Tuesday, October 25, 2011

drag2share: A simple compound with surprising antifreeze properties

Source: http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-10-simple-compound-antifreeze-properties.html

A chemical compound used to stabilize particles in suspension has proved capable of controlling the growth of ice crystals. This finding was made by CNRS/Saint-Gobain researchers in France. Surprisingly, the compound in question is a simple molecule, not at all like the macromolecules previously known for their antifreeze properties. It offers many advantages, including low production costs, stability and ease of use, which should open the way to industrial applications. Published in the online journal PLoS ONE, this work also provides new leads for the development of synthetic equivalents of antifreeze proteins, different from those currently produced.

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drag2share: Biosensing tool to detect salmonella holds promise for preventing common food poisoning

Source: http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-10-biosensing-tool-salmonella-common-food.html

Pick your poison from this smorgasbord of recent salmonella outbreaks in the United States: ground turkey; fresh papayas; alfalfa sprouts. That's in 2011 alone, and the list goes on, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But perhaps not for long, thanks to a promising new biosensor nanotechnology that could identify the presence of salmonella bacteria before contaminated food or animals reach the marketplace.

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drag2share: The UK Wave Hub Powers 7,500 Cornish Homes [Monster Machines]

Source: http://gizmodo.com/5852991/the-uk-wave-hub-powers-7500-cornish-homes

The UK Wave Hub Powers 7,500 Cornish HomesThe English coast isn't exactly suitable for large-scale solar projects but does have plenty of another renewable energy source: waves. This device turns all that kinetic energy into a vast swath of electricity. Here's how.

The Wave Hub is a 12-ton device located 16 kilometers offshore from Hayle, on the north coast of Cornwall, UK. The Wave Hub doesn't actually produce any electrical current itself. Instead it collects the energy generated from four wave-powered arrays covering eight square kilometers of North Sea and feeds it back to an onshore substation via a 25 kilometer-long, 1300 ton, 11kV sub-sea cable.

While the Hub is owned and developed by the South West of England Regional Development Agency, the actual power generation is handled by one of four developers: Ocean Power Technologies Limited, Fred Olsen Limited, Oceanlinx, and WestWave (makers of the Pelamis system). Each array connects to the Wave Hub using an umbilical running from the generating device to one of the Wave Hub's four, 300 meter-long "tails." Each of these tails has a 4-5MW capacity. An onshore transformer increases the system's capacity up to a total of 20MW before the current enters the UK power grid.

The UK Wave Hub Powers 7,500 Cornish HomesThe Wave Hub is expected to generate sufficient electricity to light up 7,500 homes while saving 24,300 tons of carbon dioxide every year (compared to similar energy generation using fossil fuels).

The system is expected to eventually increase its capacity to roughly 50MW once 33kV cable technology reaches maturity.

[Wikipedia - Wave Hub - Physorg]

Monster Machines is all about the most exceptional machines in the world, from massive gadgets of destruction to tiny machines of precision, and everything in between.


You can keep up with Andrew Tarantola, the author of this post, on Twitter, Facebook, or Google+.

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Friday, October 21, 2011

drag2share: Climate Change Skeptics Eat Crow [Science]

Source: http://gizmodo.com/5851909/climate-change-skeptics-eat-crow

Climate Change Skeptics Eat CrowGlobal warming skeptics suspected climate change scientists were hiding data. So the skeptics paid for a new study to find the real truth. The results are in! And they're identical to previous results: Humans are heating up the earth.

University of California physics professor Richard Muller, one of the most vocal skeptics, gathered a team of 10 scientists, mostly physicists, including 2011 Nobel Physics Prize winner Saul Perlmutter, to create the Berkeley Earth Project.

Climate Change Skeptics Eat CrowMuller et. al. thought that data from weather stations used for previous studies may have been off because those located close to cities would record artificially warm temperatures. So the Berkeley Earth Project used new methods to re-analyze data from 40,000 weather stations. And guess what? The resulting graph looks almost exactly the same as the graphs from previous studies. They found that the earth's temperature has risen by 1 degree Celsius since 1950.

Climate Change Skeptics Eat CrowThe skeptics went so far as to hack into climate scientists' emails in 2009, after which they claimed to have found evidence that the famous "hockey stick" chart, which showed a sharp temperature increase in recent years, wasn't accurate.

