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Saturday, November 17, 2007

Google may make a solo bid for frequencies to run a wireless network

Google Readies Wireless Bid
Google may make a solo bid for frequencies to run a wireless network, but analysts say it needs a carrier partner.
Google is making the necessary preparations to bid for wireless spectrum in an auction be held in the U.S. in January -- but it will likely need a carrier partner to help build a network to use it, analysts said Friday.
The spectrum, between 698MHz and 806MHz, and collectively called the 700MHz band, is currently used for analog TV broadcasts. It is due to be freed up for other uses, such as operating mobile telecommunications networks, by 2009. The U.S. Federal Communications Commission plans to auction off the right to use that spectrum on Jan. 24, and bidders must declare their intention to participate by Dec. 3.
In July, Google said it would commit a minimum of US$4.6 billion to bid for a license to use the spectrum, if the FCC set certain conditions on the licenses. Those conditions included giving people the freedom to choose what applications and networks they use with the phones they bought, and giving service providers the freedom to connect with those networks and buy wholesale minutes from network owners on reasonable terms.
Google is still making "the necessary preparations" for a bid, a company representative said Friday.
The company is planning to finance that bid alone, without partners, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal.
Laying out that kind of money for spectrum -- and even paying for the construction of a wireless network to use it -- would present no great problem to Google, which, as of Sept. 30, had $13.1 billion in cash and cash equivalents on hand.
But analysts are skeptical of the benefit to Google of going it alone.
"Wireless spectrum and network management are nowhere near Google's core competency. Its competence is in one market, online advertising," said Emma Mohr McClune, principal analyst with Current Analysis.
That sentiment was echoed by Jan Dawson, a vice president at market analyst Ovum Ltd.
"Anything other than search at the minute seems like a move in the wrong direction," said Dawson. With its focus on search-based advertising, Google's financial metrics are "phenomenally better" than those that even the best mobile network operators can achieve, he said. "You have to wonder why a company would diversify into a market like that."
Google's goal may not be to make money from operating the network, though: it could simply be a lever to get its applications into the hands of more mobile phone owners.
It has already taken steps in this direction, offering versions of its Web applications for Apple's iPhone, and launching the Open Handset Alliance to promote its Android open software stack for mobile devices.
"The commonality between all those moves is to get their services running on mobile devices," said Adam Leach of Ovum.
Building a wireless network is too much for Google to attempt alone, say the analysts: the company should seek partners as it has in the handset market.
A carrier partner "is essential to building out and running a network. The core issue is the operations and maintenance of this new network. ... It is not trivial to build and run a telecommunications company," said Bill Ho, senior analyst at Current Analysis.
If Google is to partner with an operator it could choose Sprint, some analysts suggested. The two have already agreed to partner on WiMax services.
Partnering with Google could also be an opportunity for an experienced operator not yet present in the U.S. to enter that market, suggested Dawson. Possible candidates include Orange, a subsidiary of France Tilicom with networks in France, Poland, Spain, and the U.K., or Japan's NTT DoCoMo.
The U.S. is not the only country with plans to auction off analog television spectrum for new uses: The U.K. began withdrawing analog TV service this month, and other European Union countries are set to follow suit.
But the likelihood of this opening the way for a new pan-European service to rival GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) is remote: each country has different licensing rules for the television spectrum, and the frequencies used are not always the same from country to country.
Google Plans Pacific Cable, Wireless Bid In The UK
Google is planning a multi-terabit undersea communications cable across the Pacific Ocean for launch in 2009, according to a report from Commsday.
The Unity cable has been under development for several months, and Google is said to have met with Telstra (Australia’s largest telco) and Asia Netcomm in Sydney last week. The cable would run to Australia via Guam and Hawaii.
Interchange cable fees have always been a large issue for Australasian telco’s, with accusations from Australia and Asian countries that they are treated unfairly by US providers in terms of cost for data. In Australia at least, the cost of internet access is significantly higher that in the United States. Google’s move to provide a competitive Pacific Cable service could slash data costs for countries including Australia, Indonesia and even Singapore and Malaysia.
In the United Kingdom, Google is considering a move into the U.K. wireless market after Ofcom (the U.K.’s telecommunications regulator) unveiled plans to liberalize parts of the country’s mobile phone radio spectrum.

Global warming may have “abrupt and irreversible”

