11/19/2004:

Intermediate Word:  feckless   (a) lacking a feck  (b) unprincipled  (c) ineffective  (d) unbridled
Difficult Word: - incunabulum   (a) incantation  (b) early artifact  (c) magic talisman  (d)  inscription

Catching Cosmic Bangs: NASA’s Swift Observatory to Hunt for Gamma-Ray Bursts - Space.com  Just eight days away from launch, NASA’s Swift spacecraft is being readied for a mission to scan the sky for gamma-ray bursts, cosmic explosions that can burn with the intensity of billions of suns in less than a second. Researchers hope the mission will identify the trigger that sets off the bursts.  “We think these bursts are the birth cries of black holes,” GRBs could also be triggered through more exotic means.   
Glacial lake, Navin Singh Khadka Himalaya glaciers melt unnoticed  - BBC  Left:  No one is keeping an eye on the glacial lakes.  Environmentalists are warning that the melting of glaciers in the Himalayas could spell disaster for millions of people living in the region. They claim the situation is not being adequately monitored; the last major studies having been done in the 1990s. Swelling glacial lakes would increase the risk of catastrophic flooding. In the long term, the glaciers could disappear altogether, causing several rivers to shrink and threatening the survival of those who depend on them. "It is high time we did field studies to assess the situation or else a big natural catastrophe could hit us anytime," said Arun Bhakta Shrestha, from Nepal's Department of Hydrology and Meteorology. There are 3,300 glaciers in the Nepalese Himalayas and 2,300 of them contain glacial lakes. These lakes are quietly growing because of rising temperatures, but a sufficiently close eye is not being kept on them, campaigners say. A burst lake would cause flash floods which could sweep away people, houses, roads and bridges in Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh and India. A glacial lake burst in Khumbu, Nepal, in 1985, killing at least 20 people. It also washed away a hydropower station, a trekking trail and numerous bridges.

Petrol prices in China, AP

Soaring demand: Can we meet global energy needs without destroying the planet?  - BBC  The International Energy Agency says the world will need almost 60% more energy in 2030 than in 2002, and fossil fuels will still meet most of its needs. We depend on oil for 90% of our transport, and for food, pharmaceuticals, chemicals and the entire bedrock of modern life. But oil industry experts estimate that current reserves will only last for about 40 years. Pessimists predict production will start declining within 15 years, while optimists say we won't have to worry for a century - though rising prices are likely to push us towards alternative energy sources anyway. Gas, often a suitable replacement for oil, won't last indefinitely either. Not everyone depends on the fossil trio, though. Nearly a third of today's world population (6.1bn people) have no electricity or other modern energy supplies, and another third have only limited access. But if everyone in developing countries used the same amount of energy as the average consumer in high income countries does, the developing world's energy use would increase more than eightfold between 2000 and 2050. The signs are already there. In the first half of 2003 China's car sales rose by 82% compared with the same period in 2002.





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