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09/30/06 - The Shape of Song
What does music look like? The Shape of Song is an attempt to answer this seemingly paradoxical question. The custom software in this work draws musical patterns in the form of translucent arches, allowing viewers to see--literally--the shape of any composition available on the Web. The resulting images reflect the full range of musical forms, from the deep structure of Bach to the crystalline beauty of Philip Glass.

09/30/06 - Researchers stress adaptation to global warming
Install massive steel barriers in the waters around New York City to ward off storm surges as sea levels rise. Plant heat-friendly corn instead of heat-sensitive wheat. Air-condition stifling apartments to prevent widespread heat-related deaths. Require new buildings to be set well back from the seashore or raised on stilts. These are some of the ideas that scientists and engineers are discussing to help the world adapt to climate change. No matter what efforts are made to slow global warming, even many skeptics say that further temperature increases are inevitable. As a result, adaptation - actions that individuals, companies or governments take to reduce damage from climate change - is gaining more attention from researchers and policymakers. Adaptation can include such measures as switching crops, building seawalls, controlling water use, adopting new building codes, even moving away from danger zones. As the United States gets hotter, people will try to move north, Gulledge predicted. "Unfortunately, all the good places are already taken," he said. As a result, "Canada will be more populous 500 years from now." Animals, plants and insects already are migrating toward cooler climes. Since 1975, 1,700 biological species have been moving poleward at an average speed of 25 miles per decade, James Hansen, a NASA environmental scientist, reported in this week's edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. "We have already bequeathed a more dangerous world to our grandchildren," Neil Adger, a climate expert at the University of East Anglia in England, wrote in his new book, "Fairness in Adaptation to Climate Change." "Adaptation to climate change will be required from all of us, whether we want it or not."

09/30/06 - Doctor claims time travel to heal
An Ohio chiropractor who claimed to treat patients using time travel has surrendered his license to practice. State regulators had been investigating Dr. James Burda of Athens, who said he could take care of anyone, anywhere by reaching back in time to when the injury occurred. Burda said he discovered the skill six years ago when he hurt his own foot while driving. He said he gave the pain a command to stop and it went away. He said he doesn't use force to realign bones, but he uses his mind to manipulate the body. But if that doesn't work, he said he travels back in time to fix the problem. He calls the practice Bala-Keem. State medical officials call it malpractice. Burda's Web site offered long-distance healing service for $60 an hour. Burda said that his practice is beyond chiropractic, and is beyond what "they understand." He said that anything that's beyond what people don't understand scares them.

09/30/06 - Self Obsessed Boomers want more 'me' time
Every eight seconds, another baby boomer turns 60. And as the trendsetters of the generation head for retirement, they're yearning for their dream homes. More than a third said their adult children and their own parents are not a consideration in creating their dream homes. Sixty-three percent said enjoying their home after age 60 is a priority above or equal to spending time with the grandchildren, and just 35% said they'd relocate to be closer to family and loved ones. The generation has always been considered selfish," said Frank Anton, chief executive officer of Hanley Wood, a media and information company for the housing and construction industry. "This survey would indicate maybe they're more selfish than anyone knows." Respondents interviewed in the study weren't just any boomers. The study included 2,000 homeowners between the ages of 50 and 60 -- and with annual household incomes of $100,000 or more. The study's authors termed these individuals "Boomfluentials," the oldest, most educated and most affluent members of the generation.

09/30/06 - 7 sites facing radical alteration due to climate change
1) Rainforests of Borneo - El Niño brings deadly droughts to the Kalimantan Timur province of Indonesia-East Borneo to the rest of us. / 2) Venice - Rising sea levels, accelerated by global warming, are forcing the Adriatic against the stones of the city, allowing saltwater to seep into brick walls and crumble them. / 3) Tuvalu - The low-lying islands of Tuvalu are under imminent threat from rising seas; New Zealand has agreed to accept migrants once our home becomes uninhabitable, which is expected to happen in less than 50 years. / 4) Vermont - Think about the winter-traditionally long here, full of skiers sliding across pastures and sleds flying down barnyard hills. The season is already about two weeks shorter on average than it was in 1970. / 5) Okavango Delta, Botswana - The only immediate threat to this unique place is the building of upstream dams, or a large offtake of water from the Okavango River and its tributaries. But a recent climate model predicts a significantly and consistently drier southern Africa. In the short term, this will result in an even denser concentration of megafauna here as the swamp retracts. / 6) Arctic - The permafrost is melting. Houses are in danger of being swept to sea. Winter roads are essential to bringing goods and allowing people to visit relatives in other communities; with delayed ice-forming and early spring break-up, it hits these people hard. / 7) Reefs of Fiji - When water heats up, corals expel the symbiotic algae that provides them with nutrients and color, leaving the corals "bleached." In Fiji, corals can survive in waters up to about 30°C (86°F). Above that, the corals will die if the temperature stays elevated for long enough. Much of the coral Fiji is famous for has died, fish have disappeared, and the once stunning reef at Beqa became a sad desert. Thankfully, not everything died off and I could see little bits of live coral and some persistent fish.

09/30/06 - 10 of the The Stupidest Things President George W. Bush Has Ever Said
2) "Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we." -Washington, D.C., Aug. 5, 2004

09/30/06 - Mileage Saving Rules of Thumb put to the test
A lot of times on Daily Fuel Economy Tip, I write about various rules of thumb. For example: * For every extra 100 pounds you carry in your car, you decrease your gas mileage by up to 2% * For every 5 miles per hour you drive above 55 mph, you reduce your gas mileage by up to 10% * You save more gas by turning off and restarting your car than you do by idling for a minute. The list goes on and on. Well, it looks like someone has decided to put many of these rules of thumb to the test. By hooking up a laptop to his 2006 Jeep Wrangler, Matthew Vea was able to get a pretty good feel for how accurate many of these rules of thumb really are. I’d go into the details regarding how Vea actually collected the data but you can read the article for yourself (this is actually a nice way of me saying the technical stuff in his article is way over my head). Not surprisingly, Vea was able to confirm what you have read here many, many times - you can increase your vehicle’s gas mileage though: 1. Moderate acceleration 2. Watching your speed 3. Properly inflating your tires 4. Reducing excess weight 5. Reducing drag

09/29/06 - Death by Medicine
Something is wrong when regulatory agencies pretend that vitamins are dangerous, yet ignore published statistics showing that government-sanctioned medicine is the real hazard. Until now, Life Extension could cite only isolated statistics to make its case about the dangers of conventional medicine. No one had ever analyzed and combined ALL of the published literature dealing with injuries and deaths caused by government-protected medicine. That has now changed. A group of researchers meticulously reviewed the statistical evidence and their findings are absolutely shocking.4 These researchers have authored a paper titled “Death by Medicine” that presents compelling evidence that today’s system frequently causes more harm than good. This fully referenced report shows the number of people having in-hospital, adverse reactions to prescribed drugs to be 2.2 million per year. The number of unnecessary antibiotics prescribed annually for viral infections is 20 million per year. The number of unnecessary medical and surgical procedures performed annually is 7.5 million per year. The number of people exposed to unnecessary hospitalization annually is 8.9 million per year. The most stunning statistic, however, is that the total number of deaths caused by conventional medicine is an astounding 783,936 per year. It is now evident that the American medical system is the leading cause of death and injury in the US. (By contrast, the number of deaths attributable to heart disease in 2001 was 699,697, while the number of deaths attributable to cancer was 553,251.5) Something is wrong when regulatory agencies pretend that vitamins are dangerous, yet ignore published statistics showing that government-sanctioned medicine is the real hazard. We placed this article on our website to memorialize the failure of the American medical system. By exposing these gruesome statistics in painstaking detail, we provide a basis for competent and compassionate medical professionals to recognize the inadequacies of today’s system and at least attempt to institute meaningful reforms.

09/29/06 - 1 Degree Celsius and we're done for
"Further global warming of 1 °C defines a critical threshold. Beyond that we will likely see changes that make Earth a different planet than the one we know." So says Jim Hansen, director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York. Hansen and colleagues have analysed global temperature records and found that surface temperatures have been increasing by an average of 0.2 °C every decade for the past 30 years. Warming is greatest in the high latitudes of the northern hemisphere, particularly in the sub-Arctic boreal forests of Siberia and North America. Here the melting of ice and snow is exposing darker surfaces that absorb more sunlight and increase warming, creating a positive feedback. Earth is already as warm as at any time in the last 10,000 years, and is within 1 °C of being its hottest for a million years, says Hansen's team. Stuart Chapin of the University of Alaska Fairbanks this week reported that air temperatures in the Alaskan interior have risen by 2 °C since 1950, and permafrost temperatures have risen by 2.5 °C. In Siberia the warming is especially pronounced in winter. "It has caused the onset of spring to advance by as much as one day a year since satellite observations began in 1982," says Balzter. Similarly, Alaskan springs now arrive two weeks earlier than in 1950, according to Chapin. Melting permafrost in the boreal forests and further north in the Arctic tundra is also triggering the release of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, from thick layers of thawing peat. If Hansen is right that the carbon and methane stored in the boreal regions has the potential to transform the world into "another planet", then the boreal region may be worth a great deal more than that.

09/29/06 - Potentially massive savings from building automation
It's incredible how much electricity is consumed by the lighting in big office and industrial buildings, and even more incredible how much of it is unnecessary. A company like Encelium will go into a building and rig rooms with sensors and lighting fixtures with switches and dimmers that allow them to be remotely controlled, either through a pre-established program or through a Web interface. Savings range from 50 per cent to 70 per cent on electricity bills, and the payback can be as little as three or four years depending on the installation. Looked at this way, you begin to realize that the province would get the biggest payback in terms of conservation if it dumped money into building retrofits, or at the very least provided interest-free loans to retrofit projects that could repay the loan within five years. It's a no-brainer.

09/29/06 - How to write a White Paper as the new PR tool
The use of white papers as a marketing tool has skyrocketed in recent years, not only for selling information technology but also to promote various products and services beyond hardware and software. A professional writer or editor hired to produce the text for a white paper typically is not an expert in the subject, which more often than not is both technical and arcane. Before the Internet, the greatest challenge for the writer was lack of information. Research often was the bottleneck in devising a white paper. The local public library contained little usable information on the specialized topics, and subject matter experts often were uncooperative in sharing information with writers. In the Internet era, the problem is too much information. The writer’s challenge is not in finding sufficient content for writing the paper, but in selection. How do you know what content to include, or what to leave out? All you have to do is ask and answer one question: “What is the marketing objective of this white paper?” Importantly, topic and marketing objective are not the same thing. When you have a ton of information available on the topic, avoid taking the attitude that “the more content we can cram into our white paper, the better.” Your reader is busy. If your paper has the heft of “Moby Dick,” the reader will put it aside. The writer’s task is one of selectivity: knowing what to leave out is almost as important as knowing what to put in. What to leave out. To start, leave out information that the reader can get elsewhere easily and does not forward the marketing objective. The text should be as long as it takes to achieve the marketing objective. But as a rule of thumb, I find the most effective white papers to be 3,000 to 4,000 words. At 2,000 words or less, a paper doesn’t seem substantial enough, and perhaps is better suited to an article. Much beyond 5,000 words, the bulk becomes ponderous enough to scare off busy prospects who would at least skim the document if it seemed less imposing.

09/29/06 - Brain Stim creates ghostly friend
Swiss doctors have been able to solve the mystery behind hallucinations while treating for epilepsy a 22-year-old female patient with no history of psychiatric problems. During the electrical stimulation to certain brain areas doctors touched a spot known as the left temporoparietal junction, which is responsible for coordination. Cosmos Magazine reports that when this happened the woman claimed that she saw a ghost who was mimicking her every movement. Though the feeling was artificially produced, she did not recognize the ghost as an illusion. According to the woman’s account when she would try to sit up or lean forward the “shadow person” copied her pose and embraced her in his arms - a feeling she described as “unpleasant.” The electrical stimulation repeatedly produces a feeling of the presence of another person in the patient’s extra-personal space. Blanke and colleagues concluded that the patient was experiencing a perception of her own body resulted from the corrupted data collection by the brain. Since the strange sensation of someone’s presence, an experience of one’s actions being performed by another and the perception of a different self appear to be the results of electrical brain stimulation, scientists are led to believe that their discovery might help shed light on brain processes that contribute to the symptoms of schizophrenia. They could also explain the origin of paranormal experiences such as ghost and UFO encounters.

09/29/06 - Creating innovations in sustainability
”I never perfected an invention that I did not think about in terms of the service it might give others ... never waste time inventing things that people would not want to buy.” -- Thomas Edison

09/29/06 - Too Much Testosterone Kills Brain Cells
Tests on brain cells in lab dishes showed that while a little of the male hormone is good, too much of it causes cells to self-destruct in a process similar to that seen in brain illnesses such as Alzheimer's. "Too little testosterone is bad, too much is bad but the right amount is perfect," said Barbara Ehrlich of Yale University in Connecticut, who led the study. Testosterone is key to the development, differentiation and growth of cells and is produced by both men and women, although men produce about 20 times more of the hormone. "We can show that when you have high levels of steroids, you have high testosterone and that can destroy the nerve cells. We know that when you lose brain cells you lose function." Ehrlich's team tried the same thing with the "female" hormone estrogen, just to be fair. "We were surprised, but it actually looks like estrogen is neuroprotective. If anything, there is less cell death in the presence of estrogen," she said. "Next time a muscle-bound guy in a sports car cuts you off on the highway, don't get mad -- just take a deep breath and realize that it might not be his fault," Ehrlich said in a statement. The cells die via a process called apoptosis, also known as cell suicide or programmed cell death.

09/29/06 - Powerful Batteries assemble themselves
Biology may be the key to producing light-weight, inexpensive, and high-performance batteries that could transform military uniforms into power sources and, eventually, improve electric and hybrid vehicles. Angela Belcher, an MIT professor of biological engineering and materials science, and two colleagues, materials science professor Yet-Ming Chiang and chemical engineering professor Paula Hammond, have engineered viruses to assemble battery components that can store three times as much energy as traditional materials by packing highly ordered materials into a very small space. Through a combination of genetic design and directed evolution, Belcher has created viruses that coat themselves with inorganic materials they wouldn't touch in nature, forming crystalline materials, which are doped at regular intervals with gold to enhance their conductivity. Then the coated viruses line up on top of a polymer sheet that serves as the electrolyte, to form one of the battery's electrodes (see "Virus-Assembled Batteries"). The device looks like a thin sheet of cellophane. Now Belcher is engineering viruses to assemble the second electrode, with the goal of creating an extremely compact, self-assembled battery.

09/29/06 - Why We Need An X Prize for Eco-Friendly Air Travel
Air travel is frying the planet. While air travel contributes only 3% of humanity's total CO2 emissions (making them a problem only a few times larger than, say, coal fires), air travel is growing at an astounding rate. And while engines are growing more efficient, planes are also getting larger and flights more frequent, meaning that air travel may effectively undo many of the gains so far made in cutting CO2: Friends of the Earth commissioned a study from the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research to work out what growth of 6.4% a year (its average through the 1990s) would mean for Britain over the next 40-50 years. It concluded that the total CO2 discharges from air-traffic would soon offset all the reductions in carbon emissions scheduled under British government policies to comply with Kyoto. The European Commission (presumably neutral on such matters) accepts that, by 2012, the growth in aviation would offset more than a quarter of the reductions that its richer members hoped for. Furthermore, for a variety of reasons having to do with chemical emissions and contrail formation (the white "tails" jets leave behind them), it turns out that airplanes have a climate impact that's actually 2-4 times greater than their CO2 emissions alone would indicate.

09/29/06 - Dentin for Solar Collector Arrays
German scientists have used the photonic crystal structure of dentin as an inspiration to propose a new method of using sunlight to produce electricity. Andrei Sommer and Michael Gente of the University of Ulm say tooth structure bears similarities to photonic crystals, which allow certain wavelengths to enter their internal structure but block others. Applications of the effect might include harvesting sunlight for photovoltaic cells. The light-collector mechanism in dentin could serve as a model for the design of solar concentrator arrays, the researchers said. Arrays of tooth-like structures mounted on silicon permit collection of sunlight virtually independent of the angle of incidence of the sun, which could be vital, for instance, in Antarctica.

09/29/06 - For Oil, China scours backwaters of the world
"Gou qiang," Ma said of the search for oil, using a Beijing slang term that literally means it will be chokingly difficult. "But we have no choice. This is something we have to do." As recently as 1992, China was self- sufficient in oil. Today, the world's most-populous country is importing 40 percent of its needs - a figure that will rise to 75 percent by 2025, the U.S. Department of Energy predicts. Chinese oil consumption has almost quadrupled to 7.4 million barrels a day, making China the No.2 consumer behind the United States, and already ahead of Japan. As demand soars, production at the biggest Chinese oil field, Daqing, is in decline. "There's no gentle way of saying this," said Han Wenke, deputy director of the Energy-Research Institute, an arm of the Chinese planning ministry that is based in Beijing. "We need to find oil fast." In its search, China is scouring the backwaters of the world, from monsoon-lashed Myanmar to the deserts of Iran to the seas off Sudan and North Korea, cutting deals with nations that the United States and many other countries consider pariahs. Around the globe, from Angola to Venezuela, China is locked in competition for oil resources with Western nations and another emerging giant, India. "I see China and the U.S. coming into conflict over energy in the years ahead," says Jin Riguang, a Chinese government oil and gas adviser and member of the Standing Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference. China has no option but to deal with regimes that the United States disapproves of, says Guan Bin, an analyst at Merrill Lynch in Beijing. "China is a late comer to the oil exploration scene, and the choicest, most-productive areas have been taken by the BPs and Shells of this world," Guan said. To ensure that they get deals, Chinese companies have been paying premiums for the oil fields and companies they buy, said Jonathan Woetzel, a director at McKinsey in Shanghai. In Nigeria, Cnooc ended up paying $2.7 billion, 19 percent more than it had originally said it would, for an offshore block. "On average, the country's national oil companies pay at least 10 percent more for foreign reserves than major international oil companies do," Woetzel said.

09/29/06 - China Claims Successful Fusion Power Test
China claims to have carried out a successful test of its experimental thermonuclear fusion reactor. But what exactly made this test 'successful' is not clear. From the article: 'Xinhua cited the scientists as saying that deuterium and tritium atoms had been fused together at a temperature of 100 million degrees Celsius for nearly three seconds. The report did not specify whether the device... had succeeded at producing more energy than it consumed, the main obstacle to making fusion commercially viable.'"

09/29/06 - Cooperative Micro Air Vehicles for Surveillance
MIT researchers are using tricked-out model helicopters, each about the size of a seagull, to demonstrate swarming behavior in unmanned micro-air vehicles (drones). According to Aeronautics and Astronautics professor Jonathan How, they're focusing on techniques for "persistent surveillance." A group of drones could act as a distributed eye-in-the-sky for a military convoy with the vehicles taking turns landing on a truck for recharging in a docking station. From New Scientist: In the indoor tests, up to five radio-controlled helicopters are being used to collaboratively track small ground vehicles and land on the back of small moving platforms. A video shows one of the vehicles landing on a moving truck, while using a camera to lock onto the target and landing pad. In another experiment, each UAV was programmed to automatically land on a stationary recharging station when running low on battery power. Another video shows two aircraft working together to track a moving ground vehicle. The UAVs automatically take turns tracking the target at low altitude.

09/29/06 - Finger length tied to Athleticism
A new study suggests that the length ratio between women's second and fourth fingers is a good indicator of their sports ability. Researcher Tim Spector of St. Thomas' Hospital in London and his colleagues analyzed hand X-rays from more than 600 female twins who also provided information on their sports abilities. They report their results in the British Journal of Sports Medicine. From The Independent: The finding adds to evidence that the ratio between the two fingers - not the length itself but their length relative to each other - is associated with a number of different personality traits, which include sexuality, fertility, intelligence, aggressiveness and musical ability. The difference is believed to be linked to the level of the male hormone testosterone, to which the foetus is exposed in the womb. Scientists have suggested that the higher the level of testosterone, the more masculine the resulting foetus is likely to be, with its associated traits of strength, fertility and mathematical ability.

09/28/06 - TeraWatt claims inertial kickback to produce usable force
The DSS System creates kinetic energy resulting from a permanent mechanical chain reaction. It requires energy to disturb and accelerate the original symmetry but it will equalize its inner stability and hereby accelerate itself on and on. During all times energy can be extracted on each element, as long as the tightening torque is lower than the precompressed tension in between each element. By the right amount of elements it is possible to extract more energy that is required to propel the system.

09/28/06 - Kundel voice coil Magnetic Motor
The Motor works the same as any other standard AC or DC motor, interaction between 3 magnets. The only difference is a typical motor oscillates electrical current to the electro-magnet causing rotation. The Kundel Motor uses the same principal, but instead of oscillating a current, it physically oscillates a permanent magnet (using a speaker voice coil). The magnets interaction is the same without electricity. It is essential to point out that all the rotational work / torque that the motor is producing comes only from the interaction between the two small reciprocating magnets (0.75" OD, 0.375" ID, 0.25" thick) and the three rotor magnets (45mm OD, 35mm ID, 8mm thick). Any reciprocating action will cause the rotor to rotate at the frequency of the reciprocation. This effect can also be used so that the motor operates as an actuator. By rotating the axle, the reciprocator will reciprocate in synchronization with the frequency of rotation. The magnets size, shape and strength does not matter -- the effect remains the same.

09/28/06 - the Brazilian Diesel Tree
The tropical trees, which have the botanic name copaifera langsdorfii, produce a biofuel that can be tapped, filtered and used to power machinery such as tractors. It is estimated a one hectare plantation could produce 12,000 litres of fuel a year - enough to make a small farm fuel self-sufficient. "He sourced the seed from Brazil and says the first seedlings would be available in late January. The recommended method of growing them is to plant 1,000 trees on a hectare of land, preferably in a tropical area, then test them for their vigour, growth and yield about three years later, which ordinarily would lead to culling about half of them. About four to six years later they would be measured again before culling them down to between 250 and 350 of the best trees, which would be inter-bred and harvested for seed. "Mr Jubow said a large mature tree would yield about 40 litres of diesel a year, which equated to about 12,000 litres per hectare of trees. "It becomes astonishingly viable for a farmer to have a piece of his most productive land to get the tree up and running and then he can be independent from the fuel companies for the rest of his life," he said. They are known to produce fuel for 70 years. While the fuel cannot be stored for more than a few months it can be tapped. But even if it is left too long, it thickens into copaiba oil, which is used in alternative medicines and fetches around $100 a litre in the United States. And at the end of the tree's life, it can be milled to produce a light brown timber favoured by cabinet makers. "There's nothing wasted on the tree," Mr Jubow said."

09/27/06 - EEStor ceramic Battery
Alternative-fuel engines of different sorts all suffer from one major drawback or another: poor range, hard-to-find filling stations, high cost, poor performance. EEStore is out to change all that with a revolutionary new kind of "battery". We put "battery" in quotation marks because the unit doesn't store power in a chemical capsule like a conventional battery, but instead uses some kind of glass- and aluminum-coated ceramics. Feel Good Cars, the Toronto company responsible for the ZENN, wants to get the unit on the road by 2008. The most significant benefit would be its efficiency: a car powered by the EEStor unit could run on the equivalent of 45 cents per gallon, driving 500 miles on $9 worth of electricity after just five minutes to charge. We could tell you this invention could be the fix for our addiction to foreign oil, but that's scary talk for gear-heads. So we'll tell you about the performance instead. The company's CEO insists that "a four-passenger sedan will drive like a Ferrari". That's a tall order, but if he's right, the prancing horse could find itself grazing on greener pastures. / Comments - 6. Let's see, at about 9 cents/kwh, that's 1000kwh of storage. 1000kwh/5 minutes = 12000 kw, or 12 MW. I'd like to see the charging station that can provide 12 MW of power to a vehicle in a safe way. This has got to be total BS. / 12. rem83 - I think you miscalculated. - 9 cents per kwh = 900 cents ($9.00) per 100 kwh, not 1,000. So the amount of power delivered would be 1,200 KW in 5 minutes or 1.2 MW. / 18. Follow up to - rem83 and mo: Amperage is measured per second. In your calculations you forgot to divide the Kwh measurements by the time factor. So, 10,000(amps) / 5(minutes) / 60 (seconds) comes out to 33.3 amps or 6 gauge wire.

