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NYTimes Analysis: Offshore Wind Industry May Grow In US.

The New York Times (8/22, Gillis, Subscription Publication) reports that completion of the Block Island Wind Farm off the coast of Rhode Island “will mark the start of a new American industry.” Thousands of offshore wind turbines have already been installed in Europe, but American wind power projects “ran into roadblocks, including high costs, murky rules...and stiff opposition from people who did not want their ocean views marred by machinery.” However, the Administration has been using a 2005 law to clarify wind-power regulations and lease out large patches of ocean floor for wind-power development. State governments in recent months have

Article posted: 08/23/2016

US Army Funds Vision Prosthesis Projects.

UPI (8/9, Feller) reports that the US Army is funding research for sight-improving vision prosthetics for veterans who sustained eye injuries in Afghanistan and Iraq. The US Army Medical Research and Material Command in Fort Detrick, MD “announced three projects have been chosen for further development that may lead to some measure of healing for soldiers whose sight has been damaged, and eventually other patients whose sight has been damaged by injury or disease.” Among the three is a “wireless, implantable neural prosthesis” developed by Massachusetts Ear and Ear. The prosthesis “bypasses a patient’s damaged optic nerve and stimulates the lateral geniculate nucleus. This is a main part of the brain’s visual processing pathway, and would mean patients do not need to have a working optic nerve in order to have sight restored.”

Article posted: 08/10/2016

DOE Report: US Hydropoower Could Grow Significantly.

The Washington Post (7/26, Mooney, Dennis) writes that a new report from the Department of Energy’s Wind and Water Power Technologies Office “concludes that substantial growth is possible in the” hydropower “sector, considerably upping the percentage of electricity that could come from non-carbon emitting sources.” The report says the current hydropower electricity-generating capacity of about 101 gigawatts could be increased by about 50 percent by 2050, partly because a number of existing dams aren’t generating electricity. However, dams can harm wildlife, block fish migration, and affect water quality. Still, Jose Zayas, who directs the Office, called hyrdopower “a really flexible generation source, significantly more flexible than say fossil, coal, significantly more flexible than nuclear, and even possibly more flexible than natural gas.”

Article posted: 07/27/2016

Auto Industry Courting Female Workers.

The Boston Globe  (7/5, Johnston) reports that despite an uptick in the numbers of women taking automotive courses in New England, “the share of them working as mechanics and in auto parts sales has declined in recent years — reflecting a drop in females in many male-dominated industries.” However, “the automotive industry is doing more to attract women to the field — and keep them there.” The article describes work being done by manufacturers and industry groups to address gender disparities in the sector’s workforce.

Article posted: 07/05/2016

Researchers To Launch 10-Year Project To Create Synthetic Human Genomes.

The Washington Post (6/2, Achenbach) reports scientists, entrepreneurs, and policy leaders met at Harvard University for a closed-door, invitation-only meeting “to discuss an ambitious plan to create synthetic human genomes.” The participants “have published their idea, declaring that they’re launching a project to radically reduce the cost of synthesizing genomes – a potentially revolutionary development in biotechnology that could enable technicians to grow human organs for transplantation.”

 

The New York Times (6/2, Pollack, Subscription Publication) reports that the group published the 10-year project on Thursday in the journal Science. The project plans “have already set off an ethical debate, because the ability to chemically fabricate the complete set of human chromosomes could theoretically allow the creation of babies without biological parents.” The project will be run by the Center of Excellence for Engineering Biology and seeks “to raise $100 million this year from various public and private sources.” National Institutes of Health Director Dr. Francis S. Collins “said in a statement that while N.I.H. was interested in encouraging advances in DNA synthesis, it ‘has not considered the time to be right for funding a large-scale production-oriented’ project like the one being proposed.” He added, “whole-genome, whole-organism synthesis projects extend far beyond current scientific capabilities, and immediately raise numerous ethical and philosophical red flags.”

Article posted: 06/03/2016