Bob Ward, policy and communications director for the Grantham Institute for Climate Change and the Environment in London, told the BBC he's ready for apologies, including one from Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry, who has accused scientists of manipulating data.

"So-called 'sceptics' should now drop their thoroughly discredited claims that the increase in global average temperature could be attributed to the impact of growing cities," he said.

"More broadly, this study also proves once again how false it was for 'sceptics' to allege that the e-mails hacked from UEA proved that CRU land temperature record had been doctored.

"It is now time for an apology from all those, including U.S. presidential hopeful Rick Perry, who have made false claims that the evidence for global warming has been faked by climate scientists."

Add this new study to your points on how to talk to a climate change skeptic. And maybe punctuate it with your middle finger.

[BBC; Image: Shutterstock/Martin Capek]


You can keep up with our Science Editor, Kristen Philipkoski, on Twitter, Facebook, and occasionally Google+

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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

drag2share: GE's new factory will push out one solar panel every ten seconds

Source: http://www.engadget.com/2011/10/17/ges-new-factory-will-push-out-one-solar-panel-every-ten-seconds/

General Electric is sending its troops to Colorado to conquer the thin film solar panel business. The 38th state will play home to a new facility that leverages the supermodel-thin panel know-how of PrimeStar Solar, which GE scooped up back in 2008. In traditional solar panels, sand is refined into silicon ingots, sliced wafers of which are then placed in a frame. The thin film process eliminates this, sandwiching layers of semiconductors between panes of glass -- saving time, money and, most importantly, energy. The factory will open ahead of schedule in 2012 and is reportedly capable of producing a new panel every ten seconds. You can learn all of that and more in the press release we've got for you after the break.

Continue reading GE's new factory will push out one solar panel every ten seconds

GE's new factory will push out one solar panel every ten seconds originally appeared on Engadget on Mon, 17 Oct 2011 15:55:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

Permalink BusinessWire  |  sourceGE Energy  | Email this | Comments

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Friday, October 14, 2011

drag2share: Pests Are Developing Resistance to Monsanto's Engineered Supercorn

Source: http://www.popsci.com/science/article/2011-08/first-major-case-us-gm-crop-resistance-pests-develop-resistance-monsantos-supercorn

The Adult Stage of the Western Corn Rootworm USDA

Some consumers may have a problem with genetically modified food crops, but in at least one case described in an Iowa State University researcher's paper there's one customer that's happy to consume Monsanto's GM corn: rootworms, the very pest the corn is modified to thwart. According to the paper, western corn rootworms in at least four northeast Iowa corn fields have developed a resistance to the natural pesticide in corn seed produced by Monsanto, marking the first time a major Midwest pest has developed a resistance to GM crops.

That could spell all kinds of trouble for food crops, farmers, Monsanto, and pretty much everyone who isn't a western corn rootworm. Though based on isolated cases thus far, the problem could be more widespread, and the paper is bound to rouse another debate on the benefits and demerits of GM crop cultivation and current farm management practices.

The big problem here would be, of course, the widespread proliferation of rootworm resistance. Monsanto first dropped their rootworm-resistant corn seeds on the market in 2003 at a time when its herbicide-resistant modifications had made Monsanto's seed extremely attractive to farmers, who could blanket their fields in herbicide and kill everything but their food crop plants. The corn seed also contains a gene that produces a crystalline protein called Cry3Bb1, which delivers an unpleasant demise to the rootworm (via digestive tract destruction) but otherwise is harmless to other creatures (we think).

The seed was so successful that it's estimated that roughly a third of U.S. corn now carries the gene. Which means one-third of U.S. corn could potentially be susceptible to rootworm again if the resistance that has reared its head in Iowa is indicative of a larger problem.

The good news is that the same rootworms that are resistant to Monsanto's special sauce are susceptible to a competitor's similar-but-different GM toxin. But if rootworms can develop a resistance to one strain of GM toxin, it stands to reason that--if farming practices remain unchanged--that it could eventually become resistant to others.