09/27/06 - William Stanley first used AC lighting in 1886, not Tesla in 1890
(This was totally STUNNING news for me. I am fully aware of the Tesla fanatics who have some odd cult built up around him and am working on a page to show how Tesla ripped off others for many of his inventions (as did so many others, Einstein, Edison, Bell, Marconi, etc.) and I don't believe for a minute the 'vision in the park' story about Teslas rotating magnetic field inspiration. But, thanks to Joel Carlinksy, here is some fascinating corrective information that gives proper credit. For sure, READ the link above if you are an unbiased truth seeker who doesn't buy into all the new age BS dreamed up about Tesla. Stick with the facts, FROM THE TIME! - JWD) - Jerry, Tesla was not the first to build an A.C. power plant. William Stanley had lit up the main street of Great Barrington, Mass. A year before Tesla designed his Niagara Falls station. Tesla knew about Stanley and may have gotten the idea for alternating current from him. / Stanley, whose family still lives in Great Barrington, was a rather shy and retiring character living way up in the Berkshires, while Tesla was a flamboyant mediagenic personality living in New York with access to the national media, so he gets the credit. Stanley also invented the vacuum flask thermos bottle, which was made by a company owned by his heirs until 1935 or so. His original apparatus is on display in the Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield. The G.B. Historical Society has a few pamphlets about him. I took some of them to one of the Tesla conferences in Colorado and spoke about Stanleys' priority. All hell broke loose! I was actually accused of being a govt. disinfo agent trying to discredit Tesla so nobody would look into his inventions more closely. The late Lilah Parish, who was head of the G.B. H.S. told me some stories about Stanley. Her uncle had worked for him and got an electric shock once that electroplated his arm with copper! What were they working with in those days that could do something like that? She said 3 engineers from Westinghouse visited Stanley to look at his A.C. system. One of them might have been Tesla, but if not, he certainly would have heard about it since he was working for Westinghouse at the time. With all the hype about Tesla from the Teslaphiliacs, it is time the facts came out. / First AC System - "William Stanley invented the induction coil, a transformer that creates alternating current electricity. In the 1880s every electricity distribution system used direct current (DC). The problem is that DC transmission over long distances is impractical, requires thick wires, is dangerous and could not be used for lighting. On the other hand, alternating current (AC) systems did not have these drawbacks. AC voltage systems could be varied by use of induction coils, but no practical coil system had been invented. Stanley's patent #349,611 changed all this and became the prototype for all future transformers. After Stanley left Pittsburgh, in 1886 he built the first AC system, providing lighting for offices and stores on the Main Street of Great Barrington, Massachusetts. He made transformers, auxiliary electrical equipment, and electrical appliances. The Stanley Electric Manufacturing Company was purchased by General Electric in 1903."

09/27/06 - ZAP's Electric ZEBRA
ZAP has produced an all-electric vehicle designed to address the need for gas-free alternatives with multi-purpose city driving, from industrial fleets to commuting. Called the XEBRA PK, the three-wheeled ZAP seats two with a multi-purpose platform behind the passenger compartment that serves as a hauler, dump truck or flatbed. Selling for less than US$10,000, the XEBRA PK will debut before California regulators participating in the 2006 Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) Technology Symposium in Sacramento, September 25-27. ZAP Chairman Starr cited a study that showed more than a third of new car buyers in California would buy an electric vehicle if that vehicle were priced close to a gasoline vehicle and offered similar functionality. ZAP dealer Larry Dye of Electric Wheels in Salem, Oregon said, "I've already sold over 25 of the XEBRAs, but I've sold four XEBRA PKs sight-unseen. It has many more uses: it's a great commute vehicle; it's also a hauler; a dump truck; it folds down to be a flatbed; it can be a ranch or farm vehicle; or an economical fleet vehicle. I've got several businesses that can't wait to go for their first test drive. We'll have a whole herd of XEBRAs and PKs running around Salem before you know it." Starr noted that ZAP has talked to many cities that are interested in replacing their gas powered parking enforcement vehicles. Several businesses have inquired about inter-campus transportation and even bridge districts have requested vehicles like it. Speed: Up to 40 mph (65 km/ph) / Range: Up to 40 miles (65 km) / Charger: Onboard 110 Volt AC / Motor: DC / Seating: Up to 4 (Max 500 lbs.) / Battery: Gel Cell / Classification: 3 wheel motorcycle (Zero Emission Vehicle) / Dimensions: 10’ Length (290 cm) x 4.66’ Width (142 cm) x 5.05’ Height (154 cm) / Options: Upgraded Radio/CD, Color, Leather Seats / Colors: Ocean Blue, Zebra Flash, Kiwi Green and Lipstick Red

09/27/06 - Super Nutrient mix for Increasing Crop Yields
Umar Hasan Saputra, 36 has invented a technology that can produce essential nutrients beneficial for crops. Several farmers who have had the opportunity to apply the nutrients on their fields today have testified to their efficacy having seen their vegetable productivity rise. A farmer in the slope of Mt. Merbabu, Central Java, for example, said that his tomato plant produces 14 fruits per branch. Normally, it would be only four to six. They also said that, usually, plucked tomatoes decompose in three days. However, after taking the nutrients the tomatoes can stay fresh for eight days without needing to be put in a refrigerator. Another farmer in Karawang, West Java, said that he used to earn Rp 3.5 million (US$380) per hectare of his paddy field. After using the nutrients, he earned Rp 16 million. "As the inventor, I'm also amazed at the news. I know that we don't need fertilizer (if we take this nutrient). But, to hear about an increase in productivity from four tons to eight is still a surprise," Saputra told The Jakarta Post at his Jakarta office recently. He defines an essential nutrient as that which is required for normal body functioning. It cannot be synthesized by the body. Categories of essential nutrient include vitamins, dietary minerals, essential fatty acids and essential amino acids. After 10 years, he found the formula. The discovery coincided, he said, with the discovery by Japanese and U.S. experts of essential nutrients in the deep sea. When scientists in Japan and U.S. were busy with efforts to take the nutrients popularly known as "diamonds of the deep sea", Saputra was able to produce the nutrients using his technology. "We are now disseminating the technology. It's amazing because it can solve several problems in agriculture. The nutrient can improve the quality of soil in peat bogs, coastal areas and dry land," he added. Saputra emphasized that the Saputra Technology does not only deal with nutrients for agriculture but also with medicine, water and energy. He said that he produced the nutrient in liquid and powder form. Farmers can simply combine the liquid and powder and then spray it on their plantations. Many farmers said that they did not believe that they no longer needed to use fertilizer.

09/27/06 - Induction Coil Rocket Launcher
In the early '80s, when I was a member of the L5 Society and went to all the conferences of the time on commercial space dev, everybody talked about mass drivers, the electromagnetic catapaults that could be used to hurl moon material into space to be processed for colony building. This desktop induction launcher works on the same principle. When you watch the videos of the launch, you'll get an idea for just how powerful one of these coils can be.

09/27/06 - More plants make More Rain
More rain makes for more plant growth: that much is obvious. But now a statistical study of satellite images has added weight to the reverse notion: more plants also make for more rain. The result adds to the impetus to preserve green spaces in dry regions, in order to help prevent deserts from growing and encroaching on agricultural land. The new work concludes that vegetation effects account for around 30% of annual rainfall variation in Africa's Sahel region. The results are reported in Geophysical Research Letters. A simple correlation between greenness and rainfall would only show that periods of lush vegetation were likely to occur in wet seasons - hardly a surprising conclusion. So the researchers took a more subtle approach. They first examined how well past rainfall levels predicted the rainfall yet to come for each month over an 18-year period. They then added in an extra predictive factor: the previous month's greenness. If vegetation had no effect on rainfall, the predictive skill of the model would not change. But including the greenness measure did make it easier to predict subsequent rainfall levels - by 30%.

09/27/06 - GM developing home hydrogen refueling device
The unit, which would make hydrogen using either electricity or sunlight, would help sidestep one of the most vexing problems surrounding the creation of the pollution-free, alternative-power cars: how to persuade oil companies to invest in expensive new hydrogen stations that would compete with their core product, gasoline. The automaker's goal is an affordable, compact unit that would allow customers to fill their cars overnight in their own garages, says GM spokesman Scott Fosgard. GM would join Honda, which has already created a model for a home refueling hydrogen unit. GM isn't alone in home refueling. Honda unveiled the third generation of its home unit last year, created in conjunction with a fuel-cell company called Plug Power. It produces enough hydrogen from natural gas to power both a car and a home. Honda also has a solar-powered refueling station in operation at its test center in Torrance, Calif. It makes enough hydrogen for 30 miles of driving a day.

09/27/06 - Ocean levels could rise from 20-80 feet
The seas are rising: how much they'll continue to rise is, to some very real degree, still up to us. If we do nothing -- if the developed world doesn't change its ways, if China burns its coal, if the rainforests are completely logged and various feedback loops (melting permafrost, open water at the North pole) kick in to make things worse and speed melting of Greenland and Antarctica -- we could (at least according to the models run) see oceans rising 23, 30 even 80 feet. Rising seas are not the most dire potential effect of global climate change, but they will cause serious damage and, even more, they are indictors of the magnitude of the transformation we are wreaking on the planet that nearly everyone can grasp, if they're told about them.

09/27/06 - Guy uses VR goggles to pilot RC plane
(This is just too cool not to post! The idea is long standing and used in military applications and by NASA all the time, but this guy did it on his own. - JWD) Video of a guy who put a wireless camera on a model plane and wears VR goggles to pilot it.

09/27/06 - Israeli Innovation inspiration for Australia
In 2006 - every second export-shekel earned by industrial companies in Israel was classified as a high-technology export, in sectors such as computing, electronics and pharmaceuticals. The fact is, Israel has a staggering list of products that have been created and developed at home, just waiting for investors and commercial partners. For example, improvements in technology for glasses produce thinner, flatter lenses with reduced distortions. And an environmentally friendly system for producing snow. Israel is renowned for making the desert bloom - but now it’s gone a step further. Israeli researchers have developed heat pump systems to produce large quantities of ice and cold water, utilising low-level sources of thermal energy, and heat transfer and flexible blade compressor technologies. These systems can be used for heating, in construction, and to supply snow for ski resorts to extend the ski-season. And now a new type of biotic chocolate developed by Israeli researchers that actually helps reduce cardiovascular disease! Israel is so innovative they've taken innovation out of the science laboratory and put it into the confectionery section of the supermarket! Australia needs this same passion to innovate if we’re to become competitive again. I believe we must kick start the next generation of innovation in the private sector. That's why I’ll reform R& D investment arrangements. That's why I’ll develop the capacity and diversity of our universities. That's why I’ll rebuild our great research institutions, including the CSIRO.

09/27/06 - Silicon Valley goes solar
Engineers and entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley are taking advantage of their expertise in computer chips to design and manufacture electricity-generating solar cells that they hope will be increasingly competitive with traditional energy sources such as coal and natural gas. Most solar cells and chips are made from the same raw material from which the valley gets its name. Despite technological advances since the first photovoltaic cells were invented 50 years ago, solar is still two to three times more expensive than fossil fuels in the U.S. and relies on government subsidies to compete. Applied Materials uses equipment which can be retooled for silicon solar wafers, while another of its technologies -- for making flat-panel displays -- can be applied to "thin film" solar cells sprayed onto glass and other flat surfaces. "By lowering the cost and increasing the volumes, we think that solar power will become much more affordable in more places in the world," said Chief Technology Officer Mark Pinto. Solar still generates far less than 1 percent of the world's electricity supply, but it has grown by more than 40 percent annually over the past five years, according to Rhone Resch, president of the Solar Energy Industries Association. "The solar industry is the next great high-tech industry," Resch said. "Our estimate is that within 10 years solar will be the lowest cost option for electricity in the U.S." "With the help of Silicon Valley," said Bernadette Del Chiaro, clean energy advocate for the group Environment California, "California can become the Saudi Arabia of the sun, exporting new technologies for the rest of the country and world."

09/27/06 - Iraq for Sale: Unscrupulous Profiteering by Contractors
Robert "Outfoxed" Greenwald's new documentary, "Iraq For Sale," documents the disgraceful profiteering of private contractors in Iraq, like Halliburton, CACI and Titan. Greenwald's film talks with military personnel, past employees of military contractors, and the families of contractors who were killed in Iraq. He builds a compelling, damning case that the use of these contractors is putting American soldiers in harm's way, hurting US military effectiveness in Iraq, bilking the US taxpayer out of billions, and endangering the lives of the ex-military personnel who sign on with contractors on the promise of higher wages than those paid by the US military. From charging the US military $100 to ineptly wash a bag of laundry (and getting officers to reprimand soldiers who do their own laundry in the sink) to overseeing interrogation at Abu Ghraib, these military contractors are wasteful, undertrained, and grotesquely expensive. Greenwald's film features footage of bonfires built to destroy improperly ordered vehicles, computers and other equipment that the contractors purchased at taxpayer expense -- since these contractors are compensated on a "cost-plus" basis, they get paid more for wasting money than saving it.

09/26/06 - Global Warming not Solar induced
Now it appears that the Sun has played only a minor role in frying the planet. Scientists have examined various proxies of solar energy output over the past 1,000 years and have found no evidence that they are correlated with today’s rising temperatures. Satellite observations over the past 30 years have also turned up nothing. “The solar contribution to warming . . . is negligible,” the researchers wrote in the journal Nature. The 11-year sunspot cycle also appears not to be linked to global warming. Production of beryllium 10, an isotope resulting from the interaction of cosmic rays and the upper atmosphere, should fall during periods of high solar activity; no such overall decrease was found in Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets over the past millennium. The researchers also discredit the idea that the Sun is implicated in past variations in climate. “Our results imply that over the past century climate change due to human influences must far outweigh the effects of changes in the Sun’s brightness,” said Tom Wigley, of the US National Centre for Atmospheric Research in Colorado, who co-authored the study.

09/26/06 - Campaign in Iraq has increased terrorism threat
Views of 16 government agencies pooled. Study contradicting Bush was not made public. The National Intelligence Estimate was completed in April but not made public. Its conclusions, which were first reported by the New York Times, contradict assertions made by President George Bush and White House officials during the fifth anniversary of the September 11 attacks. "It's a very candid assessment," said one official who has seen the report. "It's stating the obvious." The report, Trends in Global Terrorism: Implications for the United States, points out the "centrality" of the US invasion of Iraq in fomenting terrorist cells and attacks. One section of the 30-page report, Indicators of the Spread of the Global Jihadist Movement, describes how the American presence in Iraq has helped spread radical Islam by providing a focal point for anti-Americanism.

09/26/06 - China's dangerous dustbowl
Overgrazing, logging, and loss of ground water turn nearly a million acres into desert every year, displacing millions and cutting global food supply. Violent sandstorms from China's expanding deserts have been battering Chinese cities, and their mustard-colored dust has begun reaching South Korea, Japan, and the west coast of North America. ``People dusting off their cars in California or Calgary often don't realize the sand has come all the way from China," said Lester Brown, president of the Earth Policy Institute in Washington, D.C., who was in Beijing recently. ``There is a dustbowl developing in China that represents the largest conversion of productive land to desert of any place in the world . . . and it's affecting the world." China has always suffered from aridity. About 25 percent of its landmass is composed of deserts made famous in tales about the Silk Road, which traversed many of them. But the situation is getting worse. Overgrazing, along with persistent drought, indiscriminate use of ground water, and rampant logging, are eroding the edges of China's deserts, allowing them to merge and spread. Recent satellite imagery shows that the Badain Jaran Desert in north-central China is pushing southward toward the nearby Tengger Desert to form a single, larger desert overlapping both northwestern Gansu Province and neighboring Inner Mongolia. Expanding deserts swallow almost a million acres of land every year, China's Environmental Protection Agency says.

09/26/06 - Avoiding mortgage crisis is a priority
When the real-estate industry made it easy to borrow a lot of money, it also made it easy for people to get into financial trouble. Which is exactly what's happening, as foreclosures are surging across the country. Lenders have to help distressed borrowers find a way to dig out, and all the participants, including home builders, have to reform their business -- or someone else will do it for them. The pressure is already building. In a Senate hearing last week, regulators criticized the recent wave of exotic loans that are squeezing many homeowners and will soon hit thousands more. The problem has been evident in Texas for a while. Foreclosures have been rising at double-digit rates for four years, and unlike other parts of the country, home values haven't appreciated enough to bail out borrowers. With little equity, they can't escape a financial jam by simply selling their property or refinancing their mortgage and taking out cash. In areas with soaring home prices, those have been effective antidotes for big debt burdens. About 3,300 homes in the Metroplex are posted for the October foreclosure auction, the most since the real-estate bust of the late 1980s, says George Roddy of Foreclosure Listing Service in Addison. He says we may be approaching a peak, but he had the same thought a year ago, only to see the postings keep rising. Other parts of the country are starting to feel the pain in a big way, including areas that were at the center of the real-estate boom.

09/26/06 - A reality check on plug-in hybrids
There are hybrid vehicles, whose gasoline/electric engines get great mileage. And then there are "plug-in" hybrids, only about a dozen of them in the US, which have been modified to store more electricity in beefier batteries by plugging in at night to the electricity grid. A groundbreaking study released last week sounds a cautionary note to the consumer. Plug-ins do burn less gasoline than regular hybrids - and gobs less than gasoline-only vehicles - but the high cost of their bigger battery packs will probably neutralize even significant savings at the pump, according to a report by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient America (ACEEE). The cost of nickel-metal hybrid batteries may also limit the appeal of plug-in hybrids - at least in the short run. Today's conventional hybrids command a premium price - $2,000 to $4,000 more than their nonhybrid counterparts - and their owners will recover that extra cost in about three years, assuming $3-a-gallon gasoline and 12,000 miles a year of driving, the report found.

09/25/06 - New Fuel Cell
Professor Don Gervasio and Sonja Tasic, a research associate, have developed an environmentally friendly hydrogen-gas generator they say can last two to four times longer than batteries of the same size and weight. Once the generator is compacted into a portable fuel cell the size of a laptop or digital-camera battery, this device will cut the weight in batteries that soldiers carry by half, Gervasio said. When it comes to the three "Bs" - bullets, beans and batteries - Gervasio said it's the beans, or food supply, that are given up first if a soldier needs to lighten his load. "These soldiers would rather go hungry than not have their radio, night-vision and range finder," he said. "If we can make a fuel cell that lasts two to four times longer, that will cut down the weight by half. Maybe they'll be able to actually eat something." The hydrogen fuel cell could also be used to power laptops, digital cameras, camper generators or even the power pads FedEx delivery people carry. The fuel cell costs a tenth to a hundredth of the cost of a conventional battery because only the fluid portion needs to be replaced, he said. Refillable cartridges will serve that function, he added. Cell phones, however, probably won't benefit from this invention. While the fuel cell is ideal for powering 10- to 50-watt medium-sized electronics, it's unlikely it can be scaled down to fit electronics the size of cell phones. The generator uses a solution called borohydride, an environmentally safe alkaline, to store hydrogen. Borohydride is a derivative of borax, a chemical compound often used in detergents. It's no more dangerous than soap water, Gervasio said. The generator works when the borohydride reacts to a metal catalyst and forms hydrogen gas. The gas is separated from the solution when it penetrates a membrane in the fuel cell, and then it mixes with oxygen to generate water and electricity. While this method is cheap and effective for medium-sized electronics, it would be too costly if applied to automobiles, Gervasio said. A car engine produces electricity at a cost of about $40 per kilowatt, whereas a hydrogen gas generator would produce cleaner energy, but at a cost of $10,000 per kilowatt.

09/25/06 - Chinese Seed-Breeding Satellite Successfully Landed
Shijian-8, China's seed-breeding satellite successfully returned on Earth as it landed in Southern province of country on Sunday. The satellite, which was launched from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center on September 9, spent fifteen days in space. The satellite carried 215 kilograms of seeds of vegetables, fruits, grains and cotton as scientist used the mission to carry out experiments aimed at discovering what happens to the germination and sprouting of plants when they are exposed to zero gravity, official Xinhua reported. During its short space journey the satellite sent back high-definition digital images of sprouting vegetables.

09/25/06 - Roll-Up Screen May Be Possible With New Metal Structure
Cambridge scientists say that roll-up laptop screens may soon be possible with new metal structures that can transform from flat screens into tubes and other shapes. The metal structures can be the foundation for electronic displays that can be rolled-up and carried in a bag or pocket. The metal sheets are made from copper alloy that function without moving parts by "snapping" from one shape into another. Lead researcher, Dr Keith Seffen, said they picked up the idea from a children's toy "flick" or "snap" bracelets which morph from a straight strip to become a coil around the wrist. What we have worked out is ways that you can make the shape and the stress interact with each other in a positive way." He adds, "Flexible electronics is a burgeoning area, people are looking into making very thin flexible displays that could be used for electronic newspapers, or other portable electronic media like a roll-up laptop or compact mobile phone."

09/25/06 - Torvec Infinitely Variable Transmission Saves Gas
Realizing that U.S. dependence on foreign energy sources would only increase unless a real, far-reaching solution were found, Vernon, James and myself also invented the world's only true infinitely variable transmission for use with both diesel and gasoline engines. The IVT provides an uninterrupted drive through an infinite number of speed ratios, allowing ideal torque flow to propel a car, bus or truck while permitting the engine to run at optimum efficiency. It is the only IVT that can be used in all vehicles regardless of size. Our invention replaces the conventional automatic transmission in automobiles and tests have proven a 25 percent increase in fuel mileage. The IVT also is less complicated and has about 75 percent fewer parts than a conventional five- or six- speed automatic transmission, making it smaller in size and 20 percent lighter in weight. This transmission, which is simpler and less expensive to manufacture than existing transmissions, will provide the automotive industry with a higher performing product at a lower cost.

09/25/06 - Conspiracy Overview
WHEN things happen in an order that is suspicious and totally out of sync, it is possible to search for reasons that are not often obvious but entirely plausible. The most important ingredient to concoct a conspiracy theory is a very fertile imagination, the rest are many avid listeners who contribute their bit by adding more juice as the story gets bigger and bigger!! In a country like Nigeria where information is often not readily available, there are many theories that fly from lips to lips and have become almost accepted facts!!

09/25/06 - New service to mine Internet for financial investing gems
A specialized search engine christened "Monitor110" promises to continually sift and sort information from nearly 40 million online sources to uncover business trends or developments before word reaches mainstream media. "It can monitor alternative news websites, government websites, regulatory sites, blogs, union websites, local newspapers," Monitor110 chairman Roger Ehrenberg told AFP. Weblogs, or blogs, are increasingly common online postings in which people offer opinions or insights regarding whatever they choose. Monitor110 will launch online at the beginning of 2007 and scan sources ranging from "alternative sites" to stock-exchange regulators for recurring information, said Ehrenberg, who once managed investment funds at Deutsche Bank. Monitor110 would be a precious resource where subscriptions to the service would be priced to match, with the target audience expected to be sophisticated investors and fund managers.

