Uni High team wins science, technology competition

URBANA – A team of four students at University Laboratory High School in Urbana placed first Sunday in the 17th annual Toshiba/National Science Teachers Association ExploraVision Awards Program.

Sponsored by Toshiba and administered by the National Science Teachers Association, the ExploraVision program is the world's largest K-12 science and technology competition. This year, the program received 4,388 team entries representing the participation of 13,774 students from across the United States and Canada.

Durbin forms panel to review Central District applicants

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin announced Monday the formation of a panel to review applications for the U.S. attorney and U.S. marshal positions for the Central District of Illinois, which includes all of East Central Illinois.

But there has been no word that either U.S. Attorney Rodger Heaton or U.S. Marshal Steven Deatherage will be replaced, said Joe Shoemaker, a spokesman for Durbin.

Local author combines curiosity, danger in book of experiments

CHAMPAIGN – If you've ever been enthralled by Theo Gray's "Gray Matter" column in Popular Science magazine, you're in for a treat.

The chemistry buff has bundled 55 of his most outrageous experiments into "Mad Science," a 239-page, full-color, hardcover book published by Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers.

Teams compete at UI to find new uses for old electronics

URBANA – An old computer returns to life as a hydroponic mini-farm, with a monitor filling in as a grow-light.

Perfect for a long space flight, with astronauts in deep sleep, the computer adjusts water, feed and lights, and tells you when the lettuce is ready to harvest.

Wind farm plan draws protest from Newcomb Township

MAHOMET – Newcomb Township commissioners voted Tuesday to protest a proposed ordinance that would bring wind farms to Champaign County.

In the 4-1 vote, commissioners noted concerns about wind turbines near the extensive Manlove Gas Storage Field in northern Champaign County.

AT&T U-verse to be offered in area in summer

CHAMPAIGN – AT&T expects to begin offering its U-verse suite of television, telephone and broadband internet services this summer to selected areas in Champaign, Urbana, Savoy and Danville.

AT&T officials Marc Blakeman and John Quinn explained the new service – which they tout as a price-competitive alternative to cable television – Wednesday afternoon to the Champaign-Urbana Cable Television and Telecommunications Commission.

Wolfram expecting big bang from new computational tool

CHAMPAIGN – Wolfram Research is getting ready to launch its most ambitious project since Mathematica.

Called WolframAlpha, the new "computational knowledge engine" is scheduled to be released in May. With it, folks will be able to get answers they can't get from search engines.

UI alumnus returning to C-U in lead of "Drowsy Chaperone"

Last time Roberto Carrasco sang at the University of Illinois, he performed as a grad student at Krannert Center for the Performing Arts.

Champaign schools' reductions include tech specialist

CHAMPAIGN – Tonia Kirby relies on a computer specialist to help her and her second-grade students learn about new technology, get technology such as SMART Boards set up in her classroom at Robeson Elementary School and troubleshoot problems.

"She has great lesson plans," Kirby said of the specialist. "She teaches my kids why it's important not to share their passwords. She has a whole other perspective than I do as a classroom teacher."

AT&T expansion plans include Champaign, Danville

Champaign and Danville both figure into AT&T's wireless network expansion plans this year. The company said this week it plans to expand the footprint of its third-generation wireless broadband network to new cities, including Champaign, Kankakee, LaSalle, Ottawa and Peru, during 2009. It also plans to add more than 40 new cell sites in Illinois, including one in Danville, the company said.

AT&T's third-generation, or "3G," network delivers LaptopConnect users typical downlink speeds of 700 kilobits per second to 1.7 megabits per second and faster uplink speeds of 500 kilobits per second to 1.2 megabits per second. The company's 3G network is now available in nearly 350 metropolitan areas across the United States.