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University of Montreal researchers have developed a method to train athletes brains to increase the speed at which they absorb and process information my more than 50%. The process involves repeated hour-long multiple-object tracking exercises. They were asked to identify balls with rapidly changing colour as the balls performed increasingly rapid movements.

Speaking of enhancements, an American artist and a Canadian film-maker want to have their artificial eyes replaced with webcams. Each of them have lost one of their eyes in an accident and each now wear prosthetics. Last week Tanya Vlach, an artist in San Francisco, posted an online request to engineers to design an artificial eye that contains a wireless webcam. Rob Spence of Toronto contacted her while in California attending a conference on how he intends to enhance his artificial eye with the help of Steve Mann, a University of Toronto professor. The new prosthetic wouldn't enhance their vision but would allow them to record the world from the unique perspective of one of their eyes. Spence and Mann claim that just such a device could be ready within the next six months.

A Columbian woman was the first to receive an organ grown from her own stem cells. The team of Spanish surgeons replaced her windpipe with one made by growing cells she had donated on a collagen matrix made by chemically removing all the cells from a donor windpipe. The windpipe was "grown" in a British-made bioreactor, requiring just 4 days to reach maturity. The woman is now home and living a relatively normal life.

NASA has completed the first phase of testing an Interplanetary Internet based on DTN (Disruption-Tolerant Networking). They hope to use the network to handle communications among spacecraft within our solar system.

The International Space Station turns 10 years old on Thursday.  Meanwhile, a recent experiment onboard the ISS revealed that spiders in space don't weave symmetrical webs. In fact, what they weave appears to be a disorganized tangle extending in three dimensions.

Google has reached an agreement to host almost 10 million photos from Life Magazine's library, most of which have never before been published. As of Tuesday, more than 2 million of the photos had been uploaded and made available to the public.

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A recent study showed that boys, but not girls, diagnosed with ADHD had smaller (by volume) and differently shaped basal ganglia than those not similarly diagnosed. They hope that these results will eventually lead to better diagnosis and treatment methods.

Moving from the brains of the young to the brains of the elderly, a recent study compared "super aged", people who display sharp mental faculties into their 80s and beyond, and "regular" elderly. They discovered that the super-aged had fewer fibrous tangles caused by tau proteins but roughly the same number of plaques. Previous research had linked increased tangles and plaques with the onset of Alzheimers.

Somali pirates have attacked and seized a Saudi-owned supertanker, the largest ship ever taken by pirates, and are now escorting it to a Somali port.

USA Today posted an article about students at Rice University who are using genetically engineered yeast to create beer containing Resveratrol, a compound found in red wine that is associated with a reduction in risk of cancer and heart disease, at least in mice. So far they haven't managed to produce anything drinkable, which puts them on par with many US and Canadian commercial brewers. Meanwhile, in Canada a researcher at the NRC has discovered that beer already contains a cancer-fighting compound called xanthohumol, albeit at barely useful levels. They hope to use the research to selectively breed for hop varieties high in the compound.

Chinese researchers have developed a flexible paper-thin speaker, opening the door to speakers that can be applied to clothing or walls.

A Scottish first has developed a grenade that, instead of exploding, gives soldiers a 360-degree view of a room. The grenade contains a wireless camera and is launched into a room using a standard grenade-launcher.

Slashdot has a review of Orson Scott Card's recently-published sequel to Ender's Game, entitled "Ender in Exile.

Finally, India has succeeded in planting a flag on the moon. (Edit: thanks to [livejournal.com profile] wetdryvac for catching the embarassing wording error.)

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Adrienne So has seen the future of renewable energy and it is women's breasts. Really. The slate article covers everything you didn't know about breast motion and about which you would never have though to ask.

For those waiting for Watchmen, follow the link to new trailer for the movie.

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty announced that the federal government is considering measures to avoid a deficit that include selling Crown assets. He reassured the CBC and the CN Tower are not up for sale.

A professor at the University of Michigan has made a series of 3D portraits of Obama. The twist? They're smaller than a grain of salt.

