Check out my maps!
Like my main one, a big 4MB beauty I found at www.fabiovisentin.com
Or this contrasting pair of African maps - colonized, and tribal
Here's a Future Map of North America, according to Gordon Michael Scallion, of matrixinstitute.com. Watch out for 2012...
Here's a clickable and zoomable map of the Moon...
Via updates in technology, we have an improved map of the Human Brain and a new 3-D map of Mars
Here's a very cool world map of Podcasters. Represent your feed!
Check out this cool map of UFO sites...
Here's a map of Central America and the Caribbean from the Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection, Univ. of Texas...
Here'a a community area map of the greater Los Angeles megacity...
From the CIA, a 1.3 MB map of Iraq, and a 1.6 MB NIMA map of Baghdad, from the Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection, Univ. of Texas...
Here's an 1805 allegorical map of "The Paths of Life" that outlines the different potential courses that a person's life can take...
"The United Countries of Baseball" shows the territories of the different American and National league teams...
The "Map of BCS Conferences" shows the names and locations of the college football teams that make up the different conferences, plus the Independent schools...
Additional Conferences: WAC, Conference USA, Mountain West, Sunbelt
A new high-resolution map of American per-capita CO2 emissions. It shows the amount of carbon dioxide produced in 100 square kilometer regions of the United States divided by the number of residents in that area. I'm using a much smaller version,
but you can download the full eight megabyte ultra-high-resolution file here.
In honor of the Berlin...I mean, the Beijing Olympics. here's a pdf download Tiananmen Massacre map that points out the street locations and hospitals where the students died in and around the Square...
From the USGS, a real-time Earthquake Tracking Map for California and Nevada...
From Barry Cooper, narcotics interdiction expert, a Narcotics Interdiction Map showing the locations citizens are likely to encounter drug interdiction officers. Some officers are rated on their willingness to violate the 4th amendment...
From OurAmazingPlanet, here's a map of Earth's Atmosphere, which extends 200 miles out from the planet...
Here's a basic London Olympic Map with locations of the venues...
Sundown Lounge No. 349
Music Connection Dec. Edition
East Bay Alternative Book and Zine Fest
Blow Wind Blow @ Elizabeth's Crazy Little Thing
The Fourth Annual EBABZ is committed to make available the chillest hang zone for buying, trading and collaborating with zine/comix/diy/publishing comrades in the East Bay.
Held at the lower lounge of Berkeley City College, this community event is FREE to the public.
Scheduled throughout the day include workshops and a reading by Bay Area poetry and performance art collective SISTER SPIT.
Open Mic Night
2nd Wednesday of the Month, 10 pm
Phyllis' Musical Inn
1800 West Division Street
Chicago, IL 60622
An Open Mic Variety Show Hosted by Chicago Poet Elizabeth Harper and Rich Experience
The next show on December 11, 2013 will feature Ryan Suzuka's band Blow Wind Blow. The theme for the open mic will be "Hawaiian Christmas."
Blow Wind Blow is the music of Ryan Suzuka (vocals/ukulele/harmonica), amplified into appropriate proportion with the help of bandleader Rami Atassi (lead guitar), Aaron Ervin (guitar/keyboards), Conner Hollingsworth (bass), and Paul Newmann (drums). Although he frequently smiles, Ryan sings sad songs on his ukulele. Some songs are happy, some are angry, but most are sad, though, sad in a way that will make you smile just like he does. This band is here to display the beauty, power, and depth of someone who lived through his entire youth without knowing he had a musical voice. In one moment you experience his accumulated ache and the next, a thunderous declaration of purpose. This band is creating rocking indie pop that owes as much of its creation to the ethereal falsetto of Skip James and command of Son House, as it does to the lush vulnerability of Camera Obscura and rootsy melodic drive of Neko Case. Welcome to the wonderful world of Blow Wind Blow!
Phyllis' Musical Inn is near the Division Blue Line stop
and # 70 Division, #9 Ashland, and #50 Damen bus stops.
A male birth control pill that causes a temporary vasectomy
It's the 21st century and men still don't have a birth control pill to call their own. But now, scientists from Britain and Australia have figured out a way to prevent sperm from escaping during the moment of ejaculation — and without affecting sexual function.
To date, most attempts at creating a male birth control pill have focused on the development of sperm or hormonal techniques to produce dysfunctional sperm. Problem is, those approaches tend to create various health problems for men, including reduced libido or permanent alterations to the way the body produces sperm. Worst of all, some methods even cause males to transmit detrimental changes to future offspring.
