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1  Space Shuttle Atlantis lands in California

June 22, 2007

STS-117_landing.jpg, 8 kB

The Space Shuttle Atlantis has performed a successful landing at Edwards Air Force Base in California, completing STS-117, a troubled but successful mission to upgrade the International Space Station (ISS). The mission had a total duration of 13 days, 20 hours and 11 minutes, much longer than originally intended due to a mission extension and a missed landing opportunity.

The landing in California is the result of the latest in a string of difficulties for the mission, as poor weather forced Atlantis first to postpone its landing at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, then to cancel it altogether, opting instead to land in California. NASA had previously expressed their desire to avoid a landing in California if possible due to logistical difficulties that would be caused by the diversion.

Atlantis will now be flown back to Florida on the back of a modified Boeing 747 at a cost of around US$1 million. The flight is expected to begin next Thursday and will take at least a day or two from then. According to officials at the Kennedy Space Center, the delay is already accounted for as a previously identified possibility as part of plans for the next Atlantis mission, scheduled for departure on October 20, again for ISS construction work.

During this mission, the Atlantis crew added the 17.5 ton S3/S4 Truss, the second of the trusses on the starboard side, as well as adding its associated energy systems, including the unfurling a set of solar arrays with a 240 foot tip-to-tip length. The arrays will generate power for European and Japanese science laboratories set to be added to the ISS at a later date. During the same mission, another solar array was folded up to allow the truss it is mounted to to be relocated later this year. The shuttle also left crewmember Clay Anderson at the ISS and returned with ISS crewmember Sunita Williams, who earlier set the record for female space endurance during her latest ISS mission.

Although successful, there were numerous problems during the mission. A computer failure in the Russian segments of the ISS almost forced the shuttle's mission to be extended and left the ISS struggling to maintain thrusters, oxygen generation, carbon dioxide scrubber, and other environmental control systems, and relying on Atlantis to help. Officials even looked at the possibility of an unprecedented emergency evacuation of the ISS, although astronauts were ultimately able to repair the systems.

Other concerns included hail damage, which delayed the mission's launch; damage to the thermal blanket, which required a spacewalk to repair; and discovery of unidentified debris shortly after Atlantis docked with the ISS. The mission had to be extended by two days in order to give astronauts time to repair the damaged heat-protection equipment. NASA officials held an emergency meeting Wednesday while engineers confirmed that they thought the repair would withstand the rigors of re-entry with the Earth's atmosphere.

Air Force Base    -     hledat v googlu: Air Force Base, obrázky v googlu: Air Force Base

2  McDonald's petitions Oxford English Dictionary to remove the word McJob

May 25, 2007

McDonald.jpg, 7 kB

The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) defines McJob as "an unstimulating, low-paid job with few prospects." The McDonald's fast-food giant has begun a campaign to have the word removed from the dictionary, or to have its definition changed, by lobbying British MPs. The company has also set up an online petition with the slogan "Change the definition. Sign the petition."

Clive Betts, MP for Sheffield Attercliffe agrees with the restaurant chain. Betts has tabled a Commons motion on the issue. The motion has so far gained the support of 15 other MPs.

"It is indicating that the jobs they are doing are worthless, that anyone could just walk in off the street and do them, that all workers are untrained. We do need well trained staff with good customer relations and I think the description is derogatory. The hospitality industry is very important to this country. The people who work there are the public face of this country to millions of tourists who come here every year. One thing I am interested to hear from McDonald's is that they do train their staff. They put a lot of effort into that." 
— Clive Betts, MP

The compilers of the OED point out that they merely record the description of how the word is used, rather than prescribe how it should be used. The term, McJob, has been in usage at least 20 years, they say. It was popularised in 1991 in Douglas Coupland's novel Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture as one of the margin definitions. Here it was described as "a low-pay, low-prestige, low-dignity, low benefit, no-future job in the service sector. Frequently considered a satisfying career choice by people who have never held one."

