Sci/tech

Swiss study in mice may lead to new pain drugs
January 16, 2008 02:37 PM - Reuters

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Enhancing a natural pain-filtering mechanism in the spine helped relieve chronic pain in mice without the unwanted side effects of current pain relievers, Swiss researchers said on Wednesday. They honed in on a specific molecule that helps prevent chronic pain signals from reaching the brain, without blocking normal pain messages that alert people to danger.

Scientists find 2,000 pound rodent - luckily it's a fossil
January 16, 2008 10:13 AM - Reuters

The giant creature probably ate soft food such as fruit or tender plants, Andres Rinderknecht and Ernesto Blanco of the National Museum of Natural History in Montevideo reported on Wednesday.

Inflatable Cars
January 16, 2008 09:39 AM - , Triple Pundit

Inflatable cars? What?!! A Bay Area startup, XP vehicles is tossing in its radical idea for a proposed ultra light, ultra-efficient car that is powered by both fuel cells and batteries. The body of this radical concept is proposed to be made up of preinflated airbags, of which, the company claims will be so safe that you could actually drive the car off of a 25-ft cliff without inflicting injury. The inflatable car is scheduled to be targeted at Asian markets initially.

Analysis: Nano Hypocrisy?
January 16, 2008 09:14 AM - , Worldwatch Institute

One car gets 46 miles per gallon, features fancy accessories, and sports two engines with a combined 145 horsepower. The other car reportedly gets 54 miles per gallon, runs on a diminutive 30-horsepower engine, and is positively spartan in its interior trimmings. The first is a darling of the environmentally conscious. The latter is reviled as a climate wrecker. These two vehicles are the Toyota Prius and the newly unveiled Tata Nano, dubbed “the people’s car.” Is there a double standard?

China wind power hits 5.6 GW
January 16, 2008 06:04 AM - Reuters

BEIJING (Reuters) - China's wind power generating capacity surged to 5.6 gigawatts by the end of last year, but over a quarter of it is still not connected to the grid because of bad planning, an industry expert said on Wednesday. Shi Pengfei, vice-president of the Chinese wind energy association, said capacity growth in 2008 is likely to speed up, with another 4 GW expected to be added by the booming industry. This will bring the total amount of turbines erected by the end of this year to nearly 10 GW, or twice Beijing's official target for the end of the decade.

Automakers say other industries should help on climate
January 15, 2008 05:00 PM - Reuters

DETROIT (Reuters) - With stricter U.S. rules in place to sharply improve gas mileage and reduce tailpipe emissions, domestic automakers now want Washington to look elsewhere for help in achieving climate change goals.

Auto Companies Need to Work Together on Battery Technology
January 15, 2008 10:29 AM - , Big Green Purse

Plug-in hybrids - PHEVs - could revolutionize the impact cars have on the environment...if only they had the right battery. General Motors, Toyota, and other auto manufacturers hope to put their first plug-ins on sales floors by the year 2010. When they do, all you'll have to do is plug your vehicle into a regular 120-volt electrical socket, charge the car for several hours overnight, and drive away. You won't need a single drop of gasoline! In fact, because electricity is cheaper than gasoline, the fuel cost is expected to be the equivalent of less than $1/gallon of gas.

Sea otter study reveals striking variability in diets and feeding strategies
January 15, 2008 09:59 AM - University of California - Santa Cruz

SANTA CRUZ, CA--Ecologists have long observed that when food becomes scarce, animal populations exploit a wider range of food sources. So scientists studying southern sea otters at different sites in California's coastal waters were not surprised to find that the dietary diversity of the population is higher where food is limited. But this diversity was not reflected in the diets of individual sea otters, which instead showed dietary specialization in response to limited food.

Britain's fastest supercomputer unveiled
January 15, 2008 08:30 AM - Reuters

LONDON (Reuters) - A supercomputer that could help answer some of science's biggest questions will be unveiled on Monday. With the power of 12,000 desktop PCs, the mammoth machine called HECToR is the country's fastest computer and one of the most powerful in Europe.

Toyota to offer some plug-ins by 2010
January 14, 2008 11:10 AM - Reuters

DETROIT (Reuters) - Toyota Motor Corp plans to market a test fleet of rechargeable hybrid vehicles to companies or government agencies by the end of 2010, raising the stakes in a race with rival General Motors Corp to bring the first mass-market plug-in to market. Toyota has also already begun preparations to build a factory that will produce the next-generation lithium-ion batteries needed for plug-ins and purely electric vehicles, Toyota President Katsuaki Watanabe told reporters on Monday.

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