Aug 30, 2014

Anti-Ebola Drug ZMapp Makes Clean Sweep: 18 of 18 Monkeys Survive Infection

ZMapp, the drug that has been used to treat seven patients during the current Ebola epidemic in West Africa, can completely protect monkeys against the virus, research has found. ... The drug — a cocktail of three purified immune proteins, or monoclonal antibodies, that target the Ebola virus — has been given to seven people: two US and three African health-care workers, a British nurse and a Spanish priest. The priest and a Liberian health-care worker who got the drug have since died. There is no way to tell whether ZMapp has been effective in the patients who survived, because they received the drug at different times during the course of their disease and received various levels of medical care.NPR also has an interview with study lead Gary Kobinger, who says that (very cautious) human trials are in the works, and emphasizes the difficulites of producing the drug in quantity.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Aug 29, 2014

Russian Scientists to Develop Nuclear Waste Removal Technology for Fukushima

MOSCOW, August 29 (RIA Novosti) - Russian nuclear scientists are developing the technology to clear Fukushima’s radioactive waste of tritium, Sergei Florya, project manager at radioactive waste management enterprise RosRAO told RIA Novosti.

“We offer unique combined technology, unlike our western colleagues. Thanks to this, we are able to achieve better production economy. The Radium Institute will develop the technology and RosRAO will build and operate the installation. The location has not been chosen yet. We are currently working on an agreement with the project’s office in Japan and we’ll get to work as soon as we’ve discussed all the details,” he said, adding that the project is expected to be finished within a year and a half.

Japanese authorities have chosen RosRAO as one of three companies to help treat and dispose of the radioactive waste accumulated after the Fukushima disaster, the others being US company Kurion and nuclear alliance GE-Hitachi Nuclear Energy Canada.

Each company is expected to receive 1 billion yen ($9.6 million) for their work, which they are due to submit by the end of March 2016.

“For the first time in history, we have a situation where such a high volume of radioactive liquid – 800,000 cubic meters – is concentrated in one place. The level of tritium here is 10,000 times greater than the maximum limit set by the World Health Organization. The cleanup technology currently used in Fukushima makes it possible to clean the waste of cesium and strontium, but not of tritium,” Florya said.

The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster took place in March 2011 and was the largest nuclear incident since the Chernobyl disaster in 1986. The accident occurred when the plant was hit by a 14-meter (46-foot) tsunami, triggered by a 9.0 magnitude earthquake.

Some 140,000 people were evacuated from settlements within 20 kilometers (12 miles) of the power plant, many of whom have been unable to return to their homes due to high levels of contamination in the area. Complete decommissioning of the power plant could take up to 40 years.

Please read on at:

Aug 28, 2014

RT @greenwombat - Health Savings From Cutting Greenhouse Gases Will Pay for a Low-Carbon Economy

Take Part - A new MIT study ... finds that the health savings from slashing greenhouse gas pollution will exceed most, if not at all, the cost of building a low-carbon economy in the U.S.

"We estimate that human health benefits associated with air quality improvements offset 26–1,050 percent of costs depending on the flexibility of the carbon policy," wrote the researchers in the study, which was published in the journalNature Climate Change.
That's because the main sources of carbon dioxide emissions that are warming the planet—coal-fired power plants, cars and trucks—also spew particulate matter, mercury and other pollutants that harm human health.

The researchers found that not all policies would result in the same savings. For instance, the health benefits from directly regulating vehicle emissions by imposing strict fuel economy standards would only pay 26 percent of the cost of the $1 trillion policy.

But the health savings of a nationwide cap-and-trade carbon market would be 10 times the $14 billion cost to implement such a program. Establishing clean energy standards for power plants would save $247 billion versus the policy's $208 billion cost, according to the study

Please read full and follow at:

How The World Wastes Food [Infographic] via @PopSci

 Popular Science - New Technology, Science News, The Future Now
Every year, the planet loses nearly a third of its food—a staggering 1.4 billion tons. That's according to a 2011 United Nations study that assessed food networks in 152 countries. The researchers' results reveal where in the food-supply chain farmers, engineers, and consumers might more effectively get comestibles into mouths. 

Food Losses and Waste Worldwide
Food waste, by production stage and food type
Katie Peek

World food losses by region
Katie Peek
Please read full and follow at: How The World Wastes Food [Infographic]

Climate Damage 'Irreversible' According Leaked Climate Report

According to Bloomberg a leaked climate report from the IPPC speaks of "Irreversible Damage." The warnings in the report are, as such, not new but the tone of voice is more urgent and more direct than ever. It states among other things that global warming already is affecting "all continents and across the oceans," and that "risks from mitigation can be substantial, but they do not involve the same possibility of severe, widespread, and irreversible impacts as risks from climate change, increasing the benefits from near-term mitigation action."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Aug 27, 2014

New NRC Rule Supports Indefinite Storage of Nuclear Waste

The five-member board that oversees the Nuclear Regulatory Commission on Tuesday voted to end a two-year moratorium on issuing new power plant licenses. The moratorium was in response to a June 2012 decision issued by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia that ordered the NRC to consider the possibility that the federal government may never take possession of the nearly 70,000 metric tons of spent nuclear fuel stored at power plant sites scattered around the country. In addition to lifting the moratorium, the five-member board also approved guidance replacing the Waste Confidence Rule. "The previous Waste Confidence Rule determined thatspent fuel could be safely stored on site for at least 60 years after a plant permanently ceased operations," said Neil Sheehan, spokesman for the NRC. In the new standard, Continued Storage of Spent Nuclear Fuel Rule, NRC staff members reassessed three timeframes for the storage of spent fuel — 60 years, 100 years and indefinitely.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Aug 26, 2014