09/25/06 - Zinc Matrix batteries could change laptop game
Battery startup Zinc Matrix Power, which has developed a silver-zinc battery technology with twice the run time of lithium-ion and a much safer operation and environmental profile. The technology apparently makes its debut at the Intel Developers Forum in San Francisco next week (Sept. 26 to 28), and manufacturer testing will be conducted next year. The company is financially backed by Intel Corp. and the U.S. Army, which obviously sees a number of military applications. Timing couldn't be better for this little company. Given the recent safety (fire) concerns over lithium-ion batteries, and the fact that Sony batteries used in laptops from Dell, Apple and Toshiba have been recalled by the hundreds of thousands, the search is on for a battery technology that is not only safer than lithium-ion but offers better performance as well.

09/25/06 - DIY Rocketman
The Rocketman, Ky Michaelson at the young age of 66 years old, has taken on a new challenge, and that is to build a hydrogen peroxide rocket powered belt. Ever since Harold Graham made the first successful flight of the Bell Rocket belt, back in 1961. About every thrill seeker in the world would have liked to had been standing in his shoes, including Ky. Ky has taken a five-month break after the successful space shot flight and has started his quest to fly with his homemade rocket belt. As Ky builds the rocket belt, he is going to document the whole procedure and write a book on how to build the rocket belt. Ky’s main goal is to fly the belt, and show the world that you to can build your own rocket belt for less than the cost of a new motorcycle. One tank holds up to 3500psi of nitrogen.

09/25/06 - Surgery in Zero Gravity
The aircraft enabling the pioneering operation is Zero-G, a plane designed and built by Europe to simulate gravity-free conditions, providing a priceless laboratory-in-the-sky to test out new technologies. Working inside a custom-made operating block, three surgeons, backed by two anaesthetists and a team of army parachutists, will remove a fatty tumour from the forearm of an intrepid volunteer over the course of a three-hour flight. Miniature surgical tools, held in place with magnets placed around the patient's stretcher, will be used to adapt to the reduced size of the operating theatre, which was designed by a French elevator manufacturer. Martin's team laid the groundwork for Wednesday's operation in October 2003, with an operation on a 0.5 millimetre-wide (.01 inch) rat tail's artery. The European space plane, a specially-adapted Airbus A300 operated out of Bordeaux, flies in a series of roller-coaster like parabolas, creating between 20 and 22 seconds of weightlessness at the top of the curve, a process repeated around 30 times for a three-hour flight.

09/24/06 - Corn-to-Ethanol Process for Lower Costs, Environmental Benefits
Purdue University scientists have developed an environmentally friendly, cost-effective method for creating ethanol from corn. Using a machine originally designed to make plastics, the new Chen-Xu Method grinds the corn kernels and then liquefies the starch with high temperatures. The process produces about 2.85 gallons of ethanol for every bushel of corn processed. That output is slightly higher than current methods, but the same process that creates the ethanol also creates other marketable products. "Our process, which we are calling the Chen-Xu Method, not only makes ethanol, but products that are fit for human consumption," said Chen. "This process also produces corn oil, corn fiber, gluten and zein, which is a protein that can be used in the manufacture of plastics so that the containers are good for the environment because they are biodegradable and easily decompose. The containers would actually be edible, although there probably wouldn't be much market for that." With the Chen-Xu Method, the water input required by wet milling is reduced by 90%, wastewater output is cut by 95%, and electricity use is reduced by 47%. It also meets federal Clean Air Act standards, eliminating costs that other methods incur in meeting environmental regulations, said Chen. "The total operating cost of a Chen-Xu Method ethanol plant should be much less than that of a wet-milling plant, and total equipment investment is less than half," said Chen. "And with proper planning and management, total equipment investment should be less than that of a dry-milling plant."

09/24/06 - Shooting for Space on a Shoestring
A group of undergraduates at the University of Cambridge, UK. The group have just catapulted themselves to the forefront of the budget space scene, with the successful testing of Project Nova, a system that could hopefully allow small payloads to be sent into space for just £1,000 (US$1,900) a pop. This week, the team launched a 2-metre-wide helium balloon from the university campus. By the time it landed, 3 hours later and 45 kilometres away, it had soared to more than 32,000 metres, four times the height of Everest, recording stunning images of Earth before the balloon burst and the cameras and other instruments were guided groundwards by a parachute. The project team, spearheaded by students Carl Morland, Henry Hallam and Robert Fryers, now plans to attach a rocket to the balloon that could be fired once the balloon nears its maximum height, speeding the payload to an ultimate height of more than 100 kilometres - the officially recognized boundary of space.

09/24/06 - Who is Killing the Fuel Cell?
The Autonomy project offered a chance for the car industry - and especially GM - to reinvent itself as a modern, low-polluting, lights-off factory operation. But that was then and this is now. As Lutz explains, Sequel is now just a means to an end, and that end is not fuel-cell cars but "an all-electric architecture where all forms of engines as well as fuel cells can be used". He explains: "The thinking is that the hydrogen infrastructure might not arrive, but we have an architecture that we could use for all engines. Lutz blames the American government for GM's disenchantment with its world-beating fuel cell. "The US government is dragging its feet over the hydrogen infrastructure," he says, adding that GM remains committed to producing one million fuel-cell cars profitably - but that might be in China, for Chinese markets. "China is building loads of nuclear power stations," he says, "and we know that nuclear can produce almost fossil-free hydrogen and the Chinese government is really keen to get involved." "The first automobiles were introduced into the US in the 1890s and it took 55 years for 25 per cent of the population to reject the horse and adopt the car. To get VCRs into 25 per cent of US homes took 44 years. The equivalent figure for microwaves was 30 years, for personal computers 16 years and for cellphones 13 years. Technology adoption is getting faster but it still takes time. You'd better be in it for the long haul or you ain't gonna make it."

09/24/06 - Claims of Peace, Threats of War
The flap continues over Pope Benedict's recent remarks concerning the alleged violent nature of Islam. In the West Bank and elsewhere thousands of Muslims gathered today to protest the pontiff, waving banners and calling Benedict a "coward" and an "agent of the Americans." Though the pope has expressed regret about the reactions to his speech, many are not satisfied. In the past few days enraged Muslims have assaulted seven churches in the West Bank and in Gaza. These latest large-scale protests come only a day after a meeting of Muslims clerics in Lahore announced that jihad is not terrorism and that "Islam was not propagated with the sword." In a somewhat ironic twist, Muslim worshippers in Jerusalem, perhaps unaware of the meeting's verdict, raised banners displaying the phrase, "Conquering Rome is the answer." Other protesters took up the refrain, "The army of Islam will return."

09/24/06 - Brazil switches from petrol to ethanol and saves billions as the US looks on
THE Brazilian economy has saved more than $70bn (£36.8bn, E54.8bn) from its decision to switch the country’s cars from petrol to ethanol made from sugar cane, according to consultancy Deloitte. The soaring oil prices of the past two years have more than vindicated the country’s decision to push hard to make ethanol the dominant transportation fuel. Along with 2m barrels of oil a day of new oil production, the growth in ethanol use means the country now has virtually no imported oil. Given that ethanol is now 45% cheaper than petrol in Brazil, and that the revenues from sales all remain in the country, this will save the economy more than $20bn in 2006 alone, and has so far saved it an estimated $70bn in total. Between 40% and 50% of the fuel Brazilians now put in their cars is ethanol, a development that has been made possible by the growth in “flexi-fuel” cars which can switch between petrol or ethanol depending on which fuel is available. The Brazilian success is pushing other countries to look more closely at ethanol production.

09/23/06 - Bacteria producing natural gas on ocean floor
Bacteria buried deep in sediment off the coat of Peru are turning organic waste into propane, according to a study sponsored by the International Ocean Drilling Program. Kai-Uwe Hinrichs of the University of Bremen and John Hayes of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution were studying 40 million year old sediment samples and noticed that the gas content was unexpectedly high. Further study revealed that microbes dissolve organic matter into acetate. The acetate is then fixed to hydrogen by another microbe to produce ethane. A third reaction then turns it into propane, which comes out of your gas grill.

09/23/06 - SteamBikes past and present
Make Blog has a monster post rounding up steam-powered bicycles past and present -- these boiler-bikes look like they're likely to explode on the crossbar and take your nads with them, but they also look like they might be worth it.

09/23/06 - The Consequences of a Blistering Summer
Crops withering under the blistering gaze of the sun. Cracked mud flats curl along the edge of shrunken waterways. Fish lie dying on the dried riverbeds. And in the evening, the orange glow of wildfires pulses against the dark sky like the glow of a torch. This is not some eerie scene from a science fiction movie. This is summer in Spain in 2006, victim of drought. Spanish water reservoirs were at only 45% capacity in August. In the tourist-heavy southeast, they were as low as 8%, getting close to the sludge at the bottom. Spanish farmers face severe water restrictions and the prospect of a much smaller harvest. They will lose hundreds of millions of euros as a result. Fires peppered Spain's parched forests. In the first week of August alone, there were over 100 forest fires in northern Spain, killing at least three people. But it's not just Spain that is parched. Much of Western Europe suffers from unyielding drought. Drought has even touched the normally deep and powerful Rhine, the busiest waterway in Europe. The proud old river is a shallow and feeble portrait of its old self. Ships must carry less cargo than they once did. And shipping companies recently imposed surcharges of 50% to make up the lost revenue. The hot dry summer has a ripple effect on European life. According to the Financial Times: "Desperate to conserve water, Paris has for the first time decided not to dampen the dusty paths of its public gardens. English gardeners are banned from using hosepipes, while swimming pools remain empty in many Spanish towns." The tight water constraints also threaten livestock, as favored lush meadows and cool watering holes are now dusty fields and clumpy mud puddles. Harvest of beets, rice and corn will approach record lows.

09/23/06 - Tesla Statue unveiled at Niagara Falls
"A new statue of Nikola Tesla now stands at Niagra Falls, in Victoria park on the .ca side. Tesla stands atop his famous AC motor while scribbling in the dirt with a walking stick (which refers to the event when the rotating-field principle appeared in a flash to Tesla while he was walking in Belgrade park.) The statue commemorates the 150th anniversary of Tesla's birth." This great monument of Nikola Tesla at Niagara Falls, Canadian side, is one of greatest recognition of Nikola Tesla's work. Tesla designed the first hydro-electric power plant at Niagara Falls and with George Westinghouse started the electrification of the world. This monument is built in one of the most beautiful and most important place in the world.

09/23/06 - Microreactors Change Propane into Hydrogen
"Microreactors have already been used for on-site reforming of fuels, such as methanol or propane, to produce hydrogen to be used in fuel cells. Now, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) have designed very efficient ceramic microreactors to do this task. The scientists say that their microreactors are much better than other fuel reformer systems. They are now trying to reform gasoline and diesel, which are more widely distributed than propane. Does this mean that one day we'll be able to go to a gas station to refill the fuel cells powering our laptops? Probably not before a while, but read more for additional details, references and a picture of a prototype."

09/22/06 - Foot Driven water pump to cheaply increase crop yields
Eighteen million Kenyans -- just over half of the country's people -- live on $1 dollar a day. Most are farmers, barely able to grow enough to feed their families. Martin Fisher believes simple technology is the answer -- a pump that can increase crop yield through irrigation. Martin Fisher, KickStart co-founder: "Suddenly with irrigation, instead of waiting for the rain and getting one or two crops a year, suddenly you can grow crops throughout the year, get at least three to four harvests, you can grow high-value fruits and vegetables, and best of all, of course, you can bring them out in the dry season when the price is high." The pump isn't a handout. Fisher says that would create dependency. Instead, his non-profit group KickStart sells it for $98. That's about a third of the annual income of a Kenyan farmer. The increased crop production recovers that investment within months, eventually boosting the family from poverty to middle-class status. No translation is needed when they promote the pump as the "Super Money Maker." The pump has helped 45,000 African families in Kenya, Tanzania and Mali.

09/22/06 - Throwing Stones - Bible is also full of God-attributed atrocities
It takes eight pages in Ruth Hurmence Green's book, "The Born Again Skeptic's Guide to the Bible," just to list the mass killings ordered, committed or approved by the biblical deity. These range from drowning all but eight of the world's human inhabitants to merciless scorched-earth commandments to "utterly destroy" other nations (Deut. 7:1-2). There are countless biblical edicts to kill the innocent. The pope got in trouble for quoting a 14th-century Persian scholar who said Muhammad commanded that faith be "spread by the sword." It should be pointed out that Jesus said something similar: "I came not to bring peace, but a sword." (Matthew 10:34) The Christian Bible, the Hebrew Bible and the Koran share the same Abrahamic tradition. Each so-called "holy" book contains barbaric and bloodthirsty teachings which have spawned wars, persecution and strife in the name of a god. Peace-loving and civilized societies must rise above these primitive teachings by bolstering the wall of separation between religion and government.

09/22/06 - Artificial Reef Made From Old Tires Becomes Ecological Disaster
A plan in the early 1970s to create a massive artificial reef off Fort Lauderdale has turned into an environmental mess with the U.S. Navy, Broward County and others trying to figure out how to remove about two million tires covering 36 acres of ocean floor. What was intended to lure game fish now is damaging sensitive coral reefs and littering Broward's tourist-populated shoreline. ''They thought it would be a good fish habitat. It turned out to be a bad idea,'' said William Nuckols, project coordinator and military liaison for Coastal America, a federal group involved in the cleanup. ``It's a coastal coral destruction machine.'' The tires dot the ocean bottom a mile and a half from the end of Sunrise Boulevard. Environmentalists say strong tides -- especially during hurricanes and tropical storms -- cause the loose tires to knock against coral reefs, disrupting the ecosystem. In some cases, tires have washed ashore. Metal clips holding the tires together corroded, and the tires spilled across the ocean floor. Unlike sunken barges also used to build artificial reefs, the tires moved with the tide, and marine life never formed. Fishermen grumbled that game fish never came because the water there was too shallow. It's unlikely some of the tires could be recycled since many of them are encrusted with marine life such as sponges and barnacles, said Jan Rae Clark, environmental manager of the department's solid waste section. Those would most likely end up in a landfill.

09/22/06 - Doesn't look much like a Face from here
NASA started it all back in 1976 with an image of an interesting mountain on Mars and a caption that described it as appearing to have eyes and nostrils. Thirty years later, the Face on Mars still inspires myths and conspiracy theories. The spacecraft's High Resolution Stereo Camera provides data the researchers turn into colorized perspective views, which simulate the scene as though you were flying high over the region in an aircraft. The data was obtained in July and the images released today. A strong myth developed, holding that the Face was an artificial structure built by some ancient civilization. Surrounding pyramids-also just interesting-looking massifs-fueled the myth. Last year, a study helped explain why: People see faces that aren't there-on Mars or in clouds-because we have "over-learned" to recognize the human face. Other photographs of the Face taken more recently show that from different angles, it does not look much like a face.

09/22/06 - Plasma Gasification Energy-from-waste making moves in Ontario
Plasco Energy Group Inc., the plasma gasification company run by former Ottawa Senators hockey club owner Rod Bryden, has started construction of a small energy-from-waste demonstration facility in Canada's capital. The facility will process enough municipal solid waste (about 84 tonnes a day) to power itself and still feed back 4 megawatts into the Ontario grid. All eyes will be on this demonstration to see whether plasma gasification technology -- as opposed to incineration -- can cost-effectively turn post-recycled municipal solid waste into electricity while keeping below strict environmental and emissions standards.

09/22/06 - Termite Enzymes help make Ethanol
These household pests can convert 95% of what they consume into energy within 24 hours. However, it's not the termites themselves that are doing this remarkable transformation, rather the bacteria and protozoa that inhabit their digestive tracts. These microbes naturally generate a broad range of enzymes that convert the cellulosic materials into fermentable sugars. The technology that works for starch isn't viable for the creation of biomass-based ethanol. Biomass has been a challenge to convert to ethanol with scientists using harsh acids and high temperatures to try to hydrolyze the cellulose molecules. In order to solve this conversion problem, Diversa Corp., a biotech company based in San Diego, examined how biomass is converted into energy in the natural environment. They found the answer in the digestive tracts of the common termite. During experiments, scientists dissected hundreds and thousands of individual termite intestines. Using proprietary DNA extraction and cloning technologies, they were able to isolate the cellulose-degrading enzymes. By reenacting this natural process, the company created a "cocktail" of high-performance enzymes for industrial ethanol production enablers. Although still in the early stages of this work, the initial results are promising.

09/22/06 - Successful Energy Savings and Rebounds that cancel them
When people save money by improving energy efficiency, or by cutting back their energy use, they have more money to spend. How they spend this money influences whether there is a rebound or an amplification effect, and the size of that effect. For example, if someone spends the money they saved on buying lots of aluminium, which is produced with large amounts of electricity, the rebound effect may be so large that total energy use goes up. However, if that person invested their money into further energy efficiency improvements, the savings would be amplified. Within this spectrum, goods and services vary considerably in the amount of energy needed to provide them. ...Energy use is still growing in many countries despite improvements in energy efficiency.

09/22/06 - Artificial Heart doesn't Beat
A new concept for an artificial heart could solve some problems with older models--and test the idea that we don't need a pulse. Artificial hearts work by pumping deoxygenated blood from the body to the lungs. The device then pumps oxygenated blood through the body. The newly approved device, called AbioCor, made by Massachusetts-based Abiomed, uses an implanted hydraulic pumping system to simulate a natural heart beat. But an alternative design, conceived by O.H. "Bud" Frazier, a prominent heart surgeon and pioneer in the development of cardiac devices at the Texas Heart Institute in Houston, pumps blood through the body continuously, rather than with the periodic beat of the normal heart. "Continuous flow pumps are like little turbo machines," says Tim Baldwin, program director of the advanced technologies and surgery branch of the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute in Bethesda MD. "They are more durable and allow you to make smaller devices." With Frazier's continuous flow design for an entirely artificial heart, a severely damaged heart is removed and replaced with two rotor-based pumps that continually cycle blood through the body, completely taking over the function of the heart.

09/22/06 - Tie Doctors' Pay to Quality
(This will go over like a lead balloon. - JWD) Anyone who makes a living in sales knows about incentives: The better you do your job, the more money you earn. But chances are your doctor has never encountered that equation. He or she probably gets paid for whatever tests, diagnoses, or treatments are delivered, regardless of whether they are the right ones. That could soon change, if a growing number of policy makers get their way. Some private health companies have already begun offering doctors incentives for closely following standards in treating ailments like heart diseaseheart disease or diabetesdiabetes. Medicare's current system -- which bases doctors' payments on the number of evaluations, tests, and treatments they provide -- does nothing to control waste or discourage ineffective care. The IOM, a private, nonprofit group, advises the government on medical and scientific issues. Just Wednesday, a wide-ranging report released by the Commonwealth Fund detailed how rampant waste and ineffective care have become. That report found that the U.S. far outspends any other country on medical care, but lags behind -- sometimes far behind -- in nearly every relevant measure of health. Medicare should use incentive payments, combined with the force of its $300 billion-per-year medical care budget, to improve the quality and efficiency of the U.S. health system, the IOM committee said Thursday.

09/21/06 - The Denial Industry suppressed Global Warming concerns for decades
For years, a network of fake citizens' groups and bogus scientific bodies has been claiming that science of global warming is inconclusive. They set back action on climate change by a decade. But who funded them? Exxon's involvement is well known, but not the strange role of Big Tobacco. In the first of three extracts from his new book, George Monbiot tells a bizarre and shocking new story. The website Exxonsecrets.org, using data found in the company's official documents, lists 124 organisations that have taken money from the company or work closely with those that have. These organisations take a consistent line on climate change: that the science is contradictory, the scientists are split, environmentalists are charlatans, liars or lunatics, and if governments took action to prevent global warming, they would be endangering the global economy for no good reason. The findings these organisations dislike are labelled "junk science". The findings they welcome are labelled "sound science". What I have discovered while researching this issue is that the corporate funding of lobby groups denying that manmade climate change is taking place was initiated not by Exxon, or by any other firm directly involved in the fossil fuel industry. It was started by the tobacco company Philip Morris. In December 1992, the US Environmental Protection Agency published a 500-page report called Respiratory Health Effects of Passive Smoking. It found that "the widespread exposure to environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) in the United States presents a serious and substantial public health impact. In adults: ETS is a human lung carcinogen, responsible for approximately 3,000 lung cancer deaths annually in US non-smokers. In children: ETS exposure is causally associated with an increased risk of lower respiratory tract infections such as bronchitis and pneumonia. This report estimates that 150,000 to 300,000 cases annually in infants and young children up to 18 months of age are attributable to ETS." Had it not been for the settlement of a major class action against the tobacco companies in the US, we would never have been able to see what happened next. But in 1998 they were forced to publish their internal documents and post them on the internet. Within two months of its publication, Philip Morris, the world's biggest tobacco firm, had devised a strategy for dealing with the passive-smoking report. (via zpepower.com)

09/21/06 - Saudi wary of “green” policies to reduce oil consumption
OPEC kingpin Saudi Arabia has expressed concern that oil could become a victim of “selective” environment policies and called for striking a balance between a cleaner environment and development. The kingdom, whose economy heavily relies on oil income, said the use of advanced technology to carry out environment-friendly projects is the best solution to achieve economic development without harming the climate. “We are concerned that some environment-related decisions, which some countries are trying to impose, could reduce global consumption of oil,” Saudi Oil Minister Ali al-Nuaimi said. “This could hamper our economic development programmes because of our heavy reliance on oil exports,” Nuaimi told an international conference on Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), which opened Tuesday in Riyadh.

09/21/06 - Oil for all?
(Interesting how the quantities suddenly change once they realized the quest and implementation of alternate energy sources would hurt their sales. - JWD) Abdallah S. Jum’ah, president and CEO of the state-owned Saudi Arabian Oil Co., known better as Aramco, said the world has the potential of 4.5 trillion barrels in reserves - enough to power the globe at current levels of consumption for another 140 years.

09/21/06 - 10 Scientific Frauds that Rocked the World
From mental_floss’ book Condensed Knowledge: A deliciously Irreverent Guide to Feeling Smart Again, published in Neatorama with permission. Includes Cold Fusion, Kinsey, Eddington,...etc...

09/21/06 - Hot Reminder Ring
The "Remember Ring" is programmed to breifly heat up to 120 deg F every hour on the hour on a specific date -- such as your anniversary. It powers itself with a "micro thermopile" that turns heat from your hand into stored electricity that runs its internal clock and the heater.

09/21/06 - Some details about the Roulette Predictor
Mark Howe, who sells the devices for £1,000 from a workshop in Sheffield, claims his software will also work on level wheels. Surrounded by the soldering irons and laser sensors he uses to make his devices, he gave the Guardian an apparently successful demonstration of the software he said earned him a substantial sum before he was banned from British casinos in the 1990s. The equipment consists of a clicker that records the deceleration speed of the rotor and ball, a remote computer device concealed inside a mobile phone or MP3 player, and an earpiece that instructs a player which zone the ball will land in. Mr Howe says a gambler with the equipment can gain an edge of between 20% and 100% over the casino, overturning the casino's normal 2.7% edge over customers. "Next year is free hunting for anyone interested in making money from casinos," he said. "All you need to use this is nerves, a good front and consistency."

