Thursday, May 22, 2008

Avalanche Effect Demonstrated In Solar Cells

Posted by kdawson on Tuesday May 27, @12:35AM
from the when-the-rain-washes-you-clean-you'll-know dept.
esocid writes "Researchers at TU Delft (Netherlands) and the FOM (Foundation for Fundamental Research on Matter) have found irrefutable proof that the so-called avalanche effect by electrons occurs in specific semiconducting crystals of nanometer dimensions. This physical effect could pave the way for cheap, high-output solar cells. Solar cells currently have relatively low output, typically 15%, and high manufacturing costs. One possible improvement could derive from a new type of solar cell made of semiconducting nanocrystals and could theoretically lead to a maximum output of 44%, with the added benefit of reducing manufacturing costs. In conventional solar cells, one photon can release precisely one electron. However, in some semiconducting nanocrystals, one photon can release two or three electrons, hence the term 'avalanche effect.' This effect was first measured by researchers at the Los Alamos National Laboratories in 2004, and since then the scientific world had raised doubts about the value of these measurements. This current research does in fact demonstrate that the avalanche effect can occur."

Honda unveils 2 new hybrids for 2009

You've probably been wondering, just as I have: when are we going to see Honda's name attached to some green vehicle news? After all, they were the first company to bring a mass-produced hybrid to the US -- remember that goofy little 2-seater that got 70mpg called the Insight? That was an idea ahead of its time.

Well, after a few quiet years in the alternative fuel vehicles race, Honda announced that it will introduce two new hybrids in 2009 -- one based on the designs of the FCX Clarity hatchback concept and the other on the new, very sporty-looking CR-Z.

The new hybrids will feature Honda's updated "Integrated Motor Assist" system, both lighter and cheaper than it's predecessor. No details have been leaked about what kind of fuel economy these new rides will get, but we've got to assume it won't be as good as the retired Insight's 70mpg. Still, I'm sure it'll be competitive, probably in the mid to upper 40s.

The FCX and CR-Z hybrids will be assembled in Japan, at the same factory as the Civic hybrid, which increases the car's carbon footprint by the time it hits the dealership -- kind of a bummer. According to CEO Takeo Fukui, Honda expects to turn out 250,000 hybrids in 2009, bumping their production up to 500,000 in the next few years.

Queen Elizabeth buys world's largest wind turbine

Not to be outdone by flashy oil billionaires like T. Boone Pickens, Queen Elizabeth's estate announced that it will soon hold a world record of its own when it comes to wind turbines. Instead of going for the world record with a massive wind farm project, the Queen decided to go for the gusto with the world's biggest wind turbine -- a move that her estate says won't harm the already strained supply of turbine equipment.

US-based Cilpper Windpower won the contract to build the hulking turbine, the power from which will go to the national power grid. The Crown Estate is eyeing locations in north-east England for the project, which should be operational by 2010. The gigantic windmill will generate 7.5MW -- most turbines generate around 2MW. With a turbine this size, I've got to assume that it's going to be built offshore. Otherwise, it would make an awesome tourist trap.

US Data Centers Wary of Sharing Energy Data With Feds

Posted by timothy on Thursday May 22, @09:50AM
from the wouldn't-you-be dept.
1sockchuck writes "The EPA has been seeking at least 100 data center operators willing to share data about their energy usage to help the government develop an Energy Star program for data centers. Thus far, only 54 data centers have signed up, which suggests that few data center operators are eager to tell the government exactly how much energy they are using. The EPA issued a report to Congress last year on data center power usage, and is already developing an Energy Star program to rate servers. Can a program designed to rank the energy efficiency of appliances and computer monitors be a useful tool in addressing the enormous energy consumption of data centers?"

Get the Family Dog Cloned

Click here to find out more!
Posted by samzenpus on Thursday May 22, @07:55AM
from the love-them-twice-today dept.
Anonymous writes "Some of you may have seen the 6th day, the movie with Arnold Schwarzenegger a few years back. If you recall there was a 're-pet' cloning service to get your dog back if you ever lost them. Enter 'Best Friends Again': 'A US biotech company on Wednesday announced it will auction off the right for five dog owners to have their furry best friend cloned, with bidding starting at 100,000 dollars. "BioArts International ... will sell five dog cloning service slots to the general public via a worldwide online auction," the California-based biotech start-up said in a statement.'"

