Monday, May 31, 2010
Posted by qualityraja at 2:35 AM
Thursday, May 27, 2010
Posted by qualityraja at 9:17 AM
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
With a 0-60mph acceleration of four seconds, this high-adrenaline experience blew away forever the stereotypical image of electric vehicles, the plodding milk-floats I'd known since my childhood.
But if battery power can be cool is it ever going to be practical? The question has urgent relevance as the coalition government declares its aim of pushing for an electron revolution on our roads.
A timely report by the Royal Academy of Engineering lays out the reality of turning some of Britain's 30 million cars electric in coming decades. The conclusion? The challenges are do-able but also pretty daunting.So, getting started in first: can the batteries ever be made cheaply enough to tempt consumers? If they're big enough to get you a reasonable distance, they may add thousands to the price and potential consumers may think twice.And how long will the batteries last? It depends on the type but typically they should be good for at least 1,000 charges which should give you at least three years' use.And just as mobile phone batteries have become smaller and lighter, innovation should also drive improvements in vehicle power sources too.
Second gear, charging-up: some 4,000 charging points are due to be installed in pilot schemes in the North-east, Milton Keynes and London this year.A good start, according to the authors, but what if you don't have off-street parking?
As Professor Kemp said: "You can't exactly have cables running out through the letter-box across the pavement into the street. And if it's raining, are you really going to park at a charging point a mile down the road from your house?"'Chicken and egg'
Third gear, charging at your destination: what happens if thousands of electric car drivers descend on one spot - a football match, for example - and all want charging in the car park at the same time? Who pays for that infrastructure and who'll organise it? It's what Professor Kemp calls "a chicken and egg situation": charging-points won't be installed up and down the country until there are plenty of electric cars on the roads. And people won't buy electric cars until they'll be able to get a fill-up.Fourth gear, the bills: at the moment, electric car ownership is encouraged with tax breaks. Right now, this doesn't cost the government much in lost revenue. But what if half the country's cars are exempt from Vehicle Excise Duty? How would the Treasury react then? The authors say a long-term policy on incentives is essential.
At current prices, a full charge for a typical electric car might cost about £2 - drawing enough power to drive about 161km (100 miles). Not bad compared to conventional fuel.
Finally, fifth gear, the carbon value: plug-in cars will only be as green as the electricity they're using. According to the report, electric cars powered by the current mix of sources are only "marginally greener" than the most economical petrol or diesel cars.
In an earlier report, the Royal Academy of Engineering had mapped out the scale of the task involved in moving to a low-carbon electricity supply - with a mix of energy efficiency, renewables, nuclear and clean coal. This new report adds urgency to the calls for decisions as soon as possible.Speeding ahead
The key development, says Professor Kemp, alongside a move away from fossil fuels, is a so-called "smart grid". Backed by the coalition, this is an intelligent network in which demand better matches supply.
If cars were programmed to be charged at night, when demand is low, rather than at peak times, then their impact on power generation could be minimised.So, what are the chances of our next cars being electric?Professor Blythe, who's studying consumer reaction to battery-powered vehicles, reckons 5-10% of British cars will be electric within 10 years.Just back from a motor show in Yokohama, he says the Japanese are at least a year ahead of us - even experimenting with "inductive charging" where cars can be refuelled without a cable connection but by parking over a special plate.The potential for change is clearly massive but weaning British motorists off liquid fuel will be an uphill task, as the authors acknowledge.
"Cars are iconic," says Professor Kemp, "and central to our contemporary culture. In Britain, you would not get 6.4million people tuning in to TV programmes called Top Domestic Appliances or Top Condensing Boilers in the way they do for Top Gear."Top Battery? Top Charging Point? Let's see.
Posted by qualityraja at 9:25 PM
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
Posted by qualityraja at 6:56 PM
Monday, May 24, 2010
Sunday, May 23, 2010
The shape of the Hammerhead bringsfurther benefits, the researchers discoverd By moving their heads sideways as they swim, the shark can see much of what isbehind them.More extraordinary is that the position of eyes allows the shark to see through 360 degrees in the vertical plane meaning the animal can see above and below them at all times. As well as improving their ability to catch prey, this may be beneficial to smaller shark that are potential prey to larger shark.
Posted by qualityraja at 8:30 PM
Friday, May 21, 2010
Scientists in the US have succeeded in developing the first synthetic living cell.
The researchers constructed a bacterium's "genetic software" and transplanted it into a host cell.The resulting microbe then looked and behaved like the species "dictated" by the synthetic DNA.The advance, published in Science, has been hailed as a scientific landmark, but critics say there are dangers posed by synthetic organisms.The researchers hope eventually to design bacterial cells that will produce medicines and fuels and even absorb greenhouse gases.
The team was led by Dr Craig Venter of the J Craig Venter Institute (JCVI) in Maryland and California.He and his colleagues had previously made a synthetic bacterial genome, and transplanted the genome of one bacterium into another.
Now, the scientists have put both methods together, to create what they call a "synthetic cell", although only its genome is truly synthetic.
Dr Venter likened the advance to making new software for the cell.The researchers copied an existing bacterial genome. They sequenced its genetic code and then used "synthesis machines" to chemically construct a copy.Dr Venter told BBC News: "We've now been able to take our synthetic chromosome and transplant it into a recipient cell - a different organism.
The new bacteria replicated over a billion times, producing copies that contained and were controlled by the constructed, synthetic DNA.
"This is the first time any synthetic DNA has been in complete control of a cell," said Dr Venter.
Dr Venter and his colleagues hope eventually to design and build new bacteria that will perform useful functions. I think they're going to potentially create a new industrial revolution," he said.
"If we can really get cells to do the production that we want, they could help wean us off oil and reverse some of the damage to the environment by capturing carbon dioxide."
Dr Venter and his colleagues are already collaborating with pharmaceutical and fuel companies to design and develop chromosomes for bacteria that would produce useful fuels and new vaccines.
But critics say that the potential benefits of synthetic organisms have been overstated.
Dr Helen Wallace from Genewatch UK, an organisation that monitors developments in genetic technologies, told BBC News that synthetic bacteria could be dangerous.
"If you release new organisms into the environment, you can do more harm than good," she said.
"By releasing them into areas of pollution, [with the aim of cleaning it up], you're actually releasing a new kind of pollution.
"We don't know how these organisms will behave in the environment."
The risks are unparalleled, we need safety evaluation for this kind of radical research and protections from military or terrorist misuseDr Wallace accused Dr Venter of playing down the potential drawbacks.
"He isn't God," she said, "he's actually being very human; trying to get money invested in his technology and avoid regulation that would restrict its use."
But Dr Venter said that he was "driving the discussions" about the regulations governing this relatively new scientific field and about the ethical implications of the work.
He said: "In 2003, when we made the first synthetic virus, it underwent an extensive ethical review that went all the way up to the level of the White House.
"And there have been extensive reviews including from the National Academy of Sciences, which has done a comprehensive report on this new field.
"We think these are important issues and we urge continued discussion that we want to take part in."Ethical discussions
Dr Gos Micklem, a geneticist from the University of Cambridge, said that the advance was "undoubtedly a landmark" study.
But, he said, "there is already a wealth of simple, cheap, powerful and mature techniques for genetically engineering a range of organisms. Therefore, for the time being, this approach is unlikely to supplant existing methods for genetic engineering".
The ethical discussions surrounding the creation of synthetic or artificial life are set to continue.
Professor Julian Savulescu, from the Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics at the University of Oxford, said the potential of this science was "in the far future, but real and significant".
"But the risks are also unparalleled," he continued. "We need new standards of safety evaluation for this kind of radical research and protections from military or terrorist misuse and abuse.
"These could be used in the future to make the most powerful bioweapons imaginable. The challenge is to eat the fruit without the worm."
