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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

SRS Introduces Thin Film Solar Tile for Clay Tile Roofs

thin film solar tile

SRS Energy, a developer of sustainable solar roofing systems, is launching Solé Power Tile this month, bringing the first building-integrated photovoltaic (BIPV) roofing product to curved roofing systems.

“Sustainability and green living is high on the consumer agenda for 2009, with so many homeowners looking to save money and also be eco-conscious. With green building playing such a significant role in the Obama administration’s economic stimulus efforts, it could not come at a better time.” - Marty Low, CEO of SRS Energy

The Solé Power Tile can help to provide for some of the energy needs of a house without installing solar panels, which may detract from the visual appeal or not be allowed due to regulations in HOA covenants. The tiles integrate seamlessly with clay tile roofs, making it easy to upgrade a curved tile roof to a power-generating platform.

According to SRS, the thin film solar technology generates more energy than comparable products in the harsh roofing environment, and the Solé Tile is backed by a full product warranty to ensure reliability for both designers and their clients. The tiles can be installed just like traditional clay tiles, but need to be installed by an authorized Solé Tile contractor.

“Choosing to upgrade to a sustainable roof from SRS Energy puts energy savings in homeowners’ pockets immediately and delivers compelling long-term returns.” - Low

SRS Energy, in partnership with US Tile, is introducing the Solé Power Tile at the American Institute of Architects 2009 National Convention and Design Exposition, April 30, 2009 through May 2, 2009 at the Moscone Center in San Francisco.

Mass. lake with 45-letter name has spelling errors

Officials have agreed to correct spelling errors in road signs pointing to a central Massachusetts lake with a 45-letter name. Lake Chargoggagoggmanchauggagoggchaubunagungamaugg in Webster has one of the world's longest place names. It's been spelled many different ways over the years. Some locals have given up and simply call it Lake Webster.

But after researching historical spelling combinations, the Telegram & Gazette of Worcester said local Chamber of Commerce officials agreed that some signs were wrong. There was an "o" at letter 20 where a "u" should have been, and an "h" at letter 38 where an "n" should go.

There are many stories and legends about the origin of the Indian name. One popular myth — later debunked — holds that the name translates roughly to 'You fish on your side, I fish on my side, and nobody fish in the middle.'


Information from: Telegram & Gazette,

Even google maps calls it Webster Lake ...

Some funny Comments....

I'll see your Chargoggagoggmanchauggagoggchaubunagungamaugg and raise you Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch... ...

I'll take your Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch

and raise you

Taumatawhakatangihangakoauauotamateaturipukakapikimaungahoronukupokaiwhenuakitanatahu ...

New Features Found in Einstein's Brain

by Miranda Marquit Albert Einstein, Nobel Photo, 1921


Albert Einstein had a brain different from the "average" person.

( -- When one thinks of Einstein, it is natural to assume that obviously his brain differed from that of the average person. And, ever since Thomas Harvey, a pathologist in Princeton, removed Einstein's brain upon his 1955 death and documented it, scientists have been studying it. Currently, Einstein's brain is in 240 pieces, mounted on slides. However, measurements and photographs were taken of the brain prior to its dis-assembly, and these photos are pored over every few years by those wishing to unravel the secrets of the brain belonging to one of the geniuses of the 20th Century.

In 1999, an anatomical study of Einstein's brain was made. Interestingly, reports Science Now, his brain was smaller than average:

"One parameter that did not explain Einstein's mental prowess, however, was the size of his brain: At 1230 grams, it fell at the low end of average for modern humans."

This meant that it was necessary to study the other intricacies of his brain. If Einstein's overall brain were at the smaller end, perhaps there were other things to find. The 1999 study by a team in Canada found that Einstein's parietal lobes were 15% wider than average. Science Now points out that these lobes are usually connected to spatial and visual cognition, as well as mathematics.

A new study has found even more differences in Einstein's brain. Dean Falk works at Florida State University and has studied the photographs of Einstein's brain in detail. In addition to the parietal lobes, Falk claims to have discovered a pattern of ridges and grooves in those wider lobes that is rare. This rare pattern is thought to have contributed to Einstein's visual thinking when it came to physics.

Another difference Falk found is related to a knob found in the . Science Now describes the implications of this knob in the brain:

"[ I ]n other studies, similar "knobs" have been associated with musical ability. (Einstein had played the violin avidly since childhood.)"

The idea is that what made a genius has more to do with the structure of his brain, than its size. However, it is important to keep in mind that Einstein's brain in its totality can only be studied via photograph and compared to other photographs. And, of course, the brain is a complex and still-mysterious organ. But it may be that we can glean some additional insight from studying the structure of Einstein's .

© 2009

Israel wants to buy U.S. missile defense system

Multilayer defense umbrella could help protect against rockets, officials say

Image: Phalanx Mark 15 Close-In Weapon System
The Phalanx Mark 15 Close-In Weapon System is test-fired aboard the amphibious dock landing ship USS Nashville. Israel hopes to purchase the system, official said.
M.C.S. 3rd Class Coleman Thompson / U.S. Navy

updated 6:23 a.m. ET, Tues., April 21, 2009

JERUSALEM - Defense Minister Ehud Barak hopes to buy a U.S. missile defense system to protect Israeli towns from short-range rockets and mortar fire, defense officials said Tuesday.

Barak plans to ask U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates to sell Israel the Vulcan-Phalanx cannon and radar system when he visits Washington in June, the officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity as the request has not yet formally been made.

