Recently in Notable Category

First commercial spaceship to be unveiled

by Greta Kaul

            The world's first commercial spaceship will be unveiled to the public Monday.

            SpaceShipTwo, soon to be christened The V.S.S. Enterprise, (short for Virgin Space Ship), has been under secret development by Virgin Galactic for two years, according to National Geographic.

            After more than a year of ground and flight tests, the business-jet-sized Enterprise will carry six passengers and two pilots at a time, National Geographic said.

            Around 300 clients have made deposits or bought $200,000 tickets to ride on Enterprise for 2.5 hours, which includes five minutes of weightlessness, the Associated Press said.

            Virgin Galactic plans to spend over $400 million on a fleet of five commercial spacecrafts and launch vehicles in the coming years, according to the AP.

Study finds no link between cancer and cell phone use

by Greta Kaul

            A study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute Thursday found no correlation between cell phone use and brain tumors, according to the U.S. News & World Report.

            The study, conducted by the Danish Cancer Society, analyzed adult brain tumors from 1974 to 2003.   It found no significant change in the number of tumors since cell phones have been widely used, the U.S. News & World Report said.

            Analysts studied the brain tumors of 60,000 adults in Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden; countries that keep strict citizen medical records, Reuters said. 

            A small increase in tumors (about 0.5 percent) may be due to better detection methods since 1974, Reuters said.

2009: a good year for Leonid meteor-watching

by Greta Kaul

            MSNBC reports that the Leonid meteor shower will peak between 1:00 a.m. and dawn Tuesday, Nov. 17.  This is expected to be an exceptional year for the Leonids, which are one of the most impressive meteor showers annually, the Baltimore Sun said.

            In Asia, as many as 200 to 300 meteors may be viewed hourly during the peak time, compared to 20 to 30 in the Americas, still an impressive display, according to MSNBC.  Viewers in urban and suburban areas will see less because of local lighting, however, moonlight interference should not be a problem this year because the moon is in its new phase.

            The Leonid meteor showers are caused as Comet Swift-Tuttle passes through the inner solar system, leaving debris, MSNBC said.

            If clouds prevent meteor viewing on Tuesday morning, Wednesday should provide viewers with a second chance, as the Leonids are active for a few days before and after their peak, the Baltimore Sun said.

Revised settlement on Google Books

by Greta Kaul

            A revised settlement proposed Friday would allow Google to digitize out-of-print books from English-speaking countries only, restrict the money made on them, and mandate a registry to seek copyright holders who do not come forward, CNET news said.

            Google insists that it still be allowed to scan "orphan books," whose authors are unknown or cannot be located, BusinessWeek said.  An independent trustee would collect orphan book revenues for up to ten years, at which point the money would be put to locating the authors of other orphan books. 

            Under the revision, readers will be able to preview and buy books on Google Books, CNET news said.  Institutions will be able to buy subscriptions, and libraries will have free access at some computers.

            Google Books' mission since 2003 has been to make books more accessible by digitizing them and making them searchable.  Since, Google has faced lawsuits and opposition from authors internationally, CNET news said.

            The U.S. District Court is expected to hear arguments for and against the revisal from groups like the Open Book Alliance within the week, BusinessWeek said.

Obama meets with American Indian tribes

by Greta Kaul

            President Barack Obama met with 400 tribal leaders Thursday at the first White House-sponsored American Indian conference in 15 years, NEWSOK said.

            The goal of the conference was to improve the often-troubled relationship between American Indians and the federal government, the New York Times said.  Obama said he would work with tribes to solve problems that have faced American Indians for decades, such as education and tribal law enforcement, NEWSOK said.

            Tribal leaders said they are glad that the Obama administration has done a better job of establishing communications between Indian tribes and the federal government than past administrations, the New York Times said.

            Obama said that Washington should not dictate a policy agenda for Indian tribes, according to NEWSOK.

            Joseph Trujillo of the Pueblo Cohiti Tribe said it would be more effective for administration officials to visit the tribes and see their needs firsthand, the New York Times said.


Stimulus created jobs, White House says

by Greta Kaul

            The federal stimulus package has created or saved nearly 650,000 jobs so far this year, the White House said Friday, according to the New York Times.

            The reports come from the records recipient agencies of stimulus money.  The numbers confirm that the stimulus is on track with its goal of creating 3.5 million jobs by the end of next year, the New York Times said.

            If jobs linked to $288 billion in tax cuts were added, estimates say over 1 million jobs would have been saved or created by the stimulus, the Associated Press reported.

            Many of the jobs created were in the fields of education and construction, the New York Times said.

            The figures released by the White House represent the most extensive effort by any administration to calculate the effects of spending in real time, the AP said.

H1N1 declared national emergency

by Greta Kaul

            President Barack Obama declared the 2009 H1N1 flu outbreak a national emergency Friday night, Reuters said.

            The declaration will allow some federal health care insurance programs to waive requirements, Reuters said. 

            It will also allow hospitals to move emergency rooms off-site in order to more effectively treat H1N1 patients and protect those who are not infected, the Associated Press said.

            The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that the H1N1 flu is widespread in 46 states, the AP said.

            The declaration is a precaution, the White House said, so that health care resources don't get overburdened and not a response to any new developments in the flu situation, Reuters said.


Aspirin may have caused 1918 flu deaths

by Greta Kaul

            A new study says that aspirin overdose may have significantly contributed to the mortality rate in the 1918 flu pandemic, sify said.

            The proper dosing of aspirin was not well understood in 1918, but a dosage of twice what is considered safe today was often prescribed, according to Digital Journal.

            High doses of aspirin cause toxicity and build-up of fluid in the lungs, according to sify.  Autopsy reports from 1918 are consistent with these symptoms, sify said.

            It may have been difficult for physicians of the time to tell the difference between aspirin overdose and the flu, Digital Journal said.

Baltimore gives Poe a proper funeral

by Greta Kaul

            Two hundred years after Edgar Allan Poe's birth, Baltimore is determined to give him a proper funeral, the Associated Press reported via the Washington Post.

            Sunday, two services with a combined capacity of 700 will be held to commemorate Poe, whose real-life funeral was attended by less than 10, according to the AP.

            Actors dressed as Poe contemporaries and authors influenced by Poe will deliver eulogies based on his work, the AP said.

            Poe died at the age of 40 after he was found delirious outside of a Baltimore tavern.  He was never coherent enough to say what happened to him, according to the AP.

            The circumstances of Poe's life were tragic, according to the Baltimore Sun.  He was orphaned at the age of three and struggled to earn a living, never achieving the success he thought he deserved, the Baltimore Sun said.

            Though other East Coast cities have claims to Poe's legacy, Baltimore can boast of being Poe's final resting place.  Much of Poe's family lived in Baltimore during his life, the Baltimore Sun said.


National Parks face climate and funding turmoil

by Greta Kaul           

            Ken Burns' 12-hour series on America's National Parks is expected to create publicity for the challenges facing America's National Park System.

            In recent years, the national budget deficit has left the parks with an estimated $8 billion to $9 billion in back-logged maintenance, as well as being short of staff, the Christian Science Monitor said.

            In addition, climate change could create major hazards in 25 of 351 of the National Park Service's properties, USA Today said.  The glaciers in Glacier National Park, for example, are expected to melt in as few as twelve years.

            Rising sea levels, loss of water, extreme weather, loss of plants and wildlife, ocean acidification, and air pollution are expected to be the biggest problems for the parks by the end of the century, as the average national temperature rises, USA Today reported.

            The Second Century Commission, a 28-member bipartisan board, will issue a report on the problems facing America's National Park System later this year, according to the Christian Science Monitor.

            Mark Wenzler, a clean air expert at the National Parks Conservation Association told the Christian Science Monitor that this year is a crossroads for the parks in terms of fixing them before they get worse.  "What are we going to do?" he asked.

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