|From Yahoo News Science
1 Climate differences set to weigh on EU summit
by Christian Spillmann, AFP
Tue Oct 27, 12:14 pm ET
|BRUSSELS (AFP) – The very real risk of failure on climate change is worrying EU leaders ahead of a summit starting Thursday, amid deep differences over how to help poor nations fight global warming.
Financial aid from the 27 country EU and other rich, but major polluting countries, to help developing nations confront the challenge of global warming has become a key issue, six weeks before the world climate summit in Denmark.
“We need to find a solution on financing, the internal burden-sharing,” Sweden’s European Affairs Minister Cecilia Malmstroem said Monday. “We need to do that very soon. I think our children cannot wait for us to get the figures right.”
2 Launch of new NASA rocket delayed
Tue Oct 27, 4:38 pm ET
|CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida (AFP) – NASA has delayed until Wednesday attempts to test a prototype rocket designed to return astronauts to the Moon, and perhaps one day send them to Mars.
After a series of delays due to the weather, the launch of the Ares I-X from Cape Canaveral in Florida was abandoned for the day and officials said they would try again in a four-hour window from 8:00 am (1200 GMT) Wednesday.
“Overall, the weather will improve,” a NASA official said after Tuesday’s efforts were called off.
3 Japanese automakers’ hydrogen car drive
by Kimiko de Freytas-Tamura, AFP
Mon Oct 26, 6:28 am ET
|TOKYO (AFP) – Imagine a car that can be refuelled in minutes but emits only water. Sounds like science fiction? In fact it already exists — Hollywood star Jamie Lee Curtis has one. So does Honda president Takanobu Ito.
Yet while some see them as the ultimate environmentally-friendly automobiles, the high production cost means that affordable hydrogen-powered fuel-cell cars are still more of a dream than reality.
Manufacturers such as Honda, however, are making a renewed push behind the vehicles, which run on electricity generated by a reaction between hydrogen and oxygen, belching out nothing more harmful than water vapour.
4 Obama launches climate push with December goal
by Olivier Knox, AFP
Tue Oct 27, 12:23 pm ET
|WASHINGTON (AFP) – US President Barack Obama’s Senate allies launched a major push Tuesday behind sweeping legislation to battle climate change, with time running short before a high-stakes global summit in December.
“Today, we begin the formal legislative process to lead the world in rolling back the urgent threat of climate change,” said Democratic Senator John Kerry, the lead author of a Senate bill to create a “cap-and-trade” regime.
Obama, showing during a trip to Florida that he will not wait for lawmakers to act, was to unveil the largest-ever upgrade of the US electricity grid, in a 3.4-billion-dollar bid to unleash a new era of renewable energy consumption.
5 Thousands gather for worldwide climate protests
Sat Oct 24, 10:49 pm ET
|NEW YORK (AFP) – From Asia to the Americas via Europe and the Middle East, activists around the planet have protested in an effort to mobilize public opinion against global warming 50 days ahead of a crucial UN climate summit.
Many of the thousands that gathered on the steps of Sydney’s iconic Opera House to kick off the event waved placards bearing the logo 350, a figure scientists believe is the maximum parts per million of CO2 that the atmosphere can bear to avoid runaway global warming.
In New York’s Times Square, a crowd of demonstrators gathered as giant screens beamed in images from around the world. Organizers told the activists that events had taken place in “more than 180 countries” at 5,200 events.
6 Paradigm shift: How Galileo’s spy glass upended science
by Marlowe Hood, AFP
Fri Oct 23, 12:10 pm ET
|PARIS (AFP) – Today it would hardly pass muster as a child’s plaything, but the telescope Galileo used 400 years ago this week to peer into the heavens overturned the foundations of knowledge, changing our perception of the Universe and our place in it.
Galileo’s “optick tube” magnified a meagre nine-fold and was not even conceived for astronomy.
Indeed, when the gadget was first demonstrated, Venetian senators were so smitten with its military potential that they doubled Galileo’s salary and awarded him life tenure in the city-state’s most prestigious university.
7 Solar lantern lights up rural India’s dark nights
by Yasmeen Mohiuddin, AFP
Fri Oct 23, 3:27 am ET
|NEW DELHI (AFP) – For more than 100 Indian villages cut off from grid electricity, life no longer comes to an end after dark thanks to an innovative solar-powered lantern that offers hope to the nation’s rural poor.
