Sci/tech

New solar technology greatly improves performance
February 25, 2008 09:40 AM - ENN

A new coating for solar panels could lead to more efficient solar collection. The energy from sunlight falling on only 9 percent of California’s Mojave Desert could power all of the United States’ electricity needs if the energy could be efficiently harvested, according to some estimates. Unfortunately, current-generation solar cell technologies are too expensive and inefficient for wide-scale commercial applications.

Gene discovery may lead to new baldness drugs
February 25, 2008 09:05 AM - Reuters

LONDON (Reuters) - Researchers have identified a gene linked to hair loss that could lead to new drugs to treat baldness. The gene is responsible for a rare hereditary form of hair loss known as Hypotrichosis simplex, a condition affecting 1 in 200,000 people, in which people begin going bald in childhood, the researchers reported in the journal Nature Genetics.

Amazon nuts help fuel first biofuel flight
February 24, 2008 08:22 AM - Reuters

LONDON (Reuters) - Nuts picked from Amazon rainforests helped fuel the world's first commercial airline flight powered by renewable energy on Sunday. A Virgin Atlantic jumbo jet flew from London to Amsterdam with one of its fuel tanks filled with a bio-jet blend including babassu oil and coconut oil.

GM exec stands by calling global warming a "crock"
February 23, 2008 10:08 AM - Reuters

DETROIT (Reuters) - General Motors Corp Vice Chairman Bob Lutz has defended remarks he made dismissing global warming as a "total crock of s---," saying his views had no bearing on GM's commitment to build environmentally friendly vehicles. Lutz, GM's outspoken product development chief, has been under fire from Internet bloggers since last month when he was quoted as making the remark to reporters in Texas.

Japan launches experimental Internet satellite
February 23, 2008 06:36 AM - Reuters

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan launched an experimental communications satellite on Saturday as part of an ambitious space program that could help ensure super high-speed Internet access in remote parts of Japan and elsewhere in Asia. The H-2A rocket carrying the 2.7 tonne "KIZUNA" (WINDS) communications satellite took off into over the tiny island of Tanegashima, about 1,000 km (620 miles) south of Tokyo, at 5.55 p.m. (0855 GMT).

U.S. says "virtual fence" on border ready for use
February 23, 2008 06:23 AM - Reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A high-tech "virtual fence" on part of the U.S. border with Mexico is finally ready for service and the technology can fight illegal crossings all along the frontier, the Homeland Security chief said on Friday. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff made the announcement during a review of border-control efforts, at which officials also unveiled higher fines for employers who hire illegal immigrants.

Risks of Nanotechnology Remain Uncertain
February 22, 2008 09:48 AM - , Organic Consumers Association

Toxicology experiments on nanomaterials often seem to run the same way: put some nanoparticles, carbon nanotubes, quantum dots, or other kind of nanosized structures in a petri dish, water column, soil sample, or lab test tube of choice. Then expose daphnids, microbes, zebrafish, pig lung cells, human skin cells, or other model organisms to the new and exciting materials. Sit back and see what happens.

Gravity powered lamp generates as much light as 40 Watt bulb
February 22, 2008 09:36 AM - ENN

Clay Moulton of Springfield, Va., who received his Master of Science in Architecture with a concentration in industrial design from the College of Architecture and Urban Studies in 2007, created the lamp as a part of this master’s thesis. The LED lamp, named Gravia, has just won second place in the Greener Gadgets Design Competition as part of the Greener Gadgets Conference in New York City. Concept illustrations of Gravia depict an acrylic column a little over four feet high. The entire column glows when activated. The electricity is generated by the slow fall of a mass that spins a rotor. The resulting energy powers 10 high-output LEDs that fire into the acrylic lens, creating a diffuse light. The operation is silent and the housing is elegant and cord free – completely independent of electrical infrastructure.

China to test deep-sea submersible: report
February 21, 2008 09:37 PM - Reuters

BEIJING (Reuters) - China is to test a manned submersible that can reach up to 7,000 meters (23,000 feet) below sea level, the official Xinhua news agency reported on Friday, citing the State Oceanic Administration. Research on the submersible will be given "equal importance with China's space endeavors," the report said. China put a man in space in 2003, part of an ambitious space program that includes its first lunar probe launched last year.

Cleaner water through nanotechnology
February 21, 2008 10:32 AM - ENN

Tiny particles of pure silica coated with an active material could be used to remove toxic chemicals, bacteria, viruses, and other hazardous materials from water much more effectively and at lower cost than conventional water purification methods, according to researchers writing in the current issue of the International Journal of Nanotechnology.

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