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Member since: Tue Feb 10, 2004, 12:08 PM
Number of posts: 38,281

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Environmental Scientist

Journal Archives

Lexus Builds a Functional Hoverboard Prototype

Watch out, world. Toyota is heading back to the future.

The automaker has hinted it’s looking into flying cars. Now its Lexus luxury brand has actually built a working model of a hoverboard. That’s right, an actual working hoverboard. It’s real, but not for sale. Yet.

The board uses liquid nitrogen-cooled superconductors and magnets, according to the Lexus website. The technology is already zooming around Toyota's home country. A Japanese railway company last year set a new world speed record using a magnetic-levitation train. Toyota tipped its hand a year ago that it’s been experimenting with this for cars.

“It’s very confidential information but we have been studying the flying car in our most advanced R&D area,” Hiroyoshi Yoshiki, a managing officer in Toyota’s Technical Administration Group, said in June 2014 at the Bloomberg Next Big Thing Summit in Sausalito, California. “Flying car means the car is just a little bit away from the road, so it doesn’t have any friction or resistance from the road.”



Not going to run long having to keep liquid nitrogen-cooled magnets though.

Is this the worst summer job ever?

A nineteen-year-old in Norway has been hired by a sexual health charity to play a giant penis who surprises passers-by by spraying them with golden confetti.

“I thought it was hilarious. If I can do a good thing for others, just by being a dick, there is nothing better,” Philip van Eck, the man inside the penis costume, told Norway’s Tønsberg Blad newspaper.

Philip got the job fronting a campaign for the sex education charity, RFSU, beating the several hundred other applicants primarily because of his height; he is 1.93m tall, and because he fits the costume perfectly.

“Sex should be fun, exciting and a little naughty. We wanted the campaign to reflect that," said Pernille Berg of Involve! Advertising agency who produced the film. "The campaign found favour and people understood the humour in our message, although many, especially those over 30, thought the campaign was both banal and idiotic.”



Insect uses fatal farts to stun prey

THE BEAUTIFUL ANIMAL IN the photo above is a Beaded Lacewing. While the adults are delicate and lovely, they begin life as ferocious tiny predators lurking in the nests of termites. These larvae live unmolested in their nest, silently striking down termites from behind—and for one species, with their behind.

When a baby Lomamyia latipennis gets hungry, it stuns a termite with a “vapor-phase toxicant” released from its anus. That’s a fancy way of saying it farts on it. In fact, their farts are powerful enough to immobilize six termites with one blow.

This is how you wield a Death Fart, if you are a small predatory neuropteran:

“A larva repeatedly approached and retreated until the tip of its abdomen was directed at the termite’s head. The apex of the abdomen was lifted and waved past the termite’s face, without contact. The termite… was not repelled, as it made no obvious effort to escape. One to three minutes later it was incapacitated, lying supine, with its legs moving irregularly.”

Once the larva delivers its toxic toot, it can leisurely scuttle over and chow down. If a few extra termites are caught in the backdraft, that’s just extra food.



Huge Wind Turbine Floating on Water Is Fukushima's Energy Solution

A mere 12 miles from the wrecked Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant will soon sit a 620-foot, 1,500-ton windmill atop a 5,000-ton podium. It’ll be the biggest floating wind turbine on Earth, and it could usher in a new age of green energy for a region largely fed up with nuclear energy.

The turbine, completed Monday, will generate up to 7 megawatts of electricity, making it Japan’s most powerful wind turbine, and the most powerful floating turbine in the world. That’s good news for Japan, a country that’s shut down nuclear power plants in the wake of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami and subsequent meltdown.

The beast of a turbine sports three 270-foot-long blades and is built to stand against winds nearly 200 mph. It’ll be part of a wind farm that will include three turbines total, and will be stationed in the Pacific in the coming months. One is already in place in the ocean—that smaller one generates 2 megawatts of electricity.

The $401 million Fukushima wind farm project is a government-sponsored collaboration among 11 companies and research orgs, like Mitsubishi, Hitachi, and the University of Tokyo.


Fitzgerald: Scott Walker would sign abortion bill without exemptions

Madison— As he prepares to launch a presidential bid, Gov. Scott Walker wants a 20-week abortion ban to come to his desk soon, and he doesn't want it to include exemptions for rape and incest, according to one legislative leader.

Another top lawmaker who met with Walker on the issue could not recall whether the governor specifically asked that the bill leave out such exceptions.

The state Senate passed the bill without exemptions this month and Assembly leaders are now determining when to pass it. Both houses are controlled by Walker's fellow Republicans.

Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) told The New York Times that in a meeting Walker had asked that the measure not include the exemptions. Fitzgerald spokeswoman Myranda Tanck confirmed Tuesday that Fitzgerald made those comments to the Times.

In an interview, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) said he did not recall Walker specifically saying he wanted such exemptions left out of the bill, but Walker would sign the bill whether they were included or not. Vos said the meeting occurred a month or two ago.

"I think it's fair to say that he did not have to have exceptions for rape and incest," Vos said of Walker's comments.



Wednesday Toon Roundup 4- The Rest



The Issue




Wednesday Toon Roundup 3- Trade, Justice and the Environment




Wednesday Toon Roundup 2- Trump and Jeb

Wednesday Toon Roundup 1- Take it down

Bad News: Notorious Invasive Worm Just Found in U.S.

One of the world’s most invasive species, the New Guinea flatworm, is on the move and has just invaded six new locations, including the continental U.S. — Florida — according to a new study.

The worm (Platydemus manokwari) is on the “100 worst invasive alien species” list, and is now newly located in New Caledonia, Singapore, the Solomon Islands, Puerto Rico and Florida, according to the study, which is published in PeerJ.

Although the worm lives on the ground, it is able to climb trees to follow and consume prey.

Jean-Lou Justine of the Sorbonne’s National Museum of Natural History and his international team of colleagues identified the dreaded worm at the various sites based on observations, DNA sequencing and other techniques.

Because the worm feasts heavily on native mollusks, threatening their populations, the researchers write that “the newly reported presence of the species in mainland U.S. in Florida should be considered a potential major threat to the whole U.S. and even the Americas.”


And here I was thinking they were discussing Ted Cruz….
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