A U.N. nuclear watchdog team said Japan may need longer than the projected 40 years to decommission its tsunami-crippled nuclear plant and urged its operator to improve plant stability. Damage at the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant is so complex that it is "impossible" to predict how long the cleanup may last.
At some point, scientists may be able to bring back extinct animals, and perhaps early humans, raising questions of ethics and environmental disruption. Stanford University law professor Hank Greely has recently identified the ethical landmines of this new concept of de-extinction.
President Barack Obama on Tuesday asked Congress to spend $100 million next year on a new project to map the human brain in hopes of eventually finding cures for disorders like Alzheimer's, epilepsy and traumatic injuries. The BRAIN Initiative, he said, could create jobs and eventually lead to answers to ailments including Parkinson's and autism and help reverse the effect of a stroke.
Even cyberwar has rules, and one group of experts is putting out a manual to prove it. Their handbook, the Tallinn Manual, due to be published later this week, applies the practice of international law to the world of electronic warfare in an effort to show how hospitals, civilians and neutral nations can be protected in an information-age fight.
A new report on the uses and current technology of LIDAR, which has just been completed and presented to the National Academy of Sciences, reveal the potential for mobile version of this laser-based imaging system. Because of its ability to obtain in an hour more data about the landscape than a surveying crew could collect in months, the technology find use in a wide variety of fields.
Hydraulic fracturing may soon be approved for the state of New York. However, a new study finds that it is technically and economically feasible to convert New York's all-purpose energy infrastructure to one powered by wind, water, and sunlight. The authors say that overall switch would reduce New York's end-use power demand by about 37% and stabilize energy prices.
Two years after the nuclear crisis in Japan, the top U.S. regulator says American nuclear power plants are safer than ever, though not trouble-free. A watchdog group calls that assessment overly rosy and has issued a scathing report saying nearly one in six U.S. nuclear reactors experienced safety breaches last year, due in part to weak oversight.
Women, persons with disabilities and three racial and ethnic groups—African Americans, Hispanics and American Indians—continue to be underrepresented in science and engineering (S&E) according to a new report released by the National Science Foundation. Data in the report demonstrate that women earn a smaller proportion of degrees in many S&E fields of study, although their participation has risen during the last 20 years in most S&E fields.
The European Union has fined Microsoft €561 million ($733 million) for breaking a pledge to offer personal computer users a choice of Internet browsers when they install the company's flagship Windows operating system. The penalty imposed by the EU's executive arm, the Commission, is a first for Brussels: no company has ever failed to keep its end of a bargain with EU authorities before.
An Obama administration adviser says the White House believes smartphone and tablet users should be allowed to unlock their phones and use the devices on the network of their choosing. The administration's opinion on the matter also goes for tablets, since they are becoming similar to smartphones.
President Barack Obama announced today that he intends to nominate Ernest J. Moniz to head the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). Moniz is the Cecil and Ida Green Professor of Physics and Engineering Systems at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, as well as the director of the MIT Energy Initiative (MITEI) and the Laboratory for Energy and the Environment. At MIT, Moniz has also served previously as head of the Department of Physics and as director of the Bates Linear Accelerator Center.
A grieving Oregon mother who battled Facebook for full access to her deceased son's account has been pushing for years for something that would prevent others from losing photos, messages and other memories—as she did. The Oregon Legislature took up the cause as well, only to be turned back by pressure from the tech industry, which argued that both a 1986 federal law and voluntary terms of service agreements prohibit companies from sharing a person's information. Still, lawmakers pushed forward, seeking to treat digital information, from photos to intellectual property, as material property for estate purposes.
In a 2012 report, the Obama administration announced that it was "jumpstarting" the nuclear industry and injected significant funding into two new nuclear reactor projects in Georgia. But this investment—the first of its kind in three decades—belies an overall dismal U.S. nuclear power landscape, according to a recently published report. Where Japan and many European countries responded to the Fukushima disaster with public debate and significant policy shifts in the nuclear arena, the U.S. has scarcely broached the subject.
Teams of scientists from across Europe are vying for a funding bonanza that could see two of them receive more than a billion dollars over 10 years to keep the continent at the cutting edge of technology. The contest began with 26 proposals, and just four have made it to the final round, including a plan to develop digital guardian angels, an accurate model of the human brain, and better ways to produce and use graphene.
According to findings by the annual R&D Global Funding Forecast, an annual report from Battelle Memorial Institute and R&D Magazine, global R&D spending is forecast to set global records in growth heading into 2013, with a projected $54 billion to be added next year to an annual $1.5 trillion spending. Much of this growth is accounted for by strong funding in China.
Mandatory cuts to federal funding as outlined in the Budget Control Act, known as sequestration, will take place in early January, unless Congress takes action. More than 6,000 science and engineering students have hand-delivered a petition to the local offices of U.S. senators and House leaders, requesting that sequestration be halted because it would harm their future as innovators and hurt economic growth in the United States.
Mosquito control officials in the Florida Keys are waiting for the federal government to sign off on an experiment that would release hundreds of thousands of genetically modified mosquitoes to reduce the risk of dengue fever in the tourist town of Key West. If approved by the Food and Drug Administration, it would be the first such experiment in the U.S. Some residents, however, are worried about the risks.
Bai Chunli, as head of the largest research organization China, publicly expressed concern recently about when the Chinese scientific community will make an innovative, Nobel Prize-level scientific advance. Citing “negative elements,” he believes that despite massive investments in research and education, China’s scientific research is still weak and needs to improve.
Each year NIST releases a report on technology transfer from federal laboratories, detailing efforts to transfer the results of public investment in research to meet marketplace and other needs. The newest technology transfer report tallies the thousands of patents, cooperative agreements, licenses, and other pathways by which these transfers happened in 2010.
Scientists in Switzerland have found that reorganizing the inner architecture of the processors used in massive data processing centers can yield significant energy savings. They argue that using a greater number of less-powerful cores would be a more appropriate to current usage, which involves memory retrieval far more than complicated analysis.
According to a report this week from the National Science Foundation, university spending on research and development rose 6.3% between fiscal years 2010 and 2011, reaching $65 billion. The figure includes $4.2 billion in expenditures associated with the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.
In March, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission instructed power companies to re-evaluate the seismic and flooding hazards that their power plants face. Recent earthquakes in the eastern U.S., coupled with evidence of the results of the 2011 earthquake in Japan, have highlighted the importance of this effort in order to implement new design measures.
The recent hurricane that struck the Northeast of the U.S. forced utility companies, public officials, and emergency services to work together quickly. But we aren’t alone in suffering widespread outages. Researchers in Germany have created a new planning software product that they believe will enable all participants responding to outages in that country be better prepared for emergency situations.
A new University of Michigan study shows that when researchers share a building, and especially a floor, the likelihood of forming new collaborations and obtaining funding increases dramatically. The findings make sense, but the increases were dramatic—researchers who share floors in the same building are more than 50% more likely to form collaborations than those that don’t share the same buidling.
Increasing demand for bioenergy feedstock is generating land-use conflicts and food vs. fuel controversies. An team of 11 scientists from seven European countries and the United States have recently published a study that gives scientific background to the debate. It supports a reassessment of the land available for bioenergy feedstock production.