Thursday, March 26, 2009

Dollar makes gains on GDP data

The dollar rose against most major counterparts Thursday, as investors took hope from revised U.S. gross-domestic-product data, which showed a less-dire contraction than many had feared.

In late-afternoon trading in New York, the euro was at $1.3517, down from $1.3597 late Wednesday. The dollar rose to 98.79 yen, up from 97.43 yen. The euro was at 133.55 yen, up from 132.47 yen. The dollar traded at 1.1280 Swiss francs, up from 1.1197 francs. The pound was at $1.4446, down from $1.4552 late Wednesday.

U.S. real gross domestic product plunged at a 6.3% annualized seasonally adjusted rate in the fourth quarter, the Commerce Department reported Thursday in its third estimate of quarterly growth. GDP hadn't fallen so much since the first quarter of 1982. It was the third-largest decline in GDP in 50 years.

However, the downward revision to a 6.3% drop was smaller than the 6.7% decline expected by economists surveyed by MarketWatch. A month ago, the government agency said the economy fell at a 6.2% annual rate.

"Despite the doom-and-gloom outlook by some economists and the pessimistic feel on Main Street, recent economic data hasn't been as weak as everyone expected," said Kathy Lien, director of currency research at GFT.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Scientists to Study Interactions among Earth's Environment, Society and the Economy

Humans have contributed to widespread changes in the environment, according to scientists. Now we will need to adapt to both predicted and unexpected such changes, they state.

The role, pace and impact of regional and local environmental change will need to be factored into human decision processes, with careful attention paid to uncertainties, say Tim Killeen, National Science Foundation (NSF) assistant director for geosciences, and David Lightfoot, NSF assistant director for social, behavioral & economic sciences.

To identify the strategies best suited to cover replacement costs for lost services, or recover from the effects of natural hazards, it's important to compare the impacts of various mitigation efforts, such as those for carbon management like "cap and trade" programs, say Killeen and Lightfoot.

To factor valuation of "ecosystem services"--what Earth's resources offer humans--into economic activities in a way that provides critically important information about land and water use, NSF's Directorates for Geosciences (GEO) and Social, Behavioral & Economic Sciences (SBE) have announced a focus on the impacts of humans and our economy on the environment.

The Directorates have issued a Dear Colleague Letter to the scientific community encouraging increased research, jointly supported by core programs in GEO and SBE, on the links among environment, society and the economy.

Especially sought are projects that address such areas as the impacts and adaptation of economic systems; the role of incentives in human behavior; environmental change and its impact on the evolution of human behavior; the interplay of environmental change and inequality of income and access to resources; and overcoming economic and political difficulties in implementing science-based mitigation strategies.

"Climate change will have significant impacts on many aspects of the Earth system," says Killeen, "including carbon sequestration, water and air purification, fisheries and agricultural production and species habitats. Some climate-induced changes will occur gradually, while others will be abrupt."

Adds Lightfoot, "Models show that changes in climate will greatly affect coastal regions, many of which have large urban populations. Climate change may alter the duration and magnitude of monsoonal rainfalls and river flooding. Communities will have to respond appropriately to these new stresses."

These effects and many others, Killeen and Lightfoot state, have direct bearing on economic and policy decisions confronting individuals, groups, firms and governments at local, regional, national and global levels.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Planck Arrives at Launch Pad

The Planck spacecraft has arrived at the Centre Spatial Guyanais in Kourou, French Guiana, where it is scheduled to be launched atop an Ariane 5 rocket on April 16. The spacecraft arrived from Belgium via an Antonov An-124 cargo plane on Feb. 19. It will be launched with the Herschel spacecraft, though the two missions will separate shortly after launch and operate independently from each other.

Planck is a European Space Agency mission, with significant participation from NASA. NASA's Planck Project Office is based at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. NASA contributed mission-enabling technology for both of Planck's science instruments. U.S. and European Planck scientists will work together to analyze the Planck data.

Friday, March 06, 2009

LumaSense Technologies Introduces Mikron M7604 Series Dual Spectral-Band Thermal Imaging Cameras

SANTA CLARA, CA - LumaSense Technologies, a leading provider of infrared thermography, non-contact temperature and gas sensing solutions, today announced the release of its Mikron M7604F and M7604G thermal imaging cameras.

The Mikron M7604 thermal imaging cameras are actually two cameras in one. In addition to low temperature radiometric imaging in the 8 to 14 micron wavelength range, each camera has its own specialized bandpass filter that enables accurate imaging through flames or of glass surfaces. These are the ONLY cameras in the market with such functionality. Both the M7604F (for through-flame imaging) and M7604G (for glass surface imaging) have this capability. You get two complete cameras for the price of one, allowing the customer to do more with less.

The Mikron M7604 camera is a versatile, fully-radiometric camera with high-temperature functionality making it the perfect tool for preventive maintenance inspections, radiometric inspections of internal furnaces and boilers (M7604F) or temperature measurements of glass surfaces (M7604G) for improving process control and product quality. Designed with state-of-the-art capabilities and ease of use, this camera can satisfy needs at power generation facilities, petrochemical and refinery plants as well as glass manufacturing facilities and other industrial environments.