Executive Order on "Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces" will Require Government Contractors to Disclose Labor Law Violations

Executive Order on “Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces” will Require Government Contractors to Disclose Labor Law Violations

On July 31, President Obama signed The Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Executive Order (EO). This EO requires covered federal contractors periodically to disclose various labor law violations to the government prior to and following the award of a federal contract and also requires them to collect similar information from subcontractors. The executive order also (a) adopts guidelines for how reported violations should be considered by agencies in making contract awards, (b) adds new paycheck “transparency” requirements, and (c) attempts to limit the use of mandatory arbitration for certain employment disputes. The White House indicated that it expects this Executive Order to be implemented on new contracts in stages, on a prioritized basis, during 2016. The executive order first requires contractors bidding for federal procurement contracts for goods and services (including construction contracts) valued at more than $500,000 per contract to disclose to the contracting agency whether there has been “any administrative merits determination, arbitral award or decision, or civil judgment” rendered against the bidding contractor within the past three years for violations of the following 14 federal statutes, along with equivalent state laws: 1. The Fair Labor Standards Act 2. The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 3. The Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act 4. The National Labor Relations Act 5. The Davis-Bacon Act 6. The Service Contract Act 7. Executive Order 11246 8. Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 9. The Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974 10. The Family and Medical Leave Act 11. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act 12. The Americans with Disabilities Act 13. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act 14. Executive Order 13658 (establishing a minimum wage for contractors) Under this EO, a contractor’s disclosure must then be reviewed by an agency’s contracting officer to determine whether a bidding contractor is “a responsible source that has a satisfactory record of integrity and business ethics” prior to making an award. A contracting officer will also, as part of this “responsibility determination,” provide the “offeror” an opportunity to disclose any steps taken to correct the violations of or improve compliance with the listed labor laws, including any agreements entered into with an enforcement agency. The contracting agency's labor compliance advisor, in consultation with relevant enforcement agencies, shall advise the contracting officer whether agreements are in place or are otherwise needed “to address appropriate remedial measures, compliance assistance, steps to resolve issues to avoid further violations, or other related matters.”

Read full announcement at:

Data centers are the new polluters IT managers may be too cautious about managing power and businesses are unwilling to invest in efficiency, study finds

Computerworld - U.S. data centers are using more electricity than they need. It takes 34 power plants, each capable of generating 500 megawatts of electricity, to power all of the data centers in operation today. By 2020, the nation will need another 17 similarly sized power plants to meet projected data center energy demands as economic activity becomes increasingly digital.

Any increase in the use of fossil fuels to generate electricity will result in an increase in carbon emissions. But added pollution isn't an inevitability, according to a new report on data center energy efficiency from the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), an environmental action organization.

Nationwide, data centers in total used 91 billion kilowatt-hours of electrical energy in 2013, and they will be using 139 billion kilowatt-hours by 2020 -- a 53% increase.

NRDC Data center efficiency chart
This chart shows the estimated power usage (in billions of kilowatt-hours), and the cost of power used, by U.S. data centers in 2013 and 2020, and the number of power plants needed to support the demand. The last column shows carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in millions of metric tons. (Source: NRDC)

The report argues that an improvement in energy efficiency practices by data centers could cut energy waste by at least 40%. The problems hindering efficiency include "comatose" servers, also known as ghost servers, which use power but don't run any workloads; overprovisioned IT resources; lack of virtualization; and procurement models that don't address energy efficiency. The typical computer server operates at no more than 12% to 18% of capacity, and as many as 30% of servers are comatose, the report states.

The paper tallies up the consequences of inattention to data center energy efficiency on a national scale. It was assembled and reviewed with help from several organizations, including Microsoft, Google, Dell, Intel, The Green Grid, Uptime Institute and Facebook -- all of which made "technical and substantial contributions."

The NRDC makes a sharp distinction between large data centers run by large cloud providers, which account for about 5% of all data center energy usage, and smaller, less-efficient facilities. Throughout the industry, there are "numerous shining examples of ultra-efficient data centers," the study notes. These aren't the problem. It's the thousands of other mainstream business and government data centers, and small, corporate or multi-tenant operations, that are the problem, the paper argues.

The efficiency accomplishments of the big cloud providers "could lead to the perception that the problem is largely solved," said Pierre Delforge, director of the NRDC's high-tech sector on energy efficiency, but that perception doesn't match reality when all data centers are taken into account.

Data centers are "one of the few large industrial electricity uses which are growing," Delforge said, and they are a key factor in creating demand for new power plants in some parts of the country.

Please read on at:

Via @sgvcrime Sad news A prominent doctor, pioneer in the field of environmentally caused illnesses, died last week

Kaye was the Ralph Edgington Professor of Medicine at USC and for decades the editor of the Archives of Environmental Health. 

He made many contributions, among them publishing the 1999 consensus definition Multiple Chemical Sensitivity, which he co-authored with 33 others.  He devoted much of his later years to researching MCS causes [he focused on H2S] and treatments.

He will be missed....

A prominent doctor, pioneer in the field of environmentally caused illnesses and longtime Pasadena resident died last week at age 82.Read more by  Brian Day (@sgvcrime) , at San Gabriel Valley Tribune

Dr. Kaye H. Kilburn died Aug. 7, at a rehabilitation center from complication of a stroke he suffered July 12, said his wife of 60 years, Gerrie Kilburn.

