Sci/tech

Telepresence Could Save Business $19 Billion by 2020
June 25, 2010 09:12 AM - Thomas Miner, Matter Network

According to a new study of large companies using telepresence technology, U.S. and U.K. businesses that substitute some business travel with telepresence can cut CO2 emissions by nearly 5.5 million metric tons in total – the greenhouse gas equivalent of removing more than one million passenger vehicles from the road for one year – and achieve total economy-wide financial benefits of almost $19 billion, by 2020.

The Deformation of the Earth from Earthquakes
June 24, 2010 01:27 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

Earthquakes are often imagined as opening up large gaps in the land, sinking islands and the such. It is much harder in real life to see this change. NASA has recently released the first ever airborne radar images of the deformation in Earth's surface caused by a major earthquake -- the magnitude 7.2 temblor that rocked Mexico's state of Baja California and parts of the American Southwest on April 4, 2010. The data reveal that in the area studied, the quake moved the Calexico, Calif., region in a downward and southerly direction up to 31 inches.

Vice President Joe Biden Hits Pay Dirt in Michigan
June 24, 2010 09:34 AM - Douglas Elbinger, Exclusive to ENN

Vice President Joe Biden's visit to Michigan on Monday, June 21, for the groundbreaking of a new battery manufacturing facility is evidence that the Recovery Act grants the President announced last August, are starting to hit pay dirt, in the form of ground-breaking's and ribbon cuttings that will ultimately create "new economy" jobs. As part of the six-week focus on the "economic recovery act" infrastructure projects nationwide, Biden's appearance signals the administrations commitment to environmental and renewable energy projects. The grant for this battery project is part of the $2.4 billion announced last August to develop next-generation electric vehicles using the lithium polymer battery, a "breakthrough" technology which is a key component in bringing electric vehicles to reality. Officials said the batteries can store up to three times more energy than the nickel metal hydride batteries currently used in most hybrids. Dow Kokam www.dowkokam.com, a joint venture was created by Dow Chemical of Midland, Michigan www.dow.com, to research, develop and produce this new battery technology, and has secured a U.S. Department of Energy grant of $161 million dollars and tax credits totaling $180 million dollars from the State of Michigan.

High Risk Processes and Their Safety
June 23, 2010 04:04 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

High risk chemical processes are regulated by OSHA, EPA and many state agencies. Information about the releases from these processes are available from a number of sources. Sometimes the guidance on how other interested parties may participate is not always clear. The EPA has released interim guidance that would provide greater transparency in the agency’s chemical safety inspections process. Under the interim guidance, EPA inspectors will offer employees and employee representatives the opportunity to participate in chemical safety inspections. In addition, EPA will request that state and local agencies adopt similar procedures under their related Risk Management Program.

Voyages of the NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson
June 23, 2010 11:47 AM - David A Gabel, ENN

There are many ships at work right now in the Gulf of Mexico responding to the devastating consequences of the Deepwater Horizon explosion. Some are skimming the water to collect oil, some are burning off the oil. Some are busy digging a relief well. However, there is at least one vessel that is using this tragedy as an opportunity to conduct scientific research. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) ship, Thomas Jefferson, is using acoustic and fluorometric scanning to detect oil under the surface.

Oceanic Temperatures and Climate Effects
June 22, 2010 04:38 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

The study of ancient climates and oceanic temperatures can lend clues as to how future climate changes might happen. An international team of researchers, led by the members of the Institut de Ciència i Tecnologia Ambientals (ICTA) at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB), has published studies of the evolution of Northern Pacific and Southern Atlantic sea surface temperatures, dating from the Pliocene Era; some 3.65 million years ago. The data obtained in the reconstruction indicate that the regions closer to the poles of both oceans have played a fundamental role in climate evolution in the tropics.

Saharan Sun Power
June 21, 2010 01:52 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

There is plenty of sun in deserts and the Sahara is one of the biggest deserts in the world. Europe intends to import its first solar generated electricity from North Africa within the next five years, European Energy Commissioner Günther Oettinger said in an interview on Sunday. The European Union is backing projects to turn the plentiful sunlight in the Sahara desert into electricity for Europe, a scheme it hopes will help meet its target of deriving 20% of its energy from renewable sources by 2020.

The Oddness of Water and Ice
June 17, 2010 04:53 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

Water is vital for life and how it freezes is very important. For years water (ice) has been known to exist in 15 phases. Subjected to higher pressures and varying temperatures, ice can form in fifteen separate known phases. With care all these types can be recovered at ambient pressure. The types are differentiated by their crystalline structure, ordering and density. There are also two metastable phases of ice under pressure, both fully hydrogen-disordered; these are IV and XII. Ice XII was discovered in 1996. In 2006, XIII and XIV were discovered. Ices XI, XIII, and XIV are hydrogen-ordered forms of ices Ih, V, and XII respectively. In 2009 ice XV was found at extremely high pressures and −143 degrees celsius. Now there is another variation.

Oceanic Volcanos
June 17, 2010 07:10 AM - Andy Soos, ENN

Though unseen the ocean floor is a volcanic hot bed where the tectonic plates collide and spread apart. New research reveals that when two parts of the Earth's crust break apart, this does not always cause massive volcanic eruptions. The study, published today in the journal Nature, explains why some parts of the world saw massive volcanic eruptions millions of years ago and others did not. The Earth's crust is broken into plates that are in constant motion over timescales of millions of years. Plates occasionally collide and fuse, or they can break apart to form new ones. When the latter plates break apart, a plume of hot rock can rise from deep within the Earth's interior, which can cause massive volcanic activity on the surface (sort of like blood from a skin cut).

Monitoring the Sequestration of Carbon Dioxide in the Earth
June 16, 2010 11:28 AM - David A Gabel, ENN

Global Warming is caused by several factors such as the release of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. One solution to the problem is to capture the carbon dioxide before it enters the atmosphere, and instead, deposit the CO2 into the ground. However, up to this point, scientists have been unable to effectively track how it might move underground. The desire is to get the CO2 in place and not have it move elsewhere and potentially cause problems. Now, with the advent of Electric Resistance Tomography (ERT), developed at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), tested by the Southeast Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnership (SECARB), and funded by the Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory, sequestration of greenhouse gases may expand.

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