Monthly Archives: October 2007

SciTechLab News for 20071024

Microsoft to Pay $240 Million for Stake in Facebook

SAN FRANCISCO, Oct. 24 — Microsoft has won a high-profile technology industry battle with Google and Yahoo to invest in the social networking upstart Facebook.The two companies said on Wednesday that Microsoft would invest $240 million for a 1.6 percent stake in Facebook. The investment values the three-year-old Facebook, which will bring in about $150 million in revenue this year, at $15 billion.

Apple Announces Leopard Arrival October 26

The world premiere of Leopard, the biggest upgrade to Mac OS X, is October 26. And on that big day, the Apple Retail Store is the place to be. Join us from 6:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. and be the first to experience the world’s most advanced operating system. And if you’re one of the first 500 guests, you’ll go home with a special edition Leopard T-shirt. See you there.

Southern California Wildfires Burn Out Of Control: New Nasa Satellite Images Show Fires’ Rapid Growth

October 23, 2007
NASA satellites continue to capture remarkable new images of the wildfires raging in Southern California. At least 14 massive fires are reported to have scorched about 425 square miles from north of Los Angeles to southeast of San Diego.The latest images, captured by NASA satellites on the afternoon of October 22, show the thick, billowing smoke coming off the numerous large fires and spreading over the Pacific Ocean.

Image credit: NASA/MODIS Rapid Response.

The Chinese Chang’e 1 lunar orbiting mission is scheduled to launch on 24 October.

Chang’e 1 is planned to be the first of a series of Chinese missions to the Moon. The spacecraft is scheduled to launch on 24 October 2007 at 10:05 UT (18:05 Chinese Standard Time) on a CZ-3A (Long March 3A) booster from Xichang Satellite Launch Center. Chang’e will orbit the Moon for a year to test the technology for future missions and to study the lunar environment and surface regolith. The primary engineering objectives of the mission are to validate the technology necessary to fly lunar missions. The primary science objectives are to obtain three-dimensional stereo images of the lunar surface, determine the distribution of some useful elements on the surface and estimate their abundance, survey the thickness of lunar soil and to evaluate helium-3 resources, and to explore the environment between the Moon and Earth.Chang’e 1 at the Xichang Satellite Launch Center.


NASA Offers $2 Million Lunar Lander Competition Prize

October 24, 2007
The purpose of the lunar lander challenge is to accelerate technology development leading to a commercial vehicle that could one day be capable of ferrying cargo or humans back and forth between lunar orbit and the moon’s surface.

Giant balloon to loft world’s largest solar telescope

October 2007
A balloon designed to loft the world’s largest solar ultraviolet telescope high into the atmosphere has performed a successful 10-hour test flight. When the telescope makes its first science flight in 2009, it will boast vision more than two times sharper than any previous solar observatory, shedding light on what causes potentially dangerous outbursts from the Sun.Slender hoses, blown into arcs by the wind, partially filled the Sunrise project’s balloon with helium before launch on 3 October. Much of the balloon – which is larger than a jumbo jet – is left unfilled so it can expand as it rises into the stratosphere, where air pressure is lower.

Image: Carlye Calvin/UCAR.

Planet’s CO2 Production Surges

22 October 2007
An international team of scientists has taken another look at how rapidly Earth’s atmosphere is absorbing carbon dioxide (CO2)–the biggest greenhouse gas in terms of volume–and the news is not good: A high-flying world economy is pumping out the gas at an unprecedented rate. Current CO2 production is outstripping the best estimates used by modelers to predict future climate trends.

Reason for flu the Season

19 October 2007
With flu season almost upon us, it’s a good time to ponder why influenza strikes us hardest in the winter months. A new study chalks it up to the fact that the virus appears to be more infectious at colder temperatures and lower humidity. The findings could lead to strategies that help curtail transmission of the disease.

Evolutionary Sprint Made Us Human

23 October 2007
Many more genes separate humans from chimpanzees than scientists believed. A new study shows that what sets us apart from our closest primate cousin is the accelerated rate at which we acquire new genes and ditch unnecessary ones.

New CU-Boulder Study Confirms First-Known Belt Of Moonlets In Saturn Rings

Oct. 24, 2007
A team led by the University of Colorado at Boulder has detected an unseen belt of moonlets in Saturn’s outermost “A” ring (top image, outer purple band). The moonlets in the belt were detected by gravity “wakes” 10 miles to 20 miles across (boxed in bottom image) by the narrow-angle camera aboard the NASA Cassini spacecraft.

Image courtesy NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute/ University of Colorado.

Polar bears affected by climate change

Findings based on nine studies on three of the world’s 19 subpopulations of polar bears conclude:

  • 2/3 of polar bears gone within 50 years.
“Projected changes in future sea ice conditions, if realized, will result in loss of approximately 2/3 of the world’s current polar bear population by the mid 21st century.
Because the observed trajectory of Arctic sea ice decline appears to be underestimated by currently available models, this assessment of future polar bear status may be conservative. “
  U.S. Geological Survey New Polar Bear Finding
Minimum Arctic ice packComparing the annual minimum extent in September for 2005 and 2007. One of the lowest minimum, 2007 lost 23 percent more that 2005, another low year. The state of California’s outline shows magnitude of lost ice pack.
  Modified from NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio. The Blue Marble data is courtesy of Reto Stockli (NASA/GSFC).


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