Daily TIPs: Battery Virus, Asphalt Energy, New Source of Stem Cells, & More

8/19/08

Virus-Built Battery Nothing to Sneeze At

A new type of microbattery could power implantable drug delivery devices or run tiny labs-on-a-chip, thanks to a technique that uses a virus to build the battery’s components. Nature News reports that scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology used a genetically engineered virus as part of a template that gathered cobalt ions into a series of nanostructures that formed an electrode. The researchers say this is a quick and simple way to build much smaller batteries than have been possible.

Experts Warn of Coming Cyber Attacks

Last week’s military incursion into Georgia by Russian troops was preceded by an attack on government computers, and the same thing could happen here, experts warn. According to CNN, computer security experts say no one has devised a way to protect against online attacks on government systems. The fact that the U.S. is so dependent on the Internet makes us all the more vulnerable, they say.

Menstrual Blood May be Valuable Source of Stem Cells

Stem cells harvested from human menstrual blood have helped heal damaged limbs in mice, say scientists from MediStem Laboratories, of San Diego, CA. The researchers published a study showing that mice with low blood flow to their legs had those legs protected from withering if they were injected with the stem cells. The scientists say the stem cells come from the lining of the uterus, which is shed during menstruation, New Scientist reports.

Biometrics May Lower Identity Theft

More powerful and inexpensive microprocessors are leading to increased use of biometrics—the use of individual physical characteristics as identifiers. Scientific American says that fingerprinting, face recognition, and iris scans are becoming more popular methods to fight identity theft, because it’s not as easy to fake an eye scan as it is to steal a PIN. One issue, though, is that the error rates in some systems are still too high.

A Look at the Tools of Cyber Crooks

The Internet makes a lot of things easier, including crime. At the Security Fix blog of the Washington Post, writer Brian Krebs takes a look at some of the trends and tools popular with cyber crooks. First up, programs that mask your Internet address.

Google Digs In to Geothermal Energy

The investment arm of Google, which has been putting money into green energy companies, now has invested nearly $11 million in the development of enhanced geothermal systems to extract energy from the heat of the Earth’s crust. Tech Crunch reports the company is giving $6.25 million to AltaRock Energy of Sausalito, CA; $4 million to Potter Drilling, of Redwood City, CA; and $500,000 to a geothermal lab at Southern Methodist University.

Hitting the Road for Low-Cost Energy

Why spend money on new solar energy systems when we’ve already installed millions of miles of low-cost solar collectors across the country? That’s the question from researchers at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, who want to use water-filled pipes to collect the heat energy collected by the asphalt on roadways and parking lots, according to CNET News. The hot water could be used in nearby buildings, or thermoelectrics could convert it to electricity.

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