31 March 2008

This Is War, This is Man

Humans have a long tradition of war. Is it possible that war is so deeply bred into us that we can never outgrow it? This Discover article (via Dennis Mangan) asks a number of anthropologists, archaeologists, and biologists to answer the question.
The anthropologist Richard Wrangham is one of several scientists at Harvard who pre­sent a much darker view of human nature than Fry does. In his 1996 book, Demonic Males: Apes and the Origins of Human Violence (co­authored with Dale Peterson), Wrangham argues that “chimpanzee-like violence preceded and paved the way for human war, making modern humans the dazed survivors of a continuous, 5-million-year habit of lethal aggression.” Natural selection has favored combative, power-hungry males, he contends, “because with extraordinary power males can achieve extraordinary reproduction.”

...[archaeologist Steven] LeBlanc contends that researchers have unearthed evidence of warfare as far back as they have looked in human prehistory, and ethnographers have observed significant levels of violence among hunter-gatherers such as the !Kung. In his book Constant Battles: Why We Fight (with Katherine E. Register), he espouses a bleak, Malthusian view of human prehistory, in which war keeps breaking out as surging populations outstrip food supplies. Warfare, he writes, “has been the inevitable consequence of our ecological-demographic propensities.”___Discover__via__DennisMangan
One theory of war--the youth bulge theory--looks at societies that possess an excess of young males. Young males possess a surfeit of testosterone, which lends to aggressive behaviour. This aggression can be channeled toward domestic targets, or it can be channeled outwardly toward state-defined "enemies."
Gangland slayings in the Palestinian territories this week have pitted the Islamist gunmen of Hamas against the secular forces of Fatah. The killings defy civilised norms: in December even children were targeted for murder. But the killings also defy political common sense. Ariel Sharon's wall cuts terrorists off from Israeli targets and what happens? The violence – previously justified with the cause of a Palestinian homeland – continues as if nothing had changed, merely finding its outlet in a new set of targets. This makes it appear that Palestinian violence has never really been about a "cause" at all. The violence is, in a strange way, about itself.

Gunnar Heinsohn, a social scientist and genocide researcher at the University of Bremen, has an explanation for why this might be so. Since its publication in 2003, his eccentric and eye-opening Sons and World Power* (not available in English) has become something of a cult book. In Mr Heinsohn's view, when 15 to 29-year-olds make up more than 30 per cent of the population, violence tends to happen; when large percentages are under 15, violence is often imminent. The "causes" in the name of which that violence is committed can be immaterial. There are 67 countries in the world with such "youth bulges" now and 60 of them are undergoing some kind of civil war or mass killing. ___FinancialTimes
While peace-loving bonobos and boskops are close primate relatives of homo sapiens, the closest surviving primate relative of man is the common chimpanzee. And common chimps are familiar with war. And so are we.

Ancient Chinese general Sun Tzu, and 19th century Prussian soldier and military strategist Karl von Clausewitz, are two men who made a study of war in an attempt to advise leaders on more rational war-making. Neither man could be consider a war-monger. Both men assume that there exist barbarism and violence in the world, that would surely force itself upon more civilised peoples if the civilised peoples made no provision for deterrence or counter-violence.

Just the preparation for war can sometimes bankrupt a society and lead to the overthrow of a government. The actual execution of a war is even more likely to lead to financial hardship in the society waging war. War is dangerous to all concerned. More than one ruler has been killed by his own guards--even relatives--for pursuing a war beyond all reason.

Yet not knowing when to prepare for war can be even more lethal--for entire societies. From time to time, societies have arisen that considered themselves evolved above the level of war. Their leading citizens could not justify the expense of the provisioning and training of a full-time or part-time military force. Consequently, we know very little about these societies other than that they were overrun by other groups--presumably more barbaric than themselves. Archaeologists sometimes dig up traces of their vanished way of life.

Modern Europe and Japan may be falling into that particular mindset--the "post-war civilisation" mindset. Europe is being overrun by illiterate and untrained immigrants rushing to fill the vacuum left by the failure of Europeans to procreate. A large portion of these illiterate and unassimilable immigrants are drawn to religious extremism and violence. Europe is not prepared, and has insufficient young males to form a credible defense of any type.

Japan faces a rapidly arming China across the water. A China that is growing rabid for resources and maneuvering room. Hemmed in by the Philippines, Taiwan, and the Japanese islands, China's rapidly growing blue water navy is looking for forward bases of operation. Japan no longer has the population of young males to draw from, in formulating a large defense force.

One theory of warfare promoted by Dennis Mangan, is that prosperity is an obstacle to war-like thinking. If a people grow prosperous, they want to enjoy leisure pursuits and pleasures. They adopt more of a "live and let live" attitude. This is very much what has happened to Europe and Japan, in fact. Certainly Canadian residents largely have adopted that attitude, and a large proportion of US residents likewise. War is expensive, and costs precious lives. Prosperous societies are less likely to produce large numbers of skilled military-capable men who are also considered expendable.

So countries such as the US have begun to invest in robotic instruments of war. Unmanned flying vehicles for reconnaissance and attack, unmanned ground and sea vehicles for attack, defense, reconnaissance, and explosives dismantling/demolition. Such an approach may eventually reduce the direct involvement of human members of advanced societies in actual warfare and peacekeeping.

But until these societies learn to segregate themselves from the violent-natured, often unintelligent perpetrators of religious, ethnic, and ideological warfare and terror, no amount of robotics equipment will make them safe from the other-than-advanced world which is always there, even if sometimes out of sight and mind.

Centuries will pass, and more, before civilised humans no longer need to study war and violence. Civilisation is equally endangered by leaders who ignore nascent threats in their midst as by leaders who go to war much too easily. Given the many problems faced by the western world that refuse to simply go away, facing the threats while reacting in measured and effective ways, will be a continuing challenge to people who would rather not have to deal with it.

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A Lot More Oil Where That Came From

Huge quantities of oil lie in sediments that have been covered by volcanic activity over hundreds of millions of years of geologic upheaval. New methods of "seeing through" lava flows on the ocean floor--to the rich sediments below--are bringing previously hidden regions of the planet's undersea surface into the oil exploration game.
The scientists, led by Professor Robert White, FRS at the University of Cambridge (UK), also developed a new method of seeing through the thick lava flows beneath the seafloor to the sediments and structures beneath. The technique is now being employed to further oil exploration of the area which was previously restricted by the inability to image through the lava flows.

The research was funded by a university-industry research group, which included Cambridge and Liverpool Universities, Schlumberger Cambridge Research Ltd and Badley Geoscience Ltd, with major funding input from WesternGeco, the Natural Environment Research Council, the Department of Trade and Industry, and eight oil companies.

...The researchers’ findings [...] have implications for oil exploration in the region. Large volumes of oil have already been discovered (and are being extracted) in the sediments under the seabed between the Shetland Islands and the Faroe Islands. If these same sediments extend westward towards the Faroe Islands, as geological models suggest they do, there may be more oil to be found.

