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Submission + - France to build 1000km of road with solar panels (solarcrunch.org)

An anonymous reader writes: France is planning on a project to build 1000 kilometers of road with specially designed solar panels. This project will supply 5 million people in France with electricity if it is successful. Though many solar experts are skeptical of this project, the french government has given the go ahead to this venture.

  According to France’s minister of ecology and energy, Ségolène Royal, the tender for this project is already issued under the “Positive Energy” initiative and the test for the solar panels will begin by this spring.The photo voltaic solar panels called "Wattway" which will be used in the project is jointly developed by the French infrastructure firm "Colas" and the National Institute for Solar Energy. The specialty of "Wattway" is that its very sturdy and can let heavy trucks pass through it, also offering a good grip to avoid an accident. Interestingly, this project will not remove road surfaces but instead, the solar panels will be glued to the existing pavement.

Power

Laser Fusion's Brightest Hope 115

First time accepted submitter szotz writes "The National Ignition Facility has one foot in national defense and another in the future of commercial energy generation. That makes understanding the basic justification for the facility, which boasts the world's most powerful laser system, more than a little tricky. This article in IEEE Spectrum looks at NIF's recent missed deadline, what scientists think it will take for the facility to live up to its middle name, and all of the controversy and uncertainty that comes from a project that aspires to jumpstart commercial fusion energy but that also does a lot of classified work. NIF's national defense work is often glossed over in the press. This article pulls in some more detail and, in some cases, some very serious criticism. Physicist Richard Garwin, one of the designers of the hydrogen bomb, doesn't mince words. When it comes to nuclear weapons, he says in the article, '[NIF] has no relevance at all to primaries. It doesn't do a good job of mimicking secondaries...it validates the codes in regions that are not relevant to nuclear weapons.'"
NASA

The Sun Unleashes Coronal Mass Ejection At Earth 220

astroengine writes "Yesterday morning, at 08:55 UT, NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory detected a C3-class flare erupt inside a sunspot cluster. 100,000 kilometers away, deep within the solar atmosphere (the corona), an extended magnetic field filled with cool plasma forming a dark ribbon across the face of the sun (a feature known as a 'filament') erupted at the exact same time. It seems very likely that both eruptions were connected after a powerful shock wave produced by the flare destabilized the filament, causing the eruption. A second solar observatory, the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory, then spotted a huge coronal mass ejection blast into space, straight in the direction of Earth. Solar physicists have calculated that this magnetic bubble filled with energetic particles should hit Earth on August 3, so look out for some intense aurorae — a solar storm is coming."
The Courts

Hollywood Nervous About Kagan's Fair Use Views 239

Of the many commentaries and analyses springing up about Obama's Supreme Court nominee, this community might be most interested in one from the Hollywood Reporter. Reader Hugh Pickens notes that Hollywood may have reason to be nervous about the nomination of Elena Kagan to be the next US Supreme Court justice. "As dean of Harvard Law School from 2003 to 2009, Kagan was instrumental in beefing up the school's Berkman Center for Internet & Society by recruiting Lawrence Lessig and others who take a strongly liberal position on fair use in copyright disputes. And Kagan got an opportunity to showcase her feelings on intellectual property when the US Supreme Court asked her, as US Solicitor General, to weigh in on the big Cablevision case. 'After Cablevision announced in 2006 that it would allow subscribers to store TV programs on the cable operator's computer servers instead of on a hard-top box, Hollywood studios went nuts, predicting that the days of licensing on-demand content would be over,' writes Gardner. Kagan's brief compared remote-storage DVRs to VCRs (PDF), brought up the Sony/Betamax case, and lightly slapped Cablevision on the wrist for not making fair use a bigger issue. 'It sounds to us like Kagan would love the Court to determine when customers have a fair-use right to copy, which should cheer those on the copy-left at the EFF, and worry many in the entertainment industry.' On the minus side, Kagan has surrounded herself with entertainment industry advocates in the Justice Department."
Earth

Aral Sea May Recover; Dead Sea Needs a Lifeline 131

An anonymous reader writes "It's a tale of two seas. The drying up of the Aral Sea is considered one of the greatest environmental catastrophes in history, but the northern sector of the sea, at least, is showing signs of life. A dam completed in 2005 has increased the North Aral's span by 20 percent, and birds, fish, and people are all returning to the area. Meanwhile, the Dead Sea is still in the midst of precipitous decline, since too much water is being drawn out of the Jordan River for thirsty populations and crops. To keep the sea from shrinking more, scientists are pushing an ambitious scheme called the 'Red-Dead conduit,' which would channel huge amounts of water from the Red Sea to the Dead Sea. However, the environmental consequences of such a project may be troubling."
Space

Geomagnetic Storm In Progress 110

shogun writes "The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reports a strong geomagnetic storm is in progress. The shuttle, ISS and GPS systems may be affected." They think this storm was caused by a weak solar flare on April 3rd. As you may expect, this has caused some unusually impressive northern lights since it started. What you may not expect is a photograph from Japanese astronaut Soichi Noguchi aboard the International Space Station showing the aurora from orbit. He apparently tweets a lot of pictures from space. He and his crewmates have taken over 100,000 pictures since coming aboard the ISS.
Idle

