Thursday, January 8, 2009

Video Game Systems Use as Much Energy as San Diego

game consolesMaybe you got a new video game system for Christmas or perhaps you already had one. Either way, you need to keep an eye on the power button. Video game systems use as much power annually as the city of San Diego. Yikes! 

As shocking as that is, it's old news here on Green Daily. What we haven't told you, is how to fix the problem at your house. Some tips, from Planet Green:
  • If you don't have a gaming console yet, go for the Nintendo Wii. It uses around 1/10 of the energy as the other guys. 
  • If you have an Xbox 360, you can set it to use a power save mode. 
  • Like many appliances, turn it off when you aren't using it. 
  • If your system can play movies, using it for that purpose probably uses more energy than just using the DVD or Blu-Ray player. 
  • Always recycle used systems properly. They contain toxic chemicals and should definitely not be thrown in the trash.

Avian Flu Becoming More Resistant To Antiviral Drugs

ScienceDaily (Jan. 8, 2009) — A new University of Colorado at Boulder study shows the resistance of the avian flu virus to a major class of antiviral drugs is increasing through positive evolutionary selection, with researchers documenting the trend in more than 30 percent of the samples tested.

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Big Raindrops Favor Tornado Formation, Simulations Suggest

ScienceDaily (Jan. 8, 2009) — One of the largest sources of uncertainty in weather prediction involves how microscale structures influence larger-scale phenomena. For instance, previous studies have demonstrated that the structure, dynamics, and evolution of thunderstorms are very sensitive to cloud microphysical parameters.

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To Climate-change Worries, Add One More: Extended Mercury Threat

ScienceDaily (Jan. 8, 2009) — Mercury pollution has already spurred public health officials to advise eating less fish, but it could become a more pressing concern in a warmer world.

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Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Data Breaches Rose Sharply In 2008

Posted by CmdrTaco on Wednesday January 07, @11:44AM

from the my-password-is-p4ssw0rd dept.
snydeq writes"According to the Identity Theft Resource Center, more than 35 million data records were breached in the U.S. in 2008. Tracking media reports and disclosures companies are required to make by law, the ITRC noted a 47 percent increase in breaches last year at a range of well-known U.S. companies and government entities. The majority of the lost data was neither encrypted nor protected by a password. A third of the breaches occurred at business entities. One in six breaches were attributed to insider theft, a figure that more than doubled between 2007 and 2008, ITRC said."

Playing Tetris Is Good For You

Posted by CmdrTaco on Wednesday January 07, @09:34AM

from the wow-still-causes-cancer dept.
MedicinePuzzle Games (Games)Games
An anonymous reader writes"Some UK researchers found out that playing Tetris is actually good for people with post-traumatic stress disorder, by interfering with memory. I wonder if playing Minesweeper is effective against boss-inflicted stress."

Russia's Mars Mission Raising Concerns

Posted by CmdrTaco on Wednesday January 07, @10:16AM

from the wait-aren't-they-both-red dept.
eldavojohn writes" has a blog on Russia's Phobos-Grunt project designed to explore the planet further. He voices concerns about part of this exploration that is dubbed LIFE (Living Interplanetary Flight Experiment) and backed by The Planetary Society that involves sending several samples of Earth's hardiest microbes to see if they can survive the round trip voyage.'s correspondent Leonard David did some legwork to ensure that The Outer Space Treaty of 1967 was being upheld as it prevents cross-contamination between planets and receives some interesting responses from experts on this mission. The Phobos-Grunt mission will also deploy a Chinese sub-satellite 'Firefly-1,' which will attempt to figure out how water on Mars disappeared. Unfortunately, The United States is not taking part in Phobos-Grunt."

