Sci/tech

Nano-Threat: Risk and Reality
March 13, 2008 12:08 AM - , Triple Pundit

Broadly considered, there’s probably no field of applied scientific research and development with implications as profound and far-reaching as nanotechnology. Governments and industry are pumping billions into developing nano-engineered materials that may one day in the not to distant future completely overturn the manufacturing of an incredibly wide range of products, from semiconductors and solar cells through weapons and drug delivery systems to everyday food, health and cosmetics products.

OLEDs Printed Like Newspaper: World’s First Demonstration
March 12, 2008 01:39 PM - , MetaEfficient

OLEDs are thin, organic materials sandwiched between two electrodes, which illuminate when an electrical charge is applied. They’re so thin, that they could be applied to rooms as a type of wall paper to glow at the touch of a finger or when someone enters the room. Like LEDs they produce light very efficiently.

Fuel Cells: Japanese harness the power of hydrogen for electricity and hot water
March 12, 2008 09:41 AM - , Triple Pundit

2200 Japanese home owners draw their power and heat their hot water from hydrogen fuel cells. The technology, which extracts energy from the chemical reaction when hydrogen combines with oxygen to form water, is more commonly found as an application for automobiles rather than homes. Developers claim that fuel cells cause one-third less of the pollution that causes global warming than conventional electricity generation does.

Arctic climate models playing key role in polar bear decision
March 12, 2008 09:32 AM - University of Wisconsin-Madison

MADISON - The pending federal decision about whether to protect the polar bear as a threatened species is as much about climate science as it is about climate change. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) is currently considering a proposal to list the polar bear as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act, a proposal largely based on anticipated habitat loss in a warming Arctic.

Bird brains suggest how vocal learning evolved
March 12, 2008 09:28 AM - Public Library of Science

DURHAM, N.C. – Though they perch far apart on the avian family tree, birds with the ability to learn songs use similar brain structures to sing their tunes. Neurobiologists at Duke University Medical Center now have an explanation for this puzzling likeness. In all three groups of birds with vocal learning abilities – songbirds, parrots and hummingbirds – the brain structures for singing and learning to sing are embedded in areas controlling movement, the researchers discovered. The team also found that areas in charge of movement share many functional similarities with the brain areas for singing.

Measuring The Wind To Optimize For Wind Energy
March 11, 2008 10:07 AM - University of Stuttgart

Researchers at the Endowed Chair of Wind Energy (SWE) of the University of Stuttgart are working together with researchers from the University of Oldenburg and other project partners on an alternative remote sensing technique. LIDAR technology (Light Detection and Ranging) is being developed and tested for wind energy applications. This laser-based measurement technique performs wind field measurements in a more flexible and economical way. Currently, LIDAR is the best candidate to replace the met mast based wind measurements, used in power curve calculations, for offshore wind farms.

Wandering Albatrosses Follow Their Nose
March 11, 2008 09:58 AM - University of California, Davis

"This is the first time anyone has looked at the odor-tracking behavior of individual birds in the wild using remote techniques," said Gabrielle Nevitt, professor of neurobiology, physiology and behavior at UC Davis and an author on the study with UC Davis graduate student Marcel Losekoot of the Bodega Marine Laboratory and Henri Weimerskirch of the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, France. Wandering albatrosses fly for thousands of miles across the ocean, usually gliding a few feet above sea level. Floating carrion, especially squid, make up a large part of their diet.

US stands to lose a generation of young researchers
March 11, 2008 09:28 AM - Brokepipeline.org

(Washington, D.C.) – Five consecutive years of flat funding the budget of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is deterring promising young researchers and threatening the future of Americans’ health, a group of seven preeminent academic research institutions warned today. In a new report released here, the group of concerned institutions (six research universities and a major teaching hospital) described the toll that cumulative stagnant NIH funding is taking on the American medical research enterprise. And the leading institutions warned that if NIH does not get consistent and robust support in the future, the nation will lose a generation of young investigators to other careers and other countries and, with them, a generation of promising research that could cure disease for millions for whom no cure currently exists.

Tiny Palau skeletons suggest "hobbits" were dwarfs
March 11, 2008 08:16 AM - Reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Tiny skeletons found in the caves of the Pacific islands of Palau undercut the theory that similar remains found in Indonesia might be a unique new species of humans, researchers reported on Monday. The Palau skeletons, which date to between 900 and 2,800 years ago, appear to have belonged to so-called insular dwarfs -- humans who grew smaller as a result of living on an island, the researchers said.

Colourful idea sparks renewable electricity from paint
March 10, 2008 09:29 AM - www.swan.ac.uk

Dr Dave Worsley (pictured), a Reader in the Materials Research Centre at the University's School of Engineering, is investigating ways of painting solar cells onto the flexible steel surfaces commonly used for cladding buildings. "We have been collaborating with the steel industry for decades," explains Dr Worsely, "but have tended to focus our attention on improving the long-term durability and corrosion-resistance of the steel. We haven't really paid much attention to how we can make the outside of the steel capable of doing something other than looking good.

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