The doctor worked throughout the nation and in London during his accomplished career. He founded his own practice, Neuro-Test Inc., in 1987 to study the effects of environmental chemicals on people and treat illnesses caused by toxic exposure, ranging from mold to asbestos to hydrogen sulfide gas. After retiring from his position as Ralph Edgington Chair of Medicine at the University of Southern California in 2006, Kilburn continued his research and cutting-edge treatments with the use of a clinical trial drug from a clinic at his Pasadena home, where he moved with his wife in 1980.

The doctor was absolutely dedicated to his patients, his wife said.

“The patients always came first,” she said.

But Kilburn also had a wide variety of other interests, including painting, Civil War history, travel and debate.

“He was a renaissance man, there was no question about it,” Gerrie Kilburn said. “He was diverse and willing to try and look at almost everything.”

Kilburn loved travelling and meeting a wide array of people, his wife said. They couple enjoyed traveling the world together.

“He had a dry sense of humor. He was very thoughtful in what he said,” Gerrie Kilburn said.

“I think he liked solving problems,” she said, adding that he often consulted with colleagues around the world to offer his expertise. Kilburn was adamant about a well-researched, fact-based approached to his science, without presumption or bias.

Kilburn has published three books, with a fourth he was working on currently being edited, and more than 250 scientific papers. During his long career, conducted a great deal of important research that still affects society today, Gerrie Kilburn said.

He conducted one of the most extensive studies into asbestos, helping to expose its danger in an industrial setting, his wife said.

Aug 24, 2014

UPower wants to make a container sized nuclear fission reactor with 2% of the development cost of small nuclear reactors and get regulatory approval by 2019 ]

technology enables an always on, container-sized, truly carbon-free and emission-free nano-nuclear battery for remote and distributed generation where energy costs can exceed 30 cents/kWh, and power is needed 24/7. The generator is a containerized unit that provides over a decade of energy without refueling, and can generate electricity for 40% less than competing technologies in these markets. The UPower generator is powered by a unique compact, solid state, micro reactor that produces over 1 MW and can cogenerate process heat.

The key to the UPower strategy is its truly modular technology which enables the ultimate in lean development and in lean manufacturing. For this reason, UPower will have development costs on the order of 1/50th the size of other "small" nuclear technologies.

UPower reactors don't have coolant flowing through them, don't have pumps, and don't have external pipes- basically a "nuclear battery.

Read more from // Next Big Future

Aug 22, 2014

Baby Boomer Health Problems will destroy what's left the Economy

Michael West CEO of BioTime Inc. says America has a huge problem headed its way with aging (living longer) from the baby boom generation. We must do something about this population's health to ensure the economy stays healthy.
Please continue reading from: Next Big Future

Aug 21, 2014

Scientists Baffled By Unknown Source of Ozone-Depleting Chemical

Scientists have found that, despite a complete ban since 2007, ozone-depleting chemicals are still being pumped into the atmosphere from some unknown source. "Carbon tetrachloride (CCl4), which was once used in applications such as dry cleaning and as a fire-extinguishing agent, was regulated in 1987 under the Montreal Protocol along with other chlorofluorocarbons that destroy ozone and contribute to the ozone hole over Antarctica. Parties to the Montreal Protocol reported zero new CCl4 emissions between 2007-2012. However, the new research shows worldwide emissions of CCl4 average 39 kilotons (about 43,000 U.S. tons) per year, approximately 30 percent of peak emissions prior to the international treaty going into effect. "We are not supposed to be seeing this at all," said Qing Liang, an atmospheric scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, and lead author of the study published online in the Aug. 18 issue of Geophysical Research Letters, a journal of the American Geophysical Union. "It is now apparent there are either unidentified industrial leakages, large emissions from contaminated sites, or unknown CCl4 sources."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

China Pulls Plug On Genetically Modified Rice and Corn

China's Ministry of Agriculture has decided not to renew biosafety certificatesthat allowed research groups to grow genetically modified (GM) rice and corn. The permits, to grow two varieties of GM rice and one transgenic corn strain, expired on 17 August. The reasoning behind the move is not clear, and it has raised questions about the future of related research in China.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Aug 20, 2014

YC-Backed UPower Is Building Nuclear Batteries

Nuclear Wetlands TechCrunchDespite the promise of bountiful, cheap, and clean energy, nuclear energy didn't completely overtake fossil fuels like everyone expected in the middle of the twentieth century. Among other things, fear of radiation leaks and waste products that have to be buried for hundreds of years turned the United States away from adopting it for more than a fraction of our energy usage. Read More

Solar Plant Sets Birds On Fire As They Fly Overhead under Federal investigation

Federal investigators in California have requested that BrightSource — owner of thermal solar plants — halt the construction of more (and bigger) plantsuntil their impact on wildlife has been further investigated. "Unlike many other solar plants, the Ivanpah plant does not generate energy using photovoltaic solar panels. Instead, it has more than 300,000 mirrors, each the size of a garage door. Together, they cover 1,416 hectares. Each mirror collects and reflects solar rays, focusing and concentrating solar energy from their entire surfaces upward onto three boiler towers, each looming up to 40 stories high. The solar energy heats the water inside the towers to produce steam, which turns turbines that generate enough electricity for 140,000 homes." The concentrated solar energy chars and incinerates the feathers of passing birds. BrightSource estimates about a thousand bird die this way every year, but an environmental group claims the real number is much Please continue reading from:b Slashdot

Aug 19, 2014

Gallup Study: Forty-Five Percent of Americans Seek Out Organic Foods

Source: Gallup- Forty-Five Percent of Americans Seek Out Organic Foods 

A little less than half of Americans, 45%, actively try to include organic foods in their diets, while 15% actively avoid them. More than a third, 38%, say they "don't think either way" about organic foods.

