jump to navigation

Four groups bid to build private power plant February 23, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Energy.
comments closed

Four groups, including one led by Italy’s leading utility Enel, submitted bids for a Greek state contract to build a power plant, transmission system operator DESMHE said yesterday.

Enelco, a joint venture by Enel, Greece’s Copelouzos Group and Corinthos Power, a group including Spain’s Iberdrola and Greek Motor Oil, bid for the contract to build a 400-megawatt power plant, DESMHE said. The tender, which will be granted to the bidder that requests the lowest guaranteed annual income for a 12-year period, is set to range between 14 and 37 million euros. Energiaki Thisvis, a joint venture between Edison and Greece’s Hellenic Technodomiki and Viohalco, as well as a consortium led by Greece’s Terna also bid for the project, DESMHE said.

Greek scientist enlivens NASA missions with groundbreaking space research February 23, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Science.
comments closed

Team led by UC-Berkeley physicist Vassilis Angelopoulos helped on latest satellite exploration

Vassilis Angelopoulos has every reason to feel good. The 45-year-old Thessaloniki-born physicist, who works at the University of California in Berkeley, has seen the fruition of one of his projects. A suggestion he made to NASA a decade ago for a new approach to satellite missions that study unknown phenomena has become a reality.

The new approach involves studying dynamic systems instead of random measurements that were carried out until today. The satellites will be launched to explore the interplanetary area with the aim of radically changing the course of space research.

The five satellites in the THEMIS project (Time History of Events and Macroscale Interactions during Substorms), recently launched from Cape Canaveral in Florida, are going on different orbits and will measure the behavior of the magnetic sphere and the creation of storms and substorms.

Solar storms, which have fascinated scientists since the beginning of space research, are created by the powerful bursts of light on the surface of the sun, releasing huge amounts of energy in the form of plasma and ionized gases, particles at very high energy. The plasma travels in the solar system and bombards planets with enormous quantities of energy. Any planet that has a magnetic field around it, such as the Earth, Mercury, Saturn and Jupiter, is protected from these catastrophic explosions. Without this magnetic field there would be no life on Earth.

However, sometimes these powerful storms pass through the Earth’s magnetic shield and accumulate energy in plasma reservoirs within the magnetic field. This energy is converted from kinetic particles to electromagnetic energy. When another solar storm breaks out, this energy is converted back again into particles and substorms are produced inside the magnetic sphere. They wreak havoc on satellite circuits, create problems in energy transport networks in the Northern Hemisphere and produce the beautiful northern lights (aurora borealis). We still know very little about the way the Earth’s magnetic field operates and about solar storms and substorms.

It took Angelopoulos three years to persuade NASA to fund the mission and six to prepare it. «We first made the suggestion in 1998. Then we had a cluster of four much simpler satellites and that’s why it was rejected. We kept bringing it up each time with further improvements until 2001, when they accepted it. From the initial four satellites we now have five highly advanced ones. And from $12 million the project now costs $200 million,» he said. These figures might seem huge but in fact they are small for the purposes of space research, in particular for such a revolutionary project as THEMIS.

Five years ago another NASA cluster mission cost $2 billion. Angelopoulos and his colleagues have managed to produce a low-cost but fascinating mission. «We managed to make the satellites quite small and integrate the circuits. We made a low-cost proposal without cutting back on the scientific research needed. We were not sparing with the detectors or the data analysis later. We focused correctly on one item only,» he said.

The success of THEMIS has led to the approval of three other missions by NASA. In the «Magnetospheric Constellation» project, there are plans to launch 50 satellites in order to study the magnetic sphere. «These electromagnetic storms affect our satellites and are crucial to us as the satellite clusters become ever smaller and more complex. The problem we had 10 years earlier is today a hundred times greater,» Angelopoulos said.

Each of the five THEMIS satellites has three detectors. Two detectors measure the electric and magnetic field and the third measures the particles, electrons and protons. By scattering the five satellites at different points in the magnetic diodes, Angelopoulos and his colleagues hope to find where the plasma is accumulated in the Earth’s magnetic field and how electromagnetic energy is converted to kinetic energy and vice versa.

Vassilis Angelopoulos was born and raised in Thessaloniki. He got his first degree from Aristotle University in Thessaloniki and a master’s degree from UCLA, where he first worked as a researcher. He was recruited by Johns Hopkins University in 1993 and in 1995 he went to UC-Berkeley, where he still works. He often returns to Greece, which he says he loves. He has two children.

Why is it important to understand what is happening in the magnetic sphere?

Because it is a basic natural phenomenon which does not only occur on Earth but also on Mercury, Saturn, Jupiter and other planets. It also occurs in other systems, such as black holes, which release enormous amounts of energy that we can measure even here on Earth. The mechanism that creates these activities in the black holes may well be linked to the mechanism that creates substorms. The physics we learn there we will then apply in the lab, for example in experiments on fusion and energy production.

You claim there are pockets of accumulated solar energy, ionized gas, which is activated every time there is a solar storm. How does this occur?

These pockets do not have kinetic but electromagnetic energy. The energy is converted as the solar wind strikes the Earth, from kinetic to electromagnetic energy, which is accumulated in the Earth’s magnetic field as it is compressed by the solar wind. With solar storms, this energy is emitted and converted back into kinetic energy. If we can understand what mechanism creates substorms then it is quite likely that we will understand how the large solar storms are produced and we will be able to protect satellites and astronauts more effectively as well as the distribution of energy in the Northern Hemisphere.

What changes will constellation missions bring about in space research?

Space is very complex. We cannot just make random observations. Just as atmospheric physicists and meteorologists use many stations to understand the weather and how air masses move from one stratum to another, in the same way we want to understand space weather. I am pleased because we will be able to see how the different parts of the system we measure are related.

