Archive by date | December 2009

Ex-CDC chief tapped for Merck vaccines job

Ex-CDC chief tapped for Merck vaccines job

The head of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention under George W. Bush has been hired to head up the vaccines unit of pharma giant Merck & Co.

Julie Gerberding, who was director of the CDC during 2002-09, stepped down from the agency when US President Barack Obama took office at the start of this year

US to attempt terror-free nukes

US to attempt terror-free nukes

The New York Times today has an interesting story about the likely outcome of the United States government’s review of its nuclear posture. According to the Times, “thwarting nuclear-armed terrorists” will become the new central aim of the government’s nuclear establishment.

Copenhagen Fallout

Copenhagen is over and the delegates are slowly filtering home. Here are some of the best post-conference quotes.

See also: Copenhagen accord emerges – climate agreement is seen as a small, but necessary, step forward.

“Never again should we face the deadlock that threatened to pull down these talks. Never again should we let a global deal to move towards a greener future be held to ransom by only a handful of countries.”

Gordon Brown, UK prime minister, comments on talks he believes were “at best flawed and at worst chaotic” (BBC).

“For the first time, we have an agreement that requires all of the world’s carbon emitters to actually deal with their carbon emissions and start the process of reducing them.”

Canada’s Environment Minister Jim Prentice talks to CTV about “a turning point in history”.

“It was a conference where the nations of the world, for a whole range of reasons, spent less time negotiating than they should have.”

Australia’s Climate Change Minister Penny Wong (The Australian).

Microwave bending meta-material may be future of the lens

Microwave bending meta-material may be future of the lens

A ‘meta-material’ lens could herald the arrival of “a new class of optical devices”, say its creators.

Until now, say Nathan Kundtz and David Smith, lenses have been designed by grinding a surface to alter the path of light rays. Instead, they have been working on “a more natural—but usually less convenient” method using not just the surface but the whole volume of the lens.

Quotes of the day

“I feel so happy. It’s my birthday today and this is like a gift to Africa. There is a 90 percent chance they will reproduce and I hope that we will start a new group of Northern White rhinos in Africa.”

Dana Holeckova, director of the Dvur Kralove zoo, comments on the arrival of four Northern White rhinos in Kenya from Czechoslovakia. There are only eight of these animals left worldwide (AFP).

“We often worry about deforestation and hunting as the two main factors threatening the extinction of primate populations, but these results suggest that even if we find ways to solve these problems, it may not save some species of monkeys and apes from extinction.”

Robin Dunbar, of the University of Oxford, warns that a number of species of primate are under threat due to global warming (Daily Telegraph).

“Everyone feels great, no problems.”

Soyuz commander Oleg Kotov is one of three astronauts who took off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan earlier today (CNET).

Picture post: Light on a lake in space

Picture post: Light on a lake in space

Released last week, this image from NASA shows sunlight reflecting off a lake on Saturn’s moon Titan.

Scientists working on the space agency’s Cassini probe have been after something like this for a while, as it confirms the previous evidence of liquid lakes of hydrocarbon on the moon.