The Volt needs a Jolt

Reuters: GM Is Losing Nearly $50K on Each Electric Volt

by:  at the Blaze

General Motors posts a $49,000 loss for each new Volt plug-in hybrid it produces, Reuters reports.

You know what this means, right? It means that for each new Chevy Volt, the taxpayer bailed out company loses what the average American makes in a year.

And on top of that, rock bottom lease offers made during the summer may have inflated the above number. According to the report, some motorists paid only $5K to drive around in a new $80K Volt for two years. Oh, yeah, and Volt production has been put on hold at GM’s Detroit-Hamtramck plant.

What we’re trying to say is that it will be a very, very long time (if ever) before GM makes a profit on the Volt.

The problem with the car is that “the Volt is over-engineered and over-priced,” according to Dennis Virag, president of the Michigan-based Automotive Consulting Group.

But hey! If it’s any consolation to GM, Nissan, Honda and Mitsubishi are all having a hard time marketing their electric and hybrid models as well. But even that minor bit of consolation disappears when you consider the fact that Toyota has had great success with its Prius model (meaning it’s possible to have a successful electric-hybrid).

“GM’s quandary is how to increase sales volume so that it can spread its estimated $1.2-billion investment in the Volt over more vehicles while reducing manufacturing and component costs — which will be difficult to bring down until sales increase,” the Reuters report reads.

“But the Volt’s steep $39,995 base price and its complex technology — the car uses expensive lithium-polymer batteries, sophisticated electronics and an electric motor combined with a gasoline engine — have kept many prospective buyers away from Chevy showrooms,” the report adds.

But more than just steep prices, many Americans simply prefer a car that gets better mileage and has the infrastructure in place to help charge and maintain it.

“It’s true, we’re not making money yet” on the Volt, Doug Parks, GM’s vice president of global product programs and the former Volt development chief, told Reuters in an interview. The Volt “eventually will make money. As the volume comes up and we get into the Gen 2 car, we’re going to turn (the losses) around,” he added.

But some analysts disagree with Parks.

“I don’t see how General Motors will ever get its money back on that vehicle,” said Sandy Munro, president of Michigan-based Munro & Associates, which specializes in vehicular analysis.

It currently costs GM “at least” $74K to produce the Volt, including development costs, Munro added.

“That’s nearly twice the base price of the Volt before a $7,500 federal tax credit provided as part of President Barack Obama’s green energy policy,” Reuters notes.

Again, as stated earlier in this article, with these type of costs tied into the vehicle’s production, it may be a very, very long time (if ever) before GM sees a profit on the Volt.

Work it Out

It sounds like a couch potato’s dream: two-and-a-half minutes of exercise could be just as good as a 90-minute run.

Research suggests that short, sharp bursts of exercise are better at warding off heart disease than much longer – but less strenuous – sessions.

Academic Stuart Gray asked a group of men aged between 18 and 35 to either do high-intensity sprints on an exercise bike or walk for half an hour on a treadmill.

Those on the exercise bike pedalled as hard as they could for 30 seconds, rested for up to four minutes and then repeated the pattern four times.

This meant that, in all, they did two and a half minutes of exercise strenuous enough to make them sweat and leave them out of breath.

The others walked at the sort of brisk pace recommended in health guidelines.

A day later, they came back into the lab and ate a fatty breakfast and lunch consisting of bread, mayonnaise and cheese.

Their blood was then tested to see how quickly the levels of fat in their blood fell – as fat lingering in the blood after eating is known to trigger the first in a series of steps that can lead to clogging of the arteries and heart disease.

The results revealed that walking cut fat by 11 per cent, compared with not doing any exercise.

'Less strenuous': The other group of men were asked to walk for half an hour on a treadmillBut the short sharp bursts of exercise cut it by 33 per cent – the sort of effect expected from a 90-minute run.

Dr Gray, of Aberdeen University, told the British Science Festival that short bursts of intensive exercise may somehow spur the liver into taking in more fat from the blood, before storing it or burning it off.