MIT researchers propose recycling lead from old batteries to produce new solar cells

Gizmag The world of modern technology is one of out with the old, in with the new. For battery technology, that means the expected demise of lead-acid batteries and replacement by a more efficient, cheaper, and environmentally-friendly alternative. This is good news, but leaves the problem of what to do with all the lead in the batteries currently in use when the time comes to dispose of them? Researchers at MIT have an answer – use it to make solar cells... Continue Reading MIT researchers propose recycling lead from old batteries to produce new solar cells 

Aug 18, 2014

Austrian province wants Swiss Mühleberg nuclear power plant with similar design to the ill-fated Fukushima plant and is one of which is the oldest non-military reactor operating in the world.

The head of the regional Austrian People's Party (ÖVP) in Voralberg, Roland Frühstück, wants to exert pressure on the Swiss government to speed up decommissioning of its aging nuclear power reactors due to concerns over safety.

 Switzerland has four remaining active nuclear power plants, one of which is the oldest non-military reactor operating in the world.

The Swiss government decided in 2011 to shut down one of the plants, which was commissioned in 1972.  The plant, in Mühleberg, is now more than 42 years old, and has a similar design to the ill-fated Fukushima plant - although it isn't on the coast in a tectonically active region.

A similar decision has yet to be taken by Switzerland in connection with its Beznau Nuclear Power Plant, which was commissioned in 1969, making it 45 years old.

..."The increasing age of the reactors also increases the risks for a nuclear incident and significant economic and environmental damage," Haverkamp said.

Aug 16, 2014

Japan's nuclear shutdown continues to cost $35.2 billion per year and means 26% more fossil fuel

Japan's ongoing reliance on imported fossil fuels while its nuclear reactors await permission to restart continues to impact on the country's greenhouse gas emissions and trade deficit.

Japan depended on imported fossil fuels for 88% of its electricity in fiscal year 2013, compared with 62% in fiscal 2010, the last full-year before the March 2011 accident at the Fukushima Daiichi plant. With almost its entire nuclear fleet offline, Japan reliance on fossil fuels peaked in fiscal year 2012 at 92.2%.

The additional fuel costs that Japan faced in fiscal 2013 to compensate for its nuclear reactors being idled was ¥3.6 trillion ($35.2 billion). Japan reported a trade deficit of ¥11.5 trillion ($112 billion) for the year, largely directly and indirectly due to these additional fuel costs. This compares with trade deficits of ¥6.9 trillion ($68 billion) in 2012 and ¥2.6 trillion ($25 billion) in 2011, following a ¥6.6 trillion ($65 billion) surplus in 2010.

Read more at Next Big Future

Aug 14, 2014

California May Waive Environmental Rules For Tesla

SlashdotWe all know Tesla is working on its Gigafactory, and it has yet to announce officially where it will be. But the automaker did announce a shortlist of possible locations, and California wasn't on it. The state has quickly been trying to lure Tesla to get back into contention. Now the state may waive environmental rules which would normally make construction of such a large manufacturing facility more difficult. Apparently, Governor Jerry Brown's office is currently negotiating an incentive package for Tesla that would waive certain parts of the nearly half-century-old California Environmental Quality Act. Not only that, but state officials are reportedly considering letting Tesla begin construction and perform damage mitigation later, along with limiting lawsuits that could slow down the project. Let's not forget some massive tax breaks, to the tune of $500 million. Is California stepping out of bounds here?

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Apple bans two chemicals from product assembly after protests $APPL #nontoxic

Computerworld:IDG News Service - Apple is banning the use of two toxic chemicals from final assembly processes for its products, after watchdog groups demanded the company replace the substances with safer alternatives.

Earlier this year, Green America and China Labor Watch had called on Apple to eliminate the use of benzene and n-hexane from its supply chain. Both substances are known to be poisonous, but are still in use at Chinese factories, including those that build Apple products, the groups claimed.

On Thursday, Apple said it investigated 22 of its final assembly facilities and found "no widespread use of benzene or n-hexane, and no evidence of worker health and safety being put at risk," according to an online report. The investigation covered facilities that employ close to 500,000 workers.

The two chemicals, however, were still found at four of the facilities, but in low concentrations that complied with Apple's safety regulations. Following the investigation, Apple concluded that safer alternatives to benzene and n-hexane exist, and so decided to ban their use as cleaning agents in the final assembly process. The change takes effect on Sept. 1.

On Thursday, Apple for the first time released a list of substances it regulates at its suppliers.

In June, Green America along with dozens of other groups sent a letter to Apple, demanding the company be more transparent in the chemicals used at its manufacturers. The groups also asked the company to create a fund to help treat factory workers, who've become ill or injured for making Apple products. Two months before, both Green America and China Labor Watch staged a related protest outside an Apple store in New York.

