Huge solar power plants bloom in desert


“Two Southern California utility companies are planning to develop a pair of sun-powered power plants that they claim will dwarf existing solar facilities and could rival fossil-fuel-driven power plants.

“Instead of using panels of photovoltaic cells — solar power’s mainstay technology for decades — Stirling Energy Systems uses 40-foot-tall curved dishes that focus the sun’s energy onto Stirling engines.

“Also called an external heat engine, the Stirling engine is a completely sealed system filled with hydrogen. Its design dates to 1816, and it’s named for its inventor, a Scottish minister named Robert Stirling. The focused solar energy, which can reach 1,350 degrees Fahrenheit, heats the hydrogen, making it expand and drive the engine’s four pistons.

“The first phase of the SoCal Edison project will be to build a 1-megawatt test site using 40 dishes, which should be complete by spring 2007. Construction on the full, 500-megawatt facility is expected to begin in mid-2008, and should take three to four years. Each dish can produce up to 25 kilowatts, and the site will eventually have 20,000 dishes stretching across 4,500 acres of desert.”

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Vaccine against tooth decay successful in animal tests

“Portuguese scientists said they had developed an experimental vaccine against tooth decay which was successful in laboratory tests on rats and could pave the way for a version that works for humans…

“‘There is still a long road to travel (for a human version). Before that experimental models which are closer to man need to be tested, namely in monkeys, and for that financing is needed,’ she told Lisbon-based TSF radio…

“The three scientists have already patented the vaccine in Portugal and are working on doing so in the United States where they are also seeking funding to further their research, Ferreira said.”

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Barenaked Ladies release album on USB stick

“The Barenaked Ladies are trying out a new method of music delivery: 28 songs, plus video and audio clips and a few live versions, on a 128 mb flash drive. They even say the flash drive is an easy way ‘to share music, videos, pictures and other data’–not the kind of sentiment you’d hear from most bands. The content, including the extras, looks like it will be stuff that’s been at least partlly released before–but it’s still a pretty cool idea, even if the execution could be better.”

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