David Kirkpatrick

September 28, 2008

The trouble with moon dust

The release from the Geological Society of America:

NASA’S Dirty Secret: Moon Dust

Boulder, CO, USA–The Apollo Moon missions of 1969-1972 all share a dirty secret. “The major issue the Apollo astronauts pointed out was dust, dust, dust,” says Professor Larry Taylor, Director of the Planetary Geosciences Institute at the University of Tennessee. Fine as flour and rough as sandpaper, Moon dust caused ‘lunar hay fever,’ problems with space suits, and dust storms in the crew cabin upon returning to space.

Taylor and other scientists will present their research on lunar dust at the “Living on a Dusty Moon” session on Thursday, 9 October 2008, at the Joint Meeting of the Geological Society of America (GSA), Soil Science Society of America (SSSA), American Society of Agronomy (ASA), Crop Science Society of America (CSSA), and Gulf Coast Association of Geological Societies (GCAGS) in Houston, Texas, USA. NASA will use these findings to plan a safer manned mission to the Moon in 2018. Taylor will also deliver a Pardee Keynote Session talk on Sunday, 5 October 2008 entitled “Formation and Evolution of Lunar Soil from An Apollo Perspective.”

The trouble with moon dust stems from the strange properties of lunar soil. The powdery grey dirt is formed by micrometeorite impacts which pulverize local rocks into fine particles. The energy from these collisions melts the dirt into vapor that cools and condenses on soil particles, coating them in a glassy shell.

These particles can wreak havoc on space suits and other equipment. During the Apollo 17 mission, for example, crewmembers Harrison “Jack” Schmitt and Gene Cernan had trouble moving their arms during moonwalks because dust had gummed up the joints. “The dust was so abrasive that it actually wore through three layers of Kevlar-like material on Jack’s boot,” Taylor says.

To make matters worse, lunar dust suffers from a terrible case of static cling. UV rays drive electrons out of lunar dust by day, while the solar wind bombards it with electrons by night. Cleaning the resulting charged particles with wet-wipes only makes them cling harder to camera lenses and helmet visors. Mian Abbas of the National Space Science and Technology Center in Huntsville, Alabama, will discuss electrostatic charging on the moon and how dust circulates in lunar skies.

Luckily, lunar dust is also susceptible to magnets. Tiny specks of metallic iron (Fe0) are embedded in each dust particle’s glassy shell. Taylor has designed a magnetic filter to pull dust from the air, as well as a “dust sucker” that uses magnets in place of a vacuum. He has also discovered that microwaves melt lunar soil in less time than it takes to boil a cup of tea. He envisions a vehicle that could microwave lunar surfaces into roads and landing pads as it drives, and a device to melt soil over lunar modules to provide insulation against space radiation. The heating process can also produce oxygen for breathing.

But the same specks of iron that could make moon dust manageable also pose a potential threat to human health, according to Bonnie Cooper at NASA’s Johnson Space Center. “Those tiny blebs of pure iron we see on the surface of lunar grains are likely to be released from the outside edges of the particle in the lungs and enter the bloodstream,” she says. Preliminary studies suggest that the inhalation of lunar dust may pose a health hazard, possibly including iron toxicity. Members of NASA’s Lunar Airborne Dust Toxicity Advisory Group, Cooper, Taylor, and colleagues are studying how moon dust affects the respiratory system. They plan to set a lunar dust exposure standard by 2010, in time for NASA engineers to design a safer and cleaner trip to the Moon.

**WHEN & WHERE**

Thursday, 9 October, 8:00 AM – noon
George R. Brown Convention Center, Room 310AD

View abstracts, session 345: “Living on a Dusty Moon”
Paper 345-1 (Taylor): “Formation of Lunar Dust: Unique Properties for a Human Outpost” (8:00 AM)
Paper 345-9 (Cooper): “Physical and Biological Hazards of Lunar Dust and Their Impact on Habitat and Space Suit Design” (10:00 AM)

**IMAGES AVAILABLE**

Click on photos for larger images.

NASA

The surface of the Moon is covered in powdery gray dust that caused unforeseen problems for NASA astronauts. Apollo 17 astronaut Harrison “Jack” Schmitt took this picture of Eugene Cernan during their third and last walk on the lunar surface in December of 1972. Image credit: NASA

 

Larry Taylor

Lunar dust as seen under a microscope. Each is covered in a glassy coating that may be smooth and round or jagged and sharp. Particle types shown include plagioclase (lower left, white), volcanic glass beads (upper right, smooth and black), impact-glass beads (upper left, black but rough), rock chips (rough and gray) and agglutinate (center, rough and gray, with hole). For scale, the smallest round bead at upper right is approximately 1 mm in diameter. Image credit: Larry Taylor

 

Larry Taylor

Flecks of metallic iron (white) embedded in the glassy coating of lunar dust. All lunar impact glass contains grains of iron a tenth of a micron across or less. Image credit: Larry Taylor

 

Larry Taylor

Lunar dust melts readily when exposed to microwave energy. Professor Larry Taylor of the University of Tennessee envisions a lunar paver fitted with microwave generators that could sinter, or melt, lunar soils into landing strips or roads. Image credit: Larry Taylor

Green gold nanotech

The release from Friday:

MU scientists go green with gold, distribute environmentally friendly nanoparticles

Mizzou scientist named as one of the 25 most influential people in radiology

COLUMBIA, Mo. — Gold nanoparticles are everywhere. They are used in cancer treatments, automobile sensors, cell phones, blood sugar monitors and hydrogen gas production. However, until recently, scientists couldn’t create the nanoparticles without producing synthetic chemicals that had negative impacts on the environment. A new method, created by a University of Missouri research team, not only eliminates any negative environmental impact, but also has resulted in national and international recognition for the lead scientist. The research was published recently in the journal Small.

“I have always believed that nature is smarter and stronger than humankind,” said Kattesh Katti, professor of radiology and physics in MU’s School of Medicine and College of Arts and Science, senior research scientist at the MU Research Reactor, and director of the MU Cancer Nanotechnology Platform. “This new procedure to create nanoparticles is wonderfully simple, yet it will help create very complex components. There is so much to learn from energy generation, chemical and photochemical reactions of plants.”

Katti, who was recently recognized by rt Image magazine as one of the 25 most influential people in radiology, and his research team have formed Greennano Company, a company that is in the beginning stages of producing environmentally friendly gold nanoparticles. The company will focus on the development, commercialization and worldwide supply of gold nanoparticles for medical and technological applications. Katti believes that because of this new process to produce the nanoparticles, researchers are developing other ways to use them.

The MU research team, which was led by Katti, Raghuraman Kannan and Kavita Katti, found that by submersing gold salts in water and then adding soybeans, gold nanoparticles were generated. The water pulls a phytochemical out of the soybean that is effective in reducing the gold to nanoparticles. A second phytochemical from the soybean, also pulled out by the water, interacts with the nanoparticles to stabilize them and keep them from fusing with the particles nearby. This process creates nanoparticles that are uniform in size in a 100-percent green process. No toxic waste is generated.

“I’m very proud to be one among the list of ’25 Most Influential Scientists’ in the world, especially in the company of all time greats and former awardees including: Elias Zerhouni, director of National Institutes of Health (2003); Henry N. Wagner Jr., recognized as the Father of Nuclear Medicine (2004); Henry D. Royal, Peter S. Conti, past presidents of the Society of Nuclear Medicine; and Barry B. Goldberg, pioneer of ultrasound (2007),” Katti said. “This recognition is a tremendous honor and brings a large amount of prestige to our research group, the Departments of Radiology and Physics, the MU Research Reactor Center and the overall research and education enterprise of our University.”

“They all had one thing in common; they possessed the integrity, drive and passion deserving of the title ‘Most Influential,’” said Heather B. Koitzsch, publisher of rt Image. “In this year’s list, you’ll read about people who are changing the face of medicine, associations that are advocating for better patient care, and researchers whose efforts are uncovering new diagnostic techniques. Whether through speaking, campaigning, researching, creating or leading, someone who is “Most Influential” is committed to making things happen in radiology.”

 

###

Katti’s research has been funded by the National Cancer Institute in the National Institutes of Health.

September 27, 2008

Large Hadron Collider’s opening ceremony still on as planned

Filed under: et.al., Science — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 2:38 pm

Even though the device is mothballed for a spell.

From the link:

There’s just one problem — the experiment itself will be out of action for almost eight months, after a faulty electrical connection caused a massive helium leak.

Nevertheless, the head of the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN) said Friday that the inauguration ceremony will go ahead as planned on October 21.

Heads of state from CERN’s 20 members have been invited but the laboratory does not yet know who will be present in Geneva for the ceremony.

The giant experiment called the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) took nearly 20 years to complete and cost six billion Swiss francs (3.76 billion euros, 5.46 billion dollars) to build in a tunnel complex under the Franco-Swiss border.

Another reax from debate one

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 2:22 pm

Funny and insightful from a TPM commenter:

And here’s another note from TPM Reader TB. I guess I’m really not sure quite how to characterize it …

I think people really are missing the point about McCain’s failure to look at Obama. McCain was afraid of Obama. It was really clear–look at how much McCain blinked in the first half hour. I study monkey behavior–low ranking monkeys don’t look at high ranking monkeys. In a physical, instinctive sense, Obama owned McCain tonight and I think the instant polling reflects that.

So McCain may have given away his status as a low-ranking monkey. I’d never even considered monkey rank.

Late Monkey Science Update: In case anyone’s wondering, I looked up TPM Reader TB’s page at the University he teaches at. And no doubt about it, he appears to be a genuine monkey scientist, or to be more specific a researcher on social cognition and behavior in primates. I’d link to his page. But readers remain anonymous, save for their initials, until they tell us otherwise.

Update — Here’s more from TPM Election Central:

Focus Group: McCain’s Negativity Backfired In Debate
Time reports that a focus group run by Dem pollster Stan Greenberg found an interesting result for the debate: Voting decisions were not changed among undecided voters, but the perception of John McCain as a negative campaigner was strengthened immensely. Before the debate, McCain was seen as more negative by a seven-point margin, and then by a 26-point margin afterward — and for his trouble, Barack Obama’s numbers on readiness to be president actually increased. Thus, it appears that McCain’s decision to go on the offensive in this debate only backfired.

McCain lost this week big time. The tipping point may be at hand.

Here’s one debate reaction from NRO

Filed under: Media, Politics — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 4:58 am

Bill Buckley rolls and would perambulate if possible to ward off anyone who hopes to dare and read this linked travesty of wordsmithery.

Thanks to Fark.com for this link.

September 26, 2008

Obama narrowly wins debate, wins week big

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 11:32 pm

Whew. Here at the close of an absolutely insane week of economics and politics we had the first presidential debate. A debate that almost became a 90 minute monologue from Obama before McCain thought better of his idiotic threat to “boycott” the debate.

My initial take? It was a solid performance from both candidates, but I think Obama won narrowly by sticking to the questions a bit better and being much stronger with his rebuttals. McCain was a bit repetitive and seemed to fall back on his own talking points when rebutting rather than facing Obama’s responses head-on.

I’ll provide bits from my notes below the fold.

The big story is how badly McCain misjudged this entire week. He came off as a loony overreacter by first stating the “fundamentals of the economy are sound,” and immediately reversing course and claiming the financial crisis is the worst problem the US has faced since World War II. Not very statesmanlike.

He compounded the unforced error by “suspending” his campaign, but not really and being exposed in the press for the subterfuge. He then charged to DC to fix the financial mess himself and ended up blamed for scuttling the bailout by emboldening House GOPers who promptly threw him under the bus. It’s not correct,  but the impression is he single handedly screwed the bipartisan plan put together by Congress and the White House.

And of course he said he wouldn’t debate unless a bailout plan was in place. There’s no plan in place and he was behind his podium in Oxford, Mississippi, looking quite heavily made-up and relatively fresh.

The end result? Obama wins this critical week in the presidential race by a very, very wide margin. He looked and sounded presidential and serious where McCain looked like shit creek sailor without a paddle.

Go below the fold for my at-the-time notes on the debate from tonight.

(more…)

Ace of Spades is one of the last …

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 3:29 pm

… on the far right carrying water for the failed Palin veep pick.

Even the ladies at the National Review’s Corner have turned their backs. Here’s the article by Kathleen Parker that kicked off the to-the-curb kicking.

From the second link:

Palin’s recent interviews with Charles Gibson, Sean Hannity, and now Katie Couric have all revealed an attractive, earnest, confident candidate. Who Is Clearly Out Of Her League.

No one hates saying that more than I do. Like so many women, I’ve been pulling for Palin, wishing her the best, hoping she will perform brilliantly. I’ve also noticed that I watch her interviews with the held breath of an anxious parent, my finger poised over the mute button in case it gets too painful. Unfortunately, it often does. My cringe reflex is exhausted.

Palin filibusters. She repeats words, filling space with deadwood. Cut the verbiage and there’s not much content there. Here’s but one example of many from her interview with Hannity: “Well, there is a danger in allowing some obsessive partisanship to get into the issue that we’re talking about today. And that’s something that John McCain, too, his track record, proving that he can work both sides of the aisle, he can surpass the partisanship that must be surpassed to deal with an issue like this.”

When Couric pointed to polls showing that the financial crisis had boosted Obama’s numbers, Palin blustered wordily: “I’m not looking at poll numbers. What I think Americans at the end of the day are going to be able to go back and look at track records and see who’s more apt to be talking about solutions and wishing for and hoping for solutions for some opportunity to change, and who’s actually done it?”

If BS were currency, Palin could bail out Wall Street herself.

Hewlett-Packard Laboratories plans exascale data centers

From KurzweilAI.net — The latest in supercomputng news is Hewlett-Packard Laboratories working with the Georgia Institute of Technology is planning exascale data centers utilizing farms of petaflop computers.

HP Labs aims at exascale computing
EE Times, Sep. 19, 2008

Hewlett-Packard Laboratories and Georgia Institute of Technologyare planning to develop exascale datacenters with farms of petaflop-caliber computers to achieve 1,000-fold increases over the world’s fastest computers, using virtualized multi-core processors with special-purpose chips, like graphics accelerators.

Enhanced large-scale applications include climate modeling, biological simulations, drug discovery, national defense, energy assurance and advanced materials development.

An exaflop is 1000 petaflops or 1018 flops (floating point operations/seccond). As noted in Ray Kurzweil’s The Singularity is Near, estimates of human-brain equivalence range from 1014(Moravec) to 1016(Kurzweil). – Ed.

 
Read Original Article>>

McCain’s campaign is flailing

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 3:24 am

That’s a word I’m reading a lot around the blogosphere right now. Flailing. As in how a drowning person reacts before finally sinking to their death.