Mars rover Spirit proved that there was still life left in the little robot when it sent a message to NASA. It's low on power, but not quite ready to give up.

Canada plans to send two robotic subs to explore a mountain range under the Arctic Ocean to gather data for a sovereignty claim. The mountain range is believed to contain massive petroleum reserves of which Canada wants a piece.

A new study shows that the brains of bullies may be wired to feel pleasure when watching others suffer.

US researchers have developed a way to make (relatively) cheap diamonds with few impurities by heating "seed" diamonds in a high-temperature low-pressure hydrogen plasma. Moreover, the size of the diamonds produced is limited only by the size of the microwave chamber.

India has succeeded in placing a probe on the moon.

For your reading pleasure: Ninjalistics - corporate assassination solutions.

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Warner Brothers has released the script for The Dark Knight online (pdf), free for downloading.

This year's Remembrance day (Veteran's Day in the US), marked the 90th anniversary of the World War I armistice.

A new long-range climate model says that we are heading for another ice age between 10,000 and 100,000 years from now. That is, unless we can't get our carbon dioxide emission levels under control. The authors are quick to stress that this is not an argument against global warming.

A Swedish team has shown that strands of DNA can be used to create optical fibres. The process they developed combines DNA with chromophores, molecules that absorb and transmit light, to create optical wires up to 20 nanometers long a a few nanometers in diameter that can transmit as much as 30% of the light they receive. Not only that, but the wires are self-assembling and self-repairing.

MIT researchers have developed an omniphobic material, capable of repelling both oil and water. The secret is a surface made up of 300-nanometer-tall silicon-dioxide-capped "toadstools", making the surface universally repellent to liquids.

Following closely on the recent demise of the Phoenix Lander, the Mars rover Spirit may also on its last legs. The rover has entered "silent mode" because its solar panels are not able to gather enough energy to perform any tasks or even respond. NASA is keep an ear open in case the rover gathers enough energy to re-open communication.

A team of astronomers lead by a Canadian researcher has captured an image of four planets around a start 130 light years from Earth using the Hubble Space telescope in combination with two ground-based telescopes.

A German doctor appears to have cured a patient of AIDS by replacing their bone marrow with that of a donor who has a natural immunity to most known strains of HIV. They have been unable to detect the virus in his blood for the past 600 days despite having ceased anti-AIDS treatment.

For your reading pleasure, The Journal of Cartoon Over-analyzations.
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A new theory says that when you feel sleepy, it because parts of your brain are already asleep. The new theory says sleep per se occurs when the number of groups of independent brain cells exceeds some threshold.

Beyonce has decided that she wants to do a superhero movie so has met with DC and Warner Brothers executives to pitch herself as the next Wonder Woman. Apparently she came up with this idea when she saw the costume originally warn by Lynda Carter. Maybe she'd have better luck if she had worn a chocolate Wonder Woman costume (like the one shown here).

In Ottawa, city council is back to considering Light Rail after originally canceling the project. The report recommends that they start by building a track from Blair Station to Tunney's Pasture as Phase 1 of the 3 phase plan. The total cost is expected to be more than $5 billion and be completed by 2031. Money will come out of things like the recent elimination of funding to various city festivals including the Tulip Festival and Bluesfest.

Swiss researchers believe they may have found a way to recreate the rich sound of the Stradivarius using mushrooms. The mushrooms are applied to the violin, not consumed by the listener.

According to NASA, the Phoenix mission as officially ended. Rest in Peace, Phoenix. The team hasn't heard from the craft since November 2nd. Meanwhile, India has succeeded in placing a spacecraft in orbit around the moon.

A recent poll of election day voters in the US determined that more than 20% of voters, and almost 40% of voters under 30, have only cell phones. This is of particular concern to pollsters who typically call only landlines.



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According to Wired, Battlestar Galactica fans will be interested to learn that many of the props used on the show will be available for sale in January, including a full-sized Viper fighter and various costumes.

PhysOrg presents and interesting article on the challenges involved in generating a high-resolution 3D model of the Palazzo Medici in Italy.