Regenerative Activity In The Peripheral Nervous System Could Mean Regeneration For The Central Nervous System

ScienceDaily (May 22, 2008) — Researchers at the Peninsula Medical School in the South West of England, University College London, the San Raffaele Scientific Institute in Milan and Cancer Research UK, have for the first time identified a protein that is key to the regeneration of damage in the peripheral nervous system and which could with further research lead to understanding diseases of our peripheral nervous systems and provide clues to methods of repairing damage in the central nervous system, according to a paper recently published in the Journal of Cell Biology.

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Plant Flavonoid In Celery And Green Peppers Found To Reduce Inflammatory Response In The Brain

ScienceDaily (May 22, 2008) — Researchers at the University of Illinois report that a plant compound found in abundance in celery and green peppers can disrupt a key component of the inflammatory response in the brain. The findings have implications for research on aging and diseases such as Alzheimer's and multiple sclerosis.

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Pulsejet-powered bicycle, for those leisurely commutes

There's just something about people strapping jet engines to things they have no business being strapped to that brings a twinkle to our eyes, and Robert Maddox's pulsejet-powered bicycle is no exception. Maddox actually sells pulsejets on eBay ranging from fourteen to over a thousand pounds of thrust, and the fifty-pounder in this video is capable of moving his bicycle at a whopping 75MPH. Sure, it's loud, but at least it's more practical than that jet-powered Port-a-Potty. Video after the break.

[Via AutoBlogGreen]

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Port-O-Jet, the toilet-racer


We're not exactly sure what kind of drag races you'd want to get this thing into, but if you're the Al Bundy type, why not go on the go? Strapped to a 750-pound Boeing jet engine, no less. So if you're a wrench-monkey with ten grand to spare, you too can ride into the sunset (at 46mph) on your very own jet-powered port-a-potty.

[Via TRFJ]

New Urinal-Based Video Game Makes a Splash

Posted by ScuttleMonkey on Wednesday May 21, @12:23PM
from the hope-you-don't-have-a-shy-bladder dept.
Those who enjoy drinking beer, playing video games, and (oddly enough) peeing in urinals may be able to reach true nirvana after all. "Place to Pee" is a new video game that relies on a player's ability to hit sensors in a urinal to control game play. While this may seem extremely male-centric, don't worry, ladies, the game designers have thought of you too, and have designed a specialized paper cone for participation. Man, it's a bad day to be a janitor.

RNA Toxicity Contributes To Neurodegenerative Disease, Scientists Say

ScienceDaily (May 21, 2008) — Expanding on prior research performed at the University of Pennsylvania, Penn biologists have determined that faulty RNA, the blueprint that creates mutated, toxic proteins, contributes to a family of neurodegenerative disorders in humans.

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FakeTV emulates human watching the tube, supposedly discourages thieves

What else can we say? The concept here is pure genius, and it totally makes those pricey security systems seem way pointless (okay, slightly less critical). The FakeTV is a strobe that sets up in an occupied room at night and flashes up beams of light. From the inside, we can imagine it looks fairly curious, but from the outside, it gives prospective burglars the idea that someone is actually awake and watching a television program. It promises to produce the effects of "scene changes, fades, swells, flicks, on-screen motion and color changes," just like they were generated by a bona fide set. We can't speak for how well (or not) this thing actually works, but at just $49, we'd say it's a solid buy if you're the paranoid type.

[Via BoingBoing]

New boiler supplements your home's energy

Admittedly, it's the wrong season to be talking about boilers, but innovation waits for on one. Next time you're in the market for a new home heating system, you might want to check into boiler that produces enough energy to cover 80% of your home's power needs. The technology is called mCHP (micro Combined Heat and Power), and it heats your home and water like a conventional boiler, only it recaptures lost energy like a hybrid car.

