Who among us does not love lighter-than-air crafts? Treehugger has a fascinating interview with Fred Ferguson, who's invented a lighter-than-air wind turbine based on the magnus effect. As Ferguson describes it:
The magnus effect was discovered in the mid 1800s when a scuffed up cricket ball flew further than a smooth one. Today we see the magnus effect in the flight of golf balls and baseball "curve" balls. Basically when a back spin is imparted to any object, cylinder or ball, moving through a medium (wind as example) the spinning object takes on the aerodynamic characteristics of a wing or air foil. The back spin due to the blades and position of our wind rotor creates a lift similar to a kite of the same size.The Magenn Air Rotor has a number of applications, particularly in third-world villages and in the aftermath of disasters. Ferguson claims that small, backpack-sized units will probably be available in about a year.
You can read about Ferguson's other inventions here. At the same site, Ferguson goes into gratifying detail about the social and environmental impact of his air rotors, addressing such questions as aesthetics, noise, and avian mortality.
Earthtoys reports that Atlantic City is planning a fairly impressive wastewater plant:
Atlantic County's wastewater treatment plant will be the first in the United States to be powered by a system that combines solar energy arrays with a wind farm. By capturing energy from the sun and the Atlantic Coast winds, rather than burning fossil fuels, the hybrid solar-wind power plant will produce enough energy to power the equivalent of approximately 3800 homes and displace the need for an estimated 24,000 barrels of oil per year.The Alliance for Zero Extinction is an umbrella group comprising dozens of scientific and environmental groups. It's attempting to pinpoint areas where extinctions are imminent, and protect them:
The new power plant, to be dedicated December 12th by the Atlantic County Utilities Authority (ACUA), is also one of the largest hybrid solar-wind power plants in the world. The 8 megawatt (MW) hybrid solar-wind power plant will generate an estimated 40,800,000 kilowatt hours of clean electricity annually.
AZE is first focusing on species that face extinction either because their last remaining habitat is being degraded at a local level, or because their tiny global range makes them especially vulnerable to external threats....AZE scientists working in collaboration with an international network of experts have so far identified 595 such sites that must be effectively protected to prevent the extinction of 794 of the world’s most threatened species.AZE explains the importance of their work clearly, from the possibility of finding new medicines, to the value of ecotourism, which was estimated at $20 billion in 1997. Click here to see a list of member groups, all of whom accept donations.
Speaking of new medicines, the sea slug Aplysia may provide us with a new antimicrobial:
Derby's team, who discovered escapin and holds a provisional patent for its genetic sequence, has been studying the protein for its potential applications as an antimicrobial compound for the healthcare and marine industries. The team has determined that escapin prevents the growth of all major forms of bacteria as well as other microbes.Last, BLDGBLOG showcases a lovely collection of treated globes that depict things like nameless places, satellite blindspots, and the global seafloor. They're beautiful and thought-provoking, and you can find 300 more of them here.