09/21/06 - Planning the SuperState - North American merger topic of secret confab
Meeting on integration of U.S., Mexico, Canada brings together top officials. Raising more suspicions about plans for the future integration of the U.S., Canada and Mexico, a high-level, top-secret meeting of the North American Forum took place this month in Banff - with topics ranging from "A Vision for North America," "Opportunities for Security Cooperation" and "Demographic and Social Dimensions of North American Integration." While the conference took place a week ago, only now are documents about participants and agenda items leaking out. What has Dobbs and a few other vocal critics bugged began in earnest March 31, 2005, when the elected leaders of the U.S., Mexico and Canada agreed to advance the agenda of the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America. Rep. Tom Tancredo, R-Colo. is demanding the Bush administration fully disclose the activities of the government office implementing the trilateral agreement that has no authorization from Congress. Tancredo wants to know the membership of the Security and Prosperity Partnership groups along with their various trilateral memoranda of understanding and other agreements reached with counterparts in Mexico and Canada. Phyllis Schlafly, the woman best known for nearly single-handedly leading the opposition that killed the Equal Rights Amendment, sees a sinister and sweeping agenda behind the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America. "Is the real push behind guest-worker proposals the Bush goal to expand NAFTA into the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America, which he signed at Waco, Texas, last year and reaffirmed at Cancun, Mexico, this year?" she asks. "Bush is a globalist at heart and wants to carry out his father's oft-repeated ambition of a 'new world order.'" She accuses the president and others behind the effort of wanting to obliterate U.S. borders in an effort to increase the Mexican population transfer and lower wages for the benefit of U.S. corporate interests. "Bush meant what he said, at Waco, Texas, in March 2005, when he announced his plan to convert the United States into a 'Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America' by erasing our borders with Canada and Mexico," she said. "Bush's guest-worker proposal would turn the United States into a boardinghouse for the world's poor, enable employers to import an unlimited number of 'willing workers' at foreign wage levels, and wipe out what's left of the U.S. middle class.

09/20/06 - Search for a better battery keeps going and going
Lithium-ion batteries may eventually give way to tiny fuel cells. The rechargeable li-ion batteries found in nearly all laptops, cellphones, and other portable devices can overheat or even catch fire if tiny metal fragments, left over from the manufacturing process, get into the electrolyte, the medium through which charged particles flow between a battery's positive and negative sides. The metal fragments lodge in tiny pores in the plastic separator between the battery's positive and negative sides. That causes short circuits that may lead to dangerous overheating. These concerns were the apparent cause of the recent recalls. Other chemistries could be used to create safer batteries, but so far they don't provide as much power or operating time in such a small, light package. That makes li-ion attractive, despite safety concerns. The prospects for tiny fuel cells, which aren't rechargeable batteries but can be "refuelable" and provide large amounts of electricity, may have brightened last week. A research team at Arizona State University (ASU) said it has created a hydrogen-powered fuel cell that could power laptops and small electric devices safely for three to five times longer than li-ion batteries.

09/20/06 - Defying gravity is the easy bit
Getting money to help build an anti- gravity machine that can lift the heaviest lorry or biggest ship is never the easiest task. But inventor Paul Tatham may have found the answer. Chris George of Creative Ventures Consortium, a network that works with inventors and investors, has been advising Paul, 66, a retired mechanical engineer from Bray, Berkshire, on his antigravity machine. Paul needs £250,000 to help build a prototype. The anti-gravity machine uses a coil of wound wire. The theory is that pouring liquid helium over the apparatus cools it to minus 260 degrees Celsius, which reduces the wire's resistance to electricity. A high voltage of direct current is passed through the coil. This causes the electrons to flow so quickly that they produce a negative backwards force, resulting in the absence of gravity. Paul has applied for a patent, but he has another selling point for investors - a method he has devised for extracting energy from gravity, generating electricity without creating any pollution.

09/20/06 - Liberty Dollars Not Legal Tender, United States Mint Warns Consumers
Justice Determines Use of Liberty Dollar Medallions as Money is a Crime. The United States Mint urges consumers considering the purchase or use of “Liberty Dollar” medallions, marketed by the National Organization for the Repeal of the Federal Reserve Act and the Internal Revenue Code (NORFED), to be aware that they are not genuine United States Mint bullion coins, and not legal tender. These medallions are privately produced products that are neither backed by, nor affiliated with, the United States Government. Prosecutors with the Department of Justice have determined that the use of these gold and silver NORFED "Liberty Dollar" medallions as circulating money is a Federal crime. NORFED is headquartered in Evansville, Indiana, and the medallions reportedly are produced by a private mint in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. NORFED claims that more than $20 million dollars worth of Liberty Dollar coins and notes are in circulation. " The Feds note that "Under 18 U.S.C. § 486, it is a Federal crime to pass, or attempt to pass, any coins of gold or silver intended for use as current money except as authorized by law. According to the NORFED website, "Liberty merchants" are encouraged to accept NORFED "Liberty Dollar" medallions and offer them as change in sales transactions of merchandise or services." - (Liberty Dollars are specially-minted .999 pure silver rounds and .9999 pure gold rounds, as well as silver certificates and gold certificates sold as "warehouse receipts," which can be redeemed for gold and silver Liberty rounds.)

09/20/06 - Researchers Developing More Powerful Solar Cells
Vikram Dalal, the director of Iowa State’s Microelectronics Research Center thinks his latest project can boost the performance of an Iowa company’s solar cells by 40 to 50 percent. There is a way to manufacture solar cells using a lot less silicon. Dalal said non-crystalline silicon wafers that are about 2 micrometers thick can replace crystalline wafers that are about 300 micrometers thick. The result is thin solar cells that can absorb lots of light and can be mounted on flexible plastic and other materials. It’s the kind of solar cell technology produced by PowerFilm Inc. But the thin cells produce about half the electricity as crystalline silicon. And their performance drops by about another 15 to 20 percent over time. Iowa State researchers have made discoveries in materials science and plasma chemistry that can improve hydrogen bonding to the silicon in the thin solar cells. And Dalal said that can improve the performance of the cells by about 35 percent and eliminate about 15 percent of the drop in performance.

09/20/06 - The bald truth: Men better to cut short thinning hair
It starts with a receding hairline during puberty followed by a bald spot on the back of the head. Soon, only a fringe of hair remains where there had once been a full and proud thatch. Many men suffer from male pattern baldness. Some find toupees or hairpieces uncomfortable, but turning the remaining hair into a combover is rarely an attractive option either. The best look remains a short, simple cut. Hoffmann advises people away from their first impulse ­ covering up the thinning areas with their remaining hair. Hairstylists agree. "Making a deep part and then combing the remaining hair over ­ it just doesn't work," says fashion hairstylist Winfried Loewel. His colleague Klaus-Dieter Kaiser, a one-time hairstyling world champion, recalls with horror the way men of earlier generations would try to hide bald spots. "When your hair starts to thin out, just cut everything around it shorter," recommends the expert. "If you leave your hair long in back and on the sides, then you only draw attention to the thinning regions," he says.

09/20/06 - Iowa Company Turns to Ammonia for Fuel
An Iowa alternative fuel engine manufacturer has reached an agreement with an irrigation pump maker in California to make the world's first ammonia-powered irrigation pump system. "We believe that the demonstration of this engine will complete years of development work and will allow the sale of our systems worldwide without concerns about hydrogen storage, cost, availability or permitting," says Ted Hollinger, HEC President. He said the company hopes to market ammonia-fueled engines into the generator market. The engines developed by HEC run on anhydrous ammonia, or NH3, which has been used by farmers for many years as a fertilizer. Sawtelle & Rosprim President Terry Kwast said most of his customers who need irrigation systems already are accustomed to handling, storing and working with anhydrous ammonia, so it presents none of the problems that hydrogen would. Anhydrous ammonia contains no carbon, stores like propane and is the second most prevalent chemical in the world, Hollinger said. Ammonia contains more hydrogen per cubic food than liquid hydrogen. Hollinger frequently refers to ammonia as the other hydrogen. He said using ammonia to power engines has advantages: -An infrastructure for storage and transportation is already in place. -Usage and safety regulations for ammonia are already in place, therefore, the process of obtaining a permit to use ammonia is usually relatively simple. -Ammonia pipelines can be found in many areas of the United States, including Iowa, and distribution of the fuel is already established. Kwast said he's been searching for years for alternatives to the diesel engines currently used in irrigation systems. With federal and state air quality regulations making it increasingly more expensive to reduce the engine emissions, alternative fuels such as ammonia are becoming more cost effective. Anhydrous ammonia is currently derived mostly from natural gas and as a result, it's price is tied to natural gas prices, which have been high in the past few years. However, new ways of extracting anhydrous from coal through a gasification process, are becoming more common.

09/19/06 - Portable Air Monitoring tool
AIR [Area's Immediate Reading] is a portable air monitoring device that explores urban environments for pollution and fossil fuel burning hotspots. I first thought that the devices were a bit bulky, but Brooke Singer explained to me that air has to circulate inside it so the openings have to be quite wide. Besides, the size and shape of the device makes it look like a viewmaster. AIR is light enough to be carried easily at hip level or around the neck and taken around for people or "carriers" to see in real-time the pollutant levels in their neighborhood, as well as measurements from the other AIR devices in the network. The devices are equipped with a sensor that contains a gas sensing chip that detects carbon monoxide, and another chip that spots nitrogen oxides. An on-board GPS unit and digital compass, combined with a database of known pollution sources -- such as power plants and heavy industries -- allow carriers to see their distance from polluters and other AIR devices. In addition, the devices regularly transmit data to a central database allowing for real-time data visualization online. "While AIR is designed to be a tool for individuals and groups to self identify pollution sources, it also serves as a platform to discuss energy politics and their impact on environment, health and social groups in specific regions."

09/19/06 - Ceramic microreactors for on-site hydrogen production
Scientists at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have designed and built ceramic microreactors for the on-site reforming of hydrocarbon fuels, such as propane, into hydrogen for use in fuel cells and other portable power sources. Applications include power supplies for small appliances and laptop computers, and on-site rechargers for battery packs used by the military. In their latest work, the researchers incorporated the catalyst structure within a ceramic housing, which enabled the steam reforming of propane at operating temperatures up to 1,000 degrees Celsius. Using the new ceramic housing, the researchers also demonstrated the successful decomposition of ammonia at temperatures up to 1,000 degrees Celsius. When reforming hydrocarbons such as propane, temperatures above 800 degrees Celsius prevent the formation of soot that can foul the catalyst surface and reduce performance.

09/19/06 - Geoplasma - Plasma Arc Incineration
Geoplasma is planning to build a plasma arc incineration plant in a south Florida county where 3,000 tons of trash a day will be instantaneously gasified at 10,000° Fahrenheit. The process yields syngas, slag for road construction and steam for a nearby factory. The syngas is used to generate 120 megawatts a day, a third of which powers the facility. Toxic compounds are rendered harmless by the intense heat, and although the process still releases CO2, it is less per unit energy than traditional energy generation sources.

09/19/06 - Energy Games - Russian oil reversal stirs outcry
Nine months after piquing European governments by shutting the flow of natural gas in a pricing dispute during the coldest days of winter, Russia faced another din of international criticism Tuesday about its energy policies, this time from Asia. Russian regulators withdrew an environmental permit Monday for the $20 billion Sakhalin-II oil and natural gas development, which employs 17,000 people, with the two largest Japanese trading and engineering companies as minority owners. It was a sterner public rebuke than Japan issued to Russia last month after Russian border guards fired a machine gun at a fishing boat that strayed into Russian waters, killing a fisherman. Mitsui and Mitsubishi together own a 45 percent share of Sakhalin-II. EU officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the abruptness with which approval for the project had been revoked rang alarm bells, given the scale of the investment and the previous green light from the Russian environmental agency.

09/19/06 - Solar-Powered LEDs to Light Up U.S. Air Bases in the Middle East
The units proved to be reliable and durable under the Middle East's extreme temperatures and harsh environmental conditions. The $767,270 order is scheduled for final installation during September and October 2006. The USMC currently uses more than 260 Carmanah GI-102 solar-powered LED spotlights in the Middle East; more than 6000 of Carmanah's solar LED aviation lights, spotlights and floodlights are in use by the USMC. The FP-50 solar-powered LED general illumination system is suitable for perimeter lighting, security lighting, sign lighting and other types of floodlight applications. It can be programmed to operate automatically from dusk till dawn, as well as on demand using an external motion sensor or other type of switch.

09/19/06 - Air Force to test Coal based Jet Fuel
The Air Force is scheduled Tuesday to test a new jet fuel made from coal instead of oil. A B-52 bomber at Edwards Air Force Base in California is expected to take off with two of its eight jet engines burning a 50-50 blend of synthetic and oil-based fuel. The military wants a fuel that works with engines, fuel systems and supply infrastructure already in the field. The Air Force says it burned 3.2 billion gallons of jet fuel last year, some 57 percent of the Defense Department's total consumption.

09/18/06 - A matter of Time - Boiled Alive
The 2003 heatwave killed more than 30,000 people. It was the biggest natural disaster in Europe on record, according to the government's chief scientific adviser. And yet, as temperatures reach new highs, Britain is fretting about dried-out lawns and stuffy offices. When the human body gets to 42C, it starts to cook. The heat causes the proteins in each cell to irreversibly change, like an egg white as it boils. Even before that, the brain shuts down because of a lack of blood coming from the overworked, overheated heart. Muscles stop working, the stomach cramps and the mind becomes delirious. Death is inevitable. The gruesome effects of overheating have been largely forgotten as Europe swelters under record temperatures, from southern England's 36.5C to Bosnia's 41C. When weather forecasters predicted that the heat would get more intense across the continent today, most of us heaved a sigh at the thoughts of stuffy trains, sweaty buses, parched lawns and boiling offices. Heatwaves claim thousands of lives, killing more people each year than floods, tornadoes and hurricanes combined. And it is going to get worse. Scientists calculate that, as global warming bites and average temperatures around the world get higher, the risk of extreme heatwaves will also increase. The World Meteorological Organisation estimates that the number of heat-related deaths across the globe will double in the next 20 years.

09/18/06 - The forgotten genius of Emilie du Châtelet
(This needs to be made into a movie or documentary or both. - JWD) Émilie du Châtelet was a French noblewoman who became important to mathematics as the translator of Newton's Principia. David Bodanis wrote, "A few years ago I was researching a book about Einstein when I stumbled on a footnote about an obscure Frenchwoman of the early 18th century. Her name was Emilie du Châtelet; according to the note, she had played some role in developing the modern concept of energy, and had aquired a certain notoriety in her day. Together she and Voltaire created something of a modern research institute in an isolated chateau they had rebuilt in eastern France. It was in many respects a century or more ahead of its time. The chateau was like a berthed spaceship from the future. Visitors from intellectual centres in Italy and Basle and Paris came to scoff, then stayed, and became awed by what they saw. I found accounts of Du Châtelet and Voltaire at breakfast, reading from the letters they received - from the great mathematician Bernoulli, and Frederick the Great of Prussia; earlier there had been correspondence with Bolingbroke and Jonathan Swift - and in their quick teasing at what they heard, coming up with fresh ideas that they had then return to their separate wings of the house and compete to elaborate. Du Châtelet began a research programme that went beyond Newton and led to her glimpsing notions that would lead later researchers to the idea of conservation of energy; fundamental to all subsequent physics. Almost immediately after Du Châtelet's death, sharp-tongued gossips began to disparage what she had done. Since her main work was so technical, they had no way of reading it directly. Then, as her insights entered the scientific mainstream, the idea that a woman had created these thoughts was considered so odd that even scientists who did use her ideas came to forget who had originated them.

09/18/06 - Major Breakthrough in Biofuels
Honda on Thursday announced a major breakthrough in ethanol production, saying it and a research institute had developed a practical way to use discarded plant material to make abundant quantities of the fuel. Honda and the Research Institute of Innovative Technology for the Earth, a nonprofit entity set up by the Japanese government and private enterprises, said the new method allows large volumes of ethanol to be produced from widely available waste wood, rice straw, leaves and other so-called soft biomass that is currently discarded. The resulting fuel has been called cellulosic ethanol, as opposed to ethanol from sugar cane and corn. Honda and RITE said they had overcome a major obstacle that limited how much ethanol could be made from cellulosic biomass. A microorganism developed by RITE helps reduce interference in the fermentation process, allowing for far more efficient ethanol production, the partners said.

09/18/06 - Beyond 1984
"Big Brother is another step closer in the UK where the ever ubiquitous CCTV cameras are being fitted with loudspeakers so that camera operators who spot activities deemed 'anti-social' can berate the citizens below. In January 2004 there were more than 4,285,000 CCTV cameras in the UK (roughly 1 for every 4 households). No data about the number of CCTV cameras now in use in the UK is available."

09/18/06 - Cheating at Roulette
"A hidden device that appears to give an advantage to roulette players may be legal in the UK when the gambling industry is deregulated next year. The device - which consists of a small digital time recorder, a concealed computer, and a hidden earpiece - uses predictive software to determine where the ball is likely to land. It has been tested by a government lab, which found that 'the advantage can be considerable.' It will be up to casinos to spot people using such devices."

09/18/06 - Pain at pump can push America into oil detox
Our oil addiction is costlier than most people know. According to the International Center for Technology Assessment, the real price of gasoline is US$5.60 to US$15.14 per gallon, when taking into account environmental, health, social and defense costs associated with protecting and using oil. Studies show that gas taxes work better than anything else in reducing oil consumption and spurring innovation in alternative energies. Higher taxes encourage buyers to purchase more-efficient vehicles and to drive less, and gas taxes produce positive effects much faster and more reliably than any other approaches for dealing with America's oil addiction, including ethanol, hydrogen power and coal gasification. In Europe, high gas taxes have prompted mass adoption of hybrid vehicles that get 30 to 55 miles per gallon. America should join Europe in this regard and, in the process, set an example for India and China as well. India and China will add significantly to the world's gas-guzzling problems as they continue to industrialize. China has more than four times America's population but one-thirtieth of its vehicles on the road -- for now.

09/18/06 - Water Furnaces
Four Basic Geothermal Energy Sources - Closed-loop systems circulate a water-based solution through a "loop" of small-diameter, underground pipes. Closed-loop systems can be installed horizontally, vertically or in a pond. Open-loop systems use an existing water well. Regardless of whether the system is open or closed, heat is transferred to or from the home to provide year-round comfort, no matter what the outdoor temperature is. (A) Horizontal Loops - These are often considered when adequate land surface is available. Pipes are placed in trenches that range in length from 100 to 400 feet. / (B) Vertical Loops - These are the ideal choice when available land surface is limited. Drilling equipment is used to bore small-diameter holes from 75 to 300 feet deep. / (C) Pond (Lake) Loops - These are very economical to install when a body of water is available, because excavation costs are virtually eliminated. Coils of pipe are simply placed on the bottom of the pond or lake. / (D) Open loops - These use groundwater as a direct energy source. In ideal conditions, an open-loop application can be the most economical type of geothermal system.

09/17/06 - West Virginia Police To Use New Device in Drug Detection
(Reminds me of Iridology. - JWD) The drug crackdown in West Virginia is about it get easier for officers thanks to the new EyeCheck technology, and the Mountain State is the first in the U.S. to use it. The training will help them bust drug users, by learning the physiological signs, and through scanning the individual's eyes with the EyeCheck device. The device looks like binoculars, and in seconds it scans an individuals pupils to detect a problem. "They'll be able to tell if they're on drugs, and what kind, whether marijuana, cocaine, or alcohol. Or even in the case of a tractor trailer driver, is he too tired to drive his rig?" said Ohio County Sheriff Tom Burgoyne. The device can also detect abnormalities from chemical and biological effects, as well as natural disasters.

09/17/06 - Church sign stirs anger - if its ok for them, its ok for us
"Muslims can convert to Christianity here!" read the sign Monday in front of the Congregational Church on Laurel Road. It was an invitation that the church's pastor, K.C. McCay, admitted he didn't expect anyone to accept. "If church leaders are really interested in saving people, they would find much less offensive ways to do it," said Ahmed Bedier, director of the Tampa chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. "Religious leaders are adding fuel to the fire. It's a shame." The group plans on taking photos of the sign to document the incident, as it did in 2003 when a Jacksonville minister posted a sign stating that the Prophet Muhammad advocated violence. McCay said he was responding to a Texas man, whose name he said he did not remember, who recently called on Christians to convert to Islam. McCay said he doesn't expect any Muslims to take him up on his offer.

09/17/06 - GM vice chairman wants mass produced hydrogen cars by 2011
Calling the effort a "moon shot," Lutz said it is vital the world's largest auto maker commits to the new technology, so it can win back its reputation as an innovator and design leader. "This is to re-establish our technological credentials with the American public and the American media," said Lutz, who spoke at the military base where the company was delivering a hydrogen concept car that will be test-driven by Marines in coming months. "And it has a huge re-moralizing effect in the company as our people see how serious we are," he added. Up to $9 billion has been freed up as a result of General Motors' recent restructuring, Lutz said. The company now has more money to invest in hydrogen fuel cell-powered cars, which will form an important part of the auto giant's long-term economic recovery plan. The company, which is suffering from declining U.S. market share at the hands of its Asian competitors, lost $8.6 billion in 2005 amid high healthcare, pension, labor and materials costs. "We are going to make General Motors what it was in the '50s and '60s again," Lutz said. Many obstacles exist before fuel-cell cars hit showrooms, mainly a lack of hydrogen fueling stations. California leads the nation in installing hydrogen fueling stations, Lutz said, currently with 31 around the state.

09/17/06 - Poplar DNA code cracked -- new possibilities for sustainable energy
Sustainable or renewable energy - in the form of bio-ethanol, for example - can be produced for us by trees. The influence trees have on our daily life is enormous. Forests cover 30% of the world's land area, accommodate two thirds of life on earth, and are responsible for 90% of the biomass on solid ground. Now, an international consortium, which includes researchers from the Flanders Interuniversity Institute for Biotechnology (VIB) at Ghent University, has succeeded in unraveling the first tree genome - that of the poplar. Moreover, their research indicates that the poplar has about 45,000 genes. This knowledge is a first step toward being able to make trees grow faster or make them easier to process into paper or energy. Poplars cover more than 75 million hectares worldwide, nearly 7 million of which are cultivated for timber production on the one hand (about 4 million hectares) and for environmental purposes on the other hand (about 3 million hectares).

09/17/06 - Getting a patent can take time
Christine McAuliffe, a registered patent attorney, recommends that potential clients do their own research to see if their product already exists. McAuliffe estimated that 90 percent of the time, the patent office will object to it, so she does research to be sure someone's invention has a chance before taking the plunge. The average patent could take as little as 12 months or more than two years. Catherine Finney, inventor of Petz on Wheels, received the patent for her product two months ago, although it started selling in 2003. The U.S. Patent Office responds within six months to about 5 percent of patent applications, either in acceptance or rejection, McAuliffe said, adding that it could take up to four years to get a response. Patent fees can be as little as $500, depending on claims made in the application. Cost also depends on the complexity of the product and the category it represents. A highly technical biotech product could run an inventor $10,000 to $15,000 in attorney's fees, McAuliffe estimates. Simpler items, such as Griffin's Cold Seat or Finney's Petz, usually cost about $5,000 to $8,000 to patent. McAuliffe encourages patent clients to submit a draft that has stipulations broader than the prototype to further protect their invention from copycats who try to change a tiny detail in an effort to steal the idea without legally stealing it. Even rejections can be costly. Hiring a lawyer to respond appropriately to a patent-application rejection letter can run $500 up to $5,000.

