Sci-Tech Briefs

Discovery to build on space station

NASA launched the space shuttle Discovery last Tuesday on a mission to install a new module, Harmony, at the International Space Station (ISS).

Harmony is a 23- by 14-foot passageway that will connect the American sections of the ISS to the European and Japanese modules, including the U.S. Destiny Laboratory and Kibo Japanese Experiment Module.

Harmony will be installed by Italian astronaut Paolo Nespoli.

Six other astronauts are involved in this mission, which also aims to relocate the part of the space station that holds the ISS’s solar panels to a new, permanent position.

Discovery took off despite cracks that were found on the wing panels a few days before the launch. Experts did not consider these cracks threatening enough to repair.


Bangkok faces rising sealine

Bangkok city is sinking at the rate of approximately four inches per year.

The infrastructure, which lies above a swampy floodplain, is dropping below sealine as water is pumped out of its aquifers for commercial consumption. This is causing the clay levels to compact and sink.

Experts say that the gulf’s waters have been rising at the rate of one-tenth of an inch per year.

Several possible solutions are being explored, including a system of dikes to contain the rising waters, as well as building water-diversion channels, upcountry dams, and diverting off-flow from the surges into reservoirs for storage.

Source: CNN

Dinosaur footprints found in Australia

Paleontologists from Australia and the United States have unearthed evidence showing that large dinosaurs inhabited southern Australia about 115 million years ago.

Findings suggest that the dinosaurs stood up to 12 feet tall and were able to survive in temperatures as low as minus 30°C.

Three separate footprints measuring up to 14 inches in length were discovered in southern Australia, close to the shoreline of Victoria. Each fossil had at least two or three visible partial toes. Experts say that these dinosaurs lived for 10 million years during the Cretaceous period.

Source: Reuters

Ebay launches charity investment

Last Wednesday, eBay launched a site that allows investors to purchase securities that are invested in improving living conditions in poverty-stricken regions around the world. MicroPlace by eBay (, allows users to invest a minimum of $100 in funds aiding development in these regions.

MicroPlace is the first online service through which small investors can gain returns on their online investments while also battling world poverty. Its first 10 securities will be invested through the Calvert Social Investment Foundation, in countries such as Tajikistan, Cambodia, and Ghana.

Investments mature in two to four years, and have an expected yield of 1.5 to 3 percent per year.

Source: Reuters