But the new technique, which is described in a recent edition of PNAS, targets the autonomic nervous system. It doesn't affect the long-term viability of sperm, nor the health of males. In fact, men would keep on producing sperm as per usual, it just wouldn't join the ejaculate. It's like a vasectomy in a pill, but one that's easily reversible.
Working with mice, the researchers disabled two specific components in the nervous system (specifically, the P2X1-purinoceptor and α1A-adrenoceptor) that prevent sperm from leaving the vas deferens (a kind of holding area in the testes just prior to ejaculation). Basically, they produced mice that couldn't squeeze the sperm out of their vas deferens.
After the treatment, these mice were 100% infertile and no deleterious effects to their sexual behavior or function could be detected. The sperm looked completely normal and the mice were able to produce healthy offspring. Well, to be completely accurate, the mice did experience a slight drop in blood pressure — a side-effect that has the researchers slightly worried about potential human applications. That said, it's being seen as an important find.
"[This provides] conclusive proof of concept that pharmacological antagonism of the P2X1-purinoceptor and α1A-adrenoceptor provides a safe and effective therapeutic target for a nonhormonal, readily reversible male contraceptive," write the authors in the study.
The next step will be to find a pair of drugs that work in humans. One may already exist in the form of a drug that treats benign prostate enlargement, but the other will have to be made from scratch — a process the researchers say could take another ten years.
Space technology company builds a functioning artificial heart
An artificial heart that took 15 years to develop has been approved for human trials. The device, which was fashioned from biological tissue and parts of miniature satellite equipment, combines the latest advances in medicine, biology, electronics, and materials science.
It's built by the Paris-based company Carmat and it's the brainchild of French cardiac surgeon Alain Carpentier. The state-of-the-art device is the result of a collaboration with aerospace giant Astrium, the space subsidiary of EADS, along with support from the French government.
In order for it to qualify for human trials, the developers had to create a heart that could withstand the demanding conditions of the body's circulatory system. It has to pump 35 million times per year for at least five years — and without fail. This is why Carpentier's team turned to space technology, which is known for its resilience and compact size.
"Space and the inside of your body have a lot in common," said Astrium's Matthieu Dollon in an ESA statement. "They both present harsh and inaccessible environments."
Indeed, Telecom satellites have similar demands placed upon them; they have to last for at least 15 years and function 36,000 km above Earth.
"Failure in space is not an option," he added. "Nor is onsite maintenance. If a part breaks down, we cannot simply go and fix it. It's the same inside the body."
In addition to space-tech, the artificial heart combines synthetic and biological materials as well as sensors and software to detect a patient's level of exertion and adjust output accordingly. MIT's Technology Review explains more:
In Carmat's design, two chambers are each divided by a membrane that holds hydraulic fluid on one side. A motorized pump moves hydraulic fluid in and out of the chambers, and that fluid causes the membrane to move; blood flows through the other side of each membrane. The blood-facing side of the membrane is made of tissue obtained from a sac that surrounds a cow's heart, to make the device more biocompatible. "The idea was to develop an artificial heart in which the moving parts that are in contact with blood are made of tissue that is [better suited] for the biological environment," says Piet Jansen, chief medical officer of Carmat.
That could make patients less reliant on anti-coagulation medications. The Carmat device also uses valves made from cow heart tissue and has sensors to detect increased pressure within the device. That information is sent to an internal control system that can adjust the flow rate in response to increased demand, such as when a patient is exercising.
The French company hopes to finish human trials by the end of 2014 and obtain regulatory approval for an EU launch in the following year. Human trials were approved back in September and will be tested on four patients in three French hospitals.
Sundown Lounge No. 348
Not this week...
Sundown Lounge No. 347
Benefit Concert for Red Poppy Art House
Lauren O’Brien @ Bowery Electric
Crankshaft Thanksgiving Update
Two Chicago Book Expo Events
BSFS Genesis Anthology II
Hi My Friends!
Happy Wintertime and all that stuff. I hope that you are enjoying some snuggly Wintertime happiness and creativity.
Sooo… I got a couple performances coming up that I am very excited about…
*this Saturday November 23rd* I’ll be headlining the *ART RHYTHM & RHYME* event at Chayse’s Lounge (205 N. West St) in Syracuse! It’s gonna be a wild night… with Artists Live Painting, Poets, Comedians, Rave & Hop Hop DJs… If you are anyone you know is gonna be in the Syracuse area… Come on out!
If not… I’ll be doing a full band show at Bowery Electric in NYC on Monday December 2nd. Great way to kick off end o year celebrations…
And see you soon!
Crankshaft Thanksgiving Update,
This is an exciting month for me! Thanksgiving day will mark the world wide release of my new music videos on YouTube, I can't wait to share them on the internet with out of state family and fans that were unable to make it to the release party, yeah!
The night before Thanksgiving I'll be hosting a canned food drive at Magillycuddy's in Anoka, it's a $10 donation at the door, or $5 if you bring a canned or dry food item. 100% of the money collected will be donated to Second Harvest Heartland, for every $5 raised Second Harvest Heartland will be able to provide 18 meals for the hungry.
Since the last update I've been working on finishing up on the new live album "Boogie Melt." A collection of ten live tracks recorded with a giant rhythm section last February, a horn section, backup singers, piano, harmonica, the works! It will be released on December 14th at Famous Dave's in Calhoun Square. This will be a limited edition CD, only 1,000 copies will be released, and will not be available on any download site, get physical baby!
Sat. November 23th - 9pm - $8
Nomad World Pub - Minneapolis, MN
Crankshaft & The Gear Grinders + The Sex Rays
Wed. November 27th - 7pm door
$10 donation or $5 with any dry or canned food donation
Crankshaft's 3rd Annual Canned Food Drive!
Magillycuddy's - Anoka, MN
Crankshaft & The Gear Grinders
Javier & The Innocent Sons
Kevin "KP" James w/ Tony Comeau
Fri. November 29th - 7pm - $10
Fundraiser for Slim Dunlap
First Avenue & Seventh Street Entry
THE MELISMATICS, THE BLACKBERRY BRANDY BOYS,
CRANKSHAFT AND THE GEAR GRINDERS,
STEREO CONFESSION, THE MAD RIPPLE,
SPECIAL GUESTS and MORE
Alex "Crankshaft" Larson
Chicago Book Expo
St. Augustine College, 1345 West Argyle on Sun. Nov. 24th from 11 AM until 5 PM, CST.
In Expo Hall, Stop by the Chicago Poetry Press table to check out the new issue of Journal of Modern Poetry, no. 16, released exclusively on that day. Then, from 5 to 6, the JOMP 16 release READING will be happening at Chaplin Hall on campus...
There is a parking lot with free parking at St. Augustine (be warned that the speed bumps to enter and exit are very nasty, and can sometimes scrape the bottom of a car). If you prefer to park elsewhere, there is free street parking in the area, and free meter parking on Clark or Broadway on Sundays. If you take the CTA, the Red Line Argyle stop is about 3-4 blocks east.
Poet and critically-acclaimed songwriter Larry O. Dean reads from Brief Nudity, while Davis Schneiderman discusses his DEAD/BOOKS trilogy, which includes the blank novel Blank and his new book [SIC].
The Chicago Book Expo exhibition hall will be open 11 am-5 pm on Sunday, November 24 at St. Augustine College, 1345 W. Argyle, in St. Augustine’s Hall, with author events in Chaplin Hall and various classrooms.
Be sure to visit the expo hall, where there will be several interactive events, including Poems While You Wait (11 am-2 pm) and Story-O-Matic at the 826Chicago table. And in between programs in Chaplin Hall, Essanay Centers will be projecting films that relate to this historic venue.
After the success of our first book Genesis Anthology, we had to come back with another great publication that showcases 25 more great works of science fiction from the minds of Black Authors. It has been three years and now it’s time to share more great science fiction with the world.
$1000 3D printer that prints metal
The Mini Metal Maker prints 3D objects from digital files directly in precious metal clay, rather than in plastic. Once these clay objects air-dry, they are fired in a kiln to produce beautiful solid metal objects of high purity and precision. Using metal clay essentially replaces the entire wax-casting or lost-wax process ordinarily needed to do this. The Mini Metal Maker will add new capability for the DIY inventor or artist by making fabrication in metal easy and direct. It will be a boon for anyone interested in creating their own gears, miniature mechanisms, or printing detailed jewelry or metal ornaments. The Mini Metal Maker is built around the concept of using the minimum number of parts, reducing the cost to produce and also eliminating many chances for error during assembly.