09/17/06 - Armchair sleuths uncover strange military sites in China
Tech-savvy armchair sleuths around the world are having a field day discovering military secrets in China. Three times in the past few months, they've stumbled across unusual military installations using Internet programs that allow those online to view satellite and aerial images of the world. In the most recent find, users spotted an underwater submarine tunnel off China's Hainan Island. They've also found a mock-up of a Taiwanese air base in China's remote western desert. In a bizarre discovery, a computer technician in Germany noticed a huge and startlingly accurate terrain model in northwest China that replicates a sensitive border area with India. The discoveries have stirred up the Internet global-imagery community. Defense experts such as Brown are quick to point out that civilians are unlikely to find anything that skilled military analysts haven't already known about and studied in detail. There's little they can do to stop such services as Google Earth or MSN Virtual Earth, though. And geographers, hobbyists and those with time on their hands have taken to combing the satellite images for hitherto unpublicized military sites. "There are people out there who basically scour the Earth looking for this kind of thing," said Stefan Geens, a Swede who runs a Web journal, Ogle Earth, about imagery. "It's a new kind of pastime or hobby. It's democratization of this kind of information."

09/17/06 - Amonil sets up invention exchange for employees
(These guys deserve a huge attaboy! I came up with tons of improvements where I worked that saved several tens of thousands a year in just one lab and got ZILCH in return! Every company should copy this! - JWD) Amonil Slobozia chemical fertiliser producer will create an Invention Exchange for its employees, so as to encourage them to come up with ideas to improve production flow and slash costs. The decision was made during a company's General Meeting of Shareholders. "As part of this move, which was initiated by shareholders, we set up a fund employees can use to implement their ideas," stated Victor Dobrescu, general manager of the chemical plant. According to the shareholders' decision, Amonil's "Inventions and Innovations Exchange" has a budget of 200,000 RON (55,000 euros), money that could be also used for the promotion of employees who come up with ideas. "Part of the money is supposed to be also used for bonuses awarded to the employees coming up with new ideas. We used to pay bonuses for such initiatives before, too, but once these funds are managed in an organised framework, we hope employees will spend more time thinking of how they can come up with new ideas," says Dobrescu.

09/16/06 - Medium Temp water source for Geothermal Power
The Chena Hot Springs, a small power plant that opened in Alaska last month, is the first to use medium temperature water sources. Medium temperature water allows for local generation, which is a first for the industry. Speaking on RenewableEnergyAccess.com's Inside Renewable Energy podcast, Karl Gawell, Executive Director for the Geothermal Energy Association said, "The geothermal industry has not really had a small power producer... so the potential for [distributed generation] is enormous. When you move from high temperature to medium temperature fluids, the resource space increases geometrically." Gawell explained that geothermal resources could soon provide the heat and electricity for residential communities, office buildings and greenhouses in the future.

09/16/06 - Pawtucket police unveil bait car to trap thieves
Pawtucket police want thieves to steal a car-so long as they take the right bait. To counteract a surge in vehicle thefts, Pawtucket police say they're deploying a special decoy vehicle designed to catch crooks in the act. Police aren't saying exactly what the car looks like. But most bait cars are equipped with cameras and global positioning systems. Police can remotely shut off the bait car's engine and lock its doors, trapping the thief inside.

09/16/06 - Terra Preta Soils to Save the Biosphere
Terra Preta creates a terrestrial carbon reef at a microscopic level. These nanoscale structures provide safe haven to the microbes and fungus that facilitate fertile soil creation, while sequestering carbon for many hundred if not thousands of years. The combination of these two forms of sequestration would also increase the growth rate and natural sequestration effort of growing plants. Terra Preta soil technology is the greatest of Ironies since Tobacco. That is: an invention of pre-Columbian American culture, destroyed by western disease, may well be the savior of industrial western society. As inversely Tobacco, over time has gotten back at same society by killing more of us than the entire pre-Columbian population. If pre Columbian Indians could produce these soils up to 6 feet deep over 20% of the Amazon basin it seems that our energy and agricultural industries could also product them at scale. Terra Preta de Indio - "Terra Preta de Indio" (Amazonian Dark Earths; earlier also called "Terra Preta do Indio" or Indian Black Earth) is the local name for certain dark earths in the Brazilian Amazon region. These dark earths occur, however, in several countries in South America and probably beyond. They were most likely created by pre-Columbian Indians from 500 to 2500 years B.P. and abandoned after the invasion of Europeans (Smith, 1980; Woods et al., 2000).

09/16/06 - PagoClone drug for Stuttering
Dr Maguire, a psychiatrist at the University of California, Irvine, wants to cure the ailment that afflicts him and an estimated three million Americans. He is searching for a drug to treat stuttering, organising clinical trials and even testing treatments on himself. He could be getting closer. In May, Indevus Pharmaceuticals announced what it called encouraging results from the largest clinical trial ever of a drug for stuttering. Even larger trials are still needed. But if they succeed, the drug, pagoclone, could become the first medical treatment approved for stuttering. That is just part of a transformation of stuttering in the medical view from what was once widely considered a nervous or emotional condition to a neurological one that is at least partly genetic. Using brain scans, DNA studies and other modern techniques, scientists many of whom stutter themselves are slowly shedding light on the condition. Brain imaging studies have shown that the brains of people who stammer behave differently from those of people who don't when it comes to processing speech.

09/16/06 - Reader Responses to the Popes 14th century quote
The furore over comments made by Pope Benedict about the Islamic concept of Holy War continues to grow. British Muslims joined in, fiercely criticising his remarks. The Pope's speech quoted from a book recounting a conversation between 14th century Byzantine Christian Emperor Manuel Paleologos II and an educated Persian on the truths of Christianity and Islam. "The emperor comes to speak about the issue of jihad, holy war," the Pope said. "He said, I quote, 'Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached'." The pontiff was accused of falling into "the trap of bigots and racists" with the comments he made on a visit to Germany.

09/16/06 - NASA says Arctic winter ice rapidly melting
The loss of winter ice is bad news for the ocean because this type of ice, when it melts in summer, provides a crucial breeding ground for plankton, Comiso said. Plankton are the bottom rung of the ocean's food chain. "If the winter ice melt continues, the effect would be very profound especially for marine mammals," Comiso said in a NASA telephone press conference. The ice is melting even in subfreezing winter temperatures because the water is warmer and summer ice covers less area and is shorter-lived, Comiso said. Thus, the winter ice season shortens every year and warmer water melts at the edges of the winter ice more every year. The loss of winter ice is bad news for the ocean because this type of ice, when it melts in summer, provides a crucial breeding ground for plankton, Comiso said. Plankton are the bottom rung of the ocean's food chain. Serreze said only five years ago he was "a fence-sitter" on the issue of whether man-made global warming was happening and a threat, but he said recent evidence in the Arctic has him convinced. The loss of summer sea ice is pushing polar bears more onto land in northern Canada and Alaska, making it seem like there are more polar bears when there are not, said NASA scientist Claire Parkinson, who studies the bears. The polar bear population in the Hudson Bay area has dropped from 1,200 in 1989 to 950 in 2004 and the bears that are around are 22 percent smaller than they used to be, she said.

09/16/06 - Polar bears drown, islands appear in Arctic thaw
Polar bears are drowning and receding Arctic glaciers have uncovered previously unknown islands in a drastic 2006 summer thaw widely blamed on global warming. Signs of wrenching changes are apparent around the Arctic region due to unusual warmth -- the summer minimum for ice is usually reached between mid-September and early October before the Arctic freeze extends its grip. "We know about three new islands this year that have been uncovered because the glaciers have retreated," said Rune Bergstrom, environmental adviser to the governor of Svalbard, a Norwegian archipelago about 1,000 km (600 miles) from the North Pole. The largest is about 300 by 100 meters, he told Reuters. On a trip this summer "We saw a couple of polar bears in the sea east of Svalbard -- one of them looked to be dead and the other one looked to be exhausted," said Julian Dowdeswell, head of the Scott Polar Research Institute in England. He said that the bears had apparently been stranded at sea by melting ice. The bears generally live around the fringes of the ice where they find it easiest to hunt seals.

09/15/06 - Compact Muon Solenoid magnet reaches full field
Weighing in at more than 13,000 tons, the Compact Muon Solenoid experiment's magnet is built around a 20-foot-diameter, nearly 43-foot-long superconducting solenoid - a wire coil with multiple loops, which generates a magnetic field when electricity passes through it. The CMS solenoid generates a magnetic field of 4 Tesla, some 100,000 times stronger than the Earth's magnetic field, and stores 2.5 gigajoules of energy, enough to melt nearly 20 tons of gold. Superconductivity is achieved by chilling the coil to a temperature near absolute zero, where virtually all electrical resistance vanishes. Extremely high electrical current can then be used to generate a powerful magnetic field. The CMS magnet has two unique characteristics: its strong magnetic field and the uniformity of its field over a large volume.

09/15/06 - Of Rice and Hen: Fashions from the Farm
In the future, it might be perfectly normal to wear suits and dresses made of chicken feathers or rice straw. Scientists at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln plan to develop these agricultural wastes into conventional-looking fabrics as a way to reduce the use of petroleum-based fabrics. The feather-based fabric will resemble wool, while the rice straw fabric will look and feel more like linen or cotton, according to the researchers.

09/15/06 - Brown engineers build a better battery -- with plastic
Brown University engineers have created a new battery that uses plastic, not metal, to conduct electrical current. The hybrid device marries the power of a capacitor with the storage capacity of a battery. "Batteries have limits," said Tayhas Palmore, an associate professor in Brown's Division of Engineering. "They have to be recharged. They can be expensive. Most of all, they don't deliver a lot of power. Another option is capacitors. These components, found in electronic devices, can deliver that big blast of power. But they don't have much storage capacity. So what if you combined elements of both a battery and a capacitor?" In their experiments, Palmore and Song took a thin strip of gold-coated plastic film and covered the tip with polypyrrole and a substance that alters its conductive properties. The process was repeated, this time using another kind of conduction-altering chemical. The result: Two strips with different polymer tips. The plastic strips were then stuck together, separated by a papery membrane to prevent a short circuit. The result is a hybrid. Like a capacitor, the battery can be rapidly charged then discharged to deliver power. Like a battery, it can store and deliver that charge over long periods of time. During performance testing, the new battery performed like a hybrid, too. It had twice the storage capacity of an electric double-layer capacitor. And it delivered more than 100 times the power of a standard alkaline battery.

09/15/06 - Stratospheric Injections Could Help Cool Earth
A new computer model study shows that a two-pronged approach to stabilizing climate, with cuts in greenhouse gas emissions as well as injections of climate-cooling sulfates into the stratosphere, could prove more effective than either approach used separately. Wigley calculates the impact of injecting sulfate particles, or aerosols, every one to four years into the stratosphere in amounts equal to those lofted by the volcanic eruption of Mt. Pintabuto in 1991. If found to be environmentally and technologically viable, such injections could provide a “grace period” of up to 20 years before major cutbacks in greenhouse gas emissions would be required, he concludes. “A combined approach to climate stabilization has a number of advantages over either employed separately,” says Wigley. His study was supported by the National Science Foundation, NCAR’s primary sponsor. Using a computer model to track sunlight and other energy flowing into and out of the Earth system, Wigley examined two scenarios that project the impact of emissions on climate from now to the year 2400. In one scenario, total emissions would have to start dropping immediately, and would have to be cut by around 50 percent in the next 50 years, in order to keep global climate from warming by more than the 2 degrees C benchmark. An alternative scenario, the “overshoot” approach, allows a period of increasing total emissions, extending to the 2030s, before stringent cutbacks begin.

09/15/06 - Human-made clouds contribute to climate change
Researchers there have discovered that increased levels of ammonium sulphate aerosol released into the air can lead to the creation of ice or "cirrus" clouds. "Cirrus clouds are important to the climate system because they scatter incoming sunlight, trap outgoing heat radiation and control the amount of water vapour in the upper troposphere," according to a press release from the university. "Because atmospheric ammonia now mainly comes from livestock and nitrogen-based fertilizer, the study provides evidence that human agricultural practices impact how and what kind of clouds form in the sky."

09/15/06 - Green Tea Shown to Prolong Life
A study of more than 40,000 men and women in Japan has found that those who drink a lot of green tea live longer, researchers said on Tuesday. Dr. Shinichi Kuriyama and colleagues at the Tohoku University School of Public Policy, Sendai, Japan, found the beverage was particularly effective in fighting heart disease but did not reduce the death rate due to cancer, as some earlier animal studies had suggested. The 11-year study was conducted in northeastern Japan, a region where 80 percent of the population drinks green tea and more than half drink three or more cups daily. Those involved in the study ranged in age from 40 to 79 and had no history of stroke, heart disease or cancer when the study began in 1994. Those who drank five or more cups of green tea a day had a death rate overall and from heart disease in particular that was 16 percent lower than those who drank less than one cup daily, over the course of 11 years. Over the first seven years of the study the death rate of the heavy tea drinkers was 26 percent lower.

09/14/06 - Better Fuel Cells for Laptops
Batteries are the bane of consumer electronics users. They provide only a limited amount of power, take hours to recharge, and over time become less long-lasting.Dominic Gervasio, associate professor in the Center for Applied Nanobioscience at Arizona State, and his team showed that by adding a chemical found in antifreeze to sodium borohydride--a liquid used to store hydrogen, the molecule that powers fuel cells--they can make a longer-lasting fuel cell. The resulting fuel could power a laptop twice as long as any battery on the market, while allowing room temperature operation, unlike many other fuel cells.Sodium borohydride, the solution used by Millennium Cell, Medis, and the Arizona State team is becoming a popular choice to store hydrogen for portable fuel cells, says Gervasio. One reason is that it's used with the most-established fuel cell design. This type of fuel cell works by combining hydrogen with oxygen from the air to produce electric current. In addition, systems that use sodium borohydride can be made as small as conventional batteries because the solution stores a large amount of hydrogen in a small volume. Moreover, it's a relatively safe liquid that isn't flammable. "You could take a match and put it out in it," Gervasio says.

09/14/06 - Google.org For Profit Philanthropy
The ambitious founders of Google, the popular search engine company, have set up a philanthropy, giving it seed money of about $1 billion and a mandate to tackle poverty, disease and global warming. But unlike most charities, this one will be for-profit, allowing it to fund start-up companies, form partnerships with venture capitalists and even lobby Congress. It will also pay taxes. One of its maiden projects reflects the philanthropy’s nontraditional approach. According to people briefed on the program, the organization, called Google.org, plans to develop an ultra-fuel-efficient plug-in hybrid car engine that runs on ethanol, electricity and gasoline. The philanthropy is consulting with hybrid-engine scientists and automakers, and has arranged for the purchase of a small fleet of cars with plans to convert the engines so that their gas mileage exceeds 100 miles per gallon. The goal of the project is to reduce dependence on oil while alleviating the effects of global warming.

09/14/06 - Homeowners get fired up over generating own power
For years, Robert Preus' wind turbine company in Newberg puttered along, as much quixotic venture as practical enterprise. "If you can't dance on the skinny branches, then you don't deserve to be here," said Preus, acknowledging the risk he took on when he decided to start Abundant Renewable Energy in 1999 and sell small-scale wind turbines to homeowners. Technological advances and government and nonprofit subsidies have strengthened a trend that finds wind turbines, solar photovoltaic arrays and energy-thrifty appliances popping up in more homes and yards than at any time at least since the oil scare of the early 1970s. Despite the surge in interest, the step into home-based electricity remains tentative, as the American psyche holds fast to the notion that utilities and corporate energy producers will continue to produce plenty of relatively cheap, care-free power. What's more, devices that transform sun and wind into electricity are expensive, which means a household must have money as well as desire. The Energy Trust of Oregon, a nonprofit that provides grants for renewable energy projects, has handed out incentives for just one residential wind turbine in recent years. Warren and Elizabeth Griffin bought the 1.5-kilowatt African Wind Power machine from Preus last year for about $23,000, including installation. Next year, he expects to deliver 100 of his 2.5-kilowatt and 10-kilowatt turbines -- the smaller one goes for about $20,000 and the larger one for $60,000 -- to buyers throughout North America.

09/14/06 - Farmers have antidotes to oil dependency
Developing ways to use crops and manure to displace petroleum-based fuels is the goal of agriculture scientists in Bushland, Texas. Their idea is that locally available materials, such as palm oil in Hawaii, are most economical to use. Inspired by Clark’s presentation on biodiesel, one Arctic village uses fish oil biodiesel to fuel generators that provide the town’s electricity. The Texas scientists are also working with the Texas Agricultural Experiment Station in Amarillo on burning a manure-coal mix to heat buildings and to provide heat needed to produce ethanol. This is one of many possible alternative fuels being considered to cut costs in manufacturing ethanol. They’re also researching potential uses for the manure-coal ash left after burning, such as for fertilizer or horticultural bedding material. Abdullah Jaradat, research leader at the Morris lab, and colleagues are cooperating with the University of Minnesota at Morris to test the gasification of cornstalks, wood and other materials to heat and cool university buildings. They are analyzing the ash to see whether it is safe to use as fertilizer. Gasification is a burning technique that turns cornstalks and other materials and their smoke into a gas that can be used for cooking or heating. The gas can also be converted into electricity and could even fuel vehicles in an extended petroleum shortage.

09/14/06 - Cheaper Fuel Cells with Cobalt
"ArsTechinca is reporting on research conducted at Los Alamos National Laboratory that allows for Co to replace a goo deal of Pt in polymer electrolyte fuel cells. This swap not only lowers the cost of the fuel cells but also increases the amount of time the fuel cell can output power. "this technology has shown that it can produce energy at a fraction of the cost-cobalt costs ~$0.20/gm. It can also sustain its energy output for long periods of time, longer than the traditional precious metal catalyst are capable. ""

09/14/06 - War of Civilizations
Former US secretary of state Henry Kissinger warned that Europe and the United States must unite to head off a "war of civilizations" arising from a nuclear-armed Middle East. "Both sides of the Atlantic should put their best minds together on how to deal with the common danger of a wider war merging into a war of civilizations against the background of a nuclear-armed Middle East." Kissinger wrote that the big threat lay in the erosion of nation states and the emergence of transnational groups. Iran was at the centre of the challenge, he said, with its support for Hezbollah, radical Shiite groups in Iraq and its nuclear program. "We now know that we face the imperative of building a new world order or potential global catastrophe. It cannot be done alone by either side of the Atlantic. Is that realization sufficient to regenerate a common purpose?"

09/13/06 - Patented Permanent Magnet Motor (self-running?)
(Thanks to Barry for the headsup on this. - JWD) "Last year there was a US patent granted for a Permanent Magnet Motor to Frank Fecera. Records further indicate there was also a Canadian and a World Patent granted. There is virtually nothing further available on this apparent over-unity invention that I can locate. No information if the device works, ever has been built or replicated. No one seems to be beating any of the normal drums on this one." - United States Patent 6,867,514 - Fecera - March 15, 2005 - A motor providing unidirectional rotational motive power is provided. One or more rotors, are spaced from the armature and coupled thereto by an axle for rotation about an axis of each rotor, each rotor rotating in a plane generally aligned with the armature axis. Each rotor includes one or more rotor magnets, with each rotor magnet generating a second magnetic field. The second magnetic field generated by each rotor magnet interacts with the first magnetic field to cause each rotor to rotate about the rotor axis. A linkage assembly drivingly connects each rotor to the stator to cause the armature to rotate about the armature axis thereby providing the unidirectional rotational motive power of the motor.

09/13/06 - No Blood for... Solar Power?
Last Thursday, the Christian Science Monitor reported on an unusual memo from the staff of Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Richard Zilmer, the highest-ranking Marine officer in Iraq’s troubled Anbar Province. According to the Monitor, and to more comprehensive treatments in Inside Defense and Defense Industry Daily, Zilmer asked the Pentagon to find a way to get "solar panels and wind turbines" into the hands of his troops. Without access to renewable energy solutions, Zilmer expects to see "continued casualty accumulation [which] exhibits potential to jeopardize mission success." The article in the Monitor suggests two different ways in which solar- and wind-powered generators for isolated outposts would reduce U.S. casualties. The first is that "despite desert temperatures, the hot 'thermal signature' of a diesel generator can call enemy attention to U.S. outposts." How, exactly, an array of solar panels and wind turbines would make U.S. troops less conspicuous in a country bristling with diesel generators is left unclear.

09/13/06 - New 40 movie High-Capacity Flash Memory
Samsung Electronics showed off its first 40-nanometer chip, a 32-gigabit NAND flash memory module that can be used in memory cards able to store up to 64 gigabytes of data, or 40 movies.

09/13/06 - Chinese Premier says China can meet 90 percent of its energy needs
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao on Tuesday said China's energy strategy was to rely mainly on domestic supply and that the country had been able to meet 90 percent of its total energy needs. Wen said the main thrust of China's energy strategy was to rely mainly on domestic supply, laying equal emphasis on conservation and development, while giving top priority to conservation. The Premier added that China would promote technological progress and pursue a new path of industrialization to ease the shortage in energy supply. "China is both a major energy consumer and a major energy producer," he said. "Since the 1990s, China has always been able to meet over 90 percent of its total energy needs by itself," he added. According to Wen, China was rich in coal resources. Two-thirds of China's hydropower remained untapped, and the use of renewable energy such as nuclear energy, wind energy, solar energy and biological gas had just started. The Premier also said China would work even harder to save energy. Over the coming five years, China's per unit GDP energy consumption would be cut by 20 percent, he said.

09/13/06 - Russia Work with China on Moon Exploration
Russia will cooperate closely with China on moon exploration and the two nations could sign space cooperation agreements by the year's end, the Russian space chief said Monday. Perminov said that the two nations had formalized their plans for the moon research in a specific action plan approved in June 2005 and followed up on that with several expert meetings. The latest meeting of Russian and Chinese space officials took place last week. "Joint lunar research is our priority," Anatoly Perminov said, according to the RIA Novosti news agency. He didn't elaborate on specific plans for the moon research, but said that new agreements on space cooperation could be signed during Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov's visit to Beijing in the fall. Perminov also said that China could join Russia's project of sending a probe to Mars' moon, Phobos, to take samples of Phobos soil and deliver them back to Earth. The mission is set for 2009. Russia sold China the technology that formed the basis of its manned space program, which launched its first astronaut in 2003 and two others in 2005. The next Chinese manned space flight is due next year. Officials say they also want to send up a space station and land a robot probe on the Moon by 2010.

09/13/06 - Indian Call Center employee goes shopping
A 23-year-old Indian call center employee named Sulagna Roy went on a SHOPPING SPREE recently with the credit card numbers of at least 42 Americans that she had obtained while working at a Calcutta-based call center contracted by California-based Sys-soft Inc. Roy was busted after victims notified police in California, who contacted members of a special Cyber Crimes unit of the Calcutta police department. Roy reportedly bought necessities like chocolate and an air conditioner.

09/13/06 - Neighborhood Survivability
Disasters, including big, system-disrupting disasters, are likely to become more common over the coming decades. Whether they are caused by "ordinary" system failures (like the North American blackout of 2003), terrorism, pandemic, climate change or global instabilities, we should all be prepared to live through times of shortages, service interruptions and danger. Conventional thinking about disasters in the developed world revolves around seeing that people are prepared as individuals to survive for the short time it takes the authorities to respond to the emergency situation and restore normality. Almost no thought is given to changing the models for systems to make them substantially less brittle and more resilient. But our planet is getting more dangerous (even uninsurable) and, as New Orleans has shown, recovery is not always rapid, even in wealthy countries. While individual preparedness and government response continue to be vital, perhaps we need to be putting a lot more thought into how we make the neighborhoods in which we live less vulnerable to disasters in the first place. Working with our neighbors and local government to increase the resilience of our communities might be one of the smartest moves we can make.

09/13/06 - Humans 'causing stronger storms'
Katrina drew attention to a possible link from emissions to storms. Increases in hurricane intensity are down to humanity's greenhouse gas emissions, according to new analysis. Scientists calculate that two-thirds of the recent rise in sea temperatures, thought to fuel hurricanes, is down to anthropogenic emissions. Research published last year found there had been a sharp rise in the incidence of category 4 and 5 storms - the strongest - in recent decades. But other scientists caution there may be errors in historical storm records. Hurricane formation is strongly linked to sea surface temperature, with warmer waters more likely to form storms.

09/12/06 - Nano Napkin detects Germs
Cornell University scientists have invented a nano-technology "napkin" that TURNS YELLOW when it wipes E. coli bacteria. The technology enables faster detection in hospitals, meat packing plants and on your mouse and keyboard. Future versions, they hope, will detect up to 100 toxins or pathogens.

09/12/06 - Mobiles With Roaming in 90 Countries on Sale
Samsung Electronics, the world’s third-largest handset maker, said Tuesday that it began selling a new mobile phone designed to work on networks in more than 90 countries.

09/12/06 - Seaweed as Anti-Fat Pill
Scientists have pinpointed an unlikely potential weapon in the war against obesity - seaweed. They found rats given fucoxanthin - a pigment in brown kelp - lost up to 10% of their body weight, mainly from around the gut. They hope fucoxanthin can be developed into a slimming supplement or a drug that targets harmful fat. Brown kelp, Undaria pinnatifida, is a key ingredient of Japanese miso soup. But the researchers said drinking large quantities of the soup in an effort to lose weight would have little effect. Fucoxanthin is tightly bound to proteins in the seaweed and not easily absorbed in its natural form. Dr Miyashita's team studied the effects of fucoxanthin on more than 200 rats and mice. They found it fought flab on two fronts. In obese animals, the compound appeared to stimulate a protein called UCP1 which causes fat to be broken down. The protein is found in a type of fat called white adipose tissue, which is responsible for the thickening of the girth dubbed "middle-age spread". Research has shown that excess amounts of fat around the midriff are particularly linked to heart disease and diabetes. The pigment also caused the liver to produce a compound called docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which can help cut levels of "bad" cholesterol associated with obesity and heart disease. No adverse side effects were seen in the animals used in the study.

09/12/06 - to See God
Rolling Stone has an interesting profile of Daniel Pinchbeck, son of an abstract painter and a beatnik book editor. Pinchbeck writes books about and turns people on to ayahuasca, "an Amazonian jungle brew that carries the DMT compound, usually combining the leaves of a plant containing DMT with a vine found snaking around rain-forest trees, whose beta-carbolines make the DMT orally active." In the hipster circles where ayahuasca has taken root, many people are making weeklong trips to Peru, which cost about $600 without airfare and include about four ayahuasca ceremonies. It's a kind of Merry Tripster scene, with guided shamanic journeys to Peru, Colombia and Hawaii available nearly monthly with shamans like a white-turbaned, middle-aged female guru from L.A. who channels a spirit called "the Mother," and with whom Pinchbeck has a close relationship. Bimonthly ceremonies are offered in upstate New York under the auspices of a Catholic-spiritist church. Participants must wear white; men and women sit on either side of the room, banned from interacting. In his role as a "wizard in the realm of ideas," as he calls himself, Pinchbeck has also provided the stuff to visitors in his apartment. "Daniel hovered over me on the couch, asking, 'Have you seen the face of God yet?' " says one who has partaken.

09/12/06 - Experimental Airliner cannot be Hijacked
Just in time for an era when terrorists don't hijack airplanes anymore, European scientists at BAE Systems are perfecting concepts for a passenger jet that CANNOT BE HIJACKED. Fingerprint systems allow only approved pilots -- or those carrying the severed fingers of approved pilots -- to fly the planes. Onboard systems override control to avoid crashing into buildings. A special computer system watches passengers and detects suspicious behavior. When all else fails, a computer can take control from whoever is flying it and land the airplane at the nearest airport.

09/12/06 - $5 Pill Ambien awakens persistent vegetative state victims
The common sleeping pill zolpidem, sold in the US under the name Ambien, can reverse serious brain damage and wake up patients in persistent vegetative states! The hospital ward sister, Lucy Hughes, was periodically concerned that involuntary spasms in Louis's left arm, that resulted in him tearing at his mattress, might be a sign that deep inside he might be uncomfortable. In 1999, five years after Louis's accident, she suggested to Sienie that the family's GP, Dr Wally Nel, be asked to prescribe a sedative. Nel prescribed Stilnox, the brand name in South Africa for zolpidem. "I crushed it up and gave it to him in a bottle with a soft drink," Sienie recalls. "He couldn't swallow properly then, but I helped him and sat at his bedside. After about 25 minutes, I heard him making a sound like 'mmm'. He hadn't made a sound for five years. "Then he turned his head in my direction. I said, 'Louis, can you hear me?' And he said, 'Yes.' I said, 'Say hello, Louis', and he said, 'Hello, mummy.' I couldn't believe it. I just cried and cried." Zolpidem seems to work on PVS patients about 60% of the time, and is effective in the treatment of other brain injuries. Parts of the brain considered "dead" because of zero activity (but not deterioration or necrosis) return to life. It's not a cure -- the pill must be taken on an ongoing basis -- but it is a nearly-miraculous treatment.

09/11/06 - Natural Gas propels inventors idea
John Green has built a three-wheeled car that gets 70 miles per gallon, burns fuel that costs $1 per gallon and emits virtually no pollutants. He and his partners plan to sell the Eco-Fueler American Roadster for almost $20,000. After they showed a prototype at car shows in Los Angeles and Portland and at an agricultural expo in Tulare, Calif., earlier this year, they got about 350 orders for the low-slung vehicle. Eco-Fueler officials say the first production vehicle will roll out in about a month, and within six months they hope to be building 100 to 150 vehicles per month. The American Roadster has a sleek design with a removable hard top, and it promises sporty performance, high mileage and low pollution. The production models will run on a water-cooled, horizontally opposed engine that will generate about 125 horsepower in a vehicle that weighs 1,500 pounds. The vehicle has limitations. It has a single front seat, a tiny bench seat in back and no trunk. Strictly speaking, it's a motorcycle, which allows the company to bypass federal crash-test and emissions requirements. It's meant to be a commuter car, a vehicle for a Sunday driver or something to tow behind an RV. People will need natural gas at home to fuel it. The key piece of technology driving the American Roadster lies in a 4-foot-long black box that comes with the vehicle. In the box is a machine that compresses natural gas. Owners of the American Roadster will connect the compressor to their natural-gas line and use it to fuel the car. It takes about 4 1/2 hours to fill the two 8-gallon canisters behind the back seat. The compressor is Green's patented invention, and he said it marks a significant advance in compression technology that has not changed for about 65 years. Green's machine uses hydraulics to compress natural gas instead of the piston-driven compression that has been the standard method. His technique is far more reliable and efficient than the conventional method, he said.

09/11/06 - Two Types of Wonderful Cars
You have entered the wonderful realm of the future of cars, where the possibilities are endless and anything is possible. From air-powered cars to battery-operated cars, cars have come a long way since their invention in the late 1700's. Inventors then dreamed of a "horseless carriage", a vehicle that could travel under its own power. In the future it seems not-to-impossible that anything can be used to propel cars, assuming research based on the theory e=mc2. Let's start with nitrogen-powered cars. Elemental nitrogen has a very low boiling point. As a result of this, when liquid nitrogen is stored in a pressure-controlled environment, it stores a large amount of potential energy. In the LN2000 liquid nitrogen powered concept car, being developed at the University of Washington, the liquid fuel is let out of a pressurized tank, preheated by an economizer which takes heat from the exhaust before it quickly vaporizes, expanding rapidly in an endothermic reaction. This expanding gas is converted into energy that moves the wheels of the converted mail truck by a 15 hp radial air motor. As nitrogen gas is the main element in air, and pure nitrogen gas is the only product of the reaction involved, there is no pollution produced by running this car. Ford Motor Co. Utilizing space technology, the hydrogen car doesn't rely on combustion. And it has hardly any moving parts. Most commercial hydrogen is made as part of the processing of natural gas. As a fuel it is about 20 percent more expensive than a comparable amount of gasoline. "You need about 15 pounds of hydrogen to go 300 miles," said Bates. "That doesn't sound like much but hydrogen is very light and takes a very big tank," Bates said. Gaseous hydrogen could be pumped into a vehicle's tank in five minutes using compressors, according to studies.

09/11/06 - Hottest year on Record
In the United States, the first six months of 2006 were the hottest recorded in more than a century, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Climatic Data Center. Canada reported the hottest winter and spring since it started keeping track about a half-century ago, while England, Germany and France are sweltering, and the Netherlands is recording the hottest month since temperatures were first measured 300 years ago. "The current heat waves throughout much of North America and Europe are consistent with the predictions of our global climate models," said physicist John Harte, a professor and researcher in UC Berkeley's Energy and Resources Group and the Ecosystem Sciences Division. "In the future, we can expect more intense, more long-lasting, and more frequent heat waves as a consequence of global warming. If you warm the planet as a whole, as we've been doing, it's likely that any particular heat wave is going to be hotter with global warming, and any hurricane will be more intense. You warm the whole, and you warm the parts," Harte said. The planet's dramatic warming over the past 50 years has made matters worse, and the continuing rate of discharge from carbon dioxide, methane and other heat-trapping gases will keep raising the world's temperatures throughout the rest of the century and beyond, they say.

09/11/06 - Adapt or Fry
Is it all over for Kyoto? Should we accept that global warming is inevitable and plan accordingly? Yes, says Frances Cairncross, president of the British Association for the Advancement of Science (BA) which held its annual festival in Norwich, UK, this week. On Monday Cairncross described the Kyoto protocol as "ineffectual" and called for the world to accept that "a hotter, drier world" is coming - even if everyone fulfils their obligations under Kyoto and pegs levels of carbon dioxide back below the 1990 baseline. "Adaptation policies have had far less attention than mitigation," she told the BA. Now Cairncross is saying the UK should prepare for the inevitable by developing drought-resistant crops, constructing flood defences and perhaps even banning dwellings close to sea level. "We cannot relocate the Amazon or insulate coral reefs, so we need mitigation too, but the [UK] government could and should put in place an adaption strategy straight away," she said.

09/11/06 - 'World must wake up to the dangers of biofuels'
The world should wake up to the dangers of the mass production of biofuels, which are increasingly seen as a major solution to global warming, according to Professor Sir Peter Crane, director of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Extensive production of biofuel crops, such as oil palms, could destroy remaining areas of rainforest and bring about a new cycle of worldwide intensive agriculture involving vast applications of artificial fertilisers and pesticides, and requiring enormous water resources, said Professor Crane, who as the head of Kew Gardens is the world's leading plant scientist. "If we're serious about biofuels, we're going to have to produce them in a much more sustainable way than intensive agriculture has given us in the past," he said. He went on: "We're going to have to get biofuels off land that's already degraded, perhaps land that's not valuable for other purposes, for conservation or for agriculture. And we've got to do it without creating other problems with the kinds of inputs that in the past have gone into intensive agriculture." It was possible that intensive biofuel production might involve too much nitrogen-based fertiliser, pesticides and herbicides, in order to get the desired level of production, he said, as well as taking up enormous amounts of scarce water in irrigation.

09/11/06 - Redesigning crops to harvest Fuel
Syngenta, for instance, hopes in 2008 to begin selling a genetically engineered corn designed to help convert itself into ethanol. Each kernel of this self-processing corn contains an enzyme that must otherwise be added separately at the ethanol factory. Ceres, a plant genetics company in California, is at work on turning switchgrass, a Prairie States native, into an energy crop. "You could turn Oklahoma into an OPEC member by converting all its farmland to switchgrass," said Richard W. Hamilton, the Ceres chief executive. Such prospects are starting to alarm some environmentalists, who worry that altered plants will cross-pollinate in the wild, resulting in forests that practically droop for want of lignin. And some oppose the notion of altering corn to feed the nation's addiction to automobiles.

09/10/06 - MIT uses sound to search for gas, oil
Just as doctors use ultrasound to image internal organs and unborn babies, MIT Earth Resources Laboratory researchers listen to the echoing language of rocks to map what's going on tens of thousands of feet below the Earth's surface. A major domestic source of natural gas is low-permeability or "tight" gas formations. Oil and gas come from organic materials that have been cooked for eons under the pressure and high heat of the Earth's crust. Some underground reservoirs contain large volumes of oil and gas that flow easily through permeable rocks, but sometimes the fluids are trapped in rocks with small, difficult-to-access pores, forming separate scattered pockets. Until recently, there was no technology available to get at tight gas. "Surface seismic methods are like medical ultrasound. They give us images of the subsurface geology," Burns said. Three-dimensional seismic surveys involve creating vibrations on the surface and monitoring the resulting underground echoes. "When the echoes change, fractures are there," Willis said. A method called time-lapse vertical seismic profiling (VSP) tends to be more accurate because it collects acoustic data directly underground through bore holes. "Putting the receivers down into a well is like making images with sensors inside the body in the medical world," Burns said. "The result is the ability to see finer details and avoid all the clutter that comes from sending sound waves through the skin and muscle tissue to get at the thing we are most interested in seeing."

09/10/06 - Electromagnetic Weight Loss
The U.K company SPR(Satellite Propulsion Research) is making headway with its propellantless EmDrive technology. According to SPR their technology requires no new physics, just a new use of current understanding, e.g. using microwaves with a resonant cavity or bottle and a special waveguide. So far they have been able to decrease their object's apparent "mass" by 2g, but they believe that in further iterations they may be able to lift entire craft, making many dreams of flying cars and easy transport to space a reality.

09/10/06 - Oil Find unlikely to bring back cheap Gasoline
News of a successful test in a potentially huge oil field in the Gulf of Mexico last week may have led some Americans to stop planning for hybrids and go back to dreaming about owning gas guzzlers. Chevron and Devon Energy's success with the Jack 2 project some 270 miles offshore and five miles below sea level has been heralded as confirmation that the U.S. can continue to count on the Gulf of Mexico as a key source of energy. "Biggest find in a generation," touted one news headline. "Oil relief in sight?" another asked, while another predicted "Huge supply has potential to cut prices years from now." While validating the big discovery may bolster the view of the oil-supply optimists, even they don't predict a return to the days of cheap gasoline in a world where demand is growing so strongly. With oil prices high, companies are eager to spend more to find and produce crude.

09/10/06 - Vaporizing garbage to create Electricity
"Geoplasma is planning to build a power plant in St. Lucie County, Florida that will generate electricity by vaporizing landfill trash and sewage treatment plant sludge with plasma arcs. It will be the first plant of its kind in the USA and the largest in the world. The power plant is expected to destroy 3000 tons of garbage, generating about 120 megawatts of electricity per day. The plant will also supply steam to a nearby Tropicana juice plant. The landfill is expected to be depleted in about 18 years. In addition, up to 600 tons of melted, hardened sludge will be produced each day and will be sold for road construction."

09/10/06 - China to invest in 'Combustible Ice'
Over the next decade, China plans to invest 800 million RMB (US $100 million) in the development of methane gas hydrate-so-called “combustible ice”-to meet its rising energy demand and alleviate heavy dependence on fossil fuels, according to a report by the National Development and Reform Commission, the country’s top economic planner. Scientists, however, worry that the move may cause environmental damage due to the unstable nature and high methane content of the energy source.

09/09/06 - Einstein No Rocket Scientist
While the talk is titled "Einstein's Biggest Blunder," it's called that because it's what Einstein said about his invention of what's called the "cosmological constant." During a talk by Lawrence Krauss, he quirkily illustrated via Powerpoint and the use of multiple !!!, Krauss filled us in on why Einstein came up with the constant, why he was embarrassed by it, and how it's recently become useful in science's quest to explain the energy of empty space. We know, you'd think empty space had no energy. It's a bit of a curve ball. But the observed data suggests that something like 70% of the energy in the universe is contained in space that has nothing in it that we can see. Physicists came up with the term "dark matter" a while ago to cover all the stuff we can't see (but whose gravitational effects are clear to see in the motion of galaxies), but it's taken much longer to support the theoretical work that says dark energy must be there (because the math calls for it) with observed experimental evidence.

09/09/06 - Clean hands, Pure Heart
It's taken more than 300 years but researchers in Canada and Illinois have some data to back up the Shakespearean link between guilt and hand washing. Known as the "Macbeth effect" after Shakespeare's famous tragedy, the study on cleanliness and conscience found that people who recall acting unethically are more drawn to cleansing products than those who behave ethically, WebMd reports. Four short studies that included private conversations with undergraduates asking them to describe an ethical or unethical deed. After that the students were asked to complete unfinished words. Those who recalled past unethical deeds were most likely to come up with words that had to do with cleansing, the researchers reported. "It remains to be seen whether clean hands really do make a pure heart, but our studies indicate that they at least provide a clean conscience after moral trespasses," write Zhong and Liljenquist.

09/09/06 - Electric Companies Support Plug-in Hybrids, well DUH
California's largest utility, Pacific Gas & Electric Co., is asking its 5.1 million customers to petition automakers to speed up development of plug-in electric-gasoline hybrid vehicles. PG&E and its parent, PG&E Corp., have joined with an Austin, Texas-based organization called "Plug-In Partners" that has set up an Internet petition drive to pressure U.S. and foreign automakers to make cars that can charge up by plugging in to a regular 120-volt household outlet. Hybrids on the road use electricity generated by the gasoline-fueled engine. But affordable plug-in hybrids are a decade away, Toyota spokesman Bill Kwong said Friday. If that is so, said PG&E spokeswoman Jann Taber, the petition drive and other efforts to pressure automakers could speed up the process of development to mass production. "Automakers aren't convinced there are enough buyers," PG&E's Howard said. "That's why PG&E is hoping to harness the power of its 5.1 million customers." The petition states: "If I could buy a vehicle that was cheaper to operate, cleaner, ran on domestic electricity, and I could buy it from you for a few thousand dollars more, yes I would positively WANT to plug it in to a 120-volt outlet." Utilities like PG&E will not benefit from any increase in power use by its customers, said Taber of PG&E. Their rates are regulated by state agencies and they do not make more profit if they sell more electricity, Taber said. PG&E officials say that if plug-in hybrids do become common, they will urge customers to plug in at night when the power grid is not as strained as it is during daylight hours.

09/09/06 - Scientists angered by telephone telepathy study
A furious row broke out today at Britain's premier science forum over the decision to allow believers in the paranormal to promote their views without challenge from the mainstream. The row was triggered by the British Association for the Advancement of Science's decision to showcase highly controversial research purporting to demonstrate telepathy and life after death. Scientists said that while discussion of the subject was acceptable, the panel’s lack of balance was like inviting creationists to address the prestigious meeting without an opposing view from evolutionary biologists. The first study, into telepathy, was conducted by Rupert Sheldrake, an unorthodox biologist whose work tends to inspire strong reactions among both supporters and critics. Many people report experiences in which they were thinking of a friend or relative who happened to phone them at that moment. Most scientists regard this as coincidence, reinforced by forgetting the many times we think of friends who never ring, but Dr Sheldrake has tried to test whether it is actually down to genine telepathy. Critics said that the effect was more likely to result from flaws in Dr Sheldrake's methods. In one set of studies, the subjects lifted the received before making their choice, allowing possible clues to the caller's identity from the quality of the line.

09/09/06 - Security against terror 'impossible'
THE United States will win the battle against terrorism, but it cannot achieve absolute security against attacks, because that would sacrifice too much freedom and prosperity, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said overnight. He said it would not be possible "to eliminate every threat to every individual in every place at every moment." "If we could achieve absolute perfect security against all threats, we would only be able to do so at an astronomical cost to our liberty and prosperity. "We cannot hand (bin Laden) the victory by being so hysterical and overreacting to such extent that we destroy our way of life in order to protect it," he said.

09/09/06 - Oil Plentiful at Deeper Levels
You can tune out all the scare talk about Peak Oil for a while-probably a long while. Peak Oil is the theory, on the verge of becoming conventional wisdom, that the world's petroleum supply is topping out and will not be able to meet global demand soaring along with the economies of China and India. But a successful test in a mammoth field deep beneath the Gulf of Mexico, announced on Sept. 5 by Chevron, Devon Energy, and Norway's Statoil should help put that scary scenario on hold for decades.

09/08/06 - Electrical Workers See Alternative Energy As Best Chance For Jobs
The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers said its best chance for job growth lies in alternative energy. The group is holding its convention in Cleveland next week. It has traditionally focused its membership on the manufacturing and construction industries. The union saw growth opportunities in the upkeep of wind turbines, solar panels and hydrogen fuel cells. That was a shift for a group typically comprised of wiring technicians, linemen and utility plant operators.

09/08/06 - Vietnam officially bans acetone as additive in gasoline
Vietnam authorities have officially banned the use of acetone as an additive in gasoline, a Hanoi-based industry source said Friday. The ban, which comes into immediate effect for all imported gasoline, also covers blending of acetone gasoline. "The government is very concerned about the consequences [of acetone in gasoline]," the Petrolimex official said. "They [the government] still don't know the full extent of damage to health," he said. The official added that this was the first known case of acetone being added in higher-than-accepted amounts to gasoline. Acetone is a solvent that can be used as an additive for boosting octane levels in gasoline. It is not typically specified in gasoline sales contracts. A high amount of acetone in gasoline, however, can affect the rubber seals of vehicle engines. Ho Chi Minh City's Department of Science and Technology concluded last week that acetone in some recent batches of imported gasoline was behind the large-scale breakdown of motorcycles in the city. The conclusion followed tests conducted by the department on samples taken from retail stations.

09/08/06 - 40th Anniversary of Star Trek
Celebrate the 40th Anniversary of the original Star Trek series. StarTrek.com's article has a look back at that first episode, and tries to explore the whys behind the popularity that followed it. From the article: "On the evening of the 8th of September, following Daniel Boone, this new NBC show premiered with an episode called 'The Man Trap.' The angle of the story was different, to say the least: It was a love story with a sci-fi twist, borne of a relationship from the doctor's past, featuring a monster that, in the end, just wanted to live. It was moving, tragic and anything but cheesy. The viewers -- at least the ones who were paying attention -- were hooked."

09/08/06 - Robocabs Coming to Europe
"Almost all of us can recall both good and poor memories of taxi rides when we arrived in a city we didn't know. This is why a short article from Spiegel Online, 'Bringing Robot Transportation to Europe,' caught my eye this morning. It briefly describes the European 'CityMobil' project which involves 28 partners in 10 countries at a cost of €40 million. This project plans to eliminate city drivers and three trial sites have already been selected. For example, in 2008, Terminal 5 in London's Heathrow airport will be connected to the car park by driverless electric cars along a 4-kilometer track. Read more for additional pictures and references about this project to make the roads in Europe's cities more efficient."