In 2003, Merriam-Webster included McJob in the Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, and defined it as "a low-paying job that requires little skill and provides little opportunity for advancement." This definition prompted a letter from then CEO Jim Cantalupo who said it was "an inaccurate description of restaurant employment" and "slap in the face" of restaurant employees.

Oxford Dictionary    -     hledat v googlu: Oxford Dictionary, obrázky v googlu: Oxford Dictionary

3  Scientist makes world's smallest soccer pitch

July 5, 2006

A German scientist has made the world’s smallest soccer pitch with nanotechnology. The pitch is so small that you could fit 20 000 on the tip of a human hair.

The simulated soccer playing field measures 500 by 380 nanometres. It can only be seen under a special microscope.

He spent a whole day engraving the lines with an electron beam.

"I am really, really proud," said Stefan Trellenkamp, nanotechnology researcher from the University of Kaiserslautern.

"The only problem is that I really don't know what to do with it. I can't put it on show as no one can see it," he said, "I guess it'll just stay in my drawer for the time being."

nanotechnology    -     hledat v googlu: nanotechnology, obrázky v googlu: nanotechnology

4  Google buys DoubleClick for $3.1 billion

April 13, 2007

Google has announced its intention of taking over the Internet advertising agency DoubleClick in a deal worth $3.1 billion. DoubleClick has also confirmed the deal and hopes it will be completed before the end of 2007.

Rumours of a takeover offer for DoubleClick had been circulating, with Microsoft, Time Warner and Yahoo! all reportedly interested in making an offer for the company.

Six months ago, Google bought YouTube for $1.65 billion. The current takeover is the largest in Google's history. In a press release, Google says the acquisition "will enable Google to extend our ad network and develop deeper relationships with our partners. This new partnership represents a tremendous opportunity for us at Google to broaden and deepen our inventory of available ads and to better serve both our publishers and users."

DoubleClick provides software for Internet advertising and brings together advertisers, advertisement agencies and website developers. DoubleClick is currently owned by the majority share-holders Hellman & Friedman, a private equity firm, with JMI Management also having a large stake in the company.

advertising agency    -     hledat v googlu: advertising agency, obrázky v googlu: advertising agency

5  Boeing unveils new 787 Dreamliner

July 9, 2007

787rollout.jpg, 21 kB

Aircraft manufacturer Boeing have unveiled their new 787 Dreamliner at their Everett Factory near Seattle, Washington, in the United States. Sunday was chosen as its date matches the aircraft's designation number when written in the American format, 7/8/07.

The event was attended by 15,000 people including employees, customers, suppliers and officials from government and the local community.

Scott Carson, president and CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes said, "This has been a wonderful and exciting day to celebrate this breakthrough airplane with our customers, employees, supplier partners and our communities."

The mid-sized 787 will seat between 210 and 330 passengers, and will be the first commercial airliner of a mostly carbon fibre composites construction. Boeing claims that the resulting reduction of weight compared to the traditional aluminium will offer enhanced fuel efficiency, benefiting both operators and the environment. According to the company, the 787 Dreamliner will use 20 percent less fuel per passenger than similarly sized aircraft.

787_160x109.jpg, 7 kB

On Saturday, Boeing announced 35 new orders from German airline Air Berlin and ALAFCO Aviation Lease & Finance of Kuwait, bringing the total to 677 order from 47 customers. At the list price, these orders are worth US$5.62 billion.

The first flight is expected to take place in August or September of this year, with the first customer, All Nippon Airways, due to receive their first aircraft in May 2008.

The 787 illustrates the differing strategies adopted by Boeing and Airbus whose double-decker A380 first flew in April 2005 and is expected to enter service later this year. Whereas the Airbus A380 is aimed at flying large passenger numbers between major hubs, the Dreamliner is targeted at smaller airports where Boeing predicts will be an area of growth in the industry.