They have raised about $7500 out of $10,000 to improve the precision from 500 microns to 200 microns.
We aim to raise $10,000 for materials to refine and package our technology into a producible product.
In order to achieve the reliability and price point needed to make this good invention a great product, we need to finish our research and development. Funds will go toward the following activities:
* Refine the metal clay recipe for each of five different clay types:
Copper, Bronze, Steel, Silver & Gold.
* Refine our high-pressure extruder design. We currently have a reliable extrusion trace at around 0.5mm but believe this can be reduced to 200 microns.
* Add a second print head for use with additional metal clays or support material.
* Optimize the integrated motor carriage design so that it can be easily printed on low cost printers such as the Makerbot and RepRap.
* Refine custom firmware for the printer to further optimize printing for clay.
* Create the Mini Metal Forge software environment in order to foster a good user experience, particularly for the non-technical craftsperson.
* Work with industrial partners to tool up for production of the machine with injection molding.
Mission to map Earth's magnetic field readies for take-off
A trio of European satellites is being readied for launch tomorrow from Russia’s Plesetsk spaceport to study Earth's magnetic field in unprecedented detail. The €220-million (US$296-million) mission, known as Swarm, will map the magnetosphere for at least four years.
At 12.02 gmt, a Russian Rockot launcher is scheduled to take off, lifting the three identical satellites into polar orbits. If all goes according to plan, two of the spacecraft will orbit the planet side-by-side at an initial altitude of 450 kilometres. The third satellite will fly 70 kilometres higher, and at a slightly different inclination.
Mission managers with the European Space Agency (ESA) are awaiting the launch — postponed twice owing to problems with the Russian rocket’s upper stage — with anxiety. In 2009, a Rockot carried two ESA Earth-observation satellites — GOCE (Gravity field and steady-state Ocean Circulation Explorer) and SMOS (Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity) — safely into orbit. But in 2005, ESA’s ice-observing CryoSat satellite crashed into the Arctic Ocean after a Rockot vehicle failed to reach orbit.
Carrying three satellites, each 9 metres long and weighing 473 kilograms at launch, atop a single carrier poses extra challenges. “There are some genuine worries,” says Rune Floberghagen, Swarm’s mission manager.
Last week, two Russian workers were killed while cleaning tanks at the Plesetsk launch facility. The accident was unrelated to the launch preparations for Swarm, says Floberghagen.
If the Rockot lifts off as planned, some delicate manoeuvring will still be required in space to push the three satellites into the right position. After a three-month commissioning phase, the trio will begin to independently measure the various electric currents in and around Earth.
Equipped with sensitive magnetic- and electric-field monitors, the satellite constellation will provide the most detailed survey yet of the ever-changing magnetic field that helps to shield Earth from charged particles streaming from the Sun.
The mission's primary objective is to separate Earth's geomagnetic field from the magnetic field induced in the uppermost magnetosphere by the Sun's charged particles. “One man’s signal is another man’s noise,” says Floberghagen.
“The satellite constellation will allow us to simultaneously observe the day and night sides of the Earth at any time,” says Eigil Friis-Christensen, who chairs the Swarm mission advisory group. “We can thus distinguish between signals stemming from things that happen on the Sun from signals generated in the Earth’s core, mantle and crust.”
Small differences in simultaneous measurements made by the lower pair of satellites will reveal the location of magnetized rock in Earth’s upper crust. “If the pair flies over a large iron mine, we would expect to see a magnetic signal,” says Friis-Christensen. Mapping crustal ‘magnetization’ at high resolution will help to characterize geological provinces and identify mineral and ore deposits, he says.
Swarm will also help scientists to understand how the geomagnetic field is evolving over time. The magnetic north and south poles wander about all the time, and every few hundred thousand years the poles flip around, so that a compass would point south instead of north. Moreover, the strength of the geomagnetic field has decreased by 10–15% since ground measurements began around 1840.
Time to flip?
Perhaps the decline is no more than a magnetic 'jerk'. But it could also be the prelude to a looming geomagnetic-field reversal. Geophysicists know from analyses of volcanic rock — which records the direction of the magnetic field at the time it solidified from lava — that Earth’s polarity last flipped some 780,000 years ago. “A reversal is overdue, if you will,” says Friis-Christensen.
