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September 27, 2006, 8:45 PM CT

More Efficiency In Harvest And Handling

More Efficiency In Harvest And Handling
Kevin Shinners wants farmers to put less energy into harvesting and handling biofuel crops - less fuel, less time and less labor.

As a field machinery specialist, Shinners has worked to improve the efficiency of harvesting forage for animals. Harvesting biomass crops poses similar challenges, he says.

"The biggest problem is there are way too many operations in the field," says Shinners, a professor of biological systems engineering and mechanical engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. "Every time we handle this material, it costs real money".

Much of Shinners' research to date has focused on corn stover, the stalks and leaves left behind when grain is harvested. He has also embarked on a similar line of research on cost-effective harvesting of forage grasses, such as switchgrass, for both feed and fuel production.

Corn stover is usually left in the field or used as animal fodder, but it has tremendous potential as a cellulosic source of ethanol - if the shredding, drying, raking, bailing and transporting can be made less costly and less labor-intensive.

The U.S. Department of Energy predicts that this type of biomass will sell for $30-$40 per ton. Although this price is low compared to high-quality alfalfa, which can sell for $100-$120 per ton, the high-value corn grain provides stover with a valuable co-product, he notes.........

Posted by: Nora      Permalink         Source

September 27, 2006, 8:29 PM CT

Airbags, Antilock Brakes Do Not Reduce Accidents

Airbags, Antilock Brakes Do Not Reduce Accidents
Scientists have determined that airbags and antilock braking systems do not reduce the likelihood of accidents or injuries because they may encourage more aggressive driving, thwarting the potential benefits of such safety features.

The behavior responsible for this seeming paradox is called the offset hypotheses, which predicts that consumers adapt to innovations meant to improve safety by becoming less vigilant about safety, said Fred Mannering, a professor of civil engineering at Purdue University.

"When antilock brakes were first introduced, insurance companies noticed that the accident rates for those cars increased," he said. "We decided to see whether the offset hypothesis could explain this phenomenon".

The scientists analyzed motor vehicle data from the state of Washington over a five-year period beginning in 1992.

"We used that time period because that's when airbags started getting introduced very rapidly, and we wanted to track the same drivers over that time frame to see whether the new safety features reduced their accident and injury rate," Mannering said. "Our findings suggest that the offset hypothesis is occurring and that it is sufficient to counter the modest technological benefits of airbags and antilock brakes".

A research paper detailing the study's findings was published earlier this year in the Journal of Risk and Uncertainty. The paper was authored by Clifford Winston, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution; Vikram Maheshri, a doctoral student at the University of California, Berkeley; and Mannering.........

Posted by: Edwin      Permalink         Source

September 27, 2006, 8:15 PM CT

Toxins In Houston Air

Toxins In Houston Air Downtown Houston
A new report recommends immediate action to reduce levels of four toxic air pollutants because exposure to them poses a high risk to community health. Released today by Rice University and funded by Houston Endowment, the study proposes a new set of air quality standards based on the underlying toxicology of the four pollutants investigated.

Baylor College of Medicine, Texas Southern University, University of Houston Law Center and The University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) at Galveston collaborated with Rice on the study, which focused on benzene, 1,3-butadiene, formaldehyde and diesel particulate matter.

"Based on the results of our study, we strongly recommend immediate action to lower the ambient concentrations of the four hazardous air pollutants we researched," said principal investigator Matt Fraser, associate professor in civil and environmental engineering at Rice. "The level of air toxics concentration that we're seeing in the Houston area poses a dangerously high risk of cancer and other health problems".

As per the report, the ultimate goal is the adoption of enforceable ambient air quality standards for which only one more person in a million would be expected to develop cancer from a lifetime of exposure to individual hazardous air pollutants.........

