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UPI NewsTrack Science and Technology News

Feb. 13, 2013 at 6:56 PM   |   Comments

Most Americans support Obama on climate

WASHINGTON, Feb. 13 (UPI) -- Most Americans consider climate change a serious problem and support President Obama using his authority to reduce dangerous carbon pollution, a poll indicates.

The poll conducted for the Natural Resources Defense Council immediately after the president's State of the Union speech Tuesday found 65 percent of Americans think climate change is a serious problem and 60 percent support the president using his authority to reduce dangerous carbon pollution.

"The president made it absolutely clear that he will lead the fight against dangerous carbon pollution, and a compelling majority of Americans stand firmly behind that leadership," NRDC President Frances Beinecke said Wednesday.

A majority of Americans, 57 percent, agreed with Obama's promise to make addressing climate change a priority in his second term, said Tom Jensen, director of Public Policy Polling, which conducted the poll for the NRDC and Environment America.

Fifty-eight percent indicated they thought the country should do more to address climate change, Jensen said.

The poll was conducted among of 1,218 registered voters, with margin of error of plus or minus 2.8 percentage points.


Gaming controller could be medical aid

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark., Feb. 13 (UPI) -- The Microsoft Kinect game controller could cut U.S. healthcare costs by up to $30 billion by giving doctors a low-cost "telemedicine" system, researchers say.

Scientists at the University of Arkansas, working with Microsoft, say gaming technology could be used to "teleport" the knowledge and skills of healthcare workers to where they are needed.

They suggest a laptop, a $150 Kinect and an Internet connection could replace or augment existing systems that cost tens of thousands of dollars.

Such a system could cut patient transport costs for those who live considerable distances from suitable medical facilities and would also lower the risk of hospital-acquired infections, they said.

"The Kinect allows doctors to control the system without breaking the sterile field via hand gestures and voice commands with a goal of reducing the direct cost of healthcare associated infections to hospitals and patients," researchers Janet Bailey of the University of Arkansas and Microsoft's Bradley Jensen wrote in the International Journal of Electronic Finance.

Their Kinect system, dubbed the Collaboration and Annotation of Medical Images is, the researchers say, "not anticipated to be a panacea to the telemedicine environment but it is a powerful tool that can be affordable in virtually any community that has existing technology and communication infrastructure."


Busy beavers help Canada geese

EDMONTON, Alberta, Feb. 13 (UPI) -- Canada geese get an earlier start when they fly home and begin spring nesting, thanks to a helping hand -- from eager beavers, scientists say.

Researchers at the University of Alberta report ponds in the province where beavers were active tended show an earlier thaw of winter snow pack, giving the geese a better chance at reproductive success.

The scientists, surveying 32 active and 39 inactive beaver ponds at Miquelon Lake Provincial Park in east-central Alberta, found open water occurred an average of 10.7 days earlier in active ponds.

Beaver activity, such as building lodges and foraging for food, warmed and thawed the water, making it a more welcoming habitat for geese to nest, researcher Glynnis Hood said.

"Having access to safe nesting grounds and ample food is necessary for Canada geese to raise at least one set of offspring before fall migration," she said.

The open water also benefited several other animals, Hood said, including coyotes, fox, weasels, moose, deer, ravens and other birds.


Touchscreen keyboard can appear, disappear

FREMONT, Calif., Feb. 13 (UPI) -- A U.S. tech firm says it's developed a touchscreen keyboard that rises from the smooth screen surface to allow text input and then disappears when not needed.

Tactus Technology, based in California, says its technology, based on microfluidics, created physical keys that "bubble" up from the screen for typing then flatten out, leaving the touchscreen completely smooth, CNET reported Wednesday.

The touchscreen panel has channels under its surface filled with a non-toxic fluid that can be pressurized to push up the surface of the panel, creating a physical key.

Varying the pressure can create keys with a soft, gel-like feel or harder like traditional plastic keys, Tactus said.

"The vision that we had was not just to have a keyboard or a button technology, but really to make a fully dynamic surface," Tactus co-founder Micah Yairi said. "So you can envision the entire surface being able to raise and lower depending on what the application is that's driving it."

Topics: Barack Obama
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