He said that, while the high intensity training ‘won’t necessarily’ improve strength, it does boost endurance. He added that the short duration of the exercise was ‘highly important as time is often cited as the main barrier to taking part in exercise’.

The need to rest between the high-intensity activity means the whole routine took around 20 minutes – and it has to be done regularly.

Dr Gray said: ‘Although moderate intensity, longer sessions of exercise can help protect the body against cardio-vascular disease, the findings of our study showed that higher-intensity shorter intervals of exercise might be a more effective method to improve health and reduce the time commitment to exercise.’

 Attribution: Mail Online

The ‘Hulk’ Protein

If you hate the idea of working out in a gym to look toned and muscle-bound, then this could be the news you have been waiting for.

Scientists in Australia believe they have found one of the molecular keys to a protein that promotes weight and muscle mass gain – without any exercise involved.

Researchers have found that by blocking the function of Grb10 – nicknamed the ‘Hulk’ protein – while mice were in the womb, they were considerably stronger and more muscular at birth than normal mice.

The study, published in the September issue of the respected FASEB Journal, has important implications for a wide range of conditions such as muscular dystrophy, Type 2 diabetes, and problems produced by muscle inflammation.

Grb10 seems to have a significant role in promoting muscle growth without any change in activity, diet, or adverse health effects, according to researchers.

“By identifying a novel mechanism regulating muscle development, our work has revealed potential new strategies to increase muscle mass”, said Lowenna J. Holt from the Diabetes and Obesity Research Program at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research in Sydney.

Holt and her colleagues compared two groups of mice. One with the Grb10 gene and the other where it was blocked.

Researchers examined the properties of the muscles in both adult and newborn mice and discovered that the increase caused by the loss of Grb10 had mainly occurred during prenatal development.

These results suggested that it may in future be possible to alter muscle growth and help faster healing, as the processes involved in muscle regeneration and repair are similar to

Um…Gross

those for the initial formation of muscle.

But Dr Gerald Weissmann, editor-in-chief of The FASEB Journal, warned: “Don’t turn in your gym membership just yet.  If you want big muscles, the classic prescription still applies: lift heavy things, eat and sleep right, and have your hormones checked.”

‘”But this study shows that when we understand the basic science of how muscle fibers grow and multiply, we will be able to lift the burden – literally – of muscle disease for many of our patients.”

Attribution: Mail Online

Your Keys are Hot!

If you’re a regular reader, you know I don’t write about or publish anything having to do with computers or tech, other than something new or what I think is cool. I came across this and decided I can’t be the only dope out there that doesn’t know this stuff. Below is a list of common keyboard hotkeys or shortcuts, broken out into categories.  They will work with virtually any web browser.

Basic Navigation Hotkeys

Keyboard Shortcut Action
F5 Refresh
Ctrl + F5 Refresh and reset the browser cache for the current page.
Alt + Left Arrow Back
Alt + Right Arrow Forward
Alt + Home Return to Homepage
Escape Stop
F6 Select the address bar (Alt+D and Ctrl+L also works here)
F11 Fullscreen mode, exit fullscreen mode
Home Scroll to top of page
End Scroll to bottom of page
Spacebar Scroll down
Shift+ Spacebar Scroll up
Page Down / Up Scroll down / up
Ctrl + C Copy selected text
Ctrl + X Cut (copy and delete original) text
Ctrl + V Paste copied text

 

Advanced Navigation Shortcut Keys

Keyboard Shortcut Action
Ctrl + D Bookmark current page
F1 Open a mostly useless help page
F3 Perform a text search on the current page, find next text result
Shift + F3 Find previous text search results
Ctrl + F Perform a text search on the current page
Ctrl + G Find next text result
Ctrl + Shift + G Find previous text result
Ctrl + H Open browsing history
Ctrl + J Open downloads folder and/or history
Ctrl + O Open a local file in the browser
Ctrl + S Download and save current page
Ctrl + P Print current page
Ctrl + E Select the search box or omnibar. (Ctrl + K also works)
Ctrl + Shift + Del Opens up the clear browser history dialog or settings
Alt + Enter Open search in a new tab
Ctrl + Enter Open search term as a website
F12 Open developer tools or Firebug
Ctrl + U View source
Alt + F Makes the menu bar appear (if hidden)