Just like with any other power generating household device, excess electricity can be sold back to the grid to help the boiler pay for itself -- which should take no more than 5 years (depending on much you run your heater). Apparently, a company called Climate Energy has been selling boiler/generators since 2007. In the EU and Japan, mCHP boilers have a little more history. Where I live, it's a little too hot to think about running a boiler for more than 3 months out of the year, so my question is: can't we do the same thing with air conditioners?

Using the carrot, not the stick, to influence environmental change

What is a carrotmob? It's actually pretty simple: It's a group of people that believe in harnessing the power of consumerism and using it to make positive environmental change.

Take the above video. A group member visited more 23 liquor stores in a California neighborhood for the purpose of making one of the stores more energy efficient. The agreement? Carrotmob provides the consumers - hundreds of them in only a few hours - and the store owner agrees to put a certain percentage of that day's profit toward making the store eco-friendly.

via [GOOD Magazine]
And the crazy part? It actually worked. One convenience/liquor store agreed to donate 22 percent of a day's earnings toward a new, energy-efficient lighting system. And people actually showed up. Hundreds of them!

This grassroots plan helped the store raise over $9,000 in a matter of hours, and they "harnessed the buying power of the casual consumer" in order to improve the environment while also helping out a local business.

Basically, it's win-win-win. (Oh - and even better: the participants weren't just buying all that food for themselves. In the end, 366 pounds of food were donated to the San Francisco Food Bank!) So, tack another 'win' onto the aforementioned equation.

IT Workers Are Getting Fatter

Click here to find out more!Posted by kdawson on Tuesday May 20, @10:42PM
from the wide-boys dept.
buzzardsbay writes "While technologies such as virtualization, multi-threading, and blade servers have made the data center leaner, those who work there are getting... well... not leaner. According to a new study by, 34 percent of IT workers say they have gained more than ten pounds in their current jobs. And 16 percent say they've gained at least twice that. The culprits seem to be the stressful-yet-sedentary nature of tech work coupled with our famously poor eating habits. According to the survey, some 41 percent of IT workers eat out for lunch twice or more per week, making portion and calorie control difficult. Eleven percent buy their lunch out of a vending machine at least once a week."

Video: Nanosoccer... Oh. My. God.

Sometimes human awe and incredulity can only be invoked with the help of moving images. A truism related to overzealous police and nanobots alike. We've heard about the RoboCup nanosoccer exhibit since it was first on show back in 2007. However, it took this video of a microbot pushing a football on a field smaller than a grain of rice to full ratchet our jaws to the floor. See what we mean after the break.

[via Medgadget]

Hubble Survey Finds Half of the Missing Matter

Posted by kdawson on Tuesday May 20, @05:34PM
from the hiding-in-plain-sight dept.
esocid sends along the news that scientists believe they have found about half the missing matter in the universe. The matter we can see is only about 1/8 of the total baryonic matter believed to exist (and only 1/200 the mass-energy of the visible universe). This missing matter is not to be confused with "dark matter," which is thought to be non-baryonic. The missing stuff has been found in the intergalactic medium that extends essentially throughout all of space, from just outside our galaxy to the most distant regions of space. "'We think we are seeing the strands of a web-like structure that forms the backbone of the universe,' Mike Shull of the University of Colorado explained. 'What we are confirming in detail is that intergalactic space, which intuitively might seem to be empty, is in fact the reservoir for most of the normal, baryonic matter in the universe.'"

Carbon nanotubes causing asbestos-like effects in lab mice

The scientific and engineering possibilities of carbon nanotubes are hard to overestimate, but a study out of the UK might put a damper on the small-scale party for a while: mice injected with certain lengths of nanotubes developed lung problems similar to those caused by asbestos. Apparently the long, straight shape of the nanotubes causes problems for the lining of the lungs designed to deal with particulate matter, which can cause scarring, inflammation, and "probably cancer in the long term." That's a big "probably," however -- researchers say they're a long way from actually proving the link between long nanotubes and cancer, but no one's denying that it's troublesome, including the Nanotechnology Industries Association, which told the BBC that "there could be reason for concern... but it needs to be validated." It also seems like the focus is on handling the tech correctly, which is promising -- we'll keep an eye on how this plays out.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Google Health Opens To the Public