Climate change panel gives its final verdict: the future is bleak
Global warming may have “abrupt and irreversible” consequences and could cause the extinction of almost a third of all plant and animal species on the planet, the UN’s climate science panel will say today.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which shared this year’s Nobel Peace Prize with Al Gore, the former US Vice-President, will tell world leaders that they have only a decade to curb greenhouse gas emissions and prevent catastrophic warming.
The UN panel of 2,500 scientists is issuing its warning as governments prepare for a crucial climate summit in Bali next month. The report could shape environmental policy for decades.
A short summary for policymakers, to be used at the Bali conference, was agreed at 7am yesterday after all-night negotiations in Valencia. “Warming of the climate system is unequivocal,” the summary begins.
The agreed text states that human activities “could lead to abrupt or irreversible climate changes and impacts”. The report will note, however, that a range of policies, such as a carbon tax, emissions trading and incentives, could limit CO2 emissions but it does not recommend a particular approach, participants said.
A fuller document was still being agreed line by line last night by more than 140 delegations. The final version will be published this morning at a press conference chaired by Ban Ki Moon, the UN Secretary-General.
The report will say: “Approximately 20-30 per cent of plant and animal species assessed so far are likely to be at increased risk of extinction if global average temperatures exceed 1.5C to 2.5 C above 1980-99 levels.”
The “abrupt and irreversible” consequences of global warming could include the melting of the Greenland ice sheet, it will say. Other reasons for concern include melting of the polar ice-caps, widespread coral death, and the threat to indigenous people on small islands and in the Arctic region.
Environmental and science groups said that the report would ensure that the Bali discussions were firmly grounded in the scientific consensus on climate change. The talks are aimed at establishing a successor to the Kyoto Protocol on greenhouse emissions, which expires in 2012.
The WWF conservation group praised the IPCC’s scientists, who will receive the Nobel Peace Prize on December 10 in the middle of the Bali summit, for resisting pressure from governments seeking to weaken the report.
“The hard fact is we have caused climate change, and it’s also clear that we hold in our hands the solution to stop global warming,” Hans Verolme, a WWF expert on climate change, said. “The IPCC shows that to avoid irreparable harm, nothing less than deep cuts in carbon pollution are needed — the UN Climate Change conference in Bali will be where political leaders must act decisively.”
The IPCC’s “synthesis report” summarises three longer documents that together cover almost 3,000 pages, which predicted that temperatures are likely to rise by up to 4C by the end of the century, causing water shortages, more extreme weather, and the extinction of threatened species.
Today’s document ends a six-year review of the scientific evidence on climate change. The report will underline that predictions made by the panel six years ago are already coming true. But the IPCC has considered only work published up to last year, and so has ignored several alarming recent studies, such as research that suggests that the Southern Ocean and rainforests are soaking up less carbon dioxide than before.
— Government funding for recycling, energy saving, carbon emissions and nature protection is to be slashed by £300 million in emergency cuts, according to reports last night. The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs needs to make the savings after unexpected spending on tackling the foot-and-mouth outbreak.

Climate change: Ten ways to save the world.

1 Look to the people
Not revolutionary, but by using energy more efficiently in our homes and offices, and switching to renewable power sources, the biggest climate-savers are likely to be ourselves .

2 Solar surplus
Sunlight energy – the most abundant source of free energy on the planet – is high on the list. With the right technology, there is an endless amount to intercept.

3 Carbon capture

When we find the best;
way to do it, sucking up and storing CO2 from the atmosphere will be key to combating global warming. At present, however, these technologies are hugely energy-intensive .

4 Plant power
Growing plants, such as oil palms, for fuel is dogged by ecological and food-conservation issues. However, second-generation biofuels use agricultural waste to generate energy. Most promising are third-generation biofuels, using algae. Algae farms could convert sunlight into oil
5 Scrubbing emissions
Stopping CO2 reaching the atmosphere means we’ll have a lot less to remove later. Algae farms, once again, could be the solution. By building farms near power stations, emissions can be filtered through algal vats. These remove CO2. The algae can then be harvested for oil or dried to be processed into ethanol .

6 Taming the seas
Hurricanes need warm water to grow. Giant tubes that pump cold water up from the bottom of the sea could ‘tame’ storms by cooling the surface. The pumps could also mix nutrient-rich deep water with the relatively barren ocean surface. This would encourage algae to grow and use up dissolved CO2 in the water.

7 Changing colour
Painting areas white might be an effective way to cool down. This is the opposite of what’s happening in the Arctic, where disappearing ice means more heat is accepted by the planet .

8 A bit of everything
Some scientists argue that we don’t need to develop new technologies; we already have what we need to slow down climate change — wind, solar and nuclear energy, for example. However, to work, these techniques need to be scaled up and implemented immediately .

9 Scale down
The world’s population, currently about 6.6 billion, is growing at unprecedented rates. Experts warn that, as well as technological fixes, stopping the population from reaching nine billion ‘would be jolly helpful.

10 Nuclear fusion
This radioactive-free power source has recently shown promising signs. Experts note that nuclear fusion ‘should not be forgotten’

Tiny robotic roaches were able to influence the collective behavior of real ones

cockroach community recently had its collective mind changed-by a group of tiny robots. Certain animals engage in what's known as self-organization. Picture a school of fish or a flock of birds. Scientists have been researching autonomous robot systems based on this concept.

Hmm, no snacks here. But that's OK--this roach is looking for company, not food. And as it turns out, cockroaches may be more inclined to follow the crowd than to follow other entomological instincts.

Research published in Friday's edition of the journal Science used matchbox-size robots to put roaches to the test. Everyone who's ever stayed in a cheap hotel knows that the brown bugs scurry for the shelter of darkness when confronted with a bright light; could other roaches persuade them to adopt a riskier behavior?