All About Tabs

Keyboard Shortcut Action
Ctrl + N Opens a new window (this works in Windows too)
Ctrl + Tab Cycle forward to the next tab
Ctrl + Shift + Tab Cycle backward to the previous tab
Ctrl + F4 Closes the current tab.
Ctrl + T Opens a new tab.
Ctrl + Shift + T Opens a recently closed tab.
Alt + F4 Close the entire window (truly universal for every app)
Ctrl + # key (1 to 8) Changes view to the tab number chosen
Ctrl + 9 Changes view to the last tab 

Mouse and Keyboard Combos

Keyboard Shortcut Action
Ctrl + Mousewheel Zoom in our out
Ctrl + 0 Reset to 100% (default) zoom
Mousewheel Press Closes tabs if clicked on a tab, opens links in new tab, scroll
Ctrl + Left Click Open link in a new tab
Shift + Left click Open link in a new window
Shift + Ctrl + Left click Open link in a new background tab

Attribution: Groovy Post

Do I Need a Stormtrooper License?

It is every Star Wars fan’s dream mode of transport. An American firm has finally made a working ‘hoverbike’.

Made famous by ‘Return of the Jedi,’ where it flew through woods piloted by Stormtroopers, the real life version has been tested in the rather safer surrounding of the Mojave desert.

Created by California firm Aerofex, the vehicle is made from two ducted rotors facing the ground.

Changing the angle of the rotors using two control sticks allows it to move.

A video of the machine being piloted has already become a YouTube hit.

Initial plans to create a hoverbike were thwarted due to a complex control system.

However, Aerofex created a system that responds to a human pilot’s leaning movements and natural sense of balance.

‘Imagine personal flight as intuitive as riding a bike,’ the firm says on its website.

‘Or transporting a small fleet of first-responder craft in the belly of a passenger transport. ‘

The firm also believes it could be used to patrol borders quickly, and say the craft can travel over any terrain.

‘Think of the advantages of patrolling borders without first constructing roads.’

‘Think of it as lowering the threshold of flight, down to the domain of ATV’s (all-terrain vehicles),’ said Mark De Roche, an aerospace engineer and founder of Aerofex.

‘It essentially captures the translations between the two in three axis (pitch, roll and yaw), and activates the aerodynamic controls required to counter the movement — which lines the vehicle back up with the pilot,’ De Roche told InnovationNewsDaily.

‘Since [the pilot’s] balancing movements are instinctive and constant, it plays out quite effortlessly to him.’

However, sadly for Star Wars fans, the firm says it has no plans to sell hoverbikes, instead planning a range of unmanned drones using the technology.

The hovering drones, would use two enclosed rotors.

Aerofex has currently limited human flight testing to a height of 15 feet and speeds of about 30 mph.

The company plans to fly a second version of its vehicle in October, and is also preparing an unmanned drone version for flight testing by the end of 2013.

Antibiotics Cause Obesity

I don’t know if I buy this but it’s an interesting tidbit to consider. I personally, am more concerned with the overuse of antibiotics leading the way to anitbiotic resistant super-bugs.

Antibiotics Can Make Kids Fat

by:

Researchers are exploring a new culprit in the ever-growing childhood obesity epidemic: rampant use of antibiotic drugs to treat minor childhood illness.

For decades, farmers have been doping commercial livestock with antibiotics because the drugs increase, by about 15 percent, the weight of cattle, pigs and chickens.

A new study from the International Journal of Obesity suggests that treating infants with antibiotics during the first several months of their lives could have the same fattening effects. Babies that were given antibiotics within the first six months of life were more likely to be overweight as toddlers than those not exposed to the drugs. The study couldn’t prove beyond the shadow of doubt, however, that antibiotics were the only cause of weight gain.

A similar study examined the medical records of children born in the U.K. in the early 1990s and also found that infants given antibiotics within the first six months of life were more likely to be overweight or obese as toddlers when compared to babies not exposed to the drugs.