Posted by kdawson on Tuesday May 20, @03:11PM
from the take-two-aspirin-and-don't-call-me-ever dept.
Several readers noted that the limited pilot test of Google Health has ended, and Google is now offering the service to the public at large. Google Health allows patients to enter health information, such as conditions and prescriptions, find related medical information, and share information with their health care providers (at the patient's request). Information may be entered manually or imported from partnered health care providers. The service is offered free of charge, and Google won't be including advertising. The WSJ and the NYTimes provide details about Google's numerous health partners.

World wide gas prices

This came courtesy of the MentalFloss Blog:

When I started driving, gas was less than a dollar. If you keep track of these kind of things, you may have noticed it’s a little bit higher than that now. But should we be complaining? Check out the highest gas prices across the globe courtesy of CNN Money and Air-Inc.

10 Most Expensive Places to Buy Gas

1. Eritrea $9.58
2. Norway $8.73
3. United Kingdom $8.38
4. Netherlands $8.37
5. Monaco $8.31
6. Iceland $8.28
7. Belgium $8.22
8. France $8.07
9. Germany $7.86
10. Portugal $7.84

And the U.S.??
108. United States $3.45

You see how little we have to really complain about?

Darren Etheredge

IT Service Desk TSSpec


(703) 503-1600

"Making IT Happen"

Wireless Wii nunchuk adapter frees you from cabled bondage

The Wii Wireless Adapter for Wii Nunchuk controller, as it's so eloquently called, connects to your current nunchuk, untethering you from that not-always-necessary Wii Remote (or simply preventing the cable waggle). It's powered by two AA batteries and is available from Brando for $20. It's not the first wireless nunchuk we've seen, but from the looks of this one, it could help direct your finger to that hard-to-find Z button.

New Mid-infrared Lasers Show Doubled Efficiency

ScienceDaily (May 20, 2008) — Researchers at the Center for Quantum Devices at the McCormick School of Engineering at Northwestern University have recently doubled the efficiency of infrared lasers under the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s Efficient Mid-wave Infrared Lasers (EMIL) program.

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How Small Molecule Can Take Apart Alzheimer's Disease Protein Fibers

ScienceDaily (May 20, 2008) — Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine have shown, in unprecedented detail, how a small molecule is able to selectively take apart abnormally folded protein fibers connected to Alzheimer's disease and prion diseases. The findings appear online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Finding a way to dismantle misfolded proteins has implications for new treatments for a host of neurodegenerative diseases.

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NBC admits "inadvertent" broadcast flag use, still doesn't explain why it actually worked

Just an update on the broadcast flag controversy: NBC has copped to an "inadvertent mistake" in flagging the broadcast of American Gladiators as content prohibited from recording, while Microsoft stated it is only following the FCC's rules, and "fully adheres to flags used by broadcasters". This conveniently ignores the fact that there is no legal requirement for Windows Vista Media Center to recognize the broadcast flag and disable recording, but it does. Errant metadeta can and does happen, but for such a "feature" to be buried within one's software unknowingly is troubling. Expect to hear more from the EFF and others questioning why Media Center unnecessarily turns parts of itself off at a broadcaster's command, and rightly so. What's most disturbing, and likely to go sadly without protest is that someone out there is actually watching, and trying to record for later, American Gladiators. The more you know indeed.

[Via Techdirt]

Wired gets eco-contrarian

There's an excellent piece in Wired this week which takes some of the received truths around saving the planet and turns them on their head. To give you an idea, the story says if we really want to do some good, we should chop down old-growth forests, embrace nuclear power, forget about eating organic, and forgo hybrids in favour of used compacts car which have already paid off their carbon debt.

Interesting reading, and not surprisingly the article has already stirred a little controversy in the green-osphere, in part because it focuses mainly on the threat posed by greenhouse gases and climate change, and doesn't take an entirely holistic view on the meta-crisis that's threatening us. To their credit, Wired has already posted a counterpoint which raises that very issue.

Whether you agree, disagree, or both, the points made in the story - and by those who looking to debate them - are well worth reading, and offer insight into the immense complexity of environmental issues.

Related Link
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Tiger brought back from extinction? Jurassic Park now possible in real life? OMG!

It turns out that Jurassic Park is far more than an awesome movie that scared the pants of me as a teenager -- it is, in fact, a vision of the future.

Remember how scientists in the movie pulled dino DNA from the butt of a fossilized mosquito, thus making it totally plausible for man-eating monsters to terrorize Laura Derm, Jeff Goldblum and that other guy? Real-life scientists have now done more or less the same thing, having "resurrected" a gene from the extinct Tasmanian tiger by implanting it in a mouse.

Not that you can expect to see Tasmanian tigers roaming the Australian plains anytime soon, but this is the first step in bringing back animals that no longer exist though cloning. The fact that researchers were able to take tissue specimens from tigers' bodies preserved in alcohol, and successfully introduce the genes they extracted into the body of a living creature is a huge step forward.

OK, yeah, yadda yadda -- but when will you get to ride a dinosaur to work like Fred Flintstone? Unfortunately, the answer is probably never -- but your kids might. Pressed on this question, one researcher told reporters: "Maybe one day this might be possible but it won't happen in my lifetime. It might happen in my children's lifetime, but there's so many steps we need to achieve before you could actually make this work."

Time to start exercising and eating right if I'm going to live long enough to see this happen. Only after witnessing a T-Rex face to face will I be able to truly die happy.

Sitting Position Can Influence Risk Of Whiplash

ScienceDaily (May 20, 2008) — Women run a three times greater risk than men of incurring a debilitating injury in a rear-end collision. This is partly due to differences between the sexes regarding sitting position. This has been shown by Bertil Jonsson at UmeĆ„ University in Sweden.

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Spin Control: New Technique Sorts Nanotubes By Length

ScienceDaily (May 20, 2008) — Researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have reported a new technique to sort batches of carbon nanotubes by length using high-speed centrifuges. Many potential applications for carbon nanotubes depend on the lengths of these microscopic cylinders, and one of the most important features of the new technique, say the scientists, is that it should be easily scalable to produce industrial quantities of high-quality nanotubes.

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Bypass Not To Blame For Heart Patients' Mental Decline, Study Suggests

ScienceDaily (May 20, 2008) — Heart patients often experience lasting problems with memory, language, and other cognitive skills after bypass surgery. However, these problems aren't caused by the surgery itself or the pump used to replace heart function during surgery, a new study by Johns Hopkins researchers suggests. The findings may lead to better approaches to prevent cognitive decline regardless of which treatment heart disease patients receive.

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ET Will Phone Home Using Neutrinos, Not Photons

Posted by timothy on Tuesday May 20, @08:49AM
from the speak-and-spell-is-cross-particle-compatible dept.
KentuckyFC writes "Neutrinos are better than photons for communicating across the galaxy. That's the conclusion of a group of US astronomers who say that the galaxy is filled with photons that make communications channels noisy whereas neutrino comms would be relatively noise free. Photons are also easily scattered and the centre of the galaxy blocks them entirely. That means any civilisation advanced enough to have started to colonise the galaxy would have to rely on neutrino communications. And the astronomers reckon that the next generation of neutrino detectors should be sensitive enough to pick up ET's chatter."

Invasion of the crazy ants

There's a new invasive species on the march in the southern US. Invading hordes of "crazy ants" are spreading like wildfire through Houston and the outlying counties.

They swarm your house, bite you, harm local species and -- get this -- they destroy electronic equipment. How's that for the wrath of nature? No kidding. These tiny ants are somehow attracted to electric equipment and have been found responsible for fouling up fire alarms, sewage pumps, etc.

Like fire ants, experts think the tiny flea-sized ants were introduced by a cargo vessel and now the insects are flourishing in an environment with few natural predators. They were dubbed "crazy ants" for the way the seem to scamper around erratically, instead of walking single-file like most 'sane' ants.