Obama Picks RIAA's Favorite Lawyer For Top DoJ Post

Posted by kdawson on Tuesday January 06, @10:05PM

from the paging-mister-lessig dept.
GovernmentUnited StatesPolitics
The Recording Industry of America's favorite courtroom lawyer, Tom Perrelli, who has sued individual file swappers in multiple federal courts, is President-elect Barack Obama's choice for the third in line at the Justice Department. CNet's Declam McCullagh explores the background of the man who won the RIAA's lucrative business for his DC law firm: "An article on his law firm's Web site says that Perrelli represented SoundExchange before the Copyright Royalty Board — and obtained a 250 percent increase in the royalty rate for music played over the Internet by companies like AOL and Yahoo," not to mention Pandora and Radio Paradise. NewYorkCountryLawyer adds, "Certainly this does not bode well for CowboyNeal's being appointed Copyright Czar."

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Run Your Honda Accord on Trash

If you've watched the end of the original Back to the Future lately and wondered why we haven't developed a garbage-consuming fuel system for our cars yet, then your wait is over. Kinda. Over, a few enterprising young DIYers have created an easy kit and how-to (or instructable) on converting a Honda Accord to run on trash.

Sure it may not be the most practical thing for the tool-impaired, but it's just inspirational to see these guys build this 'gasifier' to run their car much like people did during WWII when fuel was rationed. This guide goes through every step, including the all-important safety precautions, and even provides a video of the finished product to see the car driving down the road, burning trash. You can also check outtheir website for more information on their Gasifier Experimenter's Kit (GEK).

Milky Way Heavier Than Thought, and Spinning Faster

Posted by kdawson on Monday January 05, @09:50PM

from the bulking-up dept.
An anonymous reader writes"The Milky Way is spinning much faster and has 50 per cent more mass than previously believed. This means the Milky Way is equivalent in size to our neighbor Andromeda — instead of being the little sister in the local galaxy group, as had been believed. One implication of this new finding is that we may collide with Andromeda sooner than we had thought, in 2 or 3 billion years instead of 5."

Tooth Regeneration Coming Soon

Posted by kdawson on Monday January 05, @08:12PM

from the no-fairy-tale dept.
Ponca City, We love you writes"For thousands of years, losing teeth has been a routine part of human aging. Now the Washington Post reports that researchers are close to growing important parts of teeth from stem cells, including creating a living root from scratch, perhaps within one year. According to Pamela Robey of the NIH. 'Dentists say, "Give me a root and I can put a crown on it."' In a few years dentists will treat periodontal disease with regeneration by using stem cells to create hard and soft tissue; they will take out a tooth that is about to fall, and reconnect it firmly to the regenerated tissue. Although nobody is predicting when it will be possible to grow teeth on demand, in adults, to replace missing ones, a common guess is five to ten years. Baby and wisdom teeth are sources of stem cells that could be 'banked' for future health needs, says Robey. 'When you think about it, the teeth children put under their pillows may end up being worth much more than the tooth fairy's going rate. Plus, if you still have your wisdom teeth, it's nice to know you're walking around with your own source of stem cells.'"

Adult-onset Diabetes Slows Mental Functioning In Several Ways, With Deficits Appearing Early

ScienceDaily (Jan. 6, 2009) — Adults with diabetes experience a slowdown in several types of mental processing, which appears early in the disease and persists into old age, according to new research. Given the sharp rise in new cases of diabetes, this finding means that more adults may soon be living with mild but lasting deficits in their thought processes.

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How the City Hurts Your Brain

Posted by kdawson on Tuesday January 06, @05:24AM

from the but-not-paris dept.
Hugh Pickens writes"The city has always been an engine of intellectual life and the 'concentration of social interactions' is largely responsible for urban creativity and innovation. But now scientists are finding that being in an urban environment impairs our basic mental processes. After spending a few minutes on a crowded city street, the brain is less able to hold things in memory and suffers from reduced self-control. 'The mind is a limited machine,' says psychologist Marc Berman. 'And we're beginning to understand the different ways that a city can exceed those limitations.' Consider everything your brain has to keep track of as you walk down a busy city street. A city is so overstuffed with stimuli that we need to redirect our attention constantly so that we aren't distracted by irrelevant things. This sort of controlled perception — we are telling the mind what to pay attention to — takes energy and effort. Natural settings don't require the same amount of cognitive effort. A study at the University of Michigan found memory performance and attention spans improved by 20 percent after people spent an hour interacting with nature. 'It's not an accident that Central Park is in the middle of Manhattan,' says Berman. 'They needed to put a park there.'"