University of Laval researchers have developed an adaptive mirror made from iron particles suspended in antifreeze (what is referred to a a ferrofluid) and coated with silver grains. The resulting mirror can be reshaped using a magnetic field, allowing it to quickly compensate for distortion in fields like astronomy and opthomology.

A recent study by the University of Nevada has concluded that, contrary to popular belief, static stretching of muscles before exercising may, in fact, weaken them, sometimes by as much as 30 percent. They recommend a brief, no more than 5 or 10 minute, aerobic warm-up to raise muscle temperature before stretching, something many modern coaches now advise, but suggest recommend dynamic, rather than static stretches to avoid the inhibitory response that causes muscle weakness.

Forensic investigators' work may just have gotten harder with a new breed of cleaners that use oxygen rather than chlorine. It seems that the oxygen will destroy hemoglobin. Chlorine has been used to remove bloodstains but the hemoglobin was still detectable after more than 10 washings.

Ottawa graffiti artists have taken to acid-etching their work into glass surfaces around the city, presenting a new and expensive headache for the city and store owners who must replace entire sheets of glass to remove the artwork.

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The Phoenix Lander's days are numbered, according to a recent Nature article. The plucky spacecraft has been assigned a few more low-energy tasks but NASA scientists doubt that it has enough in it to accomplish them.

A controversial study says that more than 700 observable galactic clusters are moving at 2 million kilometers per hour in the same direction, what has been dubbed "dark flow". The authors suggest that this means the universe may be far larger, and far more complex, than what we originally thought, and that the flow of matter is being influenced by massive structures outside the observable universe.

MIT researchers have created tiny polymer "backpacks" that can be attached to cells, allowing them to ferry cargoes. Each "backpack" is a polymer patch that is attached to the surface of the cell, yet is small enough not to adversely affect the cell's normal function.

Obama hasn't yet been sworn in, but several Facebook groups have already emerged calling for his impeachment over things like his stance on banning assault rifles, providing universal health care, and redistribution of wealth from haves to have-nots. Bear in mind, however, that outgoing President Bush currently enjoys more than 95 groups calling for his impeachment.



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Scientists have developed a solar cell that captures the entire spectrum of solar illumination, thanks to an anti-reflective coating, and does so with light from any angle. The new solar cell absorbs more than 96% of the available solar energy, compared to the 67% absorbed by standard silicon-based solar cells. The new approach should work with any photovoltaic material.

US engineers have developed a method for detecting water turbulence which could improve the maneuverability of submarines. Taking a page from Nature's book, they developed a set of artificial neuromasts, microscopic hairs used by fish to sense water movement, by coating polymer "hair", mounted on a peizoelectric base, with a hydrogel. The result is a sensor 40 times more sensitive that those currently in use.

According to the CBC, writer Michael Crichton has died at the age 66 after a long battle with cancer.

A record number of Americans turned up to vote in their recent election. More than 64% of voters cast ballots, the best voter turnout in 44 years, and higher than Canada's voter turnout rate of 59% in our most recent election.

A recent Harvard study found that students who practice music outperform those who do not on tests of verbal ability and visual pattern completion.

For your reading pleasure:
C|Net's "50 most significant moments in Internet History"
Simon Pegg's Guardian rant on "speedy zombies".

And a rant of my own: CNN trumpets "hologram" that wasn't really a hologram. Although the reporter was captured in 3D, the image was added to the video feed during transmission and was not displayed in the studio. By definition, a hologram is projected into space so what they created was not a hologram.

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Japanese researchers claim to have cloned frozen mice (that is, mice that were frozen, not that they created frozen clones) and postulate that the same could be done for woolly mammoths.

Richard Dawkin's next target is, according to the Telegraph, "anti-scientific fairy tales". According to the article, he plans to write a book aimed at children to contrast scientific thinking with mythological thinking. Although he is not certain that childhood belief in magic has a detrimental effect, he plans to at least explore the question.

