Sci/tech

Solar Windows
November 17, 2010 01:38 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

Windows let in light and with the light solar heat. There are many forms of passive design control of windows to maximize the light, collect the heat, and maximize or minimize the heat that enters through the window. Heat is energy and can be theoretically transformed into power and electricity. A new type of transparent solar film developed by the U.S. Department of Energy could turn windows into clean electricity generators. Harnessing the power of the sun means placing solar collection devices where they are most likely to be in direct contact with its rays. For many years, that ideal place has been the roofs of homes and businesses, but newer technologies are aimed at expanding this range to windows as well.

Success! Hayabusa Captured Asteroid Dust
November 16, 2010 08:16 AM - Ian O'Neill, Discovery News

In July, Japanese scientists announced that they had found something inside Hayabusa's 40cm-wide sample return capsule, but it was far from certain as to what that "something" was. Was it dusty contamination from reentry? Or was it precious asteroid dust, the very thing the sample return mission set out to capture? Now we have an answer.

Troposphere is warming too, decades of data show
November 16, 2010 07:12 AM - Deborah Zabarenko, Environment Correspondent, Reuters

Not only is Earth's surface warming, but the troposphere -- the lowest level of the atmosphere, where weather occurs -- is heating up too, U.S. and British meteorologists reported on Monday. In a review of four decades of data on troposphere temperatures, the scientists found that warming in this key atmospheric layer was occurring, just as many researchers expected it would as more greenhouse gases built up and trapped heat close to the Earth. This study aims to put to rest a controversy that began 20 years ago, when a 1990 scientific report based on satellite observations raised questions about whether the troposphere was warming, even as Earth's surface temperatures climbed.

Contest Challenges Youth to "Get to Know" Their Wild Neighbors
November 16, 2010 06:37 AM - Editor, ENN

Renowned wildlife artists Robert Bateman and Wyland are challenging American youth to get outdoors and "get to know" their wild neighbors of other species by entering the Get to Know Contest. Youth age 5-18 are invited to create art, writing photography and video entries based on first-hand experiences with nature, which they can submit at www.gettoknow.ca until November 30, 2010. Bateman and Wyland hope the Get to Know Contest will inspire youth to build meaningful connections with nature. "The investment we are making by connecting youth with nature is the most important one we can make for this generation," says Wyland. Youth disconnection from nature stems from the trend of young Americans spending progressively more time indoors, to the detriment of healthy outdoor activity. As of 2010, American school-aged youth are packing a staggering 53 hours a week in front of entertainment media screens – up from 44 hours per week in 2004. And while they are aware of global environmental issues like climate change and deforestation in the Amazon, they often cannot name ten different plants and animals in their own backyard. "Caring for this planet begins with getting to know our neighbours of other species", reiterates Robert Bateman, who started the Get to Know Contest in Canada in 2000.

New Bomb-Sniffing Machine Able to Replace Dog
November 11, 2010 09:37 AM - David A Gabel, ENN

Dogs have been used by the humans for many years. Their greatest tool, which has been prized by authorities in particular, is their incredibly sensitive nose. Some experts believe that their sense of smell is 100,000 times better than that of humans. However, their reputation as bomb-sniffers is now being put to the test with the development of a new electronic sensor that is more reliable at detecting explosives.

BMW Invests $560M in EV Technology
November 9, 2010 08:37 AM - Leon Kaye, Triple Pundit

Compared to other automobile manufacturers, BMW has been behind in electric car research and development. Considering the demographic to which BMW markets, the lack of such a move was surprising. Early adopters with plenty of pocket change are a compelling demographic for BMW.

Light Pollution Blankets Even the Darkest Skies
November 9, 2010 08:26 AM - Matthew Hibbard, Discovery News

Bryce Canyon National Park is known for its unique geology and sprawling landscape. During the Ice Age, glaciers sliced through the red stone leaving behind odd shapes and beautiful scenery. But the park's beauty doesn't disappear once the sun sets, in fact, it lights up.

China considering pollution rules for rare earth production
November 7, 2010 10:07 AM - Reuters, Beijing

China's industry ministry is considering regulations to tighten pollution standards for rare earth producers, Xinhua news agency reported on Sunday, a move the country's top firm said might further raise export prices. Yang Wanxi, a government adviser involved in preparing the new regulations, said a draft had been filed with the Ministry of Industry and Information, aiming to force producers to upgrade production techniques, Xinhua said. China, which accounts for 97 percent of global output of the elements used in high-tech devices, wind mills, batteries and some weaponry, strictly controls their trade and this year reduced export quotas by 40 percent from 2009 levels, triggering a spike in prices.

Nepal's gene bank gets going
November 4, 2010 08:38 AM - Dipendra Pokharel, SciDevNet

[KATHMANDU] Nepal's newly inaugurated gene bank is expected to help conserve the Himalayan country's rich biodiversity and enhance food security. Inaugurated last month (3 October), the gene bank, set up by the Nepal Agricultural Research Council (NARC) at Lalitpur, already has the capacity to store the seeds of about 50 plant species for up to 100 years.

Electric Vehicles
November 1, 2010 02:48 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

Strangely enough Edison had one of the first electric vehicles and Detroit made them until World War II. Then they died until in the 1990s some electric battery driven cars were recreated as something brand new to the marketplace. Then they withered and were reborn again in the present age of locomotion. Why was this? Is it doomed never to quite win a marker place niche? Although electric cars often give good acceleration and have generally acceptable top speed, the lower powered batteries available in 2010 compared with Carbon-based fuels means that electric cars need batteries that are fairly large fraction of the vehicle mass but still often give a low travel range between charges. Recharging can also take significant lengths of time. For shorter range commuter type journeys, rather than long journeys, electric cars are practical forms of transportation and can be inexpensively recharged overnight but some place to charge is necessary.

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