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Powering Phones, PCs Using Sugar 199

Nerval's Lobster writes "A team of researchers at Virginia Tech University have developed a battery with energy density an order of magnitude higher than lithium-ion batteries, while being almost endlessly rechargeable and biodegradable as well – because it's made of sugar. The battery is an enzymatic biofuel fuel cell – a type of fuel cell that uses a catalyst to strip molecules from molecules of a fuel material. Instead of using platinum or nickel for catalysts, however, biofuel cells use the catalysts made from enzymes similar to those used to break down and digest food in the body. Sugar is a good fuel material because it is energy dense, easy to obtain and transport, and so simple to biodegrade that almost anything biological can eat it. Sugar-based fuel cells aren't new, but existing designs use only a small number of enzymes that don't oxidize the sugar completely, meaning the resulting battery can hold only small amounts of energy that it releases slowly. A new design that uses 13 enzymes that can circulate freely to get better access to sugar molecules, however, is able to store energy at a density of 596 amp-hours per kilogram – an order of magnitude higher than lithium-ion batteries, according to Y.H. Percival Zhang, who studies biological systems engineering at the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and College of Engineering at Virginia Tech. "Sugar is a perfect energy storage compound in nature," Zhang said in a statement announcing publication in Nature Communications of his paper describing the battery. "So it's only logical that we try to harness this natural power in an environmentally friendly way to produce a battery.""

Hungarian Sequencing Company Vets DNA For 'Gypsy Or Jew' Genes 467

ananyo writes "Hungary's Medical Research Council (ETT), which advises the government on health policy, has asked public prosecutors to investigate a genetic-diagnostic company that certified that a member of parliament did not have Roma or Jewish heritage. The MP in question is a member of the far-right Jobbik party, which won 17% of the votes in the general election of April 2010. He apparently requested the certificate from the firm Nagy Gén Diagnostic and Research. The company produced the document in September 2010, a few weeks before local elections. Nagy Gén scanned 18 positions in the MP's genome for variants that it says are characteristic of Roma and Jewish ethnic groups; its report concludes that Roma and Jewish ancestry can be ruled out." Adds ananyo: "The test is of-course nonsense, and notions of 'racial purity' have long been discredited." Just when you think the world is too modern for such things, modernity gets hijacked by flim-flam.

I have a theory that it's impossible to prove anything, but I can't prove it.