What a gift to the Obama camp this week.

To put McCain’s campaign strategy into a football metaphor, the Palin pick was a hail mary pass to salvage a lost game. That toss was returned by the opponent for a pick six. Now further behind McCain tosses another hail mary pass from an even worse position on the scoreboard and game clock. That pass hasn’t landed, but there’s a lot of opposition jerseys around and his receiver slipped down a few yards back.

This is what McCain “suspended” his campaign for? Really?

From the link:

Senator John McCain had intended to ride back into Washington on Thursday as a leader who had put aside presidential politics to help broker a solution to the financial crisis. Instead he found himself in the midst of a remarkable partisan showdown, lacking a clear public message for how to bring it to an end.

At the bipartisan White House meeting that Mr. McCain had called for a day earlier, he sat silently for more than 40 minutes, more observer than leader, and then offered only a vague sense of where he stood, said people in the meeting.

Now that’s some leadership.

Update — From Ambinder:

The CW in Washington this morning is that McCain’s suggestion for the grand, high-stakes summit meeting was the very thing that caused all of Washington to explode.

True, there was no “deal” — House Republicans were always balking and Speaker Pelosi really wanted House Republicans to pair with House Democrats.

But McCain’s presence in Washington gave voice to House Republicans, deliberately, if Minority Leader Boehner was somehow in cahoots with McCain. That’s not likely — the House caucus never trusted McCain and White House credibility among the GOP is ZERO. Indeed, maybe McCain feels privately duped by Boehner.

Stem cells from adult cells

I’m for stem cell research of all stripes, but it is encouraging that research is ongoing beyond just embryonic stem cells such as this application using adult cells.

This is good medical news. But no reason to not lift the asinine theocratic ban on US government support of embryonic stem cell research.

From the link:

Last year, researchers announcedone of the most promising methods yet for creating ethically neutral stem cells: reprogramming adult human cells to act like embryonic stem cells. This involved using four transcription factor proteins to turn specific genes on and off. But the resulting cells, called induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells for their ability to develop into just about any tissue, have one huge flaw. They’re made with a virus that embeds itself into the cells’ DNA and, over time, can induce cancer. Now, scientists at Harvard University have found a way to effect the same reprogramming without using a harmful virus–a method that paves the way for tissue transplants made from a patient’s own cells.

September 25, 2008

Federal regulators take over Washington Mutual

Filed under: Business, Politics — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 11:28 pm

While still negotiating the financial crisis bailoutthe government seized the failing commercial bank, Washington Mutual. It is the largest bank failure in US history. JPMorgan Chase picked up most of the broken pieces.

From the link:

Washington Mutual, the giant lender that came to symbolize the excesses of the mortgage boom, was seized by federal regulators on Thursday night, in what is by far the largest bank failure in American history.

Regulators simultaneously brokered an emergency sale of virtually all of Washington Mutual, the nation’s largest savings and loan to JPMorgan Chase for $1.9 billion, averting another potentially huge taxpayer bill for the rescue of a failing institution.

Like I’ve repeatedly blogged, this issue is not going away anytime soon.

Interested in installing solar in California?

Here’s some useful information.

The press release:

Residential Leases and PPAs; Questions for Homeowners to Ask If Considering a Solar Lease or a Solar Power Purchase Agreement

RIO VISTA, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–In 2008 new financing options for homeowners wanting solar systems were introduced in California. These options were designed to overcome the biggest obstacle to potential solar users: the first cost to acquire the system. For typical residential solar installations the cost is around $40,000 but after tax credits and state rebates it is usually around $25,000 in out-of-pocket expenses. Most homeowners pay cash or finance the purchase.

For homeowners who are considering one of the new leasing or power purchase methods, there are important considerations because these homeowners will not own the system. The system will be owned by the leasing company or the power purchase company.

How does a lease or power purchase agreement work?

A lease allows a customer to make a monthly payment over a fixed term, like 5, 10, or 15 years. At the end of the term the homeowner will have the option of paying for the remaining value of the system or having it removed. Interest is charged on the balance of the value of the solar system for the duration of the lease.

A power purchase agreement is a long term contract to buy electricity produced by the solar system. The term of the contract is typically 15 to 20 years. The site owner does not own the solar system during the term of the contract. At the end of the contract the homeowner will have the option to purchase the system for the remaining value of the system or having it removed. Some of these contracts also allow a customer to purchase the system before the end of the term of the contract. The cost of the electricity from the solar system will escalate over the term of the contract and the escalation rate will be specified in the contract. The escalation rate may or may not be at the same rate that the local utility will charge over the same period. The homeowner will still be a customer of the local utility and purchase electricity from the utility when the solar system does not produce electricity (such as overnight or on a cloudy day).

In both a lease or power purchase agreement, the company receives both the tax credit and any state rebates.

Do state or federal regulations govern these leases or power purchase agreements?

Not at this time. These financing options are a new development in the retail solar market. Power purchase agreements have been used successfully for transactions between wholesale power generators and utilities. They have also been used successfully in large commercial solar installations since 2006. The terms and conditions of the commercial power purchase agreements are negotiable and most commercial projects are reviewed by the customers attorney(s) and accountant(s).

Legislation recently sent to the Governors signature (AB 2863, 2008) will establish disclosure requirements for residential leases and power purchase agreements. If the bill is signed into law, it will require:

1. A good faith estimate of the kilowatt-hours to be delivered by the solar energy system.

2. A plain language explanation of the terms under which the pricing will be calculated over the life of the contract and a good faith estimate of the price per kilowatt-hour.

3. A plain language explanation of operation and maintenance responsibilities of the contract parties.

4. A plain language explanation of the contract provisions regulating the disposition or transfer of the contract in the event of a transfer of ownership of the residence, as well as the costs or potential costs associated with the disposition or transfer of the contract.

5. A plain language explanation of the disposition of the solar energy system at the end of the term of the contract.

AB 2863 will also require that the leasing or power purchase company:

- Record a notice on the title of the property. If the contract is terminated or sold, they must file a new notice.

- Must provide a copy of the contract to a prospective buyer of the home if the homeowner is selling their home.

Questions to ask if a homeowner is considering a solar lease or solar power purchase agreement

Since homeowners do not usually have an attorney and accountant to review the agreements, the following questions are good questions to ask if they are considering a lease or power purchase agreement to have a solar system installed on a home. Getting these questions answered in writing will help the homeowner in the event that a dispute develops later about the terms of the arrangement.

Installation

1. Who is the installation company? (Not all financing companies have a contractors license so they will contract with an installation company to perform the construction work.)

2. Does the contractor have a license to install solar?

3. Does the contractor have workers compensation insurance?

4. Is the contractor reputable and have a good track record for installations?

5. Can the contractor file a mechanics lien against the house?

6. Is there a separate contract for the installation of the system?

Contract terms

7. What is the assumed inflation (sometimes called escalation) rate for the solar electricity payments? (If the solar electricity payments escalate faster than the utility electric rates can the homeowner end up paying more for electricity over the life of the contract because they bought a solar system?

8. Does the contract obligate the homeowner to buy the system at the end of the contract? How much will the homeowner be expected to pay at the end of the contract? (Some contracts will state that the homeowner must pay the fair market value for the system. What is the value of the system after 10 years? 15 years? What is the actual cash price at the end of the term (not adjusted down for value of money)?

9. What happens if a homeowner refinances the house? Are there any clauses or language in the agreement restricting this? Are there any documents that the bank or appraiser will need?