[WSJ]

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drag2share: Google Releases its Energy Consumption Numbers, Revealing a 260 Million Watt Continuous Suck

Source: http://www.popsci.com/science/article/2011-09/google-releases-its-energy-consumption-numbers-revealing-260-million-watt-continuous-suck

Just Look at All Those Cables There must be like a billion watts in there. sugree via Flickr

After years of playing such numbers extremely close to the vest, Google today released figures spelling out exactly how much electricity the company's massive computing resources consume. Its data centers continuously draw 260 million watts--roughly a quarter the output of a nuclear power plant, says the NYT--to keep services like Gmail, search, Google Ads, and YouTube up and running around the clock and around the globe.

How does that translate? Google also estimated that its total carbon emissions for 2010 were just below 1.5 million metric tons. Not all of Google's electricity comes from carbon resources--a quarter comes from renewable fuels like wind, thanks to some deals the company has made with utilities--but that's still some decent tonnage.

Still, Google argues that its consumption really isn't so bad. Its data centers carry out billions of operations--a billion searches per day alone--and many of those save fuel. Google searches save trips to the library or the travel agent, for instance, offsetting the power consumed by its processing farms. And when you break it down it's not so bad, considering the vast numbers of people using Google's services. The company said an average user consumes just 180-watt hours per month, which roughly equates to running a 60-watt light bulb for three hours.

And how does that power usage break down? Google apparently didn't detail every last watt, but it did say that search queries only burn 12.5 million of those 260 million watts. As for the other quarter billion, it's probably a pretty even split between Gchat and Rebecca Black.

[NYT]

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drag2share: New Shrimp Farming Technique Yields Record Hauls of Jumbo Shrimp from Minimal Water

Source: http://www.popsci.com/science/article/2011-09/new-shrimp-farming-technique-yields-record-hauls-jumbo-shrimp-minimal-water

Dr. Addison Lawrence, Left, and His Stackable Raceways System Patty Waits Beasley via PhysOrg

Remember that part of Forrest Gump where Forrest and Captain Dan are looking for shrimp but can't find any because there's too much competition for shrimp, but then the hurricane passes through and suddenly there's no competition for shrimp and there's just tons of shrimp to be had? This story is mostly not like that one, except it ends with a lot more shrimp than it starts with.

A new shrimp farming technology devised by researchers in Texas is churning out record-setting levels of shrimp. Called super-intensive stacked raceways, its a system of indoor aquaculture that generates far more shrimp per cubic meter of water than open pond farming or any other aquaculture technique. And it could be deployed just about anywhere.

The shrimp grow in huge enclosed tubs called raceways, stacked four high in a column. As the shrimp develop and grow under computer-controlled conditions (the water is carefully circulated but not completely renewed, keeping environmental costs and water usage in check), they are moved downward from one raceway to the next--baby shrimp go in the top and progress downward to the bottom raceway, from which they are eventually harvested.

That innovation--the ability to raise very large, protein-rich shrimp (they're called U15, but you probably know them as "jumbo") in very little water--means the kilo-per-cubic-meter numbers are through-the-roof: 25 kilograms of shrimp from just one cubic meter of water. For some perspective, that's equivalent to 1 million pounds of shrimp per acre of water. U.S. shrimp farms top out at about 20,000 pounds per acre of water. The best shrimp farms in tropical climates, working year round, yield something like 60,000 pounds per acre in a good year.

So we're talking about a vast improvement to our shrimp stores. But the impact isn't just an abundance of jumbo shrimp to batter up and fry. For one, it provides countries like the U.S. with a means to produce fresh shrimp (we import the vast majority of ours, and it's usually frozen and thawed a few times before it gets to us). And shrimp exporters like China are on the verge of becoming shrimp importers due to socioeconomic trends and population growth, and that would make shrimp quite expensive. With stacked raceways, we could have our own domestic supply of shrimp, circumventing the need for a series of violent "shrimp wars."

But further, this method could provide a simple-to-produce means of protein in places where food in general and protein in particular are growing scarce. Plus: jumbo shrimp you guys! These will go great on an hors d'oeuvre table next to those popper-optimized jalapenos we've been cultivating.

