Monday, September 30, 2013

The Frankenstein 'TomTato' Plant Grows Potatoes And Tomatoes At Once

Source: http://www.businessinsider.com/tom-tato-grows-potatoes-and-tomatoes-2013-9

TomTato

People have been culturing and experimenting with plants for millennia, but the game has now been changed. 

Thompson & Morgan have created a hybrid plant that grows both tomatoes and potatoes at the same time. They've dubbed it the "TomTato."

Imagine: You can create french fries and ketchup from THE SAME PLANT.

Really, this isn't the first time that these plants have been created, but it is the first they'll be mass sold. They cost about $24 a plant. 

They can even be grown as a potted plant — they don't need a full yard to produce what the company claims is about 500 cherry-sized tomatoes. They only last for one season though, so you need to buy more every year. This isn't likely to be a viable commercial crop for agriculture, but a cute novelty plant in your neighbor's garden. 

The plants are created by a process called grafting, meaning they aren't hybrids of genetically modified organisms (not that there's anything wrong with GMOs). These grafts can be difficult because the stems of the two plants have to be exactly the same size for it to work. Generally, it involves cutting the top plant into a V and inserting it into the bottom plant's stem system, then bandaging it up and hoping for the best. 

If successful, the vascular system of the plants — which are essentially their blood vessels — will grow together so the two halves can talk. That's some Frankenstein stuff. Grafting is frequently done on plants like wine grapes and apples, but that's usually just from the same species of plant. 

Luckily for french fry gardeners, the potato and tomato are actually closely related. They come from the same plant family and have the same number of chromosomes, the structures that hold DNA. 

Thompson and Morgan describe the plant as such:

From these specially grafted plants you can harvest both tomatoes and potatoes - a concept which has been talked about for many years, but this is the first time plants have been successfully produced commercially. 

The tomatoes are sugary yet tangy with a brix of 10.2, and below ground this plant produces delicious, versatile potatoes - ideal for boiling, mashing, roasting, baking or for making chips.

A similar product, dubbed the "Potato Tom" launched in New Zealand this week.

Here's a video of the TomTato — those tomatoes and potatoes do look pretty tasty. Sadly, they are only available in the U.K. 

SEE ALSO: These Hybrid Animals Will Be Created Because Of Climate Change

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Friday, September 27, 2013

The Most Alarming Findings From A Monster Report On Climate Change

Source: http://www.businessinsider.com/a-guide-to-2013-ipcc-report-2013-9

On Friday, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a summary of the biggest report on climate change since 2007. The final draft will be unveiled Monday. 

The world's top climate scientists are more certain than ever that climate change is real and humans are causing it. 

"Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, and since the 1950s, many of the observed changes are unprecedented over decades to millennia," the report said. "The atmosphere and ocean have warmed, the amounts of snow and ice have diminished, sea level has risen, and the concentrations of greenhouse gases have increased."

The new report says with at least 95% confidence that human-emitted greenhouse gases are responsible for most of the Earth's warming since 1951. Scientists were only 90% confident in 2007, and the human contribution to global warming wasn't even mentioned in the first report, published in 1990.  

Here are some of the key findings: 

Atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide have increased by 40% since the industrial revolution, mostly from fossil fuel emissions. 

Screen Shot 2013 09 27 at 11.50.19 AMMost of that carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere, but about 30% of emissions are absorbed by the ocean. The pH of sea water is lowered as it takes in more carbon, making the world's oceans more acidic. Ocean acidification is blamed for killing coral reefs and other sea creatur! es.  

IPCC Report

As concentrations of carbon dioxide have increased, so have land and ocean surface temperatures. Combined global land and ocean surface temperature show an average warming of 0.85 degrees Celsius between 1880 and 2012.  

IPCC Report

Due to natural variability, trends based on short records do not accurately reflect long-term climate trends. Scientists point out that the rate of warming in the past 15 years has been small compared to the rate since 1951. 

A long view, however, shows that each of the past three decades have been successively warmer at the Earth's surface than any preceding decade since 1850. 

If carbon emissions continue unchecked, scientists predict that average temperatures between 2080 and 2010 will be 2.6-4.8 degrees Celsius higher than today. 

IPCC

Warming temperatures will lead to changes in the global water cycle. 

"The contrast in precipitation between wet and dry regions and between wet and dry seasons will increase, although there may be regional exceptions," the report said.

IPCC Report

As global surface temperatures rise, it is very likely that spring snow cover in the Northern Hemisphere will continue to decline and Arctic ice will continue to shrink and thin.

Northe! rn Hemis phere snow cover has fallen by 11% each decade since 1967, while Arctic sea ice has been melting by 9-14% each decade since 1979. 

 IPCC

Melting sea ice will cause sea levels to rise. Global seal levels have risen by roughly 8 inches in the last century. One model suggests that sea levels could further rise by 3 feet in the next one hundred years if nothing is done to curb CO2 emissions. 

IPCC report

 

Even if CO2 emissions are stopped, the effects of climate change will continue for many centuries.
 
IPCC Report

SEE ALSO: 16 Irrefutable Facts That Climate Change Is Real

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Wednesday, September 25, 2013

drag2share: Scientists Break The World Record For The Most Efficient Solar Cell

source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/businessinsider/~3/op8AcnNXR6Y/scientists-create-world-record-solar-cell-2013-9

record solar cell

A German-French research team has created a solar cell that can convert 44.7% of the sunlight it receives into energy. 

That's a new world record (though as CleanTechnica points out some places measure efficiency differently).

According to a release from team co-leader the Fraunhofer Institute in Munich, the group created a solar unit made up of four solar cells stacked on top of one another.

