Strange weather this summer!
While the Europeans countries were roasting under unusually high temperatures, the weather in Japan was unusually cold. What happened? The weather in the temperate latitudes of the northern hemisphere is regulated by west winds (winds going from west to east). These westerlies explain why the western sides of the continents (California, British Colombia, western Europe,...) have milder temperatures than the eastern sides (Japan, Quebec, New York,...). For example, although the city of Aomori (Northern tip of Honshu), New-York City (US) and Naples (Italia) are at the same latitudes, winter are much cooler in New-York and Aomori (eastern side of the continent) with heavy snowfall than in Naples where snow is not often seen. For some reasons that are still to be understood these winds stalled during this summer bringing a hot summer in western Europe and a cold summer in Japan. This unpredicted phenomena shows that there is still a lot to be understood in the world climate.
The highest unmanned airship flight
This summer a team of scientist in Hitachi sent an unmanned scientific airship to an altitude of 16.4 km above sea level. This airship was used to collect air samples but could also be used as a cheap alternative to low altitude satellites (300 km above the sea level) for broadcasting or monitoring the earth.
Male-female human embryos
The Center for Human Reproduction of Chicago (Illinois, United States) has produced human embryos with both male and female cells. The experiment tried to determine how genetic information can be inserted at an early stage of the embryo development. All embryos were destroyed after 6 days. Although this experiment raises many ethical issues it is legal in the United States as long as it is not funded by public grants.
A team of Japanese researchers has found that it is possible to reduce the magnetic field required to flip bits in a magnetic storage device (such as a computer hard disk) by coupling the magnetic field to an electric field. This could help to increase the number of bits per unit of surface stored in an hard disk. More details at physicsweb.org/article/news/7/7/10.
Stronger steel made in Tsukuba
Researchers from NIMS (National Institute for Materials Science) in Tsukuba have found that by reducing the amount of carbon in steel to 0.002% (instead of 0.08%) they can increase the strength of the steel by a factor 100. More details at http://physicsweb.org/article/news/7/7/14.
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