China

Himalayas: The future of solar?

Publication: msnbc.com   Date: October 12, 2011   View Article

The high peaks of the Himalayas may soon be a beacon for adventurous solar power entrepreneurs, suggests a new study that identified the lofty region as having some of the world’s greatest potential to capture energy from the sun.

Other regions not traditionally considered hotbeds of solar power potential include the Andes of South America and Antarctica, note Takashi Oozeki and Yutaka Genchi with the National Institute of Industrial Science and Technology in Japan.

Taxicab data helps ease traffic

Publication: msnbc.com   Date: September 29, 2011   View Article

Traffic blows. It’s unhealthy and a waste of time. It is also a fact of life in almost every major city around the world, especially in fast-developing China whereas many as 20 million rural farmers migrate to the cities each year looking for jobs and a better life.

To help urban planners determine where to build new roads, subways, skyscrapers and shopping malls to absorb their new residents, researchers are turning to data collected by GPS systems in taxicabs.

Dino-era Mammal the “Jurassic Mother” of Us All?

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: August 24, 2011   View Article

A tiny, shrew-like creature of the dinosaur era might have been, in a sense, the mother of us all.

Named the “Jurassic mother from China” (Juramaia sinensis), the newfound fossil species is the earliest known ancestor of placental mammals—animals, such as humans, that give birth to relatively mature, live young—according to a new study.

The 160-million-year-old specimen pushes back fossil evidence for the evolutionary split between the placental and marsupial lineages by 35 million years. Although it’s unclear if the creature is a direct ancestor of modern placentals, it’s “either a great grand-aunt or a great grandmother,” the study authors say.

More work for robots in China

Publication: msnbc.com   Date: August 15, 2011   View Article

Assembling and welding together gadgets like Apple’s iPhones and iPads is tedious, dull, low-paying work that even a robot can do. That’s why 1 million more robots will soon be on the job at Foxconn Technology Group’s factories in China.

“This is the kind of stuff that drives people crazy when they have to do it themselves, which leads to suicide, which is what the Foxconn people had a problem with,” Frank Tobe, owner and publisher of The Robot Report, which focuses on news and analysis of the robotics industry, told me today.

Caterpillar Fungus Making Tibetan Herders Rich

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: April 27, 2011   View Article

Harvesting of a parasitic fungus that grows high on the Tibetan Plateau in China is infusing hordes of cash into rural communities, scientists say.

The fungus, Ophiocordyceps sinensis, takes over the bodies of caterpillar larvae then shoots up like finger-size blades of grass out of the dead insects’ heads.

Known as yartsa gunbu—or “summer grass winter worm”—by Chinese consumers, the nutty-tasting fungus is highly valued for its purported medicinal benefits, for instance, as a treatment for cancer and aging and as a libido booster. Far away in the booming cities of Beijing and Shanghai, demand for the fungus has soared.

Ten hot green-energy trends to watch

Publication: MSNBC.com   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.

Dogs First Tamed in China – To Be Food?

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: September 4, 2009   View Article

Wolves were domesticated no more than 16,300 years ago in southern China, a new genetic analysis suggests—and it’s possible the canines were tamed to be livestock, not pets, the study author speculates.

“In this region, even today, eating dog is a big cultural thing,” noted study co-author Peter Savolainen, a biologist at the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Sweden.

© 2008-2010 Collected Writings By John Roach