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World News

E&T's pick of engineering news from around the world

12 AprilJapan upgraded its radiation severity level on par with the world’s worst nuclear accident Chernobyl after new data showed that more radiation had leaked through than first thought. Radiation leaked from the quake-crippled Fukushima Daiichi plant in the early days of the crisis had been re-measured, although Japanese officials said the upgrade in its severity rating from level 5 to 7 did not mean the situation had suddenly become more critical.
20 April
The South Korean government unveiled a US$15bn railway investment plan for the next ten years, aimed at cutting journey time between almost any two cities to under 90 minutes. The government hoped the scheme would encourage people to commute by train instead of using private cars, potentially cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 7.7 million tonnes a year when the project is complete.
27 April
Turkey announced plans to build a new waterway to bypass the heavily congested Bosphorus Strait. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that “Canal Istanbul” would link the Black Sea to the Sea of Marmara that opens to the Aegean Sea.
The canal would be some 45-50km long, 150m wide at the surface, and have a depth of 25m, but he did not disclose the exact location or the cost of the gargantuan project.
27 April
Sony’s PlayStation Network is breached – allowing the theft of names, addresses, and possibly credit card details of video game users. Sony said 77 million users accounts were affected by the cyber attack, but later revealed that hackers may have stolen the data of another 25 million users. The second breach affected the Sony Online Entertainment network.
29 April
Technology firms eager to cash in on the Royal Wedding promoted their latest products, which they said could be used to enjoy the union between Prince William and Kate Middleton. Companies encouraged use of their real-time video applications, 3D mapping services, smartphone apps and contactless smart card technology.
3 May
The cockpit voice recorder from the Air France plane crash in 2009 was recovered. France’s Accident Investigation agency said they hoped this could help to determine the cause of the disaster, where the plane plunged into the Atlantic north-east of Brazil after an intense high-altitude thunderstorm, killing all 228 people on board. Analysis p24.
4 May
Germany has cut red tape on the approvals process for offshore windparks, giving all responsibility to the Federal Maritime and Hydrographic Agency (BSH). The windpark lobby has praised the simplification as Chancellor Merkel tries to shift her party’s image away from supporting nuclear energy after the Fukushima nuclear plant crisis in Japan.
4 May
Details of Australia’s new carbon tax will be announced by July as the government plans a reform ahead of a full emissions trade scheme. Politicians and lawmakers are keen to reduce Australia’s reliance on coal-fired power which makes it one of the world’s highest per-capita carbon emitters.
10 May
Skype is to be sold to Microsoft for $8.5bn in a move that will see it gain new customers for its Windows and Office software while competing with technology rivals Apple and Google. The voice and video communications service will support Windows devices like Windows Phone and Kinect, while in turn Microsoft will connect Skype users with Outlook, Lync and Xbox LIVE.

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