Aside from cropping up by the thousands in homes and businesses this spring, the plague of tiny insects have been found swarming on Houston's airports and even the NASA Space Center -- although no major electrical problems have been reported yet. It's not quite as earth strikes back as the sinkhole incident, but some experts believe that the electricity-loving ants could soon be short-circuiting electrical gadgets across a large portion of the US. Ha!
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Roku reveals first Netflix set-top-box, reviews flow in

Well, would you look at that? After a mildly uncomfortable wait, the very first Netflix set-top-box has landed (the Xbox 360 with plug-ins notwithstanding). Thanks to Roku, users can finally tap into (a portion of) the Netflix library without having to wait for physical discs to arrive -- and for just $99.99, no less (though unlimited access to online films still requires an $8.95 or higher monthly fee for the traditional service). Better still, the HDD-less Netflix Player can even utilize a wireless signal to pull in streams, though your miles may vary on actual performance. As for ports, you'll find HDMI, component, composite, Ethernet, S-Video and a Toslink optical audio jack. Initial reports are looking pretty positive from here (save for the glaring lack of HD support), but feel free to dig into the reviews below to get a better feel of what this box really has to offer.

New Malware Report Hits Vista's Security Image

Posted by kdawson on Tuesday May 20, @05:47AM
from the cracks-in-the-armor dept.
An anonymous reader recommends a Computerworld article on a new report from Australian security vendor PC Tools. The company released figures on malware detection by its ThreatFire product, and in its user base 27% of Vista machines were compromised by at least one instance of malware. From the article: "In total, Vista suffered 121,380 instances of malware from its 190,000 user base, a rate of malware detection per system [that] is proportionally lower than that of XP, which saw 1,319,144 malware infections from a user base of 1,297,828 machines, but it indicates a problem that is worse than Microsoft has been admitting to." Microsoft hasn't responded yet to this report.

Improved Ion Mobility Is Key To New Hydrogen Storage Compound

ScienceDaily (May 20, 2008) — A materials scientist at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has deciphered the structure of a new class of materials that can store relatively large quantities of hydrogen within its crystal structure for later release. The new analysis may point to a practical hydrogen storage material for automobile fuel cells and similar applications.

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Monday, May 19, 2008

The Prince is right: Prince Charles begins countdown to catastrophe

While Madonna and Justin Timberlake reckon we've only got 4 minutes to save the world, Prince Charles is a little more comforting, postulating a leisurely year and a half before things start to fly apart irretrievably.

In a recent interview, the man who may one day be the greenest King of England ever noted that an area of forest equivalent to England, Wales, and Scotland is hacked down each year, with potentially dire climactic consequences. The Prince noted that trees are the "air-conditioner for the planet", and called for a $30 billion dollar cash infusion of cash to help preserve them.

The Prince's environmental musing don't have quite the influence they would have back in the day when disagreeing with the next King-Emperor could put a couple of English gunboats in your harbour, but his name still opens a few doors. He's already spoken to the leaders of Russia and France, as well as with several large corporations about organizing a partnership of businesses, governments and consumers that would pay countries not to chop down their forests.

Will the deep-pocketed players come to the table before it's too late? It's hard to say, but you've got to admire the Prince for being out there fighting the good fight when he could be retired to an estate in Scotland.

Bush acknowledges peak oil, sort of

At a summit yesterday, President Bush told Middle East leaders that they need to get ready to diversify, because the oil days are coming to an end. Although he was referring more to the mass movement to find alternative fuel vehicles, and the movement's economic impacts of that on oil-rich nations, he seemed to be hinting around at the concept that oil is a finite resource. Whoa, that might be as close as he ever comes to saying the magic words: peak oil.