The weakening, he says, is probably the result of changing currents and vortices in the planet's outer core, an ‘ocean’ of molten iron that slowly whirls around a solid, inner core. Swarm's data should help to improve computer models of these currents and to provide more-informed projections about the evolution of the geomagnetic field, says Richard Holme, a geophysicist at the University of Liverpool, UK.
“Earth’s magnetic field is still a bit of a mystery,” he says. “Swarm could shed light on many questions, and it will open up a completely new window on previous data and historical records.”
Most solar panels are facing in the wrong direction: Study
Solar panels should face in the general direction of the sun. You would think that would be easy to do. But most installers of solar panels, especially the ones for homes, follow conventional wisdom handed down from architects, which holds that in the northern hemisphere, windows and solar panels should face south.
This makes intuitive sense since it would seem to maximize the amount of sunlight a panel will get as the sun tracks from one horizon to the other. But it isn’t true, at least according to a single study of homes in Austin, Texas. The Pecan Street Research Institute found that homeowners who aimed their panels toward the west, instead of the south, generated 2% more electricity over the course of a day.
More importantly, those west-facing panels reduced household electricity usage during the times when electricity is most expensive—and power grids are most likely to become overloaded—by 65%, while south-facing panels only reduced usage during those times by 54%. In Texas, as in most places, those “peak times” are from 3pm to 7pm, and correspond with the heat of the day.
It’s obvious that west-facing solar panels produce more electricity later in the day, when the sun is setting in the west, but quantifying the way that favoring late-day sunlight helps homeowners save money and utilities flatten out demand could lead to a simple but effective hack for the world’s solar installers: Simply re-orienting solar panels could shorten the amount of time it takes for them to pay for themselves.
Sundown Lounge No. 346
Benefit for the BeLoved Community
"The Suppression of Sound" - Thomas Sayers Ellis and saxophonist James Brandon Lewis @ Red Poppy Art House
Benefit for the BeLoved Community
Sunday, November 17, 2013, 7:00pm in EST
On SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 17, at 7 pm
in Diana Wortham Theatre, 2 S. Pack Square, Asheville, North Carolina
YOU CAN ATTEND AN EXTRAORDINARY LITERARY AND MUSICAL EVENT
COME AND JOIN AWARD-WINNING AUTHORS
RON RASH, PATRICIA SMITH, KEITH FLYNN, and R. B. MORRIS
AS THEY READ FROM THEIR WORK, ACCOMPANIED BY
FREE PLANET RADIO, BILL ALTMAN, SUSI GOTT SEGURET, JONATHAN SCALES, TEN CENT POETRY, AND OTHER GUEST MUSICIANS
*****IN A BENEFIT FOR THE BELOVED COMMUNITY*****
$20--FOR STUDENTS, $30--GENERAL ADMISSION, $50--VIP SEATING
ALL PROCEEDS TO BENEFIT THE BELOVED COMMUNITY
a volunteer organization that feeds, clothes, and advocates
for the homeless and disenfranchised citizens among us...
PLEASE HELP TO END HOMELESSNESS AND TO MAKE
A STAND FOR SOCIAL JUSTICE IN OUR TIME
Wednesday, November 20, 2013, 7:30pm
Red Poppy Art House
2698 Folsom Street, San Francisco
An Evening of Poetry and Sound featuring Thomas Sayers Ellis and saxophonist James Brandon Lewis. This eclectic duo has been performing together for nearly two years and was recently given the thumbs up by poet Amiri Baraka (for their mixture of Free Jazz, GoGo, Be Hip Bop Hop and deep Groove) when they opened for him in New York City. The combination of Mr. Ellis’s bold, lyric activism and meditations on race and American culture are pushed and purposely punished by Mr. Lewis’s muscular and exhaustive tenor. A highlight of the performance is "Mr. Dynamite Splits," a searing avant-gutter tribute to the Godfather of Soul, James Brown.
Japanese inventor finds solution to global trash problem by converting plastic to oil
We are all well aware of plastic’s “rap-sheet.” It has been found guilty on many counts, including the way its production and disposal raises resource issues and lets loose extremely negative environmental impacts.
Typically made from petroleum, it is estimated that 7% of the world’s annual oil production is used to produce and manufacture plastic. That is more than the oil consumed by the entire African continent.
Plastic’s carbon footprint includes landfilling and incineration, since sadly, its recycle rate is dismally low around the globe.