While cooking, farming and studying after sunset were once a struggle using inefficient kerosene or paraffin lamps, the solar lantern now provides a cheap and practical source of light.
The simple device, which is charged during the day from a communal rooftop solar panel, uses between five and seven watts of power and has a battery that lasts up to eight hours.
8 U.S. panel: More study on Human Genome anthrax drug
By Lisa Richwine, Reuters
Tue Oct 27, 6:25 pm ET
|SILVER SPRING, Maryland (Reuters) – Animal data suggests a proposed Human Genome Sciences Inc drug may help people exposed to anthrax but more study is needed to show the treatment adds benefit beyond antibiotics alone, a U.S. advisory panel said on Tuesday.
The Food and Drug Administration did not ask the panel for a recommendation on whether it should approve the company’s bid for approval for treating anthrax infection. The FDA said recent inspections raised questions about tests used to measure the drug’s absorption in people, making it impossible to judge if the product was fit for approval.
Anthrax is a bacterium that can cause a potentially fatal lung infection if inhaled. Letters carrying powdered anthrax killed five people in 2001, and experts fear it could be used again in a biological attack.
9 Gene therapy experiment restores sight in a few
By Phil Furey, Reuters
Sun Oct 25, 4:52 am ET
|PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) – Nine-year-old Corey Haas can ride his bike alone now, thanks to an experimental gene therapy that has boosted his fading vision with a single treatment.
The gene therapy helped improve worsening eyesight caused by a rare inherited disease called Leber congenital amaurosis, or LCA, which makes most patients blind by age 40.
Twelve treated patients, including Corey, now have better vision, their doctors told a joint meeting of the American Academy of Ophthalmology and Pan-American Association of Ophthalmology in San Francisco on Saturday.
10 World must use GM crops, says UK science academy
By Gerard Wynn, Reuters
Wed Oct 21, 9:37 am ET
|LONDON (Reuters) – The world needs genetically modified crops both to increase food yields and minimize the environmental impact of farming, Britain’s top science academy said on Wednesday.
The Royal Society said in a report the world faced a “grand challenge” to feed another 2.3 billion people by 2050 and at the same time limit the environmental impact of the farm sector.
The world will have to increase food output by 70 percent and invest $83 billion annually in developing countries by mid-century, the U.N.’s Food and Agricultural Organization said earlier this month.
11 Nuclear energy becomes pivotal in climate debate
By H. JOSEF HEBERT, Associated Press Writer
Sun Oct 25, 10:36 am ET
|WASHINGTON – Nuclear energy, once vilified by environmentalists and facing a dim future, has become a pivotal bargaining chip as Senate Democrats hunt for Republican votes to pass climate legislation.
The industry’s long-standing campaign to rebrand itself as green is gaining footing as part of the effort to curtail greenhouse gases.
Nuclear power still faces daunting challenges, including the fate of highly radioactive reactor waste. Reactors remain a tempting target for terrorists, requiring ever vigilant security measures.
12 EPA: Climate bill could cost family $100 annually
By H. JOSEF HEBERT, Associated Press Writer
Sat Oct 24, 7:30 pm ET
|WASHINGTON – A Senate plan to tackle global warming would add about $100 a year to the energy costs for a typical household, according to an analysis by the Environmental Protection Agency.
The analysis released late Friday by the office of Sen. Barbara Boxer, who heads the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, generally mirrors the cost projected by the EPA when it examined similar legislation that the House passed in the summer.
The Democratic bill calls for cutting greenhouse gases from power plants and large industrial facilities by shifting energy use away from fossil fuels, especially coal. It would cap emissions and allow trading of pollution allowances to mitigate the cost.
13 Largest solar panel plant in US rises in Fla.
By CHRISTINE ARMARIO, Associated Press Writer
Fri Oct 23, 4:55 pm ET
|ARCADIA, Fla. – Greg Bove steps into his pickup truck and drives down a sandy path to where the future of Florida’s renewable energy plans begin: Acres of open land filled with solar panels that will soon power thousands of homes and business.
For nearly a year, construction workers and engineers in this sleepy Florida town of citrus trees and cattle farms have been building the nation’s largest solar panel energy plant. Testing will soon be complete, and the facility will begin directly converting sunlight into energy, giving Florida a momentary spot in the solar energy limelight.
