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We're a little crazy, about science!

Environment

Finally, a Better Battery!

That's the million dollar question.

That’s the million dollar question.

You know what technology hasn’t been able to keep pace with us? Well besides whatever tech the DMV uses, it’s batteries. Think about it, they are nasty, make a mess, are hazzardous, hard to recycle and weigh a freaking ton compared to the energy stored. Current battery technology is my number one problem with electric cars as it stands now. Between the weight, the resources, and the waste, electric cars are almost a wash. Not quite mind you, but almost.

That’s about to change, maybe not for the electric car, but for the energy grid. Right now power is pumped out as fast as it’s being used. There is no real storage anywhere for surplus power so it is made on demand for people to use it as it’s being produced. This use as you make it system has proven to be the bane of solar and wind, the two major renewable energy technologies we have. This problem combined with the lobbyists for oil and gas companies and you can see why we don’t have more solar or wind power plants.

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Global Warming doesn’t actually benefit Plants

Global warming signs

Things are heating up. It’s no secret that the mercury is rising and we are to blame. Sure, there is a lot of uncertainty, for example how long we have until we simply cannot reverse global warming, or worse, how long we have before we cannot survive on the planet. That would be a good question to answer; maybe it will get the people who can actually do something to fix it, to make a change.

The planet works in sometimes-unforeseen ways, sometimes that is good and sometimes that is bad. The hope was that global warming might be offset – if only for a short time – by the increased energy in the system [meaning longer warm periods], which would increase the growing season. It is unfortunate then, that this turns out not to be the case.

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Climate Engineering: We can’t Build it Better after all

View from the international space station

View from the international space station

We have the technology: we can rebuild you, better, stronger, faster. Well we may have been able to build the six million dollar man better than before, but as it turns out, we can’t do the same for the environment.

For anyone actually listening to science [and I really hope you all are] it isn’t getting any cooler. Thanks to the rising CO2 levels in the world it’s only going to get hotter and with it, the weather more extreme. Yet some people out there — and unfortunately for us, the people with the power to actually make a change– simply don’t care. To them, even if it gets hotter, we can fix it. After all we have the technology.

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Will genetically engineer bacteria for Biofuel

Homeless

This is pretty much how biofuel technology is being funded right now…

Utter the word biofuel in the wrong circles and someone is likely to be stabbed. Let’s just say that the topic can be polarizing, but for good reason. Biofuel offers a [potentially] carbon neutral and sustainable way to wean ourselves off our oil addiction. At the same time, the hurdles in the cost of production coupled with the technological problems have all but stalled the biofuel fantasy [can you see why someone may get stabbed yet?].

Well there is good news, while we are waiting for our solar roadways and other [much better] alternatives to just a carbon neutral solution, we can at the very least, move away from oil. This all thanks to a new breakthrough that will allow a carbon neutral biofuel to be produced cheaply.

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Solar Freakin’ Roadways- 5 Concerns Analyzed

solarroad

Solar Roadways, I know most people have been in support of the new blossoming technology and I’m happy to be a part of that [at least in support]. However, no matter where I turn there are a handful of common concerns that are brought up against the technology. Well today I wanted to go over five of the main concerns. I also wanted to take a peek into what the future could look like, with solar roads.

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Solar Freakin’ Roadways!

Artist's rendition of downtown Sandpoint, Idaho - Home of Solar Roadways Graphic design by Sam Cornett

Artist’s rendition of downtown Sandpoint, Idaho – Home of Solar Roadways
Graphic design by Sam Cornett

America loves it’s oil. Screw renewables, right? Because let’s face it, the world can be cleaned by someone else. As easily upset pretentious apes, us humans have few comforts in the changing world like fossil fuels. Our old friends coal, gas, and oil, they would never hurt us; they kick started the industrial revolution!

Let’s face it folks, global warming isn’t coming… it’s already here. We have study after study showing the effects. It’s time to ditch the medieval technology and move toward the future. Solar has been a good option, wind being another good choice. Both have drawbacks of course, no one likes wind farms and the solar farms don’t fare too much better.

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How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Fluoride

floride

“Have you ever seen a commie with a glass of water?”

In the 1964 Stanley Kubrick film, Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, it’s a question that leads to a conspiratorial rant about the dangers of water fluoridation; one you might be likely to hear today in fact.