Other studies on the effects of antibiotics on the gut microbes of lab mice might explain the reason behind the weight gain. Researchers found that in the mice, antibiotics changed the makeup of gut bacteria that are instrumental in helping the body break down food and store proper amounts of fat.

And the Winner Is…

The incredible images below are of deep space taken by the Hubble Space Telescope and would have never been seen if it wasn’t for the hard work of dedicated amateurs.

With over a million observations since the Hubble’s launch 22 years ago, many of its most striking images have laid dorment in the Space Telescopes data vaults.

That was until the ESA (European Space Agency) opened them up to the public, and invited skywatchers to delve into the archives and search for the hidden treasures the scientists missed – and offered prizes for the most striking images.

The ESA said: “Hubble has made over a million observations since launch, but only a small proportion are attractive images — and an even smaller number are ever actually seen by anyone outside the small groups of scientists that publish them. But the vast amount of data in the archive means that there are still many hundreds of beautiful images scattered among the valuable, but visually unattractive, scientific data that have never been enjoyed by the public. We call these pictures Hubble’s hidden treasures, and a few months ago, we invited the public to look through Hubble’s science archive to help us find them. The response was impressive, with almost 3000 submissions. More than a thousand of these images were fully processed: a difficult and time-consuming task.”

Now the ESA has awarded prizes to the top ten entries in two categories: those that were processed and those that were simply picked out from the hundreds of thousands of images available.

“We call these pictures Hubble’s hidden treasures, and a few months ago, we invited the public to look through Hubble’s science archive to help us find them. The response was impressive, with almost 3000 submissions. More than a thousand of these images were fully processed: a difficult and time-consuming task.”

Now the ESA has awarded prizes to the top ten entries in two categories: those that were processed and those that were simply picked out from the hundreds of thousands of images available.

The first prize in the processed category, which asked entrants to painstakingly optimize images to highlight the visual beauty hidden in the scientific data, went to Josh Lake from the U.S.

He submitted a stunning image of NGC 1763, part of the N11 star-forming region in the Large Magellanic Cloud, which he optimized to create a bold two-color image which contrasts the light from glowing hydrogen and nitrogen.

“The image is not in natural colors — hydrogen and nitrogen produce almost indistinguishable shades of red light that our eyes would struggle to tell apart,” the ESA said.

“But Josh’s processing separates them out into blue and red, dramatically highlighting the structure of the region.” For his efforts he was sent a whole range of prizes, including an iPad.

Andre van der Hoeven, of the Netherlands, came a close second in the jury vote with an ‘highly attractive’ image of the spiral galaxy Messier 77, which the ESA said was, “an impressive piece of image processing, combining a number of datasets from separate instruments into one amazing picture.”

Andre said: “Well, this was my hardest job until now. Combining the different datasets to get equal colors was really hard. M77 was not fully covered by one dataset, so I had to combine channels of the WFPC2 with different wavelengths and tune the colors to get them to fit. But the result is in my opinion quite astonishing.” Unbelievable this one was not released before.

Third prize in the hotly contested category went to Judy Schmidt, also of the U.S., for her picture of XZ Tauri, a newborn star spraying out gas into its surroundings and lighting up a nearby cloud of dust.

This was jury’s favorite, the ESA said, adding that it, “was a challenging dataset to process, as Hubble only captured two colors in this area. Nevertheless, the end result is an attractive image, and an unusual object that we would never have found without her help.”

Robert Gendler, Fifth Prize, Messier 96

Renaud Houdinet, Forth Prize, Chamaeleon I

Judy Schmidt, Third Prize, Star XZ Tauri

Andre van der Hoeven, Second Prize, Messier 77

Josh Lake, First Prize, NGC1763

Attribution: Daily Mail

All in One Makeup

Scientists have developed camouflage makeup that not only helps soldiers hide from the enemy, but also shields them from the searing heat of bomb blasts – and it’s thinner than a sheet of paper.

The heat-resistant face paint, developed for the US military, has been described as one of the most fundamental changes in thousands of years to camouflage, and could also benefit fire fighters.

