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Al-Cordoby  
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Rating: 0 of 0 votes Quote Al-Cordoby Replybullet Topic: Latest Science News?
    Posted: 08 June 2009 at 9:05am
Keeping up to date with all the scientific news and research for the non-specialized scientist is not easy these days
 
From Nanotechnology to Renewable Energy applications, the sheer volume of research being published is overwhelming
 
This thread offers a small contribution for posting the latest important science news read in the general or specialized scientific media on a regular basis
 
To start with, here is some good news for a future drinking water alternative in areas with water shortages and high humidity:
 
Drinking Water From Air Humidity

Not a plant to be seen, the desert ground is too dry. But the air contains water, and research scientists have found a way of obtaining drinking water from air humidity. The system is based completely on renewable energy and is therefore autonomous ....

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/06/090605091856.htm

What science news item have you found today to be of interest? 

 
 
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Rating: 0 of 0 votes Quote a well wisher Replybullet Posted: 08 June 2009 at 4:02pm
Thank You Brother Al Cardoby for this interesting thread and article...excellent idea
 
I read this today....was kind of interesting....it is not latest science news per se but had an interesting angle to modern physics...please let me know if I should just quote a paragraph of the article with the link or the whole article..is that ok per forum rules or sense of decorum....i kindly request everyone's input on this....do people tend to stop reading if too much text is there in the post?....i tend to quote entire text with the link...please do let me know what is better from the reader's perspective...since i personally like to read entire stuff ,i quote it that way but i would like to know what the majority preference is on this...
 
Quantum Mysticism: Gone but Not Forgotten
 
 
Does mysticism have a place in quantum mechanics today, or is the idea that the mind plays a role in creating reality best left to philosophical meditations? Harvard historian Juan Miguel Marin argues the former - not because physicists today should account for consciousness in their research, but because knowing the early history of the philosophical ideas in quantum mechanics is essential for understanding the theory on a fundamental level.
 

In a recent paper published in the European Journal of Physics, Marin has written a short history, based on a longer analysis, of the mysticism controversy in the early quantum physics community. As Marin emphasizes, the controversy began in Germany in the 1920s among physicists in reaction to the new theory of quantum mechanics, but was much different than debates on similar issues today. At the turn of the last century, science and religion were not divided as they are today, and some scientists of the time were particularly inspired by Eastern mysticism. In his analysis, Marin lays out each player’s role and perspective in the controversy, and argues that studying the original interpretations of quantum mechanics can help scientists better understand the theory, and could also be important for the public in general.

“Becoming aware of this subject would help general audiences realize that there are many other alternatives besides the ones offered by the disjunction between science and religion,” Marin told PhysOrg.com. “Science vs. religion is a very recent forced choice that the founders of quantum mechanics would have never recognized, much less accepted.”

Mind Matters

The controversy boils down to the age-old question of the nature of reality. As Einstein (a firm realist) once asked, does the moon exist only when looked at? Although such a viewpoint seems unlikely in our everyday lives, in quantum mechanics, physicists’ observations can sometimes affect what they’re observing on a quantum scale. As the famous Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics argues, we cannot speak about an objective reality other than that which is revealed through measurement and observation.

As Marin explains, the debate of consciousness in quantum theory began around 1927 when Einstein accused Neils Bohr of introducing a mysticism incompatible with science. Bohr denied the accusation and blamed it on Einstein misunderstanding him when he said that humans are both actors and observers in the world. Yet while Bohr believed that quantum processes occurred without the need for observers, he also sympathized with the idea that an extension of quantum theory might help in understanding consciousness.

Einstein, for his part, adamantly opposed any subjectivity in science. He disagreed with Bohr’s view that it is unscientific to inquire whether or not Schrödinger’s cat in a box is alive or dead before an observation is made. Einstein devoted much of his later life to searching for elements of reality to make quantum mechanics a theory based on realism. For instance, the EPR paradox (Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen paradox) thought experiment in 1935 attempted to restore realism and causality to the theory.

On the other hand, Wolfgang Pauli truly did harbor some of the views that Einstein accused Bohr of. Pauli favored a hypothesis of “lucid mysticism,” a synthesis between rationality and religion. He speculated that quantum theory could unify the psychological/scientific and philosophical/mystical approaches to consciousness. Pauli’s perspective was influenced by the philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer, whose views on reality were in turn influenced by Eastern religions.

Still other physicists had different views. Marin argues that Max Planck, an adherent of Christianity, framed the controversy as the objectivity of science and Christianity against the mysticism of Schopenhauer and his popularization of Buddhism and Hinduism. Planck considered religion (Christianity) and science compatible based on his opinion that they are both based on objectivity but refer to distinct facets of reality. Meanwhile, Paul Dirac rejected any kind of religious vocabulary, arguing that “religion is a jumble of false assertions with no basis in reality.”

The mysticism controversy also expanded into the public realm, starting in 1929 with first astrophysicist Arthur Eddington’s popular book The Nature of the Physical World. Although the book distorted many concepts, his defense of mysticism caught the attention of the international media. (Eddington was most famous for confirming Einstein's theory of relativity by measuring an eclipse, which catapulted Einstein into fame.)

In the next few years Werner Heisenberg and Erwin Schrödinger leaned toward the side of mysticism, irritating Einstein and Planck. For others, the choice was not clear cut. Marin argues that the mathematician John Von Neumann intentionally used ambiguous terms when discussing the philosophy of quantum equations, meaning he could fit on either side. “He was a genius at linguistic innovation and came up with German terms that could support many different interpretations,” Marin said.

In 1958, Schrödinger, inspired by Schopenhauer from youth, published his lectures Mind and Matter. Here he argued that there is a difference between measuring instruments and human observation: a thermometer’s registration cannot be considered an act of observation, as it contains no meaning in itself. Thus, consciousness is needed to make physical reality meaningful. As Schrödinger concluded, "Some of you, I am sure, will call this mysticism. So with all due acknowledgement to the fact that physical theory is at all times relative, in that it depends on certain basic assumptions, we may, or so I believe, assert that physical theory in its present stage strongly suggests the indestructibility of Mind by Time."

Cultural Reflections

As Marin notes, Schrödinger’s lectures mark the last of a generation that lived with the mysticism controversy. As Marin explains, quantum mechanics up to World War II existed in a predominantly German context, and this culture helped to form the mystical zeitgeist of the time. The controversy died in the second half of the century, when the physics culture switched to Anglo-American. Most contemporary physicists are, like Einstein, realists, and do not believe that consciousness has a role in quantum theory. The dominant modern view is that an observation does not cause an atom to exist in the observed position, but that the observer finds the location of that atom.

As Marin has shown, the mysticism controversy in quantum mechanics did not involve just a few physicists and mystics (as it seems to today), but at one time it attracted the physics community at large. Some of the ideas have since resurfaced, such as in Eugene Wigner’s 1961 paper on the subject, which inspired popular books such as The Tao of Physics and The Dancing Wu Li Masters, which seek to connect quantum physics to Eastern mysticism for a new generation, along with the recent film What the Bleep Do We Know?

“But here it was scientists vs. non-scientists,” Marin explained. “Today it is seen as science vs. religion, but at the time of the foundation of quantum mechanics it was not. There were religious physicists on both sides of the controversy. Most of the important physicists held what we could call today religious beliefs, whether Western or Eastern. When we speak today of the ‘two cultures,’ sciences and humanities, we are referring to the famous early ‘50s lecture by C.P. Snow, in Britain, lamenting the division. German thinkers of the previous decades were barely into that phase of discipline specialization. At the turn of the century, mathematics and physics were still distinguishing themselves from the ‘natural philosophy’ that gave birth to them.”

Marin hopes that scientists today might gain a new perspective on their research by considering how the founders of quantum mechanics viewed the theory.

“Whenever I read scientific articles citing the classic equations conceived by German scientists, it seems to me they could have been improved by researching how the scientists themselves interpreted their own equations,” Marin said. “Among contemporary quantum field theories, the important gauge theories are indebted to the work of [Hermann] Weyl and Pauli. Yet many physicists today would be shocked if they learned how Weyl and Pauli understood the concept ‘field’ when they wrote their classic articles. They were both immersed in mysticism, searching for a way to unify mind and physics. Weyl published a lecture where he concluded by favoring the Christian-mathematical mysticism of Nicholas of Cusa. Moreover, Pauli's published article on Kepler presents him as part of the Western mystical tradition I study.

