor-controlled system. Your microwave, VCR, and fancy coffee pot are non-computer examples. One state that all functioning computers can recover from is the power-off state. Hardware and software engineers work diligently to make sure a computer can turn on into a known controllable state. In hardware, there are many causes for what is called a Single Event Upset (SEU). A power glitch, a cosmic ray passing through an integrated circuit (IC), or an alpha ray from the plastic IC package, can all cause an SEU, possibly changing a logic state (1 to 0 or vice versa), or triggering latchup in the pnpn layer most ICs have. In software, the computer can get caught in an infinite loop. How do you turn your computer off, and how long do you keep it off? Using the off/on switch or normal software shutdown will cure more than 90 percent of the problems, but not all of them. After turning off the computer, you need to pull the plug from the wall and make sure anything the computer interfaces with (modem, printer, etc.) is also turned off and unplugged. (Power strips are great for this.) If your computer has a battery, such as a laptop does, or a built-in UPS battery, you also need to remove this power source. The reason is that even if you turn off your computer, it still draws vampire power to keep certain monitoring and startup circuits alive -- which may be causing the problem. Now that you’ve turned it off, how long do you keep it off? Usually, but not always, 30 seconds is enough. This is because bleeder resistors across capacitors used to be designed to discharge logic, memory, and interface voltages to less than five percent of normal voltage in about this amount of time.
02/20/06 - Pointy leaves and plant respiration/growth
(Fascinating study that correlates with ion flow from points. - JWD) Leaves with 'toothed' edges help trees, shrubs and other plants cope with the cold, US researchers say. the jagged, pointy edges on leaves are packed with xylem, a tissue that transports water and nutrients in sap. Most of the liquid evaporates by leaving the teeth through minuscule pores. "In the springtime when leaves are just starting to leaf out, leaves with teeth are, on average, losing more water than leaves without teeth," says Royer, now an assistant professor of earth and environmental sciences at Wesleyan University. "This loss of water helps pull more sap up from the roots. Thus trees with toothed leaves probably have a higher rate of sap flow early in the spring than toothless leaves. "This is important because it delivers nutrients to the developing leaves, helping to 'jumpstart' their photosynthetic season. As you move to colder and colder climates with shorter and shorter growing seasons, it becomes increasingly beneficial to have teeth," he adds. Both energy-gathering activity and transpiration increased at jagged leaf edges by up to 45% during the first 30 days of the spring growing season. Leaves without teeth did not exhibit such a marked increase. Possessing teeth may not always be advantageous for leaves since the teeth also promote more water loss. Plants in drier regions seem to be better off if they have fewer teeth or are toothless.
02/20/06 - UPS Expands “Green Fleet” with 50 Hybrid Electric Vehicles
UPS today announced it had placed an order for 50 new-generation hybrid electric delivery trucks and also would acquire 4,100 low-emission conventional vehicles during 2006. The hybrid electric vehicles (HEV) are being purchased in two sizes from International Truck and Engine and Freightliner LLC. The trucks will feature lithium ion batteries that are capable of faster re-charging and have a longer life than batteries used in previous generations of HEV’s. The truck bodies will be identical externally to the signature-brown trucks that now comprise the UPS fleet. The first of the 50 HEV’s will be deployed in Dallas this June and will join more than 10,000 low emission and alternative-fuel vehicles already in use. The UPS alternative fuel fleet - at 1,500 vehicles one of the largest in the United States - currently includes trucks powered by compressed natural gas, liquefied natural gas, propane, electricity and hydrogen. Research also is underway with the Environmental Protection Agency on a hydraulic hybrid drivetrain. In 2001, the company deployed the industry’s first hybrid electric package car into regular service in Huntsville, Ala., where the truck worked a 31-mile route with about 160 pickups and deliveries each day. UPS then introduced its second generation HEV to its Kalamazoo, Mich., fleet in 2004, while at the same time deploying the first hydrogen fuel cell delivery trucks into regular service.
02/20/06 - Engineering Nerve Jumper Cables For Repair Spinal Cord In Animal Model
"We have created a three-dimensional neural network, a mini nervous system in culture, which can be transplanted en masse," explains senior author Douglas H. Smith, MD, Professor, Department of Neurosurgery and Director of the Center for Brain Injury and Repair at Penn. Previously, Smith's group showed that they could grow axons by placing neurons from rat dorsal root ganglia (clusters of nerves just outside the spinal cord) on nutrient-filled plastic plates. Axons sprouted from the neurons on each plate and connected with neurons on the other plate. The plates were then slowly pulled apart over a series of days, aided by a precise computer-controlled motor system. In this study, the neurons were elongated to 10mm over seven days -- after which they were embedded in a collagen matrix (with growth factors), rolled into a form resembling a jelly roll, and then implanted into a rat model of spinal cord injury. "That creates what we call a nervous-tissue construct," says Smith. "We have designed a geometrical arrangement that looks similar to the longitudinal arrangement that the spinal cord had before it was damaged. The long bundles of axons span two populations of neurons, and these neuron constructs can grow axons in two directions -- toward each other and into the host spinal cord at each side. That way they can integrate and connect the 'cables' to the host tissue in order to bridge a spinal cord lesion."
02/20/06 - Japan, China, India and others must know something
While Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman and other experts are betting on ethanol, hybrids and other futuristic technologies to keep America's 230 million cars and trucks moving, the globe's major consumers have put their money on Canadian oil sands. In a record early February surge of bids for tar sand oil leases for undeveloped acreage in Canada's Alberta oil sands area, a group of foreign bidders paid $651 million Canadian ($566 million U.S.). This was by far the largest amount ever paid for tar sand leases at one time. It is rather ironic that this bidding surge occurred one week after President Bush's State of the Union message, which never even touched on coal-to-oil conversion as an alternative to the choke-hold that the OPEC nations exert over the world's fast-growing consumption. There was nary a word about this proven coal-to-oil conversion system, which has been assiduously discussed for several months in the electronic as well as the print media. It is equally puzzling that there has been no alternative energy acknowledgment of the 300 million tons of coal which is buried under America's acreage. Pilot projects, such as that implemented by Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer have already proven successful as a synthetic fuel substitute.
The record prices paid in early February signify a wholesale acreage acquisition in the Athabasca oil sands region by the world's leading consumer nations that want to assure availability during the next few decades. These nations' monetary outlays, which are reaching multibillion-dollar proportions, seem to validate the Alberta oil sands as the only proven alternative to large scale crude oil production, now monopolized by OPEC. It's obvious that these major world powers, facing increasing fossil fuel needs, are not waiting around for some of the exotic alternatives alluded to in President Bush's State of the Union speech.
02/20/06 - PTO Requests Model of Warp Drive Invention
(They need to make it a REQUIREMENT for WORKING MODELS for ALL HARDWARE patents, not just IDEAS! - JWD) The Worsley-Twist warp drive does not depend upon traditional emissions of matter to create thrust. Rather, the drive creates a change in the curvature of the space-time continuum - thus allowing travel by warping space-time. Worsley & Twist patent application recently suffered another setback. The Examiner has now requested a working model: Applicant is required to furnish a model of the instant invention. 35 U.S.C. 114. See Also 37 C.F.R. 1.91. Among other rejections, the Examiner has asserted a rejection under 35 U.S.C. 101 for lack of utility - finding that the invention is inoperable. (via zpenergy.com)
02/20/06 - Soldiers Get Crash Courses on Gestures
An aid to soldiers and students, unspoken gestures can speak volumes and are gaining acceptance from researchers for accurately revealing how people think. "It tells you what people have in their heads. As such, it is a clear window into what they're thinking," said Justine Cassell, a professor of media technology and society at Northwestern University. "Many of the conflicts in the world today could be avoided if people could communicate better," said Hannes Vilhjalmsson, a research scientist at the University of Southern California. Vilhjalmsson helped create the Tactical Iraqi and similar simulation programs with money from the Defense Department. The soldiers can interact with residents after learning basic language and gesturing skills. The residents react according to how well or poorly a soldier handles a situation. A single woman will turn away _ and a nearby group of men bristle _ if a soldier charges up to her. Young children will warm to a soldier who stoops to their level and removes his sunglasses before asking simple questions, Vilhjalmsson said in displaying the program. "They are building an impression of you as you interact with them," he said. Simple motions are important, such as placing a hand over the heart in greeting. "Gesturing is not merely hand-waving. It conveys substantive information _ thoughts that often are not conveyed in words," said Susan Goldin-Meadow, a professor of psychology at the University of Chicago. When researchers asked children and adults to do two things at once _ solve a math problem and remember a short list of words _ those who gestured outperformed others who did not. "I am trying to argue here gesturing is facilitating learning," Goldin-Meadow said.
02/19/06 - High Efficiency Solar Cell breakthrough
In a scientific breakthrough that has stunned the world, a team of South African scientists has developed a revolutionary new, highly efficient solar power technology that will enable homes to obtain all their electricity from the sun. The unique South African-developed solar panels will make it possible for houses to become completely self-sufficient for energy supplies. The panels are able to generate enough energy to run stoves, geysers, lights, TVs, fridges, computers - in short all the mod-cons of the modern house. The new technology should be available in South Africa within a year and through a special converter, energy can be fed directly into the wiring of existing houses. New powerful storage units will allow energy storage to meet demands even in winter. The panels are so efficient they can operate through a Cape Town winter. while direct sunlight is ideal for high-energy generation, other daytime light also generates energy via the panels. A team of scientists led by University of Johannesburg (formerly Rand Afrikaans University) scientist Professor Vivian Alberts achieved the breakthrough after 10 years of research. The South African technology has now been patented across the world. International experts have admitted that nothing else comes close to the effectiveness of the South African invention. The South African solar panels consist of a thin layer of a unique metal alloy that converts light into energy. The photo-responsive alloy can operate on virtually all flexible surfaces, which means it could in future find a host of other applications. Alberts said the new panels are approximately five microns thick (a human hair is 20 microns thick) while the older silicon panels are 350 microns thick. the cost of the South African technology is a fraction of the less effective silicone solar panels.
02/19/06 - Air Force Teleport paper (pdf)
(Thanks to Bert Pool for the headsup on this, some incredible comments. It describes several approaches to teleportation along with experiments, both technical and using psychics with apparent teleportation abilities according to the testing done with them. - JWD) The paper goes into detail about four methods of teleportation; 1) Wormhole, 2) Quantum, 3) Extra Dimensional, and 4) Psychokinetic. One of the more interesting examples of controlled experiments with Uri Geller was one in which he was able to cause a part of a vanadium carbide crystal to vanish (Hasted et al., 1975). The crystal was encapsulated so it could not be touched, and it was placed in such a way that it could not be switched with another crystal by sleight of hand. A more spectacular series of rigorously controlled (and repeatable!) laboratory experiments occurred in the Peoples Republic of China (PRC). In September 1981, an extraordinary paper was published in the PRC in the journal Ziran Zazhi (transl.: Nature Journal), and this paper was entitled, “Some Experiments on the Transfer of Objects Performed by Unusual Abilities of the Human Body” (Shuhuang et al., 1981). The paper reported that gifted children were able to cause the apparent teleportation of small objects (radio micro-transmitters, photosensitive paper, mechanical watches, horseflies, other insects, etc.) from one location to another (that was meters away) without them ever touching the objects beforehand. The experiments were operated under exceptionally well-controlled conditions (both blind and double-blind). The researchers involved included not only observers from various PRC colleges and medical research institutes, but also representatives from the PRC National Defense Science Commission. Reported in several articles are experiments involving the videotaping and high-speed photography of the transfer of test specimens (nuts, bundles of matches, pills, nails, thread, photosensitive paper, chemically treated paper, sponges dipped in FeCl3, etc.) through the walls of sealed paper envelopes, double layered KCNS type paper bags, sealed glass bottles and tubes with sealed caps, and sealed plastic film canisters without the walls of any of these containers being breached. All of the Chinese experiments reported using gifted children and young adults, who possessed well-known extraordinary PK ability, to cause the teleportation of the various test specimens. In all the experimental cases that were reported, the test specimens that were teleported were completely unaltered or unchanged from their initial state, even the insects were unaffected by being teleported. The experiments were well controlled, scientifically recorded, and the experimental results were always repeatable.
02/19/06 - Fiat Panda fuel cell auto ready for fleet testing
The Panda Hydrogen is a true hydrogen prototype with a sturdy, reliable drive system. Panda Hydrogen incorporates a full power system, i.e. no battery is required for the accumulation of electrical energy. The new Fuel Cell System (electrical power generator) is able to deliver all the power required by the electric engine to ensure great vehicle handling. The system consists mainly of three fuel cells: an innovative turbo-blower to supply the cells with air, a humidification and cooling system for correct management of reagent gases and a set of auxiliary components, all developed within the Fiat Group. On the Panda Hydrogen, the Fuel Cell System is housed beneath the floor. The fuel cells are made up of several cells connected in series. Inside, the hydrogen and oxygen molecules are forced to react with the aid of a catalyst to produce water and heat. Electrical energy is generated with very high efficiency and zero emissions from the vehicle itself. The electrical power generation system is supplied with hydrogen at a pressure of 1.5 bars and oxygen contained in the air. It produces electrical energy so efficiently that 60% is available at just 20% of maximum power. The Fuel Cell System installed on the Panda Hydrogen also features excellent performance at low temperatures and a relatively simple construction that makes it particularly suitable for the production of light, sturdy and reliable generators for use on vehicles. The alternating current three-phase asynchronous electric engine and the transmission are located in the engine compartment together with the various accessories required to operate the system as a whole. The hydrogen that feeds the Fuel Cell is contained at a pressure of 350 bars in a tank made out of composite material installed beneath the car’s rear floor pan. All the distinguishing features of the New Panda passenger compartment are therefore maintained, including outstanding roominess for four people. At full power, the Fuel Cell engine on the Panda Hydrogen delivers 60 kW that allows the car to reach a top speed of more than 130 km/h, with acceleration from 0 to 50 km/h in 5 seconds. The car can also easily climb a gradient of 23% at take-off. The hydrogen tank capacity guarantees the Panda Hydrogen a range of more than 200 km over an urban cycle. Refuelling time is very quick at less than 5 minutes, i.e. comparable to the time taken to refuel a methane car.
02/19/06 - Race for space heats up with Competitors
Thirty-four years after the last Apollo astronaut walked on the lunar surface, a new space race is underway. Each country is going for its own reasons-some commercial, some strategic, some for national pride. But if the plans come to fruition, the moon could become a busy extraterrestrial outpost for scientists, engineers and possibly ordinary citizens in the coming decades. It would also serve as a vital way station for man’s long-dreamed-of trip to Mars. Why bother with the moon? The US has been there. Six times. On each occasion, explorers have found the same barren world-a place of ‘‘magnificent desolation,’’ in the words of Apollo astronaut Buzz Aldrin. Visionaries such as Gregg Maryniak, director of the James S. McDonnell Planetarium in St. Louis, have little patience with those who say, ‘‘been there, done that’’ about the moon. ‘‘That’s like saying you’ve seen New York when you changed planes at JFK.’’ Today, the European Space Agency’s SMART-1 is the only craft in lunar orbit. It will soon have plenty of company. The Japanese are readying Lunar-A and SELENE for launch on missions to survey the moon’s geology and topography. Then comes India’s $100-million Chandrayaan-1 mission in September 2007. The 1,150-pound craft shaped like a 5-ft cube will orbit the moon’s polar regions for two years and make a chemical map of the surface. China is preparing to launch its Chang’e 1 probe at about the same time to study the lunar environment from orbit. By 2012, China would start work on a spacecraft capable of bringing material back from the moon. A landing by “taikonauts” would occur after 2017.
02/19/06 - Interesting Ideas Website
A few more new invention ideas. Read about them, laugh at them if you must, modify them, use them and call them your own if you want. Air conditioning shirt. Backpacking in hot weather, I often stop to wet my shirt in a stream. The evaporative cooling as it dries is wonderful. Now if a shirt had little water "tanks" on the shoulders, a shirt could be kept wet and keep cooling for hours, perhaps. They would have to be lightweight, and they would have to release the water slowly. Even better would be tanks with an adjustable rate of flow, so you could have the shirt wetted at the same rate is was drying. Chip dip tubes. No more messy bowls of stale, drying chip dip with broken chips in it. Instead, you just apply the dip from a toothpaste-like tube, directly onto the chip. You get exactly the right amount, with less mess. They could be sold in six packs, so everyone can have their own tube. Hmm... What else can be put in tubes? What size should the tubes be? Here's a concept ripe for some new invention ideas. Steve Gillman has been exploring new ideas for decades. Visit his site for invention ideas, business ideas, story ideas, political and economic theories, deep thoughts, and more. Get a free gift too: http://www.999ideas.com.
02/19/06 - Indian Inventions
Discovery Networks India channel has tied up with National Innovation Foundation and will be airing short films on a few grassroots innovators in the country like Saidullah during its programme "Beyond Tomorrow" starting this coming Monday. The programme talks about new inventions around the world that will be an integral part of the future. Seventy-year-old Mohammad Saidullah does not wait for boats. He can literally "walk" across water without any magic. No Leonardo da Vinci, he invented an amphibious bicycle that "wades" across water to get to his wife, Noor, during a flood in Bihar. Inventor Saini has done what most mobile manufacturers have not managed to do -- use his mobile phone to switch on and off tube-wells. "You can also switch your AC on and off with the mobile phone. I have also made a robot. It's important that people realise that a boy from a small village in the country can invent so many things, " he said. Remya Jose of Kerala who has a paddle-operated washing machine to Mansukh Prajapati of Gujarat who has his own refrigerator company "Mitticool", these innovators have been working hard to make the lives of others more comfortable. To keep vegetables fresh for up to five days, Prajapati has made a refrigerator that does not consume electricity and costs only Rs. 2,000. "It takes about eight days to make. The best part of my fridge is that the taste of the vegetables remains the same, unlike regular fridges. Now am working on an "R-O", in which the salty water gets separated, " said Prajapati, a potter by profession.
02/18/06 - Quantum Physics - The 'spin triplet' supercurrent
Superconductivity occurs when electrical current moves without resistance, a phenomenon that gave rise to particle accelerators, magnetic resonance imagining machines and trains that float, friction-free, on their tracks. Under quantum physics theory, conventional superconductivity is not supposed to occur in ferromagnets. When electrons pass through these crystalline materials, they realign in ways that won't allow resistance-free conductivity. While supercurrent through a ferromagnet has been observed, it moved only an extremely short distance before resistance kicked in. But a team of scientists from Delft University of Technology, Brown University and the University of Alabama has now accomplished this physics feat, creating a "spin triplet" supercurrent through a unique ferromagnet. As explained in the current issue of Nature, the team's experimental system converts the spin, or rotation, of pairs of electrons in such a way that suggests they exist in three quantum states inside the new magnet. There's the standard "spin up" and "spin down" - a reference to an electron's angular momentum - but also a middle state. Picture a planet that was thought to rotate two ways: With its North Pole pointing up or pointing down. But now it's found that this planet can be made to rotate on its side, with its North Pole pointing out in a 90-degree angle. Xiao said the spin triplet current created with the ferromagnet would allow for new control in spintronics development. "Once you understand this new behavior of electrons, you can apply the knowledge in new ways to commercial products," he said. "The consequences can be significant." (I see in this a direct connection to Keely's claims of a triple/trinary energy current that is a key to all energy flows. "the ear cannot detect the triple chord of any vibration, or sounding note, but every sound that is induced of any range, high or low, is governed by the same laws, as regards triple action of such, that govern every sympathetic flow in Nature. Were it not for these triple vibratory conditions, change of polarity could NEVER be effected, and consequently there could be NO rotation." He showed that all sympathetic streams of energy are composed of triple currents of vibratory flows. This applies to magnetic, electric, gravital, and cerebellic (brain and mind) flows. These laws govern all molecular masses from the innermost subdivision of the atom to the galaxies and universe itself. These flows radiate from suns and stars to planets on down the scale to the very core of the atoms. Since these flows are vibrational in nature and tuned to their respective spheres Keely believed this was the basis for the term "music of the spheres". / About the photo of the triple streams as seen from a TV screen, see Triune Current. - JWD)
02/18/06 - SeaGen Wave power study in Wales
The potential for using the power of the tides to generate electricity for homes and businesses in Wales is being taken a step further. With funding from the Welsh Assembly Government, tidal energy firm Marine Current Turbines will examine and identify locations around the Welsh coastline where its tidal stream technology could be suitable. The project is supported by the Welsh Development Agency’s Energy Office, which has worked closely with Marine Current Turbines to facilitate the development of this project in Wales. Marine Current Turbines and PMSS plan to identify sites for potential development and ultimately progress at least one of these sites to install a 10MW tidal stream farm (an array). A 10MW tidal stream array would generate sufficient energy to meet the equivalent demand of approximately 7,000 homes.
02/18/06 - Heart Predicts Future
"HeartMath recently unveiled evidence of a biological process through which human subjects were able to predict the onset of future events. Scientific instruments monitored respiration, skin conductance, EEG, ECG and heart rates of test subjects as they responded to visual stimuli. Imagery of peaceful and calm scenes produced no significant changes to their biological patterns whereas images of harmful events caused severe emotional responses. What surprised researchers the most was the sensors indicated distress up an average of three to seven seconds before the images appeared. Fluctuations to the subject's heart rate were the predominant indicator of impending trauma, a measured phenomena more significant in women than men." (via omninerd.com)
02/18/06 - Mazda begins leasing Rotary Hydrogen Vehicles
Mazda announced today that it has received permission from Japan’s Ministry of Land Infrastructure and Transport (MLIT) to begin leasing the RX-8 Hydrogen RE to corporate customers. The RX-8 Hydrogen RE vehicles are equipped with a rotary engine, and feature a dual-fuel system that allows the driver to select either hydrogen or gasoline. Mazda undertook 29 months of development from the time of announcing the concept model to achieving the breakthrough, real-world rotary hydrogen vehicle. Employing a dual-fuel system, the Mazda RX-8 Hydrogen RE can run on either high-pressure hydrogen gas or gasoline. This combination offers excellent convenience because it can be driven in remote areas where hydrogen fueling stations are not readily available, easing driver concerns about running out of fuel. In addition, this system boasts great environmental friendliness-zero emission of carbon dioxide (CO2) gas and near zero nitrogen oxide (NOx) emission when fueled by hydrogen-together with the natural driving feel of an internal combustion engine. It uses engine parts and production facilities that already exist in Mazda’s inventory, so this innovative engine can be built with a high degree of reliability at a relatively low cost. The standard monthly lease price is 420,000 yen ($3,554.80 USD ????) with tax included which is almost half the monthly lease price of a fuel cell vehicles already available in Japan.
02/18/06 - New high efficiency solar collector
A unique solar collector was developed by specialists of the Moscow “ALTEN” company under the guidance of Boris Kazandzhan, Professor, Doctor of Science (Engineering), Moscow Power Engineering Institute. Originality of the novelty lies in its extremely high efficiency. The collector not only manages to entrap the heat of solar beams falling on its surface, but also to utilize it to a great extent for direct purpose - for water heating. To increase efficiency of absorption of solar energy and to reduce loss of heat, a special selective multi-layer coating based on titanium carbide is used. On the outside, it is dark as it should be to absorb light well. But its peculiarity is that having become warm, the coating almost does not radiate thermal energy. Thus, the coating allows to entrap solar energy in the visible and near infra-red spectral region where more than 90 percent of solar energy is concentrated, and almost not to irradiate energy into the spectral regions corresponding to radiation of heat. The heat entrapped in such a way is collected by water that flows along copper tubes embedded into aluminium shapes covered by a selective coating and forming a so-called absorber. Instead of water, however, some other heat carrier may be used, but water is the cheapest of all. During a sunny day, one collector of 2 square meters in area can heat approximately 150 liters of water up to the temperature of 60 to 70 degrees C (140-158F). If necessary, water can be heated up to the boiling point. Several collectors can provide for hot water-supply and heating of a small cottage. Evidently, in the moderate climate, for instance, in the Moscow Region, it makes sense only during the “long” summer season since early spring till late autumn. In wintertime, one cannot survive only on solar heat, be the efficiency of such system even one hundred percent. However, in the mild European climate the system would serve all year round, to say nothing about warm areas. In near future, the first house with such heating will appear in the town of Sochi. Its front will be decorated with the ALTEN solar collector boards. The house will be provided with hot water the whole year round.
02/18/06 - Kamen wants entrepreneurs to bring water and electricity to the poor
(Thanks to Bob Nelson at Rex Research for finding the two Kamen device patents now linked here. - JWD) Kamen invented two devices, each about the size of a washing machine that can provide much-needed power and clean water in rural villages. "Eighty percent of all the diseases you could name would be wiped out if you just gave people clean water," says Kamen. "The water purifier makes 1,000 liters (264 gallons) of clean water a day, and we don't care what goes into it. And the power generator makes a kilowatt off of anything that burns." Last year, Quadir took prototypes of Kamen's power machines to two villages in his home country for a six-month field trial. That trial, which ended last September, sold Quadir on the technology. The electric generator is powered by an easily-obtained local fuel: cow dung. Each machine continuously outputs a kilowatt of electricity. That may not sound like much, but it is enough to light 70 energy-efficient bulbs. As Kamen puts it, "If you judiciously use a kilowatt, each villager can have a nighttime." During the test in Bangladesh, Kamen's Stirling machines created three entrepreneurs in each village: one to run the machine and sell the electricity, one to collect dung from local farmers and sell it to the first entrepreneur, and a third to lease out light bulbs (and presumably, in the future, other appliances) to the villagers. The Slingshot water cleaning machine works by taking in contaminated water - even raw sewage -- and separating out the clean water by vaporizing it. It then shoots the remaining sludge back out a plastic tube. Kamen thinks it could be paired with the power machine and run off the other machine's waste heat.
02/18/06 - Space Adventures announces Spaceport development project in UAE
Space Adventures today announced plans to develop a commercial spaceport in Ras Al-Khaimah (the UAE), with plans to expand globally. Other potential spaceport locations include Asia, specifically Singapore, and North America. The total estimated cost of the global spaceport development project is claimed to be at least US$265 million and will be funded by various parties, along with shared investments by Space Adventures and the government of Ras Al-Khaimah. The company, which organized orbital flights for all of the world's private space explorers, also announces that His Highness Sheikh Saud Bin Saqr Al Qasimi of Ras Al-Khaimah, along with the UAE Department of Civilian Aviation, have granted clearance to operate suborbital spaceflights in their air space. The UAE spaceport, planned to be located less than an hour drive from Dubai, already has commitments for US$30 million. "As a global leader of tourism, the United Arab Emirates is an ideal location for a spaceport. Suborbital flights will offer millions of people the opportunity to experience the greatest adventure available, space travel..." The suborbital space transportation system has been designed by Myasishchev Design Bureau, a leading Russian aerospace organization which has developed a wide-array of high performance aircraft and space systems. Explorer, as it has been named, will have the capacity to transport up to five people to space and is designed to optimize the customer experience of space travel, while maintaining the highest degree of safety. The Explorer Aerospace System consists of a flight-operational carrier aircraft, the M-55X, and a rocket spacecraft. The vehicle is designed to optimize the customer experience of space travel. "We've designed the Explorer with several exciting features that will be announced in the near future that will make the customer's experience fantastic."
02/18/06 - Vanga psychic prediction
Her most shocking prediction was made in 1980. The blind old woman said: “At the turn of the century, in August of 1999 or 2000, Kursk will be covered with water, and the whole world will be weeping over it.” (Kursk Submarine disaster) “Horror, horror! The American brethren will fall after being attacked by the steel birds. The wolves will be howling in a bush, and innocent blood will be gushing.” (1989) (9/11 twin tower airplane attacks) “Numerous catastrophes and disasters will shake the world. The mentality of the people will change. They will be divided by their faith…” (date unknown) “Everything will melt away like ice yet the glory of Vladimir , the glory of Russia are the only things that will remain. Russia will not only survive, it will dominate the world. (1979) “The trains will start flying in 2018. They will be powered by the Sun. Earth will take a rest since they will stop extracting oil.” (1960) A piece of advice from Vanga - “Never take on the fools. They are not so dangerous as they seem, do not try to change them. Morons can do you more harm. The can do something that will cause quite a stir among all the people.”
02/18/06 - NASA warns 'loss of leadership' in space exploration
"A longer gap in US human spaceflight capabilities will increase risk and overall costs and lead to even more delays," he told the committee. "In addition," he added, "the US may risk a perceived, if not real, loss of leadership in space exploration if we are unable to launch our astronauts into space for an extended period when other nations are establishing or building on their own abilities to do so." The budget crunch comes amid intensifying international competition in space, once dominated almost exclusively by the United States and Russia. India, lawmakers pointed out, is preparing for a lunar orbital mission in 2007, while Japan plans to send a robotic rover to the Moon by 2013. They also noted that China, which is quickly gaining experience in manned spaceflight, is planning an astronaut landing on the Moon in 2017.
02/18/06 - Flying car ready for takeoff?
Terrafugia, a start-up created by Lemelson-MIT Student Prize winner Carl Dietrich and colleagues at MIT's Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics, is aiming to show off what it calls the Transition "personal air vehicle," an SUV with retractable wings, to the EAA AirVenture Conference in Oshkosh, Wis., at the end of July. The Transition is designed for 100- to 500-mile jumps. It will carry two people and luggage on a single tank of premium unleaded gas. It will also come with an electric calculator (to help fine-tune weight distribution), airbags, aerodynamic bumpers and of course a GPS (Global Positioning System) navigation unit.
Building retractable wings won't be the major challenge: F-18s and even some World War II era planes have folding wings. Instead, one of the biggest challenges will be creating enough cargo room to satisfy customers. The planes, which will cruise up to 12,000 feet, will probably use an off-the-shelf engine, he added.
02/17/06 - Found! Hans Coler German Patent DE680,761 (1939)
(In a continuing stream of incredibile discovery, Bob Nelson at Rex Research has found another 'lost' patent that might lead to an overunity device. Thanks Bob for the headsup! Now for the problem, its in German! Strom = river, Stromquellen = power sources. So if anyone can translate this for Bob to post, we'd all appreciate it! One other thing, referring to the Stromzeuger, compare the circuit in this photo to the claims of separated, earth pole aligned magnets with the Roy Meyer 'Absorber' patent (also rediscovered by Bob Nelson), posted earlier on KeelyNet and on Rex Research under new information. - JWD) Coler Paper - The Invention of Hans Coler, Relating to an Alleged New Source of Power. Coler is the inventor of two devices by which it is alleged electrical energy may be derived without a chemical or mechanical source of power. Coler was visited and interrogated. He proved to be cooperative and willing to disclose all details of his devices, and consented to build up and put into operation a small model of the so-called "Magnetstromapparat" [Magnet Power Apparatus] using material supplied to him by us, and working only in our presence. With this device, consisting only of permanent magnets, copper coils, and condensers in a static arrangement he showed that he could obtain a tension of 450 millivolts for a period of some hours; and in a repetition of the experiment the next day 60 millivolts was recorded for a short period. The apparatus has been brought back and is now being further investigated. Coler also discussed another device called the "Stromzeuger", from which he claimed that with an input of a few watts from a dry battery an output of 6 kilowatts could be obtained indefinitely. Coler stated that his researches (apparently conducted with crude apparatus) into the nature of magnetism had lead him to conclude that ferro-magnetism was an oscillating phenomenon, of frequency about 180 kilohertz. This oscillation took place in the magnetic circuit of the apparatus, and induced in the electrical circuit oscillations the frequency which of course depended on the values of the components used. These two phenomena interacted, and gradually built up the tension. Coler stated that the strength of the magnets did not decrease during the use of the apparatus; and suggested that he was tapping a new sort of energy hitherto unknown "Raumenergie" (Space-energy).
02/17/06 - Scientist quieted for Glacial Melting alarm
Greenland ice cap breaking up at twice the rate it was five years ago, says scientist Bush tried to gag. A satellite study of the Greenland ice cap shows that it is melting far faster than scientists had feared - twice as much ice is going into the sea as it was five years ago. The implications for rising sea levels - and climate change - could be dramatic. Greenland seems to be losing at least 200 cubic kilometres of ice a year. It is different from even two years ago, when people still said the ice sheet was in balance. Hundreds of cubic kilometres sounds like a lot of ice. But this is just the beginning. Once a sheet starts to disintegrate, it can reach a tipping point beyond which break-up is explosively rapid. Once the ice starts to melt at the surface, it forms lakes that empty down crevasses to the bottom of the ice. You get rivers of water underneath the ice. And the ice slides towards the ocean. How fast can this go? Right now, I think our best measure is what happened in the past. We know that, for instance, 14,000 years ago sea levels rose by 20m (60 feet) in 400 years - that is five metres (15 feet) in a century.
We have to act with what we have. This decade, that means focusing on energy efficiency and renewable sources of energy that do not burn carbon. We don't have much time left.
02/17/06 - Robot controlled by slime mould
A novel experiment involves the use of slime growing in a six-pointed star shape on top of a circuit and connected remotely, via a computer, to the hexapod bot. Any light shone on sensors mounted on top of the robot were used to control light shone onto one of the six points of the circuit-mounted mould - each corresponding to a leg of the bot. As the slime tried to get away from the light its movement was sensed by the circuit and used to control one of the robot's six legs. The robot then scrambled away from bright lights as a mechanical embodiment of the mould. Eventually, this type of control could be incorporated into the bot itself to run autonomously, rather than controlled with a remote system. (via boingboing.com)
02/17/06 - Hacking the brain and nervous system
The brain is on the verge of becoming the next battlefield with weapons currently being designed to hack directly into your nervous system. "Controlled Personnel Effects" involves devices that "make selected adversaries think or act according to our needs... By studying and modeling the human brain and nervous system, the ability to mentally influence or confuse personnel is also possible." The Pulsed Energy Projectile fires a short intense pulse of laser energy. This vaporizes the outer layer of the target, creating a rapidly-expanding expanding ball of plasma. At different power levels, those expanding plasmas could deliver a harmless warning, stun the target, or disable them - all with pinpoint laser precision from a mile away. Early reports on the effects of PEPs mentioned temporary paralysis, then thought to be related to ultrasonic shockwaves. It later became apparent that the electromagnetic pulse caused by the expanding plasma was triggering nerve cells. Called “Sensory consequence of electromagnetic pulsed emitted by laser induced plasmas,” it described research on activating the nerve cells responsible for sensing unpleasant stimuli: heat, damage, pressure, cold. By selectively stimulating a particular nociceptor, a finely tuned PEP might sensations of say, being burned, frozen or dipped in acid -- all without doing the slightest actual harm. Russian researcher Makhunin also mentions the effects of "change of electrocardiogram" and what he calls "function break of heart muscle." The vulnerability of the heart to electrical stimulation (including that produced by EM waves) is well documented. A lethal device would interfere with the electrical potentials that keep the chambers of the heart synchronized, producing fibrillation and rapid death. A death ray doesn’t need to be a truck-sized laser that reduces the target to smoking heap; a small device that stops the heart will do the job.
02/17/06 - MIT powers up new battery for hybrid cars
Researchers at MIT have developed a new type of lithium battery that could become a cheaper alternative to the batteries that now power hybrid electric cars. The MIT team's new lithium battery contains manganese and nickel, which are cheaper than cobalt. Scientists already knew that lithium nickel manganese oxide could store a lot of energy, but the material took too long to charge to be commercially useful. The MIT researchers set out to modify the material's structure to make it capable of charging and discharging more quickly. A battery made from the new material can charge or discharge in about 10 minutes -- about 10 times faster than the unmodified lithium nickel manganese oxide. That brings it much closer to the timeframe needed for hybrid car batteries, Ceder said.
02/16/06 - Ripple Tank Simulator
(If you are a student of phase conjugation and cymatics, DEFINITELY check out this applet. It is 2D but has a 3D version and includes SOURCE CODE for them!!! Incredible...I made this one with 3 sources and one frequency. Think about INERTIAL DRIVES!!! - JWD) This java applet is a simulation of a ripple tank. It demonstrates waves in two dimensions, including such wave phenomena as interference, diffraction (single slit, double slit, etc.), refraction, resonance, phased arrays, and the Doppler effect. To get started with the applet, just go through the items in the Setup menu in the upper right. You can also draw on the screen with the mouse. The predefined setups are just starting points; you can modify the sources and walls as you desire.
02/16/06 - Switchgrass has amazing potential profit as fuel
Switch grass can produce 1000 gallons of fuel per acre. At even $1.50/gallon, that's a gross of $1500/acre. No other crop we grow has that potential. David Bransby, professor of energy crops at Auburn University, is an expert on switch grass, which President Bush mentioned in his State of the Union address. Bransby says switch grass is cheap to grow and provides a high yield crop that can make a lot of ethanol for a low cost. (NPR audio file)
02/16/06 - Tiny pipes move water 10,000 times faster than normal
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.
02/16/06 - 100 Billion dollar bottled water fraud
Media manipulation to drive paranoia solely to promote buying bottled water. Consumers spend a collective $100 billion every year on bottled water in the belief--often mistaken, as it happens--that this is better for us than what flows from our taps, according to environmental think tank the Earth Policy Institute (EPI). For a fraction of that sum, everyone on the planet could have safe drinking water and proper sanitation, the Washington, D.C.-based organization said this week. 'There is no question that clean, affordable drinking water is essential to the health of our global community,'' Arnold said. ''But bottled water is not the answer in the developed world, nor does it solve problems for the 1.1 billion people who lack a secure water supply. Improving and expanding existing water treatment and sanitation systems is more likely to provide safe and sustainable sources of water over the long term.'' Worldwide, bottled water consumption surged to 154 billion liters (41 billion gallons) in 2004, up 57 percent from 98 billion liters in 1999, EPI said in a written analysis citing industry data. ''Even in areas where tap water is safe to drink, demand for bottled water is increasing--producing unnecessary garbage and consuming vast quantities of energy,'' said Arnold. ''Although in the industrial world bottled water is often no healthier than tap water, it can cost up to 10,000 times more.'' At up to $2.50 per liter ($10 per gallon), bottled water costs more than gasoline in the United States. 'Bottled water is not guaranteed to be any healthier than tap water. In fact, roughly 40 percent of bottled water begins as tap water; often the only difference is added minerals that have no marked health benefit,'' EPI said. France's Senate, it added, ''even advises people who drink bottled mineral water to change brands frequently because the added minerals are helpful in small amounts but may be dangerous in higher doses.''
02/16/06 - Man-made blood won't carry bacteria, viruses
(This claim is unproven and reporting as just a claim at this point. - JWD) JAPANESE FIRM Terumo claimed that artificial blood it developed won't pass on viral or bacterial infections. So said Nihon Keizai Shimbun , reporting on the claims. Not only is the artificial blood sterilised during its manufacture, but Terumo claims it uses so-called artificial red blood cells to be carriers for oxygen. Clinical tests on humanoids are set to start this time next year and alleviate the worldwide blood shortage.
02/16/06 - Convert your Diesel to run on vegetable oil - details
Vegetable oil is also cheaper than regular diesel: even if you buy supermarket oil and pay the full duty, it works out cheaper. Use waste oil, and the price drops dramatically. Who doesn't want to save money? Even better, veg oil has cleaner emissions and is good for your engine. Compared to regular diesel, veg oil has massively less sulphur, so there's less sulphur dioxide emitted when you drive. Sulphur dioxide is one of the pollutants that makes kids wheezy, so you're cutting your contribution to childhood asthma. And because veg oil has better lubricity, it's kind to your engine, too: a veg-fuelled engine runs just a little bit smoother. Fuel efficiency is unaffected. An ordinary diesel engine cannot run on 100% pure vegetable oil without conversion. Veg oil is too thick and gloopy to get through the fuel pump and injectors. Instead, we'll try to thin down the veg oil so that it works correctly in the engine. There are two ways to do this: mix it with something, or convert it into biodiesel.
02/16/06 - Nevada's 64MW Solar Concentrator Array
Nevada Solar One, the 64 MW commercial-scale solar energy plant will encompass 350 square acres, a nearly endless sea of mirrored troughs that will concentrate the strong desert sunlight and convert it into 750-degree F thermal energy, which can then be used to create steam for electrical power generation. Gilbert Cohen, Vice President of Engineering & Operations for Solargenix, said the project costs somewhere in the range of $220-250 million. He said the power is slightly more expensive than wind power, but less than photovoltaic (PV) power, more commonly used in small rooftop projects on homes or businesses. Other sources close to the project put this price at somewhere between 9-13 cents per kWh. As more are built, however, and they're scaled up even bigger, Cohen says a target of seven cents per kWh will not be difficult to reach in the near future. Germany's glass specialists, Schott -- a company familiar in the solar industry for their solar photovoltaic modules -- is one of the primary equipment suppliers. In its first large-scale solar thermal contract, Schott is providing more than 19,000 of their latest vacuum tube steel and glass receivers, which in many ways can be considered the heart of the project. It is these receiver tubes that the parabolic mirrors focus the sun's energy on and they, in turn, absorb the solar radiation. Flabeg, also a German company, will provide the mirror panels or troughs while industrial giant Siemens of Sweden will provide the 75 MW turbine. Nevada Solar One is designed to be more efficient in holding its temperature and requires only a 2 percent natural gas backup. More efficient and reliable motors will be used to move the troughs that track the sun. The frames for these troughs are now built out of lightweight aluminum instead of galvanized steel.
02/16/06 - Grant to Fund Heat-based Photovoltaic Cells
Spire Corporation announced it was awarded a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant to develop a new type of thermophotovoltaic (TPV) power cell that produces electricity from heat. The cells are similar to solar cells that convert visible photons to electricity, but the semiconductor material is adjusted to convert long-wavelength or thermal photons to electricity. The grant is from NASA's John Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio. The project has potential applications for NASA, to generate electricity from heat generated by long-life radioisotope sources for long duration space missions where the power generated by conventional solar cells is limited due to the large distance from the sun. Commercial applications of TPV cells include electricity co-generation using heat from wood or propane combustion.
02/15/06 - Claim of Heat from Gravity as a Power Source
(Thanks to Levi Philos for the headsup on this one. There is a website at http://www.gravitomatic.com which says under construction. A WHOIS finds their domain name registered out of Chatsworth, CA from 03/29/05 to 03/29/06. We shall see if they come up with anything, so far, nothing I can track. - JWD) Gravitomatic, Inc. is happy to announce that our 5 years long research of gravity resulted in a breakthrough discovery of a new energy source for humanity. Our revolutionary technology generates heat from the energy of the gravitational field of our planet. The latest round of experiments not just confirmed our theory, but also dramatically extended it. Based on our latest results, we see our road map as follows: -- In three years we'll have the first commercially available gravitational electrical power plant. -- In four to five years the first commercial car engine powered by gravity will hit the road. Cars, trucks, ships which do not need refueling, cleaner air in our cities and many, many more things, are becoming reality thanks to our discovery. Effective immediately this revolutionary technology is available for licensing.
02/15/06 - Xprize - $10 Million to solve specific science problems
the X-Prize Foundation, an organisation set up by Peter Diamandis of Space Adventures, the company that arranged for Dennis Tito to fly to the International Space Station in 2001 and so become the world's first space tourist. The foundation (motto: "Creating radical breakthroughs for the benefit of humanity"), plans to launch three prizes of at least $10m (£5.75m) this year to crack some of the toughest problems facing genetics, nanotechnology and the car industry. "Our goal is to build ourselves into a world-class prize institute and focus on using those prizes to attack some of the grand challenges of our time," Dr Diamandis said. "By setting up prizes with a big enough purse, you can reach across space and time and problems will get solved." The money for the prizes comes from donations from wealthy individuals and sponsorship, and entry is usually open to all. "In general we want these open to the most brilliant minds on the planet," Dr Diamandis said. "A lot of the value is not just the cash, it's the heroism that goes along with winning the competition. It's what drives people to work around the clock and take risk to levels required for breakthroughs."
02/15/06 - Sandia Labs Researcher Invents New Way to Make Hydrogen for Fuel
Borrowing from two different research areas that he’s pursued over his career, Sandia researcher Rich Diver (6218) has invented a whole new way to make hydrogen to power automobiles and homes. His invention, the Counter Rotating Ring Receiver Reactor Recuperator (CR5, for short), splits water into hydrogen and oxygen, using a simple, two-step thermochemical process. The CR5 is a stack of rings made of a reactive ferrite material, consisting of iron oxide mixed with a metal oxide such as cobalt, magnesium, or nickel oxide. Every other ring rotates in opposite directions. Concentrated solar heat is reflected through a small hole onto one side of the stack of rings. The side of the rings in the sunlit area is hot, while the other side is relatively cold. As the rotating rings pass each other in between these regions, the hot rings heat up the cooler rings, and the colder rings cool down the hot rings. This arrangement results in a conservation of heat entering the system, limiting the energy input required from the sunlight. Steam runs by the rings on the cooler side causing a chemical reaction to take place, allowing the ferrite material to grab oxygen out of the water, leaving the hydrogen. The hydrogen is then pumped out and compressed for use. A separate chemical reaction that drives off the oxygen occurs where the sunlight directly illuminates the ferrite material at the solar receiving end. This is needed to regenerate the rings so they can react with more water during the next cycle. Rich envisions fields of large mirror dish collector systems making hydrogen, which would be stored and sent to stations where hydrogen-electric hybrid vehicles could “fill up.” Rich and Jim have shown that by suspending the ferrite material in zirconia, a refractory oxide that withstands high temperatures, there was a high yield of hydrogen “quickly and repeatedly,” even after forming the mixture into complex solid shapes. Without using the zirconia, the ferrite material doesn’t hold together well; it essentially forms a slag and stops reacting.
02/15/06 - 81% accurate Mortality prediction system
Researchers at the San Francisco VA Medical Center have created an index that is 81 percent accurate in predicting the likelihood of death within four years for people 50 and older. The index, which weighs different mortality risk factors according to a simple point system, is potentially useful to health care providers, policymakers, and researchers, say the study authors. The information can be obtained using a 12-question form that "could be completed in a few minutes by a patient or medical office receptionist," according to lead author Sei J. Lee, MD, a geriatric specialist at SFVAMC.