Conventional exploration techniques have not been able to penetrate the thick layers of lava flows that poured over them at the time the North Atlantic broke open. Techniques developed in conjunction with the mapping research enable the penetration of the molten rock layer to the sediments and structures that lie beneath them.___GCC
Peak Oil theory is based upon ignorance: Ignorance of the true extent of oil formations under most of the surface of the Earth. Only North America has been fairly well explored for oil, and even there, large new fields are still being found. The age of oil is far from over.

Which is a good thing, since neither renewable energy nor nuclear energy are ready to provide the fuels and power currently being provided by oil and gas. Oil will be absolutely necessary during the next few decades, to bridge into the new era of renewables, safe fission, and hopefully controlled fusion.

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29 March 2008

Springtime in Switzerland: Booming Economy, Hardworking People, Troubling Future Trends

A century ago, Switzerland was poorer than Argentina. But now, the country is booming, and ranked behind only the US in terms of productivity and competitiveness internationally.
For much of its history, Switzerland was a backward society of farmers and tradespeople. It had scant natural resources and was so poor that many of its young people emigrated to America in order to make a living (Albert Gallatin, Thomas Jefferson’s treasury secretary, and John Sutter, who set off California’s Gold Rush, were two notable examples). Just a century ago, Switzerland was much poorer than Argentina.

Today, Switzerland looms much larger in the world economy than its small size and population of only 7.5 million people would lead one to guess. Its passion for quality has raised global standards worldwide in fields from pharmaceuticals to biotechnology to medical devices. It ranks among the top 20 global exporters. When only services are considered, Switzerland ranks among the top 12 exporters.

...Europe is by far the most important Swiss trading partner, with four-fifths of all imported goods and almost two-thirds of all exported goods being traded with the EU. But the ties between the United States and Switzerland, which share a similar federal democratic structure, are extensive. The United States is the biggest foreign investor in Switzerland, and Switzerland represents the sixth-largest foreign investor in the United States. Indeed, America imports more Swiss goods than any other country except Germany. As a direct investor in the States, Switzerland’s share is greater than all of Latin America, Africa, and Asia (excluding Japan) combined.

...Overall, Swiss financial institutions have an enviable reputation. Zurich is an international center for bond trading; Geneva is both the world’s third-biggest oil-trading center after London and New York and also a renowned center for private banking. “The Swiss are famous for being discrete and service-oriented,” says Kevin Milne, the managing director of the International Capital Market Association Ltd. “Private banking has a long legacy in Switzerland. There is a compelling logic that if you are wealthy, want to minimize your tax, and not display your wealth, you choose Switzerland for your banking.”

But there are warning signs that all is not serene in the Swiss economy. For one thing, immigration has become a hot-button political issue as asylum seekers and guest workers brought in for short-term job assignments increasingly find ways to stay. Evidence of popular discontent can be found in the spectacular rise in support for the People’s Party. Led by Christoph Blocher, the party became the largest in the country during the last few years. It won 29 percent of the vote in the October 2007 parliamentary elections, running in part on a platform of tightening asylum laws and making it easier to deport criminal aliens and their children. Blocher’s electoral success so upset the status quo of Swiss politics that the other parties combined to engineer his departure from the seven-member executive council that runs the country. ___American.com
Apparently, ordinary Swiss people do not want their country taken over by guest workers who refuse to leave. But if Swiss rulers refuse to deport criminal aliens and their children, how long can Switzerland remain for the Swiss?

Obviously, Italy, Spain, Belgium and many other European countries are further down the demographic decline than is Switzerland. But you would think that given the fierce independence of the Swiss people that if any nation was willing to take a stand against the dark forces of intolerance descending over Europe like an locust plague, it would be the Swiss.

Geert Wilders has released his video "Fitna" onto the web, despite numerous death threats against him by religious terrorists, and political threats against him by political terrorists. I have posted the video on Abu Al-Fin. Also be sure to check out this remarkable compilation of sources for Fitna downloads, and other videos and resources on the current worldwide jihad.

Europeans from all parts of Europe need to contemplate the futures of their countries, should they delay in dealing with this problem. Even the Swiss living in their mountain redoubt are under threat.

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28 March 2008

Hong Kong Super-star Tutor Millionaires

In Hong Kong, the best tutors get their photos on the trams, and can earn millions. Blogger Freeman Hunt looks at this very "un-American" trend, and can only say "wow!". She links this table in the Wall Street Journal that suggests that Hong Kong may have started a trend that is likely to spread.

CountryScience ScoreReading ScoreMath Score
Argentina 391 374 381
Australia 527 513 520
Austria 511 490 505
Azerbaijan 382 353 476
Belgium 510 501 520
Brazil 390 393 370
Bulgaria 434 402 413
Canada 534 527 527
Chile 438 442 411
Taiwan 532 496 549
Colombia 388 385 370
Croatia 493 477 467
Czech Republic 513 483 510
Denmark 496 494 513
Estonia 531 501 515
Finland 563 547 548
France 495 488 496
Germany 516 495 504
Greece 473 460 459
Hong Kong 542 536 547
Hungary 504 482 491
Iceland 491 484 506
Indonesia 393 393 391
Ireland 508 517 501
Israel 454 439 442
Italy 475 469 462
Japan 531 498 523
Jordan 422 401 384
S. Korea 522 556 547
Kyrgyzstan 322 285 311
Latvia 490 479 486
Liechtenstein 522 510 525
Lithuania 488 470 486
Luxembourg 486 479 490
Macao-China 511 492 525
Mexico 410 410 406
Montenegro 412 392 399
Netherlands 525 507 531
New Zealand 530 521 522
Norway 487 484 490
Poland 498 508 495
Portugal 474 472 466
Qatar 349 312 318
Romania 418 396 415
Russian Federation 479 440 476
Serbia 436 401 435
Slovak Republic 488 466 492
Slovenia 519 494 504
Spain 488 461 480
Sweden 503 507 502
Switzerland 512 499 530
Thailand 421 417 417
Tunisia 386 380 365
Turkey 424 447 424
United Kingdom 515 495 495
United States 489 -474
Uruguay 428 413 427
Imagine a society where the superstar millionaires are the ones who help students achieve their goals--instead of gangsta rappers and too-often-thuggish sports stars? What kind of society would reward the intelligent and productive people who have a positive impact on people's lives, instead of the psychological neotenates who are current pop stars and idols?

You may notice that Finland occupies the top spot in the WSJ table of achievement. Studying the top-level "national" performers should give us an idea where we have gone wrong. Notice also that Canada places third internationally, suggesting that US educational researchers can begin by studying their northern neighbor.

Educational unions in the US are a significant impediment to useful educational reform. The multicultural nature of the US population also makes it difficult to compare stats to smaller and more homogeneous populations. Finally, reforming the psychologically neotenous nature of US popular culture is virtually impossible. The best result to hope for is that a significant fraction of the US population will begin to see the importance of focusing more on things that matter.

