Sci/tech

'Green' leather is in this season
October 8, 2007 10:44 AM - Eureka Alert!

Fashionista’s after the latest in leather bags could soon have a ‘greener’ selection to choose from. Scientists in India have modified the tanning process making it far more eco-friendly, reports Anne Pichon in Chemistry & Industry, the magazine of the SCI.

New Zealand's First National eDay Diverts Nearly 300 Tons of Computer Waste
October 8, 2007 10:30 AM - , Green Progress

NEW ZELAND - Kiwis cleared their homes of nearly 300 tonnes of old computer equipment and mobile phones this past weekend in New Zealand's first national eDay.  The free drive-through event was held at the North Shore Events Centre and the TelstraClear Events Centre in Manukau, and in Wellington, Invercargill, Wanaka, Alexandra, Queenstown, Wanganui, Rotorua, Whakatane, Tauranga and Hamilton.

Affordable Solar Power On The Horizon
October 5, 2007 08:10 AM - University of Cambridge

Cambridge, UK - Environmentally friendly solar panels may be an affordable alternative to conventional power sources within the next ten years, as a result of a new initiative launched this week.

The project, funded by the Carbon Trust, will be led by the University of Cambridge's Cavendish Laboratory in collaboration with The Technology Partnership.

Currently solar panels are made from silicon, which makes them expensive to manufacture and therefore cost prohibitive for many. However, new technology being researched at Cambridge uses plastic to create solar cells, a much more cost effective and energy efficient method.

Geologists Recover Rocks from San Andreas Fault
October 5, 2007 08:00 AM - NSF

CALIFORNIA - For the first time, geologists have extracted intact rock samples from two miles beneath the surface of the San Andreas Fault, the infamous rupture that runs 800 miles along the length of California.  Never before have so-called "cores" from deep inside an actively moving tectonic boundary been available to study. Now, scientists hope to answer long-standing questions about the fault's composition and properties.  Altogether, the geologists retrieved 135 feet of 4-inch diameter rock cores weighing roughly 1 ton. They were hauled to the surface through a borehole measuring more than 2.5 miles long.

Thousands of New Marine Microbes Discovered
October 5, 2007 07:45 AM - Reuters

CHICAGO - Scientists have uncovered thousands of marine microbes -- including never-before-seen bacteria -- thriving deep in the sea near cracks in the Earth's crust where warm fluids and cold sea water mix, U.S. researchers said on Wednesday.  Using new DNA sequencing techniques, the researchers have identified as many as 37,000 different kinds of bacteria huddled near two hydrothermal vents on an underwater volcano off the Oregon coast.  "Many of these bacteria had never been reported before," said Julie Huber of the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, whose study appears in the journal Science.

Japan to Start Test Sales of Ethanol-Mixed Gasoline
October 5, 2007 07:35 AM - Reuters

TOKYO - Japan will start next week the first test sales in a city of gasoline mixed with ethanol to meet Kyoto emissions targets, two months behind schedule due to difficulties in finding a petrol supplier outside the nation's major refiners.  Project manager, the Osaka municipal government, said on Friday it would start selling on October 9 gasoline directly blended with up to 3 percent of ethanol (E3) at two pump stations in suburban areas at a price similar to regular gasoline.

Bird Flu Virus Mutating into Human-Unfriendly Form
October 4, 2007 08:37 PM - Maggie Fox, Health and Science Editor

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The H5N1 bird flu virus has mutated to infect people more easily, although it still has not transformed into a pandemic strain, researchers said on Thursday.

The changes are worrying, said Dr. Yoshihiro Kawaoka of the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

"We have identified a specific change that could make bird flu grow in the upper respiratory tract of humans," said Kawaoka, who led the study.

"The viruses that are circulating in Africa and Europe are the ones closest to becoming a human virus," Kawaoka said.

Bird Flu Virus "More Invasive Than Thought'
October 4, 2007 08:07 PM - Jia Hepeng, SciDevNet

BEIJING - The post mortems of two people who died after H5N1 infection have revealed that the virus infects more human organs than previously thought. The study was published in The Lancet.  Lead author Gu Jiang, a professor at the School of Basic Medical Sciences of the Beijing-based Peking University, and colleagues studied post-mortem tissues of one man and one pregnant woman, and also tested the foetus of the woman.

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