02/15/06 - 33 foot Underwater Windmill powers 35 homes
The tidal turbine is bolted to the floor of the Kvalsund Channel and was connected to the nearby town of Hammerfest's power grid on September 20. It is the first time in the world that electricity directly from a tidal current has been fed into a power grid. The gravitational tug of the moon produces a swift tidal current there that courses through the channel at about 8 feet (2.5 meters) per second and spins the 33-foot-(10-meter) long blades of the turbine. The blades automatically turn to face the ebb and flow of the tide and rotate at a pace of seven revolutions per minute, which is sufficient to produce 700,000 kilowatt hours of non-polluting energy per year-enough to power about 35 Norwegian homes (70 U.S. homes). "Basically it's like putting a windmill in the water," said Bjørn Bekken, a project manager for Hammerfest Strøm, the company that built the device. Proponents of the tidal turbine technology say it is a welcome, environmentally friendly alternative-energy option. One key advantage over wind and solar power is that the energy output is 100 percent predictable, said Bekken.
02/15/06 - Cellphone could crack RFID tags, says cryptographer
Shamir used a directional antenna and digital oscilloscope to monitor power use by RFID tags while they were being read. Patterns in power use could be analyzed to determine when the tag received correct and incorrect password bits, he said. "The reflected signals contain a lot of information," Shamir said. "We can see the point where the chip is unhappy if a wrong bit is sent and consumes more power from the environment…to write a note to RAM that it has received a bad bit and to ignore the rest of the string," he added. "I haven’t tested all RFID tags, but we did test the biggest brand and it is totally unprotected," Shamir said. Using this approach, "a cellphone has all the ingredients you need to conduct an attack and compromise all the RFID tags in the vicinity," he added. Shamir said the pressure to get tags down to five cents each has forced designers to eliminate any security features, a shortcoming that needs to be addressed in next-generation products.
02/15/06 - Can you 'catch' cancer?
Can you really catch cancer? And if cervical cancer is caused by an infection, is it remotely possible that we might also catch breast cancer, or prostate cancer, or bowel cancer? The answer is yes and no. Certainly, catching cancers is not the same as catching a cold. Human papilloma virus may trigger cervical cancer, but many women infected with it will never develop the disease. There must also be other factors. Whenever clusters of childhood cancers have been spotted, parents have understandably ascribed them to the man-made environment, assuming that fallout from a power station or radiation from a phone mast must be to blame. But McNally and colleagues have identified a pattern which is exactly like what you would see in infectious diseases. Cancer clusters occur where whole groups from towns and cities have arrived to live and work in a remotish rural setting, he observed. Look at the oil fields, military installations, the building of new towns - and nuclear plants too. The incomers bring with them new viral infections, which could spark cancers among the native local population. In fact, infections associated with cancer have been known for some time. There is a cat virus which causes leukaemia and a vaccine against it, causing people to wonder if there could be a parallel in human leukaemia. But the neatest example of infection as a significant cause is in stomach cancer. This is not triggered by a virus, but by a bacterium called Helicobacter pylori. Viruses are now thought to be implicated in up to one in five cancers. As time goes on, we may find it is more.
02/15/06 - Spray-on Solar Cells
Scientists have invented a plastic solar cell that can turn the sun's power into electrical energy, even on a cloudy day. The plastic material uses nanotechnology and contains the first solar cells able to harness the sun's invisible, infrared rays. The breakthrough has led theorists to predict that plastic solar cells could one day become five times more efficient than current solar cell technology. Like paint, the composite can be sprayed onto other materials and used as portable electricity. A sweater coated in the material could power a cell phone or other wireless devices. A hydrogen-powered car painted with the film could potentially convert enough energy into electricity to continually recharge the car's battery. The new material is the first plastic composite that is able to harness the infrared portion of light. "Everything that's warm gives off some heat. Even people and animals give off heat," Sargent said. "So there actually is some power remaining in the infrared [spectrum], even when it appears to us to be dark outside." The researchers combined specially designed nano particles called quantum dots with a polymer to make the plastic that can detect energy in the infrared. With further advances, the new plastic "could allow up to 30 percent of the sun's radiant energy to be harnessed, compared to 6 percent in today's best plastic solar cells," said Peter Peumans, a Stanford University electrical engineering professor, who studied the work.
02/15/06 - Online Climate Prediction project
Climateprediction.net has already been running for two years and has generated forecasts on the likely extent of climate change.
Participants download software onto their personal computers which run the program when the machine is idle. "The main change in this model is that it uses a fully dynamic ocean," said the project's chief scientist David Stainforth from Oxford University. "Previous versions used a very simplified ocean, whereas this one allows us to see how the atmosphere and the ocean interact," he told the BBC News website. Last year climateprediction.net released results from its existing model suggesting that a doubling of the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide would increase the global average temperature by between 2C and 11C.
02/15/06 - Vaccine gives 100% bird flu protection in animal study
Researchers say they have genetically engineered an avian flu vaccine that completely protected mice and chickens from infection in a study. The scientists, from the University of Pittsburgh, Penn., said they built the vaccine from bits of the deadly H5N1 strain of the virus. Because this vaccine contains a live virus, it may stimulate the immune system better than vaccines prepared by traditional methods, say the researchers. And because it is grown in cells, it can be produced much more quickly than traditional vaccines, they add. Thus the vaccine could be used to prevent the spread of the virus in domestic livestock and, potentially, in humans, according to the study, published in the Feb 15 issue of the Journal of Virology. “The results of this animal trial are very promising, not only because our vaccine completely protected animals that otherwise would have died, but also because we found that one form of the vaccine stimulates several lines of immunity against H5N1,” said the university’s Andrea Gambotto, lead author of the study. All the chickens immunized through under-the-skin injections survived exposure to H5N1, developed strong immune responses and showed no clinical signs of disease, the researchers found. But chickens that received the vaccine through another method-through the nose-died in about half of cases. The reason for that discrepancy was unclear, the researchers said.
02/14/06 - Ford Hydraulic Hybrid - 300% more efficient than Toyota Prius
Ford is developing a new form of automotive propulsion, and the implications for the American Auto Industry are huge. The Hydraulic Hybrid could be the greatest innovation since the internal combustion engine itself, and Ford is on the inside track with its F-150 Hybrid. New Tech Spy Has learned details about the system that are simply amazing and could put Ford in a commanding position in the fiercely competitive full size pickup market. The Idea behind the current crop of Hybrid cars is well known; the cars main energy comes from gasoline which recharges batteries that move the car at low speeds. Hydraulic Hybrids work in the same manner, only instead of batteries, excess energy is stored in hydraulic cylinders. That in itself is not revolutionary, except for the fact that Nickel Metal Hydride batteries used today are not an efficient way to store energy, and hydraulic storage blows them away with 3X the efficiency. Even next generation Lithium Ion batteries do not come close to Hydraulic Energy Storage. The standard F-150 has a curb weight of about 4800 lbs., which is 65% greater than theToyota Prius, yet incredibly the Hydraulic F-150 with a continuously variable transmission matches the Prius with 60mpg city rating, that’s an amazing 400% increase over its gasoline version. The F-150 makes for a perfect host for Hydraulic Hybrid technology because of its height and body on frame construction, adding this system to smaller vehicles will be challenging, but with those kind of numbers small vehicles as we know them may become obsolete...The Hydraulic F-150 is currently scheduled for launch in August of 2008, can Ford work out all the bugs by then? The people are waiting for Ford to come through in the clutch.
02/14/06 - 130 degree Nuclear Fusion
U.S. researchers said they have developed what is essentially a tabletop particle accelerator that can produce low levels of nuclear fusion at close to room temperature. The device uses a pair of the crystals encased in a chamber of deuterium gas. The crystals create a very strong electric field when they are heated or cooled, and the field produces deuterium ions by ripping electrons from the gas and accelerating them toward a deuterium target on one of the crystals. When a deuterium ion smashes into the target, a neutron is emitted, the telltale sign that nuclear fusion has occurred. "You just heat the crystal from room temperature to about 130 degrees," team leader Yaron Danon told SpaceDaily.com. "Then you can use it while it's heating or while it's cooling. We're doing it while it's cooling. We're letting it cool back to room temperature, and while it's doing that it's accelerating ions, so it's like a particle accelerator that's very simple." Danon said the device is so small and efficient it requires only a 6-volt battery, but because it also emits neutrons - which in sufficient numbers can be harmful or deadly - operating it requires caution.
02/14/06 - Cow dung to Methane to Electricity
Conly Hansen developed an improved method for turning cow manure into electricity. Andigen's systems can be installed on dairy or hog farms to reduce the smell of the manure as well as to turn the waste into electricity. A farm can install pipes to funnel the manure into what is known as a bioreactor, or digester. The bioreactor, a three-story, 32,000-gallon tank, stores the manure along with a mix of bacteria for up to six days, said Watts, Andigen's chief executive officer. "The bacteria breaks down the organic compounds, digests them, and produces a by-product of methane," Watts said. The methane gas can run a generator that produces the electricity or it can be compressed to run farm vehicles. Installing the system can run about $500,000 for a dairy of 1,000 cows. The company has several orders across the country, Watts said.
02/14/06 - New Universal Transmission improves mileage 20-30mpg
It took 35 years of experimenting, but the Infinity Transmission runs smooth and is more cost effective and environmentally friendly than current models. It would, Gogins asserts, improve the mileage of cars between 20 and 30 mpg. The technology is universal. It could go beyond cars to motorcycles, helicopters and even blenders. There are 23 patents currently pending on the invention. Unlike current transmissions, Gogins’ invention doesn’t need a torque converter with coolant, a radiator and hoses. That is where transmissions lose power and efficiency. Instaed, the Infinity has two cams 180 degrees across from each other on the input shaft. The first pair of cams provides engine drive and drives the output shaft while the second pair of cams provide load drive and drives the engine for engine braking. Theoretically, the transmission will have an infinite number of gear ratios.
02/14/06 - 600 foot long - 174mph Airborne Luxury Cruise Ship
Worldwide Aeros Corporation, the leading aeroscraft manufacturer in FAA-certified lighter-than-air vehicles has announced its plans for the interior design of a new generation of airborne cruise ships in partnership with the world’s leading design consultant for the hospitality and leisure industries, Wimberly Allison Tong & Goo (WATG). Howard Wolff, the senior vice president of WATG informs that “the new Aeroscraft airships will boast of ultra-luxury facilities and amenities that will rival the luxury cabins of the world’s greatest ocean liners and will feature all the latest technological amenities.” The interiors of the airships will be done by WATG.
02/14/06 - Pro-Pulse Mobile Diesel power station
The ProPulse hybrid truck's generator can provide power for a small airport, a field hospital or a military command post. Oshkosh Truck currently is conducting field tests of a handful of other diesel-electric hybrids. Unlike other hybrids, it doesn't use battery packs to store electricity. The Oshkosh vehicles use capacitors that absorb large amounts of power and turn it into electricity quickly and efficiently. One of the trucks has been used to power Wittman Regional Airport, in Winnebago County. It was a brief, carefully controlled test to measure the truck's capabilities. Besides acting as mobile power stations, diesel-electric hybrids could be used for other purposes. Waste Management Inc., one of the nation's largest refuse haulers, is testing the Oshkosh hybrid for use on garbage routes with a lot of stop-and-go driving. As the truck slows for a stop, energy that's otherwise wasted is captured and converted into usable power. The conversion could result in fuel savings of 20% or more. That's important because standard garbage trucks get only about 3 miles per gallon, said Lynn Brown, a Waste Management spokeswoman in Houston. The vehicles make sense for applications such as stop-and-go driving that wastes energy, said Ivan Oelrich, a scientist who studies military technology for the Federation of American Scientists. "Hybrids are perfect for a delivery van or a bus," but not for a highway truck running at fuel-efficient speeds, he said. Diesel engines generate electricity on the battlefield, but the military might be frustrated with using trucks as portable power stations. "The military hates to be in a situation where it has to choose between using a truck for moving things, or keeping it somewhere to generate power for something like a radar station," Oelrich said.
02/14/06 - 60GB Digital CamCorder
What can you possibly do with 60GB on a camcorder? Simple. Shoot approximately 55 1/2 hours of high-quality (LP) video. This figure comes down to 13 1/2 hours in the even better SHQ mode. With a Canon 10x optical-zoom lens to boot, you're assured of many happy hours. And the 60GB is well protected from shocks and bumps - courtesy, the "Diprotechs" mechanism. If you still think that 60GB is a waste of digital space, maybe you would settle for the Toshiba GigaShot R30. No prizes for guessing that that the 30 in R30 stands for 30GB. For the R30, the statistics say 27 hours and 40 minutes in LP mode, and 6 hours and 40 minutes in SHQ mode. Other features remain the same. There's also the low-end Toshiba GigaShot V10 which comes with a paltry 4GB hard-disk. I am not sure who would want to buy this one. All three models can take on external memory through a SD slot. The units go on sale from the 25h of February, 2006. Should step foot into the United States soon. Pricing is yet to be announced.
02/14/06 - Desert soil teeming with microbes
Everyone knows that jungles are teeming with bacteria, while deserts are relatively sterile. But a study published Monday turns that conventional wisdom on its head with the discovery that when it comes to microbial diversity, the desert is more like the Amazon, while the Amazon is more like a desert. Their continent-scale study of the genetic diversity of bacteria suggests that rain forests and jungles support fewer different kinds of microbes than deserts because the soils of tropical forests are more acidic, while desert dirt is more neutral. "Few people realize that 'dirt' supports a complex community of microorganisms that plays a critical role on Earth," Fierer added. "The number of bacteria species in a spoonful of soil is likely to exceed the total number of plant species in all the United States." Jackson, a researcher at the Nicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences at Duke, noted that bacteria are critical in making nutrients available to plants and animals.
02/13/06 - Microwave-Drill Technology
A microwave drill can bore through materials such as concrete and glass, silently and without creating dust. By heating a target to nearly 2,000 ºC, the microwaves soften it up enough for a small rod to be pushed through. "It should provide a low-cost solution for a variety of needs," say the drill's inventors Eli Jerby and his colleagues at Tel Aviv University in Israel1. It can make holes between a millimetre and a centimetre wide, and could find use, for example, in the production of ceramic components for cars and planes, in building construction and in geological engineering. Using heat to cut and drill materials is nothing new. Lasers are already widely used to make incisions or holes as narrow as a thousandth of a millimetre. But laser drilling is too expensive for many routine engineering jobs, whereas the microwave drill costs little more than a mechanical one. A microwave-drilled hole in alumina. The drill bit is a needle-like antenna that emits intense microwave radiation. The microwaves create a hot spot around the bit, melting or softening the material so that the bit can be pushed in. But the drill can't bore through everything effectively. Sapphire's melting point, for instance, is too high. And steel conducts heat too well for a hot spot to develop. But the device works fine on rocks and concrete. In fact, the heat may even strengthen holes' walls in ceramics by welding together the fine grains in the material. To use the drill, workers would have to be shielded from the intense microwave radiation it produces. The inventors claim that a simple shielding plate put in front of the drill bit is enough to meet common safety standards.
02/13/06 - LA needs Monorails
If we examine the history of subways, we will find how tremendously expensive and destructive they are. They are, first of all, meant for cold climates such as Toronto, New York, London, Paris, Moscow and Tokyo. But L.A. is a Mediterranean area; our weather is sublime, and people are accustomed to traveling in the open air and enjoying the sunshine, not in closed cars under the ground. Subways take forever to build and, because the tunnels have to be excavated, are incredibly expensive. The cost of one subway line would build 10 monorail systems. Along the way, subway construction destroys businesses by the scores. The history of the subway from East L.A. to the Valley is a history of ruined businesses and upended lives. The monorail is extraordinary in that it can be built elsewhere and then carried in and installed in mid-street with little confusion and no destruction of businesses. In a matter of a few months, a line could be built from Long Beach all the way along Western Avenue to the mountains with little disturbance to citizens and no threat to local businesses. Compared to the heavy elevateds of the past, the monorail is virtually soundless. Anyone who has ridden the Disneyland or Seattle monorails knows how quietly they move. (via boingboing.com)
02/13/06 - The Ultra Battery
A new type of ultracapacitor could eventually have you throwing out your conventional batteries. The technology has the potential to provide an energy storage device ten times more powerful than even the latest batteries in hybrid cars -- while outliving the vehicle itself. The new technology, developed at MIT's Laboratory for Electromagnetic and Electronic Systems, should improve ultracapacitors, by swapping in carbon nanotubes, thereby greatly increasing the surface area of electrodes and the ability to store energy. researchers at MIT have found what they believe is a way to improve the endurance of ultracapacitors several-fold -- allowing the devices to retain the power and longevity advantages, while storing about as much energy as the batteries used in hybrids. The amount of energy ultracapacitors can hold is related to the surface area and conductivity of their electrodes. The researchers have increased surface area by "more than an order of magnitude" by using carbon nanotubes, says Joel Schindall, professor of electrical engineering at MIT and one of the researchers on the project. One square centimeter of conductive plate, when coated with the nanotubes, has a surface area of about 50,000 square centimeters, compared with 2,000 square centimeters using the carbon in a commercial ultracapacitor today. The highly pure carbon nanotubes are also extremely conductive, which should increase power output over existing ultracapacitors, the researchers say. The technology may find applications beyond hybrids, too. Ultracapacitors could allow laptops and cell phones to be charged in a minute. And, unlike laptop batteries, which start losing their ability to hold a charge after a year or two, they could still be going strong long after the device is obsolete. "Theoretically, there's no process that would cause the [ultracapacitor] to need to be replaced," says professor John Kassakian, another of the researchers.
02/13/06 - Animal eyes inspire new technology
Luke Lee and other “bioengineers” are borrowing ideas from all corners of the animal kingdom to design artificial vision systems that could be used for high-tech cameras, motion detectors, navigation devices in unmanned vehicles, or perhaps even synthetic retinal implants. We know that natural selection has produced at least ten animal vision systems, each tailored to fit the specific needs of its owner. Eyes for different species are adapted for seeing in the day or night, short or long distances, with wide or narrow fields of view, etc. Research is progressing much faster with compound eyes, which are made up of many individual lenses (as many as ten thousand in some dragonflies) and found in insects and other arthropods. The lenses are part of separate imaging units called “ommatidia,” which each provide fragments of an image. In many cases, the ommatidia send their signals simultaneously, allowing for the fast motion detection and image recognition that allows flies, for example, to evade fly-swatters time and again. Lee and his colleagues have made artificial ommatidia, each with a tiny lens connected to a tube-like “waveguide” that directs the light down to an optoelectronic imaging device. The ommatidia can be arranged around a dome, projecting outwards in all directions. Putting two of these structures back-to-back could hypothetically allow for a device with 360-degree vision.
02/13/06 - 'Walk again' drugs to be tested on people
TWO antibodies that enabled the severed spinal nerves of rats to be regenerated are to be tested in humans. The antibodies have helped rats with damaged spinal cords to walk again, by blocking the action of Nogo, a protein that stops nerve cells sprouting new connections. But there were concerns about whether blocking Nogo would lead to uncontrolled neuronal rewiring in the brain or spinal cord and it was also unclear how such a therapy could be given to humans. Now Martin Schwab and his colleagues at the University of Zurich in Switzerland have infused two antibodies, 11C7 and 7B12, into the damaged spinal cords of rats. An osmotic mini-pump connected to a fine catheter was used to deliver the antibodies directly into the cerebrospinal fluid surrounding the injured part of the spinal cord - a method of delivery that could easily be applied to humans, they say. The antibodies triggered regeneration of axons, the fine thread-like extensions that connect neurons, and enabled injured rats to swim, cross the rungs of a ladder without slipping and traverse a narrow beam (Annals of Neurology, vol 58, p 706). Moreover, the antibodies did not cause hyperalgesia, a condition in which even a simple touch is sensed as pain - a sign that would have indicated wrong neuronal connections had been made.
02/13/06 - RFID and privacy
The increasing use of RFID's - small devices that can be put into vehicles, products, credit cards, and animals to track their movements - has a lot of people worried about their effects on privacy. And those worries have even more basis when RFIDs are implanted in people. And they are being injected into people - make no mistake about it. Of the RFID devices in the photo; 1) is for humans, 2) is marketed for animals, 3) is a grain of rice and 4) is a US dime. A Cincinnati video surveillance company CityWatcher.com now requires employees to use Verichip human implantable microchips to enter a secure data centre. Until now, the employees entered the data centre with a VeriChip housed in a heart-shaped plastic casing that hangs from their keychain. The VeriChip is a glass encapsulated RFID tag that is injected into the triceps area of the arm to uniquely identify individuals. The tag can be read by radio waves from a few inches away. Although CityWatcher does not require its employees to take an implant to keep their jobs, they won't get in the data centre without it. CASPIAN's Katherine Albrecht says chipping sets an unsettling precedent. "It's wrong to link a person's paycheck with getting an implant," she says.As creepy as the work-mandated microchips are, I think that Citywatcher.com's public statement on the implants may be even creepier.
02/13/06 - Got an idea? License it!
Licensing products for a profit is not new. Nolo Press, a Berkeley-based publisher of legal books, even has a how-to manual called ``License Your Invention,'' which tells prospective entrepreneurs how to move an idea ``from thought to bought'' -- and roughly what inventors can expect to get in a licensing deal (anywhere from 3 percent to 12 percent of the net sales price). Parent inventors are often solving their own problems -- designing streamlined diaper bags, more comfortable baby carriers, pacifier organizers, nursing pillows and other products for people just like them. Their market research involves talking to friends and acquaintances, most of whom are dealing with the same issues. People who believe they have a marketable idea -- whether baby-related or not -- can go the licensing route, where they sell the idea to another company that will make and market it. Or they can manufacture and market it on their own. Going it alone can potentially be more profitable, but it's also more risky. Baxter, who says her family doesn't have thousands of dollars to risk, went the licensing route. That allowed her to participate in the potential sales, without risking her own cash. The downside: If the product is a huge hit, she'll get only 3 percent to 5 percent of the net sales. Of course, more ideas end up in the dustbin than on store shelves. Caspi gets hundreds of pitches each year and chooses only a few. Inventors' chances of success are much greater if they do some research and talk to candid friends and relatives about their ideas before approaching a licensing firm, Caspi said. Inventors often get just one chance to pitch their wares to a licensing company, Young said. Doing plenty of research, and coming prepared with a succinct pitch, boosts your chances. ``I have a friend who is in marketing and she told me that I had to get my pitch down to a two-minute elevator conversation,'' Young said. ``That's about all the time you have to get them to listen.''
02/12/06 - Mind Control by Parasites
Half of the world's human population is infected with Toxoplasma, parasites in the body-and the brain. Remember that.
Toxoplasma gondii is a common parasite found in the guts of cats; it sheds eggs that are picked up by rats and other animals that are eaten by cats. Toxoplasma forms cysts in the bodies of the intermediate rat hosts, including in the brain. Oxford scientists discovered that the minds of the infected rats have been subtly altered. If the parasite can alter rat behavior, does it have any effect on humans? Dr. E. Fuller Torrey (Associate Director for Laboratory Research at the Stanley Medical Research Institute) noticed links between Toxoplasma and schizophrenia in human beings, approximately three billion of whom are infected with T. gondii. Are parasites like Toxoplasma subtly altering human behavior? As it turns out, science fiction writers have been thinking about whether or not parasites could alter a human being's behavior, or even take control of a person.
