Thursday, January 19, 2012

Town Turns Off the Lights To See the Stars

Posted by samzenpus  

from the we're-going-dark dept.
Hugh Pickens writes"Stargazing skies all over the world are disappearing, as the sky above New York City is Class 9 on the Bortle ranking and American suburban skies are typically Class 5, 6, or 7. But some places are making an effort to preserve their skywatching heritage as Exmoor National Park was granted International Dark-Sky Reserve status in November and people in the Exmoor town of Dulverton were challenged to switch off their lights as part of the BBC's Stargazing Live, demonstrating that you don't need special equipment to see the stars more clearly, if you have a decent pair of binoculars. 'The whole idea is to show that even a small town, which is still quite dark, can give off quite a lot of light,' says astronomer Mark Thompson. The event in Dulverton gained a lot of support from local residents and businesses. 'It needed a bit of organization to get everyone to say yes,' says town mayor Chris Nelder. 'We want people to just enjoy the night sky, to treasure the fact we have them and to look after them,' adds Claire O'Connor from Exmoor National Park Authority."

Jet Lag: What's Causing One of the Driest, Warmest Winters in History? The jet stream controls winter weather, but strange forces are controlling the jet stream this season

A little snow and rain are falling in a few states today, but the 2011–12 winter has been extremely warm and dry across the continental U.S. Meteorologists think they have figured out why.

US Finally Backs International Space "Code of Conduct"

Posted by samzenpus  

from the space-rules dept.
coondoggie writes"Perhaps it was the concern that the nearly 14 ton Russian Mars probe would land smack-dab on the White House or maybe they just come to their senses, but the U.S. State Department today said it would indeed work with the European Union and other countries to develop a formal space code of conduct. Of particular concern is the growing amount of space trash and how the world can go about eliminating or controlling the problem. There is also the desire to keep space free of military weaponry."

Supercomputer Cools Off Using Groundwater

Posted by samzenpus  

from the refreshing-drink dept.
gManZboy writes"The Department of Energy is no stranger to supercomputers, and its Pacific Northwest National Lab has proven that it can continue to be an innovator in the field by using what the lab calls a unique groundwater-fed cooling system in the lab's newest supercomputer, Olympus. The novel cooling system translates normal groundwater into big savings for the new 162 teraflop supercomputer, which is being used in energy, chemical, and fluid dynamics research. The setup translates into 70% less energy use than traditionally cooled systems."

Spider Silk Cape Goes On Display

Posted by samzenpus  

from the 1-million-thread-count dept.
fangmcgee writes"Before anyone asks, no, it's not bulletproof. But that doesn't mean that the glistening yellow cape—the world's largest garment made entirely from spider silk—isn't a massive feat of engineering to be marveled. Now on public display for the first time at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, the textile gets its unearthly gleam from the undyed filaments of the golden orb spider, a species of arachnid commonly found in Madagascar."

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Multicellular Life Evolves In Months, In a Lab

Posted by Soulskill  

from the selecting-for-extroverted-cells dept.
ananyo writes"The origin of multicellular life, one of the most important developments in Earth's history, could have occurred with surprising speed, U.S. researchers have shown. In the lab, a single-celled yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiaetook less than 60 days to evolve into many-celled clusters that behaved as individuals. The clusters even developed a primitive division of labor, with some cells dying so that others could grow and reproduce. Multicellular life has evolved independently at least 25 times, but these transitions are so ancient that they have been hard to study. The researchers wanted to see if they could evolve multicellularity in a single-celled organism, using gravity as the selective pressure. In a tube of liquid, clusters of yeast cells settle at the bottom more quickly than single cells. By culturing only the cells that sank, they selected for those that stick together. After many rounds of selection over 60 days, the yeast had evolved into 'snowflakes' comprising dozens of cells."

New Mexico Is Stretching, GPS Reveals

Posted by Soulskill  

from the too-many-tacos dept.
Velcroman1 writes"New Mexico's borders are gradually gaining girth, according to the Albuquerque Journal. It's not much, and it's not happening very fast — the state is getting about an inch wider every 40 years — but the state is unquestionably expanding, according to University of Colorado geophysicist Henry Berglund and his colleagues. Using a collection of 25 extra-precise GPS receivers planted across New Mexico and Colorado, Berglund determined that the cities of Albuquerque and Santa Fe are creeping away from each other. The rate of change seems ever so slow to the untrained ear, described as approximately 1.2 'nanostrains' per year."

Research In Motion To Be Sold, Possibly To Samsung

Posted by Soulskill  

from the all-about-the-benjamins dept.

New submitter ve6ay writes"The talk of the tech world over the past day is that RIM, struggling mightilyin these last months, was in talks to be bought either partially or wholly by Samsung. Sources at the Boy Genius Report indicate that while RIM may be trying to sell, it is asking way too much for itself."

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

California demands manufacturers ditch inefficient vampire chargers

By   posted Jan 17th 2012 6:56AM

LeechYou've probably had it drilled into your head that your gadgets are doing terrible, terrible things to the environment -- and not just 'cause they end up as toxic landfill in poorer countries. Many of your chargers and electronics continue todraw power even when they're off or your device is disconnected. We've seen some ingenious solutions to the problem but, perhaps it would be best to avoid the issue all together. Starting next year California will require manufacturers to ship efficient chargers with their products, potentially saving $306 million in energy costs and cutting power usage by up to 13 percent in the state. The new rules are set to go into effect on February 1st, 2013, but we wouldn't be surprised if the law faced some road blocks before then.