10. Who is insuring the system in the event of damage (due to accidental damage to the home or vandalism, for example)? Does the homeowner have to pay for any or all damages? What should the homeowner report to their insurance company? Assuming the company insures the system; will the homeowner receive a certificate of insurance naming the homeowner on the companys insurance policy?

11. Who is responsible for the warranty of the system? Is the warranty to the homeowner from the installer or is the warranty from the installer to the leasing or PPA company? Who does the homeowner file a claim against if theres a problem, like a roof leak? Has the company had any claims? How have they been handled?

Terms of the Contract

12. Are there any costs to buy out the lease or PPA early in the first 5 years? If the homeowner buys out the lease or PPA in the first 5 years will they have to also pay the company for the loss of the tax credits and depreciation?

13. What is the implicit interest rate that the homeowner is paying in the lease/PPA?

14. What happens if the homeowner needs a new roof and the system needs to be moved? Who will cover the module warranties if the modules are moved? (Many module manufacturers void the warranty if the modules are moved).

15. Whose responsibility is it to restore the roof and replace shingles or tiles if the homeowner decides to have the system removed at the end of the term?

Sale of Home during term of Contract

16. What happens if the homeowner sells their home?

17. Can the contract be sold or assigned to someone else if the house is sold? What is the qualification process/what are the requirements for a new party assuming the lease/PPA?

18. What if someone who wants to buy the house but doesnt qualify to assume the lease/PPA?

19. What if someone who wants to buy the house but doesnt want the solar system?

System Performance

20. Does the company provide production guarantees? How is that tracked and does that affect the monthly payments that the homeowner makes (i.e., will the monthly payment be adjusted if the system underperforms?

21. Is the homeowner responsible for any of the maintenance or monitoring?

22. Assuming the homeowner monitors the system, if there are production issues what is the companys response time?

Fiscal condition of the Financing Company

23. Is the company financially sound?

24. Can the company sell the contract to a new entity? Will the homeowner be notified?

25. What happens if the leasing company or PPA company goes out of business?

26. Could the system be repossessed or removed if the PPA/leasing company gets into financial trouble?

27. Does the company maintain a reserve account for repairs? How much is set aside for repairs and are the funds kept in an escrow account?

About CALSEIA: Since 1977, California Solar Energy Industries Association has supported the widespread adoption of solar thermal and photovoltaic systems by educating consumers, supporting solar legislation and conducting business in a professional and ethical manner. www.calseia.org includes a list of solar companies that are members. Click on Find an Expert.

The air over at Townhall.com must be getting pretty thin

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 10:11 pm

Not too sure about the “mistranscriptions” referenced below, the clip I watched (the bailout question) matched the transcription word for word. And Palin was babbling and throwing out a plethora of non-related catchphrases. She is clearly out of her league and unfit for service.

And over in the fantasyland of Townhall.com, Bill Dyer offers this little gem:

UPDATE (Thu Sep 25 @ 9:30 p.m. CST): Patterico proves that CBS News badly butchered their transcription of Couric’s interview with Gov. Palin — in ways that tend to make Gov. Palin’s answers seem disjointed and clueless — but the mistranscriptions are already propagating all around the blogosphere. I hadn’t seen the transcriptions, but watched the first couple of episodes live, and I personally thought Gov. Palin did quite well in them overall.

I didn’t watch the entire interview so I’m basing my opinion on what I did see, plus negative commentary from both the left and the right on Palin’sperformance, but I’m not certain Bill didn’t get an altered version of the Q&A. That’s the only explanation for the bizarre “mistranscription” comment.

I’ve even read rumors supposedly coming from inside the McCain camp that all the huff and puff and suspension of the campaign and the sticking of his uninformed nose into the bailout negotiations are a bluff to try and keep Palin’s pathetic performance off the news cycle. Things can change, but it seems the American public has finally awoken from a daze and are taking McCain to task for ongoing idiocy.

It’s about time.

Update — If you hit the Townhall link be sure to read the comments. Dyer gets eviscerated for being a Palin apologist and campaign-line stooge.

Quantum computing and more

We’re getting closer to harnessing quantum mechanics to create supercomputers and other devices.

From the link:

The brave new world of quantum technology may be a big step closer to reality thanks to a team of University of Calgary researchers that has come up with a unique new way of testing quantum devices to determine their function and accuracy. Their breakthrough is reported in today’s edition of Science Express, the advanced online publication of the prestigious journal Science.

“Building quantum machines is difficult because they are very complex, therefore the testing you need to do is also very complex,” said Barry Sanders, director of the U of C’s Institute for Quantum Information Science and a co-author of the paper. “We broke a bunch of taboos with this work because we have come up with an entirely new way of testing that is relatively simple and doesn’t require a lot of large and expensive diagnostic equipment.”

Similar to any electronic or mechanical device, building a quantum machine requires a thorough understanding of how each part operates and interacts with other parts if the finished product is going to work properly. In the quantum realm, scientists have been struggling to find ways to accurately determine the properties of individual components as they work towards creating useful quantum systems. The U of C team has come up with a highly-accurate method for analyzing quantum optical processes using standard optical techniques involving lasers and lenses.

Nanotech process to improve computers

This nanoscale process will make computers smaller, faster and more efficient. Sounds good to me.

From the link:

Scientists at the University of California, Santa Barbara have made a major contribution to this field by designing a new nanotechnology that will ultimately help make computers smaller, faster, and more efficient. The new process is described in today’s Science Express, the online version of the journal Science.
For the first time, the UCSB scientists have created a way to make square, nanoscale, chemical patterns –– from the bottom up –– that may be used in the manufacture of integrated circuit chips as early as 2011. It is called block co-polymer lithography.

Five leading manufacturers, including Intel and IBM, helped fund the research at UCSB, along with the National Science Foundation and other funders. The university has already applied for patents on the new methods developed here, and it will retain ownership.

Atomic Force Microscope image of a square array of 15nm pores formed by the new technology.
Atomic Force Microscope image of a square array of 15nm pores formed by the new technology.

The latest news on graphene

Filed under: Science, Technology — Tags: , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 4:58 pm

I’ve done a lot of graphene blogging and here’s the latest on the atom-thick carbon nanomaterial.

The release:

New Graphene-Based Material Clarifies Graphite Oxide Chemistry

September 25, 2008

AUSTIN, Texas — A new “graphene-based” material that helps solve the structure of graphite oxide and could lead to other potential discoveries of the one-atom thick substance called graphene, which has applications in nanoelectronics, energy storage and production, and transportation such as airplanes and cars, has been created by researchers at The University of Texas at Austin.

 

To get an idea of the nanomaterial graphene, imagine a lightweight material having the strongest chemical bond in nature and, thus, exceptional mechanical properties. In addition it conducts heat better than any other material and has charge carriers moving through it at a significant fraction of the speed of light. Just an atom thick, graphene consists of a “chickenwire” (or honeycomb) bonding arrangement of carbon atoms—also known as a single layer of graphite.

Mechanical Engineering Professor Rod Ruoff and his co-authors have, for the first time, prepared carbon-13 labeled graphite. They did this by first making graphite that had every “normal” carbon atom having the isotope carbon-12, which is magnetically inactive, replaced with carbon-13, which is magnetically active. They then converted that to carbon-13 labeled graphite oxide and used solid-state nuclear magnetic resonance to discern the detailed chemical structure of graphite oxide.