Canadian Blood Services Promotes Pseudoscience 219

trianglecat writes "The not-for-profit agency Canadian Blood Services has a section of their website based on the Japanese cultural belief of ketsueki-gata, which claims that a person's blood group determines or predicts their personality type. Disappointing for a self-proclaimed 'science-based' organization. The Ottawa Skeptics, based in the nation's capital, appear to be taking some action."
Biotech

Progress In Brain-Based Lie Detection 84

A Cognitive Neuroscientist writes "A new study, led by Harvard Psychologist Joshua Greene and forthcoming in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, may represent progress on the front of using brain imaging techniques, such as functional magnetic resonance imaging, to detect lies. According to Harvard's press release, Greene's is 'the first study to examine brain activity of people telling actual lies,' as opposed to prior studies in which subjects were merely instructed to lie. The results suggest that one key step in distinguishing honest from dishonest individuals may involve focusing on a small set of brain regions that are responsible for executive control and attention. However, given that the actual paper is yet to be published, it's unclear whether the study is prone to some of the methodological and interpretive complications that have recently plagued similar brain imaging studies."
Space

First Light Images From Herschel Satellite Released 35

davecl writes "The first images from the Herschel satellite have been released by ESA. The images are of the galaxy M51 and show a lot of structure and other features never seen before. Coverage of these results can be found on the ESA website and on the Herschel mission blog. There's a lot of work still to be done on tuning the satellite and instruments for optimum performance, but these very early results already show the promise of this mission. I work on this project and can say that these results are really impressive at this early stage!"
Transportation

Computers Key To Air France Crash 911

Michael_Curator writes "It's no secret that commercial airplanes are heavily computerized, but as the mystery of Air France Flight 447 unfolds, we need to come to grips with the fact that in many cases, airline pilots' hands are tied when it comes to responding effectively to an emergency situation. Boeing planes allow pilots to take over from computers during emergency situations, Airbus planes do not. It's not a design flaw — it's a philosophical divide. It's essentially a question of what do you trust most: a human being's ingenuity or a computer's infinitely faster access and reaction to information. It's not surprising that an American company errs on the side of individual freedom while a European company is more inclined to favor an approach that relies on systems. As passengers, we should have the right to ask whether we're putting our lives in the hands of a computer rather than the battle-tested pilot sitting up front, and we should have right to deplane if we don't like the answer."
Earth

Microbes 100M Years Old Found In Termite Guts 145

viyh writes with coverage on MSNBC of the discovery of ancient microbes fossilized in the gut of a termite. "One hundred million years ago a termite was wounded and its abdomen split open. The resin of a pine tree slowly enveloped its body and the contents of its gut. In what is now the Hukawng Valley in Myanmar, the resin fossilized and was buried until it was chipped out of an amber mine. The resin had seeped into the termite's wound and preserved even the microscopic organisms in its gut. These microbes are the forebears of the microbes that live in the guts of today's termites and help them digest wood. ... The amber preserved the microbes with exquisite detail, including internal features like the nuclei. ... Termites are related to cockroaches and split from them in evolutionary time at about the same time the termite in the amber was trapped."
United States

Iowa Seeks To Remove Electoral College 1088

Zebano writes "Since changing the US constitution is too much work, the Iowa senate is considering a bill that would send all 7 of Iowa's electoral votes to the winner of the national popular vote in a presidential election. This would only go into affect after enough states totaling 270 electoral votes (enough to elect a president) adopted similar resolutions."
Power

Fusion-Fission System Burns Hot Radioactive Waste 432

An anonymous reader writes "A hybrid fission-fusion process has been developed that can be used in some traditional fission reactors to process radioactive waste and reduce the amount of waste produced by 99%. This process uses magnetic bottle techniques developed from fusion research. This seems like the first viable solution to the radioactive waste problem of traditional nuclear reactors. This could be a big breakthrough in the search for environmentally friendly energy sources. Lots of work remains to take the concept to an engineering prototype and then to a production reactor."
NASA

NASA Releases Video Tour of the ISS 53

Malvineous writes "Expedition 18 Commander Mike Fincke has recently filmed a high-definition 35-minute video tour aboard the International Space Station. For those who missed the HD broadcast on NASA TV, the video is available on YouTube. Due to YouTube length limits, the tour is split into four separate videos. Here are Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4."
Image

Nobel Winner Says Internet Might Have Stopped Hitler Screenshot-sm 290

There can be little doubt that the internet has changed everyday life for the better, but Nobel literature prize winner Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clezio has upped the ante by saying an earlier introduction of information technology could even have prevented World War II. "Who knows, if the Internet had existed at the time, perhaps Hitler's criminal plot would not have succeeded — ridicule might have prevented it from ever seeing the light of day," he said. I have to agree with him. If England had been able to send a "Stop Hitler Now!" petition to 10 friendly countries, those countries could have each sent it to 10 more friendly countries before the invasion of Poland, and one of history's greatest tragedies might have been averted.

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