Sci/tech

Mammoth dung, prehistoric goo may speed warming
September 17, 2007 07:39 AM - Dmitry Solovyov -Reuters

Sergei Zimov bends down, picks up a handful of treacly mud and holds it up to his nose. It smells like a cow pat, but he knows better.

"It smells like mammoth dung," he says.

New World Record For Solar Aircraft
September 16, 2007 11:57 AM - Paul Schaefer, ENN

QinetiQ's Zephyr UAV exceeds official world record for longest duration unmanned flight White Sands, NM - There's a new world record for unmanned flight, this one solar powered, set this week by what's called an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV). The craft exceeded the official world record time for the longest duration unmanned flight with a 54 hour flight achieved during trials at the US Military's White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. A company called QinetiQ’s made the craft, which they call Zephyr High Altitude Long Endurance (HALE).

New Image-search tool speaks hundreds of languages
September 15, 2007 10:30 AM - Hannah Hickey , University of Washington

Seattle, WA - From the fall of the Tower of Babel to the Esperanto global language movement, many humans have dreamed of sharing a common tongue. Despite the Internet's promise of global communication, language barriers remain. Even pictures on the Web get lost in translation. "Images are universal, but image search is not," said Oren Etzioni, a professor of computer science and engineering at the University of Washington. "A person who types his or her search in English won't find images tagged in Chinese, and a Dutch person won't find images tagged in English. We've created a collaborative tool that solves this problem."

New satellite to sharpen Google Earth
September 15, 2007 09:16 AM - Andrea Shalal-Esa, Reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - DigitalGlobe, provider of imagery for Google Inc's interactive mapping program Google Earth, said a new high-resolution satellite will boost the accuracy of its satellite images and flesh out its archive. The new spacecraft, dubbed WorldView I, is to be launched on Tuesday. Together with the company's existing Quickbird satellite, it will offer half-meter resolution and will be able to collect over 600,000 square kilometers of imagery each day, up from the current collection of that amount each week, Chief Executive Jill Smith told Reuters in a telephone interview.

Genetic "barcodes" may cut illegal trade
September 15, 2007 08:45 AM - Alister Doyle -Reuters

New genetic tests could help crack down on illegal food or timber trade, fight malaria or even give clues to how to stop bird strikes with planes, scientists said on Friday.

Green skies: Engineer's work may reduce jet travel's role in global warming
September 14, 2007 07:36 AM - Hilary Parker -Princeton U

Princeton Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Fred Dryer has a lofty goal: end the nation's reliance on oil for jet travel. With potentially major benefits for energy security and the environment riding upon his success, Dryer is advancing the fundamental knowledge of jet fuels while developing practical, innovative energy sources.

NASA Keeps Eye on Ozone Layer Amid Montreal Protocol's Success
September 14, 2007 07:21 AM - NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA scientists will join researchers from around the world to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Montreal Protocol, an international treaty designed to reduce the hole in Earth's protective ozone layer. The United Nations Environment Program will host the meeting from Sept. 23-26 in Athens, Greece. NASA scientists study climate change and research the timing of the recovery of the ozone layer.

Dark matter key to formation of first stars
September 14, 2007 07:14 AM - Reuters

Dark matter may have played a key role in forming the earliest stars, according to researchers who suggest that the mysterious and invisible material may also have been responsible for creating black holes. Their experiment offer clues to the universe just after the big bang some 13 billion years ago and indicates that dark matter helped set the thermostat on the first stars, said Tom Theuns, an astronomer at Durham University, who led the study published in the journal Science on Thursday.

Curbing Key Chemicals Could Beat Kyoto Climate Goals
September 13, 2007 08:36 PM - Alister Doyle, Environment Correspondent

OSLO (Reuters) - Curbs on chemicals that damage the ozone layer could have a side-effect of reducing far more greenhouse gases than the main U.N. plan for confronting climate change, the U.N. Environment Programme (UNEP) said on Thursday. About 191 governments will meet in Montreal from September 17 to 21 to seek ways to speed up freezing on production and phasing out ozone-depleting HCFC gases, widely used in fridges and air conditioners, that also trap heat in the atmosphere. "If governments accept accelerated action on HCFCs, we can look forward to not only a faster recovery of the ozone layer, but a further important contribution to the climate change challenge," Achim Steiner, head of UNEP, said in a statement.

Chrysler Sets Up New Hybrid Development Unit
September 13, 2007 08:31 PM - Kevin Krolicki, Reuters

DETROIT (Reuters) - Chrysler LLC said on Thursday it was creating a new unit to jump-start its development of hybrid and electric vehicles, pushing the newly private automaker into a fast-growing segment where it now lags. Chrysler, which has been hurt by its reliance on sales of trucks and sport-utility vehicles, said it was creating a new organization within the company called "Envi" -- from "environment" -- to develop more energy efficient vehicles. The new development unit will be headed by Lou Rhodes, who had previously headed Chrysler's advanced engineering and vehicle concept development teams, Chrysler said.

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