By Dawn StoverPosted 12.10.2007 at 6:14 pm 0 Comments
A group of well-known scientists, science writers and politicians is calling for a public debate in which the U.S. presidential candidates share their views on the environment, medicine, health and other important issues of science and technology policy. More than 40 science bloggers climbed aboard the debate train in the first 24 hours.
Among the issues that could be debated are some of the hottest topics of the day, ranging from climate change to stem cell research. Want to join the political party? Go to sciencedebate2008.com. The petition is also circulating on Facebook. —Dawn Stover
If you've already gotten your hands on our hot-off-the-presses January issue, you may have seen our announcement of a contest with BUG Labs—makers of the modular open-source hardware kit that allows handy builders to create the gadget of their dreams by snapping one of several available modules to a central BUGbase portable computer, which can then be programmed to get all the modules talking to each other in all kinds of interesting ways. Sounds pretty cool, right?
Along with the BUG folks, we're putting the finishing touches on the contest now—it's going to be great!. So watch this space for details in the next few days. DIY gadget heads, prepare yourselves. —John Mahoney
By Dave ProchnowPosted 12.10.2007 at 3:06 pm 1 Comment
Is it an animal, vegetable, mineral, or other? So begins the interrogation from the entertaining new game from Radica USA a division of Mattel, Inc. Based on the analog game, 20 Questions, 20Q predicts that it can read your mind. And with a proven (very unscientific sampling of 10 folks) track record of 60% success, 20Q might make you think that it really is, in fact, in your head. At $9.95, these colorful Kreskin-like balls also like to add some insult to the injury with a little bit of snippy banter.—Dave Prochnow
By Gregory MonePosted 12.10.2007 at 1:39 pm 0 Comments
Oceanlinx, an Australian company that makes devices capable of converting the juice from ocean swells into electricity, has signed a deal with the state of Rhode Island to produce two separate offshore facilities that could end up powering more than 15,000 homes. One of the facilities will boast a bunch of the devices, each of which will be about 60 feet wide and 30 feet tall. Read more about how they work here. They're big, but they'd sit far enough offshore so they wouldn't be an eyesore.
We wrote about the technology at the beginning of last year—at that point the company was called Energetech—and back then everyone was a bit more optimistic in terms of the timetable. Now it will be at least two years before the devices start generating electricity. But at least things are moving along again.—Gregory Mone
By Gregory MonePosted 12.10.2007 at 1:25 pm 2 Comments
Yesterday NASA announced that it will delay launching the shuttle Atlantis until at least January 2nd. Atlantis was supposed to take off on Thursday, but one of its four fuel sensors started malfunctioning prior to the flight.
For now engineers are going to try to fix the problem while the shuttle in on the pad, but if they can't figure out the error that way, they'll have to move Atlantis to the hangar, which would cause further delays.
The good news, though, is that the agency says there's still enough of a time cushion to keep its February launch, which includes parts of the Japanese Kibo module, on track.
For our PPX crowd, this news does indeed spell a halt on our SHUTL proposition. Payout will happen January 1st, but it's clear NASA's plan for four flights to the ISS this year was just slightly too ambitious.—Gregory Mone
The booster was supposed to keep volunteers safe from HIV infection—but it failed. What now?
By Jessica Snyder SachsPosted 12.10.2007 at 2:00 am 1 Comment
September brought lousy news from the front lines of the fight against AIDS: In clinical trials, the most promising HIV vaccine in the pipeline failed to prevent infections. But researchers hope that tactical setbacks will deliver crucial insights. "We'd be a lot happier if we were looking at why it did work," says University of Washington AIDS researcher Lawrence Corey, "but we can learn a lot from why it didn't."
Recent breakthroughs in scramjet engines could mean two-hour flights from New York to Tokyo. They could also mean missiles capable of striking any continent in a moment's notice. No wonder the race to develop them is as fierce as ever
By Michael BelfiorePosted 12.10.2007 at 2:00 am 6 Comments
by Nick Kaloterakis
See more pictures of the test program in action, launch the gallery here.
By Gregory MonePosted 12.07.2007 at 1:10 pm 1 Comment
Next year should still be the real test, with American Airlines and Virgin America inaugurating service, plus a new entrant called Row 44, but JetBlue is trying to hustle ahead of them all. We've posted about this before, but this latest move is yet another sign that it might actually be happening. The company will be offering limited Internet access on a flight from New York to San Francisco next week. How limited? Well, fliers will be able to check email if they've got one of two Blackberry models, or they can use a laptop to access their Yahoo! mail. General web-surfing, though, will be barred. Still, we're hoping it works. Even an hour off-line is just too much to bear.-Gregory Mone
By Gregory MonePosted 12.07.2007 at 1:10 pm 0 Comments
NASA scientists are now saying that Martian clouds may retain less water than expected. Planetary scientist Tony Colaprete reports that the clouds they are studying form at much colder temperatures than the ones here on Earth. It turns out that it's harder to start the cloud formation process at these temperatures—the cloud particles become larger and drop out of the sky more quickly, resulting in a drier atmosphere. Understanding its clouds, which play a key role in carrying water away from the ice cap at the north pole, helps scientists like Colaprete make sense of the larger water cycle on Mars and, in turn, its overall climate.—Gregory Mone