Sci/tech

Don't go near the baobab at Nigerian heritage site
October 22, 2007 12:43 AM - Estelle Shirbon

SUKUR, Nigeria (Reuters) - Visitors to Sukur are warned not to approach a certain ancient baobab tree because, villagers say, it turns people into hermaphrodites.

It is an atmospheric introduction to this Nigerian World Heritage Site for the trickle of outsiders who come, but villagers who trek up and down from the remote hillside community are ready for an injection of modernity.

A road would be a start.

Solar cars race from Australia's top to bottom
October 21, 2007 11:41 PM -

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Sun-powered-car enthusiasts from around the world raced into the Australia outback on Sunday at speeds nearing 100 kilometres-per-hour at the start of the World Solar Challenge.

Thousands of onlookers crowded the streets of Darwin in Australia's tropical north for the beginning of the 3,000-km (1,863 mile) race, a biennial event since 1987, gawking at the sleek foil-like vehicles resembling giant microchips.

The only rule over the mostly straightaway course through Australia's "red centre" in temperatures that can exceed 50 degrees Celsius is that the custom-built vehicles run on nothing but the sun.

"The drivers will be sitting on between 90 and 100 kilometres per hour as much as they can, though most are capable of going faster," said race coordinator Chris Selwood.

"But this really is not just about who is the fastest, it's more about energy efficiency and management," he said.

Solar cars race from Australia's top to bottom
October 21, 2007 10:50 PM - James Regan

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Sun-powered-car enthusiasts from around the world raced into the Australia outback on Sunday at speeds nearing 100 kilometres-per-hour at the start of the World Solar Challenge.

Thousands of onlookers crowded the streets of Darwin in Australia's tropical north for the beginning of the 3,000-km (1,863 mile) race, a biennial event since 1987, gawking at the sleek foil-like vehicles resembling giant microchips.

Space shuttle crew arrives in Florida for liftoff
October 20, 2007 09:05 AM - Reuters

The crew of space shuttle Discovery arrived at Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Friday for the countdown ahead of next week's launch on a construction mission to the International Space Station.

Discovery, hauling a key connection node to the space station, is scheduled for liftoff at 11:38 a.m. EDT on Tuesday.

Sustainable Projects Compete for Millions, International Competition
October 19, 2007 04:13 PM -

Waltham, Ma. – Construction projects from all across North America are invited to compete for the widely recognized Holcim Awards for Sustainable Construction. The Holcim Awards will recognize projects that meet current needs for housing and infrastructure without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. The Holcim Awards, an international competition, is an initiative of the Swiss-based Holcim Foundation for Sustainable Construction to celebrate innovative, future-oriented, and tangible sustainable construction projects from around the globe. The Holcim Awards are supported in the North America region by the Holcim Ltd Group companies Holcim (US) Inc., St. Lawrence Cement, and Aggregate Industries. The North American region includes the US, Canada, Bermuda and the Bahamas.

A Sustainable Holiday Spirit, in Mason, Michigan
October 19, 2007 03:48 PM - Paul Schaefer, ENN

Ingham County, Michigan - The city of Mason, in Michigan has decided the spirit of the holidays includes the spirit of sustainability. And you'll see it brightly displayed on their holiday tree on the Ingham County Courthouse’s west lawn. For starters the city is replacing its incandescent holiday lights with energy-efficient LED Christmas lights. The 1200 new LED lights replace 500 old incandescent ones, draw a quarter of the power, 864 watts compared to the previous 3276 kilowatt hours; use professional weatherproof connectors and durable epoxy plastic, not glass bulbs. And, all 1200 lights can be plugged into one standard outlet. This will save the City about $250 each year while adding over 700 lights to its tree.

Turning Grey Into Green: Greywater Recycling Systems
October 19, 2007 03:13 PM - Paul Schaefer, ENN

Atlanta, Georgia - First a word about something called "greywater". Greywater is basically washwater. As homeowners, we make a lot of it each day. It's all wastewater excepting toilet wastes and food wastes derived from garbage grinders. No surprise, this partially used water can be re-used in your home for toilet flushing and watering gardens. Good for you, good for your water bill and good for the environment. Especially in drought stricken parts of the country like Georgia where the state's Environmental Protection Division declared a level four drought for sixty-one counties in the state.

Afghan city takes action to save ancient minarets
October 19, 2007 10:50 AM - Sayed Salahuddin -Reuters

A group of mediaeval minarets in the Afghan city of Herat could be saved thanks to the closure of a busy road threatening their foundations.

The minarets, standing at more than 100 feet, are all that remain of what was once a brilliantly decorated complex for Islamic learning and devotion on the Silk Road on the outskirts of the western Afghan city.

Texas coastal wind farms advance despite critics
October 19, 2007 10:29 AM - Reuters

Two companies developing more than 600 megawatts of wind generation along the Texas coastline aren't daunted by threats of hurricane damage or opposition from environmentalists and powerful ranching interests, executives said Thursday.PPM Energy, a U.S subsidiary of Iberdrola's Scottish Power unit, and Babcock & Brown are developing two wind farms in Kenedy County, a thinly populated county south of Corpus Christi. Both companies expect to produce power by the end of 2008.

Moon's blue light a coral aphrodisiac, say scientists
October 19, 2007 10:27 AM - Michael Perry -Reuters

Ancient light-sensitive genes may be the trigger for the annual mass spawning of corals shortly after a full moon on the Great Barrier Reef, according to a study by Australian and Israeli scientists.The cryptochromes genes occur in corals, insects, fish and mammals -- including humans -- and are primitive light-sensing pigment mechanisms which predate the evolution of eyes.

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