Daily TIPs: Polluting TVs, Zeppelins Redux, Paging Dr. Bacon, & More

7/7/08

FCC Considers How to Save Birds from Cell Towers

No one is quite sure how many migrating birds are killed when they slam into cell phone towers at night, but the number could be in the millions. So five conservation groups attended a mini-conference sponsored by the Federal Communications Commission to urge the FCC to protect the birds, Ars Technica reports. The FCC did not say how it might address the issue.

‘E-Bay for Biofuels’ Seeks Market Efficiency

A group called the U.S. Biofuels Exchange has established a website that allows buyers of biofuels to find producers of all sizes. The Environmental News Network says that there are all sorts of small producers of ethanol or biodiesel, but that it’s been hard for potential purchasers to find them, making the market less cost-efficient. The trading site contains a tracking system to follow deals and display real-time pricing.

Internet Pricing Based on Usage Rates?

Usage-based pricing could be coming to your Internet connection soon, according to GigaOm. AT&T, Time-Warner, and other suppliers of connectivity plan to introduce pricing tiers, based on how much bandwidth a user requires. The site supplies some estimates of how many bytes a user might get for his buck.


Flat-Screen TVs Contribute to Global Warming, Study Says

Think you can go green by eschewing the SUV and watching a movie on your big flat-screen TV? Think again. Earth2Tech reports that a study at the University of California, Irvine, raises the possibility that nitrogen trifluoride, a gas used in making the TV sets, could have a greater impact on global warming than coal-fired power plants. While produced in less volume, the gas is 17,000 times better than carbon dioxide at trapping heat in the atmosphere.

Biotech Startups Scramble for Tax Credits

Maryland has been trying to encourage the development of new medical devices and treatments by offering $6 million in tax credits to biotech startups. Now in its third year, the program for the first time saw company officials camping out on the sidewalk, hoping to get their share of a limited pot, the Washington Post reports. Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley says he hopes to raise the tax credits to $24 million by 2013.

Autonomous Autos Could Save Fuel and Lives

Cars that are programmed to drive themselves, instead of relying on fallible human drivers, could make more efficient use of fuel while reducing the risk of accidents, says a story in Business Week. General Motors is one of the companies embracing the concept, the magazine reports. The Pentagon is also promoting the creation of autonomous vehicles for military uses.

Plane Fuel Costs Too High? Take a Zeppelin

As airlines struggle to find ways to cover the soaring cost of jet fuel, several companies and governments are looking into creating a new generation of airships. The New York Times reports that a number of companies, mostly in Europe, are working on new designs for dirigibles. In the U.S., the Defense Advanced Projects Research Agency has funded research into airships, mainly for military communications.

Scientists Promote Six Degrees of Vaccination

Kevin Bacon may be the key to stopping flu pandemics, according to Science News. The magazine reports that targeting vaccinations to the right people could be a quick and inexpensive way of stopping a disease’s spread in its tracks. The idea is based on the notion of social networks – popularly known as six degrees of separation, the phenomenon that allows you to connect any actor to Kevin Bacon in only a few steps – and relies on vaccinating people who act as “nodes,” who connect one circle of people to another.

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