02/12/06 - Chinese cash buys Borneo's forests
Environmental activists and economists are outraged at Indonesian plans to cut a swath through one of the world's largest remaining areas of pristine rainforest to create a massive Chinese-funded palm-oil plantation.
The remote stretch of land on the island of Borneo, home to many species of rare birds, plants and mammals -- including the largest remaining wild orangutan population -- could be destroyed in what critics fear is a ruse to access timber. The 2000km-long, 5km-wide plantation would cross almost the entire border between Indonesia and Malaysia, slicing through three national parks. "I think the final objective of the project is to exploit logs -- yes, giving free timber in exchange for developing infrastructure," Mr Basri said. The spoils would include valuable ramin timber, exports of which are banned by Indonesia. Separate studies by Indonesia's Agriculture Ministry and WWF have found the region is too mountainous for effective palm-oil farming, which is most productive on flat terrain. A preliminary ministry study found only 10 per cent was suitable for palm oil, said Ahmad Dimyati, director-general for plantations in the Agriculture Ministry.
02/12/06 - Clem Engine - New Correlations
(Thanks to Henry Postma for these insightful correlations. - JWD) Fottinger's Fluid Drive Torque Converter - At Stettin, Germany the principle of fluid transmission of power was conceived and developed in 1905. The inventor was Dr. Herman Fottinger, who was an engineer employed by the Vulcan Engineering Company. He was working mainly on a problem of finding a suitable drive from a steam turbine to a relatively low speed propeller for ship propulsion. At that time, gears were not developed to the extent that they are today and were considered impractical. Hydrokinetic Transmission - The hydrokinetic transmission was evolved around 1905 by Dr. Fottinger . The constant filling type coupling is generally used between co-axial shafts, enables a quick start-up to motor without effect of high inertia machines. Fluid coupling acts as "non-wearing clutch"; as power is transmitted from impeller (pump) to runner (turbine) through continuous stream of oil, smoothly and shocklessly. This article provides details about the fluid couplings which is widely used in paper and pulp industry. Fluid Coupling works on the principle of ‘Cube Law’ where in torque transmitted increases with the square of the input speed and power transmitted with the cube of input speed. The Fluid coupling allows the motor to start under virtually no load, as the load characteristic during start is parabolic. The motor is loaded only with full coupling torque after reaching its maximum speed.
02/12/06 - Astronauts devise asteroid collision plan
to push rock off its path to Earth
Two NASA astronauts have figured out a way to create a real-life version of a Star Wars "tractor beam" to keep an asteroid from crashing into the Earth. Simply by hovering nearby for perhaps a year, the astronauts say, the spacecraft's own gravity could minutely slow the asteroid's progress or speed it up, a process that 10 or 20 years later would cause the rogue rock to miss Earth by a comfortable margin. Because momentum doesn't dissipate in space, with enough time only a small early nudge is needed to cause a major orbital change. Schweickart originally advocated a tugboat strategy to dock with an asteroid and push it gently off its collision course, but he endorsed Lu and Love's idea as "a delightful way to pull an asteroid instead of pushing it -- we're all (in the foundation) sort of uncles to the tractor beam." Lu and Love's design would use a relatively small 20-ton spacecraft powered by charged atomic particles called ions, generated by an onboard nuclear reactor. Such a propulsion system would -- at relatively low weight -- provide enough power to accelerate the probe to the speeds needed to run down the target asteroid. With ordinary chemical fuel, "you'd be talking about a spacecraft that's 20 to 40 times larger," Lu said at Houston's Johnson Space Center. "That kind of technology doesn't exist." Once on station, the spacecraft would hover above the asteroid, using its engines to stay in place. Gravity is a two-way street, noted Love, also speaking from Houston. Even as the spacecraft counters the asteroid's gravity, he said, its own gravity will pull the asteroid out of orbit. "The velocity increment is small -- fractions of a centimeter (hundredths of an inch) per second," Lu added. "Suppose the asteroid is traveling 60,000 mph. You want to make it 60,001." This, Lu suggested, might take a year or two years, but that would be enough, for the change would then accumulate over a decade or more, sending the asteroid harmlessly away. Bigger asteroids would simply take more time. Unlike Schweickart's tug, the tractor would work even if the asteroid rotates or tumbles, and unlike nuking the asteroid -- Bruce Willis' solution in "Armageddon" -- the tractor is not messy. "Impacts and explosions are difficult to predict and control," said Love. "When you're trying to save the Earth, you want them to be both controllable and predictable."
02/12/06 - Smart new meters to cut power
Smart meters, otherwise known as interval meters, allow consumers to calculate the cost of their electricity consumption hour by hour, giving them the option of using low-cost off-peak power for dishwashers, pool filters or washing machines rather than high-cost electricity at times of peak demand. About 12 new power plants are being built or considered around Australia, with most designed to operate only when electricity demand is at its peak - usually at about this time of year - when generating companies can charge up to $10,000 a kilowatt hour. Normal generation charges are about $30 a kilowatt hour. The price consumers pay for electricity depends on the time of day the electricity is used. Customers taking advantage of off-peak electricity charges by using power in the cheaper times can save as much as 30 per cent on electricity bills. Some states and major energy companies have opposed the introduction of the meters, saying the benefits are exceeded by the costs. Depending on their level of sophistication, the electronic meters can cost from about $200 to more than $700 each.
02/11/06 - Heat from Air
(Another great 'lost' patent from Bob Nelson at Rex Research. - JWD) Around 1920 John Huston of Prineville, Ore., claimed to have invented a way to take heat out of the air with condensers. The first poorly insulated rig of his that I saw boiled water in 20 minutes. The device was claimed to replace fuels, to be good for household heating or refrigeration and to be able to run railroad engines or steamboats. "The machine can be made so hot that it will destroy itself. Reverse the machine, and the temperature will go as low as 250 below zero." He said manufacturers in San Francisco refused to build the machine because it would throw too many men out of work. It would also kill the sale of fuels, the major cargo of steamships at that time.
Huston also told me he had patented his device in Canada and England. The USA had refused to patent it. Huston evidently got nowhere with his device and I do not know what became of it. He died a young man of 22 in 1920 or 1921. US Patent # 1,781,062 (pdf) - Thermal Plant - In my invention I use any suitable prime mover for the compressing of an elastic fluid, as air, and utilize the heat thus obtained by the compression for heating purposes, I may then extract the remaining heat within the medium for heat purposes; and then expand the medium still under compression for creating the low temperature required. Highly efficient prime movers have been developed for performing work and it is my purpose to use a prime mover already in use, to drive a fluid compressor. My estimates have led me to believe that the greatest efficiency may be obtained at relatively low pressures, about fifteen pounds per square inch or lower, though it may be found expedient to increase the compression materially to cut down the sizes of the units employed in the various stages of my operation.
02/11/06 - Chevron, U.S. Postal Service Launch Unique Alternative Power System
Chevron Corporation today announced the completion of a unique hybrid alternative power plant -- combining two solar technologies and hydrogen fuel cell generation - and major energy efficiency improvements at two of the largest U.S. Postal Service (USPS) centers in California. The work involved installing energy-efficient equipment, including new energy management and compressed air systems, lighting retrofits and comprehensive heating, ventilation and air conditioning system upgrades. At the P&DC, a 680,000-square-foot facility, Chevron Energy Solutions also installed high-efficiency natural gas cooking equipment for the cafeteria as well as a unique hybrid solar/fuel cell power plant composed of a 250-kilowatt Direct FuelCell(R) that generates electricity from hydrogen produced internally from natural gas; 185 kilowatts of crystalline-silicon solar panels mounted on a PowerLight(R) parking canopy that tracks the sun; and 100 kilowatts of flexible, amorphous-silicon, roof-mounted UNI-SOLAR(R) solar panels. The improvements at both facilities will lower total annual electricity purchases by $1.2 million or 10 million kilowatt hours -- a 46 percent reduction. In addition, the energy-efficient equipment will reduce the P&DC's and EPC's heating needs by 69 percent and 28 percent, respectively. In total, these improvements translate to a reduction in local electric utility emissions of about 6,600 tons of carbon dioxide annually, the equivalent of planting about 1,860 acres of trees.
02/11/06 - Post Bush Speech - on Betraying the true situation in Iraq
Anderson Cooper: "The president says the US is winning the war in Iraq, joining us, Michael Ware, Baghdad bureau chief for Time Magazine. Michael, you probably spend more time, have more contact with insurgents, than anyone I've ever met. How do you think they read the statement that the US is winning and the talk in Washington about reducing troop levels?" - Ware: "Well, Anderson, this is all clearly from the president, political gymnastics. It's very clear that US policy, on the ground in Iraq, is not winning, it's not creating a victory. The question is, can America get out of there with anything close to a semblance of success?...Listening to Commanders on the ground who have described to me the 'big lie,' that we can't really tell the truth of what's going on, we can't ask for resources we need for fear of betraying the true situation in Iraq." "The 'great lie' of Bushs' address is the success of Iraq. The great truth is that the only long-term way out is developing alternative energy strategies."
02/11/06 - New Hydrogen source from Corn Sugar
A first-ever effort to make electricity from hydrogen is generating power in Madison, using a sophisticated chemical process with a little help from a four-cylinder Ford engine. The renewable energy system, developed by Virent Energy Systems, a Madison-based energy start-up, began sending electricity to the power grid in late December, said Virent Chief Executive Eric Apfelbach. Virent is a start-up firm founded by Randy Cortright after he and other scientists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison invented a chemical process for converting the sugar contained in corn plants into hydrogen. The process, known as aqueous phase reforming, is linked to the grid thanks to a financial contribution and participation of Madison Gas & Electric Co., the electric and natural gas utility that serves Madison and parts of Dane County. The system that's up and running is producing 10 kilowatts of electricity -- enough to power about five Madison homes for a year, said Dave Toso, senior engineer at MG&E. Cortright, Virent's chief technical officer, said the launch of the electrical generator is a key step for the company, which hopes to develop an even better system for use in a variety of applications, whether filling hydrogen-powered vehicles or powering homes through a portable generator. The company opted to use glycerol, a byproduct from the production of biodiesel, as the source rather than a corn-based sugar, Apfelbach said. The system uses natural gas briefly to start the four-cylinder engine, the same kind found in a Ford Focus. The engine then provides the heat to enable the chemical process that creates a hydrogen gas that in turn runs the engine and delivers power to the grid. "It's really a hydrogen or fuel gas generator that is much more efficient and emissions-friendly than anything that's available," he said. The company hopes to sell an updated version of its system for use in a hydrogen-fuel filling station for hydrogen-powered cars, and another for use in making hydrogen for industrial settings, he said.
02/11/06 - Rejuvenating Capitalism
By now in your economic life, you should have figured out that the relative health of the US economy (and by extension, the US's position as a global superpower) depends on American consumers consuming more and more something. Capitalism is a "grow or die" economic system. The economy has previously experienced spurts of growth from innovation starting with trains, automobiles, and then airplanes and space projects. Growth has come from radio, television, and more recently, the internet. And let's not leave out the Housing Bubble. But at some point, the economic stimulative effects of each of these "innovations" wears off. Take the events of 9/11 (whether you think they were manufactured or not) and the result explosion not of subsequent terrorist events, but rather the explosion in supposedly beneficial economic impacts of fighting terror. Everywhere I look, I see terror as a great economic engine released by 9/11. TSA employs more people. Research is poured into security devises, and the list grows daily. Extra cops for airport shifts. Dog trainers. Face recognition software, biometrics... When you read Rogers' work thoughtfully, you begin to appreciate that government, being in a hard spot, consciously or otherwise, needed an instant industry in 2001 to keep the paper-based economic game going - and false flag or genuine, it makes no difference the source of terror - because it's the economic effects that are critical to our lives. Try looking at the "new anti-terror industries" as growth engines to keep the general economy from imploding. In order words, what the "poor folk" needed was jobs - which "terror" generically produces as the State expands its powers. The result of the innovation (e.g. terror) is that it provides the thousands of jobs in "security" (baggage screeners, more cops at the airport), first adopted by people who were relatively better off (the class of business travelers), and the socioeconomic gap widens - precisely as we're seeing today.
02/11/06 - Sharing US oil royalties
The U.S. government should share more of the royalties it collects from energy companies for offshore oil and natural gas drilling with the states, particularly to help rebuild hurricane-ravaged Louisiana, a top Shell Oil executive said on Friday. Gulf Coast states that have offshore drilling collect royalties for oil and gas production in the their waters which usually extend only a few miles from shore. Any exploration beyond that is in federal waters, where the government collects royalties that go to the general treasury to pay for various programs benefiting the whole country. Marvin Odum, who is responsible for Shell's energy exploration and production businesses in the United States and the rest of the North and South America, said he supports efforts by the Gulf Coast states and local communities to get some of the federal oil and gas revenue.
02/11/06 - Redirecting public attention
(Other governments now copy Bush when he drums up concern for one thing to deflect attention away from another that he can't justify, such as the illegal wiretapping of the populace. - JWD) For those who found it suspicious that five-month old Mohammed cartoons would suddenly cause such commotion just as the United States is building a case for invading Iran, the news makes more than a little sense. The "spontaneous riots" seemed to have everything going in their favor, including busloads of Syrian protesters and a huge supply of Danish flags for burning. "Now while the Arab Islamic population was going crazy over the outrage created by their government's media over these cartoons, their governments was benefiting from its people's distraction," the blogger wrote. "The Saudi royal Family used it to distract its people from the outrage over the Hajj stampede. The Jordanian government used it to distract its people from their new minimum wage law demanded by their labor unions. The Syrian Government used it to create secterian division in Lebanon and change the focus on the Hariri murder. And, finally, the Egyptian government is using it to distract us while it passes through the new Judiciary reforms and Social Security Bill- which will cut over $300 million dollars in benefits to some of Egypt's poorest families." According to another blogger who scanned the allegedly inflammatory images, "The Egyptian paper criticized the bad taste of the cartoons but it did not incite hatred protests, so what is happening now?"
02/11/06 - Meyers 'Power from the Air' Patent Found!
(Another discovery of 'lost' information by Bob Nelson of Rex Research. - JWD) The "absorber" consists of a series of magnetized steel plates set in a circle (the manner of preparing them is kept secret) and this mechanism attracts the electricity for the atmosphere. This is carried by wires to a transformer in the engine house below and thence is applied to produce either power or light after the usual manner. In an authorized statement Meyers says: "The flow of electricity is constant. When it emerges into the transformer it is in the form of a direct current. It will absorb the electricity day and night and will work whenever the wireless will work. I can put up a plant to such a building as the Adams Hotel for about $1500, and one of the principal items of the expense is the cost of the towers, the wires, the magnetizing f one set of plates, which is part of the secret of the secret of the treatment which makes it respond to the accumulations of the atmosphere. British (GB) Patent # 191301098 - the present invention is distinguished from all such apparatus as has heretofore been employed for attracting static charges by the fact that this improved apparatus is not designed or employed to produce or generate irregular, fluctuating or other electrical charges which lack constancy, but on the other hand I have by actual test been able to produce from a very small apparatus at comparatively low elevation, say about 50 or 60 feet above the earth’s surface, a substantially constant current at a commercially usable voltage and amperage. This current I ascertained by repeated tests is capable of being readily increased by additions of the unit elements in the apparatus hereinafter set forth, and I am convinced from the constancy of the current obtained and its comparatively low potential that the current is dynamic and not static, although, of course, it is not impossible that certain static discharges occur... The invention more specifically comprises the employment of a magnet or magnets and a co-operating element, such as zinc disposed adjacent to the magnet or magnets and connected in such manner and arranged relative to the earth so as to produce current, my observation being that current is produced only when such magnets have their poles facing substantially to the north and south and the zincs are disposed substantially along the magnets.
02/10/06 - 'Sonofication' - Using Sound To Monitor Network Anomalies
"This brings to mind the quote by Igor Stravinsky who said that 'architecture is frozen music,'" said Stacey Quandt, research director of security solutions and services at U.S. consultancy Aberdeen Group. SIC, which stands for "Information in Music," provides a way for network managers to monitor their servers Relevant Products/Services from HP and data pipes for intrusion attacks, spam, or glitches, according to Professor Bill Farkas, project leader and Telecommunications Technology Program coordinator at Sheridan. ISIC uses mathematics to turn network or server behavior into music. "The generic term for this is 'sonofication,' the process of taking information of any kind and turning it into sound," Farkas said. A particular kind of event, such as spam, will have a particular type of music associated with it. "Music is a good medium for monitoring networks because it is pervasive, and people are used to listening to music in the background. Monitoring is about looking for patterns, and music basically consists of patterns." How do you compress multiple data items into a sound that the human ear can hear, and how does the human ear figure out what is the anomalous reading?" Quandt asked. "A system administrator could use ISIC as a single background channel for a 'compile' job and, if it goes bad, there would be a warning noise, but again this would be application-specific."
02/10/06 - Wave Hub central power for wave generators
Wave Hub will be an offshore facility for the testing and operation of wave energy generation devices, giving manufacturers a "plug-and-play" system to demonstrate how well their hydrokinetic energy generators work. This combines a couple of trends we've been watching for awhile: the growth of wave/tidal/ocean power as a viable renewable energy technology; and the emergence of green technologies as a path for regional differentiation and growth. The Wave Hub aims to create the world's first wave energy farm off the coast of Cornwall by building an electrical 'socket' on the seabed around 10 miles out to sea and connected to the National Grid via an underwater cable.
02/10/06 - The car that makes its own fuel
A unique system that can produce Hydrogen inside a car using common metals such as Magnesium and Aluminum was developed by an Israeli company. The system solves all of the obstacles associated with the manufacturing, transporting and storing of hydrogen to be used in cars. When it becomes commercial in a few years time, the system will be incorporated into cars that will cost about the same as existing conventional cars to run, and will be completely emission free. IsraCast recently covered the idea developed at the Weizmann Institute to use pure Zinc to produce Hydrogen using solar power. Now, a different solution has been developed by an Israeli company called Engineuity. Amnon Yogev, one of the two founders of Engineuity, and a retired Professor of the Weizmann Institute, suggested a method for producing a continuous flow of Hydrogen and steam under full pressure inside a car. This method could also be used for producing hydrogen for fuel cells and other applications requiring hydrogen and/or steam. The Hydrogen car Engineuity is working on will use metals such as Magnesium or Aluminum which will come in the form of a long coil. The gas tank in conventional vehicles will be replaced by a device called a Metal-Steam combustor that will separate Hydrogen out of heated water. The basic idea behind the technology is relatively simple: the tip of the metal coil is inserted into the Metal-Steam combustor together with water where it will be heated to very high temperatures. The metal atoms will bond to the Oxygen from the water, creating metal oxide. As a result, the Hydrogen molecules are free, and will be sent into the engine alongside the steam. The solid waste product of the process, in the form of metal oxide, will later be collected in the fuel station and recycled for further use by the metal industry. Refuelling the car based on this technology will also be remarkably simple. The vehicle will contain a mechanism for rolling the metal wire into a coil during the process of fuelling and the spent metal oxide, which was produced in the previous phase, will be collected from the car by vacuum suction. The move to Hydrogen based cars using Engineuity's technology will require only relatively minor changes from the car manufacturer's point of view. Since the modified engine can be produced using existing production lines, removing the need for investment in new infrastructures (the cost of which is estimated at billions of dollars), the new Hydrogen cars would not be more expensive. Although Engineuity's Hydrogen car will not be very different from existing conventional cars, the company is not currently planning an upgrade kit for existing cars but is concentrating on building a system that will be incorporated into new car models.
02/10/06 - Smart Lenses tuned to your eye for Super Vision
"Theoretically, this should be able to double the distance that a person can see clearly," (Blum) says... Technicians scan the eyeball with an aberrometer -- a device that measures aberrations that can impede vision -- and then the pixels are programmed to correct the irregularities. Traditional glasses correct lower-order aberrations like nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatisms. PixelOptics' lenses handle higher-order aberrations that are much more difficult to detect and correct. Thanks to technologies created for astronomical telescopes and spy satellites, aberrometers can map a person's eye with extreme accuracy. Lasers bounce off the back of the eyeball, and structures in the eye scatter the resulting beam of light. Software reads the scattered beam and creates a map of the patient's eye, including tiny abnormalities such as bumps, growths and valleys. The pixelated eyeglass lens is then tuned to refract light in a way that corrects for those high-level aberrations.
02/10/06 - Howard Johnson's 'The Secret World of Magnets'
Did you know that a magnet can fire a burst of energy a couple of hundred times stronger than its base strength? Again and again. Did you know that similar magnetic poles often attract, not repel? Did you know that the popular belief that the patterns formed by iron filings round a magnet bear little resemblance to the force fields, which are actually spinning vortices? In fact the only thing the iron filings show is what little pieces of magnets do in magnetic fields. In 1970, Howard Johnson, one of the true pioneers in the field of magnetism research, and unofficial "father of spintronics" published a 54 page book entitled "Discovering Magnetism." Modestly priced at $25 (U.S. shipping), this book is suitable for anyone of any age who is interested in magnets, and can be ordered at http://cheniere.org/books/HoJo/index.html (via zpenergy.com)
02/10/06 - Scientists develop new inexpensive technology to produce hydrogen
By mimicking a protein found in nature and putting it to work, a group of scientists in Montana and New York is looking at producing alternative fuel using inexpensive sources and a unique chemical reaction. The invention is aimed at producing hydrogen as a fuel using inexpensive ingredients, although the inventors say more development is needed. This invention--a hydrogen production reactor--would use organic acids or ethanol and water along with either the naturally occurring protein or a synthetic equivalent to create hydrogen. "In principle, this is an incredibly efficient, renewable, environmentally friendly source of hydrogen," Douglas said. The scientists face hurdles, however, before the invention can supply fuel. One involves getting enough of the protein, which the scientists have learned how to make in the laboratory, to drive large-scale energy production. But the invention is far enough along, Douglas said, to interest potential fuel manufacturers. Commercial challenges exist as well, including the lack of a hydrogen-fuel infrastructure to support large-scale distribution and usage similar to that for petroleum fuels. But Douglas said once hydrogen reactors are commonplace, a hydrogen distribution and usage system is likely to follow.
02/10/06 - US plans massive data sweep
Little-known data-collection system could troll news, blogs, even e-mails. Will it go too far? The US government is developing a massive computer system that can collect huge amounts of data and, by linking far-flung information from blogs and e-mail to government records and intelligence reports, search for patterns of terrorist activity. By delving deeply into the digital minutiae of American life, the program is also raising concerns that the government is intruding too deeply into citizens' privacy. Without oversight and accountability, critics say, even well-intentioned counterterrorism programs could experience mission creep, having their purview expanded to include non- terrorists - or even political opponents or groups. "The development of this type of data-mining technology has serious implications for the future of personal privacy," says Steven Aftergood of the Federation of American Scientists. While privacy laws do place some restriction on government use of private data - such as medical records - they don't prevent intelligence agencies from buying information from commercial data collectors. Congress has done little so far to regulate the practice or even require basic notification from agencies, privacy experts say. Indeed, even data that look anonymous aren't necessarily so. For example: With name and Social Security number stripped from their files, 87 percent of Americans can be identified simply by knowing their date of birth, gender, and five-digit Zip code, according to research by Latanya Sweeney, a data-privacy researcher at Carnegie Mellon University.