The work by Ruoff’s team will appear in the Sept. 26 issue of the journal Science.

“As a result of our work published in Science, it will now be possible for scientists and engineers to create different types of graphene (by using carbon-13 labeled graphene as the starting material and doing further chemistry to it) and to study such graphene-based materials with solid-state nuclear magnetic resonance to obtain their detailed chemical structure,” Ruoff says. “This includes situations such as where the graphene is mixed with a polymer and chemically bonded at critical locations to make remarkable polymer matrix composites; or embedded in glass or ceramic materials; or used in nanoelectronic components; or mixed with an electrolyte to provide superior supercapacitor or battery performance. If we don’t know the chemistry in detail, we won’t be able to optimize properties.”

Graphene-based materials are a focus area of research at the university because they are expected to have applications for ultra-strong yet lightweight materials that could be used in automobiles and airplanes to improve fuel efficiency, the blades of wind turbines for improved generation of electrical power, as critical components in nanoelectronics that could have blazing speeds but very low power consumption, for electrical energy storage in batteries and supercapacitors to enable renewable energy production at a large scale and in transparent conductive films that will be used in solar cells and image display technology. In almost every application, sensitive chemical interactions with surrounding materials will play a central role in understanding and optimizing performance.

Ruoff and his team proved they had made such an isotopically labeled material from measurements by co-author Frank Stadermann of Washington University in St Louis. Stadermann used a special mass spectrometer typically used for measuring the isotope abundances of various elements that are in micrometeorites that have landed on Earth. Then, 100 percent carbon-13 labeled graphite was converted to 100 percent carbon-13 labeled graphite oxide, also a layered material but with some oxygen atoms attached to the graphene by chemical bonds.

Co-authors Yoshitaka Ishii and Medhat Shaibat of the University of Illinois-Chicago then used solid state nuclear magnetic resonance to help reveal the detailed chemical bonding network in graphite oxide. Ruoff says even though graphite oxide was first synthesized more than150 years ago the distribution of oxygen atoms has been debated even quite recently.

“The ability to control the isotopic labeling between carbon-12 and carbon-13 will lead to many other sorts of studies,” says Ruoff, who holds the Cockrell Family Regents Chair in Engineering #7.

He collaborates on other graphene projects with other university scientists and engineers such as Allan MacDonald (Departments of Physics and Astronomy), Sanjay Banerjee, Emanuel Tutuc and Bhagawan Sahu (Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering) and Gyeong Hwang (Department of Chemical Engineering), and some of these collaborations include industrial partners such as Texas Instruments, IBM and others.

Co-authors on the Science article include: Weiwei Cai, Richard Piner, Sungjin Park, Dongxing Yang, Aruna Velamakanni, Meryl Stoller and Jinho An (all of the Ruoff research group at The University of Texas at Austin); Sung Jin An, formerly of Pohang University of Science and Technology (POSTECH-Korea) and a visiting graduate student in the Ruoff group during the study; Dongmin Chen (Beijing National Laboratory for Condensed Matter Physics, Institute of Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences); Stadermann; and Ishii and Shaibat of the University of Illinois-Chicago.

A high-resolution photo of Ruoff is available. Learn more about Ruoff’s work.

Related Stories:

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         July 14, 2008
  • Google’s $10M challenge

    Filed under: Business, et.al., Media, Technology — Tags: , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 12:09 pm

    From KurzweilAI.net — Google is putting $10 million up for “changing the world.” 

    Google offers $10M for ideas that can ‘change the world’
    Computerworld, Sep. 24, 2008

    Google has unveiled a $10 million effort to implement ideas that can “change the world by helping as many people as possible.”

    As part of the Project 10^100 (pronounced Project 10 to the 100th), Google plans to ask its users to submit ideas until Oct. 20 for ways to improve people’s lives. Google will choose what it feels are the 100 best ideas and then allow its users to vote on which of them should be funded.

    The users will narrow the results to 20 finalists, and a panel of judges will choose up to five ideas that will receive funding.
     
    Read Original Article>>

    The difference between conservatives and liberals …

    … can be traced to different fears. At least according to this press release.

    The release:

    What’s the Difference Between a Conservative and a Liberal?

    EVANSTON, Ill. — Political conservatives operate out of a fear of chaos and absence of order while political liberals operate out of a fear of emptiness, a new Northwestern University study soon to be published in the Journal of Research in Personality finds.

    “Social scientists long have assumed that liberals are more rational and less fearful than conservatives, but we find that both groups view the world as a dangerous place,” says Dan McAdams, study co-author and professor of human development and psychology at Northwestern University. “It’s just that their fears emerge differently.”

    To better understand the differences between politically conservative Christian Americans and their liberal counterparts, McAdams and Northwestern University co-author Michelle Albaugh asked 128 socially active churchgoers this question: What if there were no God?

    “Social scientists — who are generally liberals — have for decades done research to figure out what makes conservatives tick,” says McAdams. The study, “What if there Were No God? Politically Conservative and Liberal Christians Imagine their Lives without Faith,” now is available online to subscribers to the journal.

    Like the Northwestern study, the preponderance of research finds that conservatives fear unchecked human impulses that challenge the status quo. What McAdams and Northwestern researcher Albaugh also find is an underlying, but different, fear that drives liberals as well.

    “Political conservatives envision a world without God in which baser human impulses go unchecked, social institutions (marriage, government, family) fall apart and chaos ensues,” says McAdams. Liberals, on the other hand, envision a world without God as barren, lifeless, devoid of color and reasons to live.
    “Liberals see their faith as something that fills them up and, without it, they conjure up metaphors of emptiness, depletion and scarcity,” McAdams said. “While conservatives worry about societal collapse, liberals worry about a world without deep feelings and intense experiences.”

    The study findings may shed light on why conservatives prefer more authoritarian leaders while liberals do not, he adds.

    “What’s clear is that it is their political and not religious orientation that underlies the different psychologies of political conservatives and liberals,” says McAdams. After all, all of the adults he and Northwestern researcher Albaugh studied were members of churches, and their data suggested that most were socially involved, altruistic people.

    The Northwestern University study sample included 128 highly religious and politically active Americans who attend church regularly. Although nationally conservatives are more likely to attend church than liberals, the Northwestern study was set up to sample equally from religious conservatives and religious liberals.

    The researchers also observed gender differences, but said they did not interfere with the relationship between political orientation and narrative themes. The study is part of a larger project that looks at the relationships of faith, politics and life stories in well-functioning American adults. It is funded by the Foley Family Foundation in Milwaukee.

    Buffett banks on Goldman Sachs Group

    Didn’t blog earlier on Warren Buffett’s foray into the financial crisis morass, but this Wall Street Journal article puts the Berkshire Hathaway deal in the context of Paulson’s proposed $700B bailout.

    This is the very first bit I’ve read anywhere that puts some real substance on the issues at hand and why Buffett’s deal is rational in a way the Bush 43 administration’s bailout is not as presently constructed.

    From the link:

    Berkshire Hathaway‘s investment in Goldman Sachs Group provides a template for how to get the financial system back on its feet.

    The problem is, the Bush administration’s $700 billion bailout plan ignores some of the key lessons of Warren Buffett’s deal. Most notably: Capital, or lack of it, is at the heart of the crisis.

    The proposed bailout only goes a certain distance in addressing that, so it mightn’t spark the sort of quick confidence rebound its proponents are hoping for. That explains Wednesday’s renewed stress in debt markets.

