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Firefighters Let House Burn Because Owner Didn't Pay Fee Screenshot-sm 2058

Dthief writes "From MSNBC: 'Firefighters in rural Tennessee let a home burn to the ground last week because the homeowner hadn't paid a $75 fee. Gene Cranick of Obion County and his family lost all of their possessions in the Sept. 29 fire, along with three dogs and a cat. "They could have been saved if they had put water on it, but they didn't do it," Cranick told MSNBC's Keith Olbermann. The fire started when the Cranicks' grandson was burning trash near the family home. As it grew out of control, the Cranicks called 911, but the fire department from the nearby city of South Fulton would not respond.'"

Volkswagen Creates Sewage-Powered Beetle Screenshot-sm 83

Hugh Pickens writes "The Telegraph reports that Volkswagen is giving new meaning to the term 'Dung Beetle' with a prototype able to cover 10,000 miles annually on the waste from 70 households. The Bio-Bug was launched by Wessex Water, which is generating methane from human waste at a sewage treatment works near Bristol. 'Our site has been producing biogas for many years, which we use to generate electricity to power the site and export to the National Grid,' says one company official. 'We decided to power a vehicle on the gas, offering a sustainable alternative to using fossil fuels which we so heavily rely on in the UK.' The Anaerobic Digestion and Biogas Association says the launch of the Bio-Bug proves that biomethane from sewage sludge can be used as fuel. 'This is a very exciting and forward-thinking project demonstrating the myriad benefits of anaerobic digestion (releasing energy from waste). Biomethane cars could be just as important as electric cars.'"

Churchill Accused of Sealing UFO Files, Fearing Public Panic Screenshot-sm 615

Newly released secret files show that Winston Churchill ordered a cover-up of an alleged encounter between a UFO and a RAF bomber because he feared public panic. From the article: "Mr Churchill is reported to have made a declaration to the effect of the following: 'This event should be immediately classified since it would create mass panic among the general population and destroy one's belief in the Church.'"

The Science of Caddyshack Screenshot-sm 55

astroengine writes "Thirty years after the release of the cult classic comedy Caddyshack, Discovery News has geeked out and gone on the hunt for any trace amount of science they can find in the movie (video). From gopher territoriality to seismic deformation, from pool poop bacteria to the color of lightning, it turns out there's quite a lot of science to talk about..."

How a Key Enzyme Repairs Sun-Damaged DNA 97

BraveHeart writes "Researchers have long known that mammals, including humans, lack a key enzyme — one possessed by most of the animal kingdom and even plants — that reverses severe sun damage. For the first time, researchers have witnessed how this enzyme works at the atomic level to repair sun-damaged DNA. 'Normal sunscreen lotions convert UV light to heat, or reflect it away from our skin. A sunscreen containing photolyase could potentially heal some of the damage from UV rays that get through.'"

Cell Phone Interception At Def Con 95

ChrisPaget writes "I'm planning a pretty significant demonstration of GSM insecurity at Defcon next week, where I'll intercept and record cellular calls made by my attendees, live on-stage, no user-input required. As you can imagine, intercepting cellphones is a Very Big Deal in the eyes of the law; this blog post is an attempt to reassure everyone that their privacy is being taken seriously despite the nature of the demo. I'm not just making it up either — the EFF have helped significantly with the details."

Germany To Test Actively-Cooled Spacecraft 127

FleaPlus writes "The German Aerospace Center is planning to launch a novel reusable spacecraft in 2011, incorporating flat, damage-resistant tiles. Nitrogen will be pumped through the porous tiles, creating a protective gas layer that actively cools and shields the hottest parts of the spacecraft from the searing heat of reentry. The €12.5M unmanned 'SHEFEX II' project is a major technological step toward the team's eventual goal of a reusable space glider, which will be cheaper and easier to build than NASA's space shuttle."
Hardware Hacking

Mobile Medical Lab — the $10 Phone Microscope 54

kkleiner writes "Aydogan Ozcan of UCLA has developed a microscope attachment for a cell phone – turning the device into a sort of mobile medical lab. It's both lightweight (~38g or 1.5 oz) and cheap (parts cost around $10). The cellphone microscope can analyze blood and saliva samples for microparticles, red blood cells, white blood cells, platelets, and water borne parasites. Ozcan and his team have recently won three prestigious awards for the device: a Grand Challenges award from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (worth $100,000), the National Geographic Emerging Explorer award (worth $10,000), and the CAREER award from the National Science Foundation ($400,000). With these funds, Ozcan plans on starting case studies in Africa to see how the microscope can help revolutionize global medicine."

Solar-Powered Flight Grounded By Equipment Bug 28

crimeandpunishment writes "If your plane is powered by the sun, it's tough to fly if your crew is in the dark. A 24-hour test flight for the world's first solar-powered round-the-world flight had to be postponed Thursday due to an equipment problem that would have left mission control out of touch with the technology on the experimental aircraft. When they're able to make this test flight, they hope by flying all day they'll be able to fully charge the batteries, then use the stored energy to power the plane all night."
The Internet

Over a Third of the Internet Is Pornographic 247

Th'Inquisitor writes "Pornography makes up 37% of the total number of web pages online, according to a new study published by Optenet, a SaaS provider. According to the report, which looked at a representative sample of around four million extracted URLs, adult content on the Internet increased by 17% in the first quarter of 2010, as compared to the same period in 2009."

Salad Spinner Made Into Life-Saving Centrifuge Screenshot-sm 87

lucidkoan writes "Two Rice University students have transformed a simple salad spinner into an electricity-free centrifuge that can be used to diagnose diseases on the cheap. Created by Lauren Theis and Lila Kerr, the ingenious DIY centrifuge is cobbled together using a salad spinner, some plastic lids, combs, yogurt containers, and a hot glue gun. The simple and easily-replicated design could be an invaluable tool for clinics in the developing world, enabling them to separate blood to detect diseases like anemia without electricity."

Government Approves First US Offshore Wind Farm 432

RobotRunAmok writes "In a groundbreaking decision that some say will usher in a new era of clean energy, US Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said today he was approving the nation's first offshore wind farm, the controversial Cape Wind project off of Cape Cod. The project has undergone years of environmental review and political maneuvering, including opposition from the late Senator Edward M. Kennedy, whose home overlooks Nantucket Sound, and from Wampanoag Indian tribes who complained that the 130 turbines, which would stand more than 400 feet above the ocean surface, would disturb spiritual sun greetings and possibly ancestral artifacts and burial grounds on the seabed. But George Bachrach, president of the Environmental League of Massachusetts, hailed the decision, saying it was 'a critical step toward ending our reliance on foreign oil and achieving energy independence.'"

Decades-Old Soviet Reflector Spotted On the Moon 147

cremeglace writes "No one had seen a laser reflector that Soviet scientists had left on the moon almost 40 years ago, despite years of searching. Turns out searchers had been looking kilometers in the wrong direction. On 22 April, a team of physicists finally saw an incredibly faint flash from the reflector, which was ferried across the lunar surface by the Lunokhod 1 rover. The find comes thanks to NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, which last month imaged a large area where the rover was reported to have been left. Then the researchers, led by Tom Murphy of the University of California, San Diego, could search one football-field-size area at a time until they got a reflection."

If we could sell our experiences for what they cost us, we would all be millionaires. -- Abigail Van Buren