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06 Apr

The quest for the perfect alternative energy source continues, as scientists seek to find the most efficient way to power the planet. Plants may be the latest answer. Engineers have found a way to use trees as an inspiration for artificially generating hydraulics for power.

The team was inspired to experiment with water pumping while working on a project that used hydraulics to power robots. When they decided to expand from smaller robots to larger ones, they needed a natural way to pump a great deal of water quickly and realized that trees perform this action on a regular basis.

04 Apr

Why should airlines give away upgrades when they can sell them to the highest bidder?

Air Canada now "offers" upgrades to passengers on eligible flights. There are currently two ways to submit a bid:

  1. Go to Air Canada's bid upgrade page to see if the flight is eligible and to propose how much you'd like to pay for it.
  2. Respond to an invitation to upgrade from Air Canada, which should arrive via email 10 days before your departure date.

So, how much should you pay? According to the airline, "the highest offer price you're willing to pay." Yes, like most anything else, an available upgrade on Air Canada is considered worth whatever someone is willing to pay for it. Passengers can revise or cancel their bids at any time up to 96 hours before scheduled takeoff. Those whose bids are accepted will receive email confirmations from Air Canada roughly 48 hours before departure time.

02 Apr

Because he believes that universities "no longer provide the time and funding they once gave to original thinkers," professor Steve Keen has turned to a crowdfunding source to pay his salary.

His goal: To raise $10,000 USD per month so that he can take a partial break from his job at Kingston University in the UK. During that time, he hopes to be able to finish the third edition of his book, Debunking Economics, and also compose some new videos for his YouTube channel, which boasts over 10,000 subscribers.

As Keen explains on his crowdfunding site at Patreon.com, university funding for his type of work has simply dried up.

"It's so bad now that the best way for me to have the time and resources to build a new economics is to leave the University sector, and get supported directly by the public," he writes.

31 Mar

As 26-30 percent of adults take efforts to reduce gluten in their diets, more information about the health risks of such a diet has emerged. A team at Harvard University has discovered a link between gluten-free diets and type 2 diabetes.

The team, which presented its results at a recent American Heart Association session, compared data from multiple studies involving more than four million people. They found that the majority of study participants consumed less than 12 grams of gluten intake each day. However, those who ate the most gluten were 13 percent less likely to develop type 2 diabetes. Researchers found that those who ate the least gluten also consumed less cereal fiber, which is a known protectant against type 2 diabetes.

29 Mar

The quest to make Mars habitable is ongoing, with scientists trying various approaches to setting up communities on the Red Planet. The latest of these ideas comes from NASA, where scientists have proposed a magnetic field to overcome the planet’s environmental challenges.

Using an artificial magnetic field, NASA believes the planet could shield itself against the sun’s rays. Crafting this artificial field would be quite a project, though. NASA has named the project Mars L1, proposing two large magnets that would hold inflatable structures in place to serve as shields.

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