30 April 2010

Science Journal "Nature" Opens to Climate Heretics?

Update: This translation from a different Finnish source is a bit more readable:
University of Turku study showed that carbon dioxide is a significantly smaller impact on global warming than previously thought.

Results are based on, inter alia, spectrum analysis, "says Wednesday's newspaper Turun Sanomat .

study led by Professor Jyrki Kauppinen according to increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide to explain only 5-10 percent of observed global warming.
- Climate yes warms up, but not greenhouse gases because, Kauppinen says.

According to him, the UN climate panel IPCC to date projections is a single class-size error.
- the International Panel on Climate Change calculated value is more than ten times larger than our calculated result, Kauppinen says Turun Sanomat .

Climate Panel's view, climate Global warming is almost entirely man-made carbon dioxide emissions result. Kauppinen, climate kestääkin much higher emissions than the IPCC reports have been made to understand.

- I think it is such a blatant falsification, Kauppinen says.

He is not the first IPCC critic. The Panel has had to admit himself to be incorrect, including the melting of Himalayan glaciers on the forecasts.

Kauppinen intends to publish the research findings to Nature , the June issue of Science magazine. _verkkouutiset

Finnish physicist Jyrki Kauppinen conducted research which led him to conclude that only 5 - 10% of warming -- at most -- is due to anthropogenic CO2. The study is tentatively to be published in a June issue of Nature. If not, the author plans to have the study published in a Physics journal
University of Turku, Department of Physics Research claims that carbon dioxide is a significantly smaller impact on global warming than previously thought. Results are based on, inter alia, spectrum analysis.
Professor Jyrki Kauppinen argues that carbon dioxide accounts for only a 5-10 per cent of observed global warming.
- The climate is warming yes, but not because of greenhouse gases, "says Kauppinen Turun Sanomat.
According to him, the UN climate panel, namely the IPCC projections is a single class-size error. When forecasts are ten Kauppinen group compared with the results....Research published in Nature magazine, possibly the June issue[?]. CO2-report-online publication of Kauppinen is sure that at least in the field of physics journals publish research. Kauppinen, it is possible that the study does not end up in the prestigious Nature or Science, the scientific journals, because they are reluctant to get his opinion ilmastoskeptisten studies were published.
Kauppinen itself should not be skeptics, because he is convinced that carbon dioxide does not increase the temperature, at least not significantly. _aamulehti(translated from Finnish)

I am interpreting the translation to say that Kauppinen does not consider himself a "climate skeptic" just because his research seems to show that CO2 is not the cause of warming.

If Nature does publish this piece, it will mark a significant turning point for the British journal of science, which up until now has consistently carried the water of the climate alarmist orthodoxy.

I will report more on Kauppinen's research as the information comes out.

More from the Canada Free Press


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More Oil Seeps Naturally Than from Human Spills

Update 19 July 2010: The Macondo bore Gulf spill has spilled considerably more oil to this point, than the Exxon Valdez. It has certainly spilled more oil than a typical year of natural seeps in the Gulf. But warm waters recover from oil spills very quickly -- as was seen in the 1979 Ixtoc 1 spill -- which lasted 10 months. One more thing: Every year, rain runoff carries at least 3 or 4 times as much oil to the sea as the Transoceanic spill. (see graph at bottom of post) Let that cue your thinking as to whether the Gulf is naturally able to dispose of large quantities of oil.
The Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska's Prince William Sound released 10.8 million gallons of oil -- or almost 250,000 barrels of oil. But natural oil seeps off California release up to 80 times that amount. And natural seeps in the Gulf of Mexico release twice the amount as the Exxon Valdez every year.

The Transocean oil spill may eventually match that of the Exxon Valdez -- if it continues leaking at the current rate for the next month or two or more. Politicians and environmentalists are already declaring states of emergency, but better technology may yet break up the oil spill and allow natural forces to dissipate it.

Curious claims are being made from various sources regarding the origin of the oil platform fire, explosion, and sinking. But even if the oil platform was deliberately destroyed, as some are claiming, the well itself should have had some type of inbuilt mechanism -- a blowout preventer -- to stop oil flow in case of a catastrophic disruption in continuity of the piping. [Update 1 May 2010: Apparently the blowout preventer at the site failed to operate. At this time no one knows why the blowout preventer failed. Certain automatic safety switches that were not included in the operation may have been able to trigger the blowout preventer.]

