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Iron-age chalk Homer Simpson(click image to see original) I will be trying out a new format for these notes. Briefs are things which I think are of interest to you all but which I can’t add anything of my own to them (so why bore everyone). The new format is at the bottom of the post.

Heat from the street
Dec 6th 2007
From The Economist print edition

Energy: A clever new system uses asphalted roads, rather than solar panels, to collect solar energy in order to heat an office building

SOMETIMES the simplest ideas are the best. To absorb heat from the sun efficiently you need large, flat, black surfaces. One way to do that is to construct those surfaces specially, on the roofs of buildings. But why go to all that trouble when cities are full of black surfaces already, in the form of asphalted roads?

This was the thought that occurred ten years ago to Arian de Bondt, an engineer who works for Ooms, a Dutch building company. Dr de Bondt eventually persuaded the firm to follow it up. The result is that its headquarters in Scharwoude is now heated in winter by a system that relies on the surface of the road outside.


Bird flu blamed, as badminton camp abandoned
NDTV.com – New Delhi,India

The sports ministry says its hands are tied because of import restrictions from China on account of bird flu. All shuttles used in India are imported and …

The sports ministry says its hands are tied because of import restrictions from China on account of bird flu. All shuttles used in India are imported and they are made from goose feathers.

Former shuttler Uday Pawar has a different take on that. “Chinese shuttles are the best in the world,” he says. “They are chemically treated so there is nothing to worry about. SAI should have convinced the sports ministry of them.

By rough estimates, players need 15-20 shuttles a day. BAI claims this has nothing to do with bird flu. It’s just SAI causing procedural delays.

Unfortunately, local shuttlecocks cannot resolve this crisis. India’s international players can’t use them because of their poor quality.


“Science in the News” an e-newsletter produced by Sigma Xi

The Water Filtration System in a Straw from Scientific American

Sometimes, it’s the simplest technologies that have the greatest potential impact on people’s lives. Take the Vestergaard Frandsen Group’s mobile personal filtration system, otherwise known as LifeStraw. It is a powder-blue plastic tube – much thicker than an ordinary straw – containing filters that make water teeming with typhoid-, cholera- and diarrhea-causing microorganisms drinkable.

The filters, made up of a halogenated resin, kill nearly 100 percent of bacteria and nearly 99 percent of the viruses that pass through LifeStraw.

A University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill evaluation tested the device’s performance in water containing Escherichia coli B and Enterococcus faecalis bacteria and the MS2 coliphage virus as well as iodine and silver. The results indicated that LifeStraw filtered out all contaminants to levels where they don’t pose a health risk to someone drinking the water.

To read more: http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?id=water-filtration-system
Or: http://tinyurl.com/3a5gar

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