Posted by: Edwin      Permalink         Source

September 27, 2006, 8:10 PM CT

Wealth During Second Temple Period

Wealth During Second Temple Period Herodion Street in Jerusalem, one of the areas where potsherds were excavated and analyzed for their silver content.
Scientists with the U.S. Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and Bar-Ilan University have discovered unusually high concentrations of silver in samples of many different types of pottery from excavations in Jerusalem of the late Second Temple period, the first century BCE (Before the Common Era) through 70 CE (Common Era). This is the first study ever conducted on silver in archaeological ceramics.

David Adan-Bayewitz, Associate Professor at Bar-Ilan in Ramat-Gan, Israel, and a guest at Berkeley Lab, and Frank Asaro and Robert D. Giauque of Berkeley Lab's Environmental Energy Technologies Division made their discovery of performing measurements on 1,200 pottery vessels from 38 sites in Roman Judea (present-day Israel). They used high-precision X-ray fluorescence (HPXRF) and instrumental neutron activation analysis (INAA). The Berkeley Lab team developed a variation of INAA, the INAA coincidence technique, specifically for measuring silver concentrations in archaeological samples, as a more accurate means of checking the results of HPXRF and conventional INAA.

The research was funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation and the United States-Israel Binational Science Foundation.

The major finding is that samples of pottery from Jerusalem during this era showed anomalously higher concentrations of silver, as compared to samples from all other non-urban sites dated to the same period of time. Many of the samples from Jerusalem and other sampled sites were otherwise indistinguishable in date, shape and chemical composition. High silver abundances were also detected in pottery found at other urban sites. But many of the Jerusalem samples had higher silver values than any of the samples from the other cities.........

Posted by: Edwin      Permalink         Source

September 26, 2006, 9:04 PM CT

Ideas For Lauren's Polo

Ideas For Lauren's Polo Daya Fields (left) and Petra Gospodnetic spent last semester on a volunteer marketing project for the luxury brand Polo Ralph Lauren. Photo / Patrick McGarvey
Last semester, four MIT Sloan students found a way to bring some of Polo Ralph Lauren's many Internet shoppers back to the high-end designer's retail store: They devised an interactive kiosk that remembers consumers and addresses them personally.

"It is a new kind of customer experience," said Petra Gospodnetic, a Sloan student and one of four M.B.A. candidates who worked for Ralph Lauren during their spring semester as part of MarketLab, a program run by the Sloan Marketing Club.

MarketLab students work in teams on marketing-related consulting projects for partner companies. The students gain experience and sponsorship money or academic credit.

This was the first year that Polo Ralph Lauren (PRL) retailers, a luxury line of clothing, fragrance and more, signed on to be part of the MarketLab. Jeffrey Steinberg (M.B.A. 1991) is the vice president of database marketing and the chief privacy officer for the label.

"It is great that Sloan alumni come back to work with Sloan students. It was a very encouraging environment," said Daya Fields, another member of the PRL team. "It says a lot about the Sloan program".

The team of four, which also included Sloan students Marshall Einhorn and Priya Gandhi, was tasked with finding a way to use interactive kiosk-stations featuring touch screens and computer technology to draw more customers to the store.........

Posted by: Edwin      Permalink         Source

September 26, 2006, 7:22 PM CT

Powerful HP Graphing Calculator

Powerful HP Graphing Calculator
HP recently introduced the HP 50g graphing calculator, which offers more connectivity options and greater configurability so users can share and work with mathematical data in the way that best suits their needs.

HP's most powerful calculator, the HP 50g is designed for engineering, math and science professionals and students. It features more connectivity options than other graphing calculators in its class, allowing users to transfer data and applications via convenient, industry-standard USB, SD card and serial ports(1) as well as wireless infrared communications.

Users also can customize the calculator by developing and saving programs and macros and by re-assigning key functions so that the most-used functions are at their fingertips.

"With the high-end HP 50g, HP continues to enhance its robust calculator portfolio," said Fred Valdez, general manager, Calculator Division, HP. "HP calculators lead the way in empowering users to do more with their calculating devices by creating well-engineered solutions - from the smart functions that they perform down to the look of the display and feel of the keyboard".

