The NewsDemon Blog

Microsoft Bill Gates Goes Nuclear

March 23rd, 2010


Environmental and MS Newsgroups have posted that former Microsoft CEO turned philanthropist Bill Gates is teaming up with Japanese nuclear technology giant Toshiba Corp. to develop a next-generation nuclear reactor. TerraPower, a U.S. start-up company backed by Microsoft are investigating technology for mini-reactors, which are more cost-efficient than conventional units.

Toshiba and TerraPower have begun exchanging information in a move that would bring together Gates’ ample wealth and the know-how and experience which the Japanese electronics giant has established in the nuclear power business. Mr. Gates is the principal owner of TerraPower, which investigates ways to improve emission-free energy supplies using small nuclear reactors.  Under the partnership and agreement, Toshiba would provide TerraPower with the expertise to manufacture nuclear power equipment. Gates is expected to invest his personal wealth on the development of the reactor, which could reach billions, newsgroups have reported. The hope is that the new reactors might be suitable for use in cities or emerging-market countries.

Toshiba expects to get U.S. approval for its ultra compact design this fall and start construction of the first such reactor by 2014. Mini-reactors could last up to 100 years without refueling, unlike today’s units which need replenishing every few years.  Power outputs of these units are projected to range from 100-thousand to 1-million kilowatts which is much larger than current commercialized reactors. Current light-water reactors require refueling once every several years. The company is preparing to apply for US approval to start constructing the first such reactor as early as 2014 and put it into practical use by the end of the decade.

The deal was sealed when Gates visited the Japanese maker’s nuclear research center in Yokohama near Tokyo in November. Gates, a newsgroup subscriber who is deeply involved in global health work through his private foundation, has shown a growing interest in nuclear and other energy technologies that could potentially meet the power needs of the world’s poor without contributing to global warming.


Another Meteor Hits USENET Newsgroups

December 11th, 2009


If you missed out on last month’s Leonid meteor shower, don’t worry. Space and astronomy newsgroups report what very well may be the best meteor shower of the year will occur this coming Sunday and Monday.

Occurring in mid- December, the Geminid meteor shower is often the most reliable meteor shower of the year — you may see 30 to 60 meteors an hour. This year, newsgroups are reporting that the Geminid meteor shower’s peak is the night of December 13th and 14th of this year. According to NASA related newsgroups, the shower has intensified in recent years and researchers are curious if the trend will continue this year. There are many predictable meteor showers during the year, but most of them are not very spectacular, producing only a few more meteors than the background rate of five to 10 random meteors per hour.

As comets go around the sun, they also leave tiny grains of debris along their orbits. When the Earth crosses the orbit of a comet, it encounters this debris train, and we get a meteor shower. This year, the meteor shower appears during a new moon, so the sky should be dark and meteors should be easier to see.

The Geminids were quite weak when they were first identified in the late 19th century, but have intensified in those 150 years. In 2006, NASA astronomers observed at least five Geminid meteors crash into the moon. The shower derives its name from the fact that the meteors look like they are originating from the Gemini constellation.


Evolution Newsgroups: Darwin Raises $172,000

November 24th, 2009


Today marks the 150th anniversary of the publication of one of the world’s most important and controversial books — Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species. A first edition of the book, which had been kept in a bathroom bookcase for years in southern Britain, sold for more than $172,000.00 (100,000 pounds) today after going thru Christie’s auction house.

Evolution and science newsgroups are discussing how an anonymous telephone bidder purchased the 1859 print run of the book on the 150th anniversary of the work’s original publication. It is Darwin’s seminal book that shared his theory of evolution with a lay audience.

When Darwin originally published the book, most scientists accepted his theories on evolution. The general public wasn’t as easy to convince, however, mainly due to the fact that Darwin’s theories challenged established religious beliefs. Not much has changed in 150 years.

As the USENET newsgroups point out, other events are planned around the world commemorating the 150th anniversary of the publication of “On the Origin of Species” and the 200th anniversary of Darwin’s birth, Feb. 12, 1809.


