Friday, September 19, 2008

Friday Hope Blogging

An Illinois appellate court has ruled that a fertilized egg is not a person:

The case was originally brought to a Cook County judge as a wrongful death suit when an Illinois couple sued their fertility clinic for "tens of thousands of dollars" for inadvertently destroying the unimplanted eggs stored at the clinic.
A judge has ruled that Florida's gay adoption ban is unconstitutional.
Declaring the adoption to be in the boy's "best interest," Circuit Judge David J. Audlin Jr. ruled the Florida ban contrary to the state Constitution because it singles out a group for punishment, the Herald said.

Mississippi and Florida are the only states that forbid gays to adopt children. Florida's ban has been in place for 31 years.
AIDG Blog describes a low-cost solar water heater that may replace that country's dangerous electric shower heads:
This past summer, prototypes were installed at the homes of 10 low to middle income families in Xela. A major design challenge the team still must address is how to retain heat overnight and cope with the variability in temperatures and sunlight between Guatemala’s dry and rainy seasons.
GT Solar is predicting a huge drop in polysilicon prices:
Rising capacity to produce polysilicon is expected to come on line by the second half of 2009 -- nearly a year after many market experts had predicted -- and should reduce spot market levels from the nearly $500 per kilogram at which they have recently been quoted.

Lower silicon prices will translate into lower solar cell and panel costs, he said, likely trimming the costs to $1.25 to $1.40 per watt in the next few years and making solar panels competitive with traditional forms of electricity generation.
Kraft is turning cheese waste into energy:
Two cheese plants in New York will turn used whey into energy in a move that will supplant a third of the facilities' natural gas purchases. The company also will avoid the expense of hauling the waste away.

Digesters at the company's Lowville plant, which makes Philadelphia cream cheese, and a string cheese plant in Campbell turn the whey into biogas. It's part of the company's broader efforts to green operations in the areas of agriculture, packaging, energy, water, waste and transportation.
A noise-dampening system is being devised for wind turbines:
“These systems react autonomously to any change in frequency and damp the noise – regardless of how fast the wind generator is turning,” says Illgen. The key components of this system are piezo actuators. These devices convert electric current into mechanical motion and generate “negative vibrations”, or a kind of anti-noise that precisely counteracts the vibrations of the wind turbine and cancels them out. The piezo actuators are mounted on the gearbox bearings that connect the gearbox to the pylon.
A new system has been proposed for fisheries management:
Guaranteeing individual fishermen a share of the catch could help avert a global collapse of fisheries, U.S. researchers said on Thursday.

Such programs, known as catch-shares, eliminate the frantic race to get the biggest share of the catch as in traditional open-access fishing, a system that promotes overfishing and habitat destruction, putting a key global food supply at risk.

"Under open access, you have a free-for-all race to fish, which ultimately leads to collapse," said Christopher Costello of the University of California, Santa Barbara, whose study appears in the journal Science.
Wolves will not be removed from the Endangered Species List...yet.
The federal government plans to withdraw a rule that removed wolves in Idaho, Montana, Wyoming and parts of Utah, Oregon and Washington from the endangered species list.

If U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy in Missoula agrees, a lawsuit filed by environmentalists will end, and federal biologists will get a chance to rewrite the plan to meet objections the judge made. Molloy's preliminary injunction July 17 temporarily relisted wolves and put a halt to plans in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming to open hunting seasons on the animals.
Italy has banned a class of pesticides linked to the collapse of bee colonies:
The Italian government banned the use of several neonicotinoid pesticides that are blamed for the deaths of millions of honeybees. The Ministero del Lavoro della Salute e delle Politiche Sociali issued an immediate suspension of the seed treatment products clothianidin, imidacloprid, fipronil and thiamethoxam used in rapeseed oil, sunflowers and sweetcorn.
Hundreds of new species have been found in the waters off Australia:
Dozens of new marine species were found, such as shrimp-like animals with claws longer than their bodies, along with already known animals like a tongue-eating isopod parasite that eats a fish's tongue and then resides in its mouth.

"We were all surprised and excited to find such a large variety of marine life never before described, most notably soft coral, isopods, tanaid (small, bottom-dwelling) crustaceans and worms, and in waters that divers access easily and regularly," said Julian Caley, research scientist at the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS).
More info here.

Also in Australia, a frog that was thought to be extinct has been rediscovered:
The armored mistfrog was rediscovered accidently during a collecting trip in a remote part of Queensland. It was the first time the species had been seen since 1991.