Plastic trash is also polluting our oceans and washing up on beaches around the world. Tons of plastic from the US and Japan are floating in the Pacific Ocean, killing mammals and birds. Perhaps this tragedy is best captured in the TED presentation by Capt. Charles Moore of the Algalita Marine Research Foundation.
Using less, or use it better?
Thankfully, there are those who fully appreciate that plastic has a higher energy value than anything else commonly found in the waste stream. A Japanese company called Blest created a small, very safe and easy to use machine that can convert several types of plastic back into oil.
Though Japan has much improved its “effective utilization” rate over the years to 72% in 2006, that leaves 28% of plastic to be buried in landfills or burned. According to Plastic Waste Management Institute data, “effective utilization” includes not just the 20% that is actually recycled, but also 52% that is being incinerated for “energy recovery” purposes, i.e., generating heat or electric power.
“If we burn the plastic, we generate toxins and a large amount of CO2. If we convert it into oil, we save CO2 and at the same time increase people’s awareness about the value of plastic garbage,” says Akinori Ito, CEO of Blest.
Blest’s conversion technology is very safe because it uses a temperature controlling electric heater rather than flame. The machines are able to process polyethylene, polystyrene and polypropylene but not PET bottles. The result is a crude gas that can fuel things like generators or stoves and, when refined, can even be pumped into a car, a boat or motorbike. One kilogram of plastic produces almost one liter of oil. To convert that amount takes about 1 kwh of electricity, which is approximately ¥20 or 20 cents’ worth.
The company makes the machines in various sizes and has 60 in place at farms, fisheries and small factories in Japan and several abroad.
“To make a machine that anyone can use is my dream,” Ito says. “The home is the oil field of the future.”
Perhaps that statement is not as crazy as it sounds, since the makeup of Japanese household waste has been found to contain over 30 % plastic, most of it from packaging.
Continually honing their technology, the company is now able to sell the machines for less than before, and Ito hopes to achieve a product “that any one can buy.” Currently the smallest version, shown in the videobrief, costs ¥950,000 (US $9,500). [Note of 30 November 2010: Blest informs us that, since we visited them last year, improvements have been made to the machine and the price is now ¥1,060,000 (around US$12,700) without tax.]
Changing how we think
But it is the educational application of the small model of the machine that Ito is most passionate about. He’s taken it on planes on many occasions as part of a project that began some years ago in the Marshall Islands. There he worked with local government and schools to teach people about recycling culture and the value of discarded plastic, spreading the Japanese concept ofmottainai, the idea that waste is sad and regrettable.
In such remote places, the machine also serves as a practical solution to the plastic problem, much of it left behind by tourists: the oil produced is used for tour buses or boats, Ito says.
“Plastic’s carbon footprint includes landfilling and incineration, since sadly, its recycle rate is dismally low around the globe.”
“Teaching this at schools is the most important work that I do,” Ito reflects. In Japan too, he visits schools where he shows children, teachers and parents how to convert the packaging and drinking straws leftover from lunch.
If we were to use only the world’s plastic waste rather than oil from oil fields, CO2 emissions could be slashed dramatically, he says.
“It’s a waste isn’t it?” Ito asks. “This plastic is every where in the world, and everyone throws it away.”
A mountain to climb down
The wonderful invention of plastics has spawned a huge problem that we are struggling to solve. With peak oil looming, things are set to change, but we find ourselves on top of an oil and plastic mountain, and the only way forward is down.
So while many solutions like this are not without hiccups or detractors, they are a step forward in coming to terms with our oil and plastics dependence and help raise awareness of the carbon footprint of its production and use. Somehow we all know that plastics is a habit we need to kick. But that doesn’t seem to make it any easier.
Perhaps the best thing you can do is to look more deeply into this issue. A good place to start is the 2008 Addicted to Plastic documentary from Cryptic Moth productions. You can watch the trailer online and maybe request it at your local video rental store.
According to the blurb, “the film details plastic’s path over the last 100 years and provides a wealth of expert interviews on practical and cutting edge solutions to recycling, toxicity and biodegradability.”
Next it is just a matter of taking action to break our love affair with plastic.
[Original article published April 14 2009. Below is a statement from Blest Co...]
This YouTube video about the invention of a plastic-to-oil converting machine went viral and exceeded 3.7 million views. This shows that concern over “the plastic problem” is certainly not going away, despite encouraging bans on and decreases in the use of plastic shopping bags.
