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Transportation

Volvo Developing Nano-Battery Tech Built Into Car Body Panels 178

cartechboy writes "Electric vehicle batteries have three problems — they're big, heavy, and expensive. But what if you could shift EV batteries away from being big blocks under the car and engineer them into the car itself? Research groups at Imperial College London working with Volvo have spent three years developing a way to do exactly that. The researchers are storing energy in nano structure batteries woven into carbon fiber--which can then be formed into car body panels. These panel-style batteries charge and store energy faster than normal EV batteries, and they are also lighter and more eco-friendly. The research team has built a Volvo S80 prototype featuring the panels where the battery panel material has been used for the trunk lid. With the materials used on the doors, roof and hood, estimated range for a mid-size electric car is around 80 miles."
Biotech

Gene Therapy May Protect Against Flu 72

sciencehabit writes "In 2009, a global collaboration of scientists, public health agencies, and companies raced to make a vaccine against a pandemic influenza virus, but most of it wasn't ready until the pandemic had peaked. Now, researchers have come up with an alternative, faster strategy for when a pandemic influenza virus surfaces: Just squirt genes for the protective antibodies into people's noses. The method—which borrows ideas from both gene therapy and vaccination, but is neither—protects mice against a wide range of flu viruses in a new study."
Earth

Researchers Regenerate 400-Year-Old Frozen Plants 77

Several readers sent word of a group of University of Alberta researchers, who were exploring the edge of the Teardrop Glacier in northern Canada when they noticed a 'greenish tint' coming out from underneath the glacier. It turned out to be a collection of bryophytes, which likely flourished there the last time the land in that area was exposed to sunlight before the Little Ice Age. They collected samples of plants estimated to be 400 years old, and the researchers were able to get them to sprout new growths in the lab (abstract). "The glaciers in the region have been receding at rates that have sharply accelerated since 2004, at about 3-4m per year. ... Bryophytes are different from the land plants that we know best, in that they do not have vascular tissue that helps pump fluids around different parts of the organism. They can survive being completely desiccated in long Arctic winters, returning to growth in warmer times, but Dr La Farge was surprised by an emergence of bryophytes that had been buried under ice for so long. 'When we looked at them in detail and brought them to the lab, I could see some of the stems actually had new growth of green lateral branches, and that said to me that these guys are regenerating in the field, and that blew my mind.'"
Medicine

Newly Developed RNA-Based Vaccine Could Offer Lifelong Protection From the Flu 156

An anonymous reader writes "A new experimental flu vaccine made out of messenger RNA that may work for life is now being developed. German researchers said on Sunday that the vaccine, made of the genetic material that controls the production of proteins, protected animals against influenza and, unlike traditional vaccines, it may work for life and can potentially be manufactured quickly enough to stop a pandemic (abstract)."
Canada

Why Worms In the Toilet Might Be a Good Idea 124

derekmead writes "Billions worldwide still don't have access to proper sanitation, and those that do still require a ton of water and electricity to keep waste flowing. A French company is offering one solution: Use turd-eating worms to compost waste right at the source. Ecosphere Technologies has developed an outhouse that, rather than relying on chemicals like a port-a-john, relies on about a pound of red wiggler worms. A new installation in Quebec uses imported worms, placed inside of a mixture of dung and straw underneath to toilet, to devour feces delivered to them by a conveyor belt system. (When someone uses the toilet, pee filters through sand to wash away, while a pedal allows the user to transport their poo to the worm space.) The whole system uses no water or electricity, and a series of passive vents allegedly keeps the toilet smelling great. The company claims it can be used 10,000 times without servicing, which is far better than what a port-a-potty can boast, although with a current price tag of $40k for the worm system, port-a-potties are still a lot cheaper."
Biotech

Russian Scientists Revive Plant From 30,000-Year-Old Seeds 162

An anonymous reader writes "It was an Ice Age squirrel's treasure chamber, a burrow containing fruit and seeds that had been stuck in the Siberian permafrost for over 30,000 years. From the fruit tissues, a team of Russian scientists managed to resurrect an entire plant in a pioneering experiment that paves the way for the revival of other species. The Silene stenophylla is the oldest plant ever to be regenerated, the researchers said, and it is fertile, producing white flowers and viable seeds. ... 'The squirrels dug the frozen ground to build their burrows, which are about the size of a soccer ball, putting in hay first and then animal fur for a perfect storage chamber,' said Stanislav Gubin, one of the authors of the study, who spent years rummaging through the area for squirrel burrows. 'It's a natural cryobank.'"
Japan

Toyota To Let People Ride In Self-Driving Prius 282

fergus07 writes "Toyota is to show an autonomous Prius at Tokyo Motor Show. Dubbed the Toyota AVOS (Automatic Vehicle Operation System), the car will be available for members of the public to take 'back seat' rides at the show, demonstrating first hand how the Prius can avoid obstacles, be summoned from a parking garage and park itself."
Government

New Federal CIO Is Former Microsoft, FCC Exec 59

msmoriarty writes "The second-ever federal CIO (the first, Vivek Kundra, resigned in June) will be Steven VanRoekel, who worked with Microsoft for 15 years, running the company's Web Services and Platform Strategy and Windows Server Solutions groups. He went to the FCC in 2009, where he then advocated for open government and open platforms. VanRoekel's title on his twitter feed has already been changed to 'United States Chief Information Officer.'" According to reader dcblogs, VanRoekel is also a hefty political donor, having given $50,000 toward Obama's inauguration festivities.
Power

White House To Announce IT-Powered Smart Grid 320

FizzaNawaz writes "On Monday, the Obama administration is preparing announce the next steps that the US will take to build its 21st century electric grid, and IT is expected to play a big part in the plans. The White House is hosting a 90-minute media event called 'Building the 21st Century Electric Grid' and is releasing a new report on what it will take for lawmakers and the private sector to come together to solve this aspect of the energy challenge."
Biotech

Malaysia Releases Genetically Modified Mosquitoes 140

Blessed_by_the_Cow writes "Apparently, Malaysian scientists have released 6,000 genetically modified male mosquitoes into the the wild. These bloodsuckers have been altered to have shorter lifespans. The basic idea behind it is to help slow down the spread of Dengue fever by killing off the mosquitoes faster."
Businesses

GE Venture Will Share Jet Technology With China 266

vbraga writes "This week, during the visit of Chinese president Hu Jintao to the United States, GE plans to sign a joint-venture agreement in commercial aviation that shows the tricky risk-and-reward calculations American corporations must increasingly make in their pursuit of lucrative markets in China. GE, in partnership with a state-owned Chinese company, will be sharing its most sophisticated airplane electronics (NYT reg. required, reg.-free alternative here), including some of the same technology used in Boeing's new state-of-the-art 787 Dreamliner."
Space

Russia Develops Spaceship With Nuclear Engine 297

Matt_dk writes "The Russian Federal Space Agency Roscosmos has developed a design for a piloted spacecraft powered by a nuclear engine, the head of the agency said on Wednesday. 'The project is aimed at implementing large-scale space exploration programs,' Anatoly Perminov said at a meeting of the commission on the modernization of the Russian economy. He added that the development of Megawatt-class nuclear space power systems (MCNSPS) for manned spacecraft was crucial for Russia if the country wanted to maintain a competitive edge in the space race, including the exploration of the Moon and Mars."
Biotech

New Treatment Trains Immune System To Kill Cancer 62

Al writes "A vaccine in clinical trials at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine triggers the human immune system to attack a faulty protein that's often abundant in colorectal cancer tissue and precancerous tissue. If it works as hoped, it could remove the need for repeated colonoscopies in patients at high risk for developing colorectal cancer. The vaccine has already proven safe in patients with advanced pancreatic cancer. It works by spurring the body to manufacture antibodies against the abnormal version of a mucous protein called MUC1. While moderate amounts of the protein are found in the lining of normal intestines, high levels of a defective form of MUC1 are present in about half of advanced adenomas and the majority of colorectal cancers."
United States

TSA Asked to Ensure Safety Of Customer Data After Clear Closing 75

CWmike writes "The chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), has given the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) until July 8 to explain how the agency plans to ensure the security of private data collected by a recently shuttered company that offered a registered traveler program. In a letter to the TSA's acting assistant secretary, Thompson expressed his concern over the abrupt closure of Verified Identity Pass (VIP), which offered a service called Clear for a $199 annual fee that helped air travelers get through airport security checks faster by vetting their identities and backgrounds in advance. VIP has left open the possibility that the data could end up being acquired or sold to a third-party, but only if it was going to be used for a registered traveler program."

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