“For those who do not favor the Copenhagen interpretation and prefer the alternative proposed by David Bohm, I would suggest reading Bohm's many published dialogues on the topic of Eastern mysticism,” he added. “Eddington and Schrödinger, like many today, joined forces to find a quantum gravity theory. Did their shared mysticism have a role to play in whatever insights they gained or mistakes they made? I do not know, but I think it's important to find out.”

 
   


Edited by a well wisher - 08 June 2009 at 4:03pm
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Rating: 0 of 0 votes Quote Al-Cordoby Replybullet Posted: 09 June 2009 at 11:48am
A summary or an abstract with the link is normally the best practice In-Shaa-Allah
 
Here is some news from the area of renewable energy and its applications:
 

Floating wind turbine launched

 

 

The world's first floating wind turbine is to be towed out to sea this weekend.

Statoil's Alexandra Beck Gjorv told the BBC the technology, the Hywind, to be put off Norway's coast - "should help move offshore wind farms out of sight".

And it could lead to offshore wind farms eventually being located many miles offshore, away from areas where they cause disruption, Ms Gjorv added.

This would benefit military radar operations, the shipping industry, fisheries, bird life and tourism.

"Taking wind turbines to sea presents new opportunities," said Ms Gjorv, of Statoil's new energy division.

"The wind is stronger and more consistent [and] areas are large."

Floating wind farms are set to be connected to mainland grids via cables across the seabed. The longer the cable, the more expensive it is, so the distance from land is not set to become unlimited, explained Ms Gjorv.

The Hywind, a 2.3 megawatt (MW) wind turbine built by Siemens, combines technologies from both the wind farming industry and the oil and gas sectors, and will be tested off the coast of Norway for two years.

In a similar way to how large parts of icebergs are hidden below the sea surface, the turbine has a 100 metre draft that is anchored to the seabed with cables, that can be up to 700 metres long

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/8085551.stm

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Jazakh Allah Khair Brother Al Cardoby
 
It really helps to know....Thank you so much
 
Mystery Ingredient Cleaning Earth's Atmosphere
Christine Dell'Amore
National Geographic News
June 4, 2009

Mother Nature has a previously unknown cleaning agent that scrubs away toxic air pollution, scientists have discovered.

What's more, the existence of the still mysterious substance has shaken up decades-long assumptions about our atmosphere's self-cleaning process.

Many studies have shown that trace gases and pollutants in the lowest level of our atmosphere break down naturally, thanks to molecules called hydroxyl (OH) radicals.

But the breakdown spews out ozone, itself a toxic pollutant and a greenhouse gas. (Get global warming facts.)

Not so in China's heavily polluted Pearl River Delta, where experts were stumped to find lots of OH radicals but relatively small amounts of resulting ozone.

 
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Periodic table gets a new element

By Victoria Gill
Science reporter, BBC News

The ubiquitous periodic table will soon have a new addition - the "super-heavy" element 112.

More than a decade after experiments first produced a single atom of the element, a team of German scientists has been credited with its discovery.

The team, led by Sigurd Hofmann at the Centre for Heavy Ion Research, must propose a name for their find, before it can be formally added to the table.

Scientists continue the race to discover more super-heavy elements.

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Bacteria cells taught to count

Eric Bland
Discovery News

Bacteria may be regarded as simple organisms, but scientists have created a strain that can count to three.

The advance by scientists from Boston University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology could lead to environmental or biological sensors that measure toxins and then self-destruct once their job is done.

"We didn't teach the bacteria to count, we programmed them to count," says James Collins, a professor at Boston University and a co-author on the study, which appeared in a recent issue of the journal Science.

"We can use this new ability as a read-out mechanism or control switch."

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Food of the Future to Be More Diverse?

Maggie Koerth-Baker
for National Geographic News
June 11, 2009

From the perspective of the plate, the foods we'll eat in the future will likely look and taste a lot like what we eat today. But take a closer peek, and tomorrow's dinner becomes very different indeed.

