June 18, 2013

    Photo: Youtube.com

WATCH: Volcano Spews 4km Ash Plume

Mexico’s Popocatepetl volcano has erupted

Mexico’s Popocatepetl volcano erupted Monday afternoon, sending a plume of ash almost four kilometers into the air and starting a number of wildfires. The 5,452-meter volcano is one of the most active in Mexico and has experienced several major eruptions since 1994. While small amounts of ash are expelled almost every day, Monday’s eruption was the largest in weeks and raised the volcano alert level to Yellow Phase 2.

Surrounding roads are now only open to controlled traffic and officials have set up a 12-kilometer restricted access area around the volcano. A time-lapse of Monday’s eruption can be seen here:

Nearly 4.5 million people live within 50 kilometers of Popocatepetl. Of those, 650,000 are in areas considered high risk.


Cyclist Jeannie Longo

Cyclist Jeannie Longo     Photo: Ludo29880/Flickr

Jeannie Longo to Race Again

Will compete at French national championships

Fifty-four-year-old veteran cyclist Jeannie Longo will compete in the French national championship in a bid to win her 60th title this week. In 2012, Longo finished 5th in the time trial and 12th in the road race, eliminating her chances of competing at the Olympic Games. While her performance sparked talk of retirement, she chose to continue racing.

"I think that [retirement] would be wrong, that is why I relaunched myself this spring. As long as there is life, there is hope," she told CyclingNews last June.

Longo and her husband, Patrice Ciprelli, have a checkered history with performance enhancing drugs. Ciprelli was investigated for buying EPO in 2007 from disgraced American cyclist Joe Papp. In a reasoned decision issued in 2011, Longo was cleared for missing three out-of-competition drug tests, which would normally lead to a two-year ban.


    Photo: Wikipedia

NASA Selects 4 Women as Trainees

Highest percentage in history

After vetting 6,100 applicants over a two-year search, NASA has selected eight new candidates to be its newest astronaut trainees, four of whom are women, the highest number selected in the program's history. (There were four women in the class of 1998, but they accounted for only 16 percent of the class.)

All eight trainees are between the ages of 34 and 39, so they'll be into their fifties by 2030, the earliest possible date for a Mars mission.

Until then, astronauts could test vehicles built by private companies or spend time aboard the International Space Station. NASA also has a plan to capture an asteroid and drag it into orbit around the moon in the next two decades.


    Photo: Courtesy of Vodaphone

New Sleeping Bag Charges Cell Phones

Debuting at music festivals this summer

Music festival attendees this summer will get to try out a new way of charging their smartphones: a sleeping bag that turns body heat into electricity while its user snoozes. Developed in conjunction with the University of Southampton, the Recharge sleeping bag can provide up to 24 minutes of talk time or 11 hours of standby time from eight hours of sleep.

On Vodaphone's blog, Professor Stephen Beeby of the university's Electronics and Computer Science Department explained how the device works:

"Basically, we’re printing down pairs of what are called ‘thermocouples’,” he explains. “You print lots of those down and connect them up to make a thermoelectric module. “One side of that is cold and the other is hot, and when you get a flow of heat through it you can create a voltage and a current. Voltage and current together equals electrical power.”

Vodaphone will test the device at several music festivals this summer, including Bonnaroo and the Isle of Wight Festival.