The Vulcan-Phalanx — manufactured by U.S. company Raytheon Co. — is to be integrated into a multilayer defense umbrella that will include Israel's Iron Dome and two other missile systems being developed with the United States, the officials said.

During Israel's recent military offensive into the Gaza Strip, Palestinians there fired rockets more than 28 miles into Israel. They continue to lob mortar shells across the border.

The defense ministry has been looking at anti-rocket systems since 2003 but put the search into high gear after the 2006 war with the Lebanese Hezbollah militia, when nearly 4,000 Katyusha rockets slammed into northern Israel.

Iron Dome, under development by state-owned weapons maker Rafael, is meant to counter Hezbollah's Katyushas and the more primitive Qassam rockets fired from Gaza.

'Magic Wand'
The laser-based system is expected to be ready for deployment next year.

Rafael is also working with Raytheon to develop a system named "Magic Wand" against medium-range missiles.

To meet long-range threats, such as an Iranian attack, Israel Aerospace Industries Ltd. and Chicago-based Boeing Co. are producing the Arrow missile, which has been successfully tested and partially deployed.

The most advanced version, the Arrow II, was specifically designed to counter Iran's Shahab ballistic missile, which is capable of carrying a nuclear warhead.

The Shahab-3 has a range of up to 1,250 miles, putting Israel well within striking distance.

Israel sees Iran as its biggest threat, citing the country's nuclear program and its development of long-range ballistic missiles. Those fears have been compounded by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's repeated calls for the destruction of the Jewish state.

Hummer H3 Plugin Hybrid Gets 100 MPG, Kicks Prius Butt

While we wait to see if General Motors will go banko come June 1, Raser Technologies is hoping to change our minds about one of GM’s most iconic offerings: the Humvee.

During the upcoming 2009 SAE World Congress (Detroit, April 20 - 24) the company plans to unveil a Hummer H3 Range-Extended Electric Vehicle (ReEV) prototype. The vehicle is designed, first and foremost, as a purely electric vehicle with a drive train similar to the Voltec system in the Chevrolet Volt.

“We are resurrecting the Hummer,” David West, vice president of marketing for Raser Technologies said, adding that “It’s like a Volt on steroids.”

So far, this zombie Hummer pretty sweet. The modded Hummer gets 268 hp, has a 40 mile all-electric range, and a fuel-efficiency of over 100 mpg.

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“We’ve taken the worst environmental offender on the road and made it greener than a Prius,” West told

Seriously, can it really out-green the Toyota Prius?

“Yes,” explains West. “We took the challenge and here it is. The average driver starts off with a full charged battery with a 40 mile battery range. 75-percent of consumers live within that range and drive less than 40 a miles a day. So most people will never hear the gas engine come on.”

GM probably hopes so. GM was topdog for over 70 years until 2007 when they were surpassed by Toyota as the world’s No. 1 automaker.

“We are excited to be able to demonstrate an electric powertrain for larger vehicles such as trucks and SUVs,” said James Spellman, Vice President, of Transportation for Raser Technologies. “These are the best selling vehicles in America and can benefit the most from increased fuel economy and reduced emissions.” He went on to say, “Unlike the Prius, which is a mild hybrid vehicle, an eco-friendly SUV will get people’s attention.”

The vehicle is propelled by a 200 kW Symetron Enhanced AC induction motor hooked directly to the transmission, which is still connected to the all-wheel-drive system. According to Raser, it’s one of the most powerful passenger vehicle electric motors offered today and the whole system has near zero emissions. Also, the traction motor will support regenerative braking.

“If we put this powertrain in smaller vehicles down the road,” West said, “you could expect about 400 miles per gallon for the average (city) consumer.”

The V-8 combustion engine has been replaced by a small stand-alone 4 cylinder 2.0L engine which is only connected to the 100 kW Symetron PM Synchronous generator, and not the drive system. The engine is used only generate electricity and recharge the batteries when the vehicle drives beyond its 40 mile battery range and the lithium ion batteries are spent.

Three liquid cooled lithium ion battery packs are mounted between the frame rails and can be charged with a standard 110-volt household outlet. For a quicker charging 220-volt outlets are also supported. A full charge will take between 3 and 10 hours.

This plugin hybrid drive-system was designed by Raser Technologies, but developed by FEV, Inc. But is a 100 mpg Hummer enough to change the minds of the 30,000 industry specialists, engineers and business leaders who will be attending SAE?

No gas is used up to 40 miles. At 50 miles a day, the vehicle would still get 185 miles to the gallon. For 60 it’s 100 miles per gallon and over 200 miles the miles per gallon goes down to 33.

“Our goal in exhibiting this particular vehicle is to demonstrate that electric vehicle technology is a viable solution for a variety of vehicle platforms,” said Gary Rogers, FEV, Inc. president and CEO. “Needs of consumers will continue to vary, and the Hummer range-extended electric vehicle shows that fuel economy does not necessarily mean sacrificing power and utility.”

As of yet, there has been no talk of funding but I suspect that will come up during SAE. Raser hopes to have 2,000 of these things on the road by the end of 2010. reports that Pacific Gas & Electric has already requested two of them.

Hey, only 1,998 more to go!