A Look Back At Kurzweil's Predictions For 2009

Posted by kdawson on Monday January 05, @11:42PM

from the no-one-expects-the-mule dept.
marciot writes"It's interesting to look back at Ray Kurzweil's predictions for 2009 from a decade ago. He was dead on in predicting the ubiquity of portable computers, wireless, the emergency of digital objects, and the rise of privacy concerns. He was a little optimistic in certain areas, predicting the demise of rotating storage and the ubiquity of digital paper a bit earlier than it appears it will actually happen. On the topic of human-computer speech interfaces, though, he seems to be way off."And of course Kurzweil missed 9/11 and the fallout from that. His predictions might have been nearer the mark absent the war on terror.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Coral Bounces Back in Indonesia, But Stops Growing in Great Barrier Reef

The 2004 tsunami that devestated Indonesia also destroyed the region's coral population. But a study conducted by the Wildlife Conservation Society shows that much of that coral has bounced back.

The news is a relief to scientists who worried that the reefs could take as long as a decade to begin recovery. Local communities had begun transplanting coral to the damaged region, and stopped damaging fishing practices. Scientists say this evidence helps them how to encourage coral growth in the face of global warming. 

That's particularly good news given findings by the Australian Institute of Marine Science. They write in the journal Science that coral growth in the Great Barrier Reef this year has been the slowest in 400 years. Coral serves as habitat and food for thousands of species. The slowdown, they say, will result in a major decline in biodiversity. 

[via BBC]

Beijing Vows to Curb Dirty Vehicles - New Year's Resolutions

Beijing signage with smoggy skylineAfter the embarrassing, globally televised, smog drama that led up to last year's Olympic Games, officials inGrayjing Beijing have been increasingly self-conscious about their metropolis' horrendous traffic problem and clouds of toxic smog. Among the few measures that Beijing has undertaken since the games, the focus seems to fall mostly on vehicles, not industry. Fromconfiscating scooters to limiting the days on which citizens can drive, some of the capital city's policies are more popular than others.

The latest move by city officials seeks to eliminate about 10% of the highest polluting cars on the road. These jalopies, referred to as "yellow label" cars, have a three month grace period to find their way out of the city and take up residence in the burbs. Starting in April, stinky yellow label vehicles caught driving inside of the capital's Fifth Ring Road will be fined 100 yuan (about $15). I know it doesn't seem like much, but remember: this is Beijing we're talking about. Drivers can take advantage of some pretty nice incentives if they proactively give up their cars in 2009.

The Foret Service Helps Deforest Montana

You've got to wonder if certain agencies need to be renamed. Is the Forest Service really the Forest Service if it helps chop down a forest? 

The current USDA Forest Service is run by former timber lobbyist Mark Rey. Rey plans to change a simple, but critical, rule that would allow roads to be paved through Forest Service land. He plans to do it before President-elect Barack Obama takes office on January 20th. That would allow Plum Creek Timber Co. to take what are now rutted logging roads in Montana and transform them into tar roads fit for SUVs headed to rural retreats. 

Montana officials have long opposed the move, and they have been attempting to limit development to towns and their surrounding areas. This rule change would render state and local policies moot, while companies like Plum Creek Timber move ahead with development plans. That development would also force municipalities to build sewer and electric systems that support the homes, thus encouraging further development. 

President-elect Obama has repeatedly indicated his opposition to this rule change, but Mark Rey may not have heard given all of the noise of trees being cut down. Whatever the case, the rule will likely have a significant impact on Montana before the next administration can undo the rule change. 