In addition to the standard Algebraic mode, the HP 50g offers the Reverse Polish Notation (RPN)(2) and groundbreaking Textbook data entry modes that are only found on HP calculators. RPN is an efficient sequence that reduces the number of keystrokes needed to make a calculation; Textbook entry allows users to write and edit equations symbolically, as if they were writing on a sheet of paper.........

Posted by: John      Permalink         Source

September 26, 2006, 6:47 PM CT

Software Developers' Productivity

Software Developers' Productivity
European software developers have to stay technologically up-to-date if they are to maintain their competitive edge on world markets. Now an IST-sponsored research project has constructed a platform to help them deliver state-of-the-art software systems to end-users faster.

European software designers, often working in university laboratories, create some of the world's most sophisticated and reliable software systems. However, it commonly falls to industrial software developers to incorporate these technological advances into marketable products. In fact, due to the growing complexity of software systems, developers find it increasingly difficult to keep pace with end-user demand for updated tools.

The IST-sponsored MODELWARE project has developed a platform that employs the scientific and technical advances of Model-Driven Development (MDD) to significantly reduce the complexity of engineering software systems.

"MDD improves developers' productivity by automating production of most software artefacts, such as tests, documentation and code," says project coordinator Philippe Millot of Palaiseau-based Thales Research & Technology in France. MODELWARE, which began in mid-2004 and ends in September 2006, combined innovations in modelling, tool development, methodologies and standardisation into a platform for large-scale deployment of model-driven development.........

Posted by: Edwin      Permalink         Source

September 25, 2006, 9:29 PM CT

World Warmth Going To Ancient Levels

World Warmth Going To Ancient Levels
A new study by NASA climatologists finds that the world's temperature is reaching a level that has not been seen in thousands of years.

The study appears in the current issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, authored by James Hansen of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, N.Y. and his colleagues from Columbia University, Sigma Space Partners, Inc., and the University of California at Santa Barbara (UCSB). The study concludes that, because of a rapid warming trend over the past 30 years, the Earth is now reaching and passing through the warmest levels in the current interglacial period, which has lasted nearly 12,000 years. This warming is forcing a migration of plant and animal species toward the poles.

The study includes worldwide instrumental temperature measurements during the past century. These data reveal that the Earth has been warming at the remarkably rapid rate of approximately 0.2 degree Celsius (.36 degree Fahrenheit) per decade for the past 30 years. This observed warming is similar to the warming rate predicted in the 1980s in initial global climate model simulations with changing levels of greenhouse gases.

"This evidence implies that we are getting close to dangerous levels of human-made (anthropogenic) pollution," said Hansen. In recent decades, human-made greenhouse gases (GHGs) have become the dominant climate change factor.........

Posted by: Edwin      Permalink         Source

September 25, 2006, 7:36 PM CT

Milano Moda Donna 2007

Milano Moda Donna 2007

An assay of the two paraded yesterday of Luciano Soprani and Clips whom it has seen to parade the splendid Bar Rafaeli fiancee of Leonardo di Caprio.

Good look counts!........

Posted by: Edwin      Permalink         Source

September 25, 2006, 7:19 PM CT

Latex-Free Balloons

Latex-Free Balloons
Via Allergy blog.

Yesterday, my son celebrated his birthday in the kindergarten. We brought a cake, which I made sure was nut-free, becasue aside from my son, there was one other child with nut allergies. We also brought some ballons, which was a hit among the kiddies, but in hindsight, could have caused a problem.

What if there was a child with latex allergies? or among the teachers? I didn't even bother to ask, bad me! Good thing that it turned out nobody had allergies to latex.

If you're hosting a party, or will be using balloons for other purposes where guests or other people are involved, you might want to consider using Mylar, vinyl, or plastic balloons. MisterBalloons also carry a wide range of latex-free balloons you can choose from. Check them out!........

Posted by: Edwin      Permalink         Source

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