J.J. Abrams on the Magic of Mystery

By J.J. Abrams Email 04.20.09

Photo: Mark Seliger

This essay ends with cheating. Specifically, my friend Greg and I, after playing a particular videogame for 11 hours straight, are stuck. We call a fellow gamer to learn what moves we need to make to get to the next level. With the new information in hand, we finally complete the game.

OK, there ya go. No need to read the rest of this piece—seriously, there's an annoying rant up ahead anyway. Skip to the next article. You certainly could—you could skip the whole magazine. Of course, I hope you don't. Some painstaking work went into this incredibly cool issue. (There are things occurring within these pages that are not apparent at first or second glance. That's the only hint I will give you.) I urge you to dig. Give in to the unknown for a while and ponder the mystery. It's worth it. Which, I suppose, is the topic of this very essay. The one that I've already suggested you skip.

J.J. Abrams, creative director Scott Dadich, deputy editor Thomas Goetz, and senior editor Chris Baker discuss the evolution of Wired's May issue.
For more, visit

Mystery, obviously, is everywhere. Is there a God? Mystery. What about life after death? Mystery. Excuse me, what material is the ShamWow made of? Mystery. Stonehenge? Big Foot? Loch Ness? Mystery mystery mystery. McDonald's Special Sauce? I don't care how many bottles of Thousand Island Dressing you show me, it's Special Sauce. Mystery.

And yet: For all that mystery, why does it feel like the world has been ripped open, all parts exposed? Why does so much seem absolutely and thoroughly demystified? These days we can leap, all of us, from a casual curiosity about anything to a sense of satisfying understanding. Instantly. Want to fold origami? There are more than 200,000 Google results on that subject available to you, now. Need to know the capital of Mauritania? A recipe for sticky buns? How to pick a bicycle lock? You could answer all these questions in less time than it will take you to finish reading this article (which, for a second time, I suggest you skip. Remember: You know how it ends, so why are you still here?).

What I'm getting at is hardly news to anyone: We're smack dab in the middle of the Age of Immediacy.

True understanding (or skill or effort) has become bothersome—an unnecessary headache that impedes our ability to get on with our lives (and most likely skip to something else). Earning the endgame seems so yesterday, especially when we can know whatever we need to know whenever we need to know it.

People often ask me how Lost is going to end. I usually tell them to ask Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse, who run that series. But I always wonder, do they really want to know? And what if I did tell them? They might have an aha moment, but without context. Especially since the final episode is a year away. That is to say, the experience—the setup for a joke's punch line, the buildup to a magic trick's big flourish—is as much of a thrill as the result. There's discovery to be made and wonder to be had on the journey that not only enrich the ending but in many ways define it.

Think back, for example, to how we used to buy music. You would have to leave your apartment or house and actually move your ass to another location. You'd get to the store, where music would be playing on the stereo. Music you may not have heard before. Perhaps you'd ask the clerk what it was and she'd send you to a bin—those wooden containers holding actual albums or CDs—and you'd look through it, seeing other album covers that might catch your eye. You'd have a chance to discover something.

But wait, you say, iTunes gives you the chance to browse! To that I nod, concede the point, and say, "Bullshit." Those little icons you scroll past mean almost nothing to most of us. Why? Because we didn't get on the train, brave the weather, bump into strangers, and hear music we didn't choose. In other words, we didn't earn the right to casually scan those wooden bins. Lately I go to Amoeba Music in Hollywood just to watch people flip through albums. It's a lost art.


An Abrams production doesn't just mean a good story—it also means puzzles and Easter eggs. Here, we tap into our fave J.J. mysteries.

Meghan's Box in Felicity
In Abrams' college drama, there was one unanswered question that sustained throughout: What's in Meghan's wooden box?

The Number 47 in Alias
CIA agent Sydney Bristow's search for the elusive Milo Rambaldi's works frequently featured clues involving the number 47. They drove us mad.

The Rabbit's Foot in Mission: Impossible III
The plot focused on the struggle for the "rabbit's foot," but in the end even Ethan Hunt didn't find out what was really in that canister.

The "Observer" in Fringe
This enigmatic character writes in an unknown language, lacks eyebrows, and manages to be always around the corner. Stay tuned ...

Sure, in the days before recorded music, you'd need a live performance to hear music at all. So isn't technology actually enriching our lives? Well, of course. This is not meant to be an antitechnology diatribe—some clichè9d Luddite treatise (in an issue of Wired, no less). On the contrary, I'm a massive fan of most everything electronic. I use, appreciate, and drool over far too many high tech innovations. I'm an embarrassed whore for the stuff. But tech has made us thankless. Back in the day, it would've been unthinkable to go to the music store, actually purchase a record, and then get home and not listen to it. But today? How many of us have downloaded albums or songs that are still sitting, months or years later, unplayed in our iTunes library? My hand just slowly went up, too.

In my profession, this mentality is illustrated by the spoiler: that piece of information meant to be kept secret, like the end of a movie or TV show or novel. Spoilers give fans the answers they want, the resolution they crave. As an avid fan of movies and TV myself, I completely understand the desire to find out behind-the-scenes details in a nanosecond. Which, given technology, is often how long it takes—to the frustration of the storytellers. Efforts to gather this intel and the attempts to plug leaks create an ongoing battle between filmmakers and the very fans they are dying to entertain and impress. But the real damage isn't so much that the secret gets out. It's that the experience is destroyed. The illusion is diminished. Which may not matter to some. But then what's the point of actually seeing that movie or episode? How does knowing the twist before you walk into the theater—or what that island is really about before you watch the finale—make for a richer viewing experience? It's telling that the very term itself—spoiler—has become synonymous with "cool info you can get before the other guy." What no one remembers is that it literally means "to damage irreparably; to ruin." Spoilers make no bones about destroying the intended experience—and somehow that has become, for many, the preferred choice.