Other offshore wells incorporate such safety features, which would likely have stopped the oil spill very early in its course.

So the problem is not offshore drilling so much as it is making sure the best technology is utilised when drilling offshore. And, yes, try to maintain a sense of perspective.

This Denver Post article presents a bit of background
Causes of Oil Pollution

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Emergency Fuel Cell Power Supply: Just Add Urine

South Korean battery makers have created the MetalCell, a magnesium battery based on 2,000-year-old technology that can be charged with saltwater or, barring that, urine....MetalCell can sit in the back of a Humvee, in a remote bunker, or in a locker at a forward operating base for years, waiting to power up electrical devices in a pinch. _PopSci
These fuel cells can serve as backup emergency power for electronic devices, should your main power fail in an emergency. Capable of sitting dormant for years, it can be activated with a few quick squirts of urine or salt water. (yet another use for urine)
South Korean developers have adapted 2,000-year-old battery technology for modern warfare.

The device, known as MetalCell, is a backup power source that runs on sodium and can keep a laptop charged for more than four hours, its maker says. The design is relatively simple: a small, ruggedized box with magnesium plates inside. If an electrical gadget — anything from a computer to a flashlight — runs out of energy, a soldier on the battlefield could pour saltwater into the MetalCell and use the device as an emergency power source.

Soldiers in the field have salt in their Meal, Ready-to-Eat packages. Urine could also be used to power the device, says Art Morgan, CEO of the Northern Virginia-based company SEG Inc., which represents the product in the United States.

The sodium reacts with the magnesium to produce low-voltage power.

“You can pack away the device and let it sit for years until you need it,” Morgan says.

...The standard MetalCell model costs about $200 and can be recharged with salt water until the magnesium plates deteriorate. The company is also marketing disposable models that are cheaper — about $120 — and come with salt tablets. _NationalDefense_via_PopSci

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Quick Firestarter: Hand Held Compressor Lifesaver

Anyone who as read "To Build a Fire" by Jack London, knows how critical a good fire can be to survival.  Many suppliers carry "fire pistons" -- hand-held compressors that generate surprisingly high heat with simple air compression.
You’ve probably seen contestants on Survivor trying to make fire by rubbing sticks together or concentrating sunlight with their eyeglasses. But among preindustrial fire-starting methods, it’s hard to beat the portable convenience of fire pistons, used in Southeast Asia since prehistoric times.

Almost all gases heat up when compressed. The harder and the faster the compression, the hotter the gas gets, hot enough even to ignite cotton wool or other flammable materials. Diesel engines work the same way: They have no spark plugs; instead the fuel/air mixture is ignited by compression as the cylinder closes up.

...this same principle also explains how many high explosives work. They are called “high” because their explosive reaction expands through a supersonic pressure wave that travels much faster than ordinary burning, making them far more powerful than low explosives like gunpowder. Each successive bit of material in a high explosive ignites when the pressure wave compresses and heats trapped microscopic bubbles of gas. When manufactured without bubbles, even extremely powerful high explosives can be impossible to detonate. Without gas to compress, there is no way for the detonation wave to heat up neighboring areas. _PopSci

Gray Matter: The Fire Piston from PopSci.com on Vimeo.

TadGear has a good assortment of firestarters


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Survival Skills: Getting Past No Go

Every competent core of survivours will have at least one expert at bypassing or picking locks. Members of the Society of Creative Apocalyptology are expected to master basic lock bypass skills by the end of the first level.

Sometimes survival depends on being able to get past locks without taking a lot of time. Web entrepreneurs understand that you do not have time to become an expert on picking locks, so they offer a wide array of tools and techniques for clever entry with an easy learning curve.
YouTube is full of videos demonstrating how to pick a lock with everything from a paper clip to a wiper blade. But most of these rudimentary techniques work on only a limited number of pin-tumbler locks. If you want to be sure you can compromise all of them, you need SouthOrd’s $170 electric pick set. Pin-tumblers use five or more pins to prevent the lock’s central cylinder from turning; E500XT slams those pins up and out of the way. To use the 10-inch-long device, place the picking needle and tension tool — basically an L-shaped stainless steel bar — inside the keyway. Pulse the 8,000-rpm motor to deliver powerful vibrations that knock the pins clear, allowing the tension tool to turn the lock mechanism. The whole process takes about 20 seconds. Just don’t think the SouthOrd pick is an easy ticket to a career as a cat burglar: It sounds like gears grinding on an ‘86 Yugo. _Wired
Possession of such tools and skills is similar to possession of a firearm. You may go your entire life without needing to use them. Or your life may depend upon your getting past a locked door sometime next month. Thousands of people have taken up lock-picking (and firearms) as an entirely legal and non-larcenous hobby.


