EU backs single mobile TV broadcaster

The European Union on Monday selected a mobile TV broadcast standard and is recommending that its member governments ask cell carriers to favor it, the Associated Press reports. EU commissioners chose Digital Video Broadcasting for Handhelds (DVB-H)—the most widely used mobile TV format in Europe—instead of rival standards such as Qualcomm Inc.'s MediaFLO. According to the AP, DVB-H is supported by the world's largest handset maker, Nokia, as well as Motorola, Philips, Sagem, Sony, Ericsson, Samsung and major European cell phone operators Vodafone, O2 and T-Mobile. Meanwhile, Qualcomm's technology has signed with Verizon Wireless and AT&T—the two major U.S. players. Though the European Commission said it had to order EU nations to favor DVB-H to create economies of scale and get the nascent technology off the ground, the AP reports that the impact of the EU's choice is limited. Specifically, the AP notes that EU nations can choose to avoid favoring the format and are not required to eliminate other standards. One analyst adds that it is still possible to develop and use other technologies, though an EU backing for one standard creates "some certainty" for operators planning mobile broadcasting services and manufacturers making phones and chips. Commenting on its decision, the EU cited research forecasts of a steep increase in demand for mobile TV in 2009 and expects the worldwide market to reach $31 billion in sales by 2011 (White, AP/Yahoo! News, 3/17/08).

Greenpeace unveils green consumer electronics rankings

Greenpeace on Tuesday published the latest environmental ranking of consumer electronics companies, which scores the world's largest consumer electronics companies based on their recycling policies and the toxic content of their products, PC World reports. Toshiba and Samsung topped the latest list, with Toshiba climbing six ranks to tie for first with previous leader Samsung, “thanks to moves towards taking care of the electronic waste generated when its customers discard its products,” according to PC World. Greenpeace this June is slated to release the next edition of the ranking, which will be based on stricter criteria and will include measurements on energy consumption for the products and their production, as well as whether the company has eliminated the use of PVC and bromine flame retardants in products (Williams, PC World/Yahoo! News, 3/18/08).

NIH to study genomics, health disparities

The U.S. National Institutes of Health this week announced the creation of the Intramural Center for Genomics and Health Disparities, United Press International reports. Slated to be located on NIH's Bethesda, Md., campus, the center will become a hub for research investigating the way populations are impacted by diseases such as obesity, diabetes and hypertension. According to the NIH, the center will “employ a genomics approach, collecting and analyzing genetic, clinical, lifestyle and socio-economic data to study a range of clinical conditions that have puzzled and troubled public health experts for decades,” UPI reports (UPI, 3/18/08).

Metal strength tested at the nanoscale

According to an article published in Volume 100 of the journal Physical Review Letters, scientists at the University of Pennsylvania School of Engineering and Applied Science are testing the strength of wires a thousand times thinner than a human hair, United Press International reports. Thus far, the research has helped engineers construct a theoretical model to predict the strength of such metals. Using that model, the researchers discovered that, while metals tend to be stronger at nanoscale volumes, their strengths saturate at around 10 to 50 nanometers diameter—a point at which they also become more sensitive to temperature strain. According to the researchers, predicting different strength regimes of nanosolids has important implications for future application and engineering design of nanotechnology (UPI, 3/18/08).

CDC taps CSC to continue supporting national electronic surveillance system

Under a task order issued Monday by the federal Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Computer Sciences Corp. will continue developing and supporting the National Electronic Disease Surveillance System Base System, Los Angeles Business reports. The order extends a $16 million contract awarded to CSC in 2000, which was previously extended under a $25 million 2003 contract, according to a release. If all options are exercised, the task order is worth $16 million and includes one base year and two one-year options. Under the new order, CSC will continue to provide software development, deployment and maintenance of the system and will help the CDC expand the network’s use. According to a release, the system—part of a public health information network—electronically links surveillance activities to enhance emerging infectious diseases tracking and potential bioterrorism attack identification. The system is currently operational in 16 states (Los Angeles Business, 3/17/08).

Federal grant helps Kentucky metro area upgrade emergency response technology

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security recently awarded to Louisville-Jefferson County Metro Government a $1.5 million grant to upgrade communication infrastructure for law enforcement officials and emergency responders, Business First of Louisville reports. The grant will fund a new alarm system for fire and EMS services, as well as upgrades for base stations and radio frequencies at MetroSafe—Louisville's public-safety dispatching and communications network. The city’s mayor notes that the funding will enhance public safety, adding that "our new state-of-the-art MetroSafe system will allow all of our emergency agencies to communicate with each other more easily in the field, which will improve efficiency" (Business First of Louisville, 3/17/08).

Microsoft Across America demo truck travels United States

The Microsoft Across America truck enables business owners, professionals and others to experience live demos of the latest technology products from Microsoft Corp., New Mexico Business Weekly reports. The truck provides a “hands-on, interactive environment with workstations that feature Windows Vista and 2007 Microsoft Office,” according to NMBW. At its next stop in Albuquerque on March 19, LDD Consulting Inc. and Microsoft professionals will be on hand to answer technology questions and show how specific products from Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard, Intel and others can compliment each other for unified technology solutions (New Mexico Business Weekly, 3/17/08).

 

HP, Marriott in deal to launch Halo teleconference rooms

Hewlett-Packard Co. on Tuesday announced that it has partnered with Marriott International Inc. to make HP Halo telepresence rooms available for public use at some Marriott locations, the San Jose Business Journal reports. Though financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, and HP officials said the specific locations "in major business centers around the world" will be announced later. According to HP, the system will “enable people located around the world to meet in an environment that looks, sounds and feels as if they are just across the table from one another.” Officials add that users will “see each other in life-sized images projected on high-resolution displays and can communicate with no perceived delays, regardless of how far apart they may be" (San Jose Business Journal, 3/18/08).

 

Astronauts attach armsto spacewalking robot

According to the Houston Chronicle, astronauts on the International Space Station on Sunday attached the arms of a $209 million spacewalking robot named Dextre, UPI reported. Dextre, a 12-foot, Canadian-built robot, was created to take on some repair duties typically performed by human spacewalking astronauts. Astronauts Rick Linnehan, Mike Foreman and Bob Behnken worked on the robot, and reportedly will conduct a spacewalk to hook up Dextre's tool-belt, cameras and lights on Monday night. Because of it size, Dextre is kept outside the space station, where temperature highs and lows are severe and would damage the robot if he weren't heated through a connection with the station's robot arm, according to the Chronicle (UPI, 3/16/08).

Genes link 95 percent of American Indians

Genetic researchers at Utah-based Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation and Italy's University of Pavia have discovered that 95 percent of American Indians descend from six ancestral mothers who crossed Asia to the Americas 20,000 years ago, United Press International reports. According to a release, this marks the first time all known American Indian mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) sequences and lineages have been compiled, corrected and organized into a single tree with branches dated. The study, which was published online by the Public Library of Science, identifies the six surviving Native American mtDNA lineages that are dated to approximately 20,000 years ago, designated as A2, B2, C1b, C1c, C1d and D1. The study also confirms the presence of five geographically limited genetic groups: X2a, D2, D3, C4c and D4h3. The lead study author notes that the five more rare genetic groups will help researchers isolate branches within the pan-American groups and make conclusions about different migratory events (UPI, 3/15/08).

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