Daily TIPs: Intelligent Clouds, Ultracapacitors, Adopter Shortage, & More

9/19/08

Chicago Plans to Cut Greenhouse Gases

The City of Chicago wants to cut its emission of greenhouse gases to three-quarters of 1990 levels by 2020, and one-fifth of 1990 levels by 2050. The Associated Press reports that the plan includes updating the city’s building code to improve insulation and heating and cooling systems in all buildings, increasing recycling and carpooling, and promoting alternative fuels. Chicago emits 34.6 metric tons of greenhouse gases each year.

Scientist Automates Nanotube Production

Carbon nanotubes hold the promise of making lighter aircraft, splitting hydrogen from water to use as fuel, and making high-density batteries, among other innovations. But it can takes researchers hours of fussing with tiny adjustments to a nanomaterial-building furnace to make enough of the little buggers to perform experiments. Now Wired tells us that Stephen Steiner, a graduate student at MIT, has written a program based on English syntax and fuzzy logic to automate the furnace and produce longer and more uniform nanotubes.

Researchers Synthesize Cancer Protein

Scientists trying to cure cancer have a new tool in their arsenal, thanks to researchers who have figured out how to synthesize a protein that plays an important role in some types of cancer and immune system diseases. Researchers at the Medical College of Wisconsin-Milwaukee have applied for a patent on a protein known as a chemokine, UPI reports. The researchers say having the protein available will allow them to perform studies on new methods of treating cancer.

Web Running Out of Early Adopters

With all the users of Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and their associated applications, developers of new Web 2.0 services are facing application overload, a column in the New York Times warns. Developers are finding that there are so many applications out there, getting people to try your new one often means convincing them they should drop one they’re already using. This may explain why I haven’t looked at my Friendster account in months.

Future May Bring Intelligent Cloud

Over at the official Google blog, Google employees are speculating about what the future holds for development of the Internet. An engineer and a research scientist look at the growth of parallel-processing computer clusters becoming increasingly linked and handling more and more data, and suggest that the computing cloud may develop a form of intelligence. I’m pretty sure I read that in a Heinlein novel, and it didn’t work out so well for the builders of the computer.

IBM Looks Ahead to Even Smaller Transistors

Computer chips have become more powerful by cramming more and smaller transistors into the same space, and the industry right now is moving from technology where the key size measurement is 65 nanometers to 45-nanometer technology. But as CNET News reports, IBM is looking a couple technology generations ahead, to 22-nanometer devices. The challenge they’re tackling: Technology to produce such small features doesn’t yet exist, and it’s not obvious how to create it.

New Device Could Replace Batteries in Electric Cars

Capacitors, which store energy electrically instead of chemically, the way batteries do, may be better than batteries in electric vehicles because they can charge and discharge energy much faster. The problem is that they don’t typically hold very much of a charge. Now Chinese scientists say they’ve designed an ultracapacitor, based on an array of carbon nanotubes, that can store enough energy to be practical for use in a car, New Scientist reports.

Web Science Aims to Study the Internet

The development of the World Wide Web has brought about developments that nobody predicted back in the early days of the Internet, from the rise of social networking to the increase in identity theft. As Scientific American tells us, in an article co-authored by WWW creator Tim Berners-Lee, a new discipline known as “web science” is arising. The aim of web science is to discover how society-changing effects arise on the Web and to try to harness them for the common good.

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