Sci/tech

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.

Physicists Pin Down Atomic Spin For Spintronics
September 13, 2007 04:59 PM - University of California, Berkeley

Berkeley, California - Scientists who dream of shrinking computers to the nanoscale look to atomic spin as one possible building block for both processor and memory, yet setting the spin of an atom, let alone measuring it, has been a challenge.

Now, University of California, Berkeley, physicists have succeeded in measuring the spin of a single atom, moving one step closer to quantum computers and "spintronic" devices built from nanoscale transistors based on atomic spin.

New evidence on the role of climate in Neanderthal extinction
September 13, 2007 06:44 AM - University of Leeds

The mystery of what killed the Neanderthals has moved a step closer to resolution after an international study led by the University of Leeds has ruled out one of the competing theories — catastrophic climate change — as the most likely cause.

260 million-year-old reptiles from Russia possessed the first modern ears
September 12, 2007 07:51 AM - Public Library of Science

The discovery of the first anatomically modern ear in a group of 260 million-year-old fossil reptiles significantly pushes back the date of the origin of an advanced sense of hearing, and suggests the first known adaptations to living in the dark.

Carmakers turn "green" but is it a smokescreen?
September 12, 2007 07:46 AM - Erik Kirschbaum -Reuters

Green is the color at the Frankfurt International Motor Show as carmakers, with carmakers tripping over each other to make eyebrow-raising claims their vehicles are "clean" and environmentally friendly. But is it all just a giant green smoke screen?

Ford turns harmful fumes into electricity.
September 11, 2007 06:08 PM - Ford Motor Company

Ford is further advancing its commitment to eco-friendly manufacturing technology by installing the third generation of its patented Fumes-to-Fuel system at Oakville Assembly Plant. The industry-leading pollution-control system converts emissions from the plant’s paint shop into electricity to help power the plant. The Oakville system will launch with an internal combustion engine and after a year of testing and further development will migrate to a stationary large-scale fuel cell to enhance the system’s effectiveness.

America's parking lots contributing to pollution and warming.
September 11, 2007 05:14 PM - Purdue University

From suburban driveways to the sprawling lots that spring up around big retailers, Americans devote lots of space to parking spaces - a growing land-use trend that plays a role in heating up urban areas and adding to water pollution, according to a recent study.

Researchers To Study Ecological Genomics
September 11, 2007 05:03 PM - Paul Schaefer, ENN

MANHATTAN -- A research geneticist at Kansas State University, will be taking a much closer look at the complex relationship between genes in a microscopic worm and a changing environment. "Global change" says Dr Michael Herman,"is making the environment sick, and we're using genomics to understand exactly what's going wrong." A big federal grant will allow him to continue his research on soil nematodes, a nearly microscopic organism, in the emerging field of ecological genomics. The money comes from a National Science Foundation grant, $622,000. With it, Dr Herman will further his research on soil nematodes, a nearly microscopic type of worm, in the emerging field of ecological genomics.

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