Update 29March08: More here.

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Carnival of Space #47 Plus Exciting Bonus Topics

The Martian Chronicles hosts the 47th Carnival of Space (via NextBigFuture). This look at why the inflatable Bigelow space station may be a big improvement over the ISS boondoggle is worth a look.
Bigelow's modules on the other hand, may not only be cheaper to launch into space, but may be safer as well, as its thick outer skin may be able to take "a greater punch" than its metallic rivals.

These inflatable modules may also more expendable than their more rigid cousins, as it would be much easier to replace a module or two (like a Pontoon bridge), than an entire section of a more traditional space station.____Much more at_ColonyWorlds
Brian Wang at NextBigFuture reports on fascinatingnew ways to increase the efficiency of heat and radioactives to electricity.
Materials that directly convert radiation into electricity could produce a new era of spacecraft and even Earth-based vehicles powered by high-powered nuclear batteries, say US researchers.

Electricity is usually made using nuclear power by heating steam to rotate turbines that generate electricity....US researchers say they have developed highly efficient materials that can convert the radiation, not heat, from nuclear materials and reactions into electricity.

Liviu Popa-Simil, former Los Alamos National Laboratory nuclear engineer and founder of private research and development company LAVM and Claudiu Muntele, of Alabama A&M University, US, say transforming the energy of radioactive particles into electricity is more effective.

The materials they are testing would extract up to 20 times more power from radioactive decay than thermoelectric materials, they calculate.___NewScientist__via__NextBigFuture
Getting 20 times the electricity from nuclear batteries also sounds good, using the direct radioactivity-to-electricity nanotube approach. One more advantage to nanotech.

Brian Westenhaus at NewEnergyandFuel presents a new way to produce bio-gasoline. This method would not depend upon the use of food to make fuel. As more food-free ways are developed to produce bio-energy, the cries of those who claim that bio-fuels take milk out of the mouths of babies are sounding shrillier (shrill + sillier) all the time.

Right. We all should have known the ISS would turn out to be a boondoggle after Al Gore personally involved himself in outsourcing large parts of it to Russia (the parts that don't work). Bigelow's approach is better thought out, and until automated construction methods using space materials are developed to build space stations and habitats, Bigelow's habitats are simply better.

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27 March 2008

Progress in Plasma Confinement at MIT Fusion LDX

Using a unique levitating magnet approach, MIT researchers have made progress within the past week at confining plasma with the goal of producing controlled fusion reactions.
Begun in 1998, the Levitated Dipole Experiment, or LDX, uses a unique configuration where its main magnet is suspended, or levitated, by another magnet above. The system began testing in 2004 in a "supported mode" of operation, where the magnet was held in place by a support structure, which causes significant losses to the plasma--a hot, electrically charged gas where the fusion takes place.

LDX achieved fully levitated operation for the first time last November. A second test run was performed on March 21-22 of this year, in which it had an improved measurement capability and included experiments that clarified and illuminated the earlier results. These experiments demonstrate a substantial improvement in plasma confinement--significant progress toward the goal of producing a fusion reaction-- and a journal article on the results is planned. ___MIT__via__NextEnergy
MIT's LDX fusion approach confines plasmas by a more natural and controllable "pulling flux" as opposed to the "pushing flux" being attempted by Tokamak approaches such as ITER.

Novel approaches to fusion such as LDX and other new approaches to fusion described by Brian Westenhaus and Brian Wang, may very well break the tape ahead of much more expensive approaches such as ITER.

Technological breakthroughs in superconducters, nanotech materials, and optical-electronic process controls should allow the materials and infrastructural costs for alternative fusion approaches to drop considerably, over time.

Previously published at Al Fin Energy


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Soot from China, Asia, Escapes into Global Air

It is finally being recognized that soot plays a larger role in climate and the melting of polar ice than does CO2 and other conventional greenhouse gases. Besides this indirect role of causing melting snow and ice, soot may also play a more direct role in "climate change":
The report concludes that the atmospheric warming effect of black carbon pollution is as much as three to four times the consensus estimate released last year in a report by the U.N.-sponsored Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

The findings are of concern to areas such as the Indian subcontinent, where retreating glaciers in the Himalayas have the potential to flood densely populated areas and affect the drinking water of billions of people.__LAT
China is likely the world's largest emitter of soot, by far, given its huge dependence upon dirty coal power plants. China has become so polluted, in fact, that Olympic athletes have traveled outside of mainland China to train for the summer games.

As can be seen from numerous satellite images, the soot emissions of China and Asia do not all stay close to the sources of blight. In fact, Canada and the US suffer from wind-blown soot from Asia. Certainly the northern sea ice has suffered from contact with Asian soot.

The IPCC GCM's are in urgent need of modification to address new findings in the area of soot contributions, ocean oscillations, cloud feedbacks, solar cycles, and other important contributions to climate change which have hitherto been ignored by the climate orthodoxy.

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High Rise Tenements Over London to House Incoming Wave of Immigrants

While France is content to settle its immigrants in the "ring cities" around Paris, the UK plans to build arcology-scale high rise tenements within the city of London for its new wave of immigration.
It is estimated that London will need to provide housing for almost 100 000 new people every year upto 2016¹. This is the result not only of migration...but also the need to replace existing housing stock that is reaching the end of its lifecycle.

At 1500 metres high (the average level of cloud cover), the tower would create a new and completely different scale to the existing city forming a separate layer superimposed above London's ancient and idiosyncratic street plan....The tower allows a massive intensification of the city without the need for dramatic alteration of London's existing fabric. Thus the gardens, parks and open spaces of London are preserved but its insatiable appetite for development is satisfied.___PopularArchitecture

UK company Popularchitecture is proposing to house all of the folks who will be moving to London town in the next eight years - all one million of them - in a single building.___Technovelgy
This will be a new approach to dealing with the huge influxes of immigrants expected to flee increasing turmoil in the third world in the coming decades. These new arcology style high rises will be, in effect, cities within cities. It is not unlikely that they will form their own governments, police forces, and defense forces. One can easily imagine wars breaking out between different high-rises occupied by immigrants of third world warring factions--carrying on wars also being fought back in their old countries.

Some human problems will not be easily solved by new technologies of construction.

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26 March 2008

Meet Xcor's Lynx: The Two-Seater Space Coupe

This sweet ride will get you higher than any other hot rod you have driven. Xcor's Lynx, a two-seater spacecraft smaller than a business jet, can provide romantic vistas that a drive to Jennings Lake just cannot match.
The Lynx will take off from a runway, just like an airplane, and will climb high enough to provide a view of the earth's curvature and two minutes of weightlessness. The entire flight is expected to take about 25 minutes. Xcor spokesman Doug Graham said the company hopes the first test flight will take place in 2010.

