Five for Friday

412850971. Branson unveils plans for space tourism.

This Tuesday, English billionaire and media mogul Richard
Branson unveiled the White Knight Two, a catamaran-like aircraft designed to
help launch the world’s first team of tourists into space. Branson argues that the
venture will allow people to see the world in completely new ways. Check out
this BBC interview with the Virgin Corporation owner here. The
project has not reached its testing phase just yet, but it’s hoped that the
first batch of passengers will be able to fly by 2010. Find out more in this article.


2.Mapping Darfur

Exactly one year after the UN Security Council unanimously
agreed to send peacekeeping forces to the war-torn Darfur region of western Sudan, many
argue the mission has yet to meet its intended level of success. The Save
Darfur Campaign blog points out that a
key obstacle to further success is a lack of materials, especially helicopters
to aid in transporting troops. To get a visual overview of the damage that has
occurred in over the past twelve months, check out the Eyes On Darfur website.
The site provides visiospatial depictions of the landscape before and after
the UN’s historic decision.

3. PEPFAR reauthorization

For those of you who have heard of the President’s Emergency
Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), you may be interested to find out that President
Bush signed a bill yesterday that not only reauthorizes the program, but more
importantly, increases its funding from fifteen to forty-eight billion dollars.
The decision is predicted to save anywhere from five to seven million lives
over the next five years. Despite this forecast, we must remember that there are
a wide variety of opinions surrounding PEPFAR. Read the article on President
Bush’s signing here.
Discover more about PEPFAR here.

4. Red Campaign and iTunes launch service to boost
HIV/AIDS prevention funding.

Earlier this month the “Red” campaign launched a new iTunes
service that, for five dollars a month, allows patrons to receive three new
songs every week. Half of the proceeds will go directly to the Global Fund To Fight
AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria
. The campaign seeks out partnerships with
large, profitable corporations that are willing to help fund projects to fight
HIV/AIDS around the world. Read this article to
find out more about the iTunes service. Learn about the specifics of the Red
campaign here.

5. Mapping and science intersect to improve Alzheimer’s research

Leading Alzheimer’s researcher Dr. Rudolph Tanzi recently
revealed groundbreaking work that maps Alzheimer’s genes. The research, which
Tanzi calls the “Alzheimer’s Genome Project,” will help scientists better
understand the causes of the disease, and hopefully will greatly accelerate
efforts to treat and prevent it in the future. This is one example of the
multiple ways in which mapping can provide important information to individuals
in all areas of interest. Check out the article here.

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