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Newly Discovered Bacteria Could Aid Oil Cleanup 167

suraj.sun passes along news from Oregon State University, where researchers have discovered a new strain of bacteria that may be able to aid cleanup efforts in the Gulf of Mexico. The bacteria "can produce non-toxic, comparatively inexpensive 'rhamnolipids,' and effectively help degrade polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, or PAHs — environmental pollutants that are one of the most harmful aspects of oil spills. Because of its unique characteristics, this new bacterial strain could be of considerable value in the long-term cleanup of the massive Gulf Coast oil spill, scientists say." In related news, Kevin Costner's centrifugal separator technology has gotten approval for deployment; now it is only waiting on funding from BP.

Can World's Largest Laser Zap Earth's Energy Woes? 372 writes "Scientists at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory plan on using a laser the size of three football fields to set off a nuclear reaction so intense that it will make a star bloom on the surface of the Earth. If they're successful, the scientists hope to solve the global energy crisis by harnessing the energy generated by the mini-star."

Apple's "iKey" Wants To Unlock All Doors 383

Pickens writes "The Telegraph reports that Apple is developing technology, already being nicknamed the 'iKey,' which will allow users to gain access to their office and unlock their car or front door with a single electronic device like an iPhone. Users would simply have to enter a PIN and wave the device over an electronic pad fitted beside a door to open it. 'The device can communicate with an external device to open a lock. By way of example, the electronic device may be a model of an iPhone,' says the newly released patent application. 'The external device may be any suitable electronic device such as a portable media player, personal data assistant or electronic lock that may be used to access a door, car, house, or other physical area.' The technology behind the invention is known as Near Field Communication; it allows electronic devices to transmit information when in proximity. 'If true, it's a very big deal. As well as opening doors and unlocking your car, it could also turn your iPhone into an electronic wallet and ID card,' says Leander Kahney, a consumer technology expert. 'The trouble is that the technology hasn't gone completely mainstream. If Apple were to adopt the technology, they would likely set the standard, and that would drive widespread adoption as everyone scrambles to make their systems iPhone-friendly.'"

E. Coli Can Be Used To Clean Up Nuclear Waste 102

jerryjamesstone writes "Researchers have found that E. coli can be used to recover uranium from tainted waters and can even be used to clean up nuclear waste. Using the bacteria along with inositol phosphate, the bacteria breaks down the phosphate — also called phytic acid — to free the phosphate molecules. The phosphate then binds to the uranium forming a uranium-phosphate precipitate on the cells of the bacteria. Those cells can then be harvested to recover the uranium." What has made this 14-year-old process economically feasible is the use of inositol phosphate, which is a cheap waste material from the production feedstock from plant material.

"Love your country but never trust its government." -- from a hand-painted road sign in central Pennsylvania