Aug 13, 2014

Mercury Pollution in Oceans Has Tripled Since Industrial Revolution, Study Says

Globally, oceans contain roughly 60,000 to 80,000 tons of mercury pollution, according to a report published this week in Nature detailing the first direct calculation
Ahi tuna has very high mercury concentrations.
of mercury pollution in the world's oceans. Ocean waters shallower than about 300 feet (100 meters) have tripled in mercury concentration since the Industrial Revolution, the study found, and mercury in the oceans as a whole has increased roughly 10 percent over pre-industrial times. North Atlantic waters showed the most obvious signs of mercury pollution, since surface waters there sink to form deeper water flows. In contrast, the tropical and Northeast Pacific were relatively unaffected. "We don't know what that means for fish and marine mammals, but likely that some fish contain at least three times more mercury than 150 years ago," and possibly more, the lead researcher said. "The next 50 years could very well add the same amount we've seen in the past 150." Please continue reading from: // Yale Environment 360

Aug 12, 2014

Are BPA-Free Bottles Just As Bad?

You may have heard by now that bisphenol A, a chemical commonly-used to make hard plastic and is found in many water bottles, can have harmful health effects. Due to evidence suggesting BPA can impair brain and reproductive development and other reasons, the FDA banned its use in baby bottles two years ago. Since then, evidence increasingly suggests that the chemical that manufacturers have replaced it with, bisphenol S, may be just as bad.

Many manufacturers made the switch to BPS because researchers thought that less of the material would leak out from the plastic. But, as Scientific American reports:

Yet BPS is getting out. Nearly 81 percent of Americans have detectable levels of BPS in their urine. And once it enters the body it can affect cells in ways that parallel BPA. A 2013 study by Cheryl Watson at The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston found that even picomolar concentrations (less than one part per trillion) of BPS can disrupt a cell's normal functioning, which could potentially lead to metabolic disorders such as diabetes and obesity, asthma, birth defects or even cancer.

Other studies on BPS show that it can cause hyperactivity and abnormal neuron growth in fish, and lead to heart arrhythmias in rats. One 2012 study found that BPS mimics estrogen as effectively as BPA, which is concerning; chemicals that disrupt the activity of this sex hormone can cause altered behavioral and sexual development in animals

Obviously you're not going to immediately drop dead if you drink water from a plastic bottle. But studies suggest that using plastic in bottles may be a cause for concern and needs to be studied further. Please continue reading from: // Popular Science - New Technology, Science News, The Future Now

Gas Cooled Nuclear Reactors Shut Down In UK

EDF Energy, the British subsidiary of the French state-controlled utility, said on Monday that it was shutting down three nuclear reactors and that a reactor with a fault that has been shut down since June would remain so. The facilities, which are being investigated as a precaution, generate nearly a quarter of nuclear capacity in Britain. The British Office for Nuclear Regulation said that there had been no release of radioactive material and no injuries. Industry experts did not anticipate much effect on electricity supplies or prices in the short term. EDF said that over the next few days it would idle a second reactor at the facility, Heysham 1, in northwest England. The company said it would also shut down two other reactors of similar design at Hartlepool in northeast England to investigate whether they had the same flaws....Slashdot

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Unique polymer soaks up CO2

An illustration shows how the polymer could clean up smokestack emissions – although its r...

Hydrogen may hold promise as an alternative to fossil fuels, but there's still a huge petrol-producing infrastructure in place, and not many service stations offer hydrogen refills yet. That's why some scientists are exploring a bridging technology known as the integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC) process, for converting fossil fuels into hydrogen. Along with hydrogen, though, carbon dioxide is also a byproduct of the IGCC process, which must be dealt with. Fortunately, scientists from the University of Liverpool have developed a polymer that soaks up that CO2 for use in other applications. .. Continue Reading Unique polymer soaks up CO2  // Gizmag Emerging Technology Magazine

Aug 11, 2014

Funky Looking Motor is Powered by Static Electricity

[Steven Dufresne] of is at it again with another very functional science experiment. This week he's showing us how he made a large electrostatic motor, also known as a Corona Motor.

A Corona motor makes use of a cool
phenomenon called the Corona discharge, which is the ionization of a fluid
(in this case, air) surrounding a conductor that is energized. He's done other high voltage experiments that take advantage of this, like his Ion Wind propelled Star Trek Enterprise!corona_motor_electrostatic_atmospheric_motor_diagram

The motor works by using an even number of electrodes on the motor, each electrically charged; positive, negative, positive, negative, etc.

Because each electrode is the opposite charge, they want to repel each other — but since the cylinder is electrically insulated, the charges have no where to go — instead the cylinder begins to rotate as the charges attract back and forth — when a positive charge on the insulation meets a negatively charged electrode, the charge is removed by ionization (creating the corona effect), and the cycle continues. The direction of rotation is determined by the angle of the electrodes. The motor can get going pretty fast but doesn't have that much torque or power.

Please continue reading from: 
Funky Looking Motor is Powered by Static Electricity
// Hack a Day

Online Tool Flagged Ebola Outbreak Before Formal WHO Announcement

Nine days before the announcement from WHO regarding the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, an online tool had the incident flagged. HealthMap, a team of 45 researchers, epidemiologists and software developers at Boston Children's Hospital founded in 2006, hosting an online tool that uses algorithms to scour tens of thousands of social media sites, local news, government websites, infectious-disease physicians' social networks and other sources to detect and track disease outbreaks. Sophisticated software filters irrelevant data, classifies the relevant information, identifies diseases and maps their locations with the help of experts. The tool was introduced in 2006 with a core audience of public health specialists, but that changed as the system evolved and the public became increasingly hungry for information during the swine flu pandemic. To get a feel of how HealthMap works, in the case of the Ebola outbreak, visit the site.

