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Study: U.S. must encourage development of Canadian oil sands

June 12, 2012 5:03 am | News | Comments

To successfully reduce the United States' dependence on fuels from outside North America, the government must pursue policies that foster the diversion of Canadian oil sands crude to U.S. Gulf Coast refineries, according to a new study by Rice University's Baker Institute for Public Policy.

Commercial space race gets crowded behind SpaceX

May 24, 2012 12:24 pm | by Seth Borenstein, AP Science Writer | News | Comments

NASA has hired Space Exploration Technologies Corp. to deliver cargo to the International Space Station, but will eventually add astronauts. And the space agency is hiring other companies, too. Several firms—at least eight—think they can make money in space and are close enough to Musk's company to practically surf in his spaceship's rocket-fueled wake.

A new look at prolonged radiation exposure

May 15, 2012 3:42 am | by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office | News | Comments

A new study from Massachusetts Institute of Technology scientists suggests that the guidelines governments use to determine when to evacuate people following a nuclear accident may be too conservative. The study found that when mice were exposed to radiation doses about 400 times greater than background levels for five weeks, no DNA damage could be detected.

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FDA advisers recommend approving weight loss drug

May 11, 2012 9:35 am | by Linda A. Johnson, AP Business Writer | News | Comments

Advisers to government health regulators late Thursday recommended that they approve sales of what would be the first new prescription weight-loss drug in the U.S. in more than a decade, despite concerns over cardiac risks.

Support for climate change action drops

May 9, 2012 10:22 am | by Rob Jordan, Stanford University | News | Comments

Americans' support for government action on global warming remains high but has dropped during the past two years, according to a new survey by Stanford University researchers in collaboration with Ipsos Public Affairs. Political rhetoric and cooler-than-average weather appear to have influenced the shift, but economics doesn't appear to have played a role.

FDA review favors first drug for HIV prevention

May 9, 2012 5:32 am | by Matthew Perrone, AP Health Writer | News | Comments

A pill that has long been used to treat HIV has moved one step closer to becoming the first drug approved to prevent healthy people from becoming infected with the virus that causes AIDS. The Food and Drug Administration said Tuesday that Gilead Sciences' Truvada appears to be safe and effective for HIV prevention.

First of two papers on lab-made bird flu published

May 3, 2012 5:09 am | by Malcolm Ritter, AP Science Writer | News | Comments

Four months ago the U.S. government sought to block publication of two studies about how scientists created an easily spread form of bird flu. Now a revised version of one paper is seeing the light of day with the government's blessing. The second paper, which is more controversial because it involves what appears to be a more dangerous virus, is expected to be published later.

How biotech will benefit from new patent laws

May 1, 2012 5:48 pm | News | Comments

Industrial biotechnology companies rely heavily on patents to attract investment to fund R&D. The recent America Invents Act stands to have a significant impact on technology innovators such as biotech firms, and two recently published papers from patent law experts help explain the extent of these shifts.

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Study: Clean energy scale-up needs reality check

May 1, 2012 5:30 pm | by Mark Golden, Precourt Institute for Energy at Stanford University | News | Comments

In a post-Solyndra, budget-constrained world, the transition to a decarbonized energy system faces great hurdles. Overcoming these hurdles will require smarter and more focused policies. Two Stanford writers outline their visions in a pair of analyses.

Study: America's clean energy policies need a reality check

May 1, 2012 12:28 pm | by Mark Golden, Stanford University | News | Comments

In a post-Solyndra, budget-constrained world, the transition to a decarbonized energy system faces great hurdles. Overcoming these hurdles will require smarter and more focused policies. Two Stanford University writers outline their visions in a pair of high-profile analyses.

Student-devised process would prep Chinese shale gas for sale

May 1, 2012 7:18 am | News | Comments

A team of Rice University students recently fulfilled a challenge to economically turn shale gas produced in China into a range of useful, profitable and environmentally friendly products. In building its plan, the team had to deal not only with processing what's known as "sour gas" straight out of the wellhead, but also had to come up with a solid budget for the construction and profitable operation of the plant as well as a strategy to protect the environment.

Solar panels cause clashes with homeowner groups

April 25, 2012 8:37 am | by Ray Henry, Associated Press | News | Comments

The government wants you to install solar panels at your house, and will even give you a tax break to do it. But your neighbors? Maybe not. Homeowners associations around the country have banned or severely restricted the installation of solar panels, and the solar industry has pushed back to halt the practice.

A divided Congress confronts a rising cyberthreat

April 23, 2012 8:44 am | by Donna Cassata and Richard Lardner, Associated Press | News | Comments

As cyber attacks worsen and the tactics employed by hackers grow more nefarious, Congress is being asked to consider legislation to improve defenses for government, municipal, and corporate networks. However, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other business groups are applying pressure from the other side, saying the rules would cost money without improving risk.