Xcor's slower, incremental approach has attracted investors such as Esther Dyson, a tech analyst who has backed such start-ups as Flickr and del.icio.us.

In an interview, Dyson said she decided to invest because Greason "has a record of building things that work." She continued, "This is very much an implementation business. You need a vision to get started, but you really need practical, straightforward knowledge."

Xcor has already developed a prototype rocket engine for use in the forthcoming Rocket Racing League, and through that work received both funding and flight tests for the liquid-fuel engines. Xcor also expects to receive funding for the Lynx from the Air Force Research Laboratory, through a pending small-business innovation research contract. ___Wired

Esther Dyson, a technology analyst, is the daughter of Freeman Dyson, a physicist who has worked on some ideas for outer space resource development.

As mentioned before here at Al Fin, a number of billionaires are involved in building a new private space industry--including Robert Bigelow, Richard Branson, Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, Paul Allen, and others. Google's billionaire founders have even put up funds for the Google Lunar X Prize, to stimulate the private development of technology for more frequent moon missions.

The ultimate payoff from space development will be measured in the trillions of dollars, rather than billions. It is not inconceivable that Earth's first trillionaire will be a space resource industrialist.

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Brazilian Diesel Trees Thrive in Australia: New Bio Energy Industry w/ Transplant Trees

Australian farmers are busily at work cultivating the "diesel tree" (copaifera langsdorfii) from Brazil. These trees can be tapped for a natural oil (sesquiterpenes), which can be refined to a biodiesel. Such bio-energy "crops" promise to help with regional demands for oil, energy, and diesel.
Over 20,000 trees have been sold to farmers in the tropics by the man who introduced the diesel tree from Brazil.

The tree produces an oil that can be extracted, filtered and used to power vehicles and farm machinery....It is estimated a one-hectare crop could produce enough fuel for an average-sized family farm. ___abc__via__jennifermar0hasy
This tree is a perennial that can produce 12,000 liters of diesel per hectare (roughly 2.5 acres), or 14 gallons per tree. Farmers and family ranches could power their vehicular use via this wild growing tree.
The recommended method of growing them is to plant 1,000 trees on a hectare of land, preferably in a tropical area, then test them for their vigour, growth and yield about three years later, which ordinarily would lead to culling about half of them.

About four to six years later they would be measured again before culling them down to between 250 and 350 of the best trees, which would be inter-bred and harvested for seed.

Mr Jubow said a large mature tree would yield about 40 litres of diesel a year, which equated to about 12,000 litres per hectare of trees.

"It becomes astonishingly viable for a farmer to have a piece of his most productive land to get the tree up and running and then he can be independent from the fuel companies for the rest of his life," he said.

They are known to produce fuel for 70 years.__smh__via__jennifermarohasy

Copaifera langsdorfii (Purdue)
Copaifera langsdorfii (world agroforestry)

While waiting for synthetic biologists to produce the ideal bio-energy organism, it does not hurt to use what nature has already invented.

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Sleeping Through the Singularity

What are the prospects for human hibernation? When will human medicine be able to put techniques of suspended animation to good use for lifesaving and organ transplantation? Better yet, when will we see hibernation pods such as in the movie "2001". Recent research in mice at Mass General Hospital in Boston, may provide a few vague clues.
Low doses of the toxic gas responsible for the unpleasant odor of rotten eggs can safely and reversibly depress both metabolism and aspects of cardiovascular function in mice, producing a suspended-animation-like state. In the April 2008 issue of the journal Anesthesiology, Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) reseachers report that effects seen in earlier studies of hydrogen sulfide do not depend on a reduction in body temperature and include a substantial decrease in heart rate without a drop in blood pressure.

“Hydrogen sulfide is the stinky gas that can kill workers who encounter it in sewers; but when adminstered to mice in small, controlled doses, within minutes it produces what appears to be totally reversible metabolic suppression,” says Warren Zapol, MD, chief of Anesthesia and Critical Care at MGH and senior author of the Anesthesiology study. “This is as close to instant suspended animation as you can get, and the preservation of cardiac contraction, blood pressure and organ perfusion is remarkable.” ___Eurekalert
Other research in sheep suggests that hydrogen sulfide may not work as well in larger mammals, such as humans. We can learn from the research in mice, but we will probably have to devise more sophisticated ways to trigger human hibernation than inhaled hydrogen sulfide.

Something interesting is going on in the bodies of hibernating animals such as arctic ground squirrels (PDF) that allows them to survive sub-freezing temperatures. Similar factors protect some species of fish and amphibians, which survive below freezing body temperatures. Insect eggs and larvae freeze solid for months, then revive in warm weather.

The best prospect for long-term human stasis (months, years, decades) probably will come from technology that allows the body to be frozen while preventing ice formation in tissues--vitrification. Still, being able to lower metabolic rates chemically--as with hydrogen sulfide--would provide many short-term benefits of hibernation for medical purposes such as trauma surgery and recovery, recovery from stroke, heart attack and hypoxia, and delicate heart and brain surgery.

The research on mice needs to be expanded to larger rodents, and small dogs and cats if possible. By studying the cell signaling processes at work, scientists should be able to devise multi-faceted treatments more suitable to large mammals.

More on cryonic preservation of tissues


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25 March 2008

Radical 7000 Degree Celsius Plasma Reactor Converts Hazardous Medical and Radioactive Waste to Energy and Useful Products

Garbage and hazardous waste are becoming valuable energy feedstocks, thanks to researchers from Ukraine, Russia, and Israel. Even low level radioactive wastes, medical wastes, and toxic wastes can be converted to useful products and energy, using a new high temperature plasma reactor.
Using a system called plasma gasification melting technology (PGM) developed by scientists from Russia's Kurchatov Institute research center, the Radon Institute in Russia, and Israel's Technion Institute - EER combines high temperatures and low-radioactive energy to transform waste. "We go up to 7,000 degrees centigrade and end at 1,400 centigrade," says Moshe Stern, founder and president of the Ramat Gan-based company. Shrem has said that EER can take low-radioactive, medical and municipal solid waste and produce from it clean energy that "can be used for just about anything including building and paving roads.

Shrem added that EER's waste disposal rector does not harm the environment and leaves no surface water, groundwater, or soil pollution in its wake. The EER reactor combines three processes into one solution: it uses plasma torches to break down the waste; carbon leftovers are then gasified and finally inorganic components are converted to solid waste. The remaining vitrified material is inert and can be cast into molds to produce tiles, blocks or plates for the construction industry.

EER's Karmiel facility (and its other installation in the Ukraine) has a capacity to convert 500 to 1,000 kilograms of waste per hour. Other industry solutions, the company claims, can only treat as much as 50 kilograms per hour and are much more costly.

"We are not burning. This is the key word," Shrem said. "When you burn you produce dioxin. Instead, we vacuum out the oxygen to prevent combustion."

EER then purifies the gas and with it operates turbines to generate electricity. EER produces energy - 70% of which goes back to power the reactor with a 30% excess which can be sold.