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29 April 2010

Doing More With Less in a Recession

In the old days, before cleaning services, illegal domestic help, and WalMarts, people needed to know how to get the most uses out of everything they owned and produced. Thrift was once a necessary part of life, and for most, soon will be again.

Extraordinary uses for ammonia Just don't try to be extra thrifty by mixing bleach with ammonia! Choke, choke, cough cough!

Ten household uses for hydrogen peroxide I never thought of using peroxide to germinate seeds faster!

80 uses for old newspaper
Wrap green tomatoes in newspaper to ripen? Never tried that.

20 great uses for tea tree oil Al Fin has a long and profitable relationship with tea tree oil, and can think of more than 20 uses. But the ones on the list are a decent start.

15 wonderful uses for Witch Hazel For those who think witch hazel is just for hemorrhoids, educate yourselves!

8 Brilliant Uses for . . . . . Urine! Well perhaps not so brilliant, but if you want a reputation for quirkiness -- you might give some of these a try!

101 Money-Saving Tips for Families These tips may help you to have more of something that is often scarce around many homes these days -- money.

Unlimited thrifty living tips This website covers a very wide range of daily activities, where conscious cost reductions can be achieved.

Unless you are living on a gold mine, it is likely that over the next several years you will be forced to reduce expenditures on more than one area of your life where you once swore never to compromise. Too bad. If you voted for Obama then doubly too bad.

But it is never too late to start getting smarter, and become more competent.


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Super - Lentil to be Unleashed On US Northwest

Essex is a new lentil variety developed by Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists. The lentil has a lot to offer, with high seed yields for growers, nitrogen-fixing bacteria for wheat crops, and a tasty source of protein for consumers to add to soups, salads and other fare.

Essex was chosen for public release based on its outstanding performance in advanced yield trials conducted over the past couple of years in Washington State, Idaho, North Dakota and Montana. _PrairieStar
Better forms of ordinary food crops, such as rice, wheat, and legumes -- such as lentils -- can provide more nutritious food at higher yield per acre. Sometimes the new super-crops are developed via genetic engineering, and sometimes they are developed via old fashioned cross breeding.
“The line is the result of a cross made by Fred Muehlbauer at the ARS in Pullman. He's retired now but this plant is part of the legacy he developed while there,” said McPhee.

The lentil produces a little larger seed than the Eston variety, which is considered the market standard. During trials, Essex averaged 1,220 pounds of seed per acre, which is 21 percent more than Eston and 22 percent more than Athena, another leading commercial variety.

“Essex is similar in appearance and very high yielding. It has performed very well,” said McPhee. He described the lentil as being a small, green lentil with a yellow interior. “It is in the Eston type market class in that it is a small green lentil that lacks speckling or extra pigmentation in the coat.” _PrairieStar

Plants of Essex matured at about the same time as Eston and produced small seeds with yellow interiors and green coats. Besides protein levels of 20 to 30 percent by dry weight, the seeds are high in fiber, minerals and vitamins.

Essex also enjoys a symbiotic relationship with beneficial soil microbes-specifically, root-colonizing Rhizobium bacteria, whose ability to take nitrogen from the atmosphere and turn it into a form plants can use for growth helps naturally replenish the soil's fertility for subsequent crops of wheat and other grains. Other benefits of using lentils as a rotation crop in small-grain cultivation systems include reduced soil erosion, improved weed control and reduced disease severity and incidence.

Derived from conventional breeding, Essex is intended for production in the Pacific Northwest and Northern Plains, with primary markets in Mexico and other Latin American nations anticipated. _ScienceDaily

Such simple and rarely remarked-upon advances lead to more plentiful food supplies from less cropland. As more synergies of different rotations of human crops are discovered, more food can be grown using less chemicals, while still maintaining soil quality. Good news, that you will not likely hear from the doomsayers who control the environmental alarmist lobbies, the media, government, and intergovernmental agencies of the world.


