In Geneva diplomats from the 192 countries which have signed the Geneva conventions are meeting to discuss a third emblem for the international Red Cross. Red Cross officials hope approval of a third emblem will finally put an end to decades of controversy over the issue. At the moment, the only two emblems recognised under the Geneva conventions are the red cross and the red crescent; relief workers and ambulances bearing these symbols are protected under international law. In war zones or disaster regions, they must be granted free access to people in need of help. Over the years, a number of countries have applied to have their own distinctive emblems recognised, but all have been refused. Francois Bugnion, director of international law with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), believes too many emblems could compromise protection. "Hundreds of emblems would mean they would not be recognised, and so they would not be respected", he explains. "They would be identified with different countries, so instead of conveying the message 'this is an ambulance, this is neutral and must be respected', it would be a sign of identification which would run against the objective of the protective symbol." Red Star of David One country in particular, however, refuses to use either the red cross or the red crescent. Israel's Magen David Adom Society (MDA) uses the unrecognised red star of David as its emblem. As a result, the society is still not a member of the international Red Cross movement, something which many Israelis see as unjust.
The tech inside Cirque's big tent
SAN FRANCISCO--It's six hours before a performance of the new Cirque du Soleil show, "Corteo," and backstage, computers are controlling a series of dollies hanging from two giant arched tracks bridging the stage. Hanging from the dollies are three massive chandeliers from which acrobats are practicing gyrations and twists. The dollies are the kind of rigging gear seen in just about any circus or theater with acts that require people or props to be elevated far above the ground. But the system running the dollies' deployment--a crucial element of the show, since nearly every act involves one or more performers flying or leaping high into the air--is entirely automated, something that would have been unheard of to Cirque du Soleil's progenitors and that is rare even in some of the Cirque's other shows.
Growing pains for Wikipedia
For Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales, last week was a tough one. And he's going to change the ground rules for the popular anyone-can-contribute encyclopedia because of it. First, in a Nov. 29 op-ed piece in USA Today, a former administrative assistant to Robert Kennedy lambasted the free online reference work for an article that suggested he may have been involved in the assassinations of both Robert F. Kennedy and John F. Kennedy. Then, on Dec. 1, a new flurry of attention came when former MTV VJ and podcasting pioneer Adam Curry was accused of anonymously editing out references to other people's seminal podcasting work in an article about the hot new digital medium. To critics of Wikipedia--which, in a spin on the open-source model, lets anyone create and edit entries--the news was further proof that the service has no accountability and no place in the world of serious information gathering.
GE Helps Centerpoint(1) Develop New Translucent Home Roofing System for Enhanced Aesthetics, Comfort & Energy Efficiency; Technology allows full spectrum, natural light into living spaces PITTSFIELD, Mass.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Dec. 1, 2005--GE - Plastics today announced that it will be assisting Centerpoint(1) Translucent Systems, LLC - a manufacturer and distributor of residential roofing products - to develop a new translucent roofing system that provides full-spectrum, natural light, and significantly improved aesthetics, comfort, and energy efficiency for the residential new-construction market. Centerpoint will build the new systems using GE's Lexan(2) Thermoclear(2) multiwall polycarbonate (PC) sheet - a material based on GE's tough, virtually unbreakable Lexan resin - in combination with Nanogel(3) translucent aerogel from Cabot Corporation.
Car Paint Changes With Temperature
December 3, 2005 Nissan has developed the world’s first clear paint that repairs scratches on painted car surfaces, including scratches from car-washing machines, off-road driving and fingernails. “Scratch Guard Coat” contains a newly developed high elastic resin that helps prevent scratches from affecting the inner layers of a car’s painted surface. With “Scratch Guard Coat” a car’s scratched surface will return to its original state anywhere from one day to a week, depending on temperature and the depth of the scratch.
Danish Researchers Develop Hydrogen Tablet
We all know we want to be cruising in hydrogen cars, but there are some safety issues associated with a vehicle whose fuel tank amounts to a powerful bomb of highly compressed hydrogen. Now, Danish scientists have made what they say may be an important step in the direction of safe and inexpensive hydrogen storage. Developed at the Technical University of Denmark, a new hydrogen tablet chemically stores hydrogen in a safe, solid form. The tabled consists of ammonia absorbed in sea salt. Ammonia is produced by a combination of hydrogen with nitrogen from the surrounding air, and the tablet therefore contains large amounts of hydrogen. A chemical catalyst releases the hydrogen when needed. Scientists claim the hydrogen tablet is so safe is could be carried in your pocket. :: DTU
Hydrogen-Emitting Microbe Examined
Concerned Onlooker wrote to mention an article at Science Daily discussing a microbe that lives in volcanic environments, which emits Hydrogen gas as a waste product. "As the world increasingly considers hydrogen as a potential biofuel, technology could benefit from having the genomes of such microbes. 'C. hydrogenoformans is one of the fastest-growing microbes that can convert water and carbon monoxide to hydrogen," remarks TIGR evolutionary biologist Jonathan Eisen, senior author of the PLoS Genetics study. "So if you're interested in making clean fuels, this microbe makes an excellent starting point.'"