"In effect, we are combining two of the most exciting markets in the US - the environment and clean energy," says Stern, "We also reduce the carbon footprint."

The cost for treating and burying low-radioactive nuclear waste currently stands at about $30,000 per ton. The EER process will cost $3,000 per ton and produce only a 1% per volume solid byproduct.__NextEnergyNews
This is but one of many exciting new "garbage to energy" processes coming on line currently, and within the next year or two.

Safe conversion of toxic waste, medical waste, and radioactive waste that also produces energy and useful materials for construction, would appear to be exactly what environmental groups such as Greenpeace, the Sierra Club, Earth First and WWF would promote. Unfortunately, many of those groups have more mundane monetary and power concerns other than actually making the environment better. Watch and see what they are actually promoting, as opposed to what they ignore. A cleaner, more energetic world may not be what they actually want.

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24 March 2008

IPCC Climate Models Not Holding Up Well

The image above shows a plot of solar cycle length against global temperature. As many of you know, we are still in solar cycle 23, waiting for solar cycle 24 to begin. As you can see from the graphic above, the longer the solar cycle, the cooler the global climate.
Current data from the Argos ocean monitoring buoys points to an ongoing cooling trend in Earth's heat content--instead of global warming.
The big problem with the Argo findings is that all the major climate computer models postulate that as much as 80-90% of global warming will result from the oceans warming rapidly then releasing their heat into the atmosphere.

But if the oceans aren't warming, then (please whisper) perhaps the models are wrong.

The supercomputer models also can't explain the interaction of clouds and climate. They have no idea whether clouds warm the world more by trapping heat in or cool it by reflecting heat back into space.___NP

A world-class MIT climatologist who possesses perhaps the highest wattage brain in the field, has already suggested that the IPCC climate models have been falsified by the last 10+ years of satellite data.

This is a time of turmoil within all fields of climate science--although you would never know it from the public front as reflected by the popular media. The orthodoxy is circling the wagons, with the unquestioning assistance of global media and national governments, inter-governments, and non-governmental lobbyist organisations.

Under a Stalinist world government, the climate orthodoxy might have a chance of pulling the wool over the global public's eyes long enough to put an irrevocable "climate change economic regime" into place. Under such an economic regime, market mechanisms would be so painfully and dysfunctionally distorted that even in the case of a significant climate cooling--equivalent to a Maunder Minimum--the ability of human science and technology to respond in a timely or effective fashion will have been hamstrung.

Top-level climate scientists are reaping significant rewards from the alarmist message. It is not in their interest to introduce any element of doubt into the scenarios. The same applies to investors and financiers who are neck-deep in climate cap and trade schemes. Even the world's number 1 polluter--China--is demanding massive technology transfers to its state-owned enterprises, as a condition for considering reducing its greenhouse gas output. Not a bad scam, if you can get in on it before it all collapses.

Update 25March08: IPCC on increasingly shaky ground
The study of the multiple drivers of Earth's climate has just barely begun. The premature identification of mainstream media conglomerates with the catastrophist extreme view of climate reveals the political underpinnings of both the media, and the catastrophist wing of climate modeling. Non-catastrophist climate mavericks--who want to study all the mechanisms of climate and climate change--have a tougher time getting financing, tenure, and publication. But that situation is subject to very rapid and radical change, as the oncoming deluge of better data begins to hit the windscreen.

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23 March 2008

United Nations Issues Stern Easter Warning to UK

UN Roads Commission spokesperson Likshmi Singh issued a stern weather warning to all roads departments within the UK, at a well-attended press conference in NYC. "UK road conditions are very treacherous, and drivers should stay home and off the roads whenever possible. If they absolutely must be on the roads, FOR GOD'S SAKE, MAKE THEM DRIVE ON THE RIGHT SIDE OF THE ROAD! The extreme Easter weather conditions will simply not allow the normal UK highway hooliganism to continue."

Shocked reporters from the BBC insisted that Singh be more specific. "Are you saying that drivers in the UK should drive in the opposite lanes, against all conventions?"

Singh was adamant: "The old excuse that "everyone is doing it" is no longer acceptable", Singh said. "Driving on the wrong side of the road is a luxury the UK can no longer afford, now that climate change is making conditions so treacherous. The UK needs to remember that it is not a world empire any more. It cannot set the rules for everyone now."

In the image above, snow-stricken Britons are seen huddling together from the cold at water's edge. Driven from their cars by drift-covered roads, they are seen contemplating swimming south across the waters to warmer climes.


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22 March 2008

China Racing Insurrection, Corruption, Pollution to Hold Olympics Before It Fall Down

China had wanted the 2008 Olympics in Beijing to be a showcase of its power, accomplishments, and its civilisation. Instead, China's brittle hold on its empire is being shaken at three points of the compass. To the East, Taiwan represents a constant thorn in the side of the petty Beijing autocrats, and acts as a blockade to the PLA's deep water navy. To the South, Tibet rebels against the oppression and injustice of Beijing's foreign invading army. To the West, Xinjiang is in constant insurrection against the brutal CCP invaders.

Inside China proper, a few decades of poorly administered industrial development has left the air, water, and soil of China damaged for centuries. 300 million Chinese live daily in desperate poverty, and discontent is common among all but the fortunate and connected. How long can China survive, much less prosper?
Beijing is trying to put its best foot forward in anticipation of the XXXIX Olympiad to be held in Beijing in August. From the Chinese side, the authorities have put their whole prestige and even more, their hopes, on the Games in an almost mystical way. The Games, awarded to Beijing over the protests of human rights activists the world over who compared it to Hitler’s Olympiad in 1936, were supposed to anoint “the rising China”. They were to be an accolade for a China which after several hundred years of coma after its bitter encounter with the industrial West was again taking its place as one of the world’s oldest and most important civilizations. Everything is being done that Beijing can think of – from employing the world’s chicest architects to mobilizing tens of thousand of collie labor to reinforcing its control apparatus – to make the games "a success”.

But the Chinese capital is perhaps one of the worst places that could be chosen for competitive sports. The climate, the encroaching desert which ladens the air with sand, the incredible pollution created by rapid industrial development that has ignored all environmental standards, a police state that demands the participants and the millions of guests behave according to rigid standards alien to democratic societies, plus all the problems of staging such an event, have made the Beijing games problematical from the beginning. Now the Chinese will be under increased harassment from human rights activists around the world and calls for boycotts.

Whether real or a subterfuge to use as a pretext for repression, the Chinese have identified another threat to the games. They recently reported discovery of plots by the Uighur nationalists in their westernmost province of Singkiang to stage terrorist events at the Games. The Uighurs are a Turkish people, perhaps as many as 10 million, twice the Tibetan population, who came under tenuous Chinese rule only in the late 18th century when the Han Chinese themselves had been conquered by the alien Manchus. every effort has been made by the Chinese to colonize Tibet – after stripping away half its historic territory from the so-called Tibetan Administrative Zone – by encouraging immigration of ethnic Han Chinese to swamp the indigenous population. Lhassa, the traditional religious and political capital, may well have a Han Chinese majority now. It was, after all, China’s President Hu Jintao, as gauleiter of Tibet, who put down with ferocity the last Tibetan resistance to Chinese rule in 1989.