02/10/06 - Inventor discovers better way to desalinate water
"Our process will work especially well with brines holding salt concentrations above 5.5 percent," Sirkar said. Currently, 5.5 percent is the highest percentage of salt in brine that can be treated using reverse osmosis. "We especially like our new process because we can fuel it with low grade, inexpensive waste heat," Sirkar said. "Cheap heat costs less, but can heat brine efficiently." The science behind Sirkar's membrane distillation process is simple. The inexpensive fuel heats the water forcing it to evaporate from the salt solution. The cleansed vapor then travels through nano-sized pore in the membrane to wind up condensed in the cold water on the membrane's other side. "The basic principles of membrane separation have been known for a long time," said Sirkar. "Intestines in animals and humans are semi-permeable membranes. Early experiments to study the process of separation were performed by chemists using samples of animal membranes." Today, membrane separation processes depend on the design of the membrane and the membrane module. The size of the pores is often key to determining which molecular components in either a liquid or gas form will pass through the membrane. Typically molecules flow from a region of high to low concentration. Pressure or concentration differences on both sides of the membrane cause the actual separation to occur. As pore size decreases, the membrane's efficiency and selectivity increases. Membrane separation processes are used in biomedical, biotechnology, chemical, food, petrochemical, pharmaceutical and water treatment industries to separate/purify/concentrate liquid solutions or cellular suspensions or gaseous mixtures. Typically Sirkar works with miniscule membranes, smaller in size than nanometers. A nanometer is one billionth of a meter. Although Sirkar has no crystal ball, he envisions many future applications for his process. "Desalinating seawater to stimulate economic development and create potable water always has an attentive audience," he said.
02/09/06 - Printed solar cells almost ready
By next year, Stanbery predicts, HelioVolt will have its solar-generating technology embedded into building products such as metal roofs, skylights, exterior glass and curtain walls. The company has built a prototype product, which helped secure funding, but it isn't disclosing its identity or which products it will launch first. But the goal is to literally create "power buildings." The company's backers say HelioVolt could revolutionize the industry by turning parts of a building into a power generator and do it more efficiently and at a lower cost than traditional solar technology: the bulky panels found on some rooftops. HelioVolt bypasses silicon, the standard base material used in solar cells, in favor of a copper indium gallium selenide-based manufacturing process known as CIGS. HelioVolt places the chemicals on plates - the process resembles a high-tech printing press - squeezes them together and rapidly heats the materials. The resulting product can be made part of metals, plastic or glass, among other materials. The result is a "platform" technology that can be adapted to countless types of materials, Stanbery says. And because it's high-volume manufacturing, the cost per unit will be well below that of traditional solar manufacturing, he adds. Solar and the entire renewables industry will be helped by continued uncertainty about the price of oil and natural gas. "The cost of sunlight is not going up, and the cost of converting sunlight into power is going down - or at least it will," Stanbery says.
02/09/06 - Hotel Mezzanine uses ecologically sound practices in Tulum, Mexico
Grey waters from showers, sinks and the kitchen are filtered through pipes then pumped out to water the gardens throughout Mezzanine’s property. Black water from toilets are also processed on site and kept separate from grey waters in a three-stage septic tank. Once waste has passed through all three chambers of the natural septic tank it passes into the wetlands area, a cement box-type tank filled with gravel that is planted with lush broad leafed plants such as banana palms which feed on the water, break down the nitrates and then evaporate the water harmlessly into the environment through transpiration. When it comes to power, all electricity used at Mezzanine is generated on site. Thanks to the searing Caribbean sun and sea breezes, solar and wind energy charge a large battery bank that powers the restaurant, lights, stereo system, water pumps and even the pool pump (which runs at least six hours a day). To supplement natural sources of electricity, a small propane generator runs three to four hours each night when all the lights are on. What they’ve created is a mini ecosystem that cleanses and reuses Tulum’s natural resources instead of draining them. “We like the idea of contributing to the positive upkeep of Tulum’s surrounding area," says Leach. "We feel responsible for maintaining the beauty around us and have the peace of mind in knowing our practices are leaving a minimum impact while maximizing people’s vacation experiences.”
02/09/06 - Hybrids in Competition
The automotive universe is expanding in all directions, particularly on the technology front. By far the most prevalent technological direction, however, is the move toward more hybrid-electric vehicles - small and large. Once thought dead, pure electrics are enjoying renewed interest in many parts of the world, thanks in large part to advancements in lithium-ion battery technology. Subaru is showing a subcompact electric car concept said to be fully rechargeable in five minutes and with enough range for a typical daily commute. DaimlerChrysler's GEM division is the market leader in neighbourhood electric vehicles (NEVs), which are becoming increasingly popular in gated communities in the U.S. GEM displayed a new five-passenger NEV. Plenty of work is being done to keep IC powerplants competitive in fuel economy and emissions and to broaden the range of fuels they can burn. A trend toward more transmission gear ratios continues, with both Toyota's new Camry and Ford's Edge offering six-speed automatics.
02/09/06 - Follow the money - the secret corporate funding behind health research
Set yourself up with a high profile name, quoted often in the media, then use that notoriety to get funding under veiled threats. Academics and the media have failed dismally to ask the crucial question of scientists' claims: who is paying you? Arise, founded in 1988, seems to have been active until 2004. It described itself as "a worldwide association of eminent scientists who act as independent commentators". Its purpose, these eminent scientists said, was to show how "everyday pleasures, such as eating chocolate, smoking, drinking tea, coffee and alcohol, contribute to the quality of life". The "health police", as Arise sometimes called them, could be causing more harm than good. Arise received an astonishing amount of coverage. Between September 1993 and March 1994, for example, it generated 195 newspaper articles and radio and television interviews, in places such as the Wall Street Journal, the International Herald Tribune, the Independent, the Evening Standard, El País, La Repubblica, Rai and the BBC. Much of this coverage resulted from a Mori poll, called Naughty but Nice, that Arise claimed to have commissioned, into the guilty pleasures people enjoyed most. A recently released memo showed that in the previous financial year Arise had received $373,400: $2,000 from Coca-Cola, $900 from other firms and the rest - over 99% - from Philip Morris, British American Tobacco, RJ Reynolds and Rothmans. In 1994-95 its budget would be $773,750. Rothmans and RJ Reynolds had each committed to provide $200,000, and BAT "has also shown interest". She suggested that Philip Morris put up $300,000. Then the memo becomes even more interesting. "The previous 'Naughty but Nice' Mori poll proved to be very effective in getting wide media coverage. How much more science is being published in academic journals with undeclared interests like these? How many more media campaigns against "overregulation", the "compensation culture" or "unfounded public fears" have been secretly funded and steered by corporations? How many more undeclared recipients of corporate money have been appearing on the Today programme, providing free public relations for their sponsors?
02/09/06 - MIRAGE - Air Force Aims for Weather Control
Someday the U.S. military could drive a trailer to a spot just beyond insurgent fighting and, within minutes, reconfigure part of the atmosphere, blocking an enemy's ability to receive satellite signals, even as U.S. troops are able to see into the area with radar. An engineer with Research Support Instruments in Princeton, N.J. recently completed the first phase of work for a U.S. Air Force sponsored project called Microwave Ionosphere Reconfiguration Ground based Emitter, or Mirage. The work involves using plasma - an ionized gas - to reconfigure the ionosphere. Mirage would employ a microwave transmitter on the ground and a small rocket that shoots chaff into the air to produce about a liter of plasma at 60-100 km. (36- 60 mi.) in altitude, changing the number of electrons in a select area of the ionosphere to create a virtual barrier. Ionosphere reconfiguration offers two major applications of interest to the military: bouncing radars off the ionosphere, also known as over-the-horizon radar, and the ability to jam signals from the Global Positioning Satellite system, according to John Kline, the lead investigator for Mirage.In the past, NASA's fringe science arm has looked into tweaking Mother Nature, to throw hurricanes off their course. But those were just computer simulations. No one actually tried to go out a build some weather control machine.
02/09/06 - Battery Brain for commercial trucks
Smart Energy Solutions has introduced Battery Brain, a device that the company says is designed to make sure a battery always has enough power to start a vehicle’s motor. The device attaches to the vehicle’s battery and uses advanced electronics and software to continuously monitor the charge strength of the battery. “If the charge drops below a pre-programmed level, Battery Brain automatically cuts off power to anything draining the battery, ensuring that there is enough charge remaining to start the engine,” Levinas said. The device will work on commercial trucks, he said. Levinas said Battery Brain can be used for any engine with a conventional lead-acid battery and in most cases can be installed by any do-it-yourselfer or professional mechanic in a matter of minutes using the vehicle’s existing battery cables. “Should Battery Brain need to disconnect power due to excess drain, all it takes is a simple push down on the device’s reset control knob to start the engine at which point the electric generator or alternator will recharge the battery,” he said, adding that the Battery Brain III model comes with a remote control device to restart the battery, without having to lift the hood of the car. The basic model retails for $39.95, and the Battery Brain III with remote control and anti-theft feature for $69.95.
02/09/06 - Aesthetics and sound pollution worries stop Energy Independence efforts
Talib's plan is generating static from neighbors and city officials leery of a five-story structure in the neighborhood. He's got to convince them the slender, mast-like 55 foot tall wind generator won't be an eyesore. That's the height of the windmill he wants to erect at a home he's building in Victoria Park. The windmill, along with solar cells, solar water heater and other modifications, should allow the Fort Lauderdale architect to declare energy independence. The windmill is just one energy-saving device Talib envisions for his $1 million-plus home on Victoria Terrace. There's special insulation, and a custom design that ensures open areas are shaded. He's putting a large solar water heater on his roof, as well as photovoltaic, or PV, solar panels that convert sunlight into electricity. The PV panels will directly power low amperage items such as lights, televisions and computers, and store the electricity in batteries when those items are not in use. The windmill's six-foot blades will do the heavy duty, propelling a turbine that sends electricity earthward to run the demanding air conditioning system and power-hungry appliances like refrigerators. Extra wattage will be stored in batteries, and can even be sold back to Florida Power & Light. Talib is prepared to spend almost $60,000 on energy-producing features, including about $25,000 on the windmill. He feels he's financially fit enough to pay for energy freedom -- and figures on pocketing the roughly $6,000 a year he would have paid in electric bills for his new home. Should the city board deny Talib's windmill, his only option to contest the decision is to sue in Circuit Court. Either way, Talib is content to see the issue aired publicly.
02/09/06 - Safe Pebble Bed Nuclear Reactor being built in South Africa
Next year the Republic of South Africa will begin on-site construction of the first Pebble Bed Modular Reactor (PBMR)-a revolutionary nuclear power source which South Africa's Minister of Public Enterprises calls "the perfect nuclear technology for Africa and the developing countries." With the PBMR, South Africa has taken the leading edge in fourth-generation nuclear technology, combining extraordinary simplicity, robustness, and "inherent safety" with the capability to produce high-temperature heat for the production of hydrogen-based fuels and other industrial processes, as well as cheap electricity. The electricity-producing version of the PBMR already has a large customer in the South African power company, Eskom, which is committed to purchasing a total of at least 4,000 megawatts-electric of PBMR capacity, as the spearhead of its modernizing and expansion program for power production. However, in the future, the process-heat application may be even more interesting, not least of all for hydrogen production. PBMR is already planning to construct a second demonstration plant that will demonstrate the process-heat capability.
02/09/06 - Developing superconductor motors for all electric vehicles
Two funding award, the former of which was awarded through the U.S. Army for an integrated starter/generator for hybrid powertrain military vehicles, apply to the company’s Applied Technology division, which has been working on new superconducting technologies with the goals of improving efficiency, reducing size and reducing cost when compared with competing superconducting machinery technologies. The most recent award, which uses modified, off-the-shelf cryo-cooler technology and conventional drive technology, is initially targeted as a propulsion motor for unmanned, all-electric aircraft, but the technology is also suitable for hybrid electric aircraft as a main superconducting generator. The system also has future applications in the marine sector, as generators or propulsion motors, according to the company. SatCon plans to collaborate with cryogenics systems’ experts at MIT to help develop the superconducting propulsion motor, according to the company.
02/09/06 - Aqua Dyne Tests Solar-powered Mine Water Desalination
Aqua Dyne received approval to deploy component modules of the JetWater Thermal Desalination system to a site adjacent to Lake Liddell in the Upper Hunter region of New South Wales, Australia. The JetWater Thermal module will be tested and monitored over a three-month trial program. The module will be connected to a solar energy system developed and supplied by Solar Heat & Power Pty Ltd of Singleton, NSW Australia. The flexibility of the Aqua Dyne JetWater system design allows it to be used for a wide range of desalination requirements ranging from seawater, brackish groundwater and remediation of industrial wastewater, as well as the ability to co-generate with a variety of industrial plant and equipment. Research indicates that solar collecting panels of 1000 square meters in area are required to produce 1/2 megaliter of desalinated water per day. Surplus steam can be produced to run a generator capable of producing sufficient electricity for mine use or sold onto the grid. In the western U.S., according to the release, the Forest Service estimates that between 20,000 and 50,000 mines are currently generating acid on Forest Service lands, and that drainage from these mines is impacting between 8,000 and 16,000 kilometers of streams (U.S. Forest Service 1993). In addition to the acid contamination to surface waters, acid mine drainage (AMD) may cause metals such as arsenic, cadmium, copper, silver, and zinc to leach from mine wastes. The Solar / Thermal JetWater system will demonstrate an environmental and economically sustainable solution to remediate wastewater streams.
02/08/06 - New Compound kills ALL AIDS viruses
Researchers believe they have found a new compound that could finally kill the HIV/AIDS virus, not just slow it down as current treatments do. While most of the community is still hesitant to comment on this until it passes peer review, initial results show that their method attacks and kills ALL variations of the virus. A fast track through the FDA could have one of the world's leading problems licked in less than a decade.
02/08/06 - Nanoscientists fired up about battery alternative
Capacitors store energy as an electrical field, making them more efficient than standard batteries, which get their energy from chemical reactions. Ultracapacitors are capacitor-based storage cells that provide quick, massive bursts of instant energy. They are sometimes used in fuel-cell vehicles to provide an extra burst for accelerating into traffic and climbing hills. However, ultracapacitors need to be much larger than batteries to hold the same charge. The LEES invention would increase the storage capacity of existing commercial ultracapacitors by storing electrical fields at the atomic level. Although ultracapacitors have been around since the 1960s, they are relatively expensive and only recently began being manufactured in sufficient quantities to become cost-competitive. Today you can find ultracapacitors in a range of electronic devices, from computers to cars. The LEES ultracapacitor has the capacity to overcome this energy limitation by using vertically aligned, single-wall carbon nanotubes - one thirty-thousandth the diameter of a human hair and 100,000 times as long as they are wide. How does it work? Storage capacity in an ultracapacitor is proportional to the surface area of the electrodes. Today's ultracapacitors use electrodes made of activated carbon, which is extremely porous and therefore has a very large surface area. However, the pores in the carbon are irregular in size and shape, which reduces efficiency. The vertically aligned nanotubes in the LEES ultracapacitor have a regular shape, and a size that is only several atomic diameters in width. The result is a significantly more effective surface area, which equates to significantly increased storage capacity.
02/08/06 - Hydrogen-Powered Honda FCX Going Into Production
Honda previously introduced the FCX-V4 of which a portion of 30 examples found their way into government fleets and at least one famiy, but the packaging solutions Honda has developed for hydrogen storage as well as their clever Home Energy Station, alleviating the need for widespread hydrogen refilling stations on the road, point the way around many of the obstacles, or detours, on the road to the hydrogen highway and zero-emission culture of the future. Many of the advancements with the new FCX center around Honda’s V Flow fuel cell platform. The cells are stacked vertically in the center tunnel and arranged in a vertebral layout (think of it as though the stacks are your backbones if you are lying on your back) for higher efficiency packaging as well as more efficient management of gas flow (from top to bottom). Another breakthrough was in the realm of storage, and with a newly developed higher absorption material in the tanks which allowed Honda to double storage capacity. The FCX can achieve a real-world driving range of over 500 km (350 miles). The fuel cells work by collecting energy from the conversion of hydrogen and oxygen into water, which gives off electricity. In the case of the FCX, the energy is then fed to three efficient motors, two compact 25kW motors in each of the rear wheels and a larger energy-efficient 80kW motor in the front. The three motors combine to make a total of 100kW, and the primary emission is water, which flows through those vertical stacks more easily than the usual horizontal arrangements.
02/08/06 - Grapes Prolong Life
An organic compound found in grapes, berries and some nuts extended the life span of fish in a recent study. Nothobranchius furzeri lives an average of nine weeks in captivity but lacing its food with resveratrol boosted longevity by more than 50 percent. Previous research had shown that resveratrol prolongs the life span of yeast and insects, but this study marks the first proof of its antiaging effects in a vertebrate. Neuroscientist Alessandro Cellerino and his colleagues at the Scuola Normale Superiore in Pisa, Italy, tested different doses of the compound on more than 150 fish. Thirty fish received a small dose in their regular food, 60 received a medium dose and 20 received a large helping; meanwhile, 47 control fish enjoyed their insect larvae meals sans resveratrol. The control and low-dose fish saw no benefits, but even the fish who received only a middling amount of the compound lived up to 27 percent longer.
02/08/06 - Energy Storage - Supporting Greater Wind Energy Usage
Coupling energy storage technologies with wind turbines can solve many of wind power’s operational issues and support the continued expansion of wind energy production. It should be noted that many types of renewable energy production already benefits from energy storage technologies. By decoupling the production and delivery of energy from renewable resources, storage technologies can make the generated energy more useful and more valuable. A number of energy storage technologies are currently in use or being evaluated for use in conjunction with renewable energy resources. Some of these technologies include: * Flywheels: Flywheels store energy in a rotating mass of either steel of composite material. Through the use of a motor/generator, energy can be cycled (absorbed and then discharged) a great many times without reducing the life-span of the device. By increasing the surface speed of the flywheel, the energy storage capacity (kWh) of the unit can be increased; by increasing the size of the motor/generator, the power (kW) of the unit can be increased. * Flow Batteries: Flow batteries store energy in charged electrolytes and utilize proton exchange membranes similar to fuel cells. By flowing the (charged or uncharged) electrolytes through the cell, energy can be cycled through the unit. By adding additional electrolyte, the energy storage capacity (kWh) of the unit can be increased; by increasing the number of cells, the power (kW) of the unit can be increased. * Compressed Air Energy Storage (CAES): CAES facilities store energy in compressed air held in underground chambers. These facilities charge (compress the air) the cavern at night with low cost system power; this air is then used as input for a gas turbine during peak price periods during the day, allowing all of the energy output to generate energy instead of compressing air in pre-combustion. By increasing the volume of air in the underground chamber, the energy storage capacity (kWh) of the unit can be increased; by increasing size of the compressor and turbine, the power (kW) of the unit can be increased.
02/08/06 - Whirlpool bathtubs breeding ground for Bacteria
A study by a Texas A&M University microbiologist shows that whirlpool bathtubs can literally be a breeding ground for dozens of types of bacteria, many of them potential pathogens, and such water can be a ground zero for infectious diseases. Microbiologist Rita B. Moyes tested 43 water samples from whirlpool bathtubs - both private and public ones - and found that all 43 had bacterial growth ranging from mild to red-level dangerous. A whopping 95 percent showed the presence of fecal derived bacteria, while 81 percent had fungi and 34 percent contained staphylococcus, which can cause deadly staph infections. "The main reason is the lining of the pipes. They are full of inaccessible air, and water in these pipes tends to get trapped, often for long periods of time. When the jets are then switched on, this water with harmful bacteria gets blown into the tub where a person is soaking and then trouble can start." To get some idea of how much bacteria are in whirlpool tub pipes, Moyes says that a normal teaspoon of tap water contains an average of about 138 bacteria, with many samples not having any bacteria at all. But the same teaspoon of whirlpool tub water contains an average of more than 2.17 million bacteria. "The stagnant water in a whirlpool bathtub pipe is a great place for bacteria to grow and grow," Moyes says. She adds that such harmful bacteria can lead to numerous diseases, among them urinary tract infections, septicemia, pneumonia and several types of skin infections. Because of the aerosol mist created by the whirlpool action, microbes are forced into the lungs or open cuts, she explains. One type of bacteria, L. pneumophila, can cause Legionnaires Disease, of which 90 percent of all cases can be traced back to bacteria developed from a warm environment. "The best way to prevent such bacteria from forming is to clean out the pipes," she adds. "The pipes in a whirlpool bathtub need to be scraped and cleaned just like you need to brush your teeth with toothpaste." The lesson learned: Enter a whirlpool bathtub at your own risk, and it may be a considerable one.
02/08/06 - Human waste detrimental to plants
Faeces from healthy humans contains live viruses, most of which are plant viruses that could sicken and deform plants, an international study shows. Collected water, otherwise known as reclaimed or grey water, may also contain deadly plant viruses. The researchers say the viruses we pass probably do not harm us and airborne transmission is unlikely. Instead, the viruses probably hitch a ride through the human body via food, even when the food is cooked or dried. "The fact that we could detect plant viruses in mixtures of foods consumed by the [study] donors suggests that the plant viruses found in human faeces originate from our food," says Mya Breitbart, one of the study's authors, a San Diego State University biologist. The virus might even multiply in the human gut, the researchers say, as the amount in the faeces was more than the virus load measured in food. The scientists analysed in detail the faeces from two of the test subjects, who came from San Diego, and were able to identify 36,769 RNA virus sequences representing 35 known plant viruses, two animal viruses, one yeast virus and four bacteria. One of the animal viruses is linked to diarrhoea, while the other, Moloney murine leukaemia virus, has been linked to cancer in humans and animals. Some 24 of the identified plant viruses are known to harm consumable crops, including fruits, vegetables, tobaccos and cereals. "I am not aware of any cases where a plant virus has mutated into a virus that caused harm to humans. However, it is important to understand and characterise the viruses that are present in the guts of healthy humans in order to understand what is happening in the case of disease," Breitbart says.
02/08/06 - Halliburtons government funded USA Concentration Camps
The New York Time reports the Bush administration's Homeland Security Department has given an open-ended contract worth $385 million dollars to Halliburton's KBR division ... to build U.S. prisons for immigrants and disaster victims. "The contract, which is effective immediately, provides for establishing temporary detention and processing capabilities to augment existing Immigration and Customs Enforcement Detention and Removal Operations Program facilities in the event of an emergency influx of immigrants into the U.S., or to support the rapid development of new programs," Halliburton announced in a Jan. 24 press release. Just what sort of "new programs" would require jailing immigrants and disaster victims has not been made public. But in 2002, attorney general John Ashcroft announced his intention to build "enemy combatant" camps for U.S. citizens. "Ashcroft's plan, disclosed last week but little publicized, would allow him to order the indefinite incarceration of U.S. citizens and summarily strip them of their constitutional rights and access to the courts by declaring them enemy combatants," the Los Angeles Times reported. "The contract may also provide migrant detention support to other U.S. Government organizations in the event of an immigration emergency, as well as the development of a plan to react to a national emergency, such as a natural disaster. In the event of a natural disaster, the contractor could be tasked with providing housing for ICE personnel performing law enforcement functions in support of relief efforts." The location of the new prisons is a secret. "If, for example, there were some sort of upheaval in another country that would cause mass migration, that's the type of situation that this contract would address," Jamie Zuieback of U.S. Immigration and Customs told the San Bernardino Sun. Halliburton, which was run by Dick Cheney until he became vice president in 2001, has earned billions through contracts awarded by the White House. The company's no-bid contracts in Iraq and in hurricane-torn Louisiana have been attacked by the Government Accountability Office. The company has been repeatedly caught overcharging the government, doing shoddy work and even feeding rotten food to U.S. troops in Iraq.
