Holy Alternative Energy Sources!: According to the BBC, Pope Benedict XVI is on his way to becoming the most eco-friendly pope ever by replacing the roof of the Paul VI auditorium with solar cells. The cement roof was due to be replaced next year anyway, but His Holiness took a tip from above and elected to go the green route. Amazingly, the cells will generate enough power to light, heat or cool the auditorium and will hopefully start a country-wide trend. No word yet on whether plans are in place to replace the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.
The Incredible Floating Lamp: Last week, Ransom posted about the wireless light bulb. Well, Jeff Lieberman managed to one-up that not only by removing the wires, but also the effect of gravity! By using electromagnets, Lieberman (or the David Blaine of Inventors, as I like to think of him) was able to suspend a wireless light bulb more than 2 inches away from a surface. If only they could make it float a little higher from the surface I could solve the overhead lighting problem in my apartment .
It's not easy bleedin' green: It sounds like something out of an episode of House...if it was some bizarre crossover with Star Trek. When operating on a patient in Vancouver, doctors were surprised that the man's blood was a dark greenish-black. The doctors pinned the cause of the Vulcan-like blood on sulfhaemoglobinaemia (say it five times fast), a condition that can result when sulfur atoms are introduced. They say it was likely cause by the medication he was taking for frequent migraines. The good news is that the condition is usually self-correcting with red-blood cell turnover, though he may need a transfusion. Anybody want to volunteer for that procedure?
Environmentally charged felines, insect karaoke and self-fixing windshields, all after the jump.
Who knew Global Warming was so Cute?
It's a good thing Bob Barker retired from The Price is Right, because he'll have his animal-neutering hands full with this new global warming theory. Pets Across America, an animal adoption group, has reported a 30 percent spike in its intake of cats and kittens and says other groups have reported the a similar trend. They blame the increased kitten population on global warming. Since cats mate in the warm weather, the short winters mean that the felines have longer to breed, which means more kittens. Now if only we can prove that water pollution is creating more puppies, maybe we can stop this whole "Save the Earth" fad in its tracks.
Never worry about a cracked windshield again: Coolest character on Heroes? Claire. She can heal herself, whether its a splinter or a bullet wound. It's incredible. But she's not so unique now that researchers at University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana have designed a new regenerating polymer. The material can fill in any cracks in its outer layer by rushing a polymer epoxy from "blood vessels" inside. That amounts to the plastic being able to heal itself several times over by itself. It could revolutionize the material used in building airplanes, medical implants and microprocessors. If anything, though, they should use it in windshields- parents of little leaguers the world over would be pleased.
Could bee karaoke save our food supply? Colony Collapse Disorder is the new Potato Famine. It's been killing entire colonies of bees, which means they can't pollinate the fruits and vegetables in our diet. Fortunately, Jerry Bromenshenk, an entomologist at the University of Montana, has come up with a solution. Like dogs or blind people, bees have a heightened sense of smell and will change the sound they produce when they detect a new chemical substance. So Bromenshenk is putting tiny microphones in bee colonies to detect the changes and rescue the bees. Presumably he's also listening to find the next Colony Idol.
The (enormous) fungus among us: Everyone knows that the biggest mammal is the blue whale, which can be up to 110 feet long. Unbelievably, that's like a flea to the world's largest living organism, a fungus in Oregon that covers 2,200 acres. Put in perspective, that's just about 1,600 football fields, which is roughly nine times what NFL career rushing leader Emmit Smith traversed in his career! The Armillaria ostoyae is largely underground and spends its days killing trees in the Blue Mountains. The U.S. Forest Service has decided just to let it be, resigned to the fact that there's no way to stop it. By some estimates, it's lived 8,000 years; there's no reason we'd be able to kill it now.