Read more of this story at // b Slashdot.

Aug 10, 2014

New EPA-funded web-based CME course on healthy fish consumption care practitioners know the challenges presented when trying to answer the myriad of questions surrounding fish consumption. There isn't a simple yes (wear a bike helmet) or no (don't smoke) response. Eating too little fish can deprive young children of nutrients important to their development; eating too much can expose them to harmful toxins present in nearly all seafood. The best advice a practitioner can give is to encourage patients to strike a balance.

I recently completed work on the development of a web-based CME course, Healthy Fish Choices ( The EPA-funded course is now out of the pilot stage and available at a minimal cost. Healthy Fish Choices provides practitioners with the research-based knowledge needed to authoritatively advise patients and offers guidance on how to smoothly and efficiently incorporate fish-consumption questions and advice into our practices.

As you may know, last fall, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) Committee on Health Care for Underserved Women and the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) Practice Committee issued an opinion that stated:
Reducing exposure to toxic environmental agents is a critical area of intervention for obstetricians, gynecologists, and other reproductive health care professionals. Patient exposure to toxic environmental chemicals and other stressors is ubiquitous, and preconception and prenatal exposure to toxic environmental agents can have a profound and lasting effect on reproductive health across the life course.

The Healthy Fish Choices curriculum can help address the critical task of learning more about toxic environmental agents and educating our patients on how to avoid them. 

I hope you will take a moment to visit, considering taking the course and sharing information about this curriculum with your colleagues. 

Susan Buchanan, MD, MPH
University of Illinois at Chicago

Aug 9, 2014

"Spoons make people fat" Would it be absurd to draw any conclusions from this data...

The United States is 3rd in Murders throughout the World. But if you take out Chicago , Detroit , Washington DC and New Orleans , the United States is 4th from the bottom for Murders. These 4 Cities also have the toughest Gun Control Laws in the United States . All 4 are controlled by Democrats.

Aug 8, 2014

Fukushima Reactor No. 3 meltdown occurred 4 hours earlier than thought

....In its latest findings, TEPCO also said that most of the nuclear fuel in the No. 3 reactor at the plant in Fukushima Prefecture melted through the pressure vessel and continued down to the bottom of the outer containment vessel. The finding may make it even more difficult to decommission the plant.

....record suggests it is possible that the coolant apparatus had already ceased functioning nearly seven hours before TEPCO stopped the coolant-injection device.

A new analysis of conditions inside the reactor, made on the basis of the uncovered record, led to the latest finding that the temperature in the reactor core reached the fuel's melting point of 2,200 C at around 5:30 a.m. on that day.

TEPCO has come to assume that the core meltdown was highly likely to have started in the early morning of March 13.

As the core meltdown is now believed to have started earlier than was previously thought, the amount of melted nuclear fuel that passed into the containment vessel through the pressure vessel is considered to have been greater, making it technically more difficult to extract the melted fuel and dispose of it.

Aug 7, 2014

‘Massive Environmental Disaster’ In Canada

Massive Environmental Disaster' In CanadaAs far back as 2011, concerns were raised about the tailings pond at the Mount Polley Mine. Brian Olding and Associates, an environmental consulting firm, prepared a detailed report that was submitted to the provincial Ministry of the Environment. "We looked at the pond and we thought there was monitoring required. We wanted an emergency contingency plan in place." Olding was hired jointly by the Williams Lake Indian Band, the Soda Creek Indian Band and mine owner Imperial Metals to conduct an independent review of the Mount Polley Mine 75 kilometres southeast of Quesnel and prepare a technical assessment report on the proposed discharge of water from a tailings pond. At about 3:45 a.m. on Monday the very pond he reported on was breached, sending over five million cubic metres of contaminated water and toxic slurry into Hazeltine Creek, uprooting trees with its force, and making its way toward Quesnel Lake. By late Monday on the advice of provincial authorities, the Cariboo Regional District had issued a complete ban on drinking, swimming and bathing in the waterways surrounding the mine and extended it to include Polley Lake and all the waterways near the Mount Polley Mine, including Quesnel Lake, Cariboo Creek, Hazeltine Creek and "the entire Quesnel and Cariboo Rivers systems right to the Fraser River." Residents have been told not to allow pets or livestock to drink the water. Please continue reading from: 'Massive Environmental Disaster' In Canada

India needs to expand nuclear power 16 times by 2050 and Indonesia is developing high temperature nuclear reactors with Japan

1. India has to hugely expand nuclear power along with its entire power system to bring electricity to 300 million people and move away from coal, according to a study by the International Energy Agency (IEA).

At a mere 673 kWh per year on average, per capita electricity consumption in India is less than one quarter of the global average, said the IEA, highlighting its analysis of India's electricity system published in its Energy Technology Persepctives 2014. A "first priority" for India is to raise this level of power consumption, while bringing electricity to some 300 million unconnected people.

Under the IEA's '2DS' scenario, where carbon dioxide emissions are curtailed enough to limit average global temperature increases to 2ºC, a range of renewables would provide 40% of electricity with nuclear supplying 15% by 2050. The use of carbon-intensive coal for power generation would fall from today's 80% to less than 20%.

The 2DS scenario also sees total power generation in India quadruple by 2050. But nuclear power would grow faster than the power sector as a whole, from a total capacity of 5.3 GWe today to 80 GWe in 2050 - some fifteen times more.

