Published: Tuesday 31 July 2007

wireless charge:Your mobile phone may soon recharge itself in the same way it transfers information: wirelessly. Marin Soljacic and colleagues at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the US had previously used computer simulations to show that electromagnetic energy stored in one coil can be drained by another of the same resonant frequency. Now the team has used the technique to transmit enough power across a room to light a 60-watt bulb. A current alternating at 10 megahertz passes through a coil linked to a capacitor, generating oscillating magnetic and electric fields. The fluctuating magnetic field induces a current in a receiver coil 2 metres away wirelessly.

cheaper comeback: Nuclear-powered rockets could save NASA billions of dollars in launch costs for its planned return to the Moon. The higher efficiency of nuclear propulsion would reduce the number of launches needed to build a lunar base. Steven Howe, director of the Center for Space Nuclear Research (CSNR) at the Idaho National Laboratory in the US, says the cost could be reduced using more efficient nuclear-powered rockets. His study shows huge potential savings from using nuclear power in NASAs Ares V, the launch vehicle being developed to haul heavy cargo, including parts for a lunar base, to the Moon.

drying arctic: Thousand year old high Arctic ponds are completely drying out during the polar summer, new research by Marianne Douglas of the University of Alberta and John Smol of Queens University (both in the US) says. These shallow ponds, which dot the Arctic landscape, are important indicators of environment change and are especially susceptible to climate change because of their low water volume. They published data from the last 24 years on the water level and quality of 40 such ponds in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) representing the longest record of this kind from the high Arctic.

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