Leonid Meteor Shower Top Space Newsgroups Chatter

November 16th, 2009


Stay up late and you might believe that Aliens are arriving in drones. However, read an astrology newsgroup and find out that the night sky will be lit up in the early hours of Tuesday morning hosting the Leonid meteor shower.

The annual event, named for the constellation Leo, is a light show of comet crumbs caught up in the Earth’s gravitational pull as the planet swings through the debris field.

Discovered in 1865, the Tempel-Tuttle comet orbits the sun every 33 years, and it’s around this time every year that the Earth passes through the cometary debris. Every year at this time it happens — with tons of ice and rock vaporizing in the earth’s protective atmosphere. The last time it came by was in 1998. In 1991, 2001 and 2002, the Earth passed through concentrated dust trails, which produced a meteor storm with thousands of meteors per hour. The number of meteors this year will be above average.

According to NASA and space related newsgroups, the best time to see the most activity will be between the hours of 3:30 a.m. to 5:30 a.m. EST. The shower should produce a “mild but pretty sprinkling” of meteors over North America (20 to 30 meteors per hour) followed by a more intense outburst over Asia, where observers may see 200 to 300 meteors per hour.


Newsgroup Spotlight: Chemistry Newsgroups

November 5th, 2009


From High School Students to accredited Chemists, newsgroups have been a destination for many to discuss, interact and share almost everything regarding the world of Chemistry. USENET Newsgroups offer more than a dozen newsgroups that are home to Chemistry newsgroups.

Chemistry in general is a very diverse field with many different aspects. As USENET newsgroups are broken down to sub-categories of general categories, it has enabled focused discussions about whatever aspect of Chemistry one may be interested in. Analytical chemistry newsgroups and Electrochemistry newsgroups, as an example, each have their own subscribers that share opinions and information that further there understanding of these fields.

In many cases, these newsgroups have been known to provide more up-to-date information regarding innovations and discoveries than any conventional paper journal about the ever changing understanding of Chemistry. It also provides a way to discuss these discoveries alongside other professionals and eager minds.

As with most newsgroup categories that fall under science and technology, Chemistry newsgroup communities have existed for over 20 years and continue to host both old and new subscribers that participate in every day discussions and happenings on Chemistry newsgroups. Whatever field or particular interest in Chemistry one may have, USENET newsgroups should be a required online destination.


Stephen Hawking Seriously Ill in Cambridge University Hospital

April 20th, 2009

Usenet Newsgroups are currently abuzz with the news that mathematician/cosmologist/theoretician Stephen Hawking who filled Sir Isaac Newton’s shoes at Cambridge University for several years is seriously ill in Cambridge. He has been fighting a chest infection for several weeks and is now undergoing tests at Addenbrooke’s Hospital on the outskirts of Cambridge.

Wheelchair-bound Hawking is perhaps most famous for ‘A Brief History of Time‘ which explored the origins of the universe in layman’s terms, is considered a modern classic. It was followed in 2001 by another book, “The Universe In A Nutshell“, television documentary appearances and even cameos in popular television shows like “The Simpsons” and “Star Trek: The Next Generation”. Professor Hawking was awarded a CBE in 1982, became a Companion of Honour in 1989 and is a Fellow of the Royal Society.

Hawking has Lou Gehrig’s Disease (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, or ALS), which is usually fatal after three years. Hawking has survived for more than 40 years since his diagnosis. Hawking, 67, has achieved international fame despite being wheelchair-bound because of motor neurone disease and having to communicate through a voice synthesiser. He has received a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) as well as a string of honorary degrees.

His distinctive appearance and artificial speech have made him instantly recognisable world-wide, and he has never shirked the media spotlight.

Hawking has always insisted he is determined not to let his physical condition get in the way of his work. He has worked at Cambridge’s Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics for more than 30 years and since 1979 has been the University’s Lucasian Professor of Mathematics.