India's nuclear industry is characterized by its largely indigenous nature and reliance on the small pressurized heavy water units which make up 18 of its 21 units

2. A demonstration high-temperature gas-cooled reactor (HTGR) could be constructed in Indonesia following the signing of a cooperation agreement between Japan and Indonesia on developing such reactors.

Read more »// Next Big Future

Man-Made "Dead Zone" In Gulf of Mexico the Size of Connecticut

Somewhere in the Gulf of Mexico there is a man-made "Dead Zone" the size of the State of Connecticut. Inside that "Dead Zone" the water contain no oxygen, or too little, to support normal marine life, especially the bottom dwelling fish and shrimps. The "Dead Zone" measures about 5,000 Square Miles (13,000 Square Kilometer) is caused by excess nutrient runoff from farms along the Mississippi River, which empties into the Gulf. The excess nutrients feed algae growth, which consumes oxygen when it works its way to the Gulf bottom. The Gulf dead zone, which fluctuates in size but measured 5,052 square miles this summer, is exceeded only by a similar zone in the Baltic Sea around Finland. The number of dead zones worldwide currently totals more than 550 and has been increasing for decades.// b Slashdot

Aug 5, 2014

Elon Musk: believes that artificial intelligence is “potentially more dangerous than nukes,”

ExtremeTechElon Musk, the mastermind behind SpaceX and Tesla, believes that artificial intelligence is "potentially more dangerous than nukes," imploring all of humankind "to be super careful with AI," unless we want the ultimate fate of humanity to closely resemble Judgment Day from Terminator. Personally I think Musk is being a little hyperbolic — after all, we've survived more than 60 years of the threat of thermonuclear mutually assured destruction — but still, it's worth considering Musk's words in greater detail.

Musk made his comments on Twitter yesterday, after reading Superintelligence by Nick Bostrom. The book deals with the eventual creation of a machine intelligence (artificial general intelligence, AGI) that can rival the human brain, and our fate thereafter. While most experts agree that a human-level AGI is mostly inevitable by this point — it's just a matter of when — Bostrom contends that humanity still has a big advantage up its sleeve: we get to make the first move. This is what Musk is referring to when he says we need to be careful with AI: We're rapidly moving towards a Terminator-like scenario, but the actual implementation of these human-level AIs is down to us. We are the ones who will program how the AI actually works. We are the ones who can imbue the AI with a sense of ethics and morality. We are the ones who can implement safeguards, such as Asimov's three laws of robotics, to prevent an eventual robocalypse.

Worth reading Superintelligence by Bostrom. We need to be super careful with AI. Potentially more dangerous than nukes.

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) August 3, 2014

Hope we're not just the biological boot loader for digital superintelligence. Unfortunately, that is increasingly probable

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) August 3, 2014

In short, if we end up building a race of superintelligent robots, we have no one but ourselves to blame — and Musk, sadly, isn't too optimistic about humanity putting the right safeguards in place. In a second tweet, Musk says: Hope we're not just the biological boot loader for digital superintelligence. Unfortunately, that is increasingly probable." Here he's referring to humanity's role as the precursor to a human-level artificial intelligence — and after the AI is up and running, we'll be ruled superfluous to AI society and quickly erased.

All-in-one system uses plant oils to power, heat, and cool the home

Newcastle University prototype system provides cooling, heating, and electrical power usin...

A team of researchers led by Newcastle University has produced an all-in-one Biofuel Micro Trigeneration (BMT) prototype system fueled entirely by unprocessed plant oils that provides combined cooling, heating, and electrical power. This first-generation system is designed for use in homes, with the potential for up-scaling for larger commercial and industrial applications. .. Continue Reading All-in-one system uses plant oils to power, heat, and cool the home 
// Gizmag Emerging Technology Magazine

Aug 4, 2014

Toxins in Lake Eirie. . . left 500,000 people without safe drinking water

Dangerously high levels of toxins from algae on Lake Erie left 500,000 people in Toledo, Ohio, without safe drinking water on Saturday and sent many driving to other states in search of bottled water. Ohio Governor John Kasich declared a state of emergency for the region, freeing up resources for the Ohio National Guard and state workers to truck safe water to people who need it. Officials could not say when Toledo's water service can be declared safe, and boiling the water will not destroy the toxic microcystins.

Aug 3, 2014

Water facts 70 percent of world water use is for irrigation.

Earth Policy Institute

Seventy percent of world water use is for irrigation.

Each day we drink nearly 4 liters of water, but it takes some 2,000 liters of water—500 times as much—to produce the food we consume.

1,000 tons of water is used to produce 1 ton of grain.

Between 1950 and 2000, the world's irrigated area tripled to roughly 700 million acres. After several decades of rapid increase, however, the growth has slowed dramatically, expanding only 9 percent from 2000 to 2009. 

Today some 18 countries, containing half the world's people, are overpumping their aquifers. Among these are the big three grain producers—China, India, and the United States.

Saudi Arabia is the first country to publicly predict how aquifer depletion will reduce its grain harvest. It will soon be totally dependent on imports from the world market or overseas farming projects for its grain.

Many smaller rivers and lakes have disappeared entirely as water demands have increased.
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Earth Policy Institute

The Great Recession Probably Caused 7000 to 10000 excess suicides in the USA but saved lives by reducing car travel

In the United States, the suicide rate, which had slowly risen since 2000, jumped during and after the 2007-09 recession. A new book [The Body Economic: Why Austerity Kills] estimates that 4,750 'excess' suicides — that is, deaths above what pre-existing trends would predict — occurred from 2007 to 2010. Rates of such suicides were significantly greater in the states that experienced the greatest job losses. Deaths from suicide overtook deaths from car crashes in 2009."

