Saturday, April 10, 2010

Still plenty of surprising news...

This week didn't see the end of "Say what??" headlines:
  • China logs a trade deficit
China posted its first trade deficit in six years in March even as the yuan stayed pegged to the dollar, aiding government efforts to play down the currency’s role in global economic imbalances.
The $7.24 billion shortfall, reported by the customs bureau on its Web site today, compared with a median forecast for a $390 million deficit in a Bloomberg News survey of 26 economists. Imports surged 66 percent from a year earlier as exports gained 24 percent.
A trade deficit for a single month may not persuade the U.S. to ease pressure on China to scrap the 21-month-old peg amid calls in Congress for the nation to be branded a currency manipulator. A return to a surplus is likely as soon as this month after seasonal labor shortages hurt exporters of clothes, shoes and bags in March, the customs bureau said yesterday. [More]

I still look for gradual appreciation in their currency, with trade benefits for US farm commodities.
  •  New element - unumseptium  - discovered (briefly)
In recent years, scientists have created several new elements at the Dubna accelerator, called a cyclotron, by smacking calcium into targets containing heavier radioactive elements that are rich in neutrons — a technique developed by Dr. Oganessian.
Because calcium contains 20 protons, simple math indicates scientists would have to fire the calcium at something with 97 protons — berkelium — to produce ununseptium, element 117.
Berkelium is mighty hard to come by, but a research nuclear reactor at Oak Ridge produced about 20 milligrams of highly purified berkelium and sent it to Russia, where the substance was bombarded for five months late last year and early this year.
An analysis of decay products from the accelerator indicated that the team had produced a scant six atoms of ununseptium. But that was enough to title the paper, “Synthesis of a new element with atomic number Z=117.”
That is about the closest thing to “Eureka!” that the dry conventions of scientific publication will allow. The new atoms and their decay products displayed the trend toward longer lifetimes seen in past discoveries of such heavy elements. The largest atomic number so far created is 118, also at the Dubna accelerator. [More]
Just one more "gotcha" for periodic table freaks.  Still, I like "unobtainium" better.
  •  Tiger Woods didn't buy iPad for Sandra Bullock!
Really, I like totally mean it. We're watching 'round the clock, ya know.

No comments: