Daily TIPs: Bartering Goes High-Tech, Obama Touts Cyber Czar, Global Warming Questioned, & More

7/17/08

Government Considers X Prizes for Nanotech

Big prizes for technological innovation are becoming all the rage in Washington. Ars Technica tells us that Republican Senator Olympia Snowe of Maine and Democratic Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon have introduced a bill to fund prizes for advancements in nanotechnology. They’re hoping the fund will attract money from private investors as well.

U.S., EU Promote Open Internet Worldwide

Policymakers in both the United States and the European Union are pushing for laws to promote free expression and privacy on the Internet in countries like China. On its Policy Beta blog, the Center for Democracy and Technology, which supports the idea, says Jules Maaten of the EU Parliament and Republican Congressman Chris Smith of New Jersey have gotten together to discuss how they could push their Global Online Freedom Acts.

In Shaky Economy, Net Bartering Grows

With credit markets tight and consumers having less cash to spend, a number of companies are turning to the Internet for a different way to do business-bartering goods and services. The New York Times reports that about 450,000 companies are involved in barter networks, and companies are popping up to handle the transactions. One barter company executive tells the paper that bartering is a good way to conserve cash.

Obama Pushes Cyber Security

The Bush administration hasn’t done enough to combat cyber-espionage and other online crime, Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama says. In a speech at Purdue University, Obama said he’ll make network security a top priority, and appoint a National Cyber Advisor, according to Wired.

Scientific Society Publication Proposes Debate on Human Role in Global Warming

The editors of Physics and Society, the newsletter of a division of the American Physical Society, want to have a public debate on whether human activities are contributing to global warming, or whether it’s a natural phenomenon—and they are kicking off the debate with the publication of both a pro and a con article in the online publication. One of the editors, Jeffrey Marque, writes that “there is a considerable presence within the scientific community of people who do not agree” with the conclusion that human activity is the most likely cause of warming. [Editor's note: A previous version of this item failed to say that the views of the Physics and Society editors do not necessarily represent those of the American Physical Society, and erroneously implied that the APS itself wanted to foster the debate.]

Economy Darkens Outlook for Home Solar Power

The lack of easily available credit for homeowners could stifle the market for residential solar power systems, an industry expert warns. Earth2Tech reports that David Arfin of solar power company SolarCity (Foster City, CA), says lenders are toughening requirements for loans to install the systems. Without the credit crunch, he says, more systems would likely be installed.

DOE, Dow Collaborate on Ethanol Production Process

Dow Chemical and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, part of the Department of Energy, are jointly developing a thermochemical process that will convert biomass to ethanol and other chemical products. Green Car Congress says the process will heat biomass to produce gases, which a process from Dow will then convert into various alcohols, including ethanol. The project intends to show whether this can be done on a commercial scale.

Elder Statesmen Warn of “Energy Tsunami”

A long-term energy crisis threatens the security of future generations if some action isn’t taken soon, a bipartisan group of 27 elder statesmen are warning. The Associated Press reports that the group sent an open letter to both presidential candidates and every member of Congress. The letter came from Henry Kissinger, Colin Powell, six other former secretaries of state or defense, as well as former senators and cabinet officers from both parties.

Daily TIPs (technology, innovation, policy) is produced in collaboration with

By posting a comment, you agree to our terms and conditions.

  • http://www.aps.org Tawanda W. Johnson

    APS Position on Climate Change Remains Unchanged

    The American Physical Society reaffirms the following position on climate change, adopted by its governing body, the APS Council, on November 18, 2007:

    “Emissions of greenhouse gases from human activities are changing the atmosphere in ways that affect the Earth’s climate.”

    An article at odds with this statement recently appeared in an online newsletter of the APS Forum on Physics and Society, one of 39 units of APS. The header of this newsletter carries the statement that “Opinions expressed are those of the authors alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of the APS or of the Forum.” This newsletter is not a journal of the APS and it is not peer reviewed.

    Read full APS Climate Change Statement ( http://www.aps.org/policy/statements/07_1.cfm ) (http://www.aps.org/policy/statements/07_1.cfm).