The advance did not pose a danger in the form of bio-terrorism, Dr Venter said.
"That was reviewed extensively in the US in a report from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and a Washington defence think tank, indicating that there were very small new dangers from this.
"Most people are in agreement that there is a slight increase in the potential for harm. But there's an exponential increase in the potential benefit to society," he told BBC's Newsnight.
"The flu vaccine you'll get next year could be developed by these processes," he added.
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
IF that much UNMELTING ICE FORMATIONS of hundreds of years was required by Nature to put a cap on the EXPLODING POLAR VOLCANOES then one can imagine the HEAT COMPRESSED AND DEPRESSED INSIDE THE CORE OF THE EARTH for so many years....SOMETHING that will make us think that had it not been for the ICE-CAPS the EARTH would have been a FURNACE OF FIRE AND SOOT and BRIMSTONE.......
The MELTDOWN OF THE ICE-CAPS shows that the EARTH IS GOING BACK TO SQUARE ONE....PREHISTORIC HEAT OF FORMATION OF EARTH....EARTHLINGS BETTER SLOW DOWN THEIR PACE OF DEVELOPMENT(at the expense of Nature) and slow down on CAR POLLUTION,DIESEL-EMISSIONS,CFC GAS EMISSIONS,AVIATION TURBINE FUEL EMISSIONS,and a lot many CARBON CONTAMINATIONS OF THE ATMOSPHERE
Posted by qualityraja at 9:46 AM
Russia, US may jointly develop spacecraft engines
Washington, May 18 (IANS/RIA Novosti) Russia and the US may soon reach an agreement on the joint development of new engines for spacecraft designed for exploration of deep space,a Russian deputy prime minister said.Sergei Ivanov said Monday during a US visit that future exploration of outer space will require nuclear-powered engines for carrier rockets and spacecraft, and work on these costly development projects should start as soon as possible.A decision (on Russian-US cooperation in this area) may be adopted soon, probably during the upcoming visit of Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to the United States,' Ivanov told reporters in Washington.
US President Barack Obama wants to cut NASA's development of a new carrier rocket and turn launches of astronauts over to private companies. His plans have been criticised for leaving the US overly reliant on Russia for missions to the International Space Station (ISS) after the Space Shuttle fleet is retired later this year.
Ivanov said Moscow and Washington had been effectively cooperating in the sphere of space exploration but with the expiration of the service life of the ISS in 2020 both countries should have new space projects to apply their joint efforts.
'It is a very ambitious task, a serious challenge both in technological and financial terms. That is why we realise that we can achieve the goal only by joining technological and financial efforts of both countries with participation of international community,' Ivanov said.
The Russian government allocated 500 million rubles ($16.7 million) in 2010 to start a project to build a spacecraft with a nuclear engine. NASA started a programme to develop a nuclear propulsion system in 2003, and spent several hundred million dollars on the project before cutting it back.
The head of the Russian Federal Space Agency Roscosmos said in January that the draft design of spacecraft powered by a nuclear engine would be finalised by 2012, and the financing for further development in the next nine years would require an investment of at least 17 billion rubles (over $580 million).
Anatoly Perminov said nuclear engines for spaceships were a very promising area and should be created to make flights to Mars and other planets. Solar power is used for missions to the inner planets, but at distances beyond Earth's orbit the sun's energy is too weak to be used as a power source.
Posted by qualityraja at 7:09 AM
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
In February 2008, Emslie and colleagues first published work about these teenagers, who had failed to respond to a class of antidepressant medications known as SSRIs, or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors.
SSRIs, are the most common drug treatment for depression, although about 40 percent of teenagers on the drugs don''t respond to the first treatment.
After three months, nearly 55 percent of the teens in the study improved when they both switched to a different antidepressant and participated in cognitive behavioural therapy, which examines thinking patterns to modify behaviour.
The study also found that after three months, about 41 percent of participants showed improvement after just switching to either a different SSRI or to venlafaxine, a non-SSRI type of depression medication.