Earlier in the day, Boeing received a congratulatory letter from Airbus. The company president and CEO Louis Gallois said, "Today is a great day in aviation history. For, whenever such a milestone is reached in our industry, it always is a reflection of hard work by dedicated people inspired by the wonder of flight. Even if tomorrow Airbus will get back to the business of competing vigorously, today is Boeing's day -- a day to celebrate the 787."

787 Dreamliner    -     hledat v googlu: 787 Dreamliner, obrázky v googlu: 787 Dreamliner

6  World University Games 2007 opened in Turin

January 18, 2007

Torino_Palasport.jpg, 13 kB

The event was hosted in the Torino Palasport Olimpico, a modern arena built for the 2006 Winter Olympic Games.

The opening ceremony of 23th edition of Winter Universiade took place last night in Turin. The Universiade, also referred to as the World University Games, is an international event for university athletes organized by the International University Sports Federation.

Representatives of 52 countries took part to the event. The participants to this edition of Universiade are the highest number ever, both in terms of countries and athletes (that amount to 2,700). The Olympic Oath was taken by Francesco Ghedina, nephew of famous downhill skier, Kristian Ghedina while Livio Berruti, world medalist in 200 metres in 1960 Olympic Games, was the last torch relay and ignited symbolically the Olympic Flame. The fire was just symbolic because obvious safety reasons prohibited a real fire inside an indoor arena.

The ceremony show featured the Football World Champion Gianluigi Buffon, goalkeeper of Juventus, the long jumper Andrew Howe and the actor Arturo Brachetti.

World University Games    -     hledat v googlu: World University Games, obrázky v googlu: World University Games

7  Scientists to bring all species together in Encyclopedia of Life

May 9, 2007

Encyclopedia_of_Life.jpg, 44 kB

Today, some of the leading biologists in the world announced that they are starting a new project to write the Encyclopedia of Life, a project that aims to bring resources on all 1.8 million species together.

The website will take the form of a wiki-like environment, but in contrast to Wikimedia's project Wikispecies, only scientists will be allowed to edit. The information will be made freely available on the internet. "Sharing what we know, we can protect Earth's biodiversity and better conserve our natural heritage," said said Jonathan F. Fanton, President of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, which has donated US$10 million to the project. Another US$2.5 million grant came from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

According to their press release, the website aims to become "a global beacon for biodiversity and conservation." The trailer video mentions that the work of classifying all species has barely begun, and that species are disappearing even before we glimpse at them.

The founding partners of the project include the Field Museum of Natural History, Harvard University, the Marine Biological Laboratory, the Smithsonian Institution, and the Biodiversity Heritage Library. The Missouri Botanical Garden later joined, and negotiations are ongoing with the Atlas of Living Australia. Other partners are the American Museum of Natural History (New York), Natural History Museum (London), New York Botanical Garden, and the Royal Botanic Gardens (Kew).

The institutional council is made up of a selection of international advisors, such as a representative of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. Another member is Erik Möller of the Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees.

According to the press release, the species pages will become available in "all major languages". Initially the focus will be on animals, plants and fungi, but later this could be expanded to microbes. The goal is to document all 1.8 million species over the next 10 years, but the founders warn that it might take up to 4 years before the quality of the pages becomes acceptable. Today, Wikispecies has over 98,000 articles.

The website will partially draw information from existing databases, for example from FishBase which has 29,900 species listed already. Wikipedia is also listed as a source on some of the demonstration pages. Using an indicator for the educational level of the user, novices and experts will be shown just the information that suits them. A system of filters could be used to allow identification of species: for example, if you've just caught a 6-inch-long fish with big teeth in the Amazon River, you could use the filter system to find out what species it might be.

The Biodiversity Heritage Library will scan tens of millions of pages to provide open access to the relevant scientific literature which it holds. The first 1.25 million pages have already been digitized in scanning centers in London, Boston, and Washington, D.C.

Encyclopedia of Life    -     hledat v googlu: Encyclopedia of Life, obrázky v googlu: Encyclopedia of Life

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