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August 3, 2006, 11:54 PM CT

Brownfields May Turn Green

Brownfields May Turn Green
Growing crops for biofuels summons images of fuel alternatives springing from the rural heartland. But a Michigan State University partnership with DaimlerChrysler is looking at turning industrial brownfields green.

Kurt Thelen, MSU professor of crop and soil sciences, is leading the investigation to examine the possibility that some oilseed crops like soybeans, sunflower and canola, and other crops such as corn and switchgrass, can be grown on abandoned industrial sites for use in ethanol or biodiesel fuel production. Another partner is NextEnergy, a nonprofit organization that supports energy technology development.

The results of the work conducted here might sprout similar sites across the state and nation in areas that aren't desirable for commercial or residential uses. The results also will contribute crops for biofuel production and may help clean up contaminated soils.

"Right now, brownfields don't grow anything," Thelen said. "This may seem like a drop in the bucket, but we're looking at the possibilities of taking land that isn't productive and using it to both learn and produce".

The project now is a two-acre parcel that is part of a former industrial dump site in Oakland County's Rose Township. Thelen's group is looking to determine if crops grown on brownfield sites can produce adequate yields to make them viable for use in biofuel production. The crops also need to produce adequate quantities of seed oil.........

Posted by: John      Permalink         Source


August 3, 2006, 7:08 AM CT

Direction Of Future Quantum Research

Direction Of Future Quantum Research
Eventhough presently a very young field, Quantum Information Science and Technology (QIST) could well have a vital role to play in future information and communication technologies. Quantum computing and communication techniques have the potential to transform the way we think about computing power.

Or so believes Daniele Binosi of the Institute of Quantum Optics and Quantum Information in Innsbruck, Austria, and the European Centre for Theoretical Studies in Nuclear Physics and Related Areas in Trento, Italy, who has been involved in the first phase of the ERA-Pilot QIST project. "Once we can build a quantum computer, the result will be a revolution much like the initial growth in information technology. It will not be so much an evolution in processing power as a revolution. We cannot even imagine now the increase in processing power that will become available."

The aims of ERA-Pilot QIST are to foster European research efforts in QIST by investigating the present status of quantum research in Europe, identifying the potential for cooperation between research groups, and making recommendations for future research and funding policy at both national and European level. Collaborating with other related projects, it is part of the Future and Emerging Technologies (FET) proactive initiative in the field of Quantum Information Processing and Communication (QIPC). Since 1998, throughout FP5 and FP6 - the EU's Fifth and Sixth Framework Programmes for research, FET has funded projects in this area of research for a total of €100 million.........

Posted by: John      Permalink         Source


August 3, 2006, 7:03 AM CT

Greater Bandwidth From Alternative Semiconductors

Greater Bandwidth From Alternative Semiconductors
With demand for greater bandwidth in communication networks steadily increasing, existing optical transmission and amplification technologies are fast reaching their limits. However simulations of a new type of semiconductor technology show promise in overcoming current bandwidth restrictions, and doing so more cheaply.

In recent years demand for greater bandwidth capacity in telecommunications, especially for fast-growing metro networks, has been answered by using multi-wavelength transmission techniques over single fibres. Now this approach is running up against its own technological limits - an inability to use the total potential fibre bandwidth due to the lack of suitable semiconductor technology. These were the problems the IST project BigBand attempted to solve.

BigBand participants aimed to develop new types of semiconductor devices and systems that could exploit the total bandwidth capability of the latest optical fibres. They focused their efforts around ultra-wideband InP 'quantum dot' technology, which has the potential to overcome the bandwidth restrictions, especially at the longer wavelengths of 1.4-1.65 µm, of the present 'quantum well' based semiconductor materials (where particles, which were originally free to move in three dimensions, are confined to two).........

Posted by: John      Permalink         Source


August 2, 2006, 11:47 PM CT

One Atom At A Time

One Atom At A Time
By observing events at the scale of single atoms, Cornell scientists have found evidence that the mechanism in high-temperature superconductors may be much more like that in low-temperature superconductors than was previously thought.