Newsgroup Spotlight: Astronomy Newsgroups

March 4th, 2009

The fascination to unravel the mystery of the sky has been set alongside human history since the dawn of time. The technology and progress that has been made since is accredited to the collaborative effort of many, building upon each other.

Through discussion and sharing their findings we continue to discover new aspects of our expanding universe.

Usenet hosts a variety of newsgroups that cater to the discussion of astronomy. Designated groups ranging from amateur astronomy newsgroups to astronomical research are covered on Usenet.

Other newsgroups, such as the Hubble Telescope newsgroup that was in recent news of being in peril due to the debris from a destroyed satellite as well as Planetary and Planetarium newsgroups cover other aspects of astronomy as they cover a variety of glimpses inside our galaxy and universe.

By way of these discussions and discoveries by communities like these we can continue to anticipate new discoveries to be made.

Below are some other newsgroups related to Astronomy you may be interested in with a Usenet account:

Flexible Image Transport System (sci.astro.fits)

Miscellaneous (sci.astro)
























Google Earth Makes Discovery Possible

December 22nd, 2008

Google Earth is fantastic, but this might be its most amazing feat yet: A scientist stumbled across an unknown green patch that turned out to be an unexplored forest home to brand new undiscovered species.

Julian Bayliss was looking around Google Earth for a new conservation project when he came across patches of green in Mozambique that appeared to be previously unexplored. Sure enough, those green patches were “7,000 hectares of forest, rich in biodiversity” that had been left untouched by scientists thanks to minor blips like miserable terrain and constant civil war.

An expedition launched in the fall to Mount Mabu discovered three new species of butterflies, a new Gaboon viper than can kill a human in a single bite, along with all kinds of other wildlife, like 200 types of butterflies and tropical plants, all in a matter of weeks.

The expedition leader, Jonathan Timberlake, says that this could just be the beginning—Google Earth might help scientists find other undiscovered pockets of biodiversity in areas like Mozambique and Papua New Guinea that haven’t been fully explored. I’ve got my fingers crossed for hobbits and Big Foot


Newsdemon Usenet and Internet Activity Increases Brain Power

December 1st, 2008

Searching the Internet exercises the brains of older people by activating their neural circuitry, says UCLA’s Memory & Aging Research Center.

Internet searches activate regions in the brain that control complex reasoning and decision making, the Center found in a nine-month study of 24 neurologically normal volunteers, with similar education levels, ages 55 to 76.

The test subjects showed richer sensory experience and heightened attention when conducting Internet searches, as opposed to reading book-like text on computers, said Gary Small, the Center’s director, noting the brain activity was recorded in MRI results.

Not enough research yet exists to show whether Internet use can ward off dementia, The San Francisco Chronicle reported Sunday, noting Alzheimer’s cases in the United States are expected to quadruple by 2050.

Considering the simililarity in application and its sources, searching Newsgroups through Usenet is likely to cause the same reaction as well.

The Center’s findings are to be published next month in the Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry.


Scientists ‘Use The Force’ to Combat Cancer Cells

November 23rd, 2008

A revolutionary laser which could fight cancer has been developed by British scientists.

The device, which has been compared to a Star Wars light sabre, could be routinely used on patients in NHS hospitals within the next five years, according to the researchers.

The machine – a couple of millimetres square – fires a laser beam so accurately that it can puncture a hole in an individual cell, allowing drugs to enter and do their work much more effectively.

Drug companies are often confounded by the problem that it can be easy to get a medicine into the body by injection or pill – but much harder to get the drug molecules into the cells themselves.

It could mean, for example, that the cells surrounding the spot where a tumour has been removed by surgery would be holed by the device.

This would allow chemotherapy drugs to enter and kill any remaining cancer cells.

It would be particularly useful for hard-to-reach cancers such as that of the pancreas.

The team from the University of St Andrews has managed to mount the ‘light sabre’ on an optical fibre.

The next step is to develop it for use on endoscopes, the tubes used by surgeons to pass miniature cameras through the body.