It's the size and mass of a small SUV on Earth, making it the largest electric vehicle yet to explore another world. It's Curiosity and our curiosity will allow it venture across the interior of Gale Crater, one of the deepest depressions on the Mars. BYD's batteries are cleared in deadly fire in China, Edison2 is working on its Next Generation VLC, Renault's Twizy is becoming a sales hit in Europe.
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When I heard that Martin Fleischman had died at age 85, I wondered if he passed a tragically disappointed soul, or one who believed history would someday vindicate him. He was, if you’ll recall, one of the co-discoverers of a still controversial and little understood process that became known in 1989 as ‘cold fusion.’ The name derives from what appeared in experiments with his partner Stanley Pons at the University of Utah to be an unexpected and sustained nuclear fusion at essentially room temperature, generating anomalous amounts of heat energy. When other scientists attempted to replicate the process, their experiments failed, generating a withering fusillade of criticism that forced both scientists to leave the U.S. and settle in Europe. While many in science remain skeptical, other researchers claim to have successfully repeated Pons and Fleischman’s experiments. Back in 2002, I interviewed a trio of scientists working for the U.S. Navy [http://evworld.com/article.cfm?storyid=391] who told me they too had seen ‘cold fusion’ in their own separate experiments. More recently, Andrea Rossi claims to have perfected his own way of tapping into the same or similar mechanism with his E-Cat devices. Time will tell if there is a ‘there’ there in ‘cold fusion.’ I’m hoping there is and I trust that Martin Fleischman went to his maker confident of that fact.


I don’t often stay up to well past 1 AM in the morning, but this past Sunday, I settled into my office chair and linked into NASA’s live Ustream webcast from the mission control center at Pasadena’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory as the MSL -- the official acronym for the Mars Science Laboratory -- spacecraft hurtled towards the Red Planet’s surface for a hoped-for soft landing in Gale Crater, a geological feature with a 3.4 mile-high Mount Sharp in the middle. Eventually, the viewer counter stalled at 197,000+ as the MSL entered its dread ‘7 minutes of terror’ as its entry speed accelerated to more than 13,000 mph and Mar’s thin atmosphere heated it to some 6,000 F. Since there is a 14-minute delay in communications between Mars and Earth, controllers would only know if the complex set of maneuvers that were rated as having only a 1-in-3 chance of succeeding had, in fact, been successful. With only a faint ‘heart beat’ of audio tone being relayed from one of two orbiting spacecraft, at 10:32 PM Pacific Time, JPL controllers, above, celebrated when they began to receive the first bytes of data from Curiosity, which had safely landed 14 minutes earlier within just 2 km of its original target inside an ellipse (page 3) just 22 km long by 7 km wide after an 18-month journey of some 340 million miles.


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