G-8 vows to stem climate change—But how?
The leaders of the world's Group of Eight richest nations this week pledged to work toward halving global greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 but did not announce exactly how they plan to achieve this. Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the U.K. and U.S. did note that they bore a large share of responsibility for the greenhouse gas pollution currently in Earth's atmosphere and its resulting warming effect. Environmental groups and the U.N. criticized the G-8 leaders for failing to announce a concrete plan of action.
Space shuttle: 10 flights to go before retirement
NASA has set target launch dates for the final eight space shuttle flights before the program is mothballed in 2010. That makes a total of 10 flights between now and retirement: one mission in October to upgrade and repair the Hubble Space Telescope, followed by nine more to finish assembly of the International Space Station (ISS), starting in November with a mission to repair faulty rotary joints in the station's movable solar panels. Five missions are scheduled for next year, including deliveries of the station's final solar panels and the remaining components of the Japanese "Kibo" laboratory module. Three flights are set for 2010, with the final one slated to go up on May 31. The shuttle program will be officially retired on September 30, 2010, to make way for the Constellation program, designed to take U.S. astronauts back to the moon by 2020.
A sewing machine for genetic material?
Talk about the fabric of life. Scientists at the University of Tokyo and Kyoto University in Japan have announced a new way of manipulating strands of delicate genetic material like thread in a "sewing machine" that may make it easier to spot genes and genetic flaws at the root of disorders such as Down's syndrome. Researchers report in the journal Lab on a Chip that they were able to tame unwieldy DNA chains by winding them around micro "bobbins" and locking them in place with micro "hooks." This helped them examine the fragile genetic links without breaking them. "When a DNA molecule is manipulated and straightened by microhooks and bobbins," said study co-author Kyohei Terao of Kyoto University, "the gene location can be determined easily with high-spatial resolution."