02/08/06 - Cannabis cure for coughs
In most countries, using cannabis is likely to land you in trouble with the law. But the stuff has also inspired a cure for coughing fits. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main psychoactive chemical found in cannabis, has a well known effect on the brain. But it also latches onto the nerve cells in the upper airways of mammals and short-circuits the signals that cause coughing spasms. The US government's National Institute of Health (NIH) has been paying the University of California in Oakland, US, to develop a cough cure based on this effect. Oakland has found that a recently discovered relative of THC - arachidonylethanolamide (anandamide) - can have a similar cough-quelling effect, but without also making users high. Anandamide can be puffed into a person's airways from an aerosol inhaler and latch onto the same nerve cells as THC. But it binds so tightly to the cells that it will not get into the bloodstream. The drug has so far been tested on rats and guinea pigs, which were given the treatment and then sprayed with pepper. Microphones inside the animal's cages counted the coughs - and they were significantly reduced after the aerosol cure was administered.
02/08/06 - Safe Tick Remover minimizes Lyme disease risks
Plastic tool safely twists ticks from skin of humans and other animals. Cool Tools reviews a cheap plastic tool that safely removes one of the foulest creatures God put on earth to make our lives miserable: ticks. The O'TOM® hooks (also marketed in USA under the trademark "TICK-TWISTER®" ) allow tick removal from the skin of animals and people. They are always sold in a two pack (the large hook for the medium and large ticks, the small hook for small and very small ticks) , and are currently the most efficient tools to remove all ticks, any size and location, * without leaving the mouth-parts of the tick planted in the skin * without compressing the abdomen of the ticks, minimizing the transfer agents (Lyme's disease, babesiosis...) * without ether or other products * in a few seconds, without pain. (via boingboing.com)
02/08/06 - New Information - Wesley W. Gary's Magnetic Motor - 2nd Patent!!
(Thanks to Greg Smith for this headsup. - JWD) Mr. Wesley Gary's 1st patent gained the attention of Harper's magazine and an experiment has been developed demonstrating it but it is Gary's 2nd patent (# 190,206), which shows a simple design, easily duplicated. It is as simple as putting 2 permanent magnets facing each other so that they attract then, put a small electromagnet between them, with 2 sets of contacts mounted so that as it approaches either magnet, its poles are reversed and it is repulsed back toward the other. Any oscillating to rotating actuator that can handle the force of the strong permanent magnets will complete the device - and produce a lot of torque! Quote from Patent #190,206 - "The object of my invention is to apply and fully utilize, in an electric motor, the power of permanent magnets, and to develop from them the greater part of the power, so that motors of great power may be actuated by means of small electromagnets, and a correspondingly small expenditure of battery power. This end I attain by arranging two permanent magnets at a short distance apart, with the negative pole of each opposite the positive pole of the other, and then arranging between them an electromagnet attached to the driving mechanism, and connected with an automatic pole changing device, so that the electromagnet is attracted and repelled by the two permanent magnets alternately, one attracting it at the same time that it is repelled by the other. In this way I am enabled to employ constantly and directly the full power of the electromagnet and both permanent magnets. As it makes no difference in the power of the motor whether the force to move the vibrating magnet emanates from permanent or the electromagnet, it is obvious that the same results may be obtained by the use of strong permanent magnets in connection with a weak electromagnet as are obtained by the use of weak permanent magnets and a strong electromagnet, so that on my plan I am enabled to construct motors of large size and power, and operate them with small batteries at a trifling cost."
02/07/06 - Personal Roman Chariot / land surface Pod Racer
(Another hackable fun thing. - JWD) Rollerblading always seems like so much fun when we see people zipping through the Park, but the whole self-propulsion thing kind of turns us off, which is why we've been waiting for a device like the Easy-Glider. Basically an electric motor attached to a wheel attached to a handlebar, the Swiss-made Easy-Glider Deluxe propels whatever its towing with 380 watts of eco-friendly power, and even recharges itself while cruising downhill (probably not fully). The less-athletic among us can decide to forgo the 'blades or skateboard altogether and step up to what we'll call the "touring package," which attaches a small wheeled footbridge to your ride. Prices range from a steep $1,025 for the Standard without footbridge to an even steeper $1,315 for the Deluxe with, not to mention the hefty shipping charge you'll have to pay to import one from Switzerland. (via impactlab.com)
02/07/06 - Orwell 21 years late!
(Thanks to Ross for the update. - JWD) IT took 21 years longer than expected, but the future has finally arrived. And we don't like it. Not one bit. We are fighting a war with no end to create a peace with no defined victory. We occupy a foreign land that doesn't want us, while at home our civil liberties are discounted. We are told that it's better not to know what our government is doing in our name, for security purposes. Meanwhile, our government is becoming omnipresent, spying on us whenever it deems it necessary. War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength. George Orwell was right after all. In 1949, Orwell penned "1984," a dark, futuristic satire in which the totalitarian government used indoctrination, propaganda and fear to enforce order and conformity. His "Big Brother" - the face of this all-knowing regime - was never wrong, and to make sure of it, history was constantly being rewritten. Orwell wrote his book as a cautionary tale to underscore the insidious danger of slowly eroded individual liberties. His Thought Police may not yet be on the march, but it's not hyperbole to point out the eerie parallels with today's America. In America today, Big Brother is watching.
02/07/06 - Peculiar sounds from Saltwater on Aluminum
(Thanks to JC for the headsup. - JWD) When the aluminum and contact wire above are connected to an audio amplifier, very strange and interesting sounds can be heard. This cell also produces a small voltage and there is generally more activity when R (100k to 1meg) is in the circuit drawing some current. One of the materials tried with the drop of salt water, for photocell action was aluminum (see my article on the homemade photocell). No photocell action was observed with the salt water and aluminum cell but I did hear some very interesting sounds when it was connected to the audio amplifier. What makes these sounds interesting is that they are not just random noise as one might expect. The sounds contain many periodic pulse like tones that vary in pitch.
02/07/06 - Putting out CO2 polluting Coal Fires
Coal fires are underground fires that burn in coal mines and seams. In China alone, they may spew as much CO2 into the atmosphere as all the cars in the US. These fires are exceedingly difficult to put out. Indeed, some well-known ones have been burning for decades. Finding a way to put out coal fires and prevent new ones would seem to me to be an area where new innovation could yield profound benefits for everyone. (via worldchanging.com)
02/07/06 - Arrested for Vegan protest
An undercover DeKalb County Homeland Security detective was assigned to conduct surveillance of the protest and the protestors, and take the photographs. The detective arrested Childs and another protester after he saw Childs approach him and write down, on a piece of paper, the license plate number of his unmarked government car. "They told me if I didn't give over the piece of paper I would go to jail and I refused and I went to jail, and the piece of paper was taken away from me at the jail and the officer who transferred me said that was why I was arrested," Childs said on Wednesday... "We believe that spying on American citizens for no good reason is fundamentally un-American, that it's not the place of the goverment or the best use of resources to spy on its own citizens and we want it to stop. We want the spies in our government to pack their bags, close up their notebooks, take their cameras home and not engage in the spying anymore," Gerald Weber of the ACLU of Georgia said during a news conference. (via boingboing.com)
02/07/06 - Send SnailMail from your eMail or Browser
(US letter from Denver - 0.59 GBP = 1.03149 USD via credit card) Using overseas printing locations, L-Mail is often faster than traditional mail...by days! Keep in touch with friends or family without e-mail. Its easy to use. * You can write a letter from any web browser or your email account worldwide. * Simple secure payment by credit/debit cards. * They print and post your letters for you. * Say goodbye to standing in line at the post office.
02/07/06 - Robot Surgery coming into reality
(Thanks to Jim Day for this headsup. - JWD) Using robots to perform surgery once seemed a futuristic fantasy. Not anymore. An estimated 36,600 robotic procedures will be performed this year-from heart-bypass surgeries to kidney transplants to hysterectomies. That's up nearly 50 percent from last year, and analysts predict the figure will nearly double in 2006 to more than 70,000 procedures. Since the da Vinci was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in July 2000 (the only robotic system to get the FDA nod), about 350 of the units have been purchased, including 30 in the last quarter alone, at about $1.3 million apiece. Surgeons who use the system have found that patients have less blood loss and pain, lower risk of complications, shorter hospital stays and quicker recovery times than those who have open surgery-and even, in many cases, laparoscopic procedures. In a prostatectomy study of 300 patients it was found that those who had open surgery lost five times as much blood, had four times the risk of complications and remained in the hospital more than three times as long as those who had robotic surgery. Robotic-surgery patients had a 14 percent higher rate of cancer removal and, on average, regained urinary function in about a month and a half-four times as fast as open-surgery patients. Also, robotic patients were able to have sexual intercourse again in about 11 months, while half of the open-surgery patients had not regained full sexual function even two years later.
02/07/06 - Calmers
(Taking advantage of the calming effects of a cat purring, this one uses a 2 speed beating heart. Worth hacking, SURE! - JWD) My Beating Heart is a plush heart-shaped pillow that gently beats out a slow, steady heart-like rhythm. When flustered or tensed up at a days labor, a bit of ambient relaxation could be calming. It works -- it really works. The heart has two settings, slow and fast, and both of them calm me down in a way that's comparable to having a purring cat buzzing under your hand (but it's easier to put this $120 My Beating Heart on a shelf for the weekend than it is leaving a cat behind.) (via boingboing.com)
02/07/06 - Balloon/Airship Data Transmitters faster & cheaper than from Satellites
(What if they used Solar powered DeSeversky Ionic platforms that never fail? - JWD) Scientists have for the first time tested a super-fast data downlink provided by a stratospheric balloon floating 24,000 metres above the earth. Such a craft could eventually help provide communications in disaster zones. The cost of the balloon as compared to a satellite was also likely to be attractive. It could be one-tenth that of satellite and one airship can support a user density one thousand times that of a satellite. The 12,000-cubic metre helium balloon sent data to the ground at 1.25 gigabits per second - thousands of times the capacity of a home broadband Internet connection. The airship test by a team of researchers led by Britain’s University of York was conducted in Sweden.
02/07/06 - Way Cool Grocery list Generator using Firefox extension
The Grocery List Generator extension for Firefox stores all your favorite recipes and the ingredients needed to make them, and generates a shopping list for your next trip to the supermarket. Yes, this is a bizarre thing to use your web browser for, but the Grocery List Generator in action works well, especially for those of us who hit up the web for recipe ideas. Enter how many of which dishes you’re planning to cook, and print out a well-formatted list broken down by what store stocks what ingredient before you head out the door. (via lifehacker.com)
02/06/06 - Ultraviolet Lure May Catch Fish's Eye
(Fascinating use of UV light. - JWD) In the ancient struggle between man and fish, man has a new weapon. Forget fancy lures, depth charges or precision casting guns. The new weapon requires vision _ ultraviolet vision. Called Fool-a-Fish, it comes in a bottle that sprays titanium dioxide on fishing lures and bait. The chemical lights up the watery depths like a disco ball, luring fish from half a mile away. "You catch three or four times more fish, and the biggest fish," Jeckle contended. Researchers have discovered that while humans see in three colors _ red, yellow-green and blue _ fish and birds see a fourth color in the ultraviolet range, which shows up as a white glow, Jeckle said. This color is invisible to humans. Working with David Cleary, a chemistry professor at Spokane's Gonzaga University, Jeckle came up with the formula combining titanium dioxide, which is used in sunscreens, and several other chemicals. The whitish liquid dries quickly, and will stay on a lure for some two hours, he said. It is nontoxic, odorless and washes off with soap and water. But underwater it shines like a beacon to fish. Jeckle said many of the spray products currently used to lure fish are scent-based, because fish are known to search for food by smell. "This is based entirely on vision," Jeckle said. "This is a new way to fish." "It's not just blood that attracts sharks," he added. "They can see a swimmer half a mile away." Jeckle makes up batches of Fool-A-Fish in his kitchen. The spray is sold in some outdoor stores in the region, and it can be ordered on Jeckle's Web site. It is also getting written up in fishing magazines. Northwest Angler said the formula "makes it super easy for fish to see lures or baits from great distances." Jeckle has also adapted his formula to produce Fool-A-Bird, which works on a reverse principle. Birds use ultraviolet vision to avoid humans, so Jeckle created a formula that when sprayed on a hunter's clothes, body and gun will absorb ultraviolet rays. "You spray it on yourself and they treat you like a tree trunk or a dead stump," Jeckle said. "They ignore you." Here for more details.
02/06/06 - For oil addicts, switch-grass gas and more
Perhaps he winced at Iran's threat to cut oil exports. Or at a similar Venezuela threat. Or at turmoil in oil exporters Nigeria and Iraq. Or simply at China grabbing every oil patch it can get. But now President Bush has firmly linked US security to its oil addiction. The president may have realized two points: Oil prices are likely to remain permanently high, and America's defense requires it to break its oil addiction, no matter where the world's remaining oil comes from. As the world's largest oil user, the US must reduce oil consumption so that an Iran cannot easily wield an oil card to get a nuclear weapon. Or so a Saudi Arabia cannot allow oil profits to filter to terrorists. Or so a Venezuela can't throw oil money at anti-US regimes. Or so a Russia cannot cut off petroleum exports in a strategic dispute. Or, for that matter, so a hurricane like Katrina can't create an oil price spike. But to replace oil in the US energy mix, government needs to make sure the price of oil products remains high enough, or taxed enough, to help pay for oil alternatives. The switch to other sources will be expensive, and today's oil users must pay for it.
02/06/06 - Google Phishing alarm extension for FireFox
Google Safe Browsing is an extension to Firefox that alerts you if a web page that you visit appears to be asking for your personal or financial information under false pretences. This type of attack, known as phishing or spoofing, is becoming more sophisticated, widespread and dangerous. Safe Browsing is often able to automatically warn you when you encounter a page that's trying to trick you into disclosing personal information. (via tipmonkies.com)
02/06/06 - Marshall, Texas - Patent Pirate Haven
In one federal court in East Texas, plaintiffs have such an easy time winning patent-infringement lawsuits against big-tech companies that defendants often choose to settle rather than fight. East Texas lawyer Michael C. Smith calls it the "rattlesnake speech." It generally occurs in the early stages of a patent trial in the Marshall, TX, courtroom of Judge T. John Ward, when some attorney has failed to read up on the rules specific to litigation in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas. Like a scene out of the comedy movie "My Cousin Vinny," the speech starts with a polite invitation to approach the bench -- and ends with a stern warning to pick up the pace or else. Judge Ward's toughness is a big reason that Marshall, a city of fewer than 20,000 residents, located 150 miles east of Dallas, has become a destination for patent attorneys around the world. In the rough calculus of intellectual property litigation, tough judges equate with speedy cases -- and that's exactly what you want if you're a plaintiff with limited cash, but potentially big-time settlement payments or damages from a company you claim is infringing on your patent. Throw in an all-digital filing system, to cut down on paperwork, and Proposition 12, a 2003 Texas law that put a cap on pain-and-suffering damages in medical malpractice suits -- thereby encouraging the state's personal injury lawyers to migrate to the greener pastures of intellectual property -- and you have a cottage industry. Patent infringement suits that once loaded down tech-heavy dockets in the Eastern District of Virginia or the Northern District of California now gravitate to a city with more pottery manufacturers than software companies. "It kind of has a legend to it," says Craig Tyler, a partner in the Austin, TX, office of the widely known intellectual property law firm Wilson Sonsini Goodrich and a member of the defense team in the Laser Dynamics case. "When you say 'Marshall, Texas' to your Pacific Rim clients...they know what you're talking about." And their response is rarely a happy one, he adds.
02/06/06 - Ivory Towers versus the real world
(Having experienced the wonderful camaraderie and corps de esprit of interesting discussions with a wide range of fascinating people, lay, civic, professional and academe, I found this article worth posting. - JWD) A great deal of one’s sense of cultural “belonging” was bound up with community institutions - whether that meant a formally established local society for the advancement of learning, or an ad hoc discussion circle warming its collective backside near a stove. Life began to change as, in Bender’s words, “people of ideas were inducted, increasingly through the emerging university system, into the restricted worlds of specialized discourse.” If you said “we,” it probably referred to the community of other geologists, poets, or small-claims litigators. “Knowledge and competence increasingly developed out of the internal dynamics of esoteric disciplines rather than within the context of shared perceptions of public needs,” writes Bender. “This is not to say that professionalized disciplines or the modern service professions that imitated them became socially irresponsible. But their contributions to society began to flow from their own self-definitions rather than from a reciprocal engagement with general public discourse.” In the epilogue to Intellect and Public Life, Bender suggests that the process eventually went too far. “The risk now is precisely the opposite,” he writes. “Academe is threatened by the twin dangers of fossilization and scholasticism (of three types: tedium, high tech, and radical chic). The agenda for the next decade, at least as I see it, ought to be the opening up of the disciplines, the ventilating of professional communities that have come to share too much and that have become too self-referential.” as Bender puts it, cultural life is shaped by “patterns of interaction” that develop over long periods of time. For younger scholars, anyway, the routine give-and-take of online communication (along with the relative ease of linking to documents that support a point or amplify a nuance) may become part of the deep grammar of how they think and argue. And if enough of them become accustomed to discussing their research with people working in other disciplines, who knows what could happen? “What our contemporary culture wants,” as Bender put it in 1993, “is the combination of theoretical abstraction and historical concreteness, technical precision and civic give-and-take, data and rhetoric.” We aren’t there, of course, or anywhere near it. But sometimes it does seem as if there might yet be grounds for optimism.
02/06/06 - Future Transport over the next 50 years
You leave the house, swipe your journey-card across the door of the nearest one-person pod and hop in. While it drives you to work via the least congested route you sit back and dial up the Paris office. The virtual reality goggles make it feel just like you are in the same room. This is one of the scenarios considered by a government thinktank charged with considering the future of UK transport in the next 50 years. It is an attempt to anticipate future transport problems and how to deal with them. If the Chinese population began using cars as much as the average American the country would require 99m barrels of oil a day to run them. World production is currently around 80m barrels. "We can either stumble into the future and just hope it turns out all right or we can try and shape it," said transport minister Stephen Ladyman. Despite its Orwellian overtones, the idea is that knowing where other vehicles are will help you avoid congestion. Each car would be fitted with a tagging device such as a Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tag. These are chips the size of a grain of rice that send out information when they pass a reader. They are routinely used by retailers, for example, to track stock as it is shipped from one depot to the next. By tracking every vehicle a virtual travel agent could spot traffic trouble spots ahead and route you round them. John Urry, director of the Centre for Mobilities Research at Lancaster University, conjures a vision of a one-person pod car which you rent for each journey. He said between 70% and 80% of car journeys transport just one person, so scaling down cars to the right size for the journey and using lightweight materials would cut emissions and congestion.The Foresight report identifies four future scenarios. They range from a post-energy-shock rural world in which people trade locally and live off the land to a fast-moving, teleconferencing world in which automatic cars have become an extension of the office.
02/06/06 - America's Emergency food supplies
The U.S. has been giving away a lot of food in recent years. So much food, in fact, has America given away that its own emergency food reserves are shockingly low. There was a time, not too long ago, that by law the U.S. government was forced to maintain emergency food provisions for every man, woman and child in the country for three years. That was considered good stewardship through much of the 1960s. It was a program put together by men who read the Bible and recalled the idea Joseph gave the Egyptian Pharoah to avoid famine in the seven lean years. But then the political winds of change began to blow through America. There were calls in Congress to bail out starving nations throughout the world. There were even actions to bail out America's enemies - like the Soviet Union. Within 20 years, the grain elevators were virtually empty - yet the amount of food given away as direct aid to foreign nations continued to increase.
02/06/06 - AOL, Yahoo to Start Charging E-Mail Postage?
You read correctly, though the system will only be used for companies. They will be charged from 1/4 to 1 cent for each email; the email thus paid for will receive preferential treatment. For example, with AOL the email will go straight to inboxes, and not have to pass through any of the spam filters AOL uses. Messages will also be marked as “AOL Certified E-Mail.” Don’t worry, unpaid-for email will still be delivered, but it won’t get this special treatment. AOL and Yahoo will be using Goodmail Systems’ processing system to collect the electronic postage and verify the identity of the sender. AOL will be implementing the system in the next two months, while Yahoo will be trying the system out, and has not yet decided how paid vs. unpaid mail will be treated.
02/06/06 - Green fuel 'not enough' to cut transport pollution
Environmentally friendly vehicles using hydrogen-based fuels and hybrid power sources will have little impact in preventing "dangerous and irreversible pollution" within 15 years, according to a long-delayed government-funded study. Even if green vehicles become commonplace, Britain's seemingly insatiable appetite for travel will cancel out benefits and critically pollute the air, concluded a group of scientists and academics. The work advocates radical measures to change behaviour including lower speed limits, road charging, investment in cycling and even a policy of higher oil prices and "rations" for carbon emissions. It was completed in November but its publication has been delayed by the Department for Transport amid discussions about its content. Prof Banister was asked to consider how Britain could achieve a 60% reduction in carbon emissions from transport by 2030 as part of initiatives to go beyond targets agreed under the Kyoto treaty. The distance travelled by the public is predicted to increase by 35% over the three-decade timeframe of the study. "The problem really is not so much the travel we're doing today but the expected increase by 2030," said Prof Banister. The report recommends car clubs and travel "blending", whereby people are encouraged to combine several trips for different purposes into one journey. It also suggests examination of carbon emissions rations which cannot be exceeded without buying somebody else's share.
02/06/06 - UK Energy bills 'to rocket by 25%'
Gas bills are understood to be set to leap by 25%, thought to be the biggest single increase ever. British Gas will announce the price hike this month in letters to its 11 million consumers, according to the Mail on Sunday newspaper. Other power companies are certain to follow suit, and the rises will affect gas and electricity prices equally, it said. It quoted an insider as saying: "Directors have agonised about taking the decision because they know it is going to hurt everybody. But the harsh reality is we have no choice." A spokesman for Centrica, the parent company of British Gas, said: "Wholesale gas prices for 2006 are up about 75% on 2005.
02/05/06 - Teacher claims to have invented an alternative to fuel!
