The United States continues to lag other nations in its use of computing and communications technology, according to an annual study issued Tuesday by the World Economic Forum.
For the second consecutive year, the United States finished fifth in the study’s comparison of 138 countries that make up 98.8 percent of the world’s total gross domestic product. Sweden was first, followed by Singapore, Finland and Switzerland.
These rankings, for 2010, are based on an index of 71 economic and social indicators, as diverse as new patents, mobile phone subscriptions and availability of venture capital.
The annual reports began in 2001, after the collapse of the Internet bubble. The World Economic Forum, based in Davos, Switzerland, holds that technological progress is the principal driver of innovation, productivity and efficiency.
I recently read that we’re still in the top five for patent on new technology so we’re still very much in the game. However, studies like this should serve as a warning to those who think it is in our best long term interests to cut funding for science research, colleges and student loans and grants. That relative pennies in savings now will costs us much more as a nation in the future. Though since we have Republicans crying, begging and generally being obnoxious in advocating cuts in aid to children, the disabled and the elderly, it is unlikely cutting funds for science and technology will bother them much.
There are some people who acknowledge their wealth is partly luck, partly hard work and having wealth does not mean they can spend the rest of their lives in a bubble, “Patriotic Millionaires”: Raise our taxes, please!
Patriotic Millionaires for Fiscal Strength, a group of dozens of the wealthiest Americans that formed last year during the fight over whether to extend the Bush tax cuts, is now jumping into the budget battle just as President Obama is expected to call for an end to the Bush cuts on the rich.
“For the fiscal health of our nation and the well-being of our fellow citizens, we ask that you increase taxes on incomes over $1,000,000,” the group writes in a new letter to Obama, Harry Reid, and John Boehner. “We make this request as loyal citizens who now or in the past earned incomes of $1,000,000 per year or more.”
A combination of forest byproducts and crustacean shells may be the key to removing radioactive materials from drinking water, researchers from North Carolina State University have found.
“As we’re currently seeing in Japan, one of the major health risks posed by nuclear accidents is radioactive iodide that dissolves into drinking water. Because it is chemically identical to non-radioactive iodide, the human body cannot distinguish it – which is what allows it to accumulate in the thyroid and eventually lead to cancer,” says Dr. Joel Pawlak, associate professor of forest biomaterials. “The material that we’ve developed binds iodide in water and traps it, which can then be properly disposed of without risk to humans or the environment.”
The new material – a combination of hemicellulose, a byproduct of forest materials, and chitosan, crustacean shells that have been crushed into a powder – not only absorbs water, but can actually extract contaminates, such as radioactive iodide, from the water itself.
Great for drinking water, but probably not the solution to clean all the sea water within a hundred mile radius of the Japanese facility currently in the news.