British researchers propose that it may be practical for future manned missions beyond earth's magnetosphere to carry their own "mini-magnetosphere". Simulations show that a magnetic bubble only a few hundred meters across would be sufficient to protect the spacecraft's occupants. Edit: They also performed tests using a $20 magnet and a plasma stream that appeared to work well, but cautioned that scaling it up to a full space ship is more than 15 to 20 years off. The link has a video of the "hole" the magnet makes in a plasma beam.

Cassini's new mission is to check Enceladus, one of Saturn's moons, for evidence of life by sampling material ejected in a giant plume from the moon's south pole for the presence of methane and other organic chemicals.

A little-known fungus in Padagonia makes diesel vapour as a bi-product of consuming plant waste, making it a possible cheap source of biofuel from cellulose waste.

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A recent study says that fibromyalgia my be all in the head, specifically a "... global dysfunction of cerebral pain-processing." according to the study's lead author.

The benefits of dark chocolate: reduced risk of heart disease (but no more than 1/2 a bar per week) and resveratrol, a compound associated with the health benefits of red wine. The latter study was conduct by the Hershey's Centre for Health and Nutrition, which is amusing given the current public health advisory against purchasing Hershey's chocolates from Canadian stores around Toronto.  Some products had been recalled in 2006 in response to positive tests of salmonella at the now-defunct Smiths Falls plant but were stolen from the recycling depot where they had been held for the past two years.

Yet more worries for pregnant women: a British study says that pregnant women who drink coffee, even no more than a cup each day, raise the risk of giving birth to an underweight baby.

Click here to see a picture of the Epsilon Eridani system where, last week, it was discovered that there were two asteroid belts and it's own version of the Kuiper belt, increasing the likelihood that planets also exist. The star, slightly smaller than ours and only 850 million years old so it is unlikely that intelligent life exists yet on any planet circling the star, given ours required almost 4 billion years to reach it's present state.

New Scientist reports that Australian researchers have found a possible genetic link to male-to-female transsexualism. Previously, Austrian researchers had discovered a potential genetic link to female-to-male transsexualism.

Yale researchers have put together the blueprints for an artificial cell, based on electrocyte cells found in electric eels, that could become a bio-battery for implants, allowing the devices to be powered by the host.

Also from back in September, British researchers have isolated nerve cells responsible for the feeling of pleasure associated with stroking. They also discovered that the optimal stroke is 5 cm/second with a pressure of 2 grams per square cm, and suggests it may be useful in helping to treat chronic pain.

Finally, though not a S&T article... Ontario is officially a have-not province so qualifies for transfer payments.

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Here are bunch from the past two weeks at space.com

Scanning Earth for signs of life - The mission is meant to determine how we can detect life on other planets using Earth as a "control". The study is being conducted using the Venus Express spacecraft, currently in orbit around, strangely enough, Venus.

Life inside a cosmic bubble - The latest theory to explain the apparent expansion of the universe without resorting to dark matter has our galaxy residing in an area of the universe that is "lower density" than it surroundings. As a result, the universe could be static but would appear to be accelerating because of light crossing from high- to low-density space.

Pheonix may not rise again from frosty death - Scientists say that when the sun sets for the last time on the Martian Arctic, it is unlikely that Pheonix will restart in the spring. As one scientist put it, the lander is already "past its expiry date". That said, the lander has a "Lazarus mode" that, in theory, might re-awaken the lander in the spring, but they expect that the deep cold of the Martian winter will do it in.

Virgin says no to sex - in space that is. Virgin Galactic was offered $1 million (US) to film 5 minutes of zero-g sex. That will have to wait for Bigelow Aerospaces's Sundancer modules, due to enter orbit in 2011. Unless it's already happened onboard the International Space Station, but so far nobody's talking.

And from other sources...

Servicing satellites in space - Canadian researcher Michael Greenspan is developing a vision-based control system for a space-based repair robot to identify and hook up with an ailing satellite before. The repair robot would then be remotely controlled by ground-based to technicians, hopefully, effect repairs.

Canadian discovers a comet - Rob Cardinal of the University of Calgary discovered a previously-unknown comet. After being confirmed as a "new" comet, it was christened "C/2008 T2 Cardinal".