What about mixed groups of, say, bots and bugs? A paper detailing this new animal-robot cooperation was published in the November 16 issue of Science. First, cockroaches were left alone in an area with two choices of shelter. After scurrying around, the group chose the darker shelter. Then came the robots. They look nothing like cockroaches. In fact, they more closely resemble tiny trucks. But apparently they smelled enough like roaches to trick the insects. The robo-roaches were trained to prefer the lighter shelter. They behaved like roaches, and eventually convinced the group to choose the lighter shelter in more than half the trials. But the robots sometimes were convinced by the roaches, too. In 40 percent of the trials, they joined the real-live roaches, and the group chose the darker shelter. The work signals a new app-"roach" for future research in animal-machine collaboration

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UN climate change : human activity is causing rising temperatures and that deep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions

Climate change is here, and it's getting worse, the year's final report by a U.N. panel will say when it's officially released Saturday.

"Warming of the climate system is unequivocal," the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's Summary for Policymakers begins in a statement meant to dispel any skepticism about climate change.

It goes on to say that global warming could lead to "abrupt and irreversible" results, such as the widespread extinction of species, according to persons familiar with the final draft who requested anonymity because the summary was not yet public.

Delegates at U.N. climate change talks have reached provisional agreement on a document that could shape environmental policies for decades, sources close to the talks said on Friday.

The document, which gives a summary of the latest scientific knowledge on the causes and effects of climate change, will be put before environment ministers at a meeting next month in Bali, Indonesia, which is likely to agree a two-year strategy to negotiate a successor to the Kyoto Protocol.

But final agreement on the synthesis report, as it is known, is dependent on approval of a much longer underlying scientific report which is still being considered.

The summary is set to say human activity is causing rising temperatures and that deep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, mainly from burning fossil fuels, are needed to avert ever more heat waves, melting glaciers and rising sea levels.

"The synthesis report has been provisionally agreed but the delegates are still going through the longer report and both of them have to be agreed," said Hans Verolme, Director of the WWF conservation group's Climate Change Programme.

"Progress is a bit slow and I'm preparing for a long evening," he said.

Delegates said it is unlikely the summary report will suffer any changes at this stage but a change to the underlying report could mean delegates have to revisit the summary again.

"... After this, no politician will be able to argue that they don't know what is happening," Verolme said earlier after one negotiating session that lasted all night.

"This meeting is a landmark that will influence policymakers for decades," he told reporters at a news briefing.

"Very strong language from the IPCC will require governments to take strong action," Verolme said. "The ball is in the politicians' court."

3,000 PAGES

Scientists and government officials from the 130-state Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) have been meeting all week in Valencia to boil down the findings of three reports they have issued this year about the risks of warming.

The final report will be presented on Saturday by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

Running to over 3,000 pages, the reports on the causes, consequences and possible remedies for climate change are being turned into a summary for policy-makers to make progress on the issue at the Bali meeting which is expected to lay down the climate change agenda after Kyoto's first period ends in 2012.

Delegates from the environmental movement appeared happy the synthesis had not watered down the message from the scientific advisors and said fears ahead of the conference had not been realised.

"I think the report is somewhat stronger than many people feared," one delegate said, adding it includes five strong reasons for concern -- including threats to unique ecosystems, projected extinctions, extreme weather events.

"It also points to areas most at risk such as Asian megadeltas, poor countries, Arctic ice sheets and says that sea level rise is inevitable."

The Kyoto treaty obliges 36 industrial nations to cut emissions by at least 5 percent below 1990 levels by 2008-12. A new deal would aim to involve outsiders led by the U.S. and China, the world's top two emitters which have no Kyoto goals.

The IPCC has drawn much more attention since it became the joint winner of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize along with former U.S. Vice President Al Gore and this has meant that governments are watching and shaping its conclusions with even more care.

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world's first high-definition image an Earth-rise

world's first high-definition image an Earth-rise
World's First HDTV Image Of 'Earth-rise' Over Moon

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and NHK (Japan Broadcasting Corporation) have successfully performed the world's first high-definition image taking of an Earth-rise* by the lunar explorer "KAGUYA" (SELENE), which was injected into a lunar orbit at an altitude of about 100 km .
The Apollo project was the first mission to take images of Earth rising over the Moon. The KAGUYA successfully shot high-definition images of the Earth-rise showing an impressive image of the blue Earth which was the only floating object in pitch-dark space. These are the world's first high-definition earth images taken from about 380,000 km away from the earth in space.

The image taking was performed by the KAGUYA's onboard high definition television (HDTV) for space use developed by NHK. The moving image data acquired by the KAGUYA was received at the JAXA Usuda Deep Space Center, and processed by NHK.

The satellite was confirmed to be in good health through telemetry data received at the Usuda station.

* Note: Earth-rise is a phenomenon seen only from satellites that travel around the Moon, such as the KAGUYA and the Apollo space ship. The Earth-rise cannot be observed by a person who is on the Moon as they can always see the Earth at the same position.

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