09/08/06 - Easily Get System Info
Windows only: CPU-Z is a free utility that gives you in-depth information on your motherboard, memory, CPU, and more. This program is a great way to find out more about your machine; there's really a wealth of information that it provides and this info can be quite useful when you're planning an upgrade or doing some interior tinkering. CPU-Z is a free download, Windows only. (via lifehacker.com)

09/07/06 - The End of Eden
"Our global furnace is out of control. By 2020, 2025, you will be able to sail a sailboat to the North Pole. The Amazon will become a desert, and the forests of Siberia will burn and release more methane and plagues will return." James Lovelock Says This Time We've Pushed the Earth Too Far. He measured atmospheric gases and ocean temperatures, and examined forests tropical and arboreal (last year a forest the size of Italy burned in rapidly heating Siberia, releasing from the permafrost a vast sink of methane, which contributes to global warming). He found Gaia trapped in a vicious cycle of positive-feedback loops -- from air to water, everything is getting warmer at once. The nature of Earth's biosphere is that, under pressure from industrialization, it resists such heating, and then it resists some more. Then, he says, it adjusts. Within the next decade or two, Lovelock forecasts, Gaia will hike her thermostat by at least 10 degrees. Earth, he predicts, will be hotter than at any time since the Eocene Age 55 million years ago, when crocodiles swam in the Arctic Ocean. "Maybe 200 million people will migrate close to the Arctic and survive this. Even if we took extraordinary steps, it would take the world 1,000 years to recover."

09/07/06 - Telepathic Email
(Thanks to Bert Pool for this headsup and do read the article embedded links as they are extensive. - JWD) Each participant chose four friends as their pool of potential emailers. Then an experimenter selected one of these four people at random and asked them to email the participant at a fixed time. One minute before this time, the participant took a guess at who was about to email. Sheldrake reports that 552 trials took place with 50 participants. If a correct guess was based on chance alone you would expect of course to see a 1 in 4, or 25%, success rate. The experiment actually produced a 47% hit rate, he says, and adds that the probability of this result occurring randomly is 1 in a billion. Further email trials were conducted where the participants were filmed, to ensure that they were not receiving a tip-off from their emailer by text or instant messenger. The results of these experiments were similar to the previous trials, Sheldrake says. So if the reported details are all correct, what is going on? I find it hard to believe in telepathy, but can't see a flaw that would explain such a high success rate. Can you?

09/07/06 - Sound blaster cleans contaminated soil
(Thanks to Bob Paddock & Bert Pool for this headsup. - JWD) Soil polluted by organic toxins can be blasted clean with ultrasound, say researchers in Australia. The method may prove to be more effective at cleaning up contamination from oil refineries, power stations and aluminium factories than existing methods. The new clean-up method was inspired by the mining industry, which uses ultrasound to process some minerals. Researchers at CSIRO Industrial Physics have shown it can also destroy the toxic or carcinogenic persistent organic pollutants (POPs) that commonly contaminate industrial land. POPs include PCBs and DDT, and can spread in water and air and accumulate in the food chain. Contaminated soil is mixed with water and passed through a chamber that blasts the mixture with ultrasound. The team tested their system on sand spiked with pollutants as well as samples collected from industrial sites and claim that it destroys up to 97 per cent of contaminants in just a few minutes. Sound waves travel through water as a series of high pressure waves with low pressure areas in between. The low pressure causes the water to boil and form microscopic bubbles. The high pressure then forces the bubbles to collapse, generating a shockwave that produces localised temperature flashes of more than 4000°C and pressures of about 1000 atmospheres. That is more than enough to break down any complex molecules in the water, Sosa Pintos says. In a slurry mixture, these bubbles form around the edges and surfaces of solid suspended particles - exactly where pollutants tend to end up. "Since these chemicals are hydrophobic, they are readily absorbed onto the surface of soil particles, so the energy released is selectively directed towards them," explains Sosa Pintos.

09/07/06 - Older stem cells don’t wear out, they shut down
The natural consequences of growing old include slower wound-healing and a brain that makes fewer new neurons because old tissues have less regenerative capacity. What has not been clear is why. A trio of papers published on-line Sept. 6 in the journal Nature shows that old stem cells don’t simply wear out, they actively shut themselves down, probably as a defense against becoming cancerous from genetic defects that accumulate with age.Under optimal circumstances, stem cells are able to copy themselves and differentiate into other cells, thus replenishing their numbers and acting as a repair system for the body. The Ink4a gene appears to be widely active in locations where stem cells regenerate new tissues.

09/07/06 - Brain Shock to revive the Dead
(Thanks to Bert Pool for this headsup. - JWD) A small but passionate group of doctors say that electricity applied deep in the brain can jolt patients out of irreversible comas. That's when the real problems begin. Edwin Cooper has been sent, or has sent himself, to about 60 severely brain-injured people since the mid-1980s, when he first made the accidental discovery that electrical stimulation had effects on arousal. He was using a neuro-stimulator (20ma current) to relieve spasticity in the limbs of microcephalics, people with abnormally small skulls who often have reduced mental capacity and poor muscle control. During the treatment, he recalls, one patient started looking around his room and smiling when people walked in, instead of staring blankly. Cooper had already observed that when he placed the stimulator on one arm of a quadriplegic patient to strengthen the muscles there, the opposite arm also got stronger. He concluded that the electricity was making its way to the brain, crossing to the opposite hemisphere, and stimulating arousal centers in the process. He began to wonder about the effect this might have on unconscious people. "I thought, if someone were normal and able-bodied but in a coma, maybe this would make a difference, maybe help wake them up," Cooper says. "It was like maybe we could reboot the brain." Things will get especially complicated if firm evidence shows, as Cooper believes it will, that electrical stimulation often pushes people out of a persistent vegetative state and into a minimally conscious state.

09/07/06 - Middle-sized holes best for storing Hydrogen
Hydrogen fuel needs to overcome a number of stumbling blocks before it can replace our oil-based economy. Not the least of these is how to safely store enough hydrogen fuel for cars to cover a reasonable distance before their supplies must be replenished. One possible solution is to pack hydrogen into porous materials, which soak up the gas like a sponge. Martin Schröder and his colleagues at the University of Nottingham, UK, have been investigating so-called metal organic frameworks (MOFs) - molecular scaffolding filled with tiny cylindrical pores that hydrogen gas can be forced into. Now a painstaking study has quantified the amount of hydrogen that can be stuffed into three MOFs made of identical material but with different pore sizes - holes of 6.5, 7.3 and 8.3 angstroms in diameter. The middle-sized pores could hold the highest density of hydrogen, Schröder's team reports in Angewante Chemie1: 43.6 grams of hydrogen per litre. That's 4.7 grams per litre better than the little holes, and 2.5 better than the large ones. Current storage methods include freezing the hydrogen to store it as a liquid, or compressing it in a tank at high pressure, both of which take a lot of energy, and may not be particularly safe for the general public if light-weight cars carry them. The alternatives include porous materials, including nanotubes or MOFs such as those Schröder is investigating. The problem with MOFs is that they store hydrogen best at exceedingly low temperatures (77 K); not ideal for commercial cars. Another option is 'metal hydrides', in which hydrogen is taken up by very strong chemical bonds into the structure of metals such as lithium, sodium and magnesium. "In that case, it's hard to get the hydrogen out again when you need it," says Martin Jones, a researcher in hydrogen storage at the University of Oxford, UK.

09/06/06 - Turf Mat Grass Roof
Individual mats are twenty inches square, and about two inches thick. The mats are planted with a special brand of Korean velvet grass - it only needs to be cut once per year. The mats are irrigation system-ready; water can flow through tubes to channels in the mats, providing moisture to roots. There's no information in English about the material used to create the structural base of the tile, which appears to be plastic or rubber. Apparently, though, the low-maintenance nature of the selected grass type, as well as a design that allows efficient rain water capture, means that a grass roof made from TM9 tiles might be a good answer for urbanites who want the environmental, aesthetic, and home insulation benefits of a green roof without a lot of work.

09/06/06 - Sun and Hydrogen to fuel Future
Capturing sunlight to make enough hydrogen fuel to power cars and buildings has been brought a step closer by a British research company. Hydrogen Solar says it has managed to convert more than 8% of sunlight directly into hydrogen with fuel cell technology it has specially developed. For an energy source to be commercially viable, it must reach an efficiency of 10%, which is an industry standard. Hydrogen power, a renewable energy, has the potential to replace fossil fuels. The Tandem Cell technology developed by Hydrogen Solar uses two photocatalytic cells in series which are coated with a nano-crystalline - extremely thin - metal oxide film. Having a nanoscale coating makes the surface area far greater and means that hydrogen can be produced efficiently without the need for polluting fossil fuels. The cells capture the full spectrum of ultraviolet light - the Sun's rays - and, via the novel coating, the electrons are captured and carried away on conductors. This electrical current is then used to separate the hydrogen from water which is stored for use. "If we look five years ahead and we have a few square miles of hydrogen farm in a desert, we think we could produce hydrogen that is competitive with coal and oil." Once production costs have been scaled down, large hydrogen cell farms could produce hydrogen, untaxed, at $1.80 to $3 a kilo. That is equivalent to a third of the price of the same amount of power produced from untaxed gasoline, he thinks. Dr Auty envisages the car industry making the best use of the technology in modified combustion engines. "Using a 10% cell, we say that a seven-metre squared array will power a Mercedes A class car for 11,000 miles a year [in LA sunlight conditions] without going to power station," said Dr Auty. "There is a chicken and egg issue here," he said. "Who is going to build a car before they have filling stations, and who is going to build stations before we have the cars."

09/06/06 - USDA sees enough corn to double ethanol output
U.S. ethanol output could double to 10 billion gallons annually by 2010 without igniting a food-vs.-fuel fight over whether to use corn as livestock rations or making the alternative fuel, a government economist said on Wednesday. "With ethanol prices at the plant of $2.25 per gallon, a dry mill plant could pay up to about $5 per bushel of corn and cover operating costs," Collins said. Futures prices for ethanol are around $2.20 and "suggest continued strong and profitable prices at the ethanol plant level." Collins listed several conclusions about ethanol's impact on agriculture: --High gasoline prices will encourage ethanol expansion over the next several years. --As ethanol production expands, corn prices could set new records, especially if weather hurts production. --Corn acreage (area) will have to expand by 5.5 million acres by 2010, to around 90 million acres, to supply enough corn for domestic use and export. "Econometric relationships suggest that corn prices would have to rise to around $3.10-$3.20 a bushel, or near the current record high, to attract the 5.5 million more acres to corn." --Some 4.3 million-7.2 million acres now idled in the long-term Conservation Reserve "could be used to grow corn or soybeans in a sustainable way" and expand U.S. crop output.

09/06/06 - Old World becomes leader in Alternative Energy
The European Union's commitment to the Kyoto Protocol has created a gradual opening in the market as the continent works to phase out its greenhouse gasemitting energy sources and as individual member states actively encourage the growth of eco-friendly energy. Although more traditional power sources still dominate, the Old World has become the global leader in renewable energy use and production. As eco-friendly energy becomes more cost-effective, convenient, and feasible, its growth rate is likely to increase. Alternative energy facilities often look more like farms than factories, because they usually require a lot of open space and agreeable natural conditions to generate enough electricity to effectively service a community, whether via the sun, wind, or ocean. No one alternative energy source is perfect, but in combination they are slowly helping reduce dependence on the declining supply of greenhouse gasproducing hydrocarbons. Instead, in Europe as elsewhere, new sources of energy are finally coming into their own, whether from land, sea, or sky.

09/06/06 - Rare Earth Magnet Diesel Generator claims 10% over unity?
(While doing a search on PM generators, this page came up and the claim of 10% more out than in caught my attention. - JWD) 7500W Silent Rare-Earth P.M. Diesel Generator. 9.0HP Air Cooled Diesel Engine. 7500W Surge Output: Rare-Earth P.M. generator provide more than over 10% power. Max. AC Output: 7500W / Rated AC Output: 6500W. (9hp X 760 = 6,840 watts) (7,500 - 6,840 = 660 Watts Overunity???)

09/06/06 - False Identity Generator
It generates: * First and last name * Valid city, state, and zip code * Telephone number with area code/prefix that match the generated city * Mother’s maiden name * Birthday. Working on adding in valid full addresses, but that is a lot tougher. There aren’t really any random address generators out there. Well, there are, but they don’t give you a random VALID address, which is important if the website you are using it at validates it using the USPS system. Check it out: http://dev.allredtech.com/fakename/. Some possible uses: * Signing up for paid offers (like affiliate programs that pay for leads) or those annoying free iPod pyramid schemes. If it doesn’t require you to actually get something shipped to you, then a real looking fake name/address from another state can be real useful. * Pseudonym to use as your online identity to avoid companies from seeing your colorful past. If you use an “unused” name, then it will be very easy to search for everything related to yourself using Google. * Load it (or a couple) into a form filler to quickly fill out junk mail forms. Very useful if they want you to refer 5 friends or whatever. * Fake websites to promote your own website. Work at least the city/state into it somewhere and it looks like people from all over the country are raving about your *insert something cool here*. Of course, thats a lot more work than I’d be willing to do. Maybe if I generate an XML API like someone suggested, it could be done automatically… Hmmm… * Sweepstakes site that is used to gather names/emails to sell. Use the fake names/addresses as the people who “win” your sweepstakes. * Umm. Thats it really. Not sure what else you’d use it for. Guess there are a lot of illegitimate uses… Oh well…

09/05/06 - Update on South African Photovoltaics
“In a scientific breakthrough that has stunned the world, a team of South African scientists, led by Professor Vivian Alberts, has developed a revolutionary new, highly efficient solar power technology” and “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. The new panels are approximately five microns thick (a human hair is 20 microns thick) while the older silicon panels are 350 microns thick. Alberts claims the cost of the South African technology is a fraction of the cost for less effective silicon solar panels.” Alberts’ invention is five micro-metres thick, combining several semiconductor materials which are as effective, if not more so, than silicon. As it uses no silicon, costs are dramatically lower. It makes use of normal window glass as a substrate, with molybdenum applied as back contact, followed by the core component, being a compound semiconductor comprising five elements - copper, indium, gallium, selenium and sulphide, replacing the silicon - with cadmium sulphide as a buffer layer, followed by an intrinsic zinc oxide layer and, finally, a conductive zinc-oxide layer. The most expensive part of the panel is the glass,” said Alberts. The pilot plant has shown the production cost per watt to be less than one South African Rand (which is about US $0.15), verified for a 25-MW production facility, assuming a 10% efficiency and average production yield of 85%,” Alberts claimed in the Mining Weekly Report. Alberts went on to say he predicted retail costs for this locally manufactured photovoltaic panel would be one-fifth the current cost of imported panels.

09/05/06 - Teacher invents Energy Shoes
A pair of shoes that cannot go unnoticed. It is battery operated and converts kinetic energy into electrical energy. Sharma, who loves to experiment, developed the prototype shoe in 2002. The dynamo is fitted at the base of the shoe and moves up and down along with the foot when one walks. The dynamo is connected to a capacitor that converts the kinetic energy into electrical signals. The prototype has the ability to create electricity up to two volts and can be increased by upgrading the dynamo. Sharma continues to work on the shoe. He wants to add a stronger dynamo so more electricity can be produced. He also wants to make the base of the shoe lighter so it is easier to walk.

09/05/06 - No Hydrogen Economy Needed: Existing Tech Could Replace Fossil Fuels
Researchers at City College of New York say the combined use of alternative energies for which we already have reliable technology "could replace all fossil fuel power plants." These sources include concentrated solar thermal energy (in which heat from the sun creates steam to run generators), nuclear energy, geothermal and hydroelectric plants, wind energy, photovoltaic cells, and biomass. They also claim that plug-in hybrid vehicles could replace 80 percent of the gasoline used in the United States. And they say the use of hydrogen for fuel is a bad idea in most cases--that using electricity directly in vehicles (stored in batteries) rather than to generate hydrogen is three times cheaper. The catch? A huge price tag. Reducing total fossil-fuel use by 70 percent would cost $200 billion per year for 30 years, outlays the City College researchers hope could be collected through a tax on carbon-dioxide emissions of $50 per ton.

09/05/06 - RFID tag spotter
How often do you lose your keys? A combination radio frequency identification tag reader and digital camera that displays the location of tagged objects is poised to help. Camera phones with the technology onboard would locate tagged items like keys. The device could also track real objects in virtual and augmented reality environments.

09/05/06 - Gasoline-electric powered vehicles flying off car lots
Dealers aren't changing the prices, but a federal tax credit is about to be phased out for the Prius and other Toyota-made hybrids, which means buyers of those popular vehicles no longer can shave up to $3,150 off their tax bills. Tax credits for other makes, meanwhile, remain intact for now. But demand for hybrids is so high, the disappearing tax credit is unlikely to slow sales by much if at all, experts say. Consumers can expect to put down a deposit and wait a month or more for delivery for the Prius and Civic hybrids, which get about 50 mpg. If a Prius or Civic that is not already spoken for does land on a dealer's lot, it doesn't stay there long, dealers say. Federal tax credits are based on a model's fuel efficiency and its tailpipe emissions. The amount ranges from $3,150 for a Prius to $250 for Chevrolet and GMC pickups. In addition, the state of Oregon offers a tax credit of $1,500 to buyers of eight hybrid vehicles. Under federal tax law, the hybrid credit will start to phase out once sales exceed 60,000 for a single manufacturer on vehicles purchased after Jan. 1, 2006.

09/05/06 - New three-in-one heart pill could save millions
A three-in-one pill being developed to treat heart disease could save millions, particularly in developing countries where most heart attacks occur, experts said Monday at the World Congress of Cardiology. The so-called “polypill” would contain aspirin, statins and ACE inhibitors - the three drugs known to prevent recurrent heart disease - and be used to reduce the occurrence of heart attacks, strokes and other cardiovascular health problems, the World Heart Federation said. “Potentially, millions of lives could be saved worldwide by this,” Dr. Sidney Smith, chairman of the federation's scientific advisory board, said at the conference in Barcelona, Spain. “These therapies are known to reduce mortality by up to 50 percent or more.”

09/05/06 - Long Range Stunner
The range of conventional Tasers is limited by the wires that carry the voltage - typically between 20 and 150 kilovolts - from the gun to the dart’s electrodes. One option is to fit the dart with a piezoelectric material which produces a voltage dependent on the strength of impact. But since darts slow significantly in-flight due to air resistance, this sort of wire-free device only lands with enough impact to generate a significant voltage over short ranges. Three inventors in the US have now devised a long range stun gun which delivers a shock of 40 kilovolts, over a distance of about 150 metres, even if the dart hits with a low impact. The new dart contains a small explosive charge which detonates when it hits the target. The explosion squeezes piezoelectric materials and this generates a powerful voltage delivered to the victim via needle-like electrodes that pierce the skin.

09/04/06 - Scrap Cars creating Toxic Waste
As many as 1.5 million cars are being scrapped illegally in Britain every year, presenting a major environmental hazard, the BBC has learned. Thousands of tonnes of toxic waste are being created by drivers who fail to dispose of their vehicles in the way demanded by the European Union. According to the Department for Trade and Industry, two million cars were scrapped every year, but by the end of June this year only 250,000 had received a certificate of destruction. Industry experts said the situation meant 18,000 tonnes of vehicle fluids and the same amount of batteries could be being dumped or poured down the drain every year.

09/04/06 - Hypnosis cure for Alopecia (baldness)
"Hypnotherapy may enhance the mental well-being of patients with alopecia areata and it may improve clinical outcome," Dr Ria Willemsen, of Free University in Brussels, and colleagues write in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. Alopecia areata is an auto-immune disease characterised by sudden, recurrent hair loss in round spots from the scalp or any part of the body that has hair. Willemsen's team explored hypnosis as a treatment for 21 individuals with extensive hair loss on 30% or more of their scalp that had lasted for at least three months. These patients, all of whom previously failed to respond to treatment with steroids, were followed for anywhere from six months to six years. After treatment with a minimum of just three to four sessions of hypnotherapy, 12 patients experienced hair growth on at least 75% of their scalp, and nine of these 12 experienced total hair growth, Willemsen and colleagues report. None of the patients reported any negative side effects due to the hypnotherapy.

09/04/06 - Fueling the Future with Citrus Waste
In Florida, which is one of the world’s largest producers of citrus products, researchers at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) Citrus and Subtropical Products Research Laboratory are looking for ways to use the ~3 million t of wet pulp and peel waste produced every year by citrus-processing companies. The waste could yield 50 million gal of ethanol fuel annually, says Bill Widmer, the researcher heading the project. Converting citrus waste to ethanol also yields the valuable coproduct limonene, an organic solvent. Although citrus waste is currently being recycled, “by recovering ethanol and limonene we have probably tripled or quadrupled the value of the waste-stream material,” says Widmer. USDA plans to apply the technique to other products, such as apples and sugar beet; the process could then find markets elsewhere, he says. Local sources of ethanol would be useful because unlike for gasoline, no nationwide infrastructure is in place to transport it. Currently, citrus processing companies dry the pulp and peel waste to make cattle feed and convert the liquid into molasses, which they sell to the beverage industry. This is not profitable for the companies because of the cost of producing feed pellets and exporting them to Europe, where, unlike in the U.S., corn is not abundantly available to make feed. Citrus waste is currently worth 2-4¢/lb, Widmer says. Because ethanol is valued at >$2/gal and limonene sells for at least 50¢/lb, converting the waste to ethanol could raise its value to 10-12¢/lb. “If we can develop other byproducts from the [pectin] waste material, which I’m confident we can do, I think we could probably triple the value yet again,” he says. “I’m envisioning that citrus waste, instead of being worth 2-4¢/lb, would be worth 30-50¢/lb.”

09/04/06 - Anger & Hostility may Damage your Lungs
Researchers studied 670 men age 45 to 86. Initially, they gauged anger and hostility, ranking each man on a scale of 7 to 37. Then they measured lung function-how much air could be blown out in one second-on three separate occasions over an average of eight years. Lung function was "significantly poorer" at the outset among those deemed more angry and hostile, and it got worse with these men at each examination. The findings held up after controlling for other factors, such as smoking and education, the researchers reported yesterday in the online version of the journal Thorax. Hostility and anger have been associated with cardiovascular disease, asthma, and death in other research. Changes in mood can have short term effects on the lungs, the scientists said, and it might all have to do with anger and hostility altering neurological and hormonal processes, which in turn might disturb immune system activity, producing chronic inflammation, the scientists said. Another study last year found that marital spats and household hostility can cause physical wounds to heal more slowly.

09/04/06 - The Methanol Alternative
Methanol is commonly known as “wood alcohol” because it can be produced from wood; it can also be made from coal, natural gas, methane hydrates, any type of biomass, or urban waste. It can be used as fuel for internal-combustion engines, and eventually in fuel-cell vehicles. It can also be used as feedstock for producing dimethyl ether, an excellent fuel for non-polluting diesel engines. In short, it is a convenient medium for storing energy and is easily transported and dispensed as a fuel. Integrating methanol into our energy system would have numerous benefits in the not-so-distant future. As the authors point out, it would make the transportation of liquid natural gas much safer by converting it to less-hazardous liquid methanol before shipping it. Methanol could also be used to produce plastics, synthetic fabrics, and many other non-fuel products currently made from petroleum. “Cars optimized to run only on methanol” would be preferable. But such cars would find no buyers today-because there are no pumps to fuel them, nor will there be, until millions of such cars are on the road. Thus the FFVs, which can run on a combination of gasoline, methanol, and/or ethanol, are not “only a compromise.” Rather, they are the key transitional technology that can make the methanol economy a reality. Manufacturing a car as an FFV (FlexFuelVehicle) requires only the use of a corrosion-resistant fuel line and a change in the programming of the chip controlling the car’s electronic fuel injector. Thus FFVs can be produced-and currently are being produced in two dozen models, amounting to about 3 percent of total automobile sales in the United States-with essentially no price differential between them and comparable models that only use gasoline. As a result, there is no downside to making flex-fuel capability the standard. If it were required that all new cars sold in the United States had to be FFVs, there would be 50 million automobiles capable of burning methanol on the road in the U.S. within three years. Under such conditions, with methanol producible for a fraction of the cost of gasoline, the methanol pumps would appear soon enough, and the methanol economy envisioned by Olah and his collaborators would soon follow.