The bloody repression, shielded from the world for the most part by elaborate censorship and suppression, and propaganda exploiting the misery of the Han Chinese victims of the Tibetan mobs, will continue. But it is unlikely that the “national” movements in either of these three appendages of the Chinese empire will be quiescent forever. ___WorldTribune
China's leadership has not lasted as long as that of the late, unlamented USSR. Time is running out for the corrupt autocracy.

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Sunspots and Little Ice Ages

The solar science community is at a loss to explain the much delayed start of Solar Cycle 24.In the next 20 years, humans should take enormous steps forward in the scientific understanding of their planet's climate. We are not there yet. Until we have the chance to collect more data from satellites, robotic ocean buoy monitors, solar observations, and better ground stations we will not truly know what has been driving Earth's climate. We have to get this right.
Solar irradiance has been monitored from satellites for three sunspot cycles. The sunspot numbers and solar irradiance were shown to be highly correlated. Since sunspot numbers have been increasing since 1935 the irradiance must also be increasing.

The sun was once considered to be constant in its output, hence the term “Solar Constant”. Recent observations suggest that the sun is a variable star. Observations of solar irradiance have been made with great precision from orbiting satellites since about 1978.___WattsUp
The sun remains spotless while Easter blizzards fall across large parts of the northern hemisphere. When trying to explain and predict a chaotic climate, it is difficult to separate cause and effect. But while warmer temperatures could easily cause higher atmospheric CO2 levels, it should be obvious that cooler climates on Earth cannot possibly cause fewer sunspots on Sol.

Update: For an interesting look at an unusually open media glimpse of recent startling climate change, check out this Australian article.

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Laundry-Loo: Saving Water

If you do not mind doing your laundry in the loo, this device will save water and space at the same time. In fact, while you are at it, why not put the dishwasher and clothes dryer in the same general space? And be sure to pump the drainwater from the shower into the system.

H/T GadgetDNA


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21 March 2008

State Capitalism and Poisoned Counterfeits

Faddish financial analysts tend to laud the "State Capitalism" of China for its successes, and for its supposed future dominance of world markets and world politics. Unfortunately for these analysts, state capitalism contains the seeds of its own destruction. We are seeing some of these destructive seeds bearing fruit in China and other similarly modeled state economies.
State capitalism fosters corruption, allowing smaller circles of state-connected elites to control more wealth. In China, state dominance has meant that "princelings," relatives of leading Communist Party members, have gained control of some of the nation's most powerful companies. Even one Chinese government study of 3,000 of the nation's richest businesspeople admitted that a significant majority are related to top officials.

In Venezuela, growing state control has made the national oil firm less productive and more opaque, one reason why the country now ranks near the bottom on Transparency International's index of the world's most corrupt nations....despite the national resources that can be poured into business growth, in the long term, state mega-companies are likely to suffer from competition on the global stage. Without exposure to domestic competition, their managers never get enough experience to compete on an open market. They also have no pressure to adopt real corporate governance and oversight measures.___BostonGlobe

State capitalism based upon natural resources such as oil and gas--as in Russia and Venezuela--and state capitalism based upon technology theft and transfer--as in China--necessarily are living on borrowed time.

The CCP led Chinese seem particularly willing to cut corners to make a quick buck, which has led to the poisoning of China's rivers, soil, and air, as well as to poisoning of many exports to the outside world. Counterfeit Chinese drugs are now taking an increasing human toll outside of China.
"It is unacceptable that Americans have died and been seriously injured by what appears to be deliberate tampering," Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.), who chairs a panel that oversees the FDA, said in a statement. "Whether this contaminant was introduced intentionally or by accident, the full force of the law must be brought to bear to bring those responsible to justice...."This is not a new problem," said England, who now advises foreign companies on how to comply with U.S. regulations. "This is a close cousin of problems that have presented themselves before."

The level of the contaminant ranged from 2% to 50% in lots of heparin tested by the FDA. An agency official said the contaminant was cheaper to produce than heparin, which is refined through a laborious process from a substance in pigs' intestines....."If I had to guess, I would say this is a lot like the pet food case," said Larry D. Sasich, chairman of pharmacy practice at the LECOM School of Pharmacy in Erie, Pa. "This sounds like somebody in China figured out a way to make the active ingredient look or test like heparin when it was not."

Whether poisoned drugs, toys, toothpaste--or counterfeit aircraft and automobile parts that lead to fatal accidents--the problem of Chinese corruption is a rapidly growing problem for the entire world.

Up until now, it has been relatively easy for the Chinese companies and government to bribe US bureaucrats and elected officials, to look the other way. Should the American public ever learn the true extent of the underlying problem within the Chinese system of production, the complacency of current official US attitudes toward the China trade might be shaken at the polls. Information is the greatest enemy of corrupt state capitalist enterprises such as China's. Because in the US--unlike in China and Tibet--information still wants to be free.

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Springtime Snows Hit England, Scotland

In yet another blow to the climate orthodoxy dogma of "warmer, ever warmer", an arctic freeze is descending over much of England and Scotland for Easter this year.
Arctic winds are forecast to sweep across Britain and bring widespread frosts over the Easter weekend, with snow in eastern regions....Conditions will be worst in Scotland and northern England but below-freezing temperatures and a sprinkling of snow are possible even in the South East – alongside strong winds and driving rain.....Helen Chivers, of the Met Office, said that weather conditions would deteriorate across the country this week. “It looks as though we are going to have a white Easter. We’ve got northerly winds sweeping in from Thursday,” she said. “We will be looking at nighttime temperatures of minus 2C (28F) or minus 3C in quite a lot of rural areas.”___Times
Europe had been experiencing a mild winter up to now. But based upon an abnormally sluggish sun--and recently discovered lack of warming in the oceans--it looks as if the earth is giving up previously stored heat from a more active sun in the late 1990s and early 2000s. If solar activity continues relatively low for the next two or more solar cycles (20 + years), it is likely that the climate regime of Earth will stabilise within a colder range of expectations.


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20 March 2008

Has Anyone Seen Canada? Never Mind, I'll Just Hang Out on the Water On this Solar Boat

When searching for Canada this spring, one should probably have a high-volume snow blower at hand. Snow records have been broken for many Canadian cities, and Canada is not finished with snow this spring, by any means. In fact, you might say that Canadians have gone a bit crazy over all the snow they have had to deal with Meanwhile, global sea ice on both northern and southern polar areas have grown impressively over the past year's ice extent.