Martian dust devils - Follow the link to see images of dust devils captured by the Phoenix Lander.


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Genetically modified bugs extract ethanol more efficiently than natural ones - according to Dartmouth College researchers. The team developed a set of genetically modified bacteria that could operate at 50 Celsius, and as a result were able to convert all five sugars present in wood-based cellulose, produced a product free of organic acids, and required 2.5 times less cellulase, an expensive component in the process.

Water bears survive rigours of space - Tardigrades, also known as "water bears" are tiny microscopic animals that are known to survive high pressure, intense radiation, and long periods of being dried out. A recent experiment exposed two species of tardigrades to space for 10 days, then were retrieved, returned to Earth, and rehydrated to find out how well they faired. 68% of those shielded from the sun recovered and reproduced normally. Only a few of those also exposed to the sun's rays survived to reproduce. See also this article.

Company claims to have made unclonable RFID - Verayo announced this month that they have developed an RFID chip that uses a form of electronic fingerprinting to make the chip unclonable. The idea is new so we'll see how long the claim stands.

LH Supercollider powers up tomorrow - Heads up for those of you thinking this is the end of the world. Of course, if you're right then nobody will around to say "I told you so".

Preschool bilingual children at increased risk of stuttering - but their recover rate is also higher than for unilingual children. This is based on a study of 317 children in Britain referred for stuttering.

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"Junk" DNA may hold key to evolution of thumb and big toe - linked to tool use and upright posture respectively. The Yale research team identified at set of genes that they dubbed HACNS1 that, when introduced into mouse embryo,  appeared to drive changes in the structure of the thumb and big toe. The researchers stress that the work is highly preliminary and they don't even know for sure if human-like structural changes would occur of the gene were to be spliced into mouse DNA.

Mentally taxing work linked to increase in food intake - despite the fact that the brain uses pretty much the same amount of energy whether working hard or at rest. The Quebec study compared the food intake, glucose and insulin levels, and cortisol levels among female students after one of three tasks: relaxing, mild mental exertion, and moderate mental exertion. They found that the caloric intake increased with the level of mental exertion, and that this was accompanied by increased glucose and insulin level instability, as well as higher cortisol levels that indicate an increase in stress levels.

Election kills Canadian DCMA bill - The announcement of an October 14th federal election is expected to kill the C-61 bill, known as the Canadian DCMA. It is expected that the bill will be resurrected in the event of a Conservative win.

First paper-based transistor - has been built by Portugese researchers who claim that it performs as well as transistors based on glass. The transistor was constructed by depositing, at room temperature, an inorganic semiconductor, the first used on a paper substrate, onto the surface. The porosity of paper presented a challenge to creating the transistor and still results in the current seepage when it is supposed to be "off". They plan to try using laminated paper to avoid the current leakage problem, and eventually hope to use the process to create cheap, disposable electronics.
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It's been a long time since I posted one of these, so here are a few from the world of science.

Fruits and Veggies reduce likelihood of contracting the flu - specifically, those containing quercetin, a chemical relative of resveratrol, found in red onions, grapes and red wine, brocolli, tea, and blueberries. The first study involved inoculating mice with the flu virus and determined that mice given quercetin were less likely to contract flu. A second study was conducted with humans, but stressful exercise was substitute for the flu virus inoculation because a previous mouse study linked increase susceptibility to the flu with stressful exercise. Bottom line: eat your fruits and veggies.

High protein breakfast better for dieters - In particular, high-quality protein early in the day results in a more sustained feeling of fullness, reducing the dieter's likelihood of snacking. In the study eggs and lean Canadian bacon were used as the protein source in the mornings, although the linked article suggests yoghurt, and low-fat cheese and other low-fat dairy products, can be used as well for variety.

Gender differences in antidepressants - A recent study found that women were 33% more likely to get relief from depression after using Celexa than men. The national study discovered that the gender bias persisted even after accounting many possible complicating factors, but have no explanation for the results. Future research may focus on hormonal differences that may account for some of the gender effect.

Steve MacLean to head Canadian Space Agency - The former astronaut has been selected to direct Canada's space program.

