Sci/tech

Willie Wonka and the Chocolate (biodiesel) Truck
November 28, 2007 08:47 AM - Tom Schueneman, Triple Pundit

Two men left England last Friday on their way to Timbuktu in a truck powered by chocolate.

For the sake of accuracy, the truck is powered with biodiesel fuel made from “waste chocolate” (I never knew there was such a thing as waste chocolate!).

Leaving from England on a ferry across the English channel, the team of Andy Pag and John Grimshaw plan to make their 4.500 mile journey in approximately three weeks.

Wingless bird begins to fly
November 28, 2007 08:33 AM - , Private Landowner Network

What would it be like to drive a car that everyone stared at? Will people buy a vehicle that looks more avian than automotive? Will people accept a truly unconventional vehicle in order to reap the personal and contribute to the global benefits of extraordinarily high fuel economy and ultralow emissions?

Aptera thinks that there are enough buyers out there willing to accept the stares and the benefits of their Typ-1 all-electric or plug-in hybrid three wheeled car. They may be right. So far they’ve taken more than 400, $500 deposits for a car that has been driven by few and has yet to go into production. And that’s only in California. The company’s wingless bird could fly in the rest of the world just as well.

Google plans renewable energy push
November 27, 2007 01:48 PM - Reuters

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Google Inc. said on Tuesday the Web services and online advertising group plans to spend hundreds of millions of dollars in coming years to promote a new push to encourage cheap renewable electricity.

The project, known as Renewable Energy Cheaper Than Coal, is hiring engineers and targeted investment financing at advanced solar thermal power, wind power technologies, enhanced geothermal systems and other new technologies, Google said.

Japanese robot gets more life-like
November 27, 2007 08:56 AM - Reuters

TOKYO (Reuters) - A pearly white robot that looks a little like E.T. boosted a man out of bed, chatted and helped prepare his breakfast with its deft hands in Tokyo on Tuesday, in a further sign robots are becoming more like their human inventors.

Twendy-One, named as a 21st century edition of a previous robot, Wendy, has soft hands and fingers that gently grip, enough strength to support humans as they sit up and stand, and supple movements that respond to human touch.

Cancer-resistant mouse discovered
November 27, 2007 08:55 AM - University of Kentucky

A mouse resistant to cancer, even highly-aggressive types, has been created by researchers at the University of Kentucky. The breakthrough stems from a discovery by UK College of Medicine professor of radiation medicine Vivek Rangnekar and a team of researchers who found a tumor-suppressor gene called "Par-4" in the prostate.

The researchers discovered that the Par-4 gene kills cancer cells, but not normal cells. There are very few molecules that specifically fight against cancer cells, giving it a potentially therapeutic application.

Dinosaur find dries Australian water project
November 27, 2007 08:27 AM - Reuters

CANBERRA (Reuters) - A hoard of dinosaur bones has been discovered at the site of a planned desalination plant meant to deliver Australia's second biggest city from drought, forcing a re-think of the A$3 billion ($2.7 billion) project.

'Ultrasound' of Earth's Crust Reveals
November 27, 2007 08:14 AM - The University of Texas at Austin

Research announced this week by a team of U.S. and Japanese geoscientists may help explain why part of the seafloor near the southwest coast of Japan is particularly good at generating devastating tsunamis, such as the 1944 Tonankai event, which killed at least 1,200 people.

The findings will help scientists assess the risk of giant tsunamis in other regions of the world.

Study sees rise in imaging exams for pregnant women
November 27, 2007 05:44 AM - Reuters

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Pregnant women are receiving more high-tech imaging exams, exposing their babies to higher doses of radiation than a decade ago, a study said on Tuesday.

While the levels of radiation exposure are low, they carry a slight risk of harm to the developing fetus, said study author Elizabeth Lazarus, a professor of diagnostic imaging at the Warren Alpert School of Medicine at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island.

Disabled could think their way around Second Life
November 27, 2007 02:29 AM - Reuters

TOKYO (Reuters) - People with severe paralysis could find new opportunities from shopping to doing business or making new friends in the virtual world of Second Life by just thinking about it, if experiments being conducted by a Japanese university bear fruit.

In a recent demonstration, Junichi Ushiba, an associate professor at Keio University and head of the project, showed how electrodes attached to the scalp can pick up the electrical changes associated with brain activity.

Transcranial magnetic stimulation effective in treating major depression
November 26, 2007 11:44 AM - University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine

PHILADELPHIA – Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and other study sites have found that transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) – a non-invasive technique that excites neurons in the brain via magnetic pulses passed through the scalp – is a safe and effective, non-drug treatment with minimal side effects for patients with major depression who have tried other treatment options without benefit.

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