In some cases, spoilers don't just prevent the intended experience of something, they prevent the very existence of it. Case in point: I had spent close to two years working on a version of a Superman script for Warner Bros. Then an early draft was leaked, reviewed, and spectacularly decimated on a Web site that I still adore and read daily. It wasn't just that the review was bad. Which it was. I mean, like, kraptastically bad. And probably deserved (I'm the idiot who made Lex Luthor a Kryptonian). What was so depressing wasn't just that the thing being reviewed was an old version of a work in progress. What killed me was that the reviewer—and then readers of that reviewer—weren't just judging my writing. They were judging the movie. A movie that was barely in preproduction and many drafts away from final. A film that ultimately never got made—in small part because that review, and subsequent posts, made studio decisionmakers nervous. The fact is, that Superman film might have been awful. Or it could have been something else. We'll never know.

Recently my production company, Bad Robot, decided to be ultra-secretive about a movie called Cloverfield [guest ed. note: Apologies to anyone who got motion sick]. When the trailer hit the screens right before Transformers, people freaked out. Not necessarily because of the content of the trailer, but because it was a surprise—they knew nothing about it beforehand. That was the point: The intended effect was to make a teaser trailer that actually teased. It worked like gangbusters, all because we hadn't prepublicized the film on entertainment shows and in magazines. It was a small experiment that proved what most everyone knows: Having all the information isn't always better.

I guess the question is, who among us has the self-control to choose not to go for the easy answer? This time my hand stays down. In 1989, I was living with my best friend since kindergarten, Greg Grunberg. He's an actor—currently on NBC's Heroes. We had recently purchased a Nintendo videogame system and were playing Super Mario Bros. 2. Actually, playing is the wrong word. We were obsessed freaks. For us, getting to the end screen of that game was more important than anything in the history of time. And this particular game was lacking a certain feature I like to call The Ability To Fucking Save (or TATFS). This meant that playing Super Mario Bros. 2 was an all-or-nothing activity. Yeah, you could pause it, but then when you left your house the thing might catch fire and kill people. No, you had to play that damn thing in one hideous sitting.

Weeks into this pathetic example of two 23-year-old men not having a life, Greg and I decided to complete Super Mario Bros. 2. And because it lacked TATFS, this meant giving up any human activity until the job was done. So early one morning, we stockpiled some food and began playing. Around lunchtime, taking turns with the controller at every stage, we were at level 4-2. Which, for the uninitiated, is more than halfway through the game. We were feeling pretty cocky and had probably high-fived a few times.

Anyway, again for those not in the know, you start off with something like four Marios (meaning you can die three times and still play). But you can gain extra lives as you play. As it approached eight o'clock that night, the controller was in my hands, we were on level 7-1, and we had 22 Marios. That's right: 22. We were feeling pretty good about ourselves. 7-1 is so close to the end, you can almost smell having to get a life again. But to get past 7-1, you need to jump through a series of clouds—which sounds easy as hell but isn't: There was this one particular cloud I couldn't get past. Every time I tried, the little Mario would fall, spinning, to his demise. I can see it in my head now, and it still infuriates me. Our 22 Marios quickly dwindled to 15, and I was freaking out. When we were down to around a dozen Marios, I started getting pissed.

"This is bullshit!" I yelled.

"OK, OK," Greg said, picking up the phone. "I'm gonna call my cousin."

This was good news. As he dialed, I kept playing. And kept dying. Ten Marios left. I heard Greg on the phone, explaining our situation to his cousin. "Uh-huh. OK, thanks," Greg said and hung up. "Someone's gonna call us back."

"Good," I said, having paused the game to take a deep breath, only to resume and subsequently die again. "Damn it!"

A few minutes later, the phone rang. "Yeah, thanks for calling," Greg said in a grim voice, like there was a family emergency. He explained to the guy what was going on, and I heard Greg say, "Uh-huh. OK. OK, hold on." And then Greg told me, "Move to the right edge, then double-jump up and you should get to the next cloud."

"Double-jump?" I asked. Oh, good. This was information. This was new and helpful, and hope coursed through my veins. "Thanks—OK—" And I tried it. And died. "DAMN IT!!!"

Greg told the guy on the phone that it didn't work. Then he told me, "Yeah, he knows exactly where you are. Go to the edge of the cloud, then double-jump. He swears it works."

I tried it again and failed. Repeatedly. I now had five Marios left. FIVE MARIOS.

"Greg," I said, my heart sinking. "We're gonna die here."

"No," Greg insisted. "Try it again."


Greg reported this to the guy on the phone, then said to me, "Try it one more time."

Sweating, shaking my head, I tried again and lost my penultimate Mario, and I couldn't take it anymore, and I yelled out, "WILL YOU TELL THAT GUY HE DOESN'T KNOW WHAT THE FUCK HE'S TALKING ABOUT?!"

Greg quickly covered the mouthpiece and said to me, quietly, admonishingly, "Dude. He's 7."

And that was when I really felt it. Cheating is humiliating. No matter what form it takes. Skipping ahead—even without the help of someone in Underoos—lessens the experience. Diminishes the joy. Makes the accomplishment that much duller.

