Daily TIPs: DNA for Doctors, Self-driving Prius, Google High on the Seas, & More

Berners-Lee Creates Web Foundation

The man who invented the World Wide Web, Tim Berners-Lee, has launched a new foundation to promote open and expanded access to the Web. Ars Technica reports that the World Wide Web Foundation has $1 million in seed funding from the Knight Foundation. Specific goals of the project have not yet been announced.

DNA Machine Advances Personal Genomics

One of the hopes for the revolution brought about by the sequencing of the human genome is that doctors will one day be able to customize medical care to individual patients’ based on their genetic makeup. Technology Review reports that a Menlo Park, CA, company, Pacific Biosciences, has developed a machine for quickly and cheaply sequencing DNA. The company hopes to make the process fast and inexpensive enough that sequencing can become a routine procedure in doctors’ offices.

Chamber of Commerce Decries Carbon Regulations

Regulation of carbon dioxide would affect more than 1 million businesses and could stifle economic innovation, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce says. Reuters tells us that the Chamber is releasing a report claiming that any business that spends more than $70,000 a year on oil or natural gas would be affected by proposed regulations. But a spokesman for the Natural Resources Defense Council calls the report an attempt to stir up anti-regulatory hysteria.

Engineer Demonstrates Robot Prius

Tired of the stress of stop-and-go driving? An engineer in San Francisco has a proposed solution, a robot-driven car that makes the decisions for you—speeding up, braking, staying in the lane all on its own. CNET News reports that the engineer, Anthony Levandowski, demonstrated the system he built into a Toyota Prius by having the car navigate its own way through San Francisco last week.

Comparing the Candidates on Science Issues

Republican presidential candidate John McCain has answered a series of questions posed to him by a group called Science Debate 2008. The New York Times summarizes his positions, along with those of Democratic candidate Barack Obama, who answered them in late August. Not surprisingly, Obama’s answers stress the role of government while McCain focuses on business in addressing some of the nation’s main science-related challenges.

Link Found Between Plastics, Heart Disease

A chemical used in some food and drink containers may increase the risk of heart disease and diabetes, according to a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The study found that people with the highest levels of bisphenol A in their urine were three times more likely to have cardiovascular disease and 2.4 times more likely to have diabetes than those with the lowest levels, Nature reports. The story cautions that the study does not prove that the chemical causes these diseases, but quotes an epidemiologist as saying that it “puts a scientific question mark” over the substance.

U.S. Losing its Lead in IT

The United States still has the world’s most competitive information technology industry, but that lead is slipping, according to a new study. BusinessWeek says the Business Software Alliance ranks 66 countries in six areas, including the availability of skilled labor and friendliness to innovation. The U.S. ranked number 1 in only three categories, and had an overall ranking lower than last year’s.

Google Goes to Sea

As if Google’s dominance in cyberspace weren’t enough, the company is now thinking of taking its mainframes to the bounding main. The Times Online reports that the company is considering placing the supercomputers that power its search engine on barges anchored up to seven miles offshore, where it could use wave energy to run and cool the machines. Let’s just hope the data doesn’t end up in Davy Jones’s locker.

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