UI researchers using genetic relationships to track evolution

URBANA – The latest computer technology has buttressed a revolutionary look at how life evolved, while offering new potential for medicines.

Carl Woese startled the scientific world in 1977 by positing that there are three essential domains, or types of life. Before, there were thought to be two, bacteria and everything else: eukaryotes, whose cells contain membrane-coated parts, such as the nucleus.

Vermilion County considers establishing wind farm rules

DANVILLE – Vermilion County economic development officials are in talks with at least four companies interested in building wind-turbine farms in Vermilion County.

The county has no zoning system, but county board officials are taking steps to regulate the construction and operation of the alternative-energy farms by writing an ordinance.

"It's a safeguard for the landowners and the windmill companies," said Vicki Haugen, president and CEO of Vermilion Advantage. She added that multiple companies that make the wind turbines are considering the county as a possible location for a manufacturing site.

UI students pitch ideas for next big business

URBANA – The next YouTube may have been born on Thursday night.

In a business version of speed dating, nearly a dozen University of Illinois students weighed in with their ideas for the next big business. Possibilities ranged from a music networking site to a travel agency for Americans to get medical care in other countries.

Friends, family hold birthday fete for LED inventor

CHAMPAIGN – A shadow box of achievements, a $300,000 graduate student award and a cake with LED candles capped a day-long symposium Friday that celebrated Nick Holonyak's birthday.

Dozens of friends, family and colleagues came to honor the life of Holonyak, inventor of the first practical light-emitting diode in the visible spectrum, a member of the National Inventors Hall of Fame and the recipient of numerous national and international awards and honors.

Disability Resource Expo set for Saturday

URBANA – You're in a wheelchair and would like to make your house more accessible. Or you have a child with Down syndrome and don't know where to get help.

The second annual "Disabilty Resource Expo," scheduled for Saturday at Lincoln Square Village in downtown Urbana, could have the answer for you. The expo is designed to give Champaign County residents one central place to learn about available resources and promote a better quality of life for people with disabilities, whether they're physical, developmental, mental or emotional. The theme of this year's event is "Reaching out for Answers."

New Mathematica version coming soon

CHAMPAIGN – Wolfram Research founder Stephen Wolfram plans to announce today that a new version of the company's flagship product, Mathematica, will be released this fall.

Wolfram, in town for the annual International Mathematica User Conference, said Mathematica 7 will have about 2,700 functions, or roughly 500 more than the previous version.

Spire put atop Champaign County Courthouse

URBANA – Downtown Urbana denizens got a taste of the future Wednesday as the Champaign County Courthouse was topped off.

Rantoul aims to replace runway lights in spring

RANTOUL – Planes approaching the Rantoul airport can expect a clearer view of its runways even in dark or foggy weather beginning in March.

The Rantoul Village Board voted 5-0 Tuesday to approve an $85,217 contract with Burns & McDonnell, Downers Grove, to provide engineering for a planned $950,863 new runway lighting system for the airport.

Volition counting on success for 'Saints Row 2'

CHAMPAIGN – When "Saints Row 2" goes on sale Tuesday, Volition Inc. employees in Champaign will be eager to hear how it's received.

More than three years of work went into the high-action video game, and stores are expected to sell "millions and millions of dollars' worth," though company President Mike Kulas wouldn't be more specific about projections.

Settlement with UI over '02 fish kill finalized

URBANA – Six years after an ammonia spill killed 100,000 fish in the Salt Fork, the final piece of a legal settlement is in place.

The University of Illinois, its cleaning contractor CEDA Inc. and the Urbana and Champaign Sanitary District will pay the state a total of $65,000, and agreed to change procedures for disposing of wastewater, to resolve a water pollution complaint filed by the Illinois attorney general's office in 2002.

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