Google turns 10 - on September 4th, Google celebrated it's 10th year in existence.

Focused ultrasound simulates virtual barriers - A team of Japanese researchers have developed a system that uses focused ultrasound to give users the impression of the an arbitrarily-shaped surface. The system may be useful for applications ranging from 3D modeling to gaming.

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Ottawa taxi drivers see the light - A recent knifepoint robbery of an Ottawa taxi driver has illustrated the benefit of in-car security cameras. The camera installed in the car of the driver that was yielded a video and photos of the cabbie's assailant.

There might be life, or something like it, on Titan - A graduate student at the University of Arizona postulates that ice volcanoes (volcanoes that spew liquid water instead of lava) on Titan might remain unfrozen long enough to hydrolyze into complex hydrocarbons called tholins, much the same way life is believed to have been formed on Earth.

Researchers create eSkin - Japanese researchers have developed a flexible, stretchable conductive "skin" that, when combined with sensors, could allow robots (or other devices, like steering wheels) to sense heat and pressure.

Hacking pacemakers - A recent study discovered that remotely-programmable Pacemakers can be easily hacked because they use an unencrypted communication protocol.

Monitoring the obesity of the population - A British engineer has designed what her refers to as a Static Obesity Logging Device that is able to measure the BMI of people that pass within it's field of view. The data can then be remotely accessed to determine the BMI statistics of people who recently walked near the device.
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Nova Scotia Mounties find Jesus - a metre-high concrete statue of him, to be specific.

Designer RNA to control cholesterol levels - In pre-clinical trials, levels of "bad" cholesterol were reduced by up to 2/3  in mice after being injected with siRNA. A single dose was effective for several weeks.

Thinking better for complex decisions -  a recent study indicated that snap judgements and "sleeping on it" were not as effective in solving complex problems as conscious thought.

Flexible nanoantenna arrays gather heat energy - US researchers have developed a method for producing gold nanoantenna arrays on a flexible polyethylene substrate that converts 80% of mid-infrared rays into energy.  Mid-range infrared energy is emitted continuously by the Earth in response to absorbing solar energy, as well as by any radiant surface. The challenge now is how to convert the energy produced by the arrays into electricity because they generate AC currents that oscillate trillions of times each second, far beyond the capabilities of current systems to rectify.

Aerial laser gives US "plausible deniability" - The 5.5 tonne Advanced Tactical Laser system currently being tested is expected to be capable of destroying targets at a range of up to 20 km without leaving a trace to indicate who caused the destruction. This has lead various military officials to cite plausible deniability as one benefit of the weapon.

Dark matter key to FTL travel - at least according to two physicists at Baylor university. They determined that, in theory, the Alcubierre drive could be realized by manipulating dark matter. The result would be a distortion of the fabric of space-time within which the ship would be locally moving slowly but globally exceeding the speed of light.
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Transsexuality gene identified... maybe - A variation in the gene cytochrome P17 leads to higher-than-average levels of both male and female sex hormones, and appears to be linked to female-to-male transsexuality. The researchers caution that this only means that there is probably a genetic component to transsexuality and that it is a complex behaviour with multiple factors involved. In fact, the gene variant is present in some women who are not transsexual, and is absent in some women who are transsexual.

New solar cell material soaks up the infrared - Almost half of energy from the sun is in the infrared wavelength, but contemporary solar cells can only capture the visible wavelengths so are limited to a theoretical maximum of 40% efficiency. A new material developed by Spanish researchers can absorb both visible light and infrared wavelengths so could boost the theoretical upper limit to 63%.

Efficiency of thermoelectric materials boosted - US researchers have boosted the zT from 1 to 1.5, a 50% improvement in thermoelectric efficiency. Although still a long way from the goal of 3 or 4 (sufficient to compete with an automobile engine), this discovery indicates that the maximum thermoelectric efficiency should be higher than 1.5. Many mechanical systems, such as steam generators and automobile engines, generate a lot of waste heat (60% in the case of a gasoline engine), so adding a thermoelectric material could increase the overall efficiency of these systems.

