Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

The wrath of 2007: America’s great drought

June 11, 2007

America is facing its worst summer drought since the Dust Bowl years of the Great Depression. Or perhaps worse still.

From the mountains and desert of the West, now into an eighth consecutive dry year, to the wheat farms of Alabama, where crops are failing because of rainfall levels 12 inches lower than usual, to the vast soupy expanse of Lake Okeechobee in southern Florida, which has become so dry it actually caught fire a couple of weeks ago, a continent is crying out for water.

In the south-east, usually a lush, humid region, it is the driest few months since records began in 1895. California and Nevada, where burgeoning population centres co-exist with an often harsh, barren landscape, have seen less rain over the past year than at any time since 1924.

The Sierra Nevada range, which straddles the two states, received only 27 per cent of its usual snowfall in winter, with immediate knock-on effects on water supplies for the populations of Las Vegas and Los Angeles.

Source:  Independent


Moller flies into more red ink

May 16, 2007

The Central Valley maker of the Skycar, Moller International Inc. of Davis says it had a net loss of $551,760 or a penny per share for the first quarter. That’s a bit more red ink than the comparable year-ago quarter when the net loss was $466,789, or a penny per share.

Moller says it had no income in the most recent quarter.

For the nine months ended March 31,Moller flew into a net loss of just over $2 million ($2,032,674) or 4 cents per share compared to a net loss of just over $1.5 million ($1,529,691) or 3 cents per share for the nine months ended March 31, 2006.

“The company currently proposes to produce variations of its M200X, an earlier prototype volantor. Although there is no assurance that this vehicle will meet with success in the market place, the company is actively seeking support for the program and, if found, may choose to move into the production of these vehicles,” it says.

“The Moller Skycar volantor incorporates a patented thrust deflection vane system that redirects thrust, enabling it to hover or to takeoff and land vertically from almost any surface,” it says on its Web site.

Source:  Central Valley Business Times

Experts may have found what’s bugging the bees

April 26, 2007

A fungus that caused widespread loss of bee colonies in Europe and Asia may be playing a crucial role in the mysterious phenomenon known as Colony Collapse Disorder that is wiping out bees across the United States, UC San Francisco researchers said Wednesday.

Researchers have been struggling for months to explain the disorder, and the new findings provide the first solid evidence pointing to a potential cause.

But the results are “highly preliminary” and are from only a few hives from Le Grand in Merced County, UCSF biochemist Joe DeRisi said. “We don’t want to give anybody the impression that this thing has been solved.”

Source:  Los Angeles Times

The Japanese Gyroball Mystery

February 22, 2007

Not Your Average Pitch

New York Times on the mystery surrounding the gyroball.  Is it real, or a myth?

Most major league pitchers throw a fastball, a curveball, a slider and a changeup. Some mix in a sinker. The experimental ones use a knuckleball. None of them throws a gyroball, at least not on purpose.

Is the gyroball a myth, or is it real? And if it is real, what exactly is it?

Kazushi Tezuka says he has the answer, and he flew from Japan to the United States this week to reveal it. Tezuka, a Japanese trainer who is credited with creating the gyroball 12 years ago, walked to the mound at Scottsdale Stadium on Wednesday to show off his invention.

All Sonic, No Boom

February 13, 2007

Popular Science article on the Quiet Supersonic Transport concept, a luxury private jet that could be the first civilian supersonic plane approved for overland routes, thanks to aerodynamics designed to muzzle its sonic boom.

Designed to fly between Mach 1.6 and 1.8 (1,056 to 1,188 mph), the two-engine gull-wing aircraft would leave a sonic wake that’s only one hundredth the strength of the Mach 2–capable Concorde, the 100-seat speed demon that wound up permanently grounded following a fatal accident in 2000.

A design will be chosen next year, and be put on the market by 2014 for about $80 million

Weekend Reader — Jan. 13-14, 2007

January 13, 2007


Monster bunnies to help feed North Korea Spiegel (Germany)

Genetically modified chickens could produce cancer drugs Metro (UK)

Teeny-Weeny Rules for Itty-Bitty Atom Clusters — New York Times

Tech firms improving instead of inventing Washington Post

Watchdog refuses to allow hybrid embryos The Guardian

Virgin space cadets to earn stripes The Sydney Morning Herald

Japan’s pioneers of new space age Japan Times

It’s high time for Japan to ride space tourism wave Japan Times

Scientists see dazzling future The Raleigh News and Observer

Longevity research gets better with age The Baltimore Sun


DNA-tailored medicine moves into mainstream — Scientific American

Hands-on with the world’s tiniest robot — MSNBC

CES – Robots pick up socks, patrol the house, take photos Scientific American

Cold, snow hit southern California — ABC News LA

California winter blast costs millions Los Angeles Times

Telemere length may predict heart disease risk Forbes

Silent Aircraft Initiative unveils concept — Product Design and Development

Autonomous surveillance device deemed effective  Trade Arabia

Resvertrol inhibits tobacco inflammation — M-Prize

Light converting cables could power nanobots Daily Tech

Use of virtual reality spreading in business world  St. Paul Pioneer Press

What will our future planet look like?

January 9, 2007

New York Times takes an interesting look at what our planet may look like in about 25 million years.

Kiss the Mediterranean goodbye. Ditto the Red Sea and its wonderland of coral reefs and exotic sea life. And prepare for the day when San Francisco has a gritty new suburb: Los Angeles. Indeed, much of Southern California, including the Baja Peninsula, will eventually migrate up the west coast to make Alaska even more gargantuan.

Amazing ‘dolphin boat’ leaps out of the water

January 2, 2007

Daily Mail article on the Seabreacher, which can leap 10 feet out of the water.  Price tag is about $80,000 U.S. dollars.  Set to debut this summer.

Virtual reality shocker

December 27, 2006

Nature article on scientists who recreated a famous ’60s experiment where volunteers were told by an authority figure to deliver electric shocks to another person as punishment for incorrect answers to a test.  The volunteers did what they were told to do.

In the present-day new experiment involving a virtual reality woman, the group from whom the virtual woman was hidden delivered shocks up to the maximum voltage.  Those who could see her were more likely to stop before reaching this limit.

So the result?  People today evidently have more empathy for a virtual reality woman than a real person back in the ’60s.  That is pretty shocking.