Sep 14, 2009 | 8
Norman Borlaug went from a small farm in Iowa to feeding half the world, thanks to a lifelong interest in tinkering with the genetic design of wheat. He passed away on September 12 from cancer at the ripe age of 95 and the question remains: Is the Green Revolution dead, too?
In 1944 Borlaug, trained as a plant pathologist, left the U.S. for Mexico to fight stem rust, a fungus that infects wheat, at the invitation of the Rockefeller Foundation, among others. He and his colleagues spent the next decade crossing thousands of strains of wheat from across the globe, ultimately developing a high-yielding, disease resistant variety. Unfortunately, it couldn't stand, heavy with grain.
So Borlaug crossed it again with Japanese dwarf wheat to produce a so-called semidwarf wheat, both shorter (and therefore not prone to tipping over with all that extra grain at the tip) as well as disease-resistant and amenable to fertilization. Where the variety was planted, yields soared.
Apr 14, 2009 | 3
Scientists and policy makers hoping to adopt a new climate change treaty at this December’s United Nations’ meeting in Copenhagen might have reason to worry about achieving an international accord: A major player, India, home to a sixth of the world’s population, may not be on board with limiting its greenhouse emissions.
"If the question is whether India will take on binding emission reduction commitments, the answer is no. It is morally wrong for us to agree to reduce when 40 percent of Indians do not have access to electricity," said an Indian delegate to the recently concluded U.N. climate conference in Bonn, Germany, according to the Washington Post.
Mar 26, 2009 | 29
Tata Motors’ Nano, billed as the world’s cheapest (new) car, with base models selling for about $2,000 (or 100,000 rupees) is expected to sell like hot cakes when the company starts taking orders for it on April 9.
The no-frills Nano has a two-cylinder engine mounted in the rear (like the classic Volkswagen Beetle), giving it a top speed of 65 miles (105 kilometers) per hour. The base model comes sans air conditioning and power windows, but those amenities are available in deluxe models.
The Nano is aptly named as it stretches just a bit over 10 feet (3 meters) long, making it about four feet (1.2 meters) shorter than the 2008 Ford Focus hatchback, a compact car by U.S. standards. The ride weighs in at just 1,300 pounds (660 kilograms), about half of a Focus hatchback. This light weight partially explains the Nano’s low cost because fewer raw materials were needed to make it, according to the Chicago Tribune. A big bonus: Lightness also gives the Nano a very fuel-efficient 55 miles per gallon (24 kilometers per liter) of gasoline, Tata Motors says.
Nov 15, 2008 | 12
In the race to explore space, there may be a new moon on the rise. In the same week that NASA declared the Mars Phoenix mission over, India dropped an impactor, which crash-dived onto the moon's surface today, the Associated Press reports. The Moon Impactor Probe (MIP) was carried by India's moon satellite, Chandrayaan 1, which entered lunar orbit earlier this week.
The MIP, painted with the flag of India, was blown to smithereens after crashing into the moon at about 3,100 miles (5,000 kilometers) per hour. Before its planned crash, however, it sent photos and data that India will now use to plan a 2011 moon rover mission and a yet-unfunded manned mission. It was one of 11 instrument payloads on Chandrayaan 1, which means "moon craft" in Sanskrit.
Nov 10, 2008 | 16
The Indian space probe Chandrayaan 1 adjusted its orbit around the moon in one of its final maneuvers before releasing a lunar impactor.
Chandrayaan 1 entered into an elliptical orbit around the moon on Saturday, 17 days after blasting off from Satish Dhawan Space Center in Sriharikota. Yesterday, it fired up its engine to lower its orbit, which now ranges from a high point of about 4,660 miles (7,500 kilometers) to a low point above the lunar surface of 120 miles (200 kilometers). It is now orbiting the moon about every 10 and a half hours.
The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), which leads the unmanned mission, says they plan to circularize Chandrayaan 1's polar orbit to about 60-mile (100-kilometer) altitude before dropping its Moon Impact Probe and booting up its scientific instruments.
Sep 30, 2008 | 2
If you thought the Cold War was over—that long nuclear standoff that shaped the last five decades of the 20th century—think again. Following his American counterpart, and perhaps prompted by new tensions over the war in Georgia and the agreement between the U.S. and Poland to deploy a missile defense system there, Russian president Dmitry Medvedev has announced plans to upgrade that country's "nuclear deterrent" by 2020.
It's part of a full upgrade for the Russian armed forces: more nuclear-powered subs, better bombs as well as their own "air and space defense network". "Star wars" has at last come to a galaxy not so far away.
The move prompted U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice to boast that the U.S. possesses an "extremely capable, robust, broad and indeed varied nuclear deterrent," according to an interview with Reuters. That no doubt includes not only the hit-or-miss missile defense effort but also plans to build new nuclear weapons and the industrial complex that develops and fabricates them.
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