A primary school teacher in Nagpur is hard bent on changing the method the world has been following for a long time to provide fuel to vehicles. Bhasme has successfully used the gas, emitting from the cow dung of his small herd of five cows, to fuel his motorbike. With this Biogas, long believed to be an environment-friendly, inexpensive and one of the most easily available alternatives for petrol and other non-renewable sources of energy, may become a viable substitute for petrol in the near future. The procedure costs him barely a few cents to traverse a distance of nearly six kilometres. But it has not been an easy journey for Bhasme who had to overcome several obstacles to begin operating the bike. "I thought that if we can make electricity from gas and generators can work then why can't a vehicle work on the same principle. I tried practicing this on a vehicle many times on how to release gas into vehicles. Then, I used an air cleaner to release it. The vehicle initially started moving in a stationery position. I thought it would work even on the road so I filled gas in a rubber tube and it started working even on road," Bhasme said. Though the idea of using gas from cow-dung is not new in India, this is the first time the gas is being used to power a vehicle. Cow dung is currently used across several villages in the country for cooking. Cow dung gas is 55-65 per cent methane, 30-35 percent carbon dioxide with traces of some other gases. Though its heat value is slightly less than natural gas, it is a source of renewable energy, unlike its more popular cousin. Bhasme faced initial hiccups when the high water content in the gas prevented the vehicle engine from operating. After utilizing sponges and other instruments from a local mechanic, he was able to operate the vehicle at a stationary position. The water, which collects in the tank, has to be extracted after every 8 to 10 days. It was after repeated trials and fine-tuning that he finally took his vehicle on the road for his first test-drive which lasted barely a few meters.
Bhasme says he is facing teething troubles with the procedure, and still has not been able to find a viable solution to bottling the gas while being transferred to the main engine. Currently, Bhasme uses a bulky, bloated tyre tube to store the gas while it is transferred to the bike engine. On many occasions, a lot of engineers and administrators have verified Bhasme's idea has verified by several engineers and administrators whom he invited over the past few months to examine his invention.
02/05/06 - New device to contain EM radiation
A former scientist of the Department of Atomic Energy, Mannem Murthy, has developed an anti-radiation gadget called ‘Safe Life’. The device, according to Murthy, will contain the radiation affects of computers, televisions and cell phones. The Visakhapatnam chapter of the Computer Society of India recently recognised Murthy’s invention. Murthy told Business Standard on Thursday that his patented device would be commercially launched in a week’s time. It would be priced at about Rs 1,000. Explaining about the device, Murthy said, “the herbal and inorganic material kept in silver enclosure will absorb radioactive rays. The gadget has been designed with Vedic concept tuned with modern technology.” He, however, declined to disclose the specific material used for making the gadget.
02/05/06 - Tweaking Energy Efficiency as the 'other' Alternative Fuel
For most companies and organizations, the answers to maintaining a competitive edge in this era of rising energy costs are readily available. By applying a suite of cost-effective power and automation solutions from technology leaders like ABB, these facilities can achieve substantial energy savings today without waiting for the “alternative fuels” of the future. Through these continuous improvement methods, existing plants and factories can systematically reduce both energy requirements and their impact on the environment. Such improvements will become increasingly valuable as fuel costs continue to rise due to today’s global supply and demand dynamics, and pressures grow for environmental compliance. Products that deliver equal or greater performance while reducing energy consumption will bring greater flexibility in overcoming these pressures. Unlike homes that can achieve some degree of energy conservation by sacrificing comfort, most industrial plants rely on very specific equipment and production processes. Consequently, plant energy conservation must be found in the form of energy-saving products that don’t restrict or otherwise hinder production output or quality. For example, the machinery in one facility was used just a few minutes during a particular production stage. But the machinery continued to run disengaged for several additional hours simply because control strategies to synchronize it with the production schedule were not in place. After a detailed performance audit, relatively simple adjustments to the plant’s distributed control system allowed demand-based operation of the machinery. In another plant, air flow to the steam boilers was not optimized to account for changes between several alternative fuels. Combustion performance was compromised, and more fuel than necessary was sometimes burned. A new control scheme based on real-time performance simulations with varied fuels provided the capability to quickly optimize combustion mixtures under varied conditions. In each instance, annual fuel and efficiency savings were realized in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
02/05/06 - Energy wasting lightbulbs
Listening to most politicians, you would think the world's energy problems can be solved only by building ever bigger power stations and burning ever more fuel. Not so; and it certainly cannot solve the coming climate crisis. After turning off unnecessary pieces of equipment, improved energy efficiency is the cheapest way for developing countries to maximise their use of limited energy supplies, and for developed countries to achieve cuts in their carbon dioxide emissions. One quick and simple option for improving energy efficiency would be to make greater use of compact fluorescent light bulbs. Each one of these bulbs produces the same amount of light as an incandescent light bulb whilst being responsible for the emission of 70% less carbon dioxide. It also saves money; about £7 ($12) per year in the UK, more or less in other countries depending on electricity prices. So why not just ban incandescent bulbs - why not make them illegal? With lighting contributing 5-10% towards the typical electricity bill in the developed world, and even more in the developing world, the savings could really mount up. It has been estimated that if every household in the US replaced just three of its incandescent light bulbs with energy-saving designs and used them for five hours per day, it would reduce emissions of carbon dioxide by 23 million tonnes, reduce electricity demand by the equivalent of 11 coal-fired power stations and save $1.8bn. Given that investing $450m could save $1.8bn, it is hard to understand why anyone would still choose incandescent bulbs. In reality, few people seem to be prepared to pay the higher upfront cost of an energy-saving bulb, even though they have much lower running costs; while many seem to feel they are entitled to pollute the Earth's atmosphere without worrying about the consequences.
02/05/06 - N.C. startup building a better light bulb
A light fixture that provides at least as much light as a 60-watt incandescent bulb but uses less than one-third the power. The energy savings comes from the components that create the light. Instead of one regular light bulb, the fixture is illuminated with tiny devices called light-emitting diodes, or LEDs. The devices produce light without wasting energy as heat. And unlike light bulbs, LEDs can go years - decades even - without burning out. While fluorescent bulbs are more efficient, there's growing concern about the toxicity of the mercury inside them, he said. And with a product that's both efficient and nontoxic, the company called LED Lighting Fixtures is going after the $40 billion worldwide lighting market in a big way. "There are a lot of one or two-person shops that are playing around with LED lighting," Hunter said. "We're not playing around. This is serious business, and we want to take it on to the global level." Hunter expects to be manufacturing and selling LLF's first product by the end of this year. The first place consumers are likely to see them is in new homes. LLF initially plans to market its products to national commercial and residential builders or independently owned light and electrical distributors. Later, the company will go after the consumer market at retailers such as Lowe's and Home Depot. "It's going to be very competitive," Hunter said. "That's why you have to rely on your innovation and your speed." And while LED lighting research is growing quickly in some quarters, there aren't many companies focusing on illuminating homes, Steele said. "The market is so new at this point that a lot of different approaches may be tried," he said. "It's kind of a new world in lighting." LLF may eventually invent chandeliers and other large lighting fixtures under its Forever Fixture brand, but right now it's going for something that's popular and reasonably easy to mass-produce. The company's first product combines LEDs with a simple translucent cover. Builders or homeowners would install the fixtures into the ceiling of kitchens and other rooms.
02/05/06 - DNA End Caps May Lead to Cancer Treatments
The ends of DNA are capped by segments called telomeres. Each time the cell divides, the telomeres shorten. When they become too short, the aging cell can no longer divide. But in most cancer cells, an enzyme called telomerase keeps the telomeres from shortening, making the cells immortal and potentially malignant. “Drugs that influence these mechanisms might be used to slow replicative aging in normal cells and increase the efficacy of telomerase-inhibition therapies for cancer,” said Dr. Woodring Wright, professor of cell biology. In human cells, every chromosome has a telomere at each end, and each telomere ends in a single-stranded overhang. (DNA is normally double-stranded.) The overhang at one end of the chromosome is longer than at the other. The researchers believe that the rate of shortening is influenced by the length of the overhang - more DNA is lost from ends that have longer overhangs. Telomerase also changed the relative size of the two tails. Dr. Wright and his collaborator, Dr. Jerry Shay, professor of cell biology, are world-renowned for their work on telomeres and telomerase. They helped develop an anti-telomerase drug that helps slow the spread of lung cancer cells in mice. The drug is being tested in humans to see if it’s safe. The researchers say that any anti-telomerase drug would not be used alone to treat cancer. Rather, it would be used in conjunction with more traditional treatments, such as surgery or chemotherapy, to ensure that any cells not killed by those treatments don’t spread to other tissues.
02/05/06 - Firing up youthful creativity
(It would be great if we could direct all this energy and enthusiasm into solving alternative science problems by experimentation. JWD) Teenagers are making their own entertainment in ways never before possible. What’s novel about today’s youth culture is the complicated blurring of the line between different media formats, and, indeed, fantasy and reality. The American academics Jay David Bolter and Richard Grusin attempt to describe this process of media content being refashioned in a theory they call “remediation” - in other words, the ways in which technology, and in particular the net, stimulate the next generation. Today’s kids - born digital natives, as opposed to adults, who must become digital immigrants - are not only at home with new technology, but know how to make it work for them. The price of all this digital liberty is a loss of parental control. Both on the streets and in the virtual world, teenagers are exposed to ideas, or material, of which parents may not approve. Their addiction to mobile phones is unnerving, and frequently expensive, too. Hoicking valuable gadgets around in public places brings with it attendant risks. The fact is, however, that children no longer rely on a media elite for their cultural soul. They set up online fanzines, or remix their favourite tracks into “mash-ups”, then file-share these new creations. Teenagers are able to share ideas in ways impossible to conceive a decade ago. There may be something disconcerting about their constant need to video each other, rather than going out to play for the sake of it. They are also, undeniably, being exploited by corporate brands. Yet there is no denying that technology has changed their world. They no longer want to be the best on their street. For good or ill, they belong to a virtual gang, whether they chat, show off or play computer games online in teams, or clans, based all over the world.
02/05/06 - Break Free of Microsloth with Open Source Freeware
There is an important distinction to be drawn between freeware and open-source software, though. Freeware doesn’t cost a penny, but the public cannot view the computer code that comprises the program, should they wish to develop add-ons or modifications. The Open Source Initiative (www.opensource.org) believes that the collaborative approach leads to better, more reliable software because it invites peer review. Unlike Microsoft Windows, say, programmers around the world can go under the bonnet of open-source software, find out how it works and collaborate to fix bugs or suggest improvements. Once the preserve of geeks, open source has gone public in the past year, to the extent that programs such as Firefox have become household names. 40m people have downloaded OpenOffice, an open-source alternative to Microsoft Office. “I use OpenOffice at home, and I’ve found that it reads almost all Microsoft Word documents,” says Wayne Lee. “I’ve had no problems at all, and neither have my kids.” If you are inclined to drill deeper online, you will find communities of enthusiasts eager to improve and add to existing software, often at your request. Take the Firefox evangelists at forums such as mozillazine.org. A member has asked for an add-on so that he can watch the latest stock-market prices in a side-bar while browsing the web. This tool will be created to order. Hundreds of simple yet potent free extensions, both to Firefox and to the Thunderbird e-mail package, already exist at www.mozilla.com/extensions. One instantly converts foreign currencies on a web page into pounds. Another delivers thumbnail previews inside Google search results. A third tucks local weather reports permanently inside your browser. The chances of Microsoft ordering its team of programmers to make such niche add-ons for the now down-at-heel Internet Explorer are, frankly, remote. The open-source movement is guided by the principle that software should be free, as in speech, rather than beer. Free distribution and the net’s universal reach have empowered a computer-literate generation that is no longer prepared to pay for software or wait ages for updates. SIX OF THE BEST OPEN-SOURCE FREEBIES
02/05/06 - the Flaw in Bushs 'logic' of addiction to oil
A TEXAS oilman saying the US has to end its addiction to oil? Pardon? It makes sense to end the US's "addiction", as Bush put it, to oil. It's the headline-grabber out of his State of the Union address. Trying to take the sting out of the oil price is probably futile, but it is one of the two main issues Bush used to try to claw back some popularity. Expect more of it this year and more of his vision of oil independence from the "unstable" Middle East. But there's a flaw in the logic. If, as Bush maintains, democracy is on the march in the Middle East and victory and freedom are assured for Iraq, why worry about the dependence on the region for their oil? Mr President?
02/04/06 - Batteries that don't die
Inexpensive and rugged lead-acid batteries, as everyone knows, can start a car in the dead of winter. But their excessive weight and their tradeoff between power and life -- the powerful version in your car doesn't last more than a few years -- have kept them out of hybrid vehicles and prevented their widespread use in all-electric vehicles. Now the humble lead-acid battery has been gutted and redesigned, cutting its weight, extending its lifetime, and putting it in the same performance category as the nickel-metal hydride batteries used in today's hybrid cars, according to Firefly Energy, a Peoria IL company that's developing the new batteries for specific applications. These new batteries are about one-third to one-quarter as heavy as traditional lead-acid batteries, and can be made about as powerful as nickel-metal hydride batteries without sacrificing longevity, says Mil Ovan, senior vice president and Firefly cofounder. But the main advantage of the new batteries, he says, is price. Because lead is relatively cheap, and a huge infrastructure already exists to make lead-acid batteries, the company is confident they can produce the batteries at one-fifth the cost of nickel-metal hydrides. Firefly dealt with the weight and performance issues by replacing the traditional heavy lead grids that collect electrons generated by a battery's chemical activity with a light graphite foam. The foam increases the surface area for the battery's chemical reactions, according to Cheng, whose separate work at Idaho uses additives to improve the weight and performance of lead-acid batteries. The increased surface area allows for faster charging and more powerful discharging. When engineers had experimented with increasing the surface area of the old lead grid, it accelerated the deterioration of the battery, forcing them to choose between a powerful battery that failed quickly or a less powerful, but more stable one. The graphite foam grid is more resistant to the corrosion that eventually causes traditional lead-acid batteries to fail. Thus, it can last longer, allowing it to survive a long winter in a garage, for instance, which is useful in lawnmowers, Ovan says.
02/04/06 - Disinfect and Deodorize Your Clothes Without Water
The AQUA AWD-AQ1 from Sanyo disinfects and deodorizes your clothes without using water. It shoots ozone-filled air to whisk away odors and bacteria. It also recycles the water it uses for rinsing and disinfects it using the selfsame ozone. It even has special modes to fight against mode, add steam, and even wash without detergent. It will be out in March for $2200.
02/04/06 - Landmark Vermont Farm Tries Grass Pellet Heat
It cost Shelburne Farms about $1,000 a year to mow grass that doesn't end up as hay for the animals and simply goes to waste. Now staff at the historic farm have come up with a use for it: turn it to pellets and burn them to heat the massive main barn. The hope at Shelburne Farms is to gather grass from the farm, as well as neighboring farms, use a special machine to turn the grass into pellets and burn it much the way wood pellets are burned in boilers now. The advantages, said Marshall Webb, special projects coordinator at Shelburne Farms, include projections that grass pellets will cost about half what wood pellets do. The grass is dried by the sun, rather than with energy-intensive processes used for wood pellets, he added. Perhaps most important, the grass pellets can come right from the farm, Webb said. Robert Bender, president of South Burlington-based Chiptec Wood Energy Systems, said pellets can be used well as fuel for combined heat and power systems that provide space heating as well as that needed to run a small electrical turbine. A ton of grass pellets produces 14 million British thermal units of heat, versus 16 million for a ton of wood pellets, the paper said. But it added that wood pellets cost about $200 a ton, where grass pellets will be able to be sold for $100 a ton. Put another way, the cost per million Btu for fuel oil is $23.47; for electricity, $39.73; for wood pellets $17.86 and for grass pellets provided by a producers' co-op to farmers who grow the grass, at $10.20.
02/04/06 - Scott King sought alternative cancer treatment
For a half-century, patients have flocked to clinics south of the border for treatments that are shunned, prohibited or regarded as outright quackery in the United States. Among the treatments offered: blood transfusions from guinea pigs, colon cleansings, and the zapping of cancer cells with electrical current. Supporters say the clinics offer an alternative - and sometimes a cure - to people written off by U.S. doctors. Critics say the worst of the clinics do nothing but offer false hope while taking money from people when they are most vulnerable. On Thursday, the clinic where the widow of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. died this week shut down and the 20 American patients there were told by Mexican authorities to leave the country, according to the U.S. Embassy in Mexico. Mexican officials were not immediately available to explain why. But the clinic's director has a criminal past and a reputation for offering dubious treatments. The area around the border city of Tijuana is a hotbed for the clinics, with about 35 of them, according to Dr. Alfredo Gruel, health services director from 2000 to 2002 for the Mexican state of Baja California. Dr. Sergio Maltos, who regulates clinics at Mexico's Federal Commission for Protection Against Sanitary Risks, said Mexican authorities periodically visit the clinics. But he acknowledged there may be some instances of "pseudo-professionals ... who use treatments that are not backed by scientific evidence." In 2001, Mexico closed down a Tijuana clinic for operating without a license. The clinic was owned by a San Diego woman, Hulda Clark, who has claimed that a "zapper" cures cancer patients by eliminating parasites and toxins with a mild electric current. The clinics typically charge about $7,000 a week for treatment, meals and lodging, Pousson said. Some patients stay at the International Motor Inn, a budget hotel on the border in San Diego. Three buses and two vans shuttle between the hotel and the clinics six days a week.
02/04/06 - High-tech sieve sifts for hydrogen
Engineers have announced the development of a simpler, safer material that can potentially assist, and in some places replace, existing processing methods. The rubbery, plastic film, similar to membranes already in use in biomedical devices, has applications for isolating not only hydrogen, but also natural gas itself. "Our team originally set out to design membranes to purify hydrogen produced from coal," said co-author and National Science Foundation awardee Benny Freeman of The University of Texas. "We felt that a good improvement would be to design membranes more permeable to impurities than to hydrogen," he added. Until now, existing membranes had the opposite property--they were more permeable to hydrogen than to impurities. Hydrogen is commonly generated from natural gas in a process called steam reforming, wherein treatments with hot steam convert methane into a gaseous mixture consisting of mainly carbon dioxide (CO2), carbon monoxide (CO) and hydrogen. The membrane works because the molecules in its structure have relatively "positive" parts that attract electrons and relatively "negative" parts that repel electrons. CO2 has some of these "polar" characteristics, so it is attracted to the membrane, dissolving into it as salt dissolves into a glass of water. The molecules diffuse through the membrane at a rate that increases as more polar molecules become entrenched in the rubbery polymer, the researchers found. Even when the membrane is saturated with impurities, the polar properties continue to funnel the undesirable molecules along at a faster rate than for hydrogen, retaining most hydrogen molecules on the upstream side. Unlike other methods, the new "reverse-selective" process can capture hydrogen at a pressure close to that of the incoming gas. This is a primary advantage for the membrane because high pressure is important for transport of the gas, and many applications, yet adds significant costs. "The best you can do in terms of pressurization for any of these processes is make hydrogen at or near feed pressure," said Freeman. Conventional membranes, which would allow hydrogen to pass through while holding other gasses back, would decrease hydrogen pressure, he added. While other hydrogen extraction methods still have advantages, the researchers believe there is great potential for future approaches to be hybrid processes that incorporate the new membrane within established systems.
02/03/06 - Blimp-Plane Hybrid: World's Next Megamover?
In a plastic-covered hangar near an Ohio cornfield stands a 120-foot- long (37-meter-long), two-seat airship that its creators hope will usher in a new transportation era. The craft, named Dynalifter, may be outfitted with two small engines and filled with 16,500 cubic feet (470 cubic meters) of helium. "Dynalifter is a hybrid aircraft," said Robert Rist, a co-founder of Ohio Airships Inc., the Mantua-based company that built the aircraft. "The only comparison [with a blimp] is that they both use helium." Unlike a blimp, the Dynalifter has wings and is a heavier-than-air aircraft. Its weight is carried by aerodynamic lift on the wings and hull and is augmented by helium lift. Such a craft could move materials at a lower cost than airplanes and at higher speeds than ships, they believe. It could also deliver supplies to hard-to-reach places, making it especially useful in military and emergency situations.
02/03/06 - New Auction approach to selling patent rights
Last year, Dean Becker, an avid collector of classic cars, was thumbing through a catalog for an automobile auction. Why not sell patents the same way, he thought. This April, Ocean Tomo, a firm where Becker is a managing director, will do just that. It has lined up a British auctioneer to take the podium at The Ritz-Carlton San Francisco and sell off rights to everything from earth-imaging technology to shrink-wrap. Chicago-based Ocean Tomo is part of a cottage industry of firms that want to cash in on patents. Traditionally, patent deals have been shrouded in secrecy and burdened by steep transaction costs. The primary method of extracting value, beyond selling a product based on an invention, has been licensing patent rights. But licensing negotiations are often arduous and need to be backed up by a willingness to litigate, which is expensive. NEW EXPOSURE. Auctions could help foster "the emergence of a liquid market" for buying and selling patents, says Kappos. So far more than 1,200 patents have been submitted to Ocean Tomo for sale from such companies as AT&T (T ), BellSouth (BLS ), American Express (AXP ), and Kimberly-Clark (KMB ). If auctions become a regular feature of the patent world, they would help establish prices and a marketplace. "I see this as a great opportunity [as] an independent inventor to really get exposure to a large base of companies that could commercialize my patents," says William L. Reber.
02/03/06 - Isle of Man planning space commerce services
The Isle of Man has made its pitch to become a space industry giant equivalent to a "Switzerland of Space", according to treasury minister Allan Bell. Indeed, the island is looking to invest £955,000 over the next couple of years in a marketing drive aimed at attracting space business - in particular, satellite comms-related cash. According to Isle of Man Today, Bell told the Tynwald Parliament: "We now find ourselves in a space race of our own. [This is] an increasingly volatile and aggressive race with other jurisdictions to compete for this very lucrative economic sector. "If we do nothing, we will lose the business we already have to a growing number of competitors, including Bermuda, Gibraltar, Luxembourg and Singapore. These jurisdictions are committing increased financial and personnel resources to develop their satellite industries." The Isle of Man's director of space commerce, Tim Craine, says the money will be well spent: "Tynwald will see a major return on investment many times that which has been approved. Within two years, I would like to see the island having reached a critical mass of clustering in the space and satellite industry and have an international reputation as a prime jurisdiction."
02/03/06 - Sensory perceptions diminished by lying down
Sensitivity to odour is greater in subjects that are sitting than in those lying down. The research, conducted by Dr Marilyn Jones-Gotman at the Montreal Neurological Institute at McGill University, adds to previous studies indicating that lying down negatively affects other senses, such as hearing and spatial perception. Dr Jones-Gotman, said that the study was an important one for it showed that if perceptual ratings differ depending on whether the subject is outside a scanner (and sitting up) or inside a scanner (and lying down), then reliable threshold measures or points of comparison will be difficult to obtain. "This was an important finding for us, as many of our studies involve test subjects lying in an imaging machine such as MRI or PET (positron emission tomography) scanners. If perceptual ratings differ depending on whether the subject is outside a scanner (and sitting up) or inside a scanner (and lying down), then reliable 'threshold measures' or points of comparison will be difficult to obtain," she said. As a part of the test, subjects were exposed to sixteen different concentrations of rose odour while they were sitting upright or lying down. It was found that 63.9 percent of participants were found to have a decreased sensitivity to the rose odour when lying down. Dr. Johan Lundstrom said that the study had shown that there was a clear difference in olfactory sensitivity depending on the body position of the subjects, and that the s differences would have to be taken into account when planning future studies. "There is a clear difference in olfactory sensitivity depending on the body position of the subjects. Right now, we can only speculate as to the biological necessity of this difference. For example, is a lowered sensitivity to smell when lying down part of an overall sleep preparedness mechanism? Or perhaps the reason is only secondary to an increase of body fluid circulating throughout the brain? It could also be that we are simply not able to 'sniff' as deeply when in a supine position. Whatever the reason, we must now take this difference into account when planning future studies," Dr Lundstrom said.
02/03/06 - Professor Attacks Enthusiasm for Bio-Fuels
(Thanks Chris Damm for the headsup on this audio interview on NPR. - JWD) A growing number of Americans are embracing ethanol and bio-diesel as possible alternatives to gasoline. But one Berkeley engineering professor is waging a campaign against what he considers a delusion about bio-fuels.
02/03/06 - New Fracture Detection technique for safety
Could engineers have known ahead of time exactly how much pressure the levees protecting New Orleans could withstand before giving way? Is it possible to predict when and under what conditions material wear and tear will become critical, causing planes to crash or bridges to collapse? A study by Weizmann Institute scientists takes a new and original approach to the study of how materials fracture and split apart. When force is applied to a material (say, a rock hitting a pane of glass), a crack starts to form in the interior layers of that material. In the glass, for example, the force of the striking rock will cause the fracture to progress through the material with gradually increasing speed until the structure of the glass splits apart. The path the forming crack follows and the direction it takes are influenced by the nature of the force and by its shape. As cracking continues, microscopic ridges form along the advancing front of the crack and the fracture path repeatedly branches, creating a lightning bolt or herringbone pattern. Physicists attempting to find a formula for the dynamics of cracking, to allow them to predict how a crack will advance in a given material, have faced a serious obstacle. The difficulty lies in pinning down, objectively, the fundamental directionality of the cracking process: From any given angle of observation or starting point of measurement, the crack will look different and yield different results from any other. Scientists all over the world have experimented with cracking but, until now, no one has successfully managed to come up with a method for analyzing the progression of a forming crack. After some complex data analysis of the combined information from all the sectors, the team found their method allowed them to gain a deeper understanding of the process of cracking, no matter which direction the measurements started from. The team then successfully applied the method to a variety of materials - plastic, glass and metal. From the concrete in dams and buildings, to the metal alloys and composites in airplane wings, to the glass in windshields, many of the materials we depend on daily are subject to cracking. The team's method will give engineers and materials scientists new tools to understand how all of these basic materials act under different stresses, to predict how and when microscopic or internal, unseen fractures might turn life-threatening, or to improve these materials to make them more resistant to cracks' formation or spread.
02/03/06 - Conscientious objection in medicine should not be tolerated
(Being a fan and proponent of 'right to die', I found this interesting and 'obvious' for rational people. - JWD) A doctors' conscience has little place in the delivery of modern medical care, writes Julian Savulescu at the University of Oxford. If people are not prepared to offer legally permitted, efficient, and beneficial care to a patient because it conflicts with their values, they should not be doctors. Imagine an intensive care doctor refusing to treat people over the age of 70 because he believes such patients have had a fair innings. Or imagine an epidemic of bird flu or other infectious disease that a specialist decided she valued her own life more than her duty to treat her patients. Such a set of values would be incompatible with being a doctor. The argument in favour of allowing conscientious objection is that to fail to do so harms the doctor and constrains liberty. This is true, says the author, but when conscientious objection compromises the quality, efficiency, or equitable delivery of a service, it should not be tolerated. He believes that doctors who compromise the delivery of medical services to patients on conscience grounds must be punished through removal of licence to practise and other legal mechanisms. Values are important parts of our lives. But values and conscience have different roles in public and private life, he writes. They should influence discussion on what kind of health system to deliver. But they should not influence the care an individual doctor offers to his or her patients. The door to "value-driven medicine" is a door to a Pandora's box of idiosyncratic, bigoted, discriminatory medicine. Public servants must act in the public interest, not their own, he concludes.
02/03/06 - Predicting current/future events using Artificial Intelligence
(Thanks Robert Nelson for the headsup on this fascinating story. - JWD) Programming genius develops software that scans a huge portion of the internet's public discussion boards and resolves the conversations going on (in multiple languages, by the way) in a huge pile of data going many gigabytes in length. This is then "distilled" using an artificial intelligence language (prolog) which throws out all comments which are past or present in tense. What's left is a smaller pile of forward-looking sentences. These are then refined and compared with previous scans of the web to get a pretty good indication of how things "might" go. ALTA 406 run is "centered" of events around April '06, but will pick up things either side of center - sort of like passband tuning of a high performance radio receiver. Except, of course, the "passband" is three-dimensional, but you get the idea. If you don't, just have more coffee and keep reading. So the immediate stuff on the horizon, safe to talk about now because those of us who use the reports have had plenty of time to get our trades in place and our lives adjusted to what seems likely to come next, have a series of very short term expectations referring to the the ALTA 106 and ALTA 406 reports which cover the present day. Short term, we have the possibility of a highly impacting emotional event with the passband "centered" around February 3rd. And we keep getting better at the technology - although we're all sort of making up this new science as we go along - it's not the stuff of "normal" study even for mystical C (not C# or C++ folks, but the get down and dirty in the predicate calculus C) guys like Cliff. For example, in the ALTA 406 report (as well as the 106) there are lots of descriptors going to the idea of the West Virginia mine disaster (January) and the echo of the event in February. More details/background
02/03/06 - Train, Boat Diesel Engines Source of Deadly Pollution
(Audio File for full details.) State air quality officials say the diesel engines in locomotives and boats account for a large chunk of U.S. air pollution. They say that share is growing because the Environmental Protection Agency has dragged its feet on tighter regulation. The pollution exacts a price: 4,000 extra deaths each year.
02/03/06 - Russian inventor patents invisibility technique
A professor from the department of quantum and optical electronics of the Ulyanovsk State University in western Russia has patented a method of making things invisible, Interfax news agency reported. The so-called invisibility cloak, created by Oleg Gadomsky, is called “The method of conversion of optical radiation” in the patent. Gadomsky had been long experimenting on nanoparticles of gold. He now claims to have invented a sub-micron stratum of microscopical colloid golden particles that makes an object placed behind it invisible to an observer. “Only static objects can be made invisible for the time being, as during motion the radiation frequency changes. But soon it will be possible to create a cap of darkness and a magic cloak like Harry Potter’s,” the scientist believes.
02/02/06 - Biofuels can replace about 30% of fuel needs
"We can readily address, with research, 30 percent of current transportation fuel needs. But reaching that goal will require 5-10 years and significant policy and technical effort," said Dr. Arthur Ragauskas, a professor in Georgia Tech's School of Chemistry and Biochemistry and a lead on the project. While many think of ethanol when they think of biofuels, the group recommends a much broader spectrum of possible materials including agriculture wastes such as corn stovers and wheat stalks, fast-growing trees such as poplar and willow and several perennial energy crops such as switchgrass. In addition to including more diversity in materials, the group also recommends some changes to the plants themselves using techniques such as accelerated domestication to make them more efficient energy crops. But doubling the productivity of energy crops will mean identifying constraints and correcting them with genomic tools. To make biofuels a truly practical alternative to petroleum, the group says there will need to be significant improvements in how biofuel is processed. The biorefinery would work much like a petroleum refinery, which produces multiple fuels and products from petroleum.
02/02/06 - Mine Busting Moves to Breast Cancer
A University of Arkansas scientist has developed a technology that makes undersea mud as clear as water, revealing deadly land mines. Now, she's adapting the technique to detect a type of biological land mine -- breast-cancer tumors. Magda El-Shenawee, an associate professor of electrical engineering, is adapting her rough-surface computational analysis -- which, put very simply, is an algorithm that models dirt -- to detect breast tissue cells that have gone awry. It turns out seeing through dirt is not so different from seeing through breast tissue.
02/02/06 - Sound waves zap cancer cells
A recent Study in the British Journal of Cancer shows that the use of Quercitin and 20KHz ultrasound for 60 seconds killed skin and prostate cancer cells. 90% of the abnormal cells were dead within 48hrs. Since low frequency ultrasound was previously shown to enhance the skin penetration of topical substances up to 1000 times, it would seem that a topical Quercetin cream with a low frequency ultrasound wand might be just the ticket for those annoying little skin cancers that tend to occur in older geeks who have spent a bit of time in the sun.
02/02/06 - US-VISIT immigration system spent $15 million per crook caught
The US-VISIT program subjects visitors to the USA to a humiliating round of being mug-shotted and fingerprinted, and has cost at least $15 billion. Since January 2004, it has caught a paltry 1,000 immigration cheats and crooks (no terrorists, though), at a cost of $15 million per apprehension. As Bruce Schneier points out, this is a pretty cost-ineffective way of catching crooks. I wrote about US-VISIT in 2004, and back then I said that it was too expensive and a bad trade-off. The price tag for "the next phase" was $15B; I'm sure the total cost is much higher. But take that $15B number. One thousand bad guys, most of them not very bad, caught through US-VISIT. That's $15M per bad guy caught. Surely there's a more cost-effective way to catch bad guys? (via boingboing.com)
02/01/06 - Organic Rankine Cycle Engine
Refrigerant-charged organic Rankine cycle power plants (ORC). The energy source can be a typical rooftop solar hot water collector. They operate on a unique, US patented cycle. When fully developed, power plants based on this technology will produce electricity, hydrogen, and air conditioning from inexpensive, low temperature solar collectors. The potential of waste heat as an energy source has remained largely out of reach for lack of a cost-effective technology that can recover this heat and use it to generate electrical power. While waste heat is normally insufficient to boil large quantities of water, often it is sufficient to boil a family of organic chemicals that can be used in place of water. The Rankine cycle is the heat-engine operating cycle used by all steam engines since the start of the industrial age. As with most engine cycles, the Rankine cycle is a four-stage process. Simply put, the working fluid (usually water) is pumped into a boiler. While the fluid is in the boiler, an external heat source superheats the fluid. The hot water vapor then expands to drive a turbine. Once past the turbine, the steam is condensed back into liquid and recycled back to the pump to start the cycle all over again. Pump, boiler, turbine, and condenser are the four parts of a standard steam engine and represent each phase of the Rankine cycle. So what makes an Organic Rankine Cycle (ORC) engine so special? Like a standard steam engine, the ORC utilizes heated gas to drive a turbine. However, this gas is a heated organic chemical instead of superheated water steam. The organic chemicals used by an ORC include freon and most of the other traditional refrigerants-iso-pentane, CFCs, HFCs, butane, propane, and ammonia. Refrigerants seem like an odd choice for a heat engine’s working fluid. However, these gases boil at extremely low temperatures. For example, a typical refrigerant will boil at a mere 150°F, generating significant pressures. The cycle of pressurization with a pump-expansion resulting from applied heat, using the heat to turn a turbine to create energy, and condensation of the fluid back to its liquid state-is identical to the steam engine. It just occurs at much lower temperatures. or the relatively small amount of waste heat used to drive the engine a comparatively high amount of work can be performed. This results in high turbine efficiency-as high as 85%. That is, the amount of electricity generated by the turbine can be equal to 85% of the equivalent energy generated by the engine. This is the result of the relatively low peripheral speed of the turbine. Solar applications are a potential source of energy for the ORC engine. Unlike photovoltaic solar cells that produce direct current, which then has to be converted (with significant energy losses) into alternating current used by households, the turbine driven by the heated organic fluids produces directly useable alternating current. Solar collectors reflect and focus sunlight onto a central tube containing the organic working fluid. This flash-boils the fluid and allows it to drive a small turbine. Organic working fluids operate at temperatures below 400°C (752 °F) and do not need to be superheated. ORC engines can recover waste heat effectively at temperatures as low as 70°C (158°F).
02/01/06 - Sterling Rankine-like advanced ORC generator
(Not to be confused with Stirling 1813 engines. - JWD) New Technology Converts 'Warm' Thermal Sources into Energy. The photo shows a 1HP (760Watt) unit and a modified reciprocating refrigerant compressor that has been modified to produce power from solar heated refrigerant. Eliminating the feedpump. In an effort to reduce the 'actual' inefficiency of very low temperature Rankine cycles, our patented power plant eliminates the working fluid feed pump, and replace it with a simple, yet effective method for cycling the spent working fluid. This effectively frees the cycle of a principle component of its mechanical inefficiency. Technically speaking, with the exclusion of the feedpump, this is no longer a Rankine cycle. The upshot of our patented cycle is that it is predicted to make economical power at Rankine cycle efficiencies within any temperature range, whereas 'organic Rankine cycles' become large and uneconomical at the lower end of the thermal energy spectrum. Sunshine is free, but consider the cost of a large, curved, shiny mirrored assembly that must swivel to track the sun, and concentrate sunshine into a 400o-700oF fluid. Compare that to the cost of a simple immobile flat plate collector, producing equal Btu's per square meter, but at a temperature of 150F. The flat plate actually converts sunshine to thermal energy at a much higher efficiency than the parabolic monstrosity, measured both in Btu/dollar and Btu/ft2. Most 'alternative' thermal energy is found at a temperature below that of steam or boiling water (below 212F). Consider these facts: solar energy is most economically collected at 105-150 Fahrenheit; a geothermal temperature of 160F exists only 200 feet underground throughout most of the State of Nevada; industrial waste heat is most prevalent at temperatures between 160 - 250F. Patent 5,974,804 - Apparatus and method for converting thermal energy to mechanical energy.
02/01/06 - University unveils invention to tackle waste
Prof Tom Ogada, the managing director of Moi University Holdings, which oversees the project, says the technology has proven effective for removing stubborn colour in waste water from tea and coffee processing factories. Apart from the invention being beneficial to tea and coffee factories, Ogada says, it may also be useful to paper processing factories. But colour removal is expensive. The proposal says the electrochemical method takes time and consumes a lot of electricity. Some companies opt for the simple wetland treatment, which only removes a little colour from the water. The proposal says high colouration in waste water changes its aesthetic quality and reduces light penetration, potentially affecting plant growth and habitat. But the university’s invention drastically reduces toxicity using a method known as "electro-coagulation" which has a low power consumption rate. It involves mixing the coloured water with ash (from wood, coffee husks, leaves etc) and then electrolysing the resulting solution. From the tests done, the effluent coagulates and the colour disappears in a matter of seconds, with little electricity consumed. After a while, the coagulated matter settles at the bottom and is drained off. The project will lead to a reduction in colour removal expenses, rejuvenation of some of the lost flora and fauna downstream industrial rivers and better livelihoods for those living and depending on industrial rivers.
02/01/06 - Man turns coconut waste into enviro-saver
Imagine turning worthless waste material into an innovative, biodegradable product that protects the environment, promotes plant growth and gives jobs to poor farmers. This innovation makes use of the husk fibres to produce a tough but biodegradable netting that anchors the soil on sloping land as well as river banks, protecting against erosion while encouraging the growth of vegetation. The product, called "coconet", has been adopted in infrastructure projects all over this Southeast Asian archipelago, as well as in China and Sri Lanka. The dried coconut meat, or "copra", was the only part of the tall plant that had recognised economic value - the raw material for vegetable oil, soap, animal feed and industrial processes. The discarded husks were the largest waste product of the coconut-growing regions. Arboleda estimates the Philippines produces 12 billion coconut husks a year with 75 percent of them thrown away. "We wanted to give jobs to the farmers, especially the women," who often are left idle when the coconut crop has been harvested, he said. "We found a way to mill (coconut) husks, convert them to fibres and bring (the fibres) to the houses" of the farmers, where their wives would spin them into a tough thread which in turn is woven into the netting. The net could then be laid onto sloping land, especially the kind left behind in road construction. Arboleda says his product not only holds the soil down against erosion. It absorbs water, preventing soil runoff from rains while serving as a fertile bed for plant growth. It can also be installed manually unlike alternatives which often require heavy equipment. "Before, everyone would use plastic nets or steel wire," or even concrete to shore up slopes, he said. "Coconut fibre is cheap, it does not deteriorate quickly," he said, allowing plants to grow in coconet-covered slopes or river banks, to eventually anchor the soil down. In tests, coco-fibre has lasted for four years submerged in water, he said. The product is now used to shore up the exposed earth in dam and highway projects in the Philippines, preventing landslides in hillside housing projects and covering garbage used as landfill. In addition, Arboleda has found a way to use the dust produced when coconut husks are made into fibres. He turns it into "coco-peat": a fertile, porous soil-like material used as a growing medium for plants and can be shaped like bricks, pots or posts, for ornamental vegetation.
02/01/06 - Virtual Gills for underwater breathing
An invention may pave the way for man to explore the ocean without the need for air tanks. An inventor in Israel, Alon Bodner, has developed an "underwater breathing system that literally squeezes oxygen directly from seawater." The system is called, "LikeAFish", and is a battery-powered artificial gill system aims to extract the small amounts of dissolved air that already exists in water to supply breathable oxygen to scuba divers, submarines and underwater habitats, according to reports. According to the BBC, the system exists as a laboratory model with European patents approved and U.S. applications pending. Bodner says that he is now working on reducing the size of the device, and hopes to field a prototype within two years. Patent Application 20040003811 - Open-circuit self-contained underwater breathing apparatus.
02/01/06 - Another flying windmill design
According to their figures, one flying windmill rated at 240kW with rotor diameters of 35 feet could generate power for less than two cents per kilowatt hour--that would make them the cheapest power source in the world. For greater power needs, several units would be operated in the same location--Sky Windpower says that an installation "rated at 2.81 megawatts flying at a typical U.S. site with an eighty percent capacity factor projects a life cycle cost per kilowatt hour at 1.4 cents." And they would have far better uptime than most windmills--since the jetstream never quits, they should operate at peak capacity 70-90% of the time. Output would also be less dependent on location than it is on the ground, simply because terrain doesn't matter much when you're at 35,000ft; however, since the jetstream and other "geostrophic" winds don't blow much at latitudes near the equator, it would be useful primarily for middle and higher latitudes.
02/01/06 - Turbulence yields secrets to 73-year-old experiment
(This might have correlations with Aether/ZPE coupling to extract useful energy or force. - JWD) "Turbulence is the jittery, swirling behavior of a gas or liquid when flowing next to a wall or around an obstacle," said Gustavo Gioia, a professor of theoretical and applied mechanics at Illinois. "Although most of the flows that surround us in everyday life are turbulent flows over rough walls, these flows have remained one of the least understood phenomena of classical physics." In 1933, Johann Nikuradse carefully measured the friction a fluid experiences as it is forced through a pipe at varying speeds. Nikuradse found that the friction gets smaller as the speed gets larger, but then surprisingly increases at high speeds before attaining a constant value. This mysterious behavior, which must be taken into account by engineers in applications ranging from airplanes to oil pipelines, has now been explained. Illinois physics professor Nigel Goldenfeld shows how the behavior implies that the turbulent state is not random, but contains subtle statistical correlations that are similar to those known to exist at phase transitions, such as the onset of magnetism in crystals.
02/01/06 - Kilowatt TV/video game Exerciser
I tried the Pro version at the CES and I can tell you it's quite strenuous to use and I could probably use it in losing some Christmas Cheer. Unlike several other devices that give you a workout and hook to a video game console, the Kilowatt is not a bicycle - it works using isometric exercise - you just push against the shoulder-height joystick device and nothing moves - but you're definitely burning calories and getting a workout. The company catch-cry goes along the lines of "Your body is in a workout...but your mind is in a game" and I can see the advantages. The US Olympic ski team has apparently been using the Kilowatt in training so it's reasonable to assume it does the job claimed. The Kilowatt also answers one of the major criticisms of the games entertainment industry - that video game use is sedentary and therefore is playing a role in the growing obesity epidemic. Powergrid Fitness's Co-Founder Greg Merril says, "Kilowatt is the first product to turn being a 'couch potato' into a physically demanding sport! Most Americans want to lose weight --189 million say 20 lbs or more. They want to exercise..... but few do. 60% play video games. The Kilowatt SPORT, with it's relatively small size (smaller than most home gyms) is an ideal product for home use." The core function of the Kilowatt is in it's ability to measure, in real-time, the force the user exerts against the controller. Two microprocessors are used to translate the pressure readings into a joystick data stream that is compatible with all major video game consoles. A new manufacturing technique was developed to integrate strain gauge sensors inside a alloy steel rod.
02/01/06 - Adapter for TV/video game workouts
The EnterTrainer Cardio-TV-Trainer is a wireless device that converts any exercise machine and TV, video game or stereo into an interactive workout system. The EnterTrainer combines a wireless heart monitor and a universal remote control and maintains the correct volume for the device you wish to watch/play/listen to when your heart is working in the target zone you have set. Too low or too high and the volume is lowered until you get your heart pumping in the right zone again. At US99 it’s not all that expensive compared to most wrist-worn heart rate monitors but then again, they can be used to monitor your heart rate anywhere whereas this is location-specific. If you have an overweight child who watches too much telly, it might be ideal.
02/01/06 - Dawn detergent as redneck IcePack
My wife pulled her sciatic nerve last week. An ice pack was recommended but one of our friends gave us a great tip. Instead of an ice pack, partially fill a strong zip lock bag with Dawn dishwashing detergent and freeze it. (I don’t know if other brands would work just as well.) Just to be safe, we double-bagged it! The detergent stays cold much longer and it can be re-frozen over and over. It also molds to your back better than ice.
02/01/06 - Elastic cylinder engine to produce power
A miniature combustion engine that uses an elastic cylinder to generate power has been developed by SRI International of California, US. Conventional internal combustion engines rely on a piston moving inside a cylinder to provide power. Big ones are efficient because gas leakage round the piston wastes only a small percentage of the total power. But in smaller engines the leakage loss is proportionately high, so efficiency is poor.
The engine developed by SRI prevents leakage altogether, the company claims. It burns an ordinary fuel-air mix inside a sealed cylinder made from a tough elastic material, such as rubberised Kevlar. As the hot gases expand, the cylinder itself swells like a balloon then returns elastically to its original shape. A crank arm resting on the outside of the cylinder is moved to generate mechanical power. Efficiency is high and heat is also dissipated effectively because the cylinder walls become temporarily thinner as the cylinder swells.
Patent Application 20060000214 - Compliant walled combustion devices.
02/01/06 - WinAmp security flaw fixed
The company posted version 5.13 of the media player online on Monday after Secunia and other security companies issued alerts about the problem. Malicious software exploiting the "extremely critical" flaw was already circulating on the Internet, according to Secunia's advisory. The security hole, found in the latest version of Winamp 5.12, could lead to malicious attackers taking remote control of a Winamp user's system. Earlier versions of the media player may also be affected, Secunia said. The vulnerability could be exploited when a Winamp user visits a malicious Web site and a tainted media file is launched onto the person's system. A buffer overflow is triggered, which allows the attacker to take control of the computer without being constrained by security measures, Kristensen noted. Nullsoft, a division of America Online, is urging people to download the updated media player from the Winamp Web site. "Users attempting to launch the v. 5.12 player will be prompted with a pop-up message alerting them to upgrade to the secure Winamp v 5.13," AOL said.
$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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