Friday, July 14, 2006

Friday Hope Blogging

Just because you're wasting your time reading my blog doesn't mean you have to waste your computer's time. CERN has devised a scheme whereby your computer can fight malaria while you browse the links at the bottom of this post:

While you are sending an email or surfing the web, your computer could be helping to tackle one of Africa’s major humanitarian challenges, malaria. Africa@home, a project conceived and coordinated by CERN1, was launched publicly this week. It is recruiting volunteer computers in homes and offices to run a computer-intensive simulation program called MalariaControl.net2, developed by researchers at the Swiss Tropical Institute.
The new issue of Nature describes an astonishing new neuromotor prosthesis:
The first patient, Matthew Nagle, a 25-year-old Massachusetts man with a severe spinal cord injury, has been paralyzed from the neck down since 2001. After having the BrainGate sensor implanted on the surface of his brain at Rhode Island Hospital in June 2004, he learned to control a computer cursor simply by thinking about moving it.
British researchers claim that they’ll cure allergies in five years. Sounds much too good to be true, but as an allergy sufferer, I can’t resist posting it:
"The technology is based on our earlier discovery of how allergens, the substances that cause allergy, enter the body through the surface layer of cells that protect the skin and the tubes of the lungs…."The drugs we are developing -- called Allergen Delivery Inhibitors (ADIs) – are designed to disable these allergens so they can no longer eat through the protective cell layer and block the allergic reaction before it occurs.”
Clifton, New Jersey has banned pesticides in state parks:
By banning the pesticides altogether and putting up signs in city parks declaring them "Pesticide-Free Zones," DuBois said he hopes residents will think twice before using the chemicals on their own lawns, a practice over which the city has no control. "As more and more people enter the parks, it becomes an educational tool," DuBois said.
PR consultant Jim Hoggan is tired of PR being a tool for Evil, so he's set up a firm - and a terrific blog - to combat climate change deniers. He's also conducted some interesting research into public attitudes:
Probably the most interesting question in our research was: "Why is it that you don't behave more sustainably?" People said the first reason was that there is a lack of government leadership. The second answer was, "I need more information."
A new study reiterates what most of us already know: Producing biofuels from food crops is stupid and wasteful:
The comprehensive study finds that if all the corn (maize) produced in the United States last year were removed from food supplies and turned into ethanol, just 12% of US gasoline demand would be offset. Turning soybeans into diesel would account for only 6% of US diesel demand.
Perhaps we can stop talking about it now, and concentrate on more interesting the use of holography to increase the power output of solar cells:
Prism’s core technology is based on holographic optics, which can use a variety of PV cells and can spectrally select the desired portion of sunlight allowing for “cooler” solar cell operation while maintaining an increased power output by concentrating specific solar wavelengths unto the cells. Through passive tracking, Prism’s Holographic Planar Concentrator (HPC) technology can achieve higher output in the morning and late afternoon while reducing the amount of expensive silicon necessary in a module.
In related news, WorldChanging reports on DIY non-photovoltaic solar power, including a device that uses heat from a concentrator to drive a Tesla turbine:
Rather than making complex, difficult-to-manufacture bladed turbines, Sun turned to the Tesla turbine, which consists of simpler flat disks stacked like records on a central shaft. The disks are carefully spaced to allow steam to flow between them. As the steam flows, friction between the steam and the surface of the disks causes them to rotate. "Once I have rotational shaft work, I can couple it to almost anything -- an air pump, compressor, fan, mixer, grinder, sewing machine, refrigeration compressor, and, to power those very few things that are truly electric in nature, an electric generator."
A new hybrid schoolbus includes an optional plug-in configuration:
The system recovers kinetic energy during regenerative braking, charging the batteries while the bus is slowing down. This provides additional power for acceleration, making the hybrid buses ideal because of the frequent starting and stopping of the bus.
I cautiously applaud Whole Foods’ plan to offer loans to small and organic farmers:
The alternative grocery chain will market long-term, low-interest loans to farmers near its 184 stores nationwide….Its stores already sell the produce of local and organic farmers, and this is a step to expand its sustainable-agriculture philosophy to help small farms grow and ensure a supply of local, organic products….
I don't know how well it works, but I like the look of this new wind turbine:

The oddly named Jinglehorse EcoSystem is a new PC that’s alleged to use 75% less energy than normal PCs. Can’t vouch for that...but again, I like the design!

If you’re like me – and let's face it, you are – you’ve spent a great deal of time trying to figure out how to detoxify nerve agents using functionalized polymer nanofiber membranes. Well, it’s time to give it up: A group of scientists from the National University of Singapore has done the deed. Don’t despair, though…perpetual motion is still up for grabs.

Speaking of pseudoscientific labors of love, BibliOdyssey has some unbelievable excerpts from Adriaen Coenensz's 16th-century Het Visboek (The Fish Book):

You can browse the book here (complete with nicely animated page turning). Alternatively, you can calm your nerves with these pastoral scenes taken from old Jewish children's books:

A new issue of Polar Inertia is out...excellent news for fans of rickshaw mudflaps, tourist infrastructure, and Los Angeles fast food stands.

And finally, via Coudal, gorgeous photographs of vintage pinball machines.

(Top illustration from the Blue Brain Project.)


Diane said...

I just want you to know that I appreciated your staying up until 3AM to bring me this Friday Hope Blogging.

I would suggest, however, that you plan your week a little better ;)

Anonymous said...

A truly wonderful post.