Are any Greek organizations cooperating with the consortium?

The Athens Observatory’s Institute of Space Applications and Telescopy is a member of our research team. Its director, Yiannis Daglis, is an experts in Van Allen zones, two particle energy zones around the Earth that increase in energy and intensity when magnetic storms are released.

Turkey bites back on Cyprus February 23, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Cyprus Oil Crisis.
comments closed

Ankara rebuffed claims yesterday by Athens and Nicosia that it is not cooperating in the effort to find a solution to the Cyprus problem and insisted that it has done everything that has been asked of it.

“Turkey has fulfilled its commitments on the Cyprus issue,” said Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. “Even though we have met our obligations, they continue to criticize us. If the other side had done everything it promised, there would no longer be a Cyprus issue.”

Erdogan was reacting to statements by Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos after the two met on Wednesday.

Karamanlis accused Ankara of using “delaying tactics” over restarting Cyprus talks under the auspices of the United Nations. Papadopoulos charged that Turkey made “threats and provocations” after Nicosia revealed it was pursuing offshore oil and gas exploration projects. Turkey’s influential National Security Council is due to meet today to discuss this issue, among others.

Armed forces chief Yasar Buyukanit caused concern in Athens and Nicosia earlier this month when he claimed that Turkey’s rights to explore undersea oil and gas reserves extend to the center of the Mediterranean. He also stressed that Turkish warships are constantly patrolling the Aegean and Mediterranean.

An official from the Turkish-occupied north of Cyprus claimed yesterday that Nicosia does not have the right to represent the whole island in oil exploration deals.

“No agreement without our views and signature will be valid,” said Turgay Avci after meeting Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul in Ankara.

Meanwhile, Archbishop Chrysostomos of the Cypriot Orthodox Church and the top Muslim cleric in occupied northern Cyprus, Ahmet Yonluer, met for the first time on the island yesterday.

Chrysostomos described the meeting as “a positive step forward” and said the pair had agreed to tackle the issue of renovating abandoned churches in the north of the island and fixing crumbling mosques in the south.

Greek company offers crewed charters February 23, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in News Cruises.
comments closed

Olympic Yacht Charters, based in Athens, Greece, and New York, has added the Tayana 64 Best Buddied to its crewed charter fleet.

Olympic Yacht Charters, which specializes in luxury crewed as well as bareboat charters in Greece, is showcasing some of the fleet available for trips in the 2007 season.

The company, which started a booking office in New York in 2001, has operated out of Athens, Greece, since 1995. Its bareboat monohull fleet features Bavarias and Beneteaus from 30 to 50 feet; the bareboat cat fleet includes Lagoons from 38 to 47 feet.

The two locations provide charter clients with continuous support before and during stays in Greece, according to Alex Mazarakis, an owner. “The quality and maintenance of our yachts is unmatched in the industry,” he says. “We own our yachts, and we’ve carefully selected a fleet of boats for Greece equipped to the highest possible standards and specifications. Our goal is to provide a unique concept of chartering on a uniquely modern fleet.”

Besides its luxury crewed offerings in Greece, which include Ana Nefeli, the first 75-foot Swan with a raised saloon; Lely, a schooner with tanbark sails that was built in 1935; and Apollo, a Lagoon 440 catamaran, Olympic is introducing the Tayana 64 Best Buddies, available for charter in the Caribbean through April 2007.

For more details, contact the company (877-247-3323, www.olympicyachtcharters.com and info@olympicyachtcharters.com).

Daniilidou from Greece makes another great escape in Dubai Open February 23, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Tennis Squash.
comments closed

Eleni Daniilidou, former top 20 tennis player from Greece, made her second great escape in three days to keep the chance to win the favourite in the 1.5-million-dollar Dubai Open.

Daniilidou, who overcame the seventh-seeded Li Na from China in three sets in the first round, this time came from 1-3 down in the final set against Ai Sugiyama, the former top ten player from Japan, to reach the quarter-finals.

A see-sawing 5-7, 6-1, 7-5 win gained Daniilidou a likely meeting with defending champion Justine Henin, who has never lost in three tournaments in Dubai but who trails 1-2 in the head-to-head record with Daniilidou.

Greece hails ancient theatre as exceptional find February 23, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Archaeology Greece.
comments closed

An ancient Greek theatre accidentally discovered by construction workers in Athens is one of the classical world’s most famous lost stages.

Builders stumbled last week across the 2,500-year-old amphitheatre of Acharnes, known from ancient writings to be an important arena for tragedies, comedies and musical contests.

“The discovery of the ancient theatre of Acharnes is an exceptional find,” Culture Minister George Voulgarakis told reporters after touring the site on Wednesday.

Archaeologists supervising the digging of foundations for a building in the area of Menidi – known in ancient times as Acharnes, discovered 13 rows of limestone seats which formed part of an open air theatre. They have dated it to the 4th century BC, the golden age of ancient Greek drama when the works of Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides were performed before thousands of people.

Voulgarakis said the discovery widens the archaeological map of Athens and indicates more can be found in the area, a working class district about 10 km (6 miles) north of central Athens.

In ancient Athens, Acharnes was known for its many charcoal peddlers whom Aristophanes mentions in his comedy “The Acharnians”.

The Acharnes theatre is one of seven in the Attica region surrounding Athens where the remnants survive. Another six are known to have existed.

“The theatre locates the centre of the ancient deme (clan) of Acharnes which has been sought by Greek and foreign researchers since the last century,” the ministry said in a statement. It said the steps were buried half to two metres (yards) underground. The orchestra and stage are under a city street and other parts are under nearby building lots.

Voulgarakis said the lot under construction would be expropriated so that a complete excavation could take place. “Later on, in cooperation with the city council, we will proceed with the revelation of the wider monument so that we can have it whole,” he said.