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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

drag2share: Virgin Atlantic launches low-carbon fuel, aims to halve carbon footprint (video)

Source: http://www.engadget.com/2011/10/11/virgin-atlantic-launches-low-carbon-fuel-aims-to-halve-carbon-f/

Richard Branson was in London today to announce "one of the most exciting developments of our lifetime." Right, so that'd be SpaceShipFour, we presume, capable of landing on the moon? No, not quite, but a low-carbon fuel would definitely be our second guess. Virgin Atlantic is partnering with LanzaTech, a company that specializes in carbon re-use technology, to recycle waste gasses from 65 percent of the world's steel mills. In Branson's own words, they'll be "taking much of the s**t from up the chimney stacks and turning it into aviation fuel." By capturing those gases that would otherwise be released into the atmosphere, Virgin would be able to reduce its overall carbon footprint without necessarily reducing the carbon output of its individual aircraft. The airline plans to have the fuel ready for commercial use by 2014, and will begin trials on its routes from London to Shanghai and Delhi around that time -- two cities that have become synonymous with pollution. Jump past the break for an audio-less demonstration video -- that's right, there's nothing wrong with your speakers.

Continue reading Virgin Atlantic launches low-carbon fuel, aims to halve carbon footprint (video)

Virgin Atlantic launches low-carbon fuel, aims to halve carbon footprint (video) originally appeared on Engadget on Tue, 11 Oct 2011 17:31:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

Permalink&! nbsp;Huffington Post  |  sourceVirgin, Richard's Blog  | Email this | Comments

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Thursday, October 6, 2011

drag2share: This 20kW Power Plant Flies Itself [Video]

Source: http://gizmodo.com/5847144/this-power-plant-flies-itself

This 20kW Power Plant Flies ItselfNo matter how tall a traditional wind turbine is built it can't reach the stronger, steadier winds that blow a quarter mile above the ground. That's why Makani Power traded the turbine's tower for a tether and created the Wing 7 aeronautic power plant.

The Wing 7 spans eight meters but weighs just 130 pounds thanks to its carbon fiber wing and rotor construction. The tether that keeps it attached to the base station also transmits electricity that the wing produces back to the ground. And in a 22 mph wind, it'll will generate 20 kW.

The Wing 7 launches vertically, drawing power from the tether to drive the rotors (which also act as propellers for thrust). Once it reaches a height of roughly 1500 feet, the wing will level out using its unique vertical tail wing and autonomously fly in swooping, crosswind circles while generating electricity. The rotors can also be used to slow the wing which reduces its altitude. To land, the wing transitions to back to vertical hovering before being gently winched back to the ground.

The Makani system actually behaves much like a conventional turbine, except that the wing itself functions like the turbine blade—albeit on a much larger path. This allows it to generate nearly double the energy of conventional turbines per unit of capacity. Makani hopes to boost the wing's power-generating by 2013 and have it to market by 2015.

[Makani Power - Popular Mechanics]

Monster Machines is all about the most exceptional machines in the world, from massive gadgets of destruction to tiny machines of precision, and everything in between.


You can keep up with Andrew Tarantola, the author of this post, on Twitter, Facebook, or Google+.

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Tuesday, October 4, 2011

drag2share: Self-Cleaning Cloth Keeps Your Shirts Bacteria-Free With Pure Sunlight Power [Health]

Source: http://gizmodo.com/5846219/self+cleaning-clothes-kills-bacteria-dead

Self-Cleaning Cloth Keeps Your Shirts Bacteria-Free With Pure Sunlight PowerThis is laundry science at work. Researchers at the University of California at Davis have developed a compound that blends into cotton clothes and, when exposed to sunlight, destroys bacteria and toxins.

The compound is known as 2-anthraquinone carboxylic acid, or 2-AQC, and can be incorporated into cotton threads without the risk of washing off. After an hour's exposure to our yellow sun, the super compound produces reactive oxygen species, such as hydroxyl radicals and hydrogen peroxide, that break down nasties like E. coli and dangerous pesticides.

While it probably won't lift your average grass stain, the researchers hope to see it applied in health care, food processing, and even the military. I take this as the first step toward clothes that won't ever have to be washed again. [Journal of Material Chemistry via CNet]

Image Credit: Patricia A. Phillips/Shutterstock


You can keep up with Kwame Opam, the author of this post, on Twitter, Facebook, and occasionally Google+.

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