by Roderick Gladwish
Kites are being considered as an alternative to wind turbines
for electricity generation. There are several concepts. One
is to use rotating kites; another is to use the tug on the
lines to turn a turbine. A third idea is to lift rotors using
helium balloons to an altitude of six miles where the constant
strong winds could generate a huge amount of electricity.
The challenge with all these concepts is steering the kites,
computer control systems find it difficult to cope with
sudden wind direction changes or sudden drops in velocity.
Such problems can be solved.
Not as sexy as billion pound atom squishing, so it will probably
Source: Terrapass.com, The New Scientist
electricity generation from nuclear fusion has always been
twenty-years away, every decade that is the claim and still
no ‘Mr Fusion’ in sight.
A consortium of 15 nations, led by the Rutherford Appleton
Laboratory, plans to use lasers to fuse hydrogen isotopes
into helium. The project known as the High Power Laser Energy
Research (HiPER) facility should start construction in 2011.
Meanwhile, China, the EU, India, Japan and the US, have agree
to invest £2.5 billion to build ITER, the world’s
largest nuclear fusion machine.
Their approach is to use plasma 10 times hotter than the core
of the sun. Devices like the Joint European Torus (JET) have
demonstrated the principal, but have had great difficulty
containing such an unstable and dangerous material. Mastering
this control is likely to take longer than the 40 years they
are giving themselves.
Some involved are more cautious. “The current timetable
is very, very, very ambitious,” said one who had worked
on previous fusion projects. “I think it will be 100
years before we have commercially viable energy.”
Source: The New Scientist
about a world where all humans are chipped like pets? It may
not be just your freedom that is at risk.
There is a possibility they may cause tumours. A series of
veterinary studies over the last decade has shown between
one and ten percent of ‘chipped’ mice had cancerous
tumours growing around the implants; however, animal test
results do not necessarily apply to humans. It is easier to
cause cancer in mice than people, so this could be an exaggerated
To date, about 2,000 implants worldwide have been used on
humans, according to manufacturer VeriChip Corp. Their representative
“In fact, for more than 15 years we have used our encapsulated
glass transponders with FDA approved anti-migration caps and
received no complaints regarding malignant tumours caused
by our product.”
It may be back to tattooed bar codes on the forehead.
Source: Associated Press
For the first time the spin of a single atom has been measured
by a combined team of researchers from the University of California
and the Center for Computational Materials Science (CCMS)
at the Naval Research Laboratory, Washington, D.C. led by
physics professor Michael F. Crommie.
“This demonstrates a new ability to engineer, fabricate
and measure spin-polarized nanostructures at the single atom
level,” he said, “This means we can now start
incorporating it into other structures.”
This is a possible route into miniaturising digital computers
using the alternate spins of an atom to act as the one and
It was done by examining ‘nano-islands’ of cobalt
seeded with atoms of either iron or chromium on a copper substrate
at 4.8K (-268.4ºC).
Utilising a scanning, tunnelling electron microscope that
can probe the spin and energy-dependent electron density of
a surface they were able to determine the spin of individual
atoms on the cobalt nano-islands.
It was then calculated that in such a situation, iron atoms
would assume a spin state parallel to the spins of the atoms
in the cobalt island, while chromium would assume an anti-parallel
spin, which is exactly what the researchers found.
Demonstrating that they understand how the chromium and iron
atoms interact is a vital step in developing a practical quantum
computer because it is that interaction or ‘entangling’
of spins that will be used to perform calculation in any machine.
College London has created a new sensor for measuring the dynamics
of human performance.
Currently used as an athletics training aid. Fitting behind
the ear, the tiny sensor transmits data about posture, stride
length, step frequency, acceleration, and response to shock
waves travelling through the body to a nearby computer in real
time. It is so small that it doesn’t change the way an
athlete performs unlike similar bulkier devices, which also
fail to provide data so quickly.
“The sensor we’re working on is inspired by the
semicircular canals of the inner ear, which play a key role
in controlling our motion and balance,” says Professor
Guang Zhong Yang, who is leading the project.
Yang’s ambition is to advance its use in healthcare to
monitor patients suffering from a range of injuries and illnesses,
and to preserve good health and quality of life generally, but
particularly for conditions that effect body movement.
Ltd, an off-shoot company from the University of Bristol has
developed a bio-degradable chewing gum.
Chewing gum littering is no small problem; for example, removing
the stuff from Westminster City Council’s streets costs
£95,000 a year, and earlier in 2007 the Irish Ministry
of the Environment lunched a €1 million competition to
find a non-stick chewing gum. The Minster also announced a €2
million “Gum Litter” pilot project to educate gum
users in the disposal of the waste product.
The core of modern gums is synthetic latex, which does not degrade,
resists chemical attack and sticks like glue.
Revolymer has created a new polymer that is less sticky, but
more importantly is soluble in water making it easy to clean.
They have not made it clear why it doesn’t dissolve in
the mouth though tests on pavements shows it takes around 24hrs
to disperse so it is likely that it dissolves very slowly.
Taste tests have shown no reduction in flavour and texture compared
with others in the market.
Revolymer is planning to launch their gum some time next year.
Source: Revolymer.com and