It is 50 years after the making of the movie and water fluoridation still seems to be a hot button topic that draws nuts from just about all walks of life. Unfortunately, as with most pseudoscience, the controversy is manufactured and as a consequence, misinformation is spread.

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Climate Talks and Game Theory: A better Approach

climate change

Pretty much this…

Climate change talks, it’s like yelling at a wall and hoping it becomes a window. For over two decades, members of the United Nations have tried to forge an agreement to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions. Thankfully a new paper published offers a different approach to the problem using game theoretical modeling. (more…)


Cheaper, Cleaner Biofuel: A Temporary Fix to a Big Problem

biomaterials

Algae, the other, other biofuel

Biofuels seem to be all the rage these days, not a bad thing since that whole global warming thing [that people are scared to admit is real] is going on. It is then, very unfortunate that every biofuel or even “green alternative” has an achilles heel the size of Texas keeping it from becoming our fossil fuel replacement.

[Useless Loony Fact: I shudder every time I have to use the word “Green” referring to anything other than the color. Oh and Jesus roundhouse kicks a panda in the face, so save the pandas and stop using the word green for anything but the color]

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Deepwater Horizon Oil spill: The Environmental Impact

It was a disaster that ended up as one of the worst oil spills in modern history, the Deepwater Horizon didn’t just leak, it gushed. The depth of the well made the spill extremely difficult to repair and it required an incredible engineering feat to solve the problem.

Unfortunately, the problem was not immediately resolved when the leak was stopped. Between 492,000 – 627,000 tonnes of oil were dumped into the ocean, but it wasn’t just oil that was dumped, 500,000 tons of natural gas was also dumped into the Gulf of Mexico offshore waters over during the period of 84 days.

With the seemingly insurmountable cleanup effort, many were probably breathing a sigh of relief over the reports following the disaster that naturally-occurring microbes had consumed much of the gas and oil.

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Colony Collapse Disorder and Pesticides, Or Save the Bees!

Die hard, the bee version.

Bees, who needs them? They are scary, they sting and they seem to find magical ways into your securely locked home. I’m not bias, even though I run screaming like a little girl when I see one… okay maybe a little. But as it turns out we need the bees!! Who knew, right? After the colony collapse that came out of nowhere and could not be explained [at the time] everything from global warming to government conspiracy was being blamed. But now a new study helps strengthen the cause of the collapse.

Two widely used insecticides– in the class called neonicotinoids [for those of you who think you will be tested on this at the end]– appear to do significant damage to honey bee colonies over the winter, particularly in bad winters [hello global warming, I’m looking at you].

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Is being a human conservationist selfish?

Earth-Day-2014

Earth day, it’s a lot like new years. You make resolutions that you will never follow, promise yourself you will attempt to do things you really don’t want to, and try to do without that thing you know you can live without, but can’t seem to do it.

Yesterday was Earth day, so happy belated earth day, I guess… So how about the state of the planet then? It’s the only one we have, it is the place we call home, and unless you want to deal with chest bursting aliens [hey, I’ve seen the movies] then we are stuck here.

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Biofuels better for Nature? Maybe not!

Food or Fuel? The great debate, but ethanol from corn is not the savior it was thought to be.

Food or Fuel? The great debate, but ethanol from corn is not the savior it was thought to be.

Depending where you are in the world you might notice signs touting the 5% ethanol in the gasoline you are buying. The idea is that biofuels [currently primarily made from corn] are better for the environment. As it turns out that might not be the case.

A new study in the journal Nature Climate Change suggests that one particular source of biofuel, corn residue [the stuff left over from corn production], should not and cannot be used to meet the new US federal mandate to ramp up ethanol production and [ideally] lower greenhouse gas emissions.

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Global Warming Natural? Don’t bet on it.

global warming

Analyzing the temperature data as far back as 1500 almost completely rules out the idea that global warming is a natural phenomena and that human intervention plays no role. That is the punch line to a new study that was recently released.

The study, published April 6th in the journal Climate Dynamics, offers a new approach to finding a solution to the question of whether global warming is natural, or if it is caused by man. Instead of looking complex computer models of greenhouse gases in order to estimate the effect, McGill University physics professor, Shaun Lovejoy examined historical data as a statistical model to assess the competing hypothesis: that warming over the past century is due to natural long-term variations in temperature.

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