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Olympic Engineering

There’s no Olympic medal for sports engineering. But breakthrough technology is playing a star role at the London games – if you know where to look. The National Science Foundation has teamed up with NBC’s Olympics and education division to create a guide to the split-second timekeepers, wave-reducing pools, high-performance gear, and other feats of technology that let athletes compete at their peak.

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World’s Greenest Office Building?

To get a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) platinum certificate, a building must cut energy use to about half that of a typical structure. That’s tough. What’s tougher? The Living Building Challenge (LBC).

According to Time magazine, the LBC was created six years ago, and to win certification a building must use half the energy of a LEED platinum building and have net-zero energy and water systems. So far, only three buildings have managed that feat, and they’re quite small. However, a six-story, 4,600-square-meter office building will open this fall in Seattle that’s aiming to meet the LBC requirements.

The $30 million Bullitt Center will house the Bullitt Foundation, whose president is Denis Hayes, a former staff director who worked with Earth Day founder Former U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson.

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Imagine Cup Winners Solve World’s Woes

Searching for the next Bill Gates or Steve Jobs? Look around your classroom. Or rather, check out Sydney, Australia, where students – many of them computer science and engineering majors – from every continent competed to solve the world’s toughest problems at Microsoft’s 10th annual Imagine Cup.

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Solar Flair

In Greek mythology, flying too high cost Icarus his life when the sun melted his waxen wings. Today, solar energy factors in another epic flight – an trans-Atlantic attempt by the world’s first solar-powered airplane. And the Internet can put any arm-chair pilot in the cockpit.

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Get Fracking!

What’s relatively clean-burning, abundant, and possibly the next big thing in reducing America’s carbon footprint? Would you believe… natural gas? Vast reserves lie locked in the porous shale fields deep below Pennsylvania, Texas, and other states. But hydraulic fracturing, the technique used to extract the gas, has raised health and environmental concerns along with job prospects for petroleum engineers.

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