By Matilda Battersby
25 March 2011
Lights will switch off around the globe tomorrow for the fifth annual Earth Hour.
New York’s Empire State Building, Abu Dhabi’s Emirates Palace, Paris’ Eiffel Tower, Hong Kong’s Government House, the Christ the Redeemer statue in Brazil and other global landmarks will go dark at 8.30pm local time on Saturday 26 March.
131 countries are participating and organisers are estimating that hundreds of millions of people will come together to switch off power in support of saving the planet from climate change.
“It is only through the collective action of business, organisations, individuals, communities and governments that we will be able to affect change on the scale required to address the environmental challenges we face,” said Andy Ridley, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Earth Hour.
“We are calling on businesses and organisations to use the annual lights-out event as the time to show their commitment to lasting action for the planet, beyond the hour.”
This year is the first time organisers are calling on participants to go “beyond the hour” and they have set up a dedicated website in 11 languages to allow businesses, governments and individuals to collaborate on worldwide projects.
“We have developed this platform for people, organisations and companies around the world to show what can be done, by showcasing and sharing their actions throughout the year,” Ridley said. …
Friday, March 25, 2011
Wednesday, March 16, 2011
Contact: Nicole Casal Moore, firstname.lastname@example.org, University of Michigan
ANN ARBOR, Mich.---A prototype implantable eye pressure monitor for glaucoma patients is believed to contain the first complete millimeter-scale computing system.
And a compact radio that needs no tuning to find the right frequency could be a key enabler to organizing millimeter-scale systems into wireless sensor networks. These networks could one day track pollution, monitor structural integrity, perform surveillance, or make virtually any object smart and trackable.
Both developments at the University of Michigan are significant milestones in the march toward millimeter-scale computing, believed to be the next electronics frontier.
Researchers present papers on each today at the International Solid-State Circuits Conference (ISSCC) in San Francisco. The work is being led by three faculty members in the U-M Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science: professors Dennis Sylvester and David Blaauw, and assistant professor David Wentzloff.
Nearly invisible millimeter-scale systems could enable ubiquitous computing, and the researchers say that's the future of the industry. They point to Bell's Law, a corollary to Moore's Law. (Moore's says that the number of transistors on an integrated circuit doubles every two years, roughly doubling processing power.)
Bell's Law says there's a new class of smaller, cheaper computers about every decade. With each new class, the volume shrinks by two orders of magnitude and the number of systems per person increases. The law has held from 1960s' mainframes through the '80s' personal computers, the '90s' notebooks and the new millennium's smart phones.
"When you get smaller than hand-held devices, you turn to these monitoring devices," Blaauw said. "The next big challenge is to achieve millimeter-scale systems, which have a host of new applications for monitoring our bodies, our environment and our buildings. Because they're so small, you could manufacture hundreds of thousands on one wafer. There could be 10s to 100s of them per person and it's this per capita increase that fuels the semiconductor industry's growth."
Blaauw and Sylvester's new system is targeted toward medical applications. The work they present at ISSCC focuses on a pressure monitor designed to be implanted in the eye to conveniently and continuously track the progress of glaucoma, a potentially blinding disease. (The device is expected to be commercially available several years from now.)
In a package that's just over 1 cubic millimeter, the system fits an ultra low-power microprocessor, a pressure sensor, memory, a thin-film battery, a solar cell and a wireless radio with an antenna that can transmit data to an external reader device that would be held near the eye.
"This is the first true millimeter-scale complete computing system," Sylvester said.
"Our work is unique in the sense that we're thinking about complete systems in which all the components are low-power and fit on the chip. We can collect data, store it and transmit it. The applications for systems of this size are endless."
The processor in the eye pressure monitor is the third generation of the researchers' Phoenix chip, which uses a unique power gating architecture and an extreme sleep mode to achieve ultra-low power consumption. The newest system wakes every 15 minutes to take measurements and consumes an average of 5.3 nanowatts. To keep the battery charged, it requires exposure to 10 hours of indoor light each day or 1.5 hours of sunlight. It can store up to a week's worth of information. …
Sunday, March 6, 2011
By Laurel Whitney
4 March 11
“Under a government which imprisons any unjustly, the true place for a just man is also a prison.” Henry David Thoreau on Civil Disobedience
A collective gasp was heard late afternoon yesterday as Tim DeChristopher was found guilty after only 5 hours of jury deliberation. Officially charged with one count of False Statement and one count of violating the Oil and Gas Leasing Reform Act, suddenly everyone was left thinking- did they convict the real criminal?
Much of the last two days of trial had focused on DeChristopher's intent when bidding for BLM land leases. Prosecutor John Hubert argued that DeChristopher intentionally "disrupted, derailed, and sabotaged" the auction. However, defense attorney Ron Yengich painted a different picture:
"He wanted to raise a red flag," he said. "He wanted to make a statement. That’s what he wanted to do. His desire was not to thwart the auction. ... He wanted people to think about the consequences that the auction was bringing to bear on other people. But it was never his intention to harm anyone."
Maybe if Tim had run into the auction using his paddle to feverishly whack participants to prevent them from bidding, then that could be seen harmful.
But let’s put this into context:
Did Tim cause the deaths of 29 people in a mining accident fueled by poor practices and improper equipment maintenance?
Did Tim cause the deaths of 11 people when an offshore oil rig exploded because of numerous safety violations and regulatory oversights causing millions of barrels of oil to spew into the Gulf for months and effectively decimate local economies and ecosystems?
Did he contaminate acres of Amazon rainforest and years later refuse to clean it up and pay the fines?
Or did he cause a toxic gas leak at a pesticide plant that not only killed 20,000 people but continues to contaminate the water and cripplingly sicken citizens over 25 years after the original event?
No, in fact Tim only picked up a paddle. And now he’s the one facing prison. The worst any of the above companies suffered was a blow to their images. …