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china’s industrial expansion starting to take its toll

“Babies born with conditions such as cleft palates and extra fingers and toes now account for up to 6 per cent of births each year, according to statistics published yesterday. And the number of babies born with disabilities has increased by 40 per cent since 2001 – a period that has coincided with China’s meteoric economic growth – to between two and three million a year. Up to 12 million more develop defects in childhood.”

“Officials said that the increase reported by the National Population and Family Planning Commission may, in part, reflect an improvement in the collection of data from rural areas. In addition, families were becoming less reluctant to report defects that in the past had been concealed out of shame.”

“The top five birth conditions among Chinese babies are cleft palate, neural tube defects, extra fingers or toes, congenital heart disease and water on the brain. It was not clear which, if any, could be linked to polluted water and air. Mr Li said: “We need time to carry out research on what kind of pollution may lead to which kind of defects.”

“The official Xinhua news agency has said that Shanxi, home to four of the most polluted cities in China and a centre of noxious emissions from coke and chemical industries, leads the world for incidence of cleft palates and extra fingers among babies. Poor nutrition and marriage between close relatives in Shanxi are also cited as reasons for the high number of such defects in the province. ”

related material
fossil fuel disasters
exporting pollution to china

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we have ways of making you feel queer [.pdf]

Alleged research programmes for the US military - to make your targets stink, get stung by bees or fall in love with fellow soldiers.

Excerpts from the .pdf copy of the alleged military research programme.
Excerpts from the .pdf copy of the alleged military research programme.

irrelevant background!

“The IgNobel "Peace Prize" - The Air Force Wright Laboratory, Dayton, Ohio for instigating research and development on a chemical weapon, the so-called "gay bomb," that "will make enemy soldiers become sexually irresistible to each other".”


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nanotech advance for water purification

“Military chiefs are excited because the bottles, which can distill either 4,000 litres or 6,000 litres without changing the filter, will have huge benefits for soldiers who hate drinking iodine-flavoured water.”

“Conventional filters can cut out bacteria measuring more than 200 nanometres but not viruses, which typically are 25 nanometres long.

“Mr Pritchard's bottle can clean up any water - including faecal matter - using a filter that cuts out anything longer than 15 nanometres, which means that viruses can be filtered out without the use of chemicals.”

Lifesaver waterfilter-cum-water bottle: use instructions. Credit: lifesaversystems.com
LIFESAVER systems have developed “instructicons”, unique icons designed to be universally understood.
Instructicons use no words or numbers, just simple, easy to understand icons.

From the Lifesaversystems.website:
“using chemicals to sterilise water is not always effective, and you will still be drinking a poisonous cocktail with some dead pathogens in it”

“LIFESAVER bottle uses a highly advanced ultra-filtration system, originally developed for industrial applications. LIFESAVER bottle will remove bacteria, viruses, cysts, parasites, fungi and all other microbiological waterborne pathogens. It does all this without the aid of any foul tasting chemicals like iodine or chlorine relying instead on a membrane with a filter size of 15 nanometres to remove all waterborne pathogens.”

Prices: Up to 4000 litres £195.00 + VAT; up to 6000 litres £230.00 + VAT
[Included with a LIFESAVER bottle with either a 4000Ltr or 6000 Ltr cartridge: 1x Activated Carbon cartridge, 1x Pre-filter, 1x Carry strap, 1x 5ml pot Silicone grease (WRAS approved), 1x Instruction manual. Once the bottle has been used, then maintained correctly, it could last for up to 5 years dependent upon conditions.]

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electric car maker makes incredible performance claims

The Lightning electric car. Credit: lightningcarcompany.com

“100% ELECTRIC POWER - Lightning technology delivers ultra smooth, full power immediately from zero rpm. True to its name, the Lightning GTSE can be charged in approximately 10 minutes for over 250 miles of motoring, making long journeys a breeze. Full regenerative braking means the battery receives charge every time you decelerate.

“UNCOMPROMISING PERFORMANCE - 0-60mph in just 5 seconds will be standard for the Lightning and we believe the sport version will provide an incredible 0-60mph in less than 4 seconds. A real driver's car!”

“ top speed capability of more han 130mph...”

Battery life claimed as 12 years instead of 3-4 years for most batteries.

Price not found yet!!

related material
Fuel cells and battery-powered vehicles

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bring on the girls

“Twice as many girls as boys are being born in some Arctic villages because of high levels of man-made chemicals in the blood of pregnant women, according to scientists from the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (Amap).

“The scientists, who say the findings could explain the recent excess of girl babies across much of the northern hemisphere, are widening their investigation across the most acutely affected communities in Russia, Greenland and Canada to try to discover the size of the imbalance in Inuit communities of the far north.

“In the communities of Greenland and eastern Russia monitored so far, the ratio was found to be two girls to one boy. In one village in Greenland only girls have been born.

“The scientists measured the man-made chemicals in women's blood that mimic human hormones and concluded that they were capable of triggering changes in the sex of unborn children in the first three weeks of gestation. The chemicals are carried in the mother's bloodstream through the placenta to the foetus, switching hormones to create girl children.”