Perhaps that's why mystery, now more than ever, has special meaning. Because it's the anomaly, the glaring affirmation that the Age of Immediacy has a meaningful downside. Mystery demands that you stop and consider—or, at the very least, slow down and discover. It's a challenge to get there yourself, on its terms, not yours.

It turns out the 7-year-old was right. His tip finally worked, and Greg and I finished the game that day. But I'd traded any true satisfaction for a cheat. I can't even remember seeing that end screen.

The point is, we should never underestimate process. The experience of the doing really is everything. The ending should be the end of that experience, not the experience itself.

So, if you're still reading, I say please:


J.J. Abrams is the creator of Alias, cocreator of Lost and Fringe, and director of the new Star Trek movie.

E-Merlin "Super-Telescope" Switched On

By Rebecca Morelle
Science reporter, BBC News

Lovell telescope (Anthony Holloway, Jodrell Bank)
The Lovell telescope at Jodrell Bank dominates the Cheshire landscape

The first stage of the switch-on of one of the world's most powerful stargazing systems has got under way.

Seven radio telescopes around the UK have been linked with optical fibres, allowing scientists to probe deeper into the Universe than ever before.

The new data-link upgrade has replaced the older microwave technology that once connected the telescopes.

Tim O'Brien, from the e-Merlin project, said: "It will be a revolution in terms of what we can do with our astronomy."

Astronomers at Jodrell Bank say that the e-Merlin array will be fully operational later this year.

Jodrell Bank

Radio telescopes work by collecting radio waves emitted from objects many light-years away, allowing scientists to look deep into the cosmos.

But a single telescope - even one as huge as the 76m-wide Lovell telescope at Jodrell Bank in Cheshire, where e-Merlin's headquarters is based - is limited in terms of what it can see.

So astronomers combine the power of several telescopes spread over a wide area, in essence creating the effect of a giant "superscope".

Map of e-Merlin array

For the last 20 years, seven telescopes that are spread across UK have been joined together in this way to form an array.

However, the older microwave technology that once connected them was only able to return a fraction of the data that was being recorded.

Dr O'Brien, who is head of outreach at Jodrell Bank and a senior lecturer in astrophysics at the University of Manchester, told BBC News: "It's like using a very narrow pipe to transfer information - and in fact, with microwaves, most of the signal we pick up at the radio telescopes never makes it back to Jodrell Bank."

It is like moving from a dial-up connection on the internet to a broadband one
Dr Tim O'Brien

Over the past six years, a huge project has been underway to swap the older microwave links for hundreds of kilometres of optical fibre cables, which are buried beneath the ground.

These thin "pipes" can carry reams of data, and scientists believe they will give the e-Merlin telescope array a new hi-tech lease of life.

Dr O'Brien explained: "It is like moving from a dial-up connection on the internet to a broadband one.

Cambridge telescope (Ian Morison)
This telescope in Cambridge forms part of the e-Merlin array

"It means we will now be able to get all of the signal back from the telescopes. We'll be able to do in one day what would have previously taken us three years to do."

This extra data will allow astronomers to see objects in the Universe in much finer detail than was previously possible, and it will also enable them to study parts of the cosmos that have never been seen before.

Professor Simon Garrington, director of the e-Merlin project, said: "This combination of a boost in resolution and sensitivity will allow a whole community of scientists in the UK and around the world to address some of the key questions in astronomy today.

"These questions cover the whole range of astronomy, from the formation of Earth-like planets to the physics that governs how stars of different types are formed."


Sir Bernard Lovell on building his iconic telescope

In 2007, the iconic Lovell telescope at the Jodrell Bank Observatory, which forms a key part of the e-Merlin array, celebrated its 50th anniversary.

Sir Bernard Lovell, who founded Jodrell Bank, told the BBC that the longevity of the observatory and the string of discoveries it has led to has continued to surprise.

He said: "It is astonishing that despite all the new developments and all the new instruments that have been designed, the Jodrell telescope still has such an important use."

Funding struggles

The road to getting the e-Merlin project up and running has not been problem free.

Last year, e-Merlin, along with a number of other high-profile physics and astronomy projects, were put at risk thanks to an £80m shortfall in science funding.

However, it was given a last-minute reprieve after the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) agreed to continue funding it.

Artists impression of the Square Kilometre Array (Xilostudios)
e-Merlin is a forerunner for the Square Kilometre Array

In the coming years, Jodrell Bank is set to become the headquarters to an even bigger project.

The Square Kilometre Array (SKA), which will be based in either Australia or South Africa, will link thousands of telescopes spread over thousands of kilometres, creating a system 50-times more powerful than anything we have now.

Scientists say the technology developed for the e-Merlin array will be key for developing the SKA.

The e-Merlin project has been funded by the STFC, Northwest Regional Development Agency, the University of Manchester, the University of Cambridge and Liverpool John Moores University.

Baby delivers emotional sermon from church stage

It doesn't matter what you say, but the way in which you say it:

10 Future-Proof Jobs You Can Get Right Now

Want a job? Investment banks aren’t hiring right now, but if you’re interested in the new wave of energy exploration (underwater or on wind-swept ridges), in digital tech (like game design and 3D sportscasts) or even in building spaceships, we have some leads for you. Welcome to the PM job fair.

Published in the May 2009 issue.

1. Undersea Welder

Undersea Welder
Wet welders work in offshore oil fields as deep as 400 feet, building and repairing undersea infrastructure. (Sorry, kids, you can’t buy this exclusive PM action figure, devised by Jeremy Madl at Mad Toy Design. It’s ours.)

Arc welding underwater with electrodes carrying 185 amps might seem unwise, but deep-diving wet welders do it every day. They build and repair pipelines and oil platforms—in January 2009 there were 313 new bids worth $484 million in the western Gulf of Mexico alone. Dusty Harrison, placement director for a Florida school called the Commercial Diving Academy, says, “There’s no telling how much work there is,” thanks to a decade of hurricanes and a boom in oil exploration. During the Gulf ’s hurricane season, some welders work in West Africa and Asia.

How to Do It: Oil companies hire dive outfits with welders certified by the Association of Commercial Diving Educators. Schools such as the Commercial Diving Academy and New Jersey’s Divers Academy International have four- to five-month certification courses. Swimming ability and a high school diploma are prerequisites; scuba diving isn’t.

Earning Potential: Right out of school, you’ll pull in $17 to $20 an hour. “After two and a half or three years, that typically doubles,” Harrison says.

2. Zero-Energy Home Architect

Zero-Energy Home Architect

Some houses now being built make as much energy as they consume. They rely on equipment such as solar cells to generate power, while using efficient design to keep consumption down. Michelle Kaufmann, an architect in Oakland, Calif., is bringing the zero-energy idea and other forms of sustainable design to prefab houses such as her mkLotus, a small, one-bedroom home. (Kaufmann worked for architecture legend Frank Gehry before founding her own firm in 2002.) Kermit Baker, an economist for the American Institute of Architects (AIA), says, “Sustainability and architecture are now intertwined.” In a recent AIA survey, architects reported that 47 percent of their clients in 2008 used green building elements. Despite the housing slump, Kaufmann says her 15-person staff is swamped: “We have more projects than ever before.”

How to Do It: Earn a master’s from one of the 61 U.S. architecture programs that offer classes with a green bent. (Yale has a joint degree in architecture and environmental management.)

Earning Potential: Nationally, staff architects earn about $45,000 to $100,000. Architects who own their firms can make much more.

3. Combined Heat and Power Mechanic

Jim Bondi is an old-school electrician who embraces new-school energy production. After eight years working on projects that included solar installations, he joined Pennsylvania-based E-Finity, designing combined heat and power (CHP) plants. A CHP unit saves energy by burning fuel to produce electricity and using the excess heat for climate control and producing hot water. “With the nation’s rising energy demand and the increase in environmental stewardship, CHP is an economic and environmental no-brainer,” Bondi says. The Department of Energy hopes the industry will grow enough to add a million workers by 2030.

How to Do It: CHP suppliers provide training. Electricians and mechanics with experience on jet and helicopter engines, which are similar to CHP turbines, find their skills are a natural fit.

Earning Potential: Salaries are $30,000 out of the gate; they top out at $75,000.

4. Energy Engineer

When the Coronado naval base in San Diego wanted to shrink its energy consumption, it turned to the consulting firm Tetra Tech, whose energy-efficiency staff has grown sixtyfold in the past decade. “The naval base is like a small city, with office buildings, a supermarket, bowling alleys,” says Linda Hunter, a Tetra Tech energy engineer who was brought in to boost efficiency on the base and its two aircraft carriers. Energy engineers may recommend new air-conditioning equipment or solar-powered streetlights, or they may design entire renewable-energy systems, such as harnessing methane from a landfill to generate electricity.

How to Do It: Earn a degree in chemical, mechanical, electrical or civil engineering—or a newer specialty called energy resources engineering. A Certified Energy Manager (CEM) certification is useful; it demands expertise in subjects like indoor air quality codes and standards, thermal energy storage systems and energy economics.

Earning Potential: Salaries start in the $50,000 range; with a master’s, you’ll get bumped up to around $70,000. Managers can pull in more than $100,000.

5. Digital Detective

Digital Detective

Red teamers focused on digital security are hired to hack into computer systems to uncover vulnerabilities. The Department of Homeland Security plans to quadruple its cyber-security staff this year. Mark Mateski, a red teamer and the managing editor of Red Team Journal, says, “You’ll find a lot of red teamers working in war gaming and cyber security in the government-contracting world.” Even bigger growth may be coming in the private sector: “If your business’s survival depends on cyber security, you’re going to start looking for unconventional answers,” he says.

How to Do It: Programming skills are a must; a degree in computer science is helpful in landing a job. The Center for Cyber Defenders Program at New Mexico’s Sandia National Laboratories offers specific red-team training.

Earning Potential: $60,000 to start on the government and government-contract side; six-figure salaries are common in the private sector.

6. 3D Sports Tech

3D Sports Tech
3ality TS3 Camera Rig

Many fans already say they get a better view of sports events watching TV than sitting near the action, but 3D cements the argument. At least, that’s the view of Steve Schklair, CEO of Burbank-based 3ality Digital Systems, a company specializing in 3D technology and production. “If you’ve got a camera down low next to the green and the golfer is putting uphill, you can actually see the roll of the green while he’s putting,” he says. Ray Hannisian, the company’s lead stereographer, uses software running complex sets of algorithms to fine-tune and synchronize the depth readings of as many as 10 cameras during events. The technology raised its profile during this year’s national college football championships, which 3ality shot and broadcast live to 63 movie theaters in January. Such broadcasts will soon be coming to a living room near you: American consumers have already bought 1.4 million 3D-compatible televisions, and every major electronics manufacturer is now producing such sets. Of course, the best-known 3D arena remains moviemaking. More than a dozen 3D movies are scheduled for release in 2009.