Read more // Next Big Future

Another Dust Explosion in China kills 69, hurts 187 at General Motors supply plant

BEIJING (AP) - A suspected dust explosion at an automotive parts factory in eastern China that supplies General Motors killed at least 69 people and injured more than 180 others, most with severe burns, state media reported Sunday.

It was China's most serious industrial disaster since a fire at a poultry plant killed 119 people in June last year, and again highlighted workplace safety that remains a concern.

Saturday morning's explosion occurred when more than 200 workers were on the site of the factory, which is in an industrial zone in the city of Kunshan, officials from the city said at a news conference. Kunshan, in Jiangsu province, is about 1,000 kilometers (600 miles) southeast of Beijing.

State broadcaster CCTV showed footage of large plumes of thick, black smoke rising from the plant, and news websites posted photos of the dead or injured lifted onto the back of large trucks, their bodies black, presumably from burns or soot.

Some survivors sat on wooden cargo platforms on the road outside the factory or being carried into ambulances, their clothes apparently burned off and their skin exposed.

The explosion occurred at 7:37 a.m. at a workshop in the factory, which polishes wheel hubs. Rescuers pulled out 44 bodies at the site, while 25 other people died at a hospital, officials said. At least 187 people were injured.

More than 120 of the injured were sent to hospitals in Kunshan and the nearby city of Suzhou. Burn experts from a Shanghai hospital arrived in Kunshan to help, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.

A preliminary investigation showed that the blast was likely a dust explosion, Xinhua said.

A dust explosion is caused by the fast combustion of particles suspended in air in an enclosed space. The particles could include dust or powdered metals such as aluminum. They would have to come into contact with a spark, such as fire, an overheated surface or electrical discharge from machinery.

Such dust explosions have been blamed for other deadly fires. In 2012, a dust explosion in an aluminum lock polishing workshop in the eastern Chinese city of Wenzhou killed 13 people and injured another 15. Three years earlier, aluminum powder exploded in an abandoned factory being rented out as temporary housing in the city of Danyang, killing 11 people and injuring another 20.

The factory is operated by the Kunshan Zhongrong Metal Products Company, which according to its website was set up in 1998 and has registered capital of $8.8 million. Its core business is electroplating aluminum alloy wheel hubs, and it supplies GM and other companies, the website said.

In a statement, GM confirmed that Zhongrong is part of its network of suppliers. "We can confirm Zhongrong is a supplier to GM's global supplier Dicastal," the statement said.

Please continue reading from: 

Toledo, Ohio, officials warn against drinking toxic tap water

CBS News [feedly] TOLEDO, Ohio - Toxins possibly from algae on Lake Erie fouled the water supply of the state's fourth-largest city Saturday, forcing officials to issue warnings not to drink the water and the governor to declare a state of emergency as worried residents descended on stores, quickly clearing shelves of bottled water.

"It looked like Black Friday," said Aundrea Simmons, who stood in a line of about 50 people at a pharmacy before buying four cases of water. "I have children and elderly parents. They take their medication with water."

The city advised about 400,000 residents in Toledo, most of its suburbs and a few areas in southeastern Michigan not to brush their teeth with or boil the water because that would only increase the toxin's concentration.

Toledo's health department also said healthy adults could safely bathe, wash their hands and shower. But while bathing, children should be supervised by adults to prevent drinking the water accidentally, according to CBS News affiliate WTOL. Also, residents should avoid giving tap water to pets.

Toledo issued the warning just after midnight after tests at one treatment plant showed two sample readings for microsystin above the standard for consumption.

Algae blooms during the summer have become more frequent and troublesome around the western end of Lake Erie, the shallowest of the five Great Lakes.

The algae growth is fed by phosphorous mainly from farm fertilizer runoff and sewage treatment plants, leaving behind toxins that have contributed to oxygen-deprived dead zones where fish can't survive. The toxins can kill animals and sicken humans.

Scientists had predicted a significant bloom of the blue-green algae this year, but they didn't expect it to peak until early September.

Please continue reading from - CBS News

#Drought Goes From Bad To Catastrophic | via @ZeroHedge / @TimOBrien

As ZeroHedge previously commented, when scientists start using phrases such as "the worst drought" and "as bad as you can imagine" to describe what is going on in the western half of the country, you know that things are bad. However, in recent weeks the dreadful situation in California has gone from bad to catastrophic as the U.S. Drought Monitor reported that more than half of the state is now in experiencing 'exceptional' drought, the most severe category available. And most of the state – 81% – currently has one of the two most intense levels of drought.


h/t @TimOBrien


As WaPo reports,

While California's problems are particularly severe, that state is not alone in experiencing significant drought right now. There are wide swaths of moderate to severe drought stretching from Oregon to Texas, with problems impacting numerous states west of the Mississippi River.


Some of the most severe droughts outside of California are impacting large pockets in Oklahoma, Texas and, particularly, Nevada, where more than half of the state is currently experiencing one of the two most intense drought conditions:



*  *  *

As we concluded previously,

Most people just assume that this drought will be temporary, but experts tell us that there have been "megadroughts" throughout history in the western half of the United States that have lasted for more than 100 years.


If we have entered one of those eras, it is going to fundamentally change life in America.

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