On the Record

“I was too black to be a scientist and too educated to be a lot of other things.”

Guyanese novelist E. R. Braithwaite explains why 1950s British society led him to become a schoolteacher instead of a researcher after gaining his Cambridge physics doctorate.


Hybrid engines

The technology enjoyed perhaps its finest moment as the Toyota Supra HV-R claimed victory in a Japanese 24-hour endurance race, leaving non-hybrid rivals trailing in its wake.


A study of urban traffic in Stockholm has shown that brake linings (unfortunately an essential component even of hybrid vehicles) give off a host of toxic metals, including copper, zinc and antimony.

Zoo news


Elephant goes cold turkey

An elephant called Big Brother has become possibly the first to rid itself of heroin addiction with the aid of methadone. Illegal traders had spent two years feeding him bananas laced with heroin in an effort to control him and his herd, before officials in Yunnan, China, stepped in to put him back on the straight and narrow.

Robot news

Shot in the arm

Engineers at Vanderbilt University have developed a robotic arm that could help amputees avoid the need to carry around bulky battery packs. The solution? The same type of rocket motor used to steer the space shuttle in orbit — which, as you might expect, packs quite a punch per pound.

Sources: BBC, Sci. Am., Environ. Sci. Technol., Reuters, ABC News