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Search Tags: Meeting Mission and Goals through Technology
The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy is launching a beta version of a new R&D Dashboard. The idea is to let anyone who accesses the new site take a look at where federal research and development money is going, how it's being used, and what the outcomes of research projects are. It uses publicly-available data to show users federal research dollars at the state level, the Congressional district level, even down to the specific research institutions getting the grants. The R&D Dashboard is being developed by a team led by the National Science Foundation, and for now it only includes data from the NSF and the National Institutes of Health over the last decade. But OSTP plans to expand the sites to include other types of research grants in the future.
Private investors have been encouraged to invest in clean energy innovation by seed funding - made available through the Department' of Energy's Advanced Research Project Agency - Energy - or ARPA-E. Department officials report, in a little over one year, six projects that received a total of $23-point-6 million dollars in seed funding have generated more than $100 million in outside private capital investment. The six projects, which received between $750,000 and $8 million each, focus on improving solar and wind energy technologies and advanced battery storage. Energy Secretary Steven Chu says, the projects are meeting the goal of the ARPA-E program is to swing for the fences, and focus on truly transformative energy research.
The U.S. Census Bureau has launched an interactive map widget - showcasing 2010 population counts on the local level. The map currently displays data for Louisiana, Mississippi, New Jersey and Virginia. More maps will continue to be delivered on a state-by-state basis through March. The widget can be embedded on any website and will update automatically. Users can see states' official census population totals, county-level population changes from 1960 through 2010, as well as state-level data on race and Hispanic or Latino origin for 2010. It's available on American FactFinder. FactFinder can be used to access data for several geographies within each state, including census blocks, tracts, voting districts, cities, counties and school districts.
The National Archives continues to update an Electronic Records Archives that ensures today's digital records will be accessible to future generations. The $567 million dollar Electronic Records Archives - or ERA - is a place for federal agencies to put permanent records, which can be searched and reviewed. These are records that are "born digital" - such as emails and databases - and are, in fact, at a higher risk of being lost to history than the oldest parchment and paper documents. Today, the ERA holds close to 93 Terabytes, equivalent to over 23 billion pages of text, including the electronic records of the George W. Bush Administration. This summer, the system will become the repository for an estimated 488 terabytes of citizen responses that make up the 2010 Census. Under law, those will remain closed to the public for 72 years.
Scientists at the Department of Energy's Ames Research Lab have been able to customize the performance of magnets by strategically replacing key atoms within the material of the magnet. It's a process similar to what bioengineers use when they add or delete genes to create synthetic organisms. A group of researchers successfully replaced key atoms in a magnetic compound with atoms of lutetium and lanthanum. Researchers say the discovery may eventually help as scientists search for new exotic substances for use in high-tech products used today and for those in the future. Researchers say - knowing how to identify key atomic positions is similar to understanding the roles specific genes play in an organism's DNA sequence - and that knowledge could ultimately lead to materials by design.
Researchers with the National Science Foundation say they've discovered what makes an organutan an orangutan. They're not being specious... But rather claim that a new map of the genetic code of endangered orangutans will yield important new conservation tools and insights into evolution. For the first time, scientists have mapped the genome--the genetic code--of orangutans. There are two species of orangutans, defined primarily by their island of origin--either Sumatra, where there about 75-hundred of the creatures, and they're considered critically-endangered -- or Borneo where there are about about 50,000. The map of the orangutan genome may support conservation efforts by helping zoos create breeding programs designed to maintain the genetic diversity of captive populations, which can improve a species' resiliency.
Social media websites like Facebook and Twitter - and others such as the Department of Homeland Security website - will be used by the Department going forward as part of a new National Terrorism Advisory System. It replaces the old color-coded Terror Alert System. Officials say it will more effectively communicate information about terrorist threats by providing timely, detailed information to the public, government agencies, first responders, airports and other transportation hubs, and the private sector. DHS says - in some cases, alerts will be sent directly to law enforcement or areas of the private sector. Other times, alerts will be issued more broadly to the American people through both official and media channels-including a designated DHS webpage. Alerts will include a clear statement that there is either an "imminent" or "elevated" threat.
A type of fungus is being used to produce a hydrocarbon-based fuel by engine experts and biofuels researchers at Sandia National Labs - through funding by the Department of Energy. The biofuels being investigated are produced by a class of fungi called endophytes that live between the walls of plant cells. The cellular material in plant walls can be converted into hydrocarbon compounds that work well as fuels for internal combustion engines. The fungi can turn crystalline cellulosic material directly into fuel-type hydrocarbons without any mechanical breakdown - eliminating the need for the cost-intensive industrial processes required to break down biomass. Through genetic manipulation, the Sandia team hopes to improve yield of the biofuel by tailoring the molecular structure of the hydrocarbons that are produced.
Satellites - operated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration - were critical last year in the rescue of hundreds of people from life-threatening situations throughout the U.S. and its surrounding waters. The satellites picked up distress signals from emergency beacons carried by downed pilots, shipwrecked boaters and stranded hikers - relaying information about their location to first responders on the ground. Officials say - of the 295 people saved - 180 people were rescued from water, 43 from aviation incidents, and 72 who were lost on land. NOAA's polar-orbiting and geostationary satellites, along with Russia's COSPAS spacecraft, are part of the international Search and Rescue Satellite Aided Tracking system. It uses a network of satellites to quickly detect and locate distress signals broadcast by emergency beacons. Alaska had the most people rescued last year with 77, followed by Florida with 37.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has waived its earlier limitation on selling gasoline that contains more than 10 percent ethanol for model year 2001 through 2006 passenger vehicles, including cars, SUVs, and light pickup trucks. The waiver applies to fuel that contains up to 15 percent ethanol - known as E15. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson says recently completed testing by the Department of Energy shows E15 does not harm emissions control equipment in the vehicles. The National Farmers Union says the decision means E15 will soon be available for approximately 60 percent of all vehicles in the U.S. The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 mandated an increase in the overall amount of renewable fuels - like ethanol - into the marketplace. Several trade groups claim that more research is need to determine how increased ethanol levels could affect vehicles.