Aug 22, 2014
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Aug 21, 2014
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Aug 20, 2014
TechCrunch: Despite 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
Aug 19, 2014
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.
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.
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.
Aug 16, 2014
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.
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Aug 14, 2014
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Aug 13, 2014
Aug 12, 2014
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
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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
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!
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.
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Funky Looking Motor is Powered by Static Electricity
// Hack a Day
Aug 10, 2014
I recently completed work on the development of a web-based CME course, Healthy Fish Choices (www.healthyfishchoices.org). 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 www.healthyfishchoices.org, 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
Aug 8, 2014
....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
India needs to expand nuclear power 16 times by 2050 and Indonesia is developing high temperature nuclear reactors with Japan
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
Aug 5, 2014
ExtremeTech: Elon 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.
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
Aug 3, 2014
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.
Please read full and follow at: Earth Policy Institute
The Great Recession Probably Caused 7000 to 10000 excess suicides in the USA but saved lives by reducing car travel
Read more // Next Big Future
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.
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
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.
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:
* * *
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.
Jul 30, 2014
Jul 28, 2014
Parched West is using up underground water: Study points to grave implications for Western U.S. water supply -- @ScienceDaily
sciencedaily...new study by University of California, Irvine and NASA scientists finds more than 75 percent of the water loss in the drought-stricken Colorado River Basin since late 2004 came from underground resources. The extent of groundwater loss may pose a greater threat to the water supply of the western United States than previously thought.
This study is the first to quantify the amount that groundwater contributes to the water needs of western states. According to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, the federal water management agency, the basin has been suffering from prolonged, severe drought since 2000 and has experienced the driest 14-year period in the last hundred years.
The research team used data from NASA's Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) satellite mission to track changes in the mass of the Colorado River Basin, which are related to changes in water amount on and below the surface. Monthly measurements in the change in water mass from December 2004 to November 2013 revealed the basin lost nearly 53 million acre feet (65 cubic kilometers) of freshwater, almost double the volume of the nation's largest reservoir, Nevada's Lake Mead. More than three-quarters of the total -- about 41 million acre feet (50 cubic kilometers) -- was from groundwater.
"We don't know exactly how much groundwater we have left, so we don't know when we're going to run out," said Stephanie Castle, a water resources specialist at UC Irvine and the study's lead author. "This is a lot of water to lose. We thought that the picture could be pretty bad, but this was shocking."
Water above ground in the basin's rivers and lakes is managed by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, and its losses are documented. Pumping from underground aquifers is regulated by individual states and is often not well documented.
"There's only one way to put together a very large-area study like this, and that is with satellites," said senior author Jay Famiglietti, senior water cycle scientist at JPL on leave from UC Irvine, where he is an Earth system science professor. "There's just not enough information available from well data to put together a consistent, basin-wide picture."
Please continue reading from:
The grim toll has skyrocketed from the 1,140 cancer cases reported last year.
In its latest tally, the World Trade Center Health Program at Mount Sinai Hospital counts 1,655 responders with cancer among the 37,000 cops, hard hats, sanitation workers, other city employees and volunteers it monitors, officials told The Post.
The tragic sum rises to 2,518 when firefighters and EMTs are added. The FDNY, which has its own WTC health program, said Friday it counts 863 members with cancers certified for 9/11-related treatment.
WTC epidemiologists say studies show that 9/11 workers have gotten certain cancers at a significantly higher rate than expected in the normal population — prostrate, thyroid, leukemia and multiple myeloma.
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