    The realism of the Goldman/Buffett deal is instructive. The market was getting nervous about funding Goldman’s highly leveraged balance sheet. The bank had to adjust and raise expensive capital quickly.

    First, Goldman agreed to become a bank-holding company Sunday, giving it greater access to Federal Reserve credit. Then it reduced leverage markedly by raising $10 billion in fresh capital from Berkshire and other investors. It did so even though it meant diluting shareholders by as much as 20%.

    In contrast, the government’s bailout plan contains no explicit demands that banks raise capital. If Goldman needed to, others surely do.

    September 24, 2008

    Did the wheels come off the McCain campaign today?

    The Straight Talk Total BS Express has been pretty creaky lately with the Palin pick proving a net loss and sinking fast. And a major financial crisis that has no end in sight, and certainly no end before the election, crashing onto the head of the candidate who’s on record a number of times explaining his complete lack of understanding economic issues.

    Couple that with his campaign manager, Rick Davis, being on the take from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac for a no-show job buying the two lenders access to the McCain inner circle after McCain has gone on record saying Davis has had no compensated role with either institution for several years.

    Now he’s suspending his campaign because he’s going to head to DC and help solve an economic problem? Really.

    Here’s a reaction from the National Review’s Ramesh Ponnuru at the Washington Post:

    If Senator McCain believes that he can help to enact a plan that can stabilize the markets and lay the foundation for future growth, then suspending the campaign and going to Washington was the right thing to do.

    But it is hard to see what McCain can do to help, and easy to see how his intervention could hurt. He brings, as he himself has admitted in the past, no expertise to the table. And won’t Democrats be less likely to cooperate on a plan if doing so will help make McCain be the hero of the hour?

    So McCain’s move may have been a mistake on substance. It may prove to be a political mistake too: If McCain can’t bring both parties together in an economic crisis after staking so much on it, won’t voters draw adverse conclusions about his leadership ability?

    What do you think?

    Here’s a Drudge flash report on David Letterman mocking McCain canceling his appearance tonight:

    EXCLUSIVE: LETTERMAN MOCKS MCCAIN CANCELLATION
    Wed Sep 24 2008 17:41:58 ETDavid Letterman tells audience that McCain called him today to tell him he had to rush back to DC to deal with the economy.

    Then in the middle of the taping Dave got word that McCain was, in fact just down the street being interviewed by Katie Couric. Dave even cut over to the live video of the interview, and said, “Hey Senator, can I give you a ride home?”

    Earlier in the show, Dave kept saying, “You don’t suspend your campaign. This doesn’t smell right. This isn’t the way a tested hero behaves.” And he joked: “I think someone’s putting something in his metamucil.”

    “He can’t run the campaign because the economy is cratering? Fine, put in your second string quarterback, Sara Palin. Where is she?”

    “What are you going to do if you’re elected and things get tough? Suspend being president? We’ve got a guy like that now!”

    Developing…

     

    If you ask me, the wheels are off. There’s time and debates to go, but McCain is no longer a serious candidate for president. The outright lies from his staff and his mouth. The Palin pick, and subsequent quarantine. Now suspending his campaign because he apparently is incapable of legislating (something he’s been pretty derelict in since kicking his campaign for the GOP off in earnest) and participating in a debate with his adversary.

    Update — Yup, the wheels are off. Here’s Ambinder’s take:

    Last week, Sen. McCain said the fundamentals of the economy were strong.

    To Katie Couric, he said that the country faces its worst crisis since World War II.

    Talk about bipolar messaging. And it seems some part of postponing the debate may be little more than a ploy to permanently cancel the vice presidential debate. The McCain team seems very, very frightened of allowing Palin to speak at all in an unscripted environment.

    This is from TPM Election Central:

    The lengths the McCain campaign is going to in order to shield Sarah Palin from questioning are reaching truly comic dimensions.

    Check out this nugget from the pool report, via Jonathan Martin, on John McCain and Palin’s meeting with Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili and Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko:

    McCain then looked around the room and gestured as if to welcome questions. The AP reporter shouted a question at Gov. Palin (“Governor, what have you learned from your meetings?”) but McCain aide Brooke Buchanan intervened and shepherded everybody out of the room.Palin looked surprised, leaned over to McCain and asked him a question, to which your pooler thinks he shook his head as if to say “No.”

     

    Palin can’t even be allowed to answer a question as basic as this?

    What’s really sobering is that the McCain campaign continues to block Palin from answering questions even thoughit’s now resulting in reams and reams of bad press for the McCain-Palin ticket. That suggests McCain advisers know that letting her answer even the most elementary questions in an uncontrolled environment is so dangerous that it’s worth weathering the current media drubbing they’re taking in order to prevent it from happening at all costs.

    Has anyone pointed out that McCain has placed Palin a heartbeat away from the presidency?

    McCain wants to postpone the debate

    Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 3:12 pm

    This is fear wrapped in a cloak of false nobility.

    DC is going to operate no differently whether McCain and Obama are present or not. But the voting public would be forced to deal with an even more compressed time frame to sort out the ideas and ideals presented in debate between the two men vying to become the next POTUS.

    McCain’s internals (polling, etc.) must really suck right now.

    Two bits from the link:

    Republican presidential nominee John McCain this afternoon said he would temporarily suspend his presidential campaign tomorrow to return to Washington and help reach agreement on a plan to solve the financial crisis on Wall Street, and called for a delay of Friday night’s presidential debate.

    “It has become clear that no consensus has developed to support the Administration’s proposal,” McCain said in a brief statement to reporters. “I do not believe that the plan on the table will pass as it currently stands, and we are running out of time.”

    McCain said he is calling on President Bush “to convene a meeting with the leadership from both houses of Congress, including Senator Obama and myself. It is time for both parties to come together to solve this problem.”

    The campaign also announced that McCain was canceling today’s planned appearance on the “Late Show with David Letterman.”

    And from the Obama camp:

    Sen. Barack Obama, who is in Florida, will make a statement shortly in response to the McCain announcement. His campaign officials want the show to go on Friday night.

    “We believe the debate should go forward,” one campaign official said. “There are global financial issues at stake and the American people deserve to hear how the next president plans to handle them.”

    Flexible Electronics and Displays Conference adds Business and Investment Summit

    From the release:

    FlexTech Alliance Announces Business and Investment Summit 2009

    8th Annual Flexible Electronics and Displays Conference Adds Premier Event to Launch Flex Week 2009

    SAN JOSE, Calif., Sept. 24 /PRNewswire/ — The FlexTech Alliance (formerly known as the U.S. Display Consortium or USDC), the only organization headquartered in North America devoted to developing the electronic display and the flexible, printed electronics supply chain, today announced the addition of a Business and Investment Summit to its annual Flexible Electronics and Displays Conference during Flex Week 2009 set for February 2-5 in Phoenix, Ariz.  The inaugural all-day event, set for Monday, February 2, will kick off Flex Week with its “Bridging the Information Gap” theme.  This summit is aimed to connect innovators and manufacturers of flexible, printed electronics and displays with investors and consumer product developers in an effort to foster a stronger ecosystem in the burgeoning printed electronics markets.

    “The markets for printed electronics are emerging, and while quickly growing, still remain relatively small due to cost and performance hurdles for mainstream use.  As a part of resolving these challenges, companies need to better understand the value of investing in flexible and printed electronics innovation, and how these enabling technologies will shape the future of consumer electronics,” noted Kevin Cammack, FlexTech’s director of technical marketing and development, and organizer of the summit.  “The summit is chartered with that very objective in mind — cultivating greater understanding among the players within the chain — by bringing together influencers in an active forum discussion in an effort to further collaboration.”