Agricultural scientists shaping the future of food say that, as global waming alters patterns of temperature, rainfall, and carbon dioxide concentrations in the air, farms must evolve.

Global warming will affect agriculture in a variety of ways: Some regions and farms will get a boost; others will suffer.

To cope with changing growing conditions, farmers will need to reverse decades of crop homogenization and diversify plant strains, agriculture scientists say.

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Staying Sharp: New Study Uncovers How People Maintain Cognitive Function In Old Age

ScienceDaily (June 12, 2009) — Not everyone declines in cognitive function with age. Elderly people who exercise at least once a week, have at least a high school education and a ninth grade literacy level, are not smokers and are more socially active are more likely to maintain their cognitive skills through their 70s and 80s, according to research published in the June 9, 2009, print issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology

The study followed 2,500 people age 70 to 79 for eight years, testing their cognitive skills several times over the years. Many of the participants showed decline in cognitive function. Fifty-three percent of the participants showed normal age-related decline and 16 percent showed major cognitive decline. However, 30 percent of the participants had no change or improved on the tests over the years.

The researchers then examined what factors made the people whose cognition stayed sharp different from those who lost some of their abilities over eight years.

"To this day, the majority of past research has focused on factors that put people at greater risk to lose their cognitive skills over time, but much less is known about what factors help people maintain their skills," said study author Alexandra Fiocco, PhD, of the University of California, San Francisco.

The study reported a unique profile that differentiates people who maintain cognitive function from people who show age-related decline: people who exercise moderately to vigorously at least once a week are 30 percent more likely to maintain their cognitive function than those who do not exercise that often ....

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/06/090608162424.htm

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A good article...Thank You
 

Being Green: 11 Environmentally Friendly Habits

Sending kids outside, household chemicals explained, promiscuous boaters, and more

1.The Tissue Issue
“Ultra” brands of toilet paper such as Charmin, Cotton­­elle and Quilted Northern may feel soft but they’re hard on the environment because they’re made from virgin fiber and bleached with chlorine. Virgin fiber typically comes from trees grown for pulp production or from sawmill leftovers after trees are cut into lumber. The alternative: brands made from 100 percent recycled fiber, preferably with at least 80 percent postconsumer content.

2. Save energy by putting a lid on the pot whenever you boil water. If every U.S. household did this just once, we’d save up to $2,212,175
 
3. Really Local Food
Planting a vegetable garden is an inexpensive way to obtain fresh, pesticide-free food that hasn’t traveled hundreds of miles to reach your plate.
 

4.Get Out!
Sending a kid outside to play can improve his or her concentration and fight climate change. A study published in 2008 by researchers at the University of Illinois found that children with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder who took walks outdoors raised their attentiveness scores and that kids who walked in natural settings did better than those who walked city streets. A dose of nature was just as effective as a dose of Ritalin. Of course, the more time kids spend playing outdoors the less time they’ll spend at video-game consoles—which consume an estimated 16 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity annually, about four times the output of Hoover Dam.

5.Not So Extreme Home Makeover
Building or remodeling a house? Consider buying used flooring, doors, indoor and outdoor fixtures, and other salvaged construction materials. You’ll keep these items out of the landfill and reduce your consumption of raw materials.

6.Handy Energy Savers
Cut down on electricity use by replacing these common kitchen appliances with hand-powered tools:

  • Can opener
  • Coffee grinder
  • Juicer
  • Stick blender
  • Electric knife

7.Chemical Decoder
Read the label on your shampoo or skin cream bottle and you’re very likely to find all sorts of mysterious chemicals lurking in the fine print. Is polyquater­nium-10 safe for you and everything that lives downstream from your shower drain? And why do toothpastes and toilet bowl cleaners share some ingredients?

8.Better Boating
Savvy skippers can help prevent the spread of the zebra mussel, an invasive species that wreaks havoc by clogging water pipes and outcompeting native freshwater mussels. The fingernail-size creature can infest new lakes and rivers by hitching a ride with “promiscuous” boaters who visit multiple lakes. The steps to keep zebra mussels and other invasive species in check are well known—and worth repeating, given that more than a few busy sailors “forget” to follow them:

  • Remove all vegetation from your boat and trailer before leaving the boat ramp.
  • Drain water from the motor, bilge and wells before leaving.
  • Dump leftover bait on land, away from the water’s edge.
  • Back home, rinse your boat, motor and trailer; let them dry in the sun for several days before visiting a different body of water.