The researchers have now examined the six-month data from that study, and found that nearly 39 percent of participants who completed six months of treatment no longer had symptoms of depression.
Those participants were more likely to have had lower levels of depression, hopelessness and anxiety at the beginning of the study.
Those who responded to the new regimen during the first three months were more likely to achieve remission, meaning minimal symptoms of depression or no symptoms at all.
Many of those participants, who came from six sites across the country, responded during the first six weeks of treatment.
Current treatment guidelines suggest staying with a treatment for at least two to three months before trying another treatment.
"In light of our new findings, those guidelines may need to be revisited because these latest results suggest more aggressive treatment early on may improve outcomes," said Emslie.
The study has been published in a future edition of the American Journal of Psychiatry.
Posted by qualityraja at 9:33 AM
Saturday, May 15, 2010
Vitamin D, which helps fight a host of diseases, may also keep people mobile in their golden age, a new study has claimed.
The Wake Forest University study found that elderly people with the highest levels of vitamin D had better physical function and mobility than others.
"Those with better vitamin D levels started out better and ended up better on physical performance tests," study author Denise Houston, a professor of internal medicine at the University, was quoted as saying by WebMD.
The study tracked 2,788 seniors with an average age of 75 for four years and assessed vitamin D status by analysing each person's blood for 25-hydroxyvitamin D -- a precursor activated vitamin D.
The researchers looked at how quickly each participant could walk a short distance about, six yards, and rise from a chair five times, as well as balance tests.
They found physical function declined during the study period, but it remained significantly higher among those with the highest vitamin D levels at the beginning of the study.
"Over time, everybody declined in the tasks, as expected," Houston said.
However, those who started out with higher vitamin D did better on the tests than those whose vitamin D levels were lower at the start.
"People who had higher levels started out with better physical functioning and because they started out better, they remained at higher physical functioning," she said.
"Those with adequate or optimal vitamin D status [the highest group] had approximately 5 per cent higher physical performance scores and 5 per cent faster walk speed on the 400-meter walk compared to those with insufficient vitamin D status at the 4-year follow up," she added.
Next, Houston wants to focus on whether vitamin D blood levels can predict disability in older adults and whether supplements can ward off disability and mobility problems.
The findings were presented at the American Society for Nutrition at the Experimental Biology meeting in Anaheim, California.
Posted by qualityraja at 10:10 PM
Sunday, May 9, 2010
Have aliens been visiting Earth
Accusing world famous astrophysicist Stephen Hawking of spreading misinformation about threats from aliens, former Canadian defence minister Paul Hellyer claimed recently that extraterrestrials have actually been visiting earth for decades.
Rather than harm mankind, he said, their (aliens') spaceships have provided us information for triggering today's microchip and IT revolution on our planet.
Hawking has recently warned humanity against contacting aliens. According to Hawking, if human beings tried to contact aliens, they could invade us and take away our most important resources.
Hawking has also said that though most extraterrestrial life could be only in the form of small animals, there could also be “nomads, looking to conquer and colonize” other planets.
Hellyer told the Canadian Press that “the reality is that they (aliens) have been visiting earth for decades and probably millennia and have contributed considerably to our knowledge.”
He said our computer screens have their origins in alien spaceships.
Blaming Hawking for scaring mankind about aliens, he said, “He (Hawking) is indulging in some pretty scary talk there that I would have hoped would not come from someone with such an established stature.
Posted by qualityraja at 9:54 PM
Friday, May 7, 2010
It is 40 years to the week since the first data packets were sent over the Arpanet.That was the research network commissioned by the US Department of Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (Arpa) to see whether computer-to-computer communications could be made faster, more reliable and more robust by using the novel technique of packet switching instead of the more conventional circuit switched networks of the day.
Instead of connecting computers rather as telephone exchanges work, using switches to set up an electric circuit over which data could be sent, packet switching breaks a message into chunks and sends each chunk - or packet - separately, reassembling them at the receiving end.
