Sci/Tech briefs

Companies work on 3-D television

Four companies — Sony, Panasonic, Mitsubishi, and JVC — have reported that they are currently working on making 3-D television available in the home, expected for release in 2010.

The system works by presenting different images to the right and left eye. The brain then combines these two together to produce a 3-D image.
Although many are excited about this new technology, some are worried about the large cost accompanying the project and the viewers’ inability to enjoy the shows as they were before. Movie production industries, furthermore, must adapt new technologies to project the 3-D images.


Researchers use algae as oil source

A team of researchers from India are looking into using a type of single-celled algae, called diatoms, to produce biofuel. These genetically engineered diatoms contain droplets of oil inside them and consume them when food sources are scarce. Since the diatoms produce oil on exposure to sunlight, the researchers have proposed building a solar panel consisting of just diatoms that can be used to make this oil.
The substance makes up nearly a quarter of the algae’s mass.

Some believe more fossil fuel resources must be directed toward the project, while others assert that sunlight and cheap materials make the project a big possibility.

Source: Scientific American

Volkswagen unveils new hybrid car

The L1, a diesel hybrid car designed by Volkswagen, made its debut at a Frankfurt auto show last Wednesday. Weighing 900 pounds and getting 170 miles per gallon, the car is designed “to look and be built to consume as little energy as possible,” say the engineers behind the L1.

The fuel tank holds 1.7 gallons, and the sleek carbon fiber exterior body that is similar to Formula 1 and aerospace technologies only adds to the versatility.
When asked about the future of the L1, the company claimed that mass production of the car could start by 2013. However, a limited number of models are scheduled to be released next year.


Arctic melting slower than believed

Scientists at the U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) have determined that the annual summer melting of the Arctic Sea ice has not been as dramatic as it has been in the past.

The most likely cause for the reduction was the dispersion of ice by arctic winds and globally cooler temperatures. NSIDC scientist Walt Meier states that the latter was due to “cloudier conditions and low pressure zones in late summer.”
Despite the new data, scientists maintain that the long-term trend has continued to indicate a rise in temperatures. Especially alarming is the presence of thin new ice lying on top of the older, thicker ice.

Source: BBC News