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Negative Climate Feedbacks Above and Below!

The amount of CO2 released from soils worldwide each year is estimated to be about 8-10 times greater than the amount released by humans. _WUWT

Most people look to the sky for negative climate feedbacks -- clouds, water vapour, aerosols, etc. -- but new research suggests they should also be looking underneath their feet. UC Irvine researchers are suggesting that soil microbes react to temperature increases with a negative feedback of reduced CO2 release into the atmosphere.
Researchers at UC Irvine, Colorado State University and the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies found that as global temperatures increase, microbes in soil become less efficient over time at converting carbon in soil into carbon dioxide, a key contributor to climate warming.

Microbes, in the form of bacteria and fungi, use carbon for energy to breathe, or respire, and to grow in size and in number. A model developed by the researchers shows microbes exhaling carbon dioxide furiously for a short period of time in a warmer environment, leaving less carbon to grow on. As warmer temperatures are maintained, the less efficient use of carbon by the microbes causes them to decrease in number, eventually resulting in less carbon dioxide being emitted into the atmosphere.

...“When we developed a model based on the actual biology of soil microbes, we found that soil carbon may not be lost to the atmosphere as the climate warms,” said Matthew Wallenstein of the Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory at Colorado State University. “Conventional ecosystem models that didn’t include enzymes did not make the same predictions.”

Mark Bradford, assistant professor of terrestrial ecosystem ecology at Yale, said there is intense debate in the scientific community over whether the loss of soil carbon will contribute to global warming. “The challenge we have in predicting this is that the microbial processes causing this loss are poorly understood,” he said. “More research in this area will help reduce uncertainties in climate prediction.” _WUWT

Climate modelers know virtually nothing about the mechanisms of climate. But that does not stop them from creating intricate climate models that rest upon a house of cards of faulty assumptions.

It may take us another 20 years to learn enough about the climate to model it halfway reliably. If we are good, lucky, and fast. In the meantime we would do well to chase the climate alarmist hoaxters off the stage before they do us all in.

The world cannot afford to humour the climate grifters any longer.


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Obama Stimulates Thrift Store Economy

Goodwill Industries International CEO Jim Gibbons told the paper that demand at Goodwill's stores "is going through the roof."

"The demand and need is ... 10 times bigger than our ability to keep up with it," he is quoted as saying. _TheStarPress_via_FinancialArmageddon
For many in the US under the age of 40, an unprecedented malaise is spreading through their towns, neighborhoods, and circle of friends. Prospects for jobs has never been bleaker, and a suspicion that the federal government is not being honest with them about how badly the economic recovery has been mishandled is growing. Still, most people focus simply on getting by.
Now that spring is here, clothing donations at Attic Window are up and a surplus once again exists, but furniture and appliance donations still are down. Raines thinks this is just another example of people saving money by holding onto more expensive items longer instead of upgrading with newer replacements.

Around the country, non-profit groups say the slumping economy has affected donations, especially in states that have been hit hardest by the recession.

Major Man-Hee Chang, who is in charge of The Salvation Army's thrift stores and alcohol-and-drug rehab programs they fund in 13 western states, recently told USA Today that, "Demand is up, but donations are down." _FinancialArmageddon
Clothing and possession swaps -- barter -- once the province of depression and war-time economies, is now going mainstream.
The rise of the quid pro quo possession comes courtesy of a host of reasons: budget-tightening during a persistently sour economy (swapping is mostly free, save for shipping costs or, for face-to-face fetes, a nominal entry fee); eBay, consignment-store and yard-sale fatigue (you might only get a few dollars for all the effort required); hand-me-down headaches (rifling through a garbage bag of kids' clothes is daunting and inefficient); environmental awareness (swapping, of course, is the ultimate form of recycling) and fashion experimentation (it's a frugal way to try out trends). _USAToday
As America sinks more deeply into the Obama quagmire, barter will grow even more popular than it is. Expect the IRS to begin looking more closely at such transactions. Then expect popular reaction to the IRS (and the O-P regime in general) to grow distinctly more hostile.

Doing more with less involves thrifty shopping and judicious barter. Although many are being forced into such thriftiness, quite a few are thereby discovering an ingenious side of themselves they never suspected. That will be important as things proceed.


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Obama Stimulates Militia Economy

The militia movement has no single national leader and it contains wildly divergent strains of thought...the vast majority seem to be "constitutional" militias, fans of low taxes and small government -- values similar to those of many conservatives and the Tea Party movement.

They also see the possession of firearms as not only a right protected by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution but a patriotic duty, a symbol of the citizen's equal standing with the government.

At the heart of the movement is a fierce allegiance to the U.S. Constitution and a belief that its rights and freedoms are threatened by the government. _Reuters_via_ImpactLab
Although the left-wing ideologues in the Obama - Pelosi regime try to paint everyone who disagrees with them as a violent neo-nazi extremist, almost all of the militia movements of the 2010s are motivated by respect for the US Constitution, and a concern that the US government is growing so large and powerful that it no longer respects the constitutional rights of its citizens.
Today, militia members and experts say a number of factors are driving the new surge:

* The 9/11 attacks, which revived the notion that citizens should defend the United States against threats.

* The 2001 Patriot Act, passed in the wake of 9/11, which stirred fears that the government would use enhanced powers against ordinary citizens.

* Anger at government failure to stop mass illegal immigration from Latin America.

* The recent recession, the worst since the 1930s.

* The election in 2008 of President Barack Obama. Many see Obama as a Socialist bent on growing government, raising taxes and confiscating guns; his status as the country’s first African American president exacerbated fears about him, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.

* Healthcare reform, seen as exemplifying oppressive government power and intrusion — the contemporary version of a 1994 ban on assault weapons that enraged the right wing.

The extent to which healthcare reform is galvanizing the militia movement cannot be overstated. In more than a dozen conversations with militia members in recent weeks, the topic came up over and over again without prompting. _ImpactLab
The secretive and unconstitutional manner by which the Obama - Pelosi regime foisted its destructive healthcare policies upon the nation should concern anyone who cares about sustainable self-government based upon the rule of law. But you will never learn about that from the media, so most of the herd is content to munch a little more grass, moo a bit, then piss blissfully in the pasture.

Not everyone appears to be taking the Obama - Pelosi debt orgy with such equanimity and calm. It is likely that the most dangerous opposition to the radical turn of Obama - Pelosi will come from within the government itself -- or from recent retirees. Although many government employees are union members, and thus care more about cradle to grave security and taxpayer paid benefits than about the constitution, there are other well trained government employees who do care about the way in which the US government treats its foundational document.

The various oppositional movements -- some armed and some unarmed -- are only likely to grow larger and more determined, the longer the O - P reich remains in power. Thanks to O-P acceleration of the US federal debt, US government debt will be close to 90% of US GDP very close to the time Obama leaves office -- assuming he wins a second term. Even if Obama and his minions are defeated in the next few elections, it will take decades to undo the fiscal damage his administration has done.

That will make a lot of hard work for the rest of us -- those of us less inclined to demonstrate or train with weapons out in the woods. Those of us who will have to make the gerry-rigged system work until new technologies make many of today's frantic questions moot.

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Cyborg Geniuses Behind Machines of War


The US military wants to boost the brainpower of soldiers as much as their physical strength, speed, and destructive power. At the same time, the DOD wants to develop better brain-machine interfaces for their super-bright soldiers.
Neuroscience is at the locus of the program, because before they can super-charge cognition, Pentagon scientists need to understand exactly how it works. So they’re launching “Neuromorphic Models of Human Social Cultural Behavior (HSCB),” in an effort to accurately model human cognition, including how we perceive, learn and retain information. HSCB models already exist, and are used by troops and decision-makers to predict the outcome of a choices during a mission. But the models “are only as good as the fidelity of the human behavior representations (HBR) that form them.” Right now, those representations are based entirely on empirical observation, which the military wants to swap out for a model that can tap into “the functions of the brain that give rise to actual human cognition.”

It’s not the first time the Pentagon’s tried to map the human mind. Last year, far-out research agency Darpa requested proposals for systems that would synchronize neural brain waves to optimize the mind’s storage capacity and memory recall. The agency’s also tried to create synthetic versions of living brains, complete with “neuroscience-inspired architecture.”

