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Saturday, January 17th, 2009 | Author:

Electric propulsion provides some excitement amid the gloom

THE sombre mood at this year’s Detroit motor show manifested itself most visibly in the austerity of the exhibitors’ displays, and Chrysler’s in particular. Over the years the smallest of America’s Big Three manufacturers has introduced new models by driving a sport-utility vehicle through the plate-glass windows of the Cobo Hall, dropping a pickup from the roof and firing a minivan through the air. But having just received a life-saving government bail-out, Chrysler did not want to appear extravagant. Gone were the over-the-top stunts and computer-controlled fountains. Instead it opted for a simple exhibit that resembled a giant showroom.

A beacon in the darkness

A beacon in the darkness

General Motors (GM), the recipient of its own bail-out, also opted for the corporate hair shirt. Ford, the strongest of the Big Three, was careful not to appear too flashy. And even the Japanese carmakers, wary of reviving protectionist sentiments, took a low-key approach. Only the Germans were in a party mood. Some carmakers, including Nissan, Land Rover and Porsche, did not attend the show at all—understandably, given the collapse of America’s car market during 2008.


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Thursday, January 15th, 2009 | Author:

Biologists debate the scale of extinction in the world’s tropical forests

A RARE piece of good news from the world of conservation: the global extinction crisis may have been overstated. The world is unlikely to lose 100 species a day, or half of all species in the lifetime of people now alive, as some have claimed. The bad news, though, is that the lucky survivors are tiny tropical insects that few people care about. The species that are being lost rapidly are the large vertebrates that conservationists were worried about in the first place.


Saturday, December 06th, 2008 | Author:

A new The Economist's Technology Quarterly is out now with many interesting articles on various modern energy initiatives:

  • Monitor : Fresher cookers : Technology and development: The humble cooking stove is being overhauled around the world with the help of “user focused” design
  • Monitor : Green iron : Environment: Treating industrial wastewater with scrap iron can be a cheap and effective way to reduce pollution from factories
  • Rational consumer : Small is beautiful : Computing: Netbooks are small computers that are cheaper and lighter than full-scale laptops. They have their merits—but do not ask too much of them
  • Case history : Wind of change : Energy: Wind power has established itself as an important source of renewable energy in the past three decades. The basic idea is ancient, but its modern incarnation adds many new high-tech twists
  • Clean technology : Masdar plan : Energy: Wind power has established itself as an important source of renewable energy in the past three decades. The basic idea is ancient, but its modern incarnation adds many new high-tech twists


Saturday, November 29th, 2008 | Author:

After three years of improvements, deforestation in the Amazon is increasing again, according to the Brazilian government.

Satellite images indicate that nearly twelve thousand square kilometres of land has been cleared within a year, an area the size of Lebanon.

See the video commented by Vanessa Heaney on BBC website.

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Wednesday, November 26th, 2008 | Author:

The European Commission last week released a detailed set of benchmarks to guide IT managers toward the most energy-efficient practices as they build new facilities or upgrade existing data centres.

Part of the EC's Joint Research Centre, the Institute for Energy unveiled its "Code of Conduct on Data Centres Energy Efficiency" last week to help move public- and private-sector data centres toward the most efficient energy use possible.

Among the goals of the code of conduct are to "develop and promote a set of easily understood metrics to measure the current efficiencies and improvement going forward"; to raise awareness among managers, owners and others to help them understand the importance and benefits of energy efficiency in data centres; and the development and promotion of new, energy efficient technologies; and set efficiency targets for owners and managers of data centre facilities.


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