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Countdown begins for China’s first spacewalk: Shenzhou-7 spaceship launches into orbit with 3 Chinese astronauts

Chinese astronauts Jing Haipeng, Liu Boming and Zhai Zhigang during a ceremony before the launch of the Shenzhou 7 spacecraft at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China's Gansu province on Thursday

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After three decades of hoping, 10 years of training, and at least 12 hours preparing his spacesuit, Zhai Zhigang is expected to make history in just 20 minutes tomorrow as the first Chinese astronaut to do a space walk. The 42-year-old former fighter pilot will don a £2m, ten-layered Chinese-designed suit, weighing 120kg (265lb), to exit the Shenzhou VII module.

The Chinese Shenzhou VII spacecraft blasted off at 9:07 p.m. Thursday, carrying three Chinese astronauts into space on this country’s third manned space mission in five years. The Chinese government has spent billions of dollars in recent years building up a space program that it hopes will help China establish a space station by 2020 and eventually will put a man on the moon, accomplishments that would certainly bring the country international prestige.

China's manned space mission successfully reached its final orbit early on Friday (September 26) morning  read more »

Large Hadron Collider hibernates after wrong sort of big bang caused by hellion leak, to re-awaken in Spring'09

world's largest superconducting solenoid magnet

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Two weeks ago, the most powerful atom smasher to be built had been switched on to global acclaim and scientists were ready to begin experiments that could unlock many of the enduring mysteries of the Universe. They are going to have to wait a little longer. On Friday the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) created the wrong sort of big bang - a fault so serious that CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, announced last night that the particle accelerator would have to be shut down until next spring for repairs.

ATLAS collision event showing a microscopic-black-hole being produced in the collision of two protons

Preliminary investigations into the incident, in which a huge quantity of helium leaked from the LHC’s cooling system, have suggested that it was caused by a faulty electrical connection between two of its superconducting magnets. The fault affected a part of the accelerator that is kept chilled to within 1.9C of absolute zero, and it will have to be warmed up to room temperature before the problem can be understood fully and resolved. It will take at least three to four weeks to warm the affected sector and then to open the damaged magnets for inspection, and then another month to re-chill them to their operating temperature.  read more »

"Do I really want that CT scan?" Study shows increased radiation exposure, cancer risks, tests often unnecessary

anatomy of a CT scan

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CT scans can be better medicine for doctors than for patients - they provide detailed views of internal organs, but the price is increased doses of radiation. A chest CT scan is equivalent to about 100 X-rays.

When Maureen Scanlan had a painful kidney stone episode four years ago, she was pleased that her doctor ordered an annual regimen of CT scans to monitor her condition. The scans involved hundreds of razor-thin X-rays of her innards stitched together by a computer into stunningly detailed 3-D images showing the size and location of the stone, down to the millimeter. What she didn't realize was that the perfection of the images was a result of a radiation dose equivalent to more than a dozen standard abdominal X-rays -- all for a condition that though painful is relatively mundane.

a chest CT scan is equivalent to about 100 X-rays  read more »

All-electric car, 240+ miles per charge, 0 to 60 mph in under six seconds, to be built in San Jose Tesla factory

Tesla Roadster

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The specs for Tesla Motor's new car are in: an all-electric, four-door, five-seat sedan that gets in excess of 240 miles per charge and accelerates from 0 to 60 mph in under six seconds. It will be built in what the company is calling the "greenest auto manufacturing plant in the world" on the outskirts of San Jose, Calif., the self-proclaimed world headquarters of clean technology. In other words, the car of the future is on its way here. Eventually.

Tesla Motors Product Architect and Engineer Elon Musk with high-performance Tesla Roadster

Winning a $250m (£139m) deal with electric car maker Tesla to base its new factory there, the city beat other contenders to secure a project that will bring more than 1,000 jobs to the area. "This is a big step toward being the center of world cleantech innovation," said San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed. Tesla boss Ze'ev Drori said that "this is proof the time has come for the electric car."

Tesla Roadster Convertible

The company plans to produce an all-electric luxury sedan, called the Model S, at the plant with a retail price of around $60,000 (£33,000.) It already manufactures a two seater zero emission Roadster which sells for $109,000 (£61,000) and is built by Lotus in England.  read more »

World first fuel-saving carbon-cutting program: Air New Zealand passengers take a ride on the 'perfect flight'

FAA working with Air New Zealand finding new ways of making flights more environmentally friendly and fuel efficient

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Air New Zealand's "perfect flight" using optimal flying conditions and the co-operation of US, New Zealand and Australian aviation authorities, was hailed as a success in San Francisco on Friday. Using new technologies and procedures on a flight from Auckland, Air New Zealand cut waiting time, trimmed flying time, saved 1,200 gallons of fuel (around 4% less fuel than normally used), eliminated 30,000 pounds of harmful carbon emissions and took a quieter approach on arrival at San Francisco International Airport.

Air New Zealand Flight 8 from Auckland to San Francisco

The normal commercial flight NZ8, dubbed ASPIRE 1 (Asia and South Pacific Initiative to Reduce Emissions) is the first tailored test flight on the Pacific using technology and cleared gates at each end, eliminating air traffic congestion to test flight and fuel efficiency. It is part of a worldwide drive to make the aviation industry more environmentally friendly.  read more »

Biggest physics experiment in history underway: Large Hadron Collider passes operational test, fires first beam

The Globe of Innovation in the morning. The wooden globe is a structure originally built for Switzerland's national exhibition, Expo'02, and is 40 meters wide, 27 meters tall

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There was screaming and whistling in physics labs and auditoriums outside Geneva - and around the world - Wednesday, as scientists whooped it up out of sheer joy.

View of the CMS (Compact Muon Solenoid) experiment Tracker Outer Barrel (TOB) in the cleaning room. The CMS is one of two general-purpose LHC experiments designed to explore the physics of the Terascale, the energy region where physicists believe they will find answers to the central questions at the heart of 21st-century particle physics  read more »

Electric tank-car of the future? The Hinterland 1 Concept Car - an electric minivan with Prius-like aerodynamics

Hinterland concept art by The Creative Unit

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It has the profile of a Toyota Prius interpreted by the late Maxime Faget, designer of the Space Shuttle. It's the Hinterland 1, a conceptual all-electric minivan with a drag coefficient of less than 0.25 (the Prius's is 0.26). And if its designers get their way, it'll become a Canadian icon on par with the CN Tower, Geddy Lee and Poutine. Existing purely as sketches, renderings, and specs at this point, the Hinterland 1 electric car looks like one part tank, one part VW bus with a pinch of bullet train added for flavor.

Hinterland 1 Concept Car: electric minivan with Prius-like aerodynamics

Chief designer of the Hinterland 1 is Matin Aube of Creative Unit, a veteran of Québec- based Bombardier Recreational Products, maker of the Sea-Doo watercraft, who says the project "combines sources of artistic, technical and scientific expertise" from recreational vehicles, electric motors and batteries, aeronautics, aluminium, plastics processing and video games. In theory, the sculpted body would comprise an aeronautical-style aluminum monocoque, fashioned by the same hydroforming process GM uses to create body panels for its curvy Pontiac Solstice roadster. A drive system proposed by electric-car startup Higgins-Aubé would involve a 43 kW-max motor (14kW continuous) powered by Li-ion or Zebra (Sodium Nickel Chloride) batteries with a maximum power of 37,000 kilowatts. Designers envision two models built on the same platform, a two-seater "Mini" and the six-person "Van."  read more »

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