9.Powering Down PCs
U.S. companies waste almost $4 billion annually on nighttime electricity for computers, according to New Boundary Technologies, a company that says its Green IT Solution software (for Windows computers) can slash computing energy costs by up to 60 percent. After employees go home, the software puts their PCs into hibernation by automatically adjusting power management settings—and overriding any changes the employees may have made during the day.

10.Washing clothes in “hot” water heated to 140 °F uses almost twice as much energy as washing them in “warm” water at 104 °F.
 
11.Pay by Electron
Paying bills online not only saves postage, it also makes a serious dent in your consumption of energy and natural resources. According to the “green calculator” devised by the PayItGreen Alliance, the average American household receives 19 bills and statements monthly and makes seven payments in paper form. Switching to electronic billing would save 6.6 pounds of paper, 63 gallons of wastewater discharge, 4.5 gallons of gasoline and 171 pounds of greenhouse gases a year. A study by the alliance, a nonprofit group supported by the banking industry, claims that if just 2 percent of American households switched from paper to electronic billing, more than 180,000 trees would be spared and greenhouse gas emissions would be reduced by the equivalent to taking 32,572 cars off the road.
 
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Powering down PC's is something we can all do
 
A look at the future of renewable energy:
 
Slide Show: The World's 10 Largest Renewable Energy Projects

From wind and wave to sun and trash, a look at how existing power plants are providing electricity generated from renewable sources on a massive scale

Today, renewable energy sources generate 12 percent of electricity in the U.S. But wind, wave, sunshine and others represent more than 93 percent of the energy the country could be producing, according to the Energy Information Administration of the U.S. Department of Energy.

If renewable energy is going to be a bigger player and have a significant impact in cutting the greenhouse gas emissions from power plants that are driving climate change, it's going to have to grow quickly. According to Princeton University scientists Stephen Pacala and Robert Socolow's "wedge" strategy of climate change mitigation—which quantifies as a wedge on a time series graph various sets of efforts to maintain flat global carbon emissions between now and 2055—at least two million megawatts of new renewable energy will have to be built in the next 40 years, effectively replacing completely all existing coal-fired power plants as well as accounting for increases in energy use between now and mid-century.

"It's a goal that's beyond anything probably the world's ever undertaken," says Keely Wachs, senior director of corporate communications at BrightSource Energy, a company that hopes to build 2,600 megawatts-worth of power plants that use the sun's heat to generate electricity.

Here are 10 massive projects already producing energy.

Slide Show: The World's 10 Largest Renewable Energy Projects

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=10-largest-renewable-energy-projects

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An interesting read...

Looking at Stress—and God—in the Human Brain

DISCOVER reporter David Ewing Duncan uses fMRI to try to track his thoughts on some big questions.

James Brewer takes a seat beside me in a café at the San Diego Convention Center, where we are both attending the largest neuroscience meeting in the world: thirty thousand brains researching brains. With his balding head, bright eyes, and baby cheeks, Brewer, a neurologist at the University of California at San Diego, looks like a large and curious toddler. An unlikely messenger, perhaps, in what for me is now a moment of truth. I had undergone a series of diagnostic procedures in his laboratory, and now, inside the laptop he has placed on the table, are the results of my brain tests.

“Your brain is shrinking,” he says.

This is the last thing I expected to hear. Not me, a man who considers himself healthy and ageless, at least in his own, er, mind.

“People’s brains begin to shrink when they are in their thirties,” Brewer explains with a smile, to suggest this isn’t really a big deal. “Yours is about average.”

http://discovermagazine.com/2009/may/24-looking-at-stress-and-god-in-man.s-brain/article_view?b_start:int=0&-C=

 



Edited by a well wisher - 14 June 2009 at 5:37pm
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Thanks for posting .....
 
