Sci/tech

World Bank studies rising seas in Guyana
October 12, 2007 08:17 PM - Lesley Wroughton

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The World Bank and Global Environmental Facility have approved $3.8 million in grant funding to protect low-lying coastal areas in Guyana threatened by rising sea levels, an official said on Friday.

This is the first project of its kind to be approved under the Global Environmental Facility's Special Climate Change Fund. It will look at ways to improve coastal drainage in the small South American country.

Gerald Meier, a consultant with the World Bank's hazard risk management group, said the project was responding to the catastrophic flooding in Guyana in 2005, which affected most of the inhabited northern coast of the country where up to 90 percent of the population lives.

On Saturn's moon Titan, bring an umbrella
October 12, 2007 04:57 PM - Julie Steenhuysen

CHICAGO (Reuters) - The daily weather forecast on Saturn's largest moon Titan appears to be a steady drizzle of liquid methane, at least around the bright, exotically named region known as Xanadu, U.S. researchers said on Thursday.

But this is hardly the paradise romanticized by the Samuel Taylor Coleridge poem "Kubla Kahn."

New images from Hawaii's W.M. Keck Observatory and Chile's Very Large Telescope show nearly global cloud cover at high elevations and a dreary morning drizzle that seems to dissipate around midmorning local time -- which is about three Earth days after sunrise.

French explorer to measure Arctic ice from airship
October 12, 2007 03:39 PM - Marie Maitre, Reuters

MARSEILLE, France (Reuters) - A French explorer unveiled plans on Friday to fly over the Arctic in an airship to measure the ice cap amid concern at the pace it is melting.

Jean-Louis Etienne (www.jeanlouisetienne.fr) said his 10,000 kilometer (6,214 mile) journey will serve as a benchmark for monitoring the impact of global warming on the North Pole.

Skype and UK's 3 working on mobile Internet phone
October 12, 2007 11:17 AM -

LONDON (Reuters) - EBay Inc's (EBAY.O: Quote, Profile, Research) Skype is working with British cell phone service operator 3 to produce a handset that will allow users in Britain to make free calls on the Internet, a spokesman for the company said on Frida

Gore shares Nobel win with U.N. climate panel
October 12, 2007 08:20 AM - John Acher -Reuters

Former Vice President Al Gore and the U.N. climate panel won the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday for their part in galvanizing international action against global warming before it "moves beyond man's control".

Gore and the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) won "for their efforts to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change, and to lay the foundations for the measures that are needed to counteract such change", the Norwegian Nobel Committee said.

Survey: Travelers Choosing Green, But Not At Any Cost
October 11, 2007 02:37 PM -

WASHINGTON, D.C.—More than half of all U.S. adults say they would be more likely to select an airline, rental car or hotel that uses more environmentally friendly products and processes, according to the results of the latest travelhorizons survey by the Travel Industry Association (TIA) and Ypartnership.

But while more than half of U.S. adults may be advocates of environmental responsibility, only 14 percent of respondents said their actual selection of a travel service supplier would be influenced by that supplier’s efforts to preserve and protect the environment. Just 13 percent would be willing to pay higher rates or fares to use suppliers who demonstrate environmental responsibility (although fully 56 percent said they might).

Ancient Fossils Point to Carbon Dioxide As a Driver of Global Warming
October 10, 2007 06:19 PM -

PASADENA, Calif - A team of American and Canadian scientists has devised a new way to study Earth's past climate by analyzing the chemical composition of ancient marine fossils. The first published tests with the method further support the view that atmospheric CO2 has contributed to dramatic climate variations in the past, and strengthen projections that human CO2 emissions could cause global warming.

In the current issue of the journal Nature, geologists and environmental scientists from the California Institute of Technology, the University of Ottawa, the Memorial University of Newfoundland, Brock University, and the Waquoit Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve report the results of a new method for determining the growth temperatures of carbonate fossils such as shells and corals. This method looks at the percentage of rare isotopes of oxygen and carbon that bond with each other rather than being randomly distributed through their mineral lattices.

Deep Rocks Yield First Look Inside San Andreas Fault
October 10, 2007 06:09 PM - Louis Bergeron

Washington - For the first time, geologists have extracted intact rock samples from 2 miles beneath the surface of the San Andreas Fault, the infamous rupture that runs 800 miles along the length of California.

Never before have scientists had available for study rock samples from deep inside one of the actively moving tectonic plate-bounding faults responsible for the world's most damaging earthquakes. Now, with this newly recovered material, scientists hope to answer long-standing questions about the fault's composition and properties.

Vocal Joystick uses voice to surf the Web
October 10, 2007 05:50 PM - Hannah Hickey, University of Washington

Washington - Doctoral student Brandi House uses Vocal Joystick to control the movement of a robotic arm. The screen on the lower right shows how the software analyzes her vocalizations to create instructions for the arm's movement.

The Internet offers wide appeal to people with disabilities. But many of those same people find it frustrating or impossible to use a handheld mouse. Software developed at the University of Washington provides an alternative using the oldest and most versatile mode of communication: the human voice.

"There are many people who have perfect use of their voice who don't have use of their hands and arms," said Jeffrey Bilmes, a UW associate professor of electrical engineering. "I think there are several reasons why Vocal Joystick might be a better approach, or at least a viable alternative, to brain-computer interfaces." The tool's latest developments will be presented this month in Tempe, Ariz. at the Assets Conference on Computers and Accessibility.

German Ertl wins Nobel for chemistry
October 10, 2007 10:11 AM - Niklas Pollard -Reuters

German Gerhard Ertl won the Nobel Prize for chemistry on his 71st birthday on Wednesday for work which helped to develop cleaner car exhaust systems and explain the depletion of the ozone layer.

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