by Tom Bosschaert

Oct. 13, 2012

Tom Bosschaert

Dear fellow Digesters, In this edition of the Wormfood News Digest, we track the development of many important “game-changing” news stories, including the foundation of an asteroid-mining company, China’s decision to construct two mega-dams, Google’s plan for self-driving cars, and so much more…

Global News

  • The iconic white-capped volcano known as Popocatepetl, located less than a two-hour drive from Mexico City, awoke in April after more than a decade of silence. Spurting lava and steam for kilometres, the volcano threatens to dump ash on the more than 25 million people that live within a 100km radius.
  • Vladimir Putin vowed Thursday to win $500 billion in investment for Russian offshore field development over 30 years to tap the country’s full energy potential with the help of foreign expertise. There will also be tax breaks and other incentives. 

Business & Economy

  • A group of US billionaires – including director James Cameron and the co-founders of internet search company Google – have announced plans to mine asteroids in space for resources such as ice, fuel and precious minerals.
  • If the damages related to climate change mount in the coming decades, insurance companies may face the prospect of paying larger disaster claims and being dragged into global warming lawsuits. But many firms, as this report shows, have barely begun to confront the risks.

  • Spain has joined seven other euro-zone nations in recession, according to datareleased Monday, providing new evidence that austerity policies are failing to spark confidence in the region’s economies ahead of a week of expected anti-austerity protests and a string of important national elections. 

Energy & Environment

  • The government of China is planning to construct two hydro dams, each of which will be twice as large the Three Gorges dam; currently the largest power station, in terms of installed capacity.
  • In its quest to find new sources of energy, China is increasingly looking to its western provinces. But the nation’s push to develop fossil fuel and alternative sources has so far ignored a basic fact — western China simply lacks the water resources needed to support major new energy development.
  • A new study published in the journal Science suggests that the cycle of evaporation and rainfall over the world’s oceans has accelerated 4 percent in the last half-century as a result of global warming, a development that could portend more extreme weather in the decades to come.

Science, Technology, & Design

  • The most transparent, lightweight and flexible material ever for conducting electricity has been invented by a team from the University of Exeter. Due to these multi-dimensional improvements, this finding could revolutionize the electronics industry.
  • Search engine giant Google Inc. thinks self-driving cars can be on U.S. roads in the next few years and is in talks with automakers to roll out the technology. Google is already talking with auto-makers, insurance companies, and suppliers. See the video of one of these cars in action!
  • The aim of the new “Wind Challenger Project” is to substantially reduce fuel consumption by large merchant vessels. Next generation cargo ship with 50m high sails uses 30% less fuel 

Urban Environment

  • Honda Motor Co., Ltd. recently announced the successful development of the world’s first technology to detect the potential for traffic congestion and determine whether the driving pattern of the vehicle is likely to create traffic jams.
  • To eliminate landfills and encourage local agriculture, a new program lets residents exchange their recyclable trash in exchange for credits with nearby farms. 

Unexpected and Intriguing

  • Why are some people more religious than others? Answers to this question often focus on the role of culture or upbringing. While these influences are important, new research suggests that whether we believe may also have to do with how much we rely onintuition versus analytical thinking.
  • A new report shows that psychedelic drugs may work by dialing down brain activity in control centers, contrary to popular belief that drugs stimulate and speed up brain activity.

This bi-weekly digest is made by assembling items from all of Except’s people. Have questions, comments, or news items to suggest? E-mail Read past Wormfood global news reports here.

Oct. 13, 2012