Black Gold Alchemist writes: Dowa, a Japanese mining company in Kosaka has begun the recycling of rare earth metals from used cellphones and computers. This is in response to a recent, temporary trade embargo from China, which is the leading supplier of rare earth metals needed for production of products including hybrid cars, wind turbines, and LCD screens. Because of the shortage of rare earth metals, the Japanese trade minister, Akihiro Ohata is asking the government to include a rare earth strategy in its supplementary budget for this year.
from the hello-true-believers dept.
Joe McIntosh writes "Hibiki Kono just might be a boy genius. The 13-year-old decided he wanted to climb vertical surfaces like his hero, Spiderman. So, he used two 1,400-watt recycled vacuum cleaners and a little bit of elbow grease to make a machine that allows him to scale walls. Kono has been scaling the walls of his UK school and has told the media that he hopes his invention will help window washers eliminate clumsy ladders from their daily routine."
Hugh Pickens writes: "The NY Times reports that as cars like the Nissan LEAF, Coda Sedan and others become available for sale and lease, one question that may give electric car buyers cold feet is bubbling to the surface: How much will these next-gen vehicles be worth a few years down the road? According to a report from the UK’s Glass Guide, unless manufacturers properly address customer concerns regarding battery life and performance, the new breed of electric vehicles (EVs) soon to be launched will have residual values well below those of rival gasoline and diesel models with a typical electric vehicle retaining only 10 percent of its value after five years of ownership, compared to gas and diesel-fueled counterparts retaining 25 percent of their value in that time period. According to Andy Carroll, Managing Director at Glass's, the alarming rate of depreciation is a function of customer recognition that the typical EV battery will have a useful life of up to eight years and will cost thousands of dollars to replace. "Potential used EV buyers fear this cost, but the key issue is that buyers will assume that their specific battery will need replacing in the near future regardless of the manufacturers' predictions of battery life," says Carroll adding that manufacturers could address this problem by leasing the battery to users. "If the anticipated £8,000 cost of the battery in such a car were taken off the list price, and recovered instead through a long-term £100-per-month battery lease scheme, the retained value in monetary terms would make it one of the best performing used cars in its segment, rather than one of the worst.""
coondoggie writes: In the strange and mysterious world of Jupiter, scientists were looking for an explanation for why the massive orb's atmosphere contained little neon, a common gas found on many planets. Now researching say they have found solved the mystery: Helium rain. In the interior of Jupiter conditions are so strange that, according to predictions by University of California, Berkeley scientists, helium condenses into droplets and falls like rain. On Jupiter the scientists explain the only way neon could be removed from the upper atmosphere is to have it fall out with helium, since neon and helium mix easily, like alcohol and water.
Peace Corps Online writes: "The NY Times reports on a crowdsourcing platform developed in Africa called Ushahidi — which means "testimony" in Swahili — that is used for gathering distributed data via SMS, email or web and visualizing it on a map or timeline becoming a hero of the Haitian and Chilean earthquakes. Ushahidi was developed after violence erupted during Kenya’s disputed election in 2007 when Ory Okolloh, a prominent Kenyan lawyer and blogger who had gone back to Kenya to vote and observe the election, received threats about her work and returned to South Africa where she posted her idea of an Internet mapping tool to allow people to anonymously report violence and other misdeeds. Technology whizzes built the Ushahidi Web platform over a long weekend and the site began collecting user-generated cellphone reports of riots, stranded refugees, rapes and deaths and plotted them on a map, using the locations given by informants. When the Haitian earthquake struck, Ushahidi went into action receiving thousands of messages reporting trapped victims and Ushahidi was also used by the Washington Post during the recent blizzards to build a site to map road blockages and the location of available snowplows and blowers. "Ushahidi suggests a new paradigm in humanitarian work," writes Anand Giridharadas. "The old paradigm was one-to-many: foreign journalists and aid workers jet in, report on a calamity and dispense aid with whatever data they have. The new paradigm is many-to-many-to-many: victims supply on-the-ground data; a self-organizing mob of global volunteers translates text messages and helps to orchestrate relief; journalists and aid workers use the data to target the response. ""