Monday, November 26, 2007

11-26-07 Science/Tech

A German heavy-freight ship launching next month will be using a football field sized kite to provide most of their power. It should reduce fuel consumption by 50% and greenhouse gas emissions by 10-20%. Kites have been used before for yachts, but this is the first cargo vessel to use one. The company that makes the kites aims to equip 1500 ships with kites over the next 8 years.

China's moon probe has started to send back pictures. There's an article here, but the pictures only seem to be available on Chinese-language sites for now.

2 Australian firms are going to be making algae (for biodiesel fuel, to burn for power generation, or use as fertilizer) from coal mine emissions. A similar program set up in Arizona had to suspend operations earlier this year because it was generating more algae than it could harvest. I hope they both can get operations going so we can reduce carbon dioxide while generating something useful.

The AMA has adopted new guidelines for talking to pregnant patients about cord blood donation. There will be a greater promotion for public cord blood banking. This should help a lot of people.

Researchers have made advances in transforming adult cells into embryonic stem cells, which allows them to use the patient's own cells to cure them of disease or make new non-rejecting tissues.

One last stem cell article: Stanford researchers are developing a treatment that may allow stem cells to treat immune disorders such as multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis. An injection of antibodies specifically takes out blood-forming cells, which can then be replaced by new blood-forming stem cells. This would eliminate the need (and the dangers) of using chemotherapy and radiation to completely destroy all the original stem cells before a transplant and make it safe enough to use for non-life-threatening diseases. So far, it has only been tested on mice, but this holds great promise.

A Georgia professor is working on curing disease in mosquitoes. Rather than just kill the mosquitoes to prevent them from passing on diseases such as malaria and West Nile virus, he is putting medicines in feeders to stop them from developing pathogens, so even if they bite they won't pass on the diseases. Is it wrong that I'd prefer they were just dead? I hate mosquitoes, disease carrying or not, but I guess this is better for the bats and the environment.

A new company has formed to produce what amounts to a nuclear battery. It is a closed system with no moving parts the size of a hot tub, enclosed in cement, and doesn't require operators. It would be trucked to a site, hooked up, buried underground, and could power 25,000 homes for at least 5 years. I want to know what happens after the 5 years.

No comments: