From: LARRY KLAES (ljk4_at_msn.com)
Date: Mon Dec 08 2003 - 13:37:51 PST
----- Original Message -----
From: New Scientist
Sent: Monday, December 08, 2003 11:54 AM
Subject: Print edition e-zine: Hell on Earth
New Scientist Print Edition e-zine: 8 December 2003
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HELL ON EARTH
Today we may worry about man-made global warming, but in the long
term, the Sun will do the warming for us in a major way. Just over a
billion years from now, it will trigger runaway heating of the
Earth's atmosphere, boiling off the oceans into space. Eventually
the sun will loom 250 times larger in the sky than it is today.
Modelling of the future Earth's climate suggests some pretty exotic
consequences, such as iron rain, silicon snow and the emergence of a
giant icecap made of argon...
AN OFFICER AND A WEATHERMAN
Valuable insight may come from sailors' observations of the weather.
Logbooks are helping to prove that seafarers' observations of wind
and weather, made long before ships carried reliable meteorological
instruments, can be used as precise daily records of the weather
hundreds of years ago. Climatologists and politicians are hoping
that they can use this information to prove if the climatic change
the world is seeing now really is unprecedented...
THE TROUBLE WITH SEX
Biologists generally believe sex to be essential for species'
long-term survival because species that give it up usually disappear
within a few hundred thousand years. The standard explanation for
this is that genetic recombination is essential for purging harmful
mutations and allowing new combinations of genes to arise with every
generation. However the fact that the simple rotifer has survived
for 70 million years without sex and produced more than 300 asexual
species casts doubt on these assumptions. Leading evolutionary
thinker Chris Wills take up the story...
CRUNCH TIME LOOMS FOR OFFSHORE WIND POWER
Last month, when 30 giant windmills off the coast of North Wales
began turning, the UK entered the exclusive club of countries
operating large-scale offshore wind farms. With no hills or valleys
to get in the way, the rewards of harvesting the wind offshore are
much greater than those onshore, and the machines can grow to
monumental sizes. One new design could even open up deep-water sites
where it has not been possible before to site wind farms. This could
make offshore wind farms viable for countries such as the US and
CREDIT IS SKIN DEEP
Introducing the credit card you simply cannot be parted from.
Implanted under the skin of its owner's arm, the planned device is
based on an injectable RFID (radio-frequency identification) chip
made by Applied Digital Solutions of Palm Beach, Florida. When waved
over an electronic reader, the chip emits a unique identity number.
Because the chip is impossible to lose, ADS claims it will help
eliminate identity theft. But security experts say that criminals
could easily clone the tag's unique signal by recording it and
playing it back. Privacy campaigners fear the chip will allow
advertisers to track people's shopping habits with undreamed-of
accuracy, or pave the way for government surveillance. ADS argues
that cloning a signal would be extremely difficult because it is
encrypted, and that chips could be reprogrammed in situ if needed.
It dismisses suggestions of government tracking as "far-fetched".
MasterCard is conducting trials of RFID chips in 16,000 credit cards
in the US, but says people are "not ready" for implants.
Alison George, editor of the Insider section of New Scientist, took
a degree in biochemistry from Bristol University then a doctorate at
Cardiff University. She then worked as a biologist with the British
Antarctic Survey and spent a year in the frozen South - which
toughened her up for when she joined New Scientist in 2002.
ZAPPING BUGS IN THE AIR CON HELPS KEEP OFFICE WORKERS AT THEIR DESKS
Employers could save money by sterilising ventilation systems, says
Dick Menzies of McGill University in Canada. Reductions in sick
leave could more than make up for the cost of installing the
necessary equipment, his study shows. His team set up ultraviolet
sterilisation equipment in the heating or air conditioning systems
on 14 floors of three sealed office buildings in Montreal. The
researchers found that the ultraviolet killed off 99 per cent of the
surface microbes within the systems and also destroyed bacterial
toxins. For nearly a year, the sterilisation equipment was either
left on or switched off for several weeks at a time, without the
office workers knowing when. The air in the offices was only about
30 per cent cleaner, but reports from 771 workers showed a 40 per
cent reduction in respiratory diseases when the system was on. It
also reduced other kinds of illnesses The Lancet, vol 62, p 1785).
Non-smokers and people with allergies benefited the most. At a cost
per worker of about $52 to install and another $14 per year to
operate, the system would be cost-effective, the team says. "If you
reduced absenteeism due to building-related illness by one day per
year in each worker, this would pay for itself in less than six
months," Menzies says.
----------COMING UP NEXT WEEK----------
The shape of wings to come
Aviation's first century has surpassed its pioneers' wildest dreams,
but it faces a turbulent future. Aerospace engineers hope to fill
the skies with wing-morphing, unpiloted behemoths, but how will they
tackle the noise pollution and huge increases in air traffic?
The case of the mysterious mind
Like most crime thrillers, Radiant Cool is a whodunit. But it also
claims to solve a much deeper mystery: consciousness. Psychologist
and author Susan Blackmore delivers her verdict
Some caterpillars propel their faeces like shot from a cannon. Why
do they hurl their turds so far?
Ordinary ones clash with other instruments and lower the tone of a
concert. Now there's a way to make bells that ring out in perfect
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