    The Business and Investment Summit will open with an overview of the opportunities and markets, featuring visionary and pragmatic talks from leading market research firms, investment banks and venture capital firms. The summit will also host a business roundtable luncheon that will bring together attendees for more focused discussions, followed by an afternoon session on investment opportunities, strategies, pitfalls and lessons learned. This portion of the all-day event will highlight private companies and start-ups that are developing game-changing technologies in flexible, printed electronics and displays, and will be followed by a reception for networking and additional dialog.  Featured keynote addresses and panelists during the event include key players such as, CMEA Ventures, Uni-Solar, Crate & Barrel, Applied Materials, Motorola, Mark Andy Inc., Cintelliq and Lux Research.

    The summit audience will consist of top-tier investors, senior management from fast-rising start-ups, and technology directors from innovative manufacturers of flexible, printed electronics including:

      — Printing processes and technologies (e.g., materials, substrates)
      — Equipment for high-throughput manufacturing of large-area electronics
      — Sensors and RFID
      — Photovoltaics
      — Solid-state lighting and OLEDs
      — Flexible displays

    About the FlexTech Alliance

    The FlexTech Alliance is the only organization headquartered in North America exclusively devoted to fostering the growth, profitability and success of the electronic display and the flexible, printed electronics supply chain. Leveraging its rich history in promoting the display industry as the U.S. Display Consortium, the FlexTech Alliance offers expanded collaboration between and among industry, academia, government, and research organizations for advancing displays and flexible, printed electronics from R&D to commercialization.  To this end, the FlexTech Alliance, based in San Jose, Calif., will help foster development of the supply chain required to support a world-class, manufacturing capability for displays and flexible, printed electronics.  More information about the FlexTech Alliance can be found at the industry portal:  http://www.flextech.org/.

    Source: FlexTech Alliance
       

    Web site:  http://www.flextech.org/

    Senate renews solar tax credit for eight years

    Filed under: Politics, Science, Technology — Tags: , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 12:54 pm

    Good news for solar power and renewable energy enthusiasts.

    From the link:

    After nearly a year of squabbling, the U.S. Senate voted Tuesday to extend solar tax credits for the next eight years and also remove the $2,000 cap on residential projects.

    What with all the political bickering, I was betting this wouldn’t ever get done before the November elections. But the hired help in Washington provided a pleasant surprise for a change. The bill, which includes an allowance for utilities to make use of the commercial credit, now goes to the House of Representatives for approval before everyone clears out of town next week. The current tax credit was set to expire at year’s end.

    Doubtless there will be some ready to dun the agreement as yet another handout to an interest group. On the surface, that’s true. But after the government’s recent series of bailouts including–drum roll, please–Bear Stearns, Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae, AIG, and the $700 billion or so the Treasury Department wants to buy illiquid mortgage-linked securities–this one should mollify the critics, according to Barry Cinnamon, CEO of Akeena Solar.

    I would love in install solar on my home. I have a large expanse that gets a ton of sun year round. Decisions like this make the concept that much more feasible for me to consider.

    Reserve Fund Management Company sued …

    for some serious financial shenanigans.

    Wall Street is becoming one odoriferous cesspool right now. Anyone who thinks this financial crisis is going away anytime soon — read: months or years instead of days or weeks — is deluded, a moron or incompetent.

    If political polling holds up, the GOP faces hell to pay whether or not the blame rests on one party, or any political party for that matter. The crisis and public perception are two different animals all together.

    From the link:

    By the time the Reserve Fund reported last Tuesday afternoon that its Primary Fund money market funds had ”broken the buck” — that is, were no longer worth a dollar a share — investors had already withdrawn billions of dollars from the fund.

    Some market analysts assumed they had reacted to the panic sweeping the market. But a lawsuit filed in Minneapolis late last week by Ameriprise Financial offers another explanation: The suit claims the Reserve Fund tipped some big customers about its crisis in advance so that they could get their cash out before its losses became public.

     

    According to the complaint, two senior Reserve Fund executives acknowledged during a conference call last Thursday with Ameriprise that big investors had received an early warning.

    The Reserve Fund executives ”seemed surprised that Ameriprise had not also been tipped at the same time,” the complaint alleges.

    Easy comparisan between presidential hopeful tax plans

    Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 11:00 am

    There’s a lot of opining and commentating on the tax plans proposed by Obama and McCain. Back in July I blogged on one good kick-off point here.

    This is a nice breakdown by the Wall Street Journal’s Tom Herman from today. Not sure if this article is behind the subscriber firewall or not, but if you can read it, it’s worth the time.

    Quite possibly the most useful part of the entire article is this simple chart from Deloitte Tax LLP plainly showing the differences in tax burden based on your personal and financial situation.

    The no-short list grows

    I’ve already put my thoughts on the anti-capitalist move by the SEC to ban the short selling of certain stocks out there. Predictably everyone wants a little protection from the free and open market leading to more companies being added to the no-short list.

    Here’s a NYT article via AccountantsWorld covering the very subject.

    From the second link:

    The list of companies that regulators are protecting from short-sellers keeps growing, as do the questions surrounding it.

    By Monday evening, the number of companies on the list rose to nearly 900, from 799 on Friday, when the Securities and Exchange Commission sought to restrict bearish bets against financial companies to help stabilize the markets.

     

    Nearly every major bank is now included, along with large insurance companies and others. Trading in bank stocks withered on Monday amid uncertainty over the rules and the sweeping bailout that the Bush administration has proposed for financial companies.

    But many questions remain. Some analysts — and a few firms initially left off the list — complained that the initial S.E.C. roster was incomplete.

    Want to see just how ridiculous this whole process becomes once the stinky can has been opened? Here’s a bit from later in the article:

    By Monday evening, the Ford Motor Company, which also owns a bank, was added to the list.

    Dark matter Autobahn

    Filed under: Science — Tags: , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 10:25 am

    The universe remains a very mysterious place.

    From the Space.com link:

    As if the mysteries of dark matter and dark energy weren’t vexing enough, another baffling cosmic puzzle has been discovered.

    Patches of matter in the universe seem to be moving at very high speeds and in a uniform direction that can’t be explained by any of the known gravitational forces in the observable universe. Astronomers are calling the phenomenon “dark flow.”

    The stuff that’s pulling this matter must be outside the observable universe, researchers conclude.

    Google’s OS for mobile phones introduced

    Filed under: Business, Technology — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 10:20 am

    Android, Google’s operating system for mobile devices was introduced yesterday. Looks like Google is pushing hard into established spaces — the browser war with Chrome, iPhone’s ubiquity with the Android OS, etc.

    From the Technology Review link:

    At a press conference in New York yesterday, Google and T-Mobile showed off the long-anticipated G1, a powerful smartphone that runs Google’s Android operating system for mobile devices.

    The handset, priced at $179, will be available from T-Mobile on October 22. It boasts features to rank it at the top end of the smartphone market, and its software offers some neat surprises and tricks. At the same time, the G1 undoubtedly lacks the sparkle of the iPhone, probably its closest competitor. Furthermore, some experts question whether Google’s scheme for delivering new applications for the phone–an online store called Android Market–could run into problems that slow down mass adoption.

    T-Mobile’s G1 is the first phone that uses Google’s Android operating system.

