Mechanical engineering professor Paul Wright says that new information technologies such as wearable computers—earrings that monitor body condition, for example—present a host of design problems along with engineering challenges. He is one of several University of California at Berkeley professors behind the University's Center for Information Technology in the Interest of Society (CITRIS). "I'm interested in working with artists to study the human environment in an ethnographic way and to bring that information into the design process," Wright says. CITRIS research will initially focus on the areas of energy efficiency, transportation, seismic safety, education, health care, and environmental monitoring. For more information, go to www.citris.berkeley.edu.
Although plastics make up only about 11% of all US municipal solid waste, many are actually more energy-dense than coal. Converting these non-recycled plastics into energy with existing technologies could reduce US coal consumption, as well as boost domestic energy reserves, says a new study.
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