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Mars

Curiosity Gearing Up for Drive to Next Study Location 73

Curiosity has spent most of the past 5 weeks running instrument and system checks, but on Friday that is all scheduled to change. The plan is to "drive, drive, drive" until a suitable rock for the rover's first robotic "hands-on" analysis is found, says mission manager Jennifer Trosper. The rover will head to a location about 1,300 feet away labeled "Glenelg," where three different types of rock intersect.
Earth

The Story of My As-Yet-Unverified Impact Crater 250

tetrahedrassface writes "When I was very young, my dad took me on a trip to his parents' farm. He wanted to show me 'The Crater.' We walked a long way through second generation hardwoods and finally stood on the rim of a hole that has no equal in this area. As I grew up, I became more interested in The Crater, and would always tell friends about it. It is roughly 1,200 feet across and 120 feet deep, and has a strange vibe about it. When you walk up to it, you feel like something really big happened here. Either the mother of all caves is down there, or a large object smashed into this place a long, long time ago. I bought aerial photos when I was twelve and later sent images from GIS to a geologist at a local university. He pretty much laughed me out of his office, saying that it was a sinkhole. He did wish me luck, however. It may be sinkhole. Who knows? Last week I borrowed a metal detector and went poking around, and have found the strangest shrapnel pieces I have ever seen. They are composed of a metal that reacts strongly to acids. The largest piece so far reacted with tap water and dish-washing detergent. My second trip today yielded lots of strange new pieces of metal, and hopefully, one day the truth will be known. Backyard science is so much fun. And who knows; if it is indeed a cave, maybe Cerberus resides there."
Power

Massive Solar Updraft Towers Planned For Arizona 572

MikeChino writes "Australia-based EnviroMission Ltd recently announced plans to build two solar updraft towers that span hundreds of acres in La Paz County, Arizona. Solar updraft technology sounds promising enough: generate hot air with a giant greenhouse, channel the air into a chimney-like device, and let the warm wind turn a wind turbine to produce energy. The scale of the devices would be staggering — each plant would consist of a 2,400 foot chimney over a greenhouse measuring four square miles. The Southern California Public Power Authority has approved EnviroMission as a provider, although there’s still plenty of work to be done before the $750 million, 200 megawatt project can begin."
Power

A Server Farm Powered By a Wind Farm 164

1sockchuck writes "A Texas startup called Baryonyx plans to build data centers powered entirely by renewable energy. Its first project will be a wind-powered server farm powered by 100 wind turbines in the Texas panhandle. The company has also leased 38,000 acres in the Gulf of Mexico, where it hopes to build hundreds of 300-foot wind turbines that can each generate up to 5 megawatts of power to support additional facilities. Baryonyx plans to sell excess capacity to the local utility, which it will use as a backup when the wind dies down."
Biotech

Novel Algae Fuel-Farming Method Gets Big Backing 176

Al writes "Dow Chemical has given its backing to a Florida startup called Algenol Biofuels that hopes to produce commercial quantities of ethanol directly from algae without the need for fresh water or agricultural lands. Dozens of companies are trying to produce biofuels from algae, mostly by growing and harvesting the microorganisms to extract their oil. Algenol has chosen instead to genetically enhance certain strains of blue-green algae, also known as cyanobacteria, to convert as much carbon dioxide as possible into ethanol using a process that doesn't require harvesting to collect the fuel. Algenol's bioreactors are troughs covered by a dome of semitransparent film and filled with salt water that has been pumped in straight from the ocean. The photosynthetic algae growing inside are exposed to sunlight and fed a stream of carbon dioxide from Dow's chemical production units. The goal is to produce 100,000 gallons of ethanol annually."
Transportation

Bugatti's Latest Veyron, Most Ridiculous Car on the Planet? 790

Wired has an amusing writeup that accurately captures the most recent ridiculous addition to Bugatti's automobile catalog. The $2.1 million Veyron sports over 1,000 horsepower, a 16-cylinder engine, and a top speed of 245 mph. The guilty conscience comes for free. "That same cash-filled briefcase could buy seven Ferrari 599s or every single 2009 model Mercedes. You could snap up a top-shelf Maybach and employ a chauffeur until well past the apocalypse. Hell, in this economy, $2.1 million is probably enough to make you a one-man special-interest group with some serious Washington clout."
Power

First Floating Wind Turbine Buoyed Off Norway 265

MonkeyClicker writes to tell us that the world's first large-scale floating turbine has been installed off the coast of Norway. A combined effort between Siemens and StatoiHydro, this marks the first foray into deeper waters due to restrictions in place that require offshore turbines to be attached to the sea bed. "The turbine in Norway will be 7.4 miles offshore where the water is 721 feet deep. It will be utility-size turbine, with a hub height of about 100 feet, capable of generating 2.3 megawatts of electricity. To address the conditions of the deep sea, the turbine will have a specially designed control system that will seek to dampen the motion from waves."
Earth

The Largest Recorded Tsunami Was 50 Years Ago 323

An anonymous reader writes "July marks the 50th anniversary of the world's largest tsunami — a 1,720-foot-tall wave in Lituya Bay, Alaska. It was triggered by a chain reaction of events that began with a magnitude 7.7 earthquake on the Fairweather Fault, which dislodged a rock fall of 40 million cubic yards, that fell 3,000 feet and splashed into the northwest end of Lituya Bay to generate the wave. This article includes survivor accounts, maps, a satellite image, and photos taken right after the event." To be fair, eyewitness accounts put the height of the wave as it came toward their boats at perhaps 100 feet. The tsunami scoured the land of vegetation and soil to a height of 1,720 feet above sea level, however.
It's funny.  Laugh.

Burying a Mainframe In Style 197

coondoggie writes "Some users have gone to great lengths to dispose of their mainframes but few have gone this far. On November 21, 2007, the University of Manitoba said goodbye to its beloved mainframe computer by holding a New Orleans-style jazz funeral for its 47-year-old IBM 650, Betelgeuse. In case you were wondering what an IBM 650's specifications were, according to this Columbia University site, the 650's CPU was 5ft by 3ft by 6ft and weighed 1,966 lbs, and rented for $3200 per month. The power unit was 5x3x6 and weighed 2,972 pounds. The card reader/punch weighed 1,295 pounds and rented for $550/month. The memory was a rotating magnetic drum with 2000-word capacity (10 digits and sign) and random access time of 2.496 ms. For an additional $1,500/month you could add magnetic core memory of 60 words with access time of .096ms. Big Blue sold some 2,000 of the mainframes, making it one of the first successfully mass-produced computers."

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