09/04/06 - Hydrogen sensor as safety device for leak detection
R&D has dubbed the ultra-fast hydrogen sensor developed by Xiao's research team at Argonne National Laboratory one of the world's top 100 scientific and technological innovations of 2005. The sensor - which can be made smaller than a grain of sand - will alert occupants of hydrogen-powered vehicles to potentially explosive hydrogen leaks. Xiao said that when the hydrogen concentration of a gas is 4 percent, it is explosive and it will ignite easily if exposed to a spark from a cigarette or electric circuit. "You have an electric circuit powering everything in your car, so if you have a tiny spark come out, it can ignite the hydrogen gas," Xiao said. Xiao's sensor is useful and relevant in a hydrogen economy. He spent the last four years researching and developing a hydrogen sensor that is unsurpassed in speed, sensitivity, energy-efficiency and cost because he is certain the nation is converting from petroleum to clean-burning hydrogen. Unlike natural gas, hydrogen cannot be odorized, and expensive detection methods may take hundreds of seconds. The sensor developed by Xiao and his team detects hydrogen in less than one-tenth of a second and at low enough levels so that safety valves can be closed before dangerous concentrations are reached. "In 10, maybe 15 years, most people will drive a hydrogen vehicle," Xiao said. "Wherever you use hydrogen, you need sensors. We wanted to contribute to the hydrogen economy."

09/04/06 - Persecution and Killing in the name of Religion - Is there no CURE?
Americans answered the atrocities of September 11, overwhelmingly, with faith. Attacked in the name of God, they turned to God for comfort; in the week after the attacks, nearly 70 percent said they were praying more than usual. Confronted by a hatred that seemed inexplicable, Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson proclaimed that God was mad at America because it harbored feminists, gays and civil libertarians. Sam Harris, then a 34-year-old graduate student in neuroscience, had a different reaction. On Sept. 12, he began a book. If, he reasoned, young men were slaughtering people in the name of religion-something that had been going on since long before 2001, of course-then perhaps the problem was religion itself. Next month the British evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins ("The Selfish Gene") weighs in with "The God Delusion," a book that extends an argument he advanced in the days after 9/11. After hearing once too often that "[t]o blame the attacks on Islam is like blaming Christianity for the fighting in Northern Ireland," Dawkins responded: Precisely. "It's time to get angry," he wrote, "and not only with Islam." Dawkins and Harris are not writing polite demurrals to the time-honored beliefs of billions; they are not issuing pleas for tolerance or moderation, but bone-rattling attacks on what they regard as a pernicious and outdated superstition. "Tell a devout Christian ... that frozen yogurt can make a man invisible," Harris writes, "and he is likely to require as much evidence as anyone else, and to be persuaded only to the extent that you give it. Tell him that the book he keeps by his bed was written by an invisible deity who will punish him with fire for eternity if he fails to accept its every incredible claim about the universe, and he seems to require no evidence whatsoever." Religion as Mental Child Abuse - In Voltaire's words, "Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities". / Root of all Evil - Imagine, sang John Lennon, a world with no religion. Imagine no suicide bombers, no 9/11, no 7/7, no Crusades, no witch-hunts, no Gunpowder Plot, no Kashmir dispute, no Indian partition, no Israel/Palestine wars, no Serb/Croat/Muslim massacres, no Northern Ireland "troubles." If a social engineer set out to devise a system for perpetuating our most vicious enmities, he could find no better formula than sectarian education. The main point of faith schools is that the children of 'our' tribe must be taught "their own" religion. Since the children of the other tribe are simultaneously being taught the rival religion with, of course, the rival version of the vendetta-riven history, the prognosis is all too predictable.

09/04/06 - Chatter Box George - the almost Human Robot
The world's most sophisticated "chatbot" - invented by British scientists - can talk on the internet with hundreds of different people at the same time, but each person has the impression that it is only talking to them. Nicknamed George, it is programmed to show emotions, tell jokes, answer questions and engage in intimate conversation on subjects as varied as love, life and the universe. It can speak 40 languages as its vocabulary continues to improve. George's inventor, Rollo Carpenter, who will put his creation on show at the British Association Festival of Science this week, said: "He talks in a way that is as close to human as you can get without actually being human. "A lot of people really do think they are talking to another person." Jabberwacky lives on a computer hard drive, tells jokes, uses slang, sometimes swears and can be quite a confrontational conversationalist. What sets this chatty AI (artificial intelligence) chatbot apart from others is the more it natters, the more it learns. "One day, hopefully soon, Jabberwacky will switch from text to voice, which will suit its AI techniques to a tee. "It will then start to have a home in physical objects, little robots that are a talking pet." A more appealing visions perhaps than that of a cheesy, walking, talking, human made infamous by AI, Steven Spielberg's 2001 film. "If I have my way, people will be walking around, sitting, cooking and more with one on their shoulder, talking in their ear."

09/03/06 - How can you Patent a Perpetual Motion Machine?
Allegedly, by patenting different parts of it - because patent offices do not accept claims for perpetual motion machines. Of course, nobody has ever built one, otherwise we'd all be riding around in electric cars powered by infinite supplies of electricity. The UK Patent Office notes that you cannot get a patent on "articles or processes alleged to operate in a manner clearly contrary to well-established physical laws" as they are "regarded as not having industrial application". Any machine that generates more energy than it consumes is either a nuclear reactor or breaches the second law of thermodynamics. But the Irish company Steorn, which has brought attention to itself by claiming to have a magnet-driven machine that will generate more energy than is put into it (and has taken out an expensive advert in The Economist rather than publishing a scientific paper or even building a few prototypes) says it will get around the restriction on patenting its invention by splitting it into components and patenting those. Then, by assembling them, it will have a patented energy generator. Confusingly, the company's website says that the design of the "free energy" generator is "patent pending", but the World International Property Organisation (WIPO) publication WO 2006/035419 indicates that the patent on a "low energy magnetic actuator" has only been applied for, not granted by the US Patent Office - and a search of the USPTO database confirms that.

09/03/06 - Wave Power Documentary
A DOCUMENTARY on the secrets of wave power will be screened at Glasgow Film Theatre on Sunday. The stunning three minute film will illustrate the power of waves at a world premier in the city. The documentary by Professor Stephen Salter, famous for his invention of the 'nodding duck' renewable energy device, brings together never before seen footage of wave-power experiments. It makes a graphic case for the effectiveness of the sea as a renewable energy resource.

09/03/06 - Large Scale Battery Storage in Ireland
Who said there's no such thing as large-scale battery storage? Vancouver-based VRB Power has sold a 1.5 megawatt flow battery system to an Irish wind developer that wants to couple the storage technology with some of its wind turbines. Tapbury Management Ltd.'s 39-megawatt "Sorne" wind farm is being built in two phases, and initially the Irish company wants to use VRB's technology to complement Phase II (representing about 7 megawatts of the total farm). VRB's system will provide 12 megawatt-hours of energy -- that is, 1.5 megawatts of output can be sustained for eight hours. If the system works well and Tapbury wants to apply the technology to the full farm, it has the option to expand the storage system to 50 megawatt-hours. The initial deal, however, is worth $6.3 million (U.S.) to VRB, which sees the sale as important for establishing a market in Ireland and the rest of Europe. "It is the largest sale we have made to date and it provides validation of the potential for our storage systems to be coupled to wind farms in the large, growing wind markets in Ireland, Europe and North America as well as a number of other countries worldwide," said VRB chief executive Tim Hennessy in a media release.

09/03/06 - Swarms of silent quakes below portend what?
Scientists are puzzled by a series of "silent" earthquakes deep underground that trigger no seismic signals, and by swarms of tremors they have detected in Northern California and other regions of the world where major quakes constantly threaten. Those mysterious events, the scientists say, might help warn of truly dangerous quakes before they occur -- if only their meaning can be deciphered. The so-called silent quakes occur as seismic faults slip slowly deep underground. Although instruments on the Earth's surface cannot pick up the slippages, they do cause the surface to move ever so slightly, and are often followed by swarms of underground tremors that are easily detectable. The deep, slow-moving quakes and the tremors they cause have been called "the chatter of silent slip," and scientists from Stanford University are urging their colleagues around the world to monitor them in order to understand their links to damaging temblors that often follow. The intriguing events have been detected beneath the Northern California coast and as far inland as Yreka (Siskiyou County); in the Puget Sound area around Seattle and western Canada; in Hawaii on the flanks of the Kilauea volcano; beneath the east coast of Japan; and along Mexico's west coast in the state of Guerrero. If the tremors and silent quakes can be pinned down -- and it's a big if -- they might provide insights into how the Earth behaves just before certain types of huge, destructive quakes strike -- like the catastrophic undersea Sumatra event of 2004 that triggered the tsunami that killed hundreds of thousands of people around the Indian Ocean, said geophysicists Paul Segall and Gregory C. Beroza of Stanford. Known as "megathrust" quakes, those types of temblors shove the seafloor abruptly upward, and their powerful force turns immense volumes of ocean water into a tsunami that can sweep across the sea for thousands of miles. "All these tremors and swarms of tiny quakes, as well as the silent earthquakes, appear to be adding stress to the entire fault zones where they occur," Segall said in an interview, "and when we learn to understand them better, they may well serve as signals warning that much bigger quakes are increasingly probable." "It's almost unthinkable that these slow quakes and the tremors they produce wouldn't trigger much bigger quakes," Beroza said. "But we still have a lot to learn."

09/03/06 - Electrolysis may one day provide 'Green Iron'
Photo: A magnet holds a droplet of pure molten iron made by electrolysis. - Producing iron by electrolysis rather than conventional smelting could prevent the emission of a billion tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere every year. So concludes Donald Sadoway, a materials scientist at MIT in the US who has developed a way producing iron by electrolysing a molten iron oxide in the lab. If the process can be scaled up, it could eliminate the need for conventional smelting, which releases almost a tonne of CO2 for every tonne of steel produced. In conventional smelting, iron ore is combined with a coal-derived carbon called coke. The coke reacts with the iron, producing CO2 and carbon monoxide, leaving pure iron behind. Electrolysis produces iron a different way. The iron ore is dissolved in a solvent of silicon dioxide and calcium oxide at 1600°C and an electric current passed through it. Negatively-charged oxygen ions migrate to the positively charged anode, and the oxygen bubbles off. Positively-charged iron ions migrate to the negatively-charged cathode where they are reduced to elemental iron which collects in a pool at the bottom of the cell and is siphoned off.

09/03/06 - Some Scientists think heat wave caused by global warming
In the past, most weather experts hesitated to blame short-term weather events -- say, a terrible winter storm or a nasty heat wave -- on longer-scale climate shifts like global warming. Some of the nation's top climate experts also believe the heat wave is caused at least partly by global climate change. Others, however, disagree and say it's still too early to blame the current weather on the planet's changing climate. How hot is it? The first six months of 2006 were the warmest of any year in the United States since record keeping began in 1895, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Climatic Data Center. In Northern California, the weather has been hot enough to drain power supplies, dry up streams and contribute to several deaths. "I think there are very good reasons to believe that the current U.S. heat wave is at least partly caused by global warming," Kevin Trenberth, one of the nation's top global-warming computer modelers, wrote in an e-mail. "What is worrisome," said Claudia Tebaldi, a climate statistician who works at the Boulder research center, "is that climate models all agree on the intensification of heat waves in the future."

09/03/06 - Air Conditioner Carbon Dioxide emissions threaten Kyoto
The units may keep people cool, but they also churn out carbon dioxide which could wreck European attempts to meet emissions targets. Sales of air-conditioning units boomed during the July heatwave that saw many areas of northern Europe enduring record-breaking temperatures. Such units keep people cool, but the carbon dioxide they churn out could wreck attempts to meet Kyoto protocol targets, says a report by the London-based Association for the Conservation of Energy (ACE). The UK government is hoping that energy-efficient housing will cut the country's CO2 emissions in 2020 by 5.5 million tonnes. The scheme is one of the central planks in the country's strategy for meeting Kyoto protocol targets, and is particularly important because residential energy use has been growing at 1 per cent a year - about three times the rate of the commercial sector. But the ACE report, released this week, predicts that by 2020 emissions of CO2 from domestic air conditioners could hit 4.9 million tonnes per year.

09/02/06 - Re-inventing nature for cheaper solar power
“A leaf is an amazingly cheap and efficient solar cell,” says Dr Deanna D’Alessandro, a postdoctoral researcher in the Molecular Electronics Group at the University of Sydney. “The best leaves can harvest 30 to 40 percent of the light falling on them. The best solar cells we can build are between 15 and 20 percent efficient, and expensive to make.” Bacteria and green plants use photosynthesis to convert light energy into usable chemical energy. Wheel-shaped arrays of molecules called porphyrins collect light and transfer it to the hub where chemical reactions use the light energy to convert carbon dioxide into energy-rich sugar and oxygen. “This process, which occurs in about 40 trillionths of a second is fundamental to photosynthesis and is at the base of the food chain for almost all life on Earth,” says Deanna. “Since they are so efficient at storing energy, we think they could also be used as batteries - replacing the metal-based batteries that our high technology devices depend on today,” Deanna says. “Our preliminary results are very promising. We are still in the early stages of building practical solar energy devices using our molecules,” said Deanna. “The challenge is immense, but is crucial to providing alternative energy solutions for Australia and the world.” Now they’ve made the molecules, the team along with their Japanese collaborators at Osaka University are working to combine them in the equivalent of a plant cell. Then, over the next five years they will attempt to scale up the technology to commercial scale solar panels.

09/02/06 - Five Megawatt Turbine Installed Offshore
For the first time, an REpower type 5M wind turbine has been set up on the open sea. In the Scottish North Sea, in the Moray Firth, the first of a total of two turbines for the "Beatrice" demonstrator wind farm has just been set up on a lattice-like jacket structure, piled to the seabed at a depth of 44 meters. Never before have wind turbines been set up in water this deep, according to the company. Furthermore, it is currently the biggest turbine offshore with a nameplate capacity of 5 megawatts (MW). Prior to the installation, a floating crane barge carried the turbine with more than 900 tons on its hooks, 25 kilometers on the open sea from the port of Nigg. It is there that the two 5M wind turbines are shortly to be linked to the grid connection of the "Beatrice Alpha" oil rig and then commissioned. The successful offshore installation is the current high point of REpower's development, which began several years ago. On the basis of favorable conditions for wind power use at sea - wide space, high wind speeds and less turbulence than on land - REpower had commenced the development of a very powerful 5 megawatt turbine. The 5M prototype has been running since the end of 2004 in Brunsbuettel/Schleswig-Holstein.

09/02/06 - Xcel reveals renewable energy plans for Colorado
Xcel Energy is ramping up its green power. On Thursday, Colorado's biggest utility announced new projects aimed at bolstering its renewable energy portfolio. Those include two wind farms near Peetz, each producing 200 megawatts of electricity. FPL Energy will build one called Peetz Table, while Invenergy will build the other one, called Logan Wind Energy. Xcel previously had announced two other wind farms: the 75-megawatt Lamar Twin Butte, an expansion to the existing Colorado Green Farm in Lamar, and the 300-megawatt Green Light Energy near Grover in Weld County. Those four projects would add 775 megawatts of wind energy before the end of 2007. Xcel currently has 282 megawatts of wind power in its system.

09/02/06 - X-Racers - NASCAR in the Sky
Taking rocket science and engineering to the next level, X Prize founder Peter Diamandis and race car capitalist Granger Whitelaw announced the formation of the Rocket Racing League Monday during a news conference. Rocket-powered planes called X-Racers, designed especially for the RRL, will cause spectators to gaze skyward as contestants pilot their craft at speeds in excess of 250 miles per hour. In short, Diamandis is driven by desire to make space travel seem exciting again. NASA is not delivering that at present. As in NASCAR, the rocket planes would have a staggered start and then race around a sky-track. After six years of planning and organization, the league is finally ready for the first competition at its headquarters in Las Cruces, N.M. Tim Gormley, the RRL's COO says "The nice thing about rocket planes is you're not blowing up engines and going through tires". The estimated annual cost to maintaining and fueling a rocket plane is $500,000 - a paltry sum compared with the $12 million or so that a Nascar team can spend annually on a car. The RLL will begin official competition in 2007 and looks to offer prize purses in the neighborhood of $2 million.

09/02/06 - Garbage cans spying on your purchasing habits
"Garbage cans all over England are under surveillance tonight. And not by sleepy, fallible humans. This article in Live Science claims that at least 500,000 'wheelie bins' are now using RFID technology." Though that doesn't sound very dire, the article points out the ease with which your consumer spending habits could be tracked. "Although this is frankly a story that is difficult to take seriously, please note the following. You should remember that many of the articles you buy (and sooner or later throw away) are now also equipped with passive RFID tags that detail the item's brand name and product name. If it's possible to scan the tag on the trash can with an ID, it's possible to use similar equipment to quickly scan your can to uncover your purchasing habits."

09/02/06 - Plan gains to publicly identify accused without being charged
In Ohio, you can now become a registered sex-offender without even being accused of any crime. Bonus: *Anyone* can initiate the process. But at least the children are safe. - An Ohio legislative panel yesterday rubber-stamped an unprecedented process that would allow sex offenders to be publicly identified and tracked even if they've never been charged with a crime. The concept was offered by Roman Catholic bishops as an alternative to opening a one-time window for the filing of civil lawsuits alleging child sexual abuse that occurred as long as 35 years ago. A recently enacted law allows county prosecutors, the state attorney general, or, as a last resort, alleged victims to ask judges to civilly declare someone to be a sex offender even when there has been no criminal verdict or successful lawsuit. The person's name, address, and photograph would be placed on a new Internet database and the person would be subjected to the same registration and community notification requirements and restrictions on where he could live. A civilly declared offender, however, could petition the court to have the person's name removed from the new list after six years if there have been no new problems and the judge believes the person is unlikely to abuse again.

09/01/06 - Think Small on Dams
DAMS working in tune with nature can bring great benefits to a society, while those that work against it have a devastating impact. Environment journalist and author Fred Pearce said the irrigation system in the Aral Sea in central Asia was a prime example of the latter, with the region completely dried out by overuse. "They have changed the climate of central Asia by doing it, as well as impoverishing themselves and causing huge problems," Pearce said. "Every dam has a plus side and a downside," he said. "In principle, small dams may well be better than big dams but sometimes they can flood more land for the same gain. It is very local, so there areno hard and fast rules." Pearce, author of When the Rivers Run Dry: What Happens When Our Water Runs Out?", will speak on the effects of climate change and expanding populations and threats to world rivers at the International River Symposium in Brisbane on Monday. He argues it is time to turn from the obsession with supplying more water, to reducing demand, being clever about water use and recycling. Pearce said the green revolution succeeded in breeding highly productive crops to feed a growing world, but they used a lot more water. "We have doubled our food production, but we have tripled our use of water," he said. "And the number one reason why the rivers are running dry is because of our huge demands on water for irrigating crops." He said the next stage would be a blue revolution, the breeding of crops such as rice and wheat that used less water and farmers replacing highly inefficient flood irrigation with drip irrigation, which he said reduced water use by 80 to 90 per cent.

09/01/06 - China Leapfrogs in Solar
An article in The Christian Science Monitor touts the benefits of solar for nomadic peoples whose lifestyle has been dramatically altered for the better thanks to government-subsidized photovoltaic units that can sit atop a yurt and power a small heater, radio, TV and a few lightbulbs. The panels -- which are manufactured by Shell subsidiaries -- are underwritten in part by the Chinese and Dutch governments, leaving the cost to the consumer at approximately 1/10 of a year's income for the average rural nomad. Among the users, there's no doubt that the price is worth paying. One woman interviewed in the article explains that the panel has increased her access to knowledge, helped her children pursue their studies, and protected her animals from predators (thus saving her money): "Before we had a TV, it would take months for us to find out about news. These are big changes."[...]She favors dramas and news programs in Uighur and her native Kazakh language, but after TV opened new worlds, she switched her children from the local Kazakh school to that of the Han Chinese. Her children will be educated in the language of China's ethnic majority. "From TV I learned [Mandarin] Chinese is very important to the future, to getting jobs," says Sitkan, her voice becoming insistent. "I hope they go to college. I don't want them to be nomads; it's too hard."

09/01/06 - How the World was coerced into Oil Addiction
(My late friend Howard Bond used to talk about this and said if not for the pressure of the oil companies we'd have subways, monorails and streetcars that save billions in fuel costs but the oil companies wanted everyone to drive their own vehicles and use their products. - JWD) Cleveland's electric street car system met an untimely demise in the 1950's.(http://www.kqed.org/programs/tv/program-landing.jsp?progID=12000) During the middle of the show they were interviewing Edwin Black, an investigative journalist. He apparently has a new book coming out on September 15, 2006 that details how among many other things, the bus manufacturers systematically got many small to mid-size cities (like Cleveland) to give up their rail system and replace them with busses. According to the book's website the bus example I just sited is just one of many political travesties of the past. Internal Combustion: How Corporations and Governments Addicted the World to Oil and Derailed the Alternatives. I did a little more digging and found the following: Official Website: Internal Combustion Book - Trailer (just like the movies): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G9scQ6078TU - ISBN: 0312359071 / Hardcover, 432 pages / Publisher: St. Martin's Press - "Conventional wisdom says that Americans addicted themselves to oil and that the free market gives people the energy sources and technologies they most desire. Edwin Black proves that the truth is uglier. Based on prodigious research deep into the historical record, Black demonstrates that power-hungry despots, avaricious monopolists, and bottom-line obsessed corporate oligarchs have long done their best to control where we get our energy and how we use it. To better understand how we got where we are today and how we can make better energy choices in the future, read this page-turner."

09/01/06 - Wayback Machine safe, Sherman & Mr. Peabody breathe sigh of relief
"Healthcare Advocates and the Internet Archive have finally resolved their differences, reaching an undisclosed out-of-court settlement. The suit stemmed from HA's anger over the Wayback Machine showing pages archived from their site even after they added a robots.txt file to their webserver. While the settlement is good for the Internet Archive, it's also disappointing because it would have tested HA's claims in court. As the article notes, you can't really un-ring the bell of publishing something online, which is exactly what HA wanted to do. Obeying robots.txt files is voluntary, after all, and if the company didn't want the information online, they shouldn't have put it there in the first place."

09/01/06 - Zapper Can Remove Parasites and More!
(Lots of circuits to build or buy these on the web, do a search. - JWD) On a regular basis, newspaper headlines include the findings of major medical studies where yet another parasitic virus has been found to cause yet another disease. What is interesting about these findings is that Dr. Hulda Clark was making these same connections in the 1950's. What many researches have discovered, and by very different paths, is that weak electric current eliminates viruses and other parasitic organisms. Once these parasites are eliminated, the body's healing power can be fully unleashed restoring vibrant health within an amazingly short period of time. Parasites cannot defend their positive polarity (shortage of electrons) against the introduction of simple direct current and they die very quickly. Negative ions will repel parasites whether electric current, magnets, or orgone generates the ions. Parasites not only die when subjected to electricity, but also disintegrate and are easily assimilated as harmless nutrients or eliminated. If most diseases are caused by bacteria, fungi, viruses, worms, yeast, etc., yet these same parasitic infestations can be destroyed by weak electric current, then why is so much effort and money spent to control these organisms with drugs, radiation and surgery ... all of which, can cause dangerous side-effects?

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

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

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