Here on Our World, on the video’s YouTube page and those of re-posters too, as well as on the hot Reddit Science link, the topic has generated much interest and debate amongst commenters.
Many think that this type of recycling is not a solution, but that instead the world should be seriously focused on the first “R” — which is reduce. We should shun single-use plastic (such as your average PET bottle or disposable container) altogether, they argue. The world’s oil resources are diminishing; does technology like this enable our denial of that fact, or is it a hopeful and constructive step in the right direction?
Others have concerns about pollution or toxic residue from the conversion process. Blest tells us that, if the proper materials are fed into the machine (i.e., polyethylene, polystyrene and polypropylene — PP, PE, PS plastics), there is no toxic substance produced and any residue can be disposed of with regular burnable garbage. They also explain that while methane, ethane, propane and butane gasses are released in the process, the machine is equipped with an off-gas filter that disintegrates these gases into water and carbon.
Lastly, commentators from around the world are anxious to know if and where they can purchase a machine. Though the company still mainly produces larger, industrial-use machines, Blest Co. will be more than happy to hear from you. Please contact them directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
3D printed human cells could end animal testing within 5 years
A hundred million animals are killed in labs and classrooms across the U.S. every year. Many of these mice, rats and rabbits are needed in part to develop the early stages of new vaccines and medicines, which might later go on to treat human illnesses. It is a harsh reality for the animals involved, but one which may be about to change.
Bio-ink and 3D-printed human tissues have been in development for a couple of years now. In the future they just might be used to print living organs for those in need. Large 3D printers could someday replace the surgeon’s table, printing layers of bone, tissue and skin onto the injured. And while those days are a few years off yet, 3D-printed human tissue could very soon begin saving millions of lives — those of the humble lab mice.
By 3D-printing human tissues for use in drug trials, we could not only eliminate the need for animal testing, but garner better scientific data than any mouse could ever deliver. 3D printed tissues would afford scientists the ability to test their drugs on actual human systems, without the possibility of the loss of life. Within five years, 3D printed tissues could actually be used to test how a particular patient might react to a vaccine, eliminating complications from rare side effects.
Cheap Hydrogen from Sunlight and Water
By making a solar photovoltaic material more resilient, researchers may have found a way to make artificial photosynthesis—that is, using sunlight to make fuel—cheap enough to compete with fossil fuels.
If you want hydrogen to power an engine or a fuel cell, it’s far cheaper to get it from natural gas than to make it by splitting water. Solar power, however, could compete with natural gas as a way to make hydrogen if the solar process were somewhere between 15 and 25 percent efficient, says the U.S. Department of Energy. While that’s more than twice as efficient as current approaches, researchers at Stanford University have recently developed materials that could make it possible to hit that goal. The work is described in the journal Science.
One way to make hydrogen using sunlight is to use a solar panel to make electricity and then use that electricity to power a commercial electrolyzer that splits water, forming hydrogen and oxygen. But combining the solar panel and the electrolyzer in one device might be cheaper and more efficient. The electrons produced when light hits a photovoltaic material could facilitate chemical reactions, and the capital costs of one machine would likely be lower than the cost of two (see “A Greener ‘Artificial Leaf,’” “Sun Catalytix Seeks Second Act with Flow Battery,” and “Artificial Photosynthesis Effort Takes Root”).
For some time now researchers have known that you could approach 15 to 25 percent efficiency if you combined two solar cell materials in such a system. One solar cell would power half of the water-splitting reaction—forming hydrogen. The other could form oxygen.
The hydrogen part is pretty much solved now, but researchers have had trouble with the oxygen half. The most efficient solar cell materials for this reaction (silicon, for example) quickly corrode. The Stanford researchers discovered that they could make silicon last for days, rather than just a few hours, by coating it with a protective layer of zinc just two-billionths of a meter thick. The materials split water for three days before the researchers stopped the experiment to examine the materials for damage. They found none.
Other materials—such as metal oxides—can last this long, but they split water very slowly. The new materials are an order of magnitude faster, says John Turner, a research fellow at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colorado. “Over 40 years of work on oxides has not produced a result like this,” he says.
It could be a while before the materials are used in commercial hydrogen production. To achieve the needed efficiencies, the materials would still need to be incorporated into a system that uses two solar cells. And a big remaining question is how long the materials can last. To be economical, a system would have to run for at least five years, Turner says.
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