iFive: BP Sits Out Arctic Oil, Facebook Valuation, Royal Solar Power, Prius Gets a Vroom, Synthetic Corneas Start With a See

World, meet innovation. Innovation, this is world.


1. Post-Horizon BP will not be entering into the race to turn the Arctic circle black (Cairn Energy will have to fend off Greenpeace activists all by itself now). The company didn’t offer any specific reason, saying only: “We are not participating in the bid round.” Meanwhile, obfuscation is the name of the game at the federal panel that is investigating the April 20 explosion. Oil bosses from BP and Transocean are frustrating officials as they testify, denying responsibility, and failing to answer questions. And the Wall Street Journal has a great piece, topped by a heartstopping photo, on changes to the safety test the day the rig blew.

2. In a lawsuit against Teachbook, Facebook is attempting to prevent other firms from using the -book suffix for online networking sites. It must be tough to get by on a teacher’s salary: The social networking giant has been valued at $33 billion, says The Guardian,
putting its market capitalization ahead of Yahoo, Dell, and eBay.
Unsurprising, if you think it’s expected to earn over $1.25 billion in
advertising revenue this year–although that should go up by around $500
million in 2011. Yet the company seems in no hurry for an IPO.

3. Prince Charles, everyone’s favorite jug-eared royal, is turning his 180-year-old London palace green. Clarence House is to get 132 square feet of solar panels on the roof. The scheme is expected to produce around 4,000 kilowatt hours of electricity per annum, enough to provide an average household with power for a year. Yes, I said average. It will take 10 years to recoup the installation cost.

4. Speaking as someone almost run down on her bike last week by a silent hybrid Lexus, the news that Toyota is to fit its Priuses with a $148 “noise-making device”–so that’s not a horn, nor a boom-tastic in-car entertainment system–seems like a great idea. Available in Japan from the end of this month, although there is no reason why Toyota won’t sell it in other territories, as the car accelerates, the noise and pitch increase. Although I did love the thought of London, 30 years in the future, where all cars are electric, and you can hear the sound of the pneumatic drills, the bawling market traders, and the frenzied barking of the fighting dogs. England, my England.

5. Swedish scientists have restored the vision of 10 patients using corneas grown in a lab from synthetic collagen. It’s a surprising result, as the tests were only to determine whether the corneas were safe in humans or not. “The improvement in vision was a real bonus for us,” said Dr May Griffith, professor of regenerative medicine at Linkopings University.

About the author

My writing career has taken me all round the houses over the past decade and a half--from grumpy teens and hungover rock bands in the U.K., where I was born, via celebrity interviews, health, tech and fashion in Madrid and Paris, before returning to London, where I now live. For the past five years I've been writing about technology and innovation for U.S