2/20/2005:

Intermediate Word:  baleen (a) net used to secure cargo  (b) whalebone  (c) curved comb  (d) fishing boat's fish storage well
Difficult Word:
  eutectic -  (a) favorable economic conditions  (b) alloy composition yielding the lowest melting point  (c) working toward the common good  (d) arising independently

Alzheimer's risk 'is 80% genetic'  - BBC  Up to 80% of the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease is genetic US researchers looked at almost 400 sets of elderly twins, where at least one had Alzheimer's. It also found that genetic factors appeared to determine when a person developed the condition. Two-thirds of adults aged 65 years and older with dementia have Alzheimer's. The researchers estimated heritability - what proportion of risk for a disease across a population is genetic - for Alzheimer's to be between 58% and 79%. Where both twins had the disease, there was an average of 3.66 years difference in age at onset, and 8.12 years difference between 20 sets of fraternal twins. 
Cosmic Log: Space elevator’s next floor - MSNBC  Liftport Group, headquartered in Bremerton, Wash., said that high-altitude balloons lofted an instrument platform to a mile in altitude for six hours, with a carbon fiber-laced ribbon hanging down to the ground. A robotic lifter, measuring 5-foot-6 (170 centimeters) in length, grabbed onto the ribbon and pulled itself up to altitudes of more than 1,500 feet (460 meters), besting the previous record by 500 feet. The last time around, the ribbon was the weakest link in the chain. This time, the robotic lifter was the failure point: LiftPort's engineers installed nylon gears to cut down on the robot's weight, but when the robot approached the 1,500-foot point, "we started grinding down the gears," he said. Nevertheless, Laine said he was so happy with the test "that we're starting to design the 2-mile system now." In the meantime, Laine is gearing up for a test of a different type. In cooperation with the Mars Desert Research Station and a team from Georgia Tech, LiftPort will be setting up a balloon-borne, lifter-serviced communications platform that would relay signals during a simulated Mars mission in the Utah desert in late March and early April.   

Do bugs hold key to end oil addiction? - MSNBC  The key to kicking what President Bush calls the nation’s oil addiction could very well lie in termite guts, canvas-eating jungle bugs and other microbes genetically engineered to spew enzymes that turn waste into fuel. It may seem hard to believe that microscopic bugs usually viewed as destructive pests can be so productive. But scientists and several companies are working with the creatures to convert wood, corn stalks and other plant waste into sugars that are easily brewed into ethanol — essentially 199-proof moonshine that can be used to power automobiles and with hardly any of the emissions tied to global warming. “The technologies are out there to do this, but we need to convince the public this is real and not just a science project.”     




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