The Desoto Next Generation Solar Energy Center will power a small fraction of Florida Power & Light’s 4-million plus customer base; nevertheless, at 25 megawatts, it will generate nearly twice as much energy as the second-largest photovoltaic facility in the U.S.
14 Panel says NASA should skip moon, fly elsewhere
By SETH BORENSTEIN, AP Science Writer
Fri Oct 23, 2:28 am ET
|WASHINGTON – NASA needs to make a major detour on its grand plans to return astronauts to the moon, a special independent panel told the White House Thursday.
Under current plans, NASA has picked the wrong destination with the wrong rocket, the panel’s chairman said. A test-flight version of the rocket, the new Ares I, is on a launch pad at Cape Canaveral, awaiting liftoff later this month for its first experimental flight.
Instead, NASA should be concentrating on bigger rockets and new places to explore, the panel members said, as they issued their final 155-page report. The committee, created by the White House in May to look at NASA’s troubled exploration, shuttle and space station programs, issued a summary of their findings last month, mostly urging more spending on space.
15 Poll: US belief in global warming is cooling
By DINA CAPPIELLO, Associated Press Writer
Fri Oct 23, 2:01 am ET
|WASHINGTON – Americans seem to be cooling toward global warming.
Just 57 percent think there is solid evidence the world is getting warmer, down 20 points in just three years, a new poll says. And the share of people who believe pollution caused by humans is causing temperatures to rise has also taken a dip, even as the U.S. and world forums gear up for possible action against climate change.
In a poll of 1,500 adults by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, released Thursday, the number of people saying there is strong scientific evidence that the Earth has gotten warmer over the past few decades is down from 71 percent in April of last year and from 77 percent when Pew started asking the question in 2006. The number of people who see the situation as a serious problem also has declined.
16 Fishermen contest plans for Calif. ocean reserves
By JOHN ANTCZAK, Associated Press Writer
Fri Oct 23, 12:21 am ET
|LONG BEACH, Calif. – There’s nothing pacific about the ocean off Southern California these days.
A battle over how to establish marine reserves along the coast has roiled the waters with the competing interests of environmentalists, fishermen and seaside businesses.
The difficulty of the task was evident Thursday, when the panel had to put off until next month its recommendation to the California Fish and Game Commission on its preference among three hotly debated plans for a Marine Protected Area in the Southern California Bight.
17 Feds designate ‘critical habitat’ for polar bear
By MATTHEW DALY, Associated Press Writer
Thu Oct 22, 5:52 pm ET
|WASHINGTON – The Obama administration said Thursday it is designating more than 200,000 square miles in Alaska and off its coast as “critical habitat” for polar bears, an action that could add restrictions to future offshore drilling for oil and gas.
Federal law prohibits agencies from taking actions that may adversely affect critical habitat and interfere with polar bear recovery.
Assistant Interior Secretary Tom Strickland called the habitat designation a step in the right direction to help polar bears stave off extinction, while recognizing that the greatest threat to the bear is the melting of Arctic sea ice caused by climate change.
18 Washington state project could charge up electric car corridors
By Les Blumenthal, McClatchy Newspapers
Sun Oct 18, 6:00 am ET
|WASHINGTON — A year from now, roughly 1,000 all-electric vehicles will be whispering around Washington state’s Puget Sound as part of a federally funded project that eventually may lead to an electronic corridor stretching from Eugene, Ore. , to Vancouver, B.C. , where drivers could swipe a credit card and receive a 15-minute charge to speed them on their way.
Washington is one of five states with metro markets selected to participate in the 36-month study, funded by a $100 million grant from the Department of Energy under the economic recovery program.
The first corridor that will be developed runs between Phoenix and Tucson, Ariz. , a distance of just over 100 miles. Others corridors could be developed between San Diego and Los Angeles , and Nashville , Knoxville and Chattanooga in Tennessee . Colin Reed , a spokesman for the EV, or Electric Vehicle, Project, said a corridor running along Interstate 5 between San Diego and Vancouver, B.C. , may not be possible because there are no major population centers in far northern California and southern Oregon
19 Report looks at hidden health costs of energy production
By Renee Schoof, McClatchy Newspapers
Mon Oct 19, 6:43 pm ET
|WASHINGTON — Generating electricity by burning coal is responsible for about half of an estimated $120 billion in yearly costs from early deaths and health damages to thousands of Americans from the use of fossil fuels, a federal advisory group said Monday.
A one-year study by the National Research Council looked at many costs of energy production and the use of fossil fuels that aren’t reflected in the price of energy. The $120 billion sum was the cost to human health from U.S. electricity production, transportation and heating in 2005, the latest year with full data.
The report also looks at other hidden costs from climate change, hazardous air pollutants such as mercury, harm to ecosystems and risks to national security, but it doesn’t put a dollar value on them.
20 EPA to limit mercury emissions from power plants by 2011
By Renee Schoof, McClatchy Newspapers
Fri Oct 23, 6:27 pm ET
|WASHINGTON — The Environmental Protection Agency will put controls on the emissions of hazardous pollutants such as mercury from coal-fired power plants for the first time by November 2011 , according to an agreement announced Friday to settle a lawsuit against the agency.
Many other polluters were forced to reduce emissions of toxic material such as mercury, arsenic and lead after the Clean Air Act was strengthened in 1990. Power plants, however, the largest source of mercury pollution, aren’t subject to nationwide rules.
The tougher rules will clean up more than just heavy metals because some kinds of pollution controls — scrubbers, for example — also remove other pollutants, such as soot.
21 Controversial study suggests vast magma pool under Washington state
By Les Blumenthal, McClatchy Newspapers
Mon Oct 26, 6:00 am ET
|WASHINGTON — A vast pool of molten rock in the continental crust that underlies southwestern Washington state could supply magma to three active volcanoes in the Cascade Mountains — Mount St. Helens , Mount Rainier and Mount Adams — according to a new study that’s causing a stir among scientists.
The study, published Sunday in the magazine Nature Geoscience, concluded that the magma pool among the three mountains could be the “most widespread magma-bearing area of continental crust discovered so far.”
Other scientists dismiss the existence of an underground vat of magma covering potentially hundreds of square miles as “farfetched” and “highly unlikely.” Rather than magma heated to 1,300 to 1,400 degrees, some think it could be water.
22 Like hungry teen, life on Earth had big growth spurts
By Robert S. Boyd, McClatchy Newspapers
Mon Oct 26, 3:34 pm ET
|WASHINGTON — Twice in the Earth’s history, living creatures underwent astonishing growth spurts, and each time, new organisms emerged that were a million times larger than anything that had existed before.
Scientists say that’s the way life on our planet expanded from tiny single-celled microbes billions of years ago to the ponderous whales and lofty sequoia trees that are today’s biggest living things.
Rather than a gradual increase in maximum body size, as scientists used to think, they now think that growth was a two-step process. The first spurt happened about 1.85 billion years ago, and the second about 580 million years ago, long before dinosaurs walked the Earth.
23 Air Force’s Secretive Space Plane Nears Maiden Voyage
Leonard David, SPACE.com’s Space Insider Columnist
Thu Oct 22, 12:32 pm ET
|You would think that an unpiloted space plane built to rocket spaceward from Florida atop an Atlas booster, circle the planet for an extended time, then land on autopilot on a California runway would be big news. But for the U.S. Air Force X-37B project – seemingly, mum’s the word.
There is an air of vagueness regarding next year’s Atlas Evolved Expendable launch of the unpiloted, reusable military space plane. The X-37B will be cocooned within the Atlas rocket’s launch shroud – a ride that’s far from cheap.
While the launch range approval is still forthcoming, SPACE.com has learned that the U.S. Air Force has the X-37B manifested for an April 2010 liftoff.
24 White House Panel Backs Commercial Alternatives to NASA’s New Rocket
Tariq Malik, Managing Editor SPACE.com
Thu Oct 22, 5:19 pm ET
|The independent blue-ribbon panel that reviewed NASA’s plans to replace its space shuttles said Thursday that the agency should consider using commercial vehicles to help achieve its goal, and perhaps nix the new Ares I rocket slated to fly future astronauts.
In a 155-page report entitled “Seeking a Human Spaceflight Program Worthy of a Great Nation,” the 10-member committee expanded on the five potential options it drew up over the summer for NASA’s human spaceflight future, including more detail and data to be reviewed by President Barack Obama.
Committee chairman Norman Augustine, former CEO of Lockheed Martin, said NASA’s plan to replace the space shuttle fleet with capsule-based Orion spacecraft and Ares I rockets – a prototype of which is poised to launch Oct. 27 – suffers from a lack of funding so severe the agency may now have the wrong vehicle for its mission.