Global warming catastrophe is looking less likely by the day. In fact, climate scientists are rather reluctantly and ruefully coming to terms with the knowledge that the oceans do not seem to be following the warming script given them by Al Gore and the IPCC. Ocean heat has gone missing, which throws a spanner wrench into the entire CAGW works. Even worse, scientists do not quite understand what is going on with the sun.But enough about global warming! For now, I'd rather lean back, pop the top of a cold bottle of island brew, and enjoy the warm tropical waters from the deck of my hybrid solar / pedal powered boat.
When you are on such a holiday, you want peace and quiet with some private space. My favorite hang out is the isolated coastline near my hometown which is nothing more than a small village of Fishermen. I have the best time while going in one of their wooden boats that is powered by nothing but their muscle and the sea.

The big and loud boats are more of a disturbance than help. Now here is an answer to some of those noise woes that we constantly face. French designer Jonathan Mahieddine has designed the Solar and Human Powered Concept Boat, which works both by pedaling and by the solar power offered by its panels. The designer has already developed defined concept boats and this new concept is nothing short of being the simplest green solution on the blue waves.___Source

So maybe I'll just relax a while and let them dig Canada out from under all that inconvenient snow, before I take my yearly trip north.

H/T Icecap

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Baby-Face Hero Fights Rear-Guard Action Against the Coming Dark Age of Europe

The clock is running down on the future of Europe. After centuries of war, Europe has finally found peace and prosperity--time to relax and enjoy the pleasures, the historical vistas, the peace that comes from submission . . . Not if Dutch politician Geert Wilders has anything to say about it!
Geert Wilders’s 15-minute film reportedly juxtaposes excerpts from the Koran with beheadings and stonings on a split screen, a warning of “the threat of the growing Islamization of Western society,” he said in an interview with a Danish TV station, Reuters reported.

Even before the film’s release, Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen of Denmark has stated on at least two occasions that his country did not share the views of Mr. Wilder, who is the subject of death threats — threats made all the more unsettling by the 2004 murder of another Dutch filmmaker, Theo van Gogh, who was killed for being “an enemy of Islam,” the killer said.

“I strongly condemn Geert Wilders’ condescending statements about Muslims,” Mr. Rasmussen said on Wednesday, according to Reuters. “I find these expressions extremely offensive.”

But the show seems likely to go on, even after every television station in the country decided against airing it. After all, Mr. Wilders still has YouTube to turn to. ___NYT

Pim Fortuyn spoke out publicly against European surrender to the dark force. He was murdered. Theo van Gogh spoke out, and presented the film "Submission" with the help of Ayaan Hirsi Ali. van Gogh was brutally murdered. Hirsi Ali lives in constant fear of her life. Geert Wilders himself must be under constant armed guard, to prevent his murder.

Europe has accepted too many Trojan Horses inside its walls--they are influential far beyond their numbers and reproducing rapidly. The dark side of honour killings, mosques and community centers that have become violent jihadist nuclei of hate, increasing gang rape and violence based upon gender, ethnicity, and sexual orientation, is consuming Europe in a nearly unstoppable conflagration of ignorant primitivism.

In North America, we are accustomed to the freedom to speak out on any topic. Caricatures in written word, cartoons, mocking films--everything is tolerated here. Apparently in EuropeEurabia, where the dark force of meek submission is swiftly descending, speaking your mind is likely to get you killed.

Image credits to Gates of Vienna and Il Cannocchiale

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19 March 2008

Next Big Future: Every Day a Future Carnival!

Brian Wang regularly produces flurries of fascinating postings over at NextBigFuture blog. Formerly called "Advanced Nanotechnology Blog", Brian's blog covers an amazingly broad range of advancing future technologies--including nanotechnology, of course.

This look at the use of gene deletion for gene therapy, is one of my recent favourites at NBF.

Two write-ups about recent advances in high temperature superconductors here and here are worth a look.

This discussion of how we might use nuclear fusion reactors profitably--even before commercial scale fusion energy is achieved--should give you some new ideas.

News about DARPA research in rail gun technology applied to weapons systems is both timely, and applicable to the future of aerospace technology.

And don't forget to check out this evaluation of the potentially huge Bakken Oil Field straddling the US/Canada border.

The mainstream media is extremely spotty, in terms of covering relevant research topics and news events. Bloggers such as Brian carefully sift through dozens of the more careful and credible news sources, to provide consistently fascinating information about the advancing wave front of technology.

Try not to be blindsided. Learn as much as you can. Many bloggers such as Brian are quite accessible for questions and requests for information sources. Learn to take advantage of insider knowledge wherever you can.

The Al Fin sidebar is meant to be another resource--above and beyond the eclectic postings on this blog. To keep the sidebar as useful and relevant as possible, please notify us of any dead links that you may run across.

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Regional Strengths, Global Weaknesses: Answers to Outsourcing and Global Energy Strangleholds

Economics is boring. Poverty is even more boring, however. In order for a nation or region to avoid poverty, it must be able to run its industrial base without paying exorbitant energy costs. In the year 2008, the term "energy costs" generally refers to the cost of oil and gas.

It seems that if a country or region is not rich in oil and gas resources, its economy is being held ransom to high energy costs. Most oil and gas is controlled by autocratic and oligarchic governments in control of national oil companies. High oil prices put more money into their corrupt government coffers and private Swiss bank accounts, so it is not in the interest of the oil tyrants to produce more oil and gas--which might cause the value of their underground assets to decrease.

Nations without oil and gas cannot grow healthy economies in current circumstances. In order to strengthen local and regional economies, it is important to match the region's strengths with economic opportunities and needs. Find what your region can produce at a reasonable profit, and look for ways to cleanly and economically develop that resource.North America happens to be particularly blessed by bio-potential. The North American economy is the world's most prolific--in terms of all around research, development, invention, and production--and it also has an abundant potential for vastly more bio-energy production to fuel much of its future growth.

Biomass is particularly suitable for regional development--at the small and intermediate scale. Small and medium sized regional hubs of bio-energy are likely to grow up in areas that are currently relatively impoverished, away from the mega-cities that are becoming increasingly top-heavy and unstable.
We propose a network of regional biomass processing centers (RBPC) to address many of these issues. The RBPC, in its mature form, is conceptualized as a flexible processing facility capable of pre-treating and converting various types of biomass into appropriate feedstocks for a variety of final products such as fuels, chemicals, electricity, animal feeds etc. as shown in Figure 3. It is envisioned that a number of such RBPC will form an extended biomass supply infrastructure feeding into large biomass ethanol refineries and other processing facilities.

