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SCIENCE

Algae hydrogen harnessed

WASHINGTON - Microscopic green algae may soon be pumping out clean and efficient hydrogen gas to fuel the world's cars and power plants. Scientists at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee are turning to nature, which long ago figured out how to make energy from water and sunlight. In this case, algae, Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, have a special trick that allows them to make hydrogen - an enzyme called hydrogenase that splits water into its component parts of hydrogen and oxygen. The algae need sulfur to grow and photosynthesize. But scientists found that when they starved the algae of sulfur, they switched into hydrogenase mode. In this cycle, they release hydrogen, not oxygen.

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TECHNOLOGY

Internet in Africa

LANESBORO, MASS. - A computer technician from western Massachusetts is helping to found a Peace Corps for volunteer techies. Ethan Zuckerman's "Geekcorps" will start with a pilot project this year in Ghana. After spending a year at the University of Ghana, Accra, Mr. Zuckerman was amazed at the absence of Internet use there. Geekcorps aims to allow companies in developing nations to tap into more international business, let Western doctors help patients in the third world, and even help raise money for food and other humanitarian programs.

'Hello, a thief's in your yard'

SCARBOROUGH, MAINE - Residents in this southern town have found a way to fight crime: reverse 911 calls. It's an automated phone system that allows police to quickly alert entire neighborhoods about potential problems. This is the only community in Maine that provides the service, but the technology is catching on across the country. The notification system has nothing to do with the emergency 911 system. Using a computer program, police can outline on their computer screen an area where a fugitive might be on the loose. Then a message is recorded and sent to everyone in that zone.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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