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Search Tags: Meeting Mission Goals Through Technology Report
An expected flood of retirements in the technology industry is leading U.S. aerospace and defense companies to step up their support for educational programs that will encourage students to pursue technical careers. A study by Aviation Week magazine found that, among companies with more than 100,000 workers, 19 percent of employees are now at retirement age, and that the figure will jump to more than 30 percent by the end of 2012. In reaction, companies like Raytheon are sponsoring student robotics competitions and forming partnerships with technical schools in an effort to address the expected shortage of workers trained in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The problem hits home for aerospace and defense companies especially, as many engineering jobs in the field are only open to U.S. citizens.
A little wax and soap will help build electrodes for cheaper lithium ion batteries. According to a study in an August issue of Nano Letters, a new one-step method will allow battery developers to explore lower-priced alternatives to popular lithium ion-metal oxide batteries. Consumers use them in everything from cell phones to toothbrushes, and they're being tried in automobiles. But, most lithium ion batteries available today are designed with an OXIDE of metal such as cobalt, nickel, or manganese which are relatively heavy and expensive. Scientists with the Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Lab have been experimenting with cheaper metals and the more stable phosphate in place of oxide. Researchers say, paraffin can provide a good medium in which to grow lighter, cheaper electrode materials.
Human clinical testing has begun of a vaccine to prevent infection by the mosquito-borne dengue virus. The vaccine was developed by scientists at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and is undergoing clinical study at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore. With increasing infection rates, and the discovery of dengue fever in parts of Florida, finding a way to prevent dengue infection has become a priority for the Institute. About 2.5 billion people in over 100 countries worldwide live in areas where they are at risk of dengue infection, and currently there is no vaccine to prevent infection, or any drug treatment for those who become infected. Dengue virus infects about 50 million to100 million people. It accounts for 25,000 deaths annually; most of them in children.
One government agency is attempting to re-invent computing. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency - or DARPA - has started the Ubiquitous High Performance Computing program to create a revolutionary new generation of computing systems they hope will overcome limits to the way computers are evolving now. Increasing the performance of computers has been driven by - what's been dubbed - Moore's Law, the doubling of transistors that can be placed on an integrated circuit every two years. But, gains in performance will be limited by significantly greater power consumption, and programming complexity issues. The DARPA program will work to develop radically new computer architectures and programming models that are 100 to 1,000 times more energy efficient. The program directly addresses major priorities expressed by the President's "Strategy for American Innovation".
Scientists with the Environmental Protection Agency have collaborated with the Department of Energy to develop new water quality software that enhances a local water system's ability to know when it's been intentionally, or unintentionally, contaminated. It assists both agencies in meeting goals connected to homeland security. Utilities can use the Canary software - in conjunction with a network of sensors - to quickly detect contamination, more accurately assess when and how to respond, and then issue warnings to customers if necessary. The software can help detect chemical and biological contaminants, including pesticides, metals, and pathogens. Canary is available worldwide as a free software tool to drinking water utilities. The software is currently being used by more than 600 users in 15 countries.