Imagine if all the plastic bottles, containers, wraps, covers, toys, implements, tools, gadgets, clothing items, sprays, writing products, computer components, car parts, ball point pens, cookware, water bottles, soda bottles, milk containers, take-out food trays, glasses… you get the idea, were all made of plastic which is not made from petroleum and which biodegrades in months into harmless fertilizer. A pipe dream, right? Try this pipe…
Plastic From Plants
Frederick Sheer | Focus Forward Films | Nov 12
________________________________________________________________________________ Frederick Sheer is President of Cereplast, a German company with offices and plants in the US and India, that explores the benefits of using plant-based plastics.
Imagine a battery that takes a minute to charge and powers your cellphone for a week. How about a car that runs on a battery that takes five minutes to charge and gives you 300 miles of power? And when the battery wears out you grind it up and sprinkle what’s left on your garden. Science fiction? Not really. Watch this…
________________________________________________________________________________ Ric Kaner is head of a research group at UCLA who are working on conducting polymer nanowires, chemical synthesis of graphene and solid state routes towards ultra-hard and incompressible materials, thermoelectiric crystals and other semiconducting nanoparticles.
When I ride a bike where we live I am in direct competition for space with cars and trucks. They always win. Years ago the idea that people would stop smoking in public places was considered radical, impossible, crazy. Today providing well lit and safe bike paths everywhere is considered too costly, politically inconvenient, impossible. As gasoline prices and healthcare costs continue to rise that thinking will go up in smoke along with cigarettes…
To be a modern Republican in good standing, you have to believe — or pretend to believe — in two miracle cures for whatever ails the economy: more tax cuts for the rich and more drilling for oil. And with prices at the pump on the rise, so is the chant of “Drill, baby, drill.” More and more, Republicans are telling us that gasoline would be cheap and jobs plentiful if only we would stop protecting the environment and let energy companies do whatever they want.
Thus Mitt Romney claims that gasoline prices are high not because of saber-rattling over Iran, but because President Obama won’t allow unrestricted drilling in the Gulf of Mexico and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Meanwhile, Stephen Moore of The Wall Street Journal tells readers that America as a whole could have a jobs boom, just like North Dakota, if only the environmentalists would get out of the way.
Design is much more than imposing one’s notions about style or form. It’s really about finding the most efficient and elegant solution to a problem be it a book, a building or a bicycle. The subject of this video shows design at work. In this case it is designing a bicycle that converts the energy of the rider into acceleration and braking. Pretty neat idea. And like all students these days the designer needs a job. Hello General Motors! Anyone listening…?
Boost Your Bike
Maxwell von Stein | Science Friday | Feb 12
____________________________________________________________________________ Maxwell von Stein, a 22-year-old graduate of The Cooper Union, built bicycle that uses a flywheel to store energy. Instead of braking, Max can transfer energy from the wheel to the flywheel, which spins between the crossbars. The flywheel stores the kinetic energy until Max wants a boost, then he can transfer the energy back to the wheel using a shifter on the handlebars.
We’ve heard the claims of those who say they have mastered cold fusion or making cheap fuel from garbage. Much healthy skepticism abounds. Now listen to this fellow. Before you do, note… the presenter is not very skilled at presenting. He is stiff and pedantic. The data he presents is rather technical. Nevertheless, the conclusions are way beyond compelling. They are mind-boggling. Watch…
Thorium, an alternative nuclear fuel
Kirk Sorensen | TED | Jan 12
____________________________________________________________________________ Kirk Sorensen began his work with thorium while working as an aerospace engineer at NASA. In 2010, he left NASA to work as the chief nuclear technologist at Teledyne Brown Engineering. In 2011, he founded Flibe, a company focused on developing modular thorium reactors.
