Sunday, April 27, 2008
New Source for Biofuels Discovered by Researchers at The University of Texas at Austin | The University of Texas at Austin
New Source for Biofuels Discovered by Researchers at The University of Texas at Austin | The University of Texas at Austin: "AUSTIN, Texas — A newly created microbe produces cellulose that can be turned into ethanol and other biofuels, report scientists from The University of Texas at Austin who say the microbe could provide a significant portion of the nation's transportation fuel if production can be scaled up.
Along with cellulose, the cyanobacteria developed by Professor R. Malcolm Brown Jr. and Dr. David Nobles Jr. secrete glucose and sucrose. These simple sugars are the major sources used to produce ethanol.
'The cyanobacterium is potentially a very inexpensive source for sugars to use for ethanol and designer fuels,' says Nobles, a research associate in the Section of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology."
The above is from the University of Texas at Austin News. As the article describes it, the problem with converting regular plant material to ethanol fuel is the difficulty and expense of breaking down the material. This process may eventually solve that problem as the new material involves cynobacteria that can be grown in production facilities or in land not suitable for agriculture using water to salty for regular use. Maybe we are not doomed!
Speaking of Not Doomed, try this at home:
From the Slashdot Blog
Newscloud brings us news of a startup called E-Fuel promising to ship a home-brew ethanol plant, the size of a washer-dryer, for under $10,000 by the end of this year. We've had plenty of discussions about $1/gal. fuel — these guys want to let you make it at home. The company says it plans to develop a NAFTA-enabled distribution network for inedible sugar from Mexico at 1/8th the cost of trade-protected sugar, to use as raw material for making ethanol. A renewable energy expert from UC Berkeley is quoted: "There's a lot of hurdles you have to overcome. It's entirely possible that they've done it, but skepticism is a virtue."
Saturday, April 26, 2008
Nuclear energy becoming less sustainable | COSMOS magazine
"SYDNEY: The case for nuclear power as a sustainable alternative energy source is challenged by new evidence that greenhouse gas emissions from uranium mining are increasing.
An Australian report, detailed this week in the journal Environmental Science and Technology argues that the availability of high-grade uranium ore will deplete over time making the fuel more environmentally and economically expensive to extract."Just when it starts to look like "Good Nukes", the bad news comes. The above quoe is from Cosmos Magazine
Below is a quote from another source about the carbon footprint of nukes, citing the total process of generating nuclear energy: "As Michel Lee, chair of the Council on Intelligent Energy & Conservation Policy, wrote in an (unpublished) letter to the Times, the dirty secret is that nuclear power makes a substantial contribution to global warming. Nuclear power is actually a chain of highly energy-intensive industrial processes. These include uranium mining, conversion, enrichment and fabrication of nuclear fuel; construction and deconstruction of the massive nuclear facility structures; and the disposition of high-level nuclear waste." This quote is from a statement from a website maintained by the Orcanic Consumers Organization
I will try to find a link to a BBC broadcast of a recent debate in Great Britain between members of the Green Party and a "co-founder" of Greenpeace, Patrick Moore. I myself am not a big fan of most Green parties, but they can be correct. Maybe the old adage "If it sounds to good to be true, it probably isn't". Refer back to the quote from Lewis L. Stauss head of the AEC in the early 1950's: "It is not too much to expect that our children will enjoy in their homes electrical energy too cheap to meter, will know of great periodic regional famines in the world only as matters of history, will travel effortlessly over the seas and under them and through the air with a minimum of danger and at great speeds, and will experience a lifespan far longer than ours as disease yields and man comes to understand what causes him to age." We are still waiting!
Please, someone convince me that nukes will work and won't contribute to global warming! All of those French Folks can't be wrong, can they? That country gets a very large percentage of its power from nukes. See the CNN link for a story on the countries in the world with the largest number of nuclear plants.
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
eSolar, the IKEA of Solar Energy, to Unveil Modular Power Plant This Year | SolveClimate.com
eSolar is "scalable disruptive solution from IdeaLab, a part of Google. It is made from mass manufactured components. It is designed for quick construction and unlimited scalability. Those crazy folks at Google are really on tip of things! Also, see the GreenTech blog for more solar technology, including the venerable Sterling heat engine.
The search for astroengineers
"Having so far failed to find evidence for extraterrestrial civilizations by searching for their radio transmissions, some physicists think it is worth scouring the sky for signs of their astronomical construction work, writes Bruce Dorminey"
As physicist Enrico Fermi said, if they are out there, where are they? The Drake Equation postulates that they are there, based of course on some variables such as how long a civilization lasts as soon as it develops the power to destroy itself. This article talks about looking for advanced extraterrestrial civilizations who may have reached the K2 stage of civilization ( levels of civilizations postulated by Soviet physicist Nicolai Kardashev and commented on recently by physicist Michio Kaku) at which point a society could harness the energy of a star and build a "Dyson Sphere" around their star. The Physics World article calls for a new search for evidence of such super civilizations.
Monday, April 21, 2008
Alzheimer's Disease - Reporter's File - Zen and the Art of Coping With Alzheimer's - NY Times Health
Wikipedia defines Zen as: "
Zen (Japanese: 禅) also known as Chán (Traditional Chinese: 禪; Simplified Chinese: 禅) (see lengthy etymology below) is a school of Mahāyāna Buddhism notable for its emphasis on mindful acceptance of the present moment, spontaneous action, and letting go of self-conscious and judgmental thinking. " Mindful acceptance of the moment would seem to have some positive effect...as long as there is enough mind left for mindfulness.
John A. Wheeler, Physicist Who Coined the Term ‘Black Hole,’ Is Dead at 96 - New York Times: "“For me, he was the last Titan, the only physics superhero still standing.”"
The last of the great 20th Century physicist has died. The linked NY Time article speaks of his career. He rubbed elbows with Niels Bohr, Einstein and taught Richard Feynman. You can hear a podcast on his life at this link to a Scientific American podcast. Click Here.
Sunday, April 20, 2008
Scientific American: Expelled Explained
Go here to learn the truth about Ben Stein's new anti-evolution move Expelled.
The movie is psuedo-science at its best (worst?)
You can also go to an educational site, Expelled Explanined.
Finally, the SciAm link above will give you a gateway to listen to a recording of the editors meeting with the Expelled producers.
I am all for UFO's and crop circles and other fun stuff, but not this drivel!
Friday, April 18, 2008
Technology Smooths the Way for Home Wind-Power Turbines - New York Times: "