Cannabis Smoking ‘More Harmful’ than Tobacco

Smoking pure marijuana is at least as harmful to lungs as smoking tobacco, a report from the British Lung Foundation concludes. And in some key ways, it may be more dangerous.

For example, the BLF’s review of previous research highlights that just three marijuana joints a day causes the same damage to the lung’s airways as 20 cigarettes, mainly because of the way joints are smoked.

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Building a Neutrino Factory

In a quiet corner of Oxfordshire, particle physicists are dreaming of solving the mysteries of the Universe.
At the heart of the matter is something once described as the tiniest quantity of reality ever imagined by a human being.

The ghostly particles, neutrinos, weigh almost nothing, but they could help explain why the Universe, and everything in it, exists.

If the hopes of scientists are realised, the UK will become home to a neutrino factory.

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Nigeria Enters the Space Age

Nigeria is hoping to launch its first satellite in July 2003, its science and technology minister has said.
The satellite, which will be built in partnership with a British company, will be used for weather observation, and will later become a communications satellite.

With the initiative, which will cost about $2.5m a year, there are hopes that the launch of dedicated satellites will greatly improve communication links – Nigeria has notoriously bad phone lines.

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Laser Defence Closer to Deployment with Successful US Test on Artillery Shell

The US Army has announced successfully destroying an artillery shell in mid-flight using a high-energy laser that previously had only proven successful at destroying slow rockets.

“We’ve shown that even an artillery projectile hurtling through the air at supersonic speed is no match for a laser,” says Lieutenant-General Joseph Cosumano, head of the US Space and Missile Defense Command. “This latest test shifts the paradigm for defencive capabilities.”

The military discussed its success in a joint statement with TRW Inc., the company that developed the weapon. It said that this Tuesday at the White Sands test range in New Mexico, the laser tracked, locked onto and destroyed a speeding shell.

Called Mobile Tactical High Energy Laser, the defence system had in 2000 shot down 25 Katyusha rockets fired alone and in salvos.

The latest success moves MTHEL closer to deployment by both the US and Israel, for both of which TRW is developing the technology.

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The Lie Detective Psychologist Reads Facial Expressions

The CIA said thanks but no thanks to San Francisco psychologist Paul Ekman when he offered years ago to teach special agents how to read faces to detect deception.

Today, the CIA is one of dozens of agencies and companies calling Ekman, who runs the Human Interaction Lab at UC San Francisco.

Law enforcement isn’t the only group that’s done an about-face on Ekman, who can tick off the Latin names for all 43 facial muscles one moment and identify the precise muscles used by Bill Clinton when he lied about Monica Lewinsky the next. More here.

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The Catalog of Tomorrow

“Smart shirts” that adjust sleeve length in response to body temperature are among the hundreds of new products we might expect in the next decade or two, according to the recently published Catalog of Tomorrow. Not confined to a preview of consumer trends, the book attempts to peer into the future, with an emphasis on growth areas in science and technology.

Many of the topics covered in the catalog have a direct connection to our daily lives. How will cars be constructed for greater safety in the near future? What changes can we anticipate in exercise during the coming decade? The Catalog of Tomorrow provides answers to these and many other questions in its four major sections. Here you will find topics ranging from gene therapy to nanotech (Our Tools), digital paper to cyborgs (Our Lives), privacy to cyberterrorism (Our Society), and biodiversity to deep sea exploration (Our Planet).
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Physicist plans to Boost Satellite into Orbit with Microwave Beam

UC Irvine physicist Gregory Benford will announce plans for the first known attempt to push a spacecraft into the Earth’s orbit with energy beamed up from the ground.

The satellite will be called the Cosmos Sail, the first solar-sail craft to orbit Earth. The Benfords developed the sail with researchers from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Made from lightweight layers of aluminized mylar, the sail will allow a craft to be propelled from low orbit to high orbit and ultimately into interplanetary space, driven by microwave energy, similar to the way wind pushes a sailboat across the sea. By using these electromagnetic waves, spacecraft would burn significantly less engine fuel—the most prohibitive expense of interplanetary voyaging.

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The Anime Cable Channel

ADV Films has confirmed reports that they are working to create a cable television channel dedicated to Anime. Currently they are releasing very few details about the channel itself. All that has been publicized at this time is that the channel will run 24 hours a day and will break its content into four categories, Action Zone, Sci-Fi, Comedy Incorrect, and Horror/Martial Arts.
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Underwater Power Generator

In a novel use of clean energy, the world’s most northerly town will soon be the first to get electricity from a sub-sea power station run on tidal currents tugged by the moon.

Gigantic forces in the oceans — waves, currents, and tides — have often proved too costly or awkward to harness, compared to wind or solar power, in global efforts to cut reliance on nuclear power or on fossil fuels blamed for global warming.

Starting in late November or early December, however, a tidal current will start turning the blades of a windmill-like turbine standing on the seabed near Kvalsund at the Arctic tip of Norway

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Russia to Develop Two Cosmodromes

Russia is to develop two cosmodromes with the aim of eventually giving up the use of the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan as a satellite launch site, Defence Minister Sergei Ivanov said on Tuesday.

The Plesetsk cosmodrome in Russia’s far north is set to replace the Kazakh site as the launch pad for major projects in the future, Deputy Russian Defence Minister Alexander Kosovan announced in February.

Ivanov confirmed that Russia would concentrate resources on the development of Plesetsk but insisted that the Siberian site would also be expanded.

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Solar Sail Satellite to Test ‘Beamed Power’ Propulsion Method for Space Travel

To test the viability of propelling interplanetary spacecraft using beamed energy, scientists have announced plans to push a satellite into orbit using microwaves beamed from the ground.

Called Cosmos Sail, the satellite will be launched next spring from a Russian submarine off the coast of St. Petersburg. At about 800 kilometers altitude, it will deploy a sail made of aluminized mylar. The sail will then catch microwaves beamed from the ground the way a sailboat’s sail catches wind.

The idea was developed by Gregory Benford, a University of California Irvine physicist, his brother James Benford, the president of Microwave Sciences, and researchers from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

More here.
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Building Planets in Cyberspace

Over the next few years, scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory plan to cook up a series of planets based on recipes and play around with the ingredients. But they won’t be using real materials — it will all be done in cyberspace. The ultimate goal is to simulate a plausible range of habitable planets, and to find out how they might appear to planet-finding missions of the future.

Dr. Vikki Meadows is principal investigator of the Virtual Planetary Laboratory, a project that was selected as a new lead team for the NASA Astrobiology Institute to create tools that will simulate a diverse range of planets and life forms.

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