Archive for 2010

The science of horse racing

Publication:   Date: October 7, 2010   View Article

Secretariat was the first horse to win the Triple Crown in 25 years when he crossed the finish line at the Belmont Stakes in 1973 with a lead of 31 lengths. His time of 2 minutes and 24 seconds remains an unbroken course record. The chestnut colt also set a still-standing record at the Kentucky Derby, the first leg of the crown. A timer malfunction at the Preakness Stakes put his speed on that track in question. His unofficial time of 1:53 2/5 has been tied twice, but never beaten.

“That horse was a phenomenon,” says Kenneth McKeever, associate director of the Equine Science Center at Rutgers University in New Jersey. Now the phenomenon has been immortalized in “Secretariat,” Disney’s feel-good movie about the racehorse and his dynamic owner, Penny Chenery Tweedy.

First Truly Habitable Planet Discovered, Experts Say

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: September 29, 2010   View Article

Astronomers studying a nearby star say they’ve found the first potentially habitable planet—likely a rocky place with an atmosphere, temperate regions, and crucially, liquid water, considered vital for life as we know it.

Other extrasolar planets have been called Earthlike, but, astronomer Paul Butler assured, “this is really the first Goldilocks planet”—not too hot, not too cold.

Eight hurdles on the track to a green energy future

Publication:   Date: September 21, 2010   View Article

The green energy future envisions a technological road that leads to an infinite supply of power, independence from potentially hostile nations and an atmosphere cleared of the excess heat-trapping gases that are blamed for warming the planet. The track to this future, however, is full of technological and policy hurdles. Learn how eight of the biggest hurdles might be cleared.

4 lessons from a 97 year old real estate agent

Publication: MSN/SwitchYard Media   Date: September 16, 2010   View Article

Buy a house today if you can, but don’t sell one if you don’t have to, says George W. Johnson, a 97-year-old real-estate agent who has been working the Seattle market since 1936.

Johnson, who is reluctant to call himself America’s oldest real-estate agent — he says he just learned of a 99-year-old broker in Florida — has seen his share of housing booms and busts since he hung his first real-estate shingle 74 years ago.

Ten high-profile players in the commercial space race

Publication:   Date: September 15, 2010   View Article

When NASA’s space shuttle fleet retires in 2011, the space agency will have to rely on Russian spacecraft and the private sector to taxi cargo and humans to and from the International Space Station, even as it turns its focus to the technologies required to send humans beyond low-Earth orbit.

President Barack Obama views the policy as a boost to the nascent commercial spaceflight industry, where competition is already heating up to supply the taxi services. Some companies are also talking about offering out-of-this-world rides for researchers as well as tourists with deep pockets and a serious case of star lust. Check out 10 of the top players in the race to commercialize space.

Ten hot green-energy trends to watch

Publication:   Date: September 14, 2010   View Article

From the rollout of sexy new electric vehicles to technologies that convert turkey poop to electricity, green energy is the source of constant hype and buzz. What do green-energy experts have on their radar screen?

To find out, we checked in with Dan Kammen, director of the Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory at the University of California at Berkeley; and Ron Pernick, co-founder and managing director of Clean Edge, a research firm with offices in Oregon and California.

Five Years After Katrina, Big Alien Rodents Return

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: August 26, 2010   View Article

Five years after Hurricane Katrina whacked down the population of the invasive, wetland-munching rodents in Louisiana, nutria have bounced back.

At the same time, some coastal marshes are rebounding too, because of a boom in Louisiana’s nutria trappers.

© 2008-2010 Collected Writings By John Roach