Daily TIPs: Cash for Ideas, Hydrogen for Cars, Internet for Everything, & More

9/25/08

Obama Addresses Questions About Science

The British science journal Nature posed 18 questions related to science and policy to the two presidential candidates, but received written answers only from Democrat Barack Obama. Nature prints his answers, along with statements on the topics from Republican John McCain when they could be found from other sources. Among the issues, appointing a science advisor, how to address climate change, and what to teach children about evolution.

Google to Fund World-Saving Ideas

Google has announced a project to solicit ideas that can have a positive impact on humanity, and to fund those it deems most promising. The project, dubbed 10^100 (10 to the hundredth power), will dole out up to $10 million to the winning idea or ideas. As CNN reports, Google is open to any sort of idea that helps people in some way, from providing food and shelter to promoting clean energy.

Gluing the Internet to Everything

Craig Mundie, Microsoft’s chief research and strategy officer, says the next step in the online evolution is to “glue the Internet platform to the evolved client platform.” In other words, he tells Technology Review, he wants everything from desktop PCs to mobile phones to car dashboards to provide the same Web-based services.

Nanotech Could Help Fight Drug-Resistant Tumors

Cancers that grow resistant to drugs pose a problem for patients, but identifying the genes responsible for the resistance is offering scientists new ways to combat the problem. The Discovery Channel reports that one scientist at Pennsylvania State University is using basketball-shaped nanoparticles to target resistant cells. The particles carry small snippets of RNA that can turn off the genes, making the cells once again vulnerable to drugs.

Push Toward Hydrogen Cars Continues

Mass produced cars fueled by hydrogen will not be widely available to the public for at least 10 years, but automakers are increasing their efforts to develop the vehicles. The New York Times reports that Honda is planning to lease about 200 custom-made FCX Clarity cars in California over the next three years, and Shell and other companies are installing hydrogen fueling facilities at some gas stations. Other car companies are working on prototypes, but all are facing the chicken-and-egg problem of creating a market for the cars while building a fueling infrastructure to support it.

First U.S. Carbon Auction Held

A group of 10 Northeastern states is holding the first U.S. auction of rights for power plants to emit carbon dioxide. Reuters reports that the results of Thursday’s auction will be given to the bidders on Monday, and released to the public in October. The auction is offering 12 million permits to emit one ton of carbon per permit. Plants that cut emissions can sell their permits to other plants for a profit.

System Will Track Groups that Try to Help

There are plenty of organizations, both non-profit and for-profit, that strive to fight poverty and improve health around the world, but it can be hard for donors or investors to tell if they’re really doing any good. Now a group of foundations has come up with an online database, the Portfolio Data Management System, that focuses on these “social entrepreneurs” and tries to measure what they do. BusinessWeek reports that the idea is to provide for these private groups the same information regulatory filings provide for publicly traded companies.

Rhode Island Looks to Offshore Wind for Power

Rhode Island has selected a New Jersey firm, DeepwaterWind LLC, to build a wind farm off its coast. The Associated Press reports that the project, which will cost between $1 billion and $2 billion, could generate 15 percent of the state’s energy needs in the coming decade. If the project ultimately receives regulatory approval, it could be the first offshore wind farm in the United States.

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