December 4, 2005 A team led by Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) successfully demonstrated powered flight of the HiSentinel stratospheric airship at an altitude of 74,000 feet. The development team of Aerostar International, the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) and SwRI launched the airship from Roswell, N.M., for a five-hour technology demonstration flight. The 146-foot-long airship carried a 60-pound equipment pod and propulsion system when it became only the second airship in history to achieve powered flight in the stratosphere.
Bees Recognize Human Faces
By Katherine Unger
ScienceNOW Daily News
2 December 2005
Drinking small amounts of alcohol regularly reduces risk of obesity
Concerns over IVF contamination risk
SOME children conceived by a common method of IVF could be carrying chunks of bacterial DNA in their chromosomes, according to a study in mice. The researchers who conducted the work say that such accidental genetic modification would be very rare, but they argue that fertility doctors should take more precautions to exclude it.
Intracytoplasmic sperm injection, or ICSI, is used to help would-be fathers with very low sperm counts or sperm that cannot swim normally. Rather than mixing sperm and eggs in a culture dish as in conventional IVF, technicians take individual sperm and inject them into a woman's eggs. ICSI has been growing in popularity since its debut in 1991, and now accounts for around half of the IVF procedures in many countries, including the UK and the US.
Over the past five years, researchers have experimented with using ICSI to make genetically modified animals by mixing DNA ...
Pregnancy drug can affect grandkids too
DOCTORS treating a woman at risk of having a premature baby may inadvertently be affecting her future grandchildren as well. A study in guinea pigs suggests that a drug commonly given to pregnant women to help their babies mature enough to survive can also affect the brains and behaviour of their grandchildren too. The finding raises a difficult dilemma for doctors, for while the drug undoubtedly saves lives, its side effects could last for generations.
Babies normally spend 40 weeks in the womb, but some can survive even if they are born 15 or 16 weeks early. However, their lungs lack enough of a substance called a surfactant to breathe unassisted. So since the 1970s, doctors have been injecting women at risk of having a very premature baby with synthetic glucocorticoid drugs, such as betamethasone, which hasten the development of a fetus's lungs.
A single dose cuts the death rate ...
[Also useful on this world, for say.... building refugee cities]
Robots aim to explore and build on other worlds
NASA is offering two new $250,000 prizes to stimulate advances in the use of robots in planetary exploration and automated construction.
One, called the Telerobotic Construction Challenge, aims to promote the development of semi-autonomous robots that can build complicated structures with minimal remote guidance from human controllers.
The challenge will require robots to assemble structures out of building blocks strewn around an arena. Human controllers will only be able to see the arena using sensors on the robots and any commands they send will be subject to delays – just as they would if the robots were on the Moon.
The competition "may directly affect how exploration is conducted on the Moon", says Scott Horowitz, associate administrator for NASA's exploration systems mission directorate. "If the challenge can successfully demonstrate the remote assembly of simple and complex structures, many aspects of exploration in general will be affected for the better."
miniHome: The Green Prefab Modern Trailer
For those who wonder why Treehugger likes modern prefab so much, here is the answer. We think people can live with less and don't need so much space. We think prefabrication generates less waste and more opportunities for greener construction methods and technologies. We think traditional land development restricts peoples choices and costs too much money. We think the miniHome is just about the best answer to the question that we have seen anywhere. Ever.
I want One:
The Rider: An Electric Commuter Trike
Somehow we missed this one. An electric commuter vehicle that folds up (see extended post) not bigger than an umbrella. Okay, at 14 kg (31 lb) it might be a tad heavier, but can your brolly transport you around town at 15 kph (9.5mph) for 4 hours (4 hrs)? Even Mary Poppins would’ve been impressed. The removable 24v battery slips between a fork in the handlebars, the electric motor drives the front wheel, and it boasts regenerative braking, though this may not make it from prototype to production model. Conceived as complementary transport to buses and trains, the Rider’s Israeli designer, Elisha Wetherhorn, is seeking support to bring this cool design to a street near you. Oh yeah, and it carves (leans) as you corner to add a little buzz to your commute. Top pic from Core77. Elisha can be contacted via ::The Rider
Scott Burns of the Dallas Morning News offer three good reasons to support a national sales tax (also know as the Fair Tax) to replace the current income tax system.
Supplement diet with leucine prevents muscle loss linked to ageing