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adjective: Fourth from the last.
From Latin pre- (before) + ante- (before) + pen- (almost) + ultimus (last). Earliest documented use: 1746. For another example of prefixes gone wild, see hemidemisemiquaver.
Here’s a program that you’ve likely never known: Megatons to Megawatts. Under this program, currently 10 percent of total electricity in the United States is generated using fuel from Russian nuclear warheads. Who knew! The program, which was signed in 1993 by George H.W. Bush, has resulted in the equivalent of 17,500 nuclear warheads (and counting) being down-blended into low-enriched uranium for American use.
Russia has received $8 billion for its uranium, and both countries have also agreed to eliminate 38 metric tons of plutonium through encasement or reprocessing. When the program ends in 2013, a total of 500 metric tons of HEU (high enriched uranium from Soviet era warheads) will have been converted into LEU (low enriched uranium).
Something cool I learned in class this week: Did you know that the Concorde is the only civil airliner with a ‘military style’ afterburner system? It was installed to produce more power, providing 6,000 lb of thrust per engine at take off (creating a lot of extra noise as well).
From the archives, September 2009
Kitt Peak National Observatory
The Michigan primary is just around the corner (February 28) and the political ads are starting to spread like wildfire. If you’re looking for more information on the candidates’ views, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) has a great resource. Their 2012 Election page summarizes each candidate’s position on various science and technology issues, including energy policy, science education, and health care.
It’s definitely worth at least taking a glance to help you make a more informed decision. For instance, I had no idea that Santorum doesn’t believe in human-caused climate change (he argues that the “junk science” is just an excuse for more government control), or that Romney supports funding ARPA-E for alternative energy research.