If you’ve never been to California to see its giant redwoods, you should probably go soon. It might be only a matter of time before they’re all gone. Research released Friday indicates that the world’s oldest trees are dying at an alarming rate. “It is a very, very disturbing trend,” says lead researcher William Laurance of James Cook University. “We are talking about the loss of the biggest living organisms on the planet, of the largest flowering plants on the planet, of organisms that play a key role in regulating and enriching our world.”
Invisibility Cloak Works for Particles Too
A new approach that allows objects to become “invisible” has now been applied to an entirely different area: letting particles “hide” from passing electrons, which could lead to more efficient thermoelectric devices and new kinds of electronics.
Normally, electrons travel through a material in a way that is similar to the motion of electromagnetic waves, including light; their behavior can be described by wave equations. That led the MIT researchers to the idea of harnessing the cloaking mechanisms developed to shield objects from view — but applying it to the movement of electrons, which is key to electronic and thermoelectric devices.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2012/10/invisibility-cloak-works-particles-too
Israeli inventor creates cardboard bicycle that can ‘change the world’
A bicycle made almost entirely of cardboard has the potential to change transportation habits from the world’s most congested cities to the poorest reaches of Africa, its Israeli inventor says.
Izhar Gafni, 50, is an expert in designing automated mass-production lines. He is an amateur cycling enthusiast who for years toyed with an idea of making a bicycle from cardboard.
“Making a cardboard box is easy and it can be very strong and durable, but to make a bicycle was extremely difficult and I had to find the right way to fold the cardboard in several different directions. It took a year and a half, with lots of testing and failure until I got it right,” he said. (REUTERS/Baz Ratner)
The scientist who conducted the experiment could not be reached for comment because he was still at recess.
Would anyone like to help boost my lifespan?
Capturing CO2 with Tomatoes
A California farmer is finding a unique way to capture emissions of carbon dioxide — piping the climate-altering gas from a power plant into his massive greenhouse, spurring more plant growth and tastier tomatoes.
This carbon capture and tomato storage project is the first of its kind in the United States although similar ones exist in Europe.
The new $13 million combined heat and power co-generation plant opens Aug. 22 at Houweling’s Tomatoes in Camarillo, Calif. The two GE-built engines will burn natural gas to keep the greenhouse warm, while generating some extra electricity that is sold back into the local grid. At the same time, the 8.8-megawatt plant feeds its waste carbon dioxide directly into Houweling’s giant 150-acre greenhouse.
“All the electricity (power) plants out there are putting CO2 into the atmosphere and heat which are two big consumptions,” said owner Casey Houweling. “If we use our energy wiser we would have impacts from two sides, reducing cost and becoming more efficient.”Houweling says the co-generation plant is a big investment but he expects it will pay off in the long run. ”There will be a big benefit because we won’t be exposed to energy prices because we are selling the electricity,” Houweling said. “Long-term we believe this will stabilize our production costs.”
The power industry has looked at many types of carbon storage projects over the years as a way to reducing atmospheric emissions of the heat-trapping gas. Some firms have tried injecting it underground to abandoned mines or salt deposits, others have tried bubbling CO2 through ponds of microscopic algae. But Houweling says that the extra CO2 is a perfect fit for his greenhouse. He already has to purchase the gas anyway from an industrial supplier to makes his plants grow.
“In a greenhouse, if we don’t add C02,” Houweling said, “the plants will pull down the level so much they will stop growing.”
Houweling says the addition of the co-generation plant makes his greenhouse facility almost 100 percent energy-efficient. He recycles 90 percent of his waste, captures rainwater for irrigation, and has deployed five acres of solar panels. The greenhouse-grown tomatoes also use less land than traditional row farming. That is a further energy savings, according to Scott Nolen, product line leader for General Electric.
“He can grow as much food on 150 acres as his neighbor in 5,500 acres,” Nolen said. Nolen said that until renewable sources of energy pick up the slack, there are still ways of making fossil fuel plants have less of an environmental impact. ”We’d all like to be in world where we don’t burn hydrocarbons,” Nolen said. “That’s not possible yet but in the meantime, we want to make sure every molecule of hydrocarbon we burn for fuel is as efficient as possible.”