    T-Mobile’s G1 is the first phone that uses Google’s Android operating system.

    Largest single-rooftop North American solar installation

    I’m posting two releases on this very subject, mostly because they arrived in the inbox at 7:16 am and 7:19 am this morning.

    The header from 7:16? “Toyota and SunPower Complete Largest Single-Roof Solar Installation in North America.” How about 7:19? “Trina Solar to Power North America’s Largest Single Rooftop Installation.”

    These are two different installations and I’ll allow you to sort through the details and decide which is really the largest.

    Unintentional comedy or not with the timing, this is good solar news. The more viable installations out there, the better.

    The release from 7:16 am:

    Toyota and SunPower Complete Largest Single-Roof Solar Installation in North America

    ONTARIO, Calif. and SAN JOSE, Calif., Sept. 24 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ — Toyota and SunPower Corporation (NASDAQ:SPWR), a manufacturer of high-efficiency solar cells, solar panels and solar systems, today announced the completion of the largest single-roof solar power installation in North America. The 2.3-megawatt SunPower system will begin operation in early October at Toyota’s North America Parts Center California (NAPCC) in Ontario, Calif.

    Toyota expects the solar installation will provide nearly 60 percent of the total electricity needs for the 760,000-square foot NAPCC.  The system covers more than 242,000 square feet of the NAPCC’s roof and includes 10,417 solar modules, enough to cover more than four football fields. It is expected to avoid about 6.4 million pounds of carbon dioxide emissions annually, which is the equivalent to the emissions from the energy use of approximately 255 homes in a year.

    “Toyota’s Earth Charter challenges the company to pursue all possible environmental technologies in the pursuit of sustainable mobility,” said Jim Lentz, president of Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc.  “That extends the company’s environmental responsibilities beyond products to include our manufacturing plants and other facilities where sustainable and renewable energy sources such as solar power are increasingly important.”

    “Toyota is a global business leader in environmental sustainability,” said Tom Werner, chief executive officer of SunPower. “The solar power generated by this system will reduce Toyota’s operational costs at the Ontario facility immediately and over the long term, as electric utility rates continue to increase. Toyota understands that solar is affordable today as a means to improve the quality of our environment and promote local, clean, reliable power.”

    SunPower installed SunPower(R) T10 Solar Roof Tiles at the Toyota facility, equipped with SunPower solar panels, the most efficient solar panels available on the market today. T10 Solar Roof Tiles are non-roof penetrating and tilt at a 10-degree angle to increase energy capture.

    Toyota will purchase the electricity generated from the system from GE Energy Financial under the SunPower Access(TM) power purchase agreement (PPA) program. GE Energy Financial will finance, own and operate solar power systems, providing Toyota with immediate savings and a long-term hedge against rising peak power prices. Toyota owns the renewable energy credits associated with the system.

    The NAPCC is not Toyota’s first foray into solar power.  The company’s South Campus headquarters building in Torrance, Calif., featured one of the largest privately funded systems of its kind when it opened in 2003.  Also built by SunPower, the system covers 53,000 square feet of rooftop.

    About Toyota

    Toyota Motor Sales (TMS), U.S.A., Inc. is the marketing, sales, distribution and customer service arm of Toyota, Lexus and Scion.  Established in 1957, TMS markets products and services through a network of more than 1,450 Toyota, Lexus and Scion dealers.  Toyota directly employs over 35,000 people in the U.S. and sold more than 2.6 million vehicles in 2007.  For more information about our company, please visit http://www.toyota.com/, http://www.lexus.com/ and http://www.scion.com/.

    About SunPower

    SunPower Corporation (NASDAQ:SPWR) designs, manufactures and delivers high-performance solar electric systems worldwide for residential, commercial and utility-scale power plant customers. SunPower high-efficiency solar cells and solar panels generate up to 50 percent more power than conventional solar technologies and have a uniquely attractive, all-black appearance. With headquarters in San Jose, Calif., SunPower has offices in North America, Europe, Australia, and Asia. For more information, visit http://www.sunpowercorp.com/. SunPower is a majority-owned subsidiary of Cypress Semiconductor Corp. (NYSE:CY).

    Forward-Looking Statements

    This press release contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933 and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. Forward-looking statements are statements that do not represent historical facts. The companies use words and phrases such as “will,” “expects,” “is expected,” and similar expressions to identify forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements in this press release include, but are not limited to, the companies’ plans and expectations regarding: (a) the system beginning operations in October; (b) the solar installation providing nearly 60 percent of the total electricity needs for the 760,000-square foot NAPCC; (c) Toyota avoiding about 6.4 million pounds of carbon dioxide emissions annually, which is the equivalent to the CO2 emissions from the energy use of 255 homes in a year; and (d) the system reducing Toyota’s operational costs at the Ontario facility immediately and over the long term, as electric utility rates continue to increase. These forward-looking statements are based on information available to the companies as of the date of this release and management’s current expectations, forecasts and assumptions, and involve a number of risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those anticipated by these forward-looking statements. Such risks and uncertainties include a variety of factors, some of which are beyond the companies’ control. In particular, risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ include:  (i) construction difficulties or potential delays in the project implementation process; (ii) unanticipated delays or difficulties securing necessary permits, licenses or other governmental approvals; (iii) the risk of continuation of supply of products and components from suppliers; (iv) unanticipated problems with deploying the system on the sites; (v) actual electricity generation; (vi) the actual energy consumption rate; (vii) unexpected changes in utility service rates; (viii) variations in actual carbon dioxide emissions; and (ix) other risks described in SunPower’s Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q for the quarter ended June 29, 2008, and other filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. These forward-looking statements should not be relied upon as representing the companies’ views as of any subsequent date, and the companies are under no obligation to, and expressly disclaim any responsibility to, update or alter their forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.

    Source: SunPower Corporation
       
    Web site:  http://www.sunpowercorp.com/
    http://www.toyota.com/
    http://www.lexus.com/
    http://www.scion.com/

    Find the second release after the jump:

    (more…)

    September 23, 2008

    Newt Gingrich pans the bailout

    Filed under: Business, Politics — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 3:12 pm

    Newt Gingrich puts in his two cents on the proposed financial sector bailout offered up by the Bush 43 administration. His voice joins those of other true conservatives who are concerned about scope and sheer breathlessness of this stupid non-solution to a very real problem.

    From the WSJ’s Political Perceptions link:

    For those watching the Washington tea leaves, one sure sign that Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson faces problems selling his Wall Street bailout plan came Sunday, when Newt Gingrich posted his views online.

    The former House speaker’s posting, on National Review Online, was a clarion call to fellow conservatives to slow down the rush to pass the plan and to start raising serious questions about it. “Congress was designed by the Founding Fathers to move slowly, precisely to avoid the sudden panic of a one-week solution that becomes a 20-year mess,” Mr. Gingrich wrote.

    In an interview Monday, Mr. Gingrich was even more pointed. He predicted “a populist reaction of the first order” against the Wall Street rescue and called on the president to dump his economics team and “try again.” For good measure, Mr. Gingrich’s think tank plans to release poll findings Tuesday showing public skepticism about bailing out financial firms.

    As that suggests, the one thing that’s become clear in the last day or so is that the path toward congressional approval of the $700 billion financial-sector rescue plan won’t be nearly as smooth and clear as many thought when the idea emerged late last week. When the Democratic speaker of the House and the Republican presidential nominee both demand similar changes, that’s a sure sign trouble is brewing.

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