Monday, 14 December 2009

The 1st Question 75 - 8 Dec 09

This week's panel

Onder Skall, Doctor Rodenberger, Paolo Rousselot and AmericanActionHero Janick


All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better.
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

Every man dies. Not every man really lives.
-William Wallace

Word-UP of the week – “Transfixia” – The feeling after you come out of a really really intense movie, when you walk outside and you still feel that you are in the movie.
-Doctor Rodenberger

Audience Quote(s) of the week
“There were people in South America before 20,000 yrs ago”
-Delia Lake
“Let me ask my dad, he might know, he's real old”
-Gary Broono


For the answers go to The 1st Question blog at

1) Today a new game to raise energy awareness among young people has just been launched. Called Facebooks first serious game, EnerCities just went beta. However, the fastest growing social game in history, is a real-time simulation. It allows members of Facebook to manage a virtual farm by planting, growing and harvesting virtual crops, trees, and livestock. Created by Zynga, and not without controvesy, what is it called?

2) True to California’s goal of increasing its reliance on a diverse supply of renewable energy at reasonable costs and risks to ratepayers, Pacific Gas & Electric is agreeing to buy power generated from the first-of-its-kind project. A Space-based solar power has been researched in the U.S. for several decades. The experimental technology uses orbiting satellites equipped with solar cells to convert the sun's energy into electricity and converts that into radio frequency energy that can be transmitted to a local receiver station. Which California-based company is actually faced with the task of getting the out-of-this-world project up in the air, to provide 1,700 gigawatt-hours of energy per year?

3) Cory Doctorow is a Canadian blogger, journalist, and science fiction author who serves as co-editor of the blog Boing Boing. He dropped out of four universities without attaining a degree.. He was named a Fellow of the Electronic Frontier Foundation. And recently became the first Independent Studies Scholar in Virtual Residence at the University of Waterloo. Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, Doctorow's first novel, was published in 2003, and was the first novel released under one of the Creative Commons licenses. The original “Down & Out in “novel was written by a genius of Science Fiction, his first novel too. It is a story in two parts on the theme of poverty in two cities.- what is the full name of that title from 1933 and who wrote it?

4) It could one day be used as a lightweight battery to power devices now enabling the printed word to be eclipsed by e-mail, e-books and online news. Scientists at Stanford reported last week they have successfully turned this substance coated with ink made of silver and carbon nanomaterials into a battery that holds promise for new types of lightweight, high-performance energy storage. This type of battery could even be useful in powering electric or hybrid vehicles, would make electronics lighter weight and longer lasting, which has been an obstacle to commercial viability. What is this new battery made out of?

5) When transforming thermal into mechanical, the efficiency of a heat engine is the percentage that is transformed into work. That heat emanating from your computer as you are watching this show is wasted energy. More than half of the energy consumed worldwide is wasted, most of it in the form of excess heat. In experiments involving new technology, an MIT research team has been able to demonstrate much higher efficiency ultimately in waste-energy harvesting in everything from computer processors to car engines to electric powerplants. What It is the 19th century principle, the basis of the second law of thermodynamics, which sets a limit on the maximum amount of efficiency any possible engine can obtain?

6) Interactive telecommunications researchers have designed a soil-moisture sensor device that can allow a house plant to communicate with its owner. The device can send short messages to a mobile phone or even Twitter. The messages can range from reminders to water, a thank you or a warning. To communicate, probes in the soil emit electric waves. A voltage level based on the moisture content is sent through two wires to a circuit board. A local network receives this data and allows the plant to send a message. What is this little micro-controller hooked up to your plant named?

7) Stationed at the European Marine Energy Center Billia Croo site near Stromness, it was installed this year and is, at present, the world’s only hydro-electric wave energy device which is producing power. Pumping high pressure water to its onshore hydro-electric turbine which feeds into the national grid to power homes. There are minimal moving parts and all electrical components are onshore, making it robust enough to withstand the rigors of Scotland’s harsh seas whose waters hold around ten percent of Europe’s wave power and as much as a quarter of its tidal power potential. Marine energy might meet up to 20 per cent of the UK's energy demands producing sustainable zero-emission electricity to power homes. What is the world’s largest working hydro-electric wave energy device called?

8) Citrus waste is usually a complete write-off in the compost game because it contains an antibacterial substance which slows its breakdown, but a team in Sweden has discovered that these acidic skins have more uses than they receive credit for. Limon, an antibacterial agent, pectin, a gelling agent, biogas, and ethanol, can be produced from new patents. Florida is also developing plans to build a commercial plant that will convert orange and grapefruit waste into ethanol that will be sold to Florida motorists at gasoline pumps. The plant is expected to produce about how many gallons of ethanol a year?

9) This versatile humanoid robot can see (via two cameras), will react to touch, can surf the Web and can interact with others of his kind. He can speak (in English or French, so far) by reading out any file stored locally or from a RSS flow. The bot is fitted with an accelerometer and gyrometer so he won't fall down.. His software even lets you recover photos and video stream of his vision. Let us not even go into his hardware. He can interpret his surroundings & detect faces and shapes, even recognizing the person talking to him. Who is he?

10) As art museums go, it has a very small collection. Literally. Presented by the Institute for the Promotion of the Less than One Millimetre, it is an online “portrait” collection of mini- and micro-organisms photographed through a microscope. Inside the virtual museum’s halls you can find a zooplankton family portrait next to the glowing image of a mother copepod posing with her children (Okay, her children are actually egg packages). Each collection features an array of exhibits with titles such as “The Hall of Arthropods”or the “Water Flea Circus”. All of the tiny subjects were photographed alive. What is this museum called?

11) Solar Impulse's HB-SIA solar-powered airplane was runway tested last week. The prototype aircraft is made of lightweight materials, weighing only 3,500 pounds and it has a wingspan of 210 feet. It is powered entirely by the 11,000 solar cells covering its wings. It is intended to fly at only 28 miles per hour to keep energy consumption low. It will store solar energy for night flight The Founder of Solar Impulse is a former astronaut and the first man to circle the world nonstop in a balloon. He hopes to perform the same feet in a solar-powered plane-Who is he?

12) Neuroscientists have demonstrated how brain waves can be used to type alphanumerical characters on a computer screen. By merely focusing on the "q" in a matrix of letters, for example, that "q" appears on the monitor. A mind-machine interface from electrodes placed directly on the brain are much more specific than data collected from EEG, in which electrodes are placed on the scalp. At what clinic are brain waves telling us the secret letter?

13) This power plant guides sea water and fresh water into separate chambers, which are divided by an artificial membrane. Salt molecules pull the fresh water through it, increasing the pressure which is then utilized in a power generating turbine. Statkraft claims this has the global potential to generate clean, renewable energy equivalent to China's total electricity consumption or half of the EU's total power production. In theory, such power plants could be located wherever sea water and fresh water meet, such as the mouth of a river. They run without producing noise pollution or polluting emission, what is the principle behind this membrane technology?

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