[via Washington Post]

Sea Rise Over Continental Shelves Significantly Affected Past Global Carbon Cycle

ScienceDaily (Jan. 5, 2009) — Since the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM; about 21,000 years ago) sea level has risen by 130 meters (430 feet), resulting in continental shelf submergence and a massive expansion of the surface area of shelf seas.

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Serv O'Beer pours when iPhone accelerometer tells it to

by Darren Murph, posted Jan 5th 2009 at 5:31AM

Now that the holiday season is officially over (CES notwithstanding), there's officially no better time to get inebriated and wash away the sorrows of not having another government-recognized holiday for like, ever. After you've drug that dead tree out to the roadside and filled a few buckets with tears, why not try constructing your very Serv O'Beer in order to bring just a sliver of that joy back into your heart? Put simply, the project pictured above utilized Construx as the mechanical platform, a servo driving the action and ioBridge controlling the system; a so-called "perfect pour" was executed by linking an iPhone accelerometer to the system and turning it up. Have a look at the demonstration vid just past the break -- dollars to donuts it'll make you smile.

Scientists Make Strides Toward Defining Genetic Signature Of Alzheimer's Disease

ScienceDaily (Jan. 5, 2009) — Scientists have new information about the complex genetic signature associated with Alzheimer's disease, the leading cause of cognitive decline and dementia in the elderly. The research, published by Cell Press in the January issue of the American Journal of Human Genetics, uses a powerful, high-resolution analysis to look for genes associated with this devastating neurodegenerative disorder.

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Volvo Introduces a Collision-Proof Car

Posted by kdawson on Friday January 02, @11:36AM

from the whoa-nellie dept.
TransportationTechnology sends along a story on Volvo's upcoming crash-proof car. The company will introduce a concept car based on the S60 this month at the Detroit Auto Show, looking ahead a few years to the goal that by 2020 "no one should be killed or injured in a Volvo car." The concept car will have forward-looking radar as a proximity sensor, and the ability to brake if a collision is imminent. When the car senses a collision, a light flashes on the windscreen display along with an audible warning. If the driver doesn't act, the car will brake automatically.

"One Year in Forty Seconds"

Here's a super cool video by Eirik Solheim. It's one year of images, taken from the same spot, of the view outside Solheim's window in Oslo, Norway. The audio is recorded in the same spot and the entire film was created over the year 2008.

It looks a lot like the view outside my window, and I particularly liked that the film starts and ends in winter. It was added to YouTube on December 26th of 2008, and already has over 1 million views.

So on a day when we make resolutions about how we are going to do all sorts of things better in the New Year, let's also add to that list a resolution to get outside and enjoy nature, in all of its seasons. As they say, there is no bad weather, only bad clothes.

Happy New Year 2009!

"One Year in Forty Seconds"

Here's a super cool video by Eirik Solheim. It's one year of images, taken from the same spot, of the view outside Solheim's window in Oslo, Norway. The audio is recorded in the same spot and the entire film was created over the year 2008.

It looks a lot like the view outside my window, and I particularly liked that the film starts and ends in winter. It was added to YouTube on December 26th of 2008, and already has over 1 million views.

So on a day when we make resolutions about how we are going to do all sorts of things better in the New Year, let's also add to that list a resolution to get outside and enjoy nature, in all of its seasons. As they say, there is no bad weather, only bad clothes.

Happy New Year 2009!


by Darren Murph, posted Jan 2nd 2009 at 6:25AM

Around half a year ago, we heard that Toyota was engineering a Prius that would get part of its energy from the sun; now, we're seeing an eerily similar story from Japan suggesting that the plan is still on. In a rather odd report, it's noted that the automaker is "secretly (oh, is it now?) developing a vehicle that will be powered solely by solar energy," though it's also working on a partially solar-powered whip that'll come out long before the pure solar alternative. Regrettably, details beyond that are few and far between, though the premise here is completely reasonable given the current economy and the desire for automobiles that run on anything other than petroleum. Guess we'll check back in six months for yet another elusive report on the so-called progress.