Preprocessing is designed to improve biomass handling, transport, storageability, and potentially add value by making biomass more fit for final conversion to fuels, power, and chemicals. Preprocessing includes: cleaning, separating and sorting, chopping, grinding, mixing/blending, moisture control and potentially densifying. In most of existing literature, biorefineries have been typically designed to accept baled biomass and carry out all the preprocessing onsite at the biorefinery, followed by further processing stages of pretreatment, hydrolysis, fermentation, ethanol recovery. (e.g. Wooley et al., 1999; Aden et al., 2002; Hamelinck, 2005). We propose to strip both preprocessing and pretreatment steps out of the biorefinery and carry these out at RBPCs. A number of RBPCs will then supply pre-treated biomass to the biorefinery for further processing. While some prior research has looked at potential small scale on-farm preprocessing of biomass, mainly physical state alteration by chopping and grinding to improve transportability, we propose more advanced preprocessing, which will involve both physical transformation and chemical pre-treatment, in relatively large, intermediate, geographically distributed facilities.

...Distributed preprocessing can potentially reduce overall supply chain costs. Because chopping and grinding carried out prior to pretreatment nearly doubles the bulk density of biomass, a two stage collection system where the raw baled biomass from a smaller collection area is first transported to the RBPC, pretreated into more uniform and denser feedstock, and then transported to the central biorefinery may be less costly. However, actual cost savings are a function of the additional costs of handling the feedstock twice, and spatial distribution of the biomass sources relative to the biorefinery and the transportation infrastructure. RBPCs can also be designed to serve as appropriately designed, intermediate storage facilities that can reduce spoilage and deterioration of biomass compared to open on-farm storage. Further, RBPC locations can be chosen to ensure all weather access, so that the biorefinery can draw uniformly from the inventory at the RBPCs even during winter months. Because of high fixed costs, high capacity utilization is critical for financial success of a biorefinery, and on-field storage can be problematic in areas with poor access during some seasons. Distributed preprocessing can also reduce local environmental impacts of biorefineries, e.g. traffic congestion and associated air quality effects, and odor from stored biomass. Distributed preprocessing facilities can also be designed to receive different local feedstocks and mix them appropriately to deliver uniform quality feedstock in terms of composition, size, density, moisture etc. to the biorefinery. In fact, research has shown that growing a mixture of grasses instead of a single variety of grass may increase the biomass energy yield per acre by as much as 238% (Tilman et al., 2007). _Source__Feasiblity of Regional Biomass Centers__via__QiBioenergy

Looking for small and medium sized opportunities is a smart way for a person to get into business for himself. Bio-energy is a ground floor opportunity for those intelligent enough to perceive the energy future for the next several decades.

North Americans have been well-indoctrinated in the "job mentality", working for someone else, indentured servitude. The idea of stepping out on one's own, of taking the risks involved in working for oneself, causes too many academically lobotomised, psychological neotenates to quake in fear.

For all the high school and college dropouts, who rejected that indoctrination, these opportunities for starting small on the ground floor most definitely exist. Even for the well-established professional or working person, the prospect of hundreds or thousands of these small to medium regional biomass pre-processing and processing centers should suggest some investment opportunities.

It is a different way of looking at the world. Locally, regionally, in a distributed and more accessible manner.

Image Sources: Biomass Processing and Anthonares blog

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8 Hours of Boating Fun on One Gallon of Gasoline!

This little hybrid cat will take you on an eight hour tour around the lake or bay for the cost of one gallon of gasoline! Powered by a 55 pound thrust electric motor, this open-air 2 seater hybrid will give you plenty of time to see the sights, have an on-the-water picnic, and catch a few rays of sun--courtesy of an easily removable, portable gasoline generator.
The Hybrid is powered by both gas and electric, and is available in two models: the CraigCat Hybrid and the CraigCat E2 Hybrid. Both models feature an easily removable portable gas generator, which can be used for camping, fishing and hunting. Additionally, both models are equipped with deluxe seats for comfortable side-by-side seating, convertible bimini top for shade protection, and a powerful 55-pound thrust electric outboard motor for zero water pollution. The hybrid models are easy to operate and great fun in either fresh or salt water.

The E2 Hybrid has twin 55-watt halogen docking lights, two NAV lights, anchor light and a fishing rod holder for four rods and a cooler. Both boats are super-stable and unsinkable.___NextEnergy
More observant readers will notice that the CraigCat zipping along in the image above is not the hybrid model. But it does give the hybrid something to shoot for!

A serial hybrid is the most efficient of current hybrid designs. The gasoline powered generator provides the electric current for the super-efficient electric motor that provides the boat's propulsion. The same basic principle is operative in a serial hybrid automobile--even in a serial hybrid locomotive!

Using a gasoline or diesel generator in place of bulky, heavy batteries, takes advantage of the superior energy density of liquid fuels such as gasoline, diesel, or butanol. You should keep an eye out for liquid fuel-powered fuel cells, though. Boat designs incorporating a methanol fuel cell, for example, could dispense with the less efficient internal combustion driven generator altogether.

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18 March 2008

Why CAGW Heretics are Better Informed than the Orthodox Climate Change True Believers

Orthodox believers need only profess their belief, and express astonishment that anyone in their right minds would doubt the orthodoxy. It requires very little cognitive ability. There are no risks and substantial benefits to orthodox belief.

Heretics have to be better informed than the orthodox. There are substantial costs associated with heresy, and most heretics will not step out of the mainstream lightly. Most heretics stepped away from the comforting fellowship of true believers out of a strong sense of logic and evidence. In fact, most heretics were compelled to doubt by their own cognitive integrity.

The recent divergence of satellite and ground station temperatures away from CO2 levels, as illustrated by the image above, has happened fairly recently--within the past ten years at most.
The divergence of temperatures away from IPCC projections as illustrated in the image directly above, is even more recent--over the past eight years at most.

An even more recent divergence from expected trends--the recent cessation of warming of upper ocean levels--is only four years old.

These changes are recent trends, and well within the range of short-term climate/weather variability. But they do raise the question: "what evidence is required to falsify IPCC models and projections?" It is a question worth considering, given that a hypothesis such as CAGW can only be science if it is falsifiable.

Returning to recent climate/weather trends, beyond the ENSO and PDO weather patterns, what might be responsible for the downturn in global satellite, ground, and sea temperature readings?
1. The sun heats the earth, repository of most of the CO2 on the planet.

2. Some stored CO2 comes out by a process known as outgassing ( from the soil ) and the champagne effect ( from the oceans ).

3. Sloppy "scientists" see the warming, and the CO2, but overlook the changes in the sun, don't see the fine differences in timing... and proceed to blame the increasing temperature on CO2 and mankind as the culprit in a classic knee-jerk reaction.
Well, the numbered list above is a summary that follows a longer argument, but it may actually be an accurate summing up of much of the current confusion in climate science, typified by the confused ramblings of James Hansen, Michael Mann, Gavin Schmidt, et al.

The fact remains, in order to be a heretic--whether in religion, climate orthodoxy, political correctness etc--one must know more about the underlying ideas involved, than must a true believer, who must only profess belief. To a believer, insistence on evidence and consistency is often considered a sign of a lack of faith. In many belief orthodoxies, such lack of faith could easily mean the loss of funding, employment, or even loss of one's life.

Heresy is a risk. Be sure you are ready to take the risk before you take the plunge.

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