Wednesday, September 13, 2006

BMW to Roll Out First Hydrogen-Burning Car Next Year - BMW to Roll Out First Hydrogen-Burning Car Next Year -

Now this is very cool. Notice that the cars will be so expensive that they will only be leased to select buyers. Also, they will have an auto-converter to a gasoline engine, much like the standard electric-hyrbid, until the hydrogen infrastructure is built. Which begs the question--which infrastructure will be built first--Ethanol (E 285) or Hydrogen or both?

"A spokesman said the car would be leased to selected customers rather than sold because of its high price. Leasing rates would be similar to those for a top-end BMW 760LI with a full-service package.

The BMW 7 Series Hydrogen 7 Saloon is powered by a 260 hp twelve-cylinder engine and accelerates from 0-100 km/h (62 mph) in 9.5 seconds. Top speed is limited electronically to 230 km/h.

BMW has said it intends to build a few hundred such cars at first. They will be able to switch between burning standard petrol and hydrogen so that drivers will not be left stranded while the infrastructure to deliver hydrogen is built up."

Is Steve Jobs Ill?

Digital Rules By Rich Karlgaard

"Reprinted" in it's entirety from Digital Rules

"The question must be asked.

Apple's cofounder, chairman and CEO was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in August 2004. The survival stats for pancreatic cancer are grim. But Jobs suffered from a rarer and less fatal form of the disease, called islet cell pancreatic cancer. Here is the prognosis:

'Islet cell cancers overall have a more favorable prognosis than cancers of the exocrine pancreas, and the median survival from diagnosis is three and a half years. This is mainly due to their slow-growing nature. Insulinomas have a five-year survival rate of 80%, and gastrinomas have 65%. When malignant, islet cell cancers do not generally respond well to chemotherapy, and the treatment is mainly palliative. Most patients with metastasis do not survive five years. Islet cell cancer tends to spread to the surrounding lymph nodes, stomach, small intestine and liver.'

Not great. But better than the standard form of pancreatic cancer, which has a 98% mortality rate over five years.

Is it appropriate to raise the question of Steve Jobs' health?

Reasonable people could go back and forth on that. Any ill person deserves some measure of privacy. Jobs, though, heads a publicly traded company. Some $60 billion of investor capital rides on its fortunes. Some 15,000 employees and their families depend on Apple's prospects.

Last month, at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference, Jobs looked gaunt and gave an an atypical (for him) low-energy speech. Here is the review. Note Jobs' photo at the 2005 Apple WWDC versus that of the 2006 Apple WWDC meeting. The weight loss is alarming.

More evidence that the Apple CEO might be ailing comes from last week's news that Google CEO Eric Schmidt had joined Apple's board. Why? Veteran tech pundit John Dvorak thinks Schmidt might try to engineer an Apple-Sun merger and install Sun co-founder and Google's first investor Andy Bechtolsheim as CEO of the combined company.

Or Schmidt himself might take over Apple.

Why even contemplate the replacement of Steve Jobs if not for external (e.g. illness) reasons? Jobs, after all, is as linked to his company and its fortunes as any CEO can be. Steve Jobs is Apple Computer. He birthed it, raised it and in spectacular fashion brought it back to glory.

Apple without Steve Jobs is unthinkable ... unless. ... And we really, really hope the answer to our headline question is NO.

El Nino forms in Pacific Ocean - El Nino forms in Pacific Ocean 6 From Reuter's

El Nino, an extreme warming of equatorial waters in the Pacific Ocean that wreaks havoc with world weather conditions, has formed and will last into 2007, the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Wednesday.

El Nino has already helped make the Atlantic hurricane season milder than expected, said a NOAA forecaster.

"The weak El Nino is helping to explain why the hurricane season is less than we expected. El Ninos tend to suppress hurricane activity in the Atlantic," said Gerry Bell, a hurricane forecaster for NOAA.

The NOAA's Climate Prediction Center said the El Nino probably will spur warmer-than-average temperatures this winter over western and central Canada and the western and northern United States.

It said El Nino also will cause wetter-than-average conditions in the U.S. Gulf Coast and Florida, and spark dry conditions in the Ohio valley, the Pacific Northwest and most U.S. islands in the tropical Pacific.

An El Nino also usually leads to milder winter weather in the U.S. Northeast, the top heating oil market in the world.

Bell said scientists will have a better idea in the fall how long this El Nino will last. "There's no way to say at this time how strong it is going to be. It's too early," he said.

The last severe El Nino struck in 1997-1998. The weather phenomenon caused searing drought in Indonesia, Australia and the Philippines while causing rampant flooding in Ecuador and Chile, the world's top producer of copper.