But no matter how cognitively capable troops become, they’ll still rely on computers to handle much of their workload. Humans, the solicitation notes, “are quick to arrive at initial decisions,” but computers can more quickly calculate pros and cons of different tactics. That’s why the military also wants neuroscience to “bridge the human-machine systems gap” and turn troops and computers into collaborative units. Their “Neuro-Cognitive Control of Human Machine Systems,” would tap into the neural signals that indicate desired actions, then transmit them to a computer to determine the optimal approach and carry it out.

And a training program that emphasizes brawny brains over bodies reflects a trend across Pentagon departments: Just last month, the Army announced a redesign of their physical fitness program, to accommodate troops spending more time behind computer screens than they do on their feet.
It rather sounds as if the US military wants to develop into a back office full of nerds controlling front line armies, navies, and air forces made up of semi-autonomous machines fully brain-linked to the back office nerds. All branches of the military currently control unmanned semi-autonomous vehicles -- on air, land, sea, and undersea.

This emphasis on putting only machines in harm's way is a tacit acknowledgement of the huge expense of training the modern soldier. It also points to an army of the future that no longer distinguishes between male and female in combat roles.

If such a US military does come about, it will mean a radical change from the modern day missions of peace-keeping and "winning hearts and minds", as has been attempted in Iraq and Afghanistan. Tribal peoples will not likely give their hearts and minds to strange machines. Not even a little.

No, these cyborg armies, navies, and air forces are meant for rapid destruction of enemy forces, wherever they may be -- no doubt extending into near-Earth space. It is a logical extension of warfare, where the value of human life is considered most important. But the modern US military consists mainly of non-combat forces and non-combat roles. It remains to be seen whether the new psychology of warfare will extend into the Pentagon mentality as a whole.

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28 April 2010

Peak Oil? Peak Water? Peak Lithium? Peak Everything?

"Demographers agree almost unanimously on the following grim timetable: by 1975 widespread famines will begin in India; these will spread by 1990 to include all of India, Pakistan, China and the Near East, Africa. By the year 2000, or conceivably sooner, South and Central America will exist under famine conditions....By the year 2000, thirty years from now, the entire world, with the exception of Western Europe, North America, and Australia, will be in famine" _EarthDayThenandNow
If you are a political activist whose income depends upon real people (people with real jobs who actually work for a living) believing that the world is falling apart, then peak oil doom, climate catastrophe, and peak everything are custom-made for your needs. Just keep repeating the doom-messages -- in ever louder and more strident tones -- for as long as necessary in order to maintain the proper level of panic in the herd. The news and entertainment media will happily play along, because nothing is better for advertising sales than a crisis -- real or manufactured, it doesn't matter as long as people believe it.

The "Peak Oil Idiocy" is clearly not enough to move real people into stampeding, so perhaps a bit of "Peak Everything Idiocy" will do the job?
Peak Lithium

Lithium is the element at the heart of the electric car revolution that many green energy enthusiasts are trying to foment....

Peak Neodymium

Neodymium is a rare earth metal used extensively to produce permanent magnets found in everything from computer magnetic disks and cell phones to wind turbines and automobiles....

Peak Phosphorus

In the 1840s, scientists discovered that plants need the element phosphorus to grow. The phosphorus fertilizer industry grew rapidly, initially by exploiting vast deposits of seabird guano left on oceanic islands. Today phosphate rocks are mined to produce the fertilizer....

And so on. There really is no end to the possible "peaks" of resource scarcity. And yet . . . haven't we heard all of this before, many times? It is understandable if the activists and the media never get tired of repeating the same old alarm cries, but why do "responsible" politicians and academics get pulled into the maelstrom?

The famous 20th century debate and wager between Paul Ehrlich and Julian Simon should have taught us something.  Julian Simon spelled things out fairly clearly in his free online e-book The Ultimate Resource.

The ultimate resource is, of course, human ingenuity.  Human ingenuity explains how humans can reduce the amount of platinum in a catalytic device by 90% -- and still achieve superior catalysis!  Human ingenuity tells how humans can resurrect depleted oil fields, discover new oil fields where least expected, and turn non-oil resources into oil -- as well as substitute other forms of energy such as nuclear electricity where oil was once used.  Human ingenuity explains why any meaningful peak oil is more likely to be " peak demand" than peak supply.

Thomas Malthus was much smarter and more honest than the neo-Malthusians of today.  Today's resource doomers are in the doom business