How to Do It: You can master 3D still photography on your own using a program like HumanEyes Capture 3D Software. Also, take classes in digital videography (art schools and university film programs offer them), then look for a job as a 2D cameraman. “With digital technology, you can learn a lot about 3D while you’re actually shooting,” Hannisian says.

Earning Potential: Salaries start at $50,000 and can go as high as $150,000 for television work. For the elite earners in 3D movie production, Schklair says, “There is no limit.”

7. Wind Explorer

Wind Explorer
Siting a wind farm takes engineering chops, anemometers, GPS skills and, sometimes, zinc oxide on your nose.

When civil and environmental engineer Mathias Craig arrived in Nicaragua in 2004, he found a stretch of Caribbean coastline where transportation consisted of horses and boats and there wasn’t a single light bulb. “It was like the Wild West 200 years ago,” he says. As founders of the nonprofit Blue Energy Group, Craig and his brother organized volunteers to build wind turbines to catch the Caribbean trade winds and supply several com-munities with electricity. Hugh Piggott, a Scotland-based wind-energy pioneer, has worked on similar projects in Zimbabwe, Peru and Sri Lanka. “One of the places wind energy is expanding most rapidly is the developing world,” he says. “The number of people in the world who don’t have utility power is actually increasing.” That’s because the population in many regions is growing faster than grid lines and new power plants can be constructed. Craig and his staff of 32 have already installed nine turbines in Nicaragua. They’ve also scouted sites in West Africa, and they’re in talks to expand into Honduras and Guatemala.

How to Do It: Texas Tech University’s Wind Science and Engineering Research Center offers a summer internship for undergrads and has one of the country’s few Ph.D. programs in the field. However, it’s possible to jump in without an advanced degree. Piggott teaches turbine-building seminars worldwide; Blue Energy has an apprenticeship program in Nicaragua.

Earning Potential: Nonprofit firms based in developing countries pay from $1000 to $4000 per month. Annual salaries in the U.S. currently range from $35,000 to $55,000.

8. Fabricator of Carbon-Fiber Spaceships and Planes

Fabricator of Carbon-Fiber Spaceships and Planes

“We’re like the shipbuilders of the modern era,” Reuben Garcia says. As head composite fabricator at XCOR, an aerospace company in Mojave, Calif., Garcia is deeply engaged in the race to make ships capable of carrying tourists into space. Garcia and his team take the plans drawn by XCOR’s engineers and make them real, using lightweight carbon composites similar to the materials used everywhere from Formula One race cars to high-end fishing rods. Composite structures are built up layer by layer, and Garcia’s high-tech creations are shaped largely with such low-tech tools as squeegees filled with epoxy resin. XCOR, which plans to conduct test flights to space by 2011, is situated in a tiny town that has become a hotbed for spaceship and small-airplane construction. “You can walk into any of the 20 or so companies here and have a job in an hour,” says Jon Sharp, owner of Nemesis Air Racing, which builds racing planes.

How to Do It: Many companies will train newbies. However, community colleges can offer a head start with introductory courses in composite fabrication.

Earning Potential: Pay starts low but can climb to $20 per hour. Managers who go on to earn engineering degrees can make up to $100,000 a year.

9. Battery Engineer

Battery Engineer

Will Gardner was a freshly minted college graduate with a degree in mechanical engineering when he was hired by Duracell. “I had no idea what a battery company could want with a mechanical engineer,” Gardner says, but he was drawn to the field, which combines elements of electrical engineering, chemistry, materials science and, yes, mechanical engineering. “You need to know something about each of them in order to succeed,” he says. Today, Gardner leads a team that designs, builds and tests batteries for hybrid electric cars at A123 Systems, a fast-growing firm based in Watertown, Mass. A123’s clients include Chrysler, GM and automotive upstarts Think and Better Place, and the company’s staff has jumped from 150 to 2000 in the past three years. Ann Marie Sastry, who directs the University of Michigan’s master’s program in energy systems engineering, says, “The DNA of the automobile is changing, which means the composition of the workforce has to change.” Sastry also runs her own battery company, called Sakti3. “We’re hiring,” she says. “It’s a great time to be a battery guy.”

How to Do It: A bachelor’s in math, materials science or engineering is essential. Sastry’s program is very highly regarded: “Students are getting jobs even before they finish their studies,” she says.

Earning Potential: To start, $50,000 to $60,000; at the senior level, $95,000.

10. Independent Video-Game Designer

Independent Video-Game Designer

It took Kyle Gabler just four days to come up with the concept for his first video game, and, frankly, it didn’t seem like a blockbuster waiting to happen: The protagonists are gobs of goo. But in the growing world of independent game design, execution is key—and Gabler created a look that has drawn comparisons to filmmaker Tim Burton, supporting a story filled with intrigue and humor. The prototype became an indie hit, and in October 2008 Gabler launched the Nintendo Wii game World of Goo (above). In an era of sequels (a dozen Medal of Honor games, eight iterations of Grand Theft Auto), the industry needs fresh ideas—and supplying them has traditionally been a designer’s main job. But as Simon Carless, publisher of the industry website Gamasutra and a former lead designer, says, “Now designers also need practical skills. You need to be able to make the game.”