The warning to Mid East leaders might have been simple rhetoric, since they obviously already knew that the world would not be dominated by gas-guzzling SUVs forever. But, what's interesting about Bush's remarks is that he actually seems to expects some major changes to occur. Whatever administration takes over after this one, its environmental agenda will almost certainly be far more aggressive. With biofuel production growing by leaps and bounds, and a wave of electric cars in 2010, is it possible that we'll see dramatic changes in US oil consumption over the next 5 years?
Related Link

Steve Ballmer dodges eggs at Hungarian University

We've already seen how quick on his feet Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer can be, and it looks like the big man finally had to put those fleet-footed skills to good use, as he was recently forced to duck for cover under a barrage of (three) eggs during a speech he was giving at a Hungarian University. Apparently, the disgruntled egg-tosser was angry with Ballmer for "stealing billions in Hungarian taxpayer money," which he demanded that Ballmer give back "right now." Head on past the break for a video of the thoroughly awkward encounter.

Room Temperature Semiconductor of T-Rays

Posted by CmdrTaco on Monday May 19, @11:30AM
from the but-what-does-it-mean-man dept.
Fallen Andy noted a Physorg story that says "Engineers and applied physicists from Harvard University have demonstrated the first room-temperature electrically-pumped semiconductor source of coherent Terahertz (THz) radiation, also known as T-rays. The breakthrough in laser technology, based upon commercially available nanotechnology, has the potential to become a standard Terahertz source to support applications ranging from security screening to chemical sensing." What did you do at the office today honey? Oh, I just demonstrated the first room-temperature electrically-pumped semiconductor source of coherent Terahertz radiation. How was your day dear?

An Ancient Protein Balances Gene Activity And Silences Foreign DNA In Bacteria

ScienceDaily (May 19, 2008) — Compared to humans, bacteria have a much tidier genome. The tiny microorganisms pack their genes closely together, and don't carry around a lot of extraneous DNA, so-called junk DNA that fills in the gaps between genes. Some 90 percent of the complete genome sequence of the bacteria E. coli contains sequences of DNA that code for protein, while 90 percent of the human genome is non--coding junk DNA.

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Bacteria-resistant Films Created: Microbe Adhesion Depends On Surface Stiffness

ScienceDaily (May 19, 2008) — Having found that whether bacteria stick to surfaces depends partly on how stiff those surfaces are, MIT engineers have created ultrathin films made of polymers that could be applied to medical devices and other surfaces to control microbe accumulation.

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Bone Drug Could Help Prevent The Spread Of Breast Cancer

ScienceDaily (May 19, 2008) — Maintaining bone density could be a key to decreasing the spread of cancer in women with locally advanced breast cancer, according to research at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

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Report: Warming not causing increase in Atlantic hurricanes

You may be able to get insurance on the beach house again. A new study says that global warming is not causing Atlantic hurricanes to occur with greater frequency.

The research from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration scientist Tom Knutson, uses new computer models to predict that no only will the number of hurricanes not increase, but they may actual decrease in number by the end of the century.

However, before you go and recycle the emergency kit, the model also suggests that while there may be fewer hurricanes, the ones we get will be wetter and more powerful.

The topic of hurricanes and global warming has been a controversial one since Katrina devastated New Orleans in 2005, with experts differing on how the latter might be affected by the former. This particular study is significant because it comes from Knutson, who has often spoken out about the dangers of climate change, and even criticized the Bush administration publicly for suppressing information on the subject.

Not surprisingly, some climatologists have already come out against the research, while others say it supports earlier findings, so look for more studies to come.

In any case, there are two things to keep in mind when your Hummer-driving neighbour sees this story on Fox News and chortles "See, global warming is a good thing": a) don't punch him in the face, because that's illegal and, b) hurricanes have never been considered a major risk of climate change; consider drought and disappearing farmland if you want to understand where the real crisis lies.

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The Effects of Censorship — a Tale of Two Websites

Posted by CmdrTaco on Monday May 19, @09:07AM
from the something-to-think-about dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Two message boards devoted to the same topic have each been on-line for roughly eight years. One is censored, and the other is not. The two forums are virtually the only ones devoted to their topic (polygraph testing, a fairly arcane one), so they're in "competition" only with each other. The result? The uncensored forum has more than six times as many posts as the censored one." To be fair, there are a few other differences between the two forums, but the point may still be valid.