Sci/tech

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.

Britain makes camera that "sees" under clothes
March 9, 2008 07:21 AM - Reuters

LONDON (Reuters) - A British company has developed a camera that can detect weapons, drugs or explosives hidden under people's clothes from up to 25 meters away in what could be a breakthrough for the security industry. The T5000 camera, created by a company called ThruVision, uses what it calls "passive imaging technology" to identify objects by the natural electromagnetic rays -- known as Terahertz or T-rays -- that they emit.

MIT tackles urban gridlock with foldable car idea
March 7, 2008 04:40 PM - Reuters

CAMBRIDGE, Massachusetts (Reuters) - Wouldn't it be nice to drive a car into town without worrying about finding a parking space? Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have devised just such a vehicle, a futuristic "City Car" that could even drive itself.

Low-cost reusable material could capture carbon dioxide from power plants
March 7, 2008 09:15 AM - Georgia Institute of Technology Research News

Researchers have developed a new, low-cost material for capturing carbon dioxide (CO2) from the smokestacks of coal-fired power plants and other generators of the greenhouse gas. Produced with a simple one-step chemical process, the new material has a high capacity for absorbing carbon dioxide – and can be reused many times. Combined with improved heat management techniques, the new material could provide a cost-effective way to capture large quantities of carbon dioxide from coal-burning facilities. Existing CO2 capture techniques involve the use of solid materials that lack sufficient stability for repeated use – or liquid adsorbents that are expensive and require significant amounts of energy.

Indian government boosts science spending
March 7, 2008 12:42 AM - , SciDevNet

[NEW DELHI] India's new science budget, announced last week (29 February) includes a 16 per cent increase in science spending. The 2008–09 budget also includes a new fund to attract students to science careers, the establishment of three new Indian Institutes of Technology and a rise in funds for manned space missions. The total science budget is just over US$6 billion (around 242 billion Indian Rupees), compared with last year's budget of around US$5 billion.

How to recycle your cell phone, painlessly
March 6, 2008 11:39 PM - , Triple Pundit

Last week I participated in a ritual that's becoming increasingly common these days: replacing a (mostly) functional cell phone. Bluetooth and my beat up phone were not playing nice, and I need to have a headset to filter out noise as I talk to clients, colleagues, and co-conspirators. So now I find myself with a semi recent vintage RAZR huddling in my miscellaneous drawer, gathering dust. Fortunately for it, I happen to be someone who knows a bit about what to do with such a device, as I wrote about here so it will be going off to Second Rotation. Or someone else who cares to pay me a better price for my old gear. Paid? For your old cell phone? Yes.

'Thirsty' electric cars threaten water resources
March 6, 2008 09:59 AM - New Scientist

They may not be gas-guzzlers, but electric cars have a raging thirst for water. A comparison of the volume of coolant water used in the thermoelectric power plants that provide most of our electricity and that used in extracting and refining petroleum suggests that electric vehicles require significantly more water per mile than those powered by gasoline.

E-design: Ecology, electronics shaping home interiors
March 6, 2008 09:37 AM - , Radish Magazine

What’s next in home design and decor? Greenness and gadgetry, that’s what. Local design experts say that technology and ecology are shaping the way homeowners build, renovate and otherwise outfit their homes, and they see energy savings and electronics as fuels for the fire. “I think that laptops — and I’m not quite sure where it’s going to go — are going to change the way we use our spaces,” says licensed interior designer Davia Gallup of Davenport, Iowa, owner of HomeFront Interior design. Gallup uses a computer-aided drafting program like the one seen on the HGTV network’s “Hidden Spaces” program to show her clients what their dream spaces will look like before they’re renovated or built from the ground up.

Tree Of Animal Life Has Branches Rearranged, By Evolutionary Biologists
March 6, 2008 09:32 AM - Boston University

The study, which appears in Nature, settles some long-standing debates about the relationships between major groups of animals and offers up a few surprises. The big shocker: Comb jellyfish -- common and extremely fragile jellies with well-developed tissues -- appear to have diverged from other animals even before the lowly sponge, which has no tissue to speak of. This finding calls into question the very root of the animal tree of life, which traditionally placed sponges at the base.

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