Daily TIPs: Electric Cars, Just Say No to MPG, Climate Plan for Business, DARPA A-OK, and More

6/20/08

Electrics Cars Coming to America

Think, a Norwegian company that makes cars that run only on electricity, has opened a North American division and hopes to start-selling its autos in the U.S. in 2009, Business Week reports. The Think Ox is about the size of a Prius, runs for 125-155 miles per charge on rechargeable lithium ion batteries, and goes from 0 to 60 mph in 8.5 seconds. One wonders if the Ox name, presumably designed to evoke clean air, will have the same effect on sales that the Chevy Nova—”no go” in Spanish—legendarily had on sales in Latin America.

Changing MPG Standard Could Save Fuel

The way we think about fuel efficiency could be undermining our ability to actually figure out how much a car can save us in gas costs, researchers at Duke University suggest. New Scientist reports that a study found that people think doubling the miles per gallon of a compact car has the same effect on overall fuel consumption as doubling it in an SUV: that is, going from 10 to 20 mpg saves five gallons per 100 miles, while going from 25 to 50 mpg saves only two. The scientists want to flip the Environmental Protection Agency’s standard on its head, from miles per gallon to gallons per (100) miles, which they say would make the picture clearer

Big Business Wants a Climate Plan

Ninety-nine large businesses from all over the world, including ALCOA and Shell, want global leaders to get together on greenhouse-gas targets and an international carbon market, Bloomberg says. The statement, prepared by the World Economic Forum, was presented ahead of next month’s meeting of the Group of Eight industrialized nations. The U.S. has said it won’t agree to any binding targets unless China and India do also.

DARPA Not Underperforming, Director Says

Following on a report that the Department of Defense took away $32 million from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency because the agency was having a hard time allocating the funds, DARPA’s director says the Pentagon doesn’t understand how the agency works. According to Wired, director Tony Tether says there was unspent money because of his heightened supervision of projects. Some finished early, before all the money was spent, and some were cancelled because of poor performance, he says.

Court Debates the Meaning of “Infringement”

A federal judge may grant a mistrial in a file-sharing case after conceding he may have given the jury the wrong information about whether an action was a copyright infringement, Ars Technica reports. The judge had told the jury that merely making a copyrighted song available on a peer-to-peer network counted as infringement. But a friend-of-the-court brief from nine professors of copyright law argue that “making available” isn’t the same as “distributing” someone else’s property. The case could help define the line between stealing and fair use.

Heart Imaging Drugs Can Cause Death, FDA Warns

The continued use of certain drugs, known as contrast agents, to improve ultrasound images of the heart is leading to deaths, the Food and Drug Administration says. An AP story on Forbes.com reports that the FDA put out a warning in October, but since then has received four reports of patients dying after being injected with Definity, a drug formerly marketed by Bristol Myers Squibb. Researchers have been developing agents that are easier to see on ultrasound or MRI scans as a way to spot hard-to-find defects.


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