Sci/tech

Study Reveals How the Brain Generates the Human Tendency for Optimism
October 25, 2007 08:51 AM - NYU

A neural network that may generate the human tendency to be optimistic has been identified by researchers at New York University. As humans, we expect to live longer and be more successful than average, and we underestimate our likelihood of getting a divorce or having cancer. The results, reported in the most recent issue of Nature, link the optimism bias to the same brain regions that show irregularities in depression.

Hybrid Hydrogen Fuel Cell System Develops
October 25, 2007 08:24 AM - , Green Progress

Exide Technologies, a global leader in stored electrical-energy solutions, announced today it has signed an agreement with Ballard Power Systems to develop an on-board hybrid hydrogen fuel cell and lead-acid battery energy system for the forklift truck (or materials handling) market. Exide plans to meet all its hydrogen fuel cell needs in the forklift truck market over the next five years exclusively with Ballard fuel cells.

Chunks of Smashed Moon Detected in Saturn's Rings
October 25, 2007 08:19 AM - Reuters

WASHINGTON  - Big chunks of a moon that was smashed long ago perhaps by a comet have been detected in Saturn's outermost ring, shedding light on the formation of the planet's grand ring system, scientists said on Wednesday.  A camera on NASA's Cassini spacecraft spotted wakes ahead of and trailing behind these fragments, where other ring material has been affected by the gravitational forces exerted by the pieces, they said.

White House Accused Of Watering Down Climate Testimony To Congress
October 24, 2007 04:15 PM - Maggie Fox, Health and Science Editor

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The White House watered down climate change testimony to Congress - testimony by the head of the CDC -- the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The changes were made before the testimony was delivered, according to a watchdog group Both the CD and White House deny it.

The anti-nuclear group Physicians for Social Responsibility said White House officials had forced CDC director Dr. Julie Gerberding to remove specific references about the effects of climate change from Tuesday's testimony to a Senate committee.

Food safety rules tightened after E. coli recall
October 23, 2007 06:20 PM - Reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. food safety inspectors said Tuesday they will expand tests and recall infected meat more rapidly to combat E. coli contamination of meat products after the largest American manufacturer of hamburger patties went out of business this month.

The U.S. Agriculture Department's Food Safety and Inspection Service said in a briefing the number of E. coli recalls climbed to 15 so far in 2007 compared to the five cases reported in all of 2005.

"We want the American consumer to know that FSIS has taken a number of aggressive actions ... associated with this pathogen and we are further expanding these efforts," said Under Secretary for Food Safety Richard Raymond.

The Honda PUYO, Hydrogen and Huggable, Japan Pushes the Envelope
October 23, 2007 04:19 PM - Nick Forland, ENN

PUYO is meant to convey all that is warm and friendly, and put a smile on the face of users and pedestrians. In a world where oil prices are skyrocketing, road rage is on the up and up and cars seem to be designed to accentuate the strength, endurance and killer instinct of a cheetah, the PUYO is a breath of fresh air. Although it seems to be designed by a secret anime department within the Honda R&D confines, the PUYO has a sensibility about it that makes you feel like you could potentially be driving a cloud in a Hayao Miyazaki film.

 

Platinum-rich shell, platinum-poor core
October 23, 2007 11:05 AM - John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Hydrogen fuel cells will power the automobiles of the future; however, they have so far suffered from being insufficiently competitive. At the University of Houston, Texas, USA, a team led by Peter Strasser has now developed a new class of electrocatalyst that could help to improve the capacity of fuel cells. The active phase of the catalyst consists of nanoparticles with a platinum-rich shell and a core made of an alloy of copper, cobalt, and platinum. This catalyst demonstrates the highest activity yet observed for the reduction of oxygen.

Researchers caution against genetic ancestry testing
October 22, 2007 11:33 AM - Yasmin Anwar, UC berkeley

BERKELEY – For many Americans, the potential to track one's DNA to a specific country, region or tribe with a take-home kit is highly alluring. But while the popularity of genetic ancestry testing is rising - particularly among African Americans - the technology is flawed and could spawn unwelcome societal consequences, according to researchers from several institutions nationwide, including the University of California, Berkeley. "Because race has such profound social, political and economic consequences, we should be wary of allowing the concept to be redefined in a way that obscures its historical roots and disconnects from its cultural and socioeconomic context," says the article to be published today (Thursday, Oct. 18) in the journal Science. The article recommends that the American Society of Human Genetics and other genetic and anthropological associations develop policy statements that make clear the limitations and potential dangers of genetic ancestry testing.

Bee Expert: Insecticides, Climate, Malnutrition, Paracites And Microbes Collapsing Bee Colonies
October 22, 2007 11:15 AM - Paul Schaefer, ENN

Davis, California - Noted University of California, Davis honey bee specialist Eric Mussen fingered a line-up of prime suspects in the case of  Disappearing Bees. Mussen identified malnutrition, parasitic mites, infectious microbes and insecticide contamination as among the possible culprits. It's a complex issue, he said, but one thing is certain: "It seems unlikely that we will find a specific, new and different reason for why bees are dying."

"One third of our U.S. diet depends on honey bees," Mussen said. "If bees produce fruits and vegetables somewhere else, do we (Americans) want to be as dependent on food as we are on oil?"

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