The cells were made of nitrogen- and boron-based compounds that enjoy high conductivity or electron mobility — basically, it's easier for charged particles to move through the cells.

That technology was originally used in space applications. 

The team also came up with a new way of binding the cells that further increased efficiency:

"Besides improved materials and optimization of the structure, a new procedure called wafer bonding plays a central role. With this technology, we are able to connect two semiconductor crystals, which otherwise cannot be grown on top of each other with high crystal quality. In this way we can produce the optimal semiconductor combination to create the highest efficiency solar cells.” 

The new cell would eventually be used in concentrat! ed photo voltaic installations, which happens to be the fastest-growing type of solar power.

Fifty percent efficiency is considered the holy grail within the solar world

Given this same team already had a world record in May before surpassing it with this new cell, that now seems to be within reach.

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Monday, September 16, 2013

First grid-scale compressed air battery now operational

Source: http://www.engadget.com/2013/09/16/sustainx-turns-on-first-modern-megawatt-scale-air-battery/

SustainX activates first megawattscale air battery

Compressed air batteries have long promised truly clean energy storage, but they haven't scaled large enough in recent years to be viable companions to renewable power sources. That changes now that SustainX has switched on the first modern air battery large enough to join an electrical grid. The company's new ICAES (Isothermal Compressed Air Energy Storage) system in Seabrook, New Hampshire can hold 1.5 megawatts of power versus the kilowatt-level capacities of its rivals. Despite its size, ICAES is sustainable; it doesn't require 'dirty' energy for either compression or releasing air to its generator, and the supply won't degrade like that of a chemical battery. The New Hampshire system is just a demonstrator to attract interest, but SustainX expects to have its first commercial battery running in China next year. If ICAES (and technology like it) proves successful, we could see more solar and wind farms that keep delivering electricity when they're otherwise idle.

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Via: GigaOM

Source: SustainX

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Sunday, September 15, 2013

A Massive Molasses Spill Is Killing Everything In Its Path รข And Nothing Can Be Done To Clean Up The Mess

Source: http://www.businessinsider.com/nature-must-clean-molasses-spill-in-hawaii-2013-9

Molasses

A giant molasses spill in Honolulu on Monday leaked 233,000 gallons of the sticky stuff into the harbor. 

The spill is being called the worst environmental disaster in Hawaii's history. The cracked pipe that caused the leak was repaired on Tuesday, but the spill has already killed thousands of fish and officials are warning swimmers and surfers to stay out of the water since it could attract sharks

“Everything is dead. They’re all dead and they’re all just lying across the bottom — hundreds and hundreds, thousands," a diver told  NBC affiliate KHNL.

The worst part is that nothing can be done to clean up the mess. 

Molasses is heavier than water, so unlike oil, it sinks to the bottom of the seafloor. 

"Unlike with an oil spill, it’s a sugar product so it will dissipate on its own," a spokesman for the shipping company that maintains the molasses pipeline told NBCNews. "There’s not an active cleanup."

Here are more photos from the disaster:

Various kinds of dead marine life can seen in this barrel collected by employees from the PENCO Pacific Environmental Corporation at a dock in Keehi Lagoon in Honolulu. 

Molasses

Health officials have warned swimmers, surfers, and snorkelers! in Hawa ii to stay out of the waters near Honolulu. 

RTX13J62

A dead fish washed ashore is seen in Keehi Lagoon. Thousands of fish have been killed. 

molasses spill

SEE ALSO: Maine Processor Has An Incredible Way Of Getting Lobster Out Of Its Shell

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Thursday, September 12, 2013

drag2share: This Insect Grows Its Own Microscopic Gears to Move Absurdly Fast

source: http://feeds.gawker.com/~r/gizmodo/vip/~3/JGyINL5Wwgs/this-insect-grows-its-own-microscopic-gears-to-move-abs-1302488227

This Insect Grows Its Own Microscopic Gears to Move Absurdly Fast

When you think of the fastest accelerators in the animal kingdom, large, muscular mammals will probably be the first that come to mind. But steady among them is the inconspicuous adolescent issus, who can hit an acceleration of 400 gs in 2 milliseconds flat (humans lose consciousness over 5 gs)—all thanks to what scientists have now identified as the first biological set of gears ever discovered.

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A Giant Molasses Spill Is One Of The Worst Marine Disasters In Hawaii's History

Source: http://www.businessinsider.com/hawaii-giant-molasses-spill-disaster-2013-9

dead fish molasses spillLocal scientists are saying that a giant molasses spill in Honolulu has quickly become one of the worst marine disasters in Hawaiian history.

The spill was caused by a corroded pipe that transported the molasses from storage thanks to ships. NPR says 233,000 gallons of molasses were spilled into the harbor on Monday before the leak was stopped on Tuesday. That's enough to fill seven rail cars, FoxNews said.

You can kind of see the outline of the brown stain in the water in this aerial shot from NBC news:
molasses spill in hawaii There's nothing they can do to clean up the spill, since the sugary liquid floats to the bottom of the water.

A little sugary liquid doesn't seem like it would destroy an entire community of animals, but because the liquid is heavier than the seawater, it sinks to the bottom and disperses far and wide. Because it doesn't carry oxygen as well as water does, the sea life suffocates.

dead fish molasses spillThousands of fish have died. A diver surveying the scene said "everything down there is dead."There will be long-lasting environmental effects of the spill, as the marine community has been changed so drastically. The nutrient-rich molasses could also feed a bloom of bacteria and algae, and the dead animals could start to rot and spread harmful bacteria.

dead fish molasses spill Here's a video showing some of the devastation.

Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

SEE ALSO: Cactus Needles Inspired A Super-Efficient New Way To Clean Up Oil Spills

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