How to Do It: More than 200 schools offer game-design degrees, including the Art Institute of Portland, which graduates students with a B.S. in Visual and Game Programming. But consumer tech is so good now that you may be able to go it alone. “You can make stuff in your bedroom that’s as good as what people are making professionally,” Carless says. Art, music and coding skills are all critical.

Earning Potential: Staff designers start at an average of $62,000, according to a survey by On your own, it’s feast or famine. Gabler was incomeless while designing World of Goo. In January, it became the 10th-best-selling PC game on the market.

I’m Aware It Is Hot Outside, But WTF


Benny Gold captured this bit of summertime, and Plug1 sent it my way with the subject line:

im aware it is hot outside, but wtf is going on in the mish today? is it like 150 degrees? is this mid-day walk of shame?


San Francisco's current heat wave has some ladies throwing dignity out the window in the name of cooling off. This lovely walk of shame was caught on camera in the Mission District yesterday.

Jay-Z vs. Radiohead

Posted by David Pescovitz, Jaydiohead is a mash-up album of Jay-Z an Radiohead. Git yerself some while the gittin's good. (Thanks, Gabe Adiv!)

Stile Bertone Mantide: Part Corvette ZR1, Part Italian Model

By The Auto Insider

Meet the one-off Bertone Mantide — part Corvette ZR1, part Italian model, all sex appeal. Designed by Jason Castriota, the Mantide may even outshine his last great design, James Glickenhaus' Pininfarina P4/5. Exclusive gallery below.
Bertone Mantide
Bertone Mantide

Bertone Mantide Live
Bertone Mantide Live

Bertone Mantide Live

Bertone Mantide Live

There's something we really hate and that's covering bespoke supercars we'll never own, built specifically for the über-rich. Really though, we secretly like the Mantide. Okay fine... we love it. Designed by Jason Castriota of Pininfarina P4/5 fame, the Bertone Mantide had its coming out party today at the Shanghai Auto Show to one very surprised writer — me. I honestly thought that I'd hate this thing, thinking to myself; "Ick, another Corvette-based supercar?" But it truly is a beautiful work of art, best appreciated in the flesh.

Stile Bertone started with the best 'Vette platform yet, the 638-horsepower supercharged LS9 2009 Corvette ZR1. By creating the Mantide's body shell in carbon fiber, they were able to shave off 220 lbs from the already lightweight ZR1 allowing it to rocket to 62mph in 3.2 seconds and break police radar detectors and lasers with its 217mph top speed.
Bertone Press Release
Stile Bertone is proud to present the ULTRA HIGH PERFORMANCE one-off MANTIDE.
Few, if any, automobiles have been as awe-inspiring as the show-stopping prototypes and "fuori serie" cars designed by Stile Bertone - the Alfa Romeo Carabo, the Lancia Stratos Zero and the Lamborghini LP500 prototype to name just a few
Stile Bertone has a long history of creating one-off prototypes based on the mechanicals of Chevrolet's sporting automobiles spanning over 50 years. Today, Stile Bertone is proud to utilize the mechanicals of the formidable 2009 Corvette ZR1. Employing know-how from the Le Mans winning Corvette C5R, the ZR1 is the greatest all-round performance car in the world, the undisputed "King of the Ring", posting the fastest ever lap time for a true production car at 7:26:4 seconds on the famed Nurburgring Nordschleife in Germany, long considered the benchmark for a car's true performance. Mantide has been designed and fully engineered in collaboration with the renowned Danisi Engineering and aims to be the world's greatest street legal performance car, wrapped in an iconic and radical Stile Bertone design.
Mantide's futuristic design draws equal inspiration from modern aerospace and the world of Formula One. The iconic theme is clear to see: a teardrop-like fuselage which tightly encases the mechanicals and the passenger cell which is embraced by two prominent wrapping aerodynamic appendages. While shockingly bold and technical, Mantide's unique design maintains a sensuality unique to Italian sports cars thanks to a futuristic interpretation of the classic Kamm Back two volume silhouette.
The aerospace inspired design aesthetic is further characterised by innovative yet beautiful forms which are fully driven by performance: the low-slung nose, jet fighter style teardrop canopy and butterfly opening doors, as well as the numerous air inlets and exhausts for maximum air efficiency.
Mantide also boasts cutting edge aerodynamic performance fine-tuned in an advanced full scale wind tunnel. Features include a Le Mans prototype-derived flat floor and diffuser as well as "flying buttresses" which help to increase aero efficiency, guarantee a lower drag coefficient and greater levels of down force. The final aerodynamic results are class leading, with drag reduced by 25% (Cd 0.298) and a 30% improvement in down force. The Mantide not only delivers greater speed and stability, but also more efficiency and therefore lower fuel consumption.
The Mantide promises even greater performance than the ZR1, due to significant weight savings and its highly advanced aerodynamics. Using carbon fibre for all body panels, interior trim, seats and even the wheels, the overall vehicle weight has been reduced by 100 kilos. The result is a staggering 0-62mph in 3.2 seconds and a top speed of 351 kph (217mph) Safety and chassis rigidity have been increased with the incorporation of an FIA regulation triangulated roll cage, light-weight carbon fibre racing seats and 4pt racing harness for track use.
Stile Bertone invites you to follow Mantide on its year-long journey as it travels to major auto events around the globe at
[via Bertone]