Late on October 29 1969 Charley Kline sat down at a computer in the computer laboratory at UCLA, where he was a student, and established a link to a system at the nearby Stanford Research Institute, sending the first data packets over the nascent Arpanet.
This will finally allow users of these domains to have a domain name that is entirely in characters based on their native language, and marks an important point in the internationalisation of the whole internet.
Later in the year permanent links were made between four sites in the US, and over the following years the ARPANET grew into a worldwide research network.
Arpanet was one of the computer networks that coalesced into today's internet, and the influence of the standards and protocols established there can still be seen today, making this anniversary as important for historians of the network society as July's celebration of the 1969 Apollo 11 landing is for those who study space science.
Technology does not stand still, and over the years the way computers communicate with each other has changed enormously. Early Arpanet computers used the Network Control Protocol to talk to each other, but in 1983 this was replaced with the more powerful and flexible TCP/IP - the transmission control protocol and internet protocol.
Today we are in the process of migrating our networks from IP version 4 to IP version 6, which allows for more devices to be connected to the network and is more secure and robust, but work continues to improve and refine all aspects of the network architecture.
One area that is changing is the domain name system, DNS. This links the unique number that identifies every device on the internet with one or more names, making it possible to type in "www.bbc.co.uk" and go to the right web server without having to remember its number.
Designed by engineer Paul Mockapetris in 1983, DNS is a vital component of the network as well as the web, including e-mail and instant messaging. Every time a programme uses a name for a computer instead of a number, DNS is involved.
However DNS, like so much of the network's architecture, was developed by English-speaking westerners, and its original design only allowed standard ASCII characters to be used in names.
ASCII, the American Standard Code for Information Interchange, is a way of representing letters, numbers and punctuation in the binary code used by computers, and was originally based on old telegraphic codes.
It works really well for English, but had to be extended and updated to cope with other alphabets, and has now been replaced by the much more powerful and capable Unicode standard, able to represent non-Latin languages as well as those based on the Latin alphabet.
Being able to write in your own language is one thing, but it's also important to be able to have e-mail or website addresses that use it. Unfortunately the way DNS was rolled out means that key applications would not work with anything other than ASCII, making it impossible to simply add in Chinese or Arabic characters to domain names.
China already has the biggest net using population
As someone has pointed out to me that DNS itself is happy with any character set - it's the way e-mail and web browsers work that's the real problem.
Work has been going on since the mid 90's to change this and provide what are called "internationalized domain names", and many organisations are now able to have websites and e-mail addresses that include Chinese, Cyrillic, Hebrew, Arabic and many other alphabets.
The process took a significant step forward this week when Icann, the international body that looks after domain names, fast-tracked a proposal to provide internationalised versions of two letter country domains, such as .uk and .jp.
This will finally allow users of these domains to have a domain name that is entirely in characters based on their native language, and marks an important point in the internationalisation of the whole internet.
It has taken a long time to make this happen, but the problems of re-engineering such a key part of the network infrastructure without breaking anything are enormous, and anyone who reads through the technical documentation will see just how complex the process has been.
And it was definitely necessary to do it properly - the fuss over the recent retuning of Freeview boxes in the UK was bad enough, but trying to persuade a billion internet users to update their software to support a new form of DNS would have been impossible.
Over the next five years the majority of new internet users will come from the non English-speaking world. It's good to see that those of us who have helped build the network so far are making it more welcoming for them.
Posted by qualityraja at 5:21 AM
Thursday, May 6, 2010
Engine seen boosting spaceflight
A new rocket design may dramatically shorten space travel to Mars. Ad Astra Rocket is developing a plasma-powered engine that it says could transport astronauts to Mars in 39-45 days vs. 9 months for conventional chemical rockets. For astronauts, shorter travel time reduces risks of exposure to potentially deadly radiation, according to Discovery News. The rocket uses magnetic energy to force the charged plasma out the back of the engine, producing thrust. The company plans to launch the rocket in 2014.