25 Amelia Earhart’s Scarf Flying to Space
Robert Z. Pearlman, SPACE.com
Fri Oct 23, 1:34 pm ET
|As a new major motion picture about famed female pilot Amelia Earhart prepares to launch onto movie theater screens this weekend, a scarf she wore is being readied for its own liftoff, flying on the space shuttle with the astronaut grandson of her personal photographer.
Randy Bresnik, whose grandfather Albert was recruited by Earhart in 1932 to be her only authorized photographer, is set to take the scarf on shuttle Atlantis when it departs with supplies and spare parts for the International Space Station (ISS) in November.
“We are flying Amelia Earhart’s favorite scarf that she unfortunately did not take with her on her final mission,” revealed the STS-129 astronaut during an interview with collectSPACE.com. “Fortunately, she also decided not to take her photographer with her otherwise I might not be here today.”
26 Stacking Up the World’s Tallest Rockets
Tariq Malik, Managing Editor SPACE.com
Sat Oct 24, 1:00 pm ET
|NASA’s new Ares I-X rocket may be the world’s largest booster currently in service or about to fly, but it is no behemoth when compared to giant rockets of the past and, perhaps, the future.
The Ares I-X rocket is poised to launch on a suborbital test flight on Oct. 27 and rolled out to its launching pad earlier this week. It stands about 327 feet (100 meters) high – 14 stories taller than NASA’s space shuttles – and is equivalent in height to its namesake Ares I. The Ares I booster is designed to launch NASA’s Orion spacecraft slated to replace the shuttle fleet.
“It gives you a sense of the scale of what NASA does that our flight test rocket is larger than any other rocket in the world,” Ares I-X deputy mission manager Jon Cowart told SPACE.com.
27 How to Watch NASA’s Ares I-X Rocket Test Flight
Tariq Malik, Managing Editor SPACE.com
Sun Oct 25, 2:46 pm ET
|NASA’s test launch of a brand new rocket this week will last only minutes, but the space agency is expecting thousands of spectators to flock to its Florida launching site to watch the historic show.
The Ares I-X rocket, a suborbital prototype for a new booster designed to launch NASA’s planned shuttle replacement craft Orion, is slated to blast off Tuesday morning, weather permitting. But what exactly will the throngs of onlookers see at liftoff?
“It’s going to look pretty spectacular,” said Bob Ess, NASA’s Ares I-X project manager.
28 Behind the Scenes: Building NASA’s Huge, New Rocket
Jeremy Hsu, Special to SPACE.com
Mon Oct 26, 1:15 pm ET
|NASA’s first flight test of its Ares I-X booster is only slated to last two minutes, but it represents the culmination of years of work by the rocket-minded ATK Space Systems in Utah and almost 1,000 other NASA workers and private contractors across 17 states.
To ensure that they see the fruits of their labor, technicians have installed more than 700 sensors on the $445 million Ares I-X test vehicle. That electronic swarm should provide engineers with a smorgasbord of flight data, and has led to a few jokes regarding the sensor-studded rocket.
“It’s almost like flying a Christmas tree,” said Trina Patterson, a spokesperson for ATK Space Systems, an aerospace company based in Magna, Utah. The rocket is set launch at 8 a.m. EDT (1200 GMT) Tuesday from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
29 NASA’s Ares I-X to Launch With Historic Hardware, Commemorative Payload
Robert Z. Pearlman, SPACE.com
Mon Oct 26, 5:04 pm ET
|Hundreds of home videos along with thousands of miniature banners have been stowed aboard NASA’s first test flight of a rocket designed to replace the space shuttle. Their journey onboard the Ares I-X will be lofted by a booster assembled from parts previously flown on 30 shuttle missions, including the launch of the Hubble Space Telescope.
Scheduled to lift off Tuesday morning, weather permitting, from a modified shuttle launch pad at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, the Ares I-X development flight test will not enter space. Rather, the two-stage rocket will follow a 28-mile-high, five-minute flight profile while more than 700 sensors record the vehicle’s performance.
Only the Ares I-X first stage, a four-segment solid rocket booster borrowed from the shuttle program and amended with a simulated fifth segment to replicate the Ares I flight configuration, is to be recovered after it parachutes to an ocean splashdown. The second stage, which is made up of mockups including a simulated Orion crew exploration vehicle and launch abort tower, will be left to sink into the Atlantic.