Black Holes: Everything You Think You Know Is Wrong
Image: Hot iron gas rides a wave of space-time around a black hole in this computer image taken from a Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer observation. Credit: NASA
If most people know one thing about black holes, they probably know that nothing can escape from them, not even light.
Yet this most basic tenet about black holes has actually been disproven by the theory of quantum mechanics, explains theoretical physicist Edward Witten of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, NJ, in an essay published online today (Aug. 2) in the journal Science.
Black holes, in the classical picture of physics, are incredibly dense objects where space and time are so warped that nothing can escape from their gravitational grasp. In another essay in the same issue of Science, theoretical physicist Kip Thorne of Caltech describes them as “objects made wholly and solely from curved spacetime.”
Yet this basic picture appears to contradict the laws of quantum mechanics, which govern the universe’s tiniest elements.
“What you get from classical general relativity, and also what everyone understands about a black hole, is that it can absorb anything that comes near, but it can’t emit anything. But quantum mechanics doesn’t allow such an object to exist,” Witten said in this week’s Science podcast.
In quantum mechanics, if a reaction is possible, the opposite reaction is also possible, Witten explained. Processes should be reversible. Thus, if a person can be swallowed by a black hole to create a slightly heavier black hole, a heavy black hole should be able to spit out a person and become a slightly lighter black hole. Yet nothing is supposed to escape from black holes.
To solve the dilemma, physicists looked to the idea of entropy, a measurement of disorder or randomness. The laws of thermodynamics state that in the macroscopic world, it’s impossible to reduce the entropy of the universe — it can only increase. If a person were to fall into a black hole, entropy would increase. If the person were to pop back out of it, the universal entropy tally would go down. For the same reason, water can spill out of a cup onto the floor, but it won’t flow from the floor into a cup.
This principle seems to explain why the process of matter falling into a black hole cannot be reversed, yet it only applies on a macroscopic level.
The Time They Used a Cigarette Lighter to Light the Olympic Torch
When it comes to the Olympic Flame, its keepers take no chances. Multiple backup sources are lit from the torch so that if the original goes out (which isn’t totally uncommon), it can be reignited using the same fire.
But what happens when the Flame goes out and the backups are nowhere to be found? That’s exactly what happened during the 1976 Montreal Summer Games. Though Olympic Stadium had been constructed just for the Games, construction strikes halted progress on the building, leaving the roof and tower unfinished. In fact, patrons of Olympic Stadium didn’t have a proper roof over their heads until more than a decade later.
This proved problematic when an unexpected rainstorm hit a few days into the Games, extinguishing the unprotected Olympic Flame. No events were scheduled at that particular venue for the day, so the bearers of the backups were nowhere to be found. “Use what you got,” onsite plumber M. Pierre Bouchard must have figured, and pulled a cigarette lighter from his pocket.
When Olympic officials found out about the incident shortly thereafter, the not-so-distinguished Flame was put out and relit with a proper backup.
Making your suspect write about his case sounds like cruel and unusual punishment to me.
A data specialist has taken federal tornado data — “essentially, where a tornado touched down, where it lifted off again, and how strong it was” according to the Fujita Scale — collected from 1950 to 2006 and laid it out on a map of the U.S.
The result makes it appear that one-half of the country is covered by “claw marks.”
Devastating and beautiful all at once.
Somewhere in West Tennessee, not far from Graceland, nine women — or “The 9 Nanas,” as they prefer to be called — gather in the darkness of night. At 4am they begin their daily routine — a ritual that no one, not even their husbands, knew about for 30 years. They have one mission and one mission only: to create happiness. And it all begins with baked goods.
“One of us starts sifting the flour and another washing the eggs,” explained Nana Mary Ellen, the appointed spokesperson for their secret society. “And someone else makes sure the pans are all ready. We switch off, depending on what we feel like doing that day.
“But you make sure to say Nana Pearl is in charge, because she’s the oldest!” she added with a wink and a smile.
Over the next three hours, The 9 Nanas (who all consider themselves sisters, despite what some of their birth certificates say) will whip up hundreds of pound cakes, as part of a grand scheme to help those in need. And then, before anyone gets as much as a glimpse of them, they’ll disappear back into their daily lives. The only hint that may remain is the heavenly scent of vanilla, lemon and lime, lingering in the air.
This just in: hopefully not that.
How did it get down there..?