The material is tough enough to protect against a thermal blast that can reach 600 degrees Celsius (1,112 degrees Fahrenheit), as hot as a burning cigarette.

 
In the near future, camouflage paint could do a lot more than help soldiers hide from their enemies - it could even protect them from bomb blastsIn the near future, camouflage paint could do a lot more than help soldiers hide from their enemies – it could even protect them from bomb blasts
 
 

‘The thermal blast lasts only two seconds, but it can literally cook the face, hands and other exposed skin,’ said lead scientist Dr Robert Lochhead from The University of Southern Mississippi.

Dr Lochhead and colleagues set out to find a material that soldiers could smear on their faces like suntan lotion yet protects against heat far hotter than the rays that normally reach the skin.

 
Protection: The makeup could help soldiers avoid burns from thermal blastsProtection: The makeup could help soldiers avoid burns from thermal blasts
 

The formulation they discovered lasts far longer than a normal two second blast, generally providing protection for up to 15 second – and 60 seconds in some tests – before its own temperature rises to the point where a mild burn could occur.

The finding raises the possibility that other professions exposed to intense heat, such as fire fighters, could also use a colorless version.

The team had a difficult task in designing the face paint as they could not use traditional makeup ingredients – oil or wax-based face paint – as it can melt on the face and burn the skin when in contact with intense heat.

So instead they turned to non-flammable silicone.

 
Soldiers have used face paint for centuries to help their skin blend in with the natural environment and shield them from enemiesBlend in: Soldiers have used face paint for centuries to shield them from enemies

WHY SOLIDERS ARE AT RISK

Roadside bombs, which have claimed hundreds of lives in Iraq, Afghanistan and other conflicts, produce two blasts.

Firstly, a blast wave at high pressure that spreads out at supersonic speeds and can cause devastating internal injuries.

Secondly, the thermal blast, which follows almost instantaneously and exceeds 600 degrees Celsius.

The new face paint can provide protection against this second blast.

The makeup also had to be waterproof and non-irritating, and, in an extra challenge set by military rules, contain the insect repellent Deet.

‘Deet also is flammable, so when the Department of Defense asked us to incorporate it, we didn’t think we could do it,’ Dr Lochhead said.

Their solution was to encapsulate the Deet in a water-rich material that prevented it catching fire.

The team now plans to test the material on other surfaces to see if it can used to protect clothing, tents and other items from burning.

The study was presented at the annual meeting of the American Chemical Society.

Attribution: Mail Online

More Advances in Cancer Research

A chemical found in green tea has been used to treat two types of skin cancer, scientists say.

The extract is too weak to make an impact when consumed in tea. However, when applied to cancer cells in the lab it made two-thirds of tumors shrink or disappear.

Scientists at the universities of Strathclyde and Glasgow, who carried out the research, found the extract, known as epigallocatechin gallate (EGCg), had no side-effects on other cells or tissue.

They created a cell with EGCg and transferrin, a protein that naturally targets and latches on to the surface of cancer cells, and applied it to tumors.

Tests were done on two types of skin cancer: epidermoid carcinoma which forms scales on the surface of the skin and melanoma which often develops in people who have moles on their skin.

In both studies, 40 per cent of tumors vanished, while 30 per cent of tumors in carcinoma cases and 20 per cent in melanoma cases shrank. A further 10 per cent of melanoma tumors were stabilized, so did not grow or shrink.

Anti-cancer properties of EGCg were established in earlier laboratory tests elsewhere. Scientists at other universities around the world have experimented with it to treat prostate cancer and leukemia.

Lead researcher Dr Christine Dufes, from the University of Strathclyde, said: ‘These are very encouraging results which we hope could pave the way for new and effective cancer treatments.

‘When we used our method, the green tea extract reduced the size of many of the tumors every day, in some cases removing them altogether. By contrast, the extract had no effect at all when it was delivered by other means, as every one of these tumors continued to grow.

‘This research could open doors to new treatments for what is still one of the biggest killer diseases in many countries.’

The research is published in the medical journal Nanomedicine.
Attribution: Nanomedicine, Daily Mail