Oh, and we’re supposed to build a thousand-mile pipeline from Canada to Texas with only two months of review so a bunch of Republican fat cats can pad their investment portfolios and Exxon Mobil can get richer. Meanwhile Canada is destroying a natural ecosystem the size of the State of Florida to get at the tar sands which contain the oil. This is crazy…
Yellowstone Oil Spill Involved More Barrels Than Estimated
Huffington Post | 20 Jan 12
BILLINGS, Mont. — Exxon Mobil says 1,509 barrels of oil spilled into the Yellowstone River during a pipeline break in Montana last summer – an increase of more than 500 barrels over the company’s earlier estimates.
Spokesman Alan Jeffers said Thursday the company recalculated the volume after discovering the pipeline was completely severed during the July 1 accident near Laurel.
Jeffers says pipeline breaches typically involve a crack or fissure. That was the assumption used to craft the initial estimate.
The company has estimated costs related to the spill of $135 million.
More than 1,000 Exxon Mobil contractors were involved in the cleanup effort. Only about 10 barrels of crude were recovered – less than 1 percent of the total spilled.
At the end of this article I have posted two videos which illuminate what Paul Krugman is saying here. The first is a link to ‘Gasland’, the HBO Documentary on the controversy surrounding fracking. This is a hot topic in this region because it poses a serious threat to the watershed that feeds the entire NY metro area and beyond. The second video discusses a study to create paving materials made from solar panels. If all of the major highways of this country were made of this stuff we could generate enough energy to relegate the oil and gas business to the historical dustbin with zero operational cost and zero pollution. Why don’t we? Ask Mitch McConnell…
Here Comes the Sun
Paul Krugman | NYTimes | 6 Nov 11
For decades the story of technology has been dominated, in the popular mind and to a large extent in reality, by computing and the things you can do with it. Moore’s Law — in which the price of computing power falls roughly 50 percent every 18 months — has powered an ever-expanding range of applications, from faxes to Facebook.
Our mastery of the material world, on the other hand, has advanced much more slowly. The sources of energy, the way we move stuff around, are much the same as they were a generation ago.
Now, if you can have on-demand, automated robot cars transporting airport passengers comfortably and safely, why not have them whisking commuters to work and back. You could build a dedicated line in the center of I-95 straight to Manhattan with intermediate stops along the way. Fast, private, economical, pollution-free. Think of the jobs building such a network would create in the northeast corridor! Think of the revenue it could generate in use taxes. Oops… I’m sorry. I forgot. We’ve got to slash all spending to keep John Boehner and his Tea Party friends happy.
Pod Cars Make Their Debut At Heathrow Airport
Graham Webster | Talking Points Memo | 18 Aug 11
While robot cars on the open road move forward in prototype form, a new system of pod cars with dedicated tracks is now in operation at London’s Heathrow Airport. The firm behind the pods is also pushing the technology elsewhere, including potentially near San Jose’s airport.
The new system, in trials since April and entering regular service this summer, connects Heathrow’s Terminal 5 with two stations in a parking area about 1.2 miles away.
So far, the transport pods have received positive reviews from passengers who find the ride smooth and easy.
The following article appears in this month’s Rolling Stone Magazine…
The Climate of Denial
Al Gore | Rolling Stone | 22 June 11
The first time I remember hearing the question “is it real?” was when I went as a young boy to see a traveling show put on by “professional wrestlers” one summer evening in the gym of the Forks River Elementary School in Elmwood, Tennessee.
The evidence that it was real was palpable: “They’re really hurting each other! That’s real blood! Look a’there! They can’t fake that!” On the other hand, there was clearly a script (or in today’s language, a “narrative”), with good guys to cheer and bad guys to boo.
But the most unusual and in some ways most interesting character in these dramas was the referee: Whenever the bad guy committed a gross and obvious violation of the “rules” — such as they were — like using a metal folding chair to smack the good guy in the head, the referee always seemed to be preoccupied with one of the cornermen, or looking the other way. Yet whenever the good guy — after absorbing more abuse and unfairness than any reasonable person could tolerate — committed the slightest infraction, the referee was all over him. The answer to the question “Is it real?” seemed connected to the question of whether the referee was somehow confused about his role: Was he too an entertainer?