Revolutionary Oil Skimmer Nets $1 Million X Prize

A breakthrough in oil cleanup technology allows crews to skim spilled oil off the water's surface at a much faster rate. The new device wasn't developed by Exxon, BP or any of the major oil companies — it's the work of Elastec/American Marine, based in Illinois. And the design won the company a rich award from the X Prize Foundation.

Charles Darwin, Earthquake Predictor

Charles Darwin helped forecast today's magnitude-8.8 earthquake in Chile, which has, at press time, killed more than 200 people, caused extensive damage, and sent a modest-size tsunami around the Pacific. Seismologists are giving the famed naturalist credit for reporting telltale signs that helped later scientists forecast that the giant temblor—one of the 10 most powerful on record—was imminent in the South American country. "This was not a big surprise, though no one could tell when it would strike," says seismologist Hiroo Kanamori of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.