"A lot of us were starting to believe it had gone extinct, so to discover it now is amazing," Conrad Hoskin, a researcher at The Australian National University in Canberra who did the DNA analysis to confirm the frog's identity, was quoted as saying by the Associated Press. "It means some of the other species that are missing could potentially just be hidden away along some of the streams up there."
Photo courtesy of James Cook University

Eleven rare species of monkey have been found in West Africa:
Urgent conservation measures are needed to protect some of the world's most endangered primates from the hunting, logging, and oil palm development in a region that has only recently emerged from a period of civil strife, report researchers writing in the open-access journal Tropical Conservation Science.
In related news, Rwanda and Burundi have agreed to protect a large tract of tropical forest:
The agreement will help improve conservation in Rwanda’s Nyungwe National Park and Burundi’s Kibira National Park, which house the largest remaining tract of montain forest in East Africa. WCS says the Nyungwe-Kibira Landscape is "considered the most wildlife-rich ecosystem in the entire Albertine Rift – a network of valleys in Uganda, Rwanda, Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi and Tanzania that lie alongside some of Africa’s largest mountain ranges. The rift itself is considered one of Africa’s most important areas for conservation."
Scientists have discovered that certain fish are able to glow red:
Due to absorption of 'red' wavelengths of sunlight by sea-water, objects which look red under normal conditions appear grey or black at depths below 10m. This has contributed to the belief among marine biologists that red colours are of no importance to fish. Nico Michiels, from the University of Tübingen, Germany, led a team of researchers who captured the striking images in the article which, as he describes, "Shows that red fluorescence is widespread among marine fish. Our findings challenge the notion that red light is of no importance to marine fish, calling for a reassessment of its role in fish visual ecology".

A strange, previously unknown type of ant has been discovered in the Amazon:
The species — named Martialis heureka or the "ant from Mars" due to its unusual characteristics — is blind, subterranean, and predatory, according to Christian Rabeling, the University of Texas at Austin biologist, who discovered the insect. The ant is so unique that it has been placed in its own new subfamily, the first such treatment of a living species of ant since 1923.
This species is about 120 million years old, unless you're a devotee of Sarah Palin, in which case it was created last Thursday.

Incidentally, water bears can survive in space:
"Our principal finding is that the space vacuum, which entails extreme dehydration, and cosmic radiation were not a problem for water bears. On the other hand, the ultraviolet radiation in space is harmful to water bears, although a few individual can even survive that," says Ingemar Jönsson.
Revere is concerned about a new effort to restrict public access to publicly funded scientific research.
Open Access advocates are urging constituents to contact their own representatives and senators and especially members of the House and Senate Judiciary Committees before September 24 to say you oppose HR6845. Like you, I get pretty tired of having to do things like this, but campaigns like this are incredibly effective. If access to research that you paid for is important to you, this is the time to do something. This legislation will lock you out of access to important public health and medical information. It needs to be stopped now.
The post includes a draft letter, and a list of congressional contacts. Please consider getting involved.

A company has created the first flushable diaper:
Consider the fact that disposable diapers make up the third-largest consumer item dumped in landfills and take 500 years to decompose. Clearly there is a environmental problem waiting to be solved in the design of diapers. Now gDiapers have presented a solution - the world’s first flushable, compostable diaper! Their cute eco baby bottom-toppers are the first diapers to merge the convenience of disposables with the sustainability of cloth diapers.
The Iconography of Hope: "a compass rose pointing in all directions, toward imaginary future and real past, false future and immutable present, a world of tomorrow contained in the lost American yesterday."

Arctic Cinema: Early Film in the Far North. Drawings by the inimitable Carolyn Wells. A mysterious example of early Japanese animation. A magazine dedicated to floating mechanisms within architecture. And from BibliOdyssey, views of the Merapi Volcano.

A bookbinding movie. The Pop Vs Soda Map. Aurorae galore at The Aurora Borealis Photo Pool (via Plep). The Casimir Zagourski Postcard Collection, comprising photos of Africa taken "between 1924 and 1941, which formed a part of his overal project, "L'Afrique Qui Disparait" (Disappearing Africa)." Arabic Music. Also from BibliOdyssey, a collection of images from lace modelbuchs:

Furthermore: À la recherche du chronochrome. A close-up view of The Pin Cushion Flower. And A Bird's-Eye View of the Delaware Valley:

Last, an early cartoon detailing "the earlier and simpler forms of life on earth."

(Photo at top by Lori Nix. Be sure to check out the rest of her's gorgeous!)


Ali said...

*is heartened*.

thanks, Phila.

Anonymous said...

Hurray! Hope at last.

Anthony McCarthy

Anonymous said...

Glad you're back, Phila. Never leave us alone again!

Phila said...


Start paying my bills, and you've got yourself a deal!

I could use a solid-gold car, too.

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