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on making nuclear fusion work

“Professor Dunne, of the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in Oxfordshire, said: "To put that in perspective, it [the laser] is 10,000 times the power of the entire UK National Grid. And then you’re going to focus that down onto a spot that’s 10 to 100 times smaller than the width of a human hair. The pressure is equivalent to 10 Nimitz class aircraft carriers sitting on your thumb. Some pretty crazy things are going to happen, and that’s what we’re about.”

how fusion works

“Nuclear fusion involves merging two types of hydrogen atom – deuterium and tritium – to make helium, as well as neutrons that release vast quantities of energy. Almost limitless amounts of deuterium fuel can be made cheaply from seawater, tritium being produced as a byproduct in the reactor itself. Nuclear fusion produces only rudimentary radioactive waste, similar to that from hospital X-ray machines, and none of the high-level waste from fission reactors.

“The extremely high temperatures at which the reaction takes place cost large amounts of energy to generate, and require magnetic containment facilities, as terrestrial materials would melt in contact with the reaction. Lasers can be used to create these temperatures efficiently, at the point of fusion, so that containment of the reaction becomes less of a problem.”

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google earth goes into space - who lives there? - the auroran sunset

Google has expanded Google Earth to look at space as well. Here is their short introductory video.

Now some screenshots:

Mars and Mercury traced across spce. From GoogleSky.

In this screenshot, the planet, constellation and general astronomy views are displayed together. You can modify the displays as you wish. The screenshot also shows many of the ‘goodies’ available.

  • The multiple occurences of planets “is because Google Earth is using place marks to represent the different positions of the planets in time. If place marks overlap then whenever you click on one it'll briefly move the other icons out of the way, leaving a line pointing at the original position of the place mark.” Ray Bellis.
  • Messier refers to objects in the Messier Catalogue. This was started by Charles Messier and was first published in 1774. The list now includes 103 objects in space.
  • NGC stands for New General Catalogue.
  • You can click on any object (Messier, NGC, green star or blue nebula squirl) for pop-up windows giving information and, sometimes, photos from the Hubble Space Telescope.

Hubble Telescope popup from Google Sky.

Google Sky is part of the just issued Google Earth 4.2. You can download the 13MB install file from this page.

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bee sight pics - pretty

Evening primrose seen in visible light, as seen by humans. Credit: Online Photograph. Encyclopedia Britannica Online
Evening primrose seen in visible light,
as seen by humans.
Credit: Online Photograph,
Encyclopedia Britannica Online
Evening primrose seen in ultra-violet light, as a bee would see it.  Credit: Online Photograph. Encyclopedia Britannica Online
Evening primrose seen in ultraviolet light,
as a bee would see it -
complete with bull’s eye landing target.
Credit: Online Photograph,
Encyclopedia Britannica Online

Bees tend to see more in the ultraviolet [UV] areas of the light spectrum.

These photos show a little of what that means for the world of the bees and the plants they visit.

A bee’s eye is compound. It has been said of the compound eye:

“it is only a small exaggeration to say that evolution seems to be fighting a desperate battle to improve a basically disastrous design” [Dan-Eric Nilsson].

“The bee’s eyes are so bulbous they dominate its head. Were they any larger, [the bee] would fall out of the sky.”

“Many insects tend to see shorter [ultraviolet] wavelengths of light than vertebrates do, probably so they can keep their receptors [ommatidia] as narrow as possible.”

“Animals with compound eyes are generally small. The smaller you are, the stronger you are, relative to your weight. Compound eyes may look ungainly, but a small animal is not going to be much inconvenienced by having big eyes (and there is one obvious advantage of having two colossal bulbous eyes - they let you see in every possible direction, with virtually no blind spots).

“Being small has other consequences. If you are very small, you are unlikely ever to need to see very clearly, because small things that are far off are probably of no interest. An approaching predator is likely to be much bigger than you, and easily spotted from a distance, even with quite bleary vision. Prey, on the other hand, are likely to be quite close by.”

“[...] another reason why compound vision is a popular evolutionary choice: even the crudest compound eye handles movement well. The very fineness of human eyesight means that moving images blur badly, whereas insects, with their crude, pixellated vision, are extremely resistant to motion blur.” [Quotes from pp.106-111, The Eye]

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new ways to make that vehicle go

65 mph on 196 aa batteries

Record-breaking car powered by AA batteries. Image source: http://news.yahoo.com/photo/070804/photos_ts_wl_afp/2731df75795a4f56f3a05a8f4e2b43a4;_ylt=AmU0NjlVBB3GVRokzX2GVtWGOrgF

  • Power source: 192 Matsushita Oxyride AA dry-cell batteries
  • Top speed: 122 km/h (75.81 mph)
  • Average speed: 105.95 km/h (65.83 mph)
  • Car weight: 38 kg (84 lb.)
  • Car body material: carbon fibre reinforced plastic
  • Speed test distance: run over one kilometre (0.6 mile)

self-sufficient tractor

A 1954 vintage tractor converted by John Howe to being powered by a solar array.

  • panel cost: $3000
  • number of panels: 4
  • battery charging time: 3 hours
  • panel canopy power generation: less than 1 kilowatt
  • work from fully charged batteries:
    • run a loader all day
    • cultivate for 4 hours
    • drive a rototiller for 2 hours

An associated page with a run-down on solar-powered tractors and mowers.

Tractor link from Dirk Bruere

the web address for the article above is
http://www.abelard.org/news/lite0708.php#alternative_transport_power_050807


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