Abrupt Global Warming Could Shift Monsoon Patterns, Hurt Agriculture

ScienceDaily (June 14, 2009) — At times in the distant past, an abrupt change in climate has been associated with a shift of seasonal monsoons to the south, a new study concludes, causing more rain to fall over the oceans than in the Earth's tropical regions, and leading to a dramatic drop in global vegetation growth

If similar changes were to happen to the Earth's climate today as a result of global warming – as scientists believe is possible - this might lead to drier tropics, more wildfires and declines in agricultural production in some of the world's most heavily populated regions.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/06/090611142354.htm

Do you know that the Arabian Peninsula used to have green medows with flowing rivers only a few thousand years ago?
 
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Originally posted by Al-Cordoby

Do you know that the Arabian Peninsula used to have green medows with flowing rivers only a few thousand years ago?
 
 
Interesting ...I did not know this exactly but many deserts which we now call as deserts were once lush and green and the landscape was changed by the forces of nature....
 
I have read this hadith in Sahih muslim ...
Allah's Messenger ( peace be upon him) as saying: The Last Hour will not come before wealth becomes abundant and overflowing, so much so that a man takes Zakat out of his property and cannot find anyone to accept it from him and till the land of Arabia becomes meadows and rivers.
Book 005, Number 2208
 
So it will return to become a land of meadows and rivers...masha Allah
 
 
Survey: Family time eroding as Internet use soars
June 15th, 2009 By BARBARA ORTUTAY , AP Technology Writer

(AP) -- Whether it's around the dinner table or just in front of the TV, U.S. families say they are spending less time together.

The decline in family time coincides with a rise in Internet use and the popularity of social networks, though a new study stopped just short of assigning blame.

The Annenberg Center for the Digital Future at the University of Southern California is reporting this week that 28 percent of Americans it interviewed last year said they have been spending less time with members of their households. That's nearly triple the 11 percent who said that in 2006.

These people did not report spending less time with their friends, however.

Michael Gilbert, a senior fellow at the center, said people report spending less time with family members just as social networks like Facebook, Twitter and MySpace are booming, along with the importance people place on them.

Five-year-old Facebook's active user base, for example, has surged to more than 200 million active users, up from 100 million last August.

Meanwhile, more people say they are worried about how much time kids and teenagers spend online. In 2000, when the center began its annual surveys on Americans and the Internet, only 11 percent of respondents said that family members under 18 were spending too much time online. By 2008, that grew to 28 percent.

"Most people think of the Internet and (our) digital future as boundless, and I do too," Gilbert said.

But, he added, "it can't be a good thing that families are spending less face-to-face time together. Ultimately it leads to less cohesive and less communicative families."

In the first half of the decade, people reported spending an average of 26 hours per month with their families. By 2008, however, that shared time had dropped by more than 30 percent, to about 18 hours.

The advent of new technologies has, in some ways, always changed the way family members interact.

Cell phones make it easier for parents to keep track of where their children are, while giving kids the kind of privacy they wouldn't have had in the days of landlines.

Television has cut into dinner time, and as TV sets became cheaper, they also multiplied, so that kids and parents no longer have to congregate in the living room to watch it.

But Gilbert said the Internet is so engrossing, and demands so much more attention than other technologies, that it can disrupt personal boundaries in ways other technologies wouldn't have.

"It's not like television, where you can sit around with your family and watch," he said. The Internet, he noted, is mostly one-on-one.

Likely because they can afford more Web-connected gadgets, higher-income families reported greater loss of family time than those who make less money. And more women than men said they felt ignored by a family member using the Internet.

The center's latest survey was a random poll of 2,030 people ages 12 and up was conducted April 9 to June 30, 2008, and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

 
 
 
 
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Is The Sky The Limit For Wind Power?

High-flying Kites Could Light Up New York

ScienceDaily (June 16, 2009) — In the future, will wind power tapped by high-flying kites light up New York? A new study by scientists at the Carnegie Institution and California State University identifies New York as a prime location for exploiting high-altitude winds, which globally contain enough energy to meet world demand 100 times over.

The researchers found that the regions best suited for harvesting this energy match with population centers in the eastern U.S. and East Asia, but fluctuating wind strength still presents a challenge for exploiting this energy source on a large scale

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/06/090615102038.htm

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