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FDA issues draft guidance on nanotechnology

April 22, 2012 1:41 pm | News | Comments

The U.S. government has issued its initial draft guidelines on the use of nanotechnology, particularly nanoparticles, in food and cosmetic products. These recommendations, intended to help guarantee consumer safety within these two industries, do not extend to the other products that fall under Food and Drug Administration oversights, such as drugs and medical devices.

As ice cap melts, militaries vie for Arctic edge

April 16, 2012 7:22 am | by Eric Talmadge, Associated Press | News | Comments

To the world's military leaders, the debate over climate change is long over. They are preparing for a new kind of Cold War in the Arctic, anticipating that rising temperatures there will open up a treasure trove of resources, long-dreamed-of sea lanes and a slew of potential conflicts.

NASA collecting ideas on new strategy for exploring the Red Planet

April 16, 2012 3:36 am | News | Comments

Starting Friday, NASA’s Mars Program Planning Group began accepting ideas and abstracts online from the worldwide scientific and technical community as part of NASA's effort to seek out the best and the brightest ideas from researchers and engineers in planetary science. They hope to develop a new strategy for the exploration of Mars.

Study: Learning-by-doing was important in reducing ethanol costs

April 13, 2012 8:53 am | News | Comments

A new study from the University of Illinois concludes that learning-by-doing, stimulated by increased ethanol production, played an important role in inducing technological progress in the corn ethanol industry. It also suggests that biofuel policies, which induced ethanol production beyond the free-market level, served to increase the competitiveness of the industry over time.

FDA wants limits on antibiotics given to animals

April 11, 2012 11:23 am | by Matthew Perrone, AP Health Writer | News | Comments

Antibiotics are mixed with animal feed to help livestock, pigs and chickens put on weight and stay healthy in crowded barns. Scientists have warned that this routine use leads to the growth of antibiotic-resistant germs that can be passed to humans. Now the Food and Drug Administration is weighing in on the matter, calling on drug companies to help limit the use antibiotics.

China sets up rare earths industry group

April 9, 2012 8:39 am | by Elaine Kurtenbach, AP Business Writer | News | Comments

With about a third of the world's rare earth reserves and supplying 90% of what is consumed, China has come under fire for imposing limits on rare earths production and exports. In response, the country has begun an industry association designed fend off these complaints and administer greater regulation of the sector.

Study: Replacing coal the least expensive way to reduce emissions

April 3, 2012 1:22 pm | News | Comments

According to a new study using SWITCH, a highly detailed computer model of the electric power grid, University of California, Berkeley researchers have learned that goals for decarbonization of the electric power sector are most easily achieved using renewable or nuclear energy sources in lieu of coal.

FDA rejects call to ban BPA from food packaging

April 3, 2012 10:27 am | by Matthew Perrone, AP Health Writer | News | Comments

Despite concern from some scientists who believe exposure to BPA can harm the reproductive and nervous systems of humans, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has turned down a petition from environmentalists that would have banned the plastic-hardening chemical bisphenol-A from all food and drink packaging, including plastic bottles and canned food.

Japan experts warn of future risk of giant tsunami

April 2, 2012 5:27 am | by Elaine Kurtenbach, Associated Press | News | Comments

A panel of experts in Japan recently said that any tsunami unleashed by a magnitude-9.0 earthquake in the Nankai trough, which runs east of Japan's main island of Honshu to the southern island of Kyushu, could top 34 m (112 ft) at its highest. This is a significant elevation of risk from an earlier forecast in 2003 that put the potential maximum height of such a tsunami at less than 20 m.

Panel backs sharing studies of lab-made bird flu

April 2, 2012 5:24 am | by Malcolm Ritter, AP Science Writer | News | Comments

On Friday, the U.S. government's biosecurity advisers said they support publishing research studies showing how scientists made new easy-to-spread forms of bird flu because the studies, now revised, don't reveal details bioterrorists could use. The announcement could end debate sparked by the government’s request last December that scientists refrain from publishing all the details of their work.

Feds, five states to push for Great Lakes wind farms

April 1, 2012 3:18 pm | by John Flesher, AP Environmental Writer | News | Comments

The Great Lakes currently have no offshore wind turbines, but several plans to install them are in the works. Both federal and state governments are about to announce an agreement to speed up approval of the farms, which have been delayed by cost concerns and public opposition.

Japan, U.S., EU discuss rare earth supply security

March 29, 2012 4:10 am | by Elaine Kurtenbach, AP Business Writer | News | Comments

China holds about a third of the world's rare earth reserves but supplies about 90% of what is consumed. In the past two years it has imposed limits on its exports, citing a need to impose order on an unruly domestic market and to reduce environmental damage. Officials from the U.S. the European Union, and Japan met recently to propose ways to ensure secure supplies of strategically vital rare earths and other critical materials.

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