Former Queen guitarist completes his PhD - After a 30-year hiatus, Brian May returned to school to complete his doctorate in astronomy. His thesis is titled A Survey of Radial Velocities in the Zodiacal Dust Cloud.

Nanowires used to make large image sensor - Berkley researchers were able to build a prototype image sensor by growing two types of nanowire "lawns", then transferring them to a the same surface. Almost 80% of the elements were functional. The process can work with a wide range of surfaces, and easily scalable to large surface areas.
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Parts of Batman shot in IMax - Director Christopher Nolan shot 30 minutes of the 152 minute film using IMax cameras. Previously, movies were adapted for Imax by converting film shot using regular cameras. When shown in IMax format, the picture expands to IMax size for scenes shot using IMax, then return to regular size for non-IMax shots.

Graphene proven stronger than steel - A recent experiment proved that graphene sheets are 200 times stronger than structural steel. Previously, graphene's strength could only be inferred using models because nobody knew how to make a graphene sheet pure enough to perform physical testing.

Canadian satellite spies on asteroids and other satellites - The suitcase-sized NEOSat, due to be launched in 2010, uses a unique system of reaction wheels to turn quickly and target an object precisely. Unlike other satellites, the reaction wheels are power by solar energy so no propellant is required. The system was designed by Defense Research Development Canada (DRDC) and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), but after it's first year in operation it will be handed over to the Canadian Armed Forces to assist in its NORAD duties.

Microwave crowd control may be overhyped - A variety of experts in the field suggest that the microwave auditory effect could never become loud enough to disperse crowds. In fact, they suggest that the amount of energy required to generate noise loud enough to disperse crowds would cause significant burn damage.

Archea may be a model for life on Mars - Massive colonies of single-celled microbes living deep below the ocean floor metabolize food so slowly that they barely register as alive. Scientists theorize that a similar type of organism could survive on Mars or even Europa, Jupiter's second moon.
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Frog can tune it's hearing - A species of Chinese frog, Odorrana tormota, can tune the frequency of sounds that it is able to hear to compensate for its noisy environment by actively opening and closing their Eustachian tubes. No other species of animal is known to have this capability.

3D theatres come to Canada - Cineplex Entertainment plans to install 175 3D theatre systems in Canada by December 2009.

Breakthrough method converts wood into biofuel - A Chinese researcher have developed an approach that allows them to convert lignin, an key component in wood, into alkanes and alcohols that can then be used to produce biofuels. Combined with recently-developed techniques for converting cellulose into ethanol, this may make it possible to efficiently convert wood into biofuels.

Printing FETs on paper - Portuguese researchers have developed the first field effect transistor (FET) to be built on a substrate of paper, with performance similar to that achievable using glass or silicon substrates. They hope to use this for disposable electronic devices such as paper displays and smart labels.

Esquire cover to use e-Ink - 100,000 copies of the September issue of Esquire magazine will feature an electronic ink (e-Ink) display with enough charge to last until December. The covers will flash "The 21st Century Begins Now".
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Variable-speed bullets - Lund and Company Invention, a toy manufacturer, has developed a liquid hydrogen-fueled bullet that they claim can be set to wound or kill by controlling the impulse of the bullet receives when fired.

Put the lime in the ocean... - Some scientists believe that adding lime to seawater may increase the ocean's ability to absorb CO2 without increasing it's acidity. An investigation may soon be underway to test the theory.

Mars may have been all wet - New observations by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter seems to indicate that major parts of the landscape were altered by water, providing evidence of a past in which Mars was covered by a significant amount of water.

Needles without pain - Japanese and Indian scientists have built a microneedle based on the way a female mosquito sucks blood. The needle has a diameter of 60 microns compared with the 900 microns of contemporary needles. It uses a microelectromechanical pump that also reproduces the sucking action of the mosquito, resulting in a method for extracting small quantities of blood that is essentially painless.

Viacom agrees to have user data masked - Viacom has agreed to let Youtube mask the user IDs in the files it has been ordered to provide so that user anonymity can be maintained.

January 2010

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