"This came as a huge shock," said J.C. Seamus Davis, Cornell professor of physics, who with colleagues reports the findings in the Aug. 3 issue of the journal Nature.

Superconductors are materials that conduct electricity with virtually no resistance. The new research may shed light on how superconductivity works in modified copper oxides known as cuprates, which superconduct at the relatively "high" temperature of liquid nitrogen.

"The main expectation has been that electron pairing in cuprates is due to magnetic interactions. The objective of our experiment was to find the magnetic glue," Davis said.

Instead, the scientists observed that the distribution of paired electrons in a common high-temperature superconductor was "disorderly," but that the distribution of phonons -- vibrating atoms in the crystal lattice -- was disorderly in just the same way. The theory of low-temperature superconductivity says that electrons interacting with phonons join into pairs that are able to travel through the conductor without being scattered by atoms. These results suggest that a similar mechanism may be at least partly responsible for high-temperature superconductivity.........

Posted by: John      Permalink         Source


August 1, 2006, 11:33 PM CT

Underwater Robots Work Together

Underwater Robots Work Together
This August in Monterey Bay, Calif., an entire fleet of undersea robots will for the first time work together without the aid of humans to make detailed and efficient observations of the ocean.

The oceanographic test bed in Monterey is expected to yield rich information in particular about a periodic upwelling of cold water that occurs at this time of year near Point Año Nuevo, northwest of Monterey Bay.

But the project has potentially larger implications. It may lead to the development of robot fleets that forecast ocean conditions and better protect endangered marine animals, track oil spills, and guide military operations at sea. Moreover, the mathematical system that allows the undersea robots to self-choreograph their movements in response to their environment might one day power other robotic teams that -- without human supervision -- could explore not just oceans, but deserts, rain forests and even other planets.

In addition, the ability to coordinate autonomous vehicles -- a challenge inspired by the grace of bird flocks and fish schools -- may give biologists greater insight into the highly efficient behaviors of animals.

The August field experiment is the centerpiece of a three-year program known as Adaptive Sampling and Prediction (ASAP), which is funded by the Office of Naval Research. The two co-leaders of ASAP are Naomi Ehrich Leonard of Princeton University and Steven Ramp of the Naval Postgraduate School.........

Posted by: Edwin      Permalink         Source


August 1, 2006, 11:09 PM CT

'vertically Oriented Nanoelectronics

'vertically Oriented Nanoelectronics
Engineers at Purdue University have developed a technique to grow individual carbon nanotubes vertically on top of a silicon wafer, a step toward making advanced electronics, wireless devices and sensors using nanotubes by stacking circuits and components in layers.

"Verticality gives you the ability to fit more things into the same area, so you can add more and more layers while keeping the footprint the same size or smaller," Fisher said. "But before we can even think about using nanotubes in electronics, we have to learn how to put them where we want them".

The engineers first created a "thin film" containing two layers of aluminum sandwiching one ultra-thin layer of iron using electron-beam evaporation, a standard process employed in the semiconductor industry. The engineers then used "anodization," a process that causes metals to oxidize - like rusting - to selectively create tiny cylindrical cavities and turn the film into a "porous anodic alumina template" less than 1/100th the width of a human hair in thickness. During the process, an electric field was used to form a precisely aligned array of nanoscopic holes, turning aluminum into porous alumina, the oxidized form of aluminum also known as aluminum oxide.

A mixture of hydrogen and methane gas was then flowed into the template's holes, and microwave energy was applied to break down the methane, which contains carbon. The iron layer acted as a catalyst that prompted the carbon nanotubes to assemble from carbon originating in the methane, and the tubes then grew vertically out of the cavities.........

Posted by: John      Permalink         Source


August 1, 2006, 10:14 PM CT

New Shuffle-lookalike UP3

New Shuffle-lookalike UP3
Do you still remember LG's Shuffle-lookalike UP3? Well, the Korean giant has just another added two members into this series, which are UP3 Flat and UP3 Sharp accordingly.

LG UP3 Flat is a screen-less MP3 player but just LED indicators. It does playback MP3, WMA (DRM supported), OGG, and ASF audio. Its built-in battery allows up to 10 hours of playback continously. The dimension of UP3 Flat is 78 x 24 x 9.5mm.

On the other hand, UP3 Sharp comes with a OLED display. Most of the features are same as Up3 Flat, except the UP3 Sharp has only 8 hours of battery life and a dimension of 85 x 25 x 10mm. Althought it is said to be used patented fingerprint-resistant material as its case, it seems doesn't work at all.

Both models are available 512MB and 1GB. They are expected to be released in the end of this July.........

Posted by: Edwin      Permalink         Source


August 1, 2006, 9:54 PM CT

Google Vision concept

Google Vision concept
I was recently given a pack of exotic fruit by a friend of mine who didn't know the popular name for it. And the next day, in my quest to dig out the name, I googled and googled and googled. in vain. But I guess most folks would empathize with me because I really didn't have an exact idea about what I was searching for.

So this new concept proposed by UK designer Callum Peden, called Google Vision, really excites me. It's a concept for a new googling device that will provide you with information about real-world objects based on the pictures that you take of the objects and feed into the device. In my case, if I could feed the photos of the fruit into this device, it would map the fruit with its actual name, origin and other relevant information (similar to Wikipedia) based on built-in image recognition mechanisms. The information would then be displayed on its roll-out LCD screen. The device will only make use of already existing technologies and building it would just mean putting all the parts together. Cool, huh? If Google (or anybody else) would sponsor this device, it would take google search out of the computer and into your hands. Literally.........

Posted by: Edwin      Permalink         Source


August 1, 2006, 9:42 PM CT

Grow Your-own Home

Grow Your-own Home This artist's rendering shows the Fab Tree Hab, a home made of living plants. Photo / Mitchell Joachim, courtesy Technology Review
In the future, homeowners may grow their houses instead of building them.

That's the vision of MIT architect Mitchell Joachim of the Media Lab's Smart Cities group. He and his colleagues -- environmental engineer Lara Greden (S.M. 2001, Ph.D. 2005) and architect Javier Arbona-Homar (S.M. 2004) -- have conceived a home that doesn't just use "green" design but is itself a living ecosystem. They call it the Fab Tree Hab.

The basic framework of the house would be created using a gardening method known as pleaching, in which young trees are woven together into a shape such as an archway, lattice, or screen and then encouraged to maintain that form over the years.

As the framework matured -- which might take a few years in tropical climates and several decades in more temperate locations -- the home grower would weave a dense layer of protective vines onto the exterior walls. Any gaps could be filled in with soil and growing plants to create miniature gardens. On the interior walls, a mixture of clay and straw beneath a final layer of smooth clay would provide insulation and block moisture. On south-facing walls, windows made of soy-based plastics would absorb warmth in the winter; ground-floor windows on the shady side could draw in cool breezes during hot months. Water collected on the roof would flow through the house for use by people and plants; wastewater would be purified in an outdoor pond with bacteria, fish and plants that consume organic waste.........

Posted by: John      Permalink         Source


August 1, 2006, 9:29 PM CT

A Splash With Robots

A Splash With Robots
A rousing game of underwater Quidditch brought this year's Minority Introduction to Engineering and Science program to a close on July 28.

High school students who had been working and living together at MIT for six weeks maneuvered their underwater robots through the Alumni Pool, picking up weighted markers and delivering them to a goal.

The event was just one in a daylong program that rounded out Minority Introduction to Engineering and Science (MITES).

The students, who will be seniors in the fall, also presented web site designs and a poster session on genomics to an appreciative audience in Room 34-101. The robot contest -- co-directed by Marc Graham (Ph.D. 2006), veteran competitor and teaching assistant in MIT's famed 2.007 robot contest, and Ed Moriarty, instructor in the Edgerton Center -- was broadcast to the room live on closed-circuit TV.

MITES was created in 1974 to increase the number of underrepresented minorities in the engineering professions by exposing students to engineering courses during their high school years.

The program is 100 percent scholarship-based. Funding from industry, foundations and individuals covers all expenses for each student.

This year's 62 high school juniors participated in a rigorous academic program at MIT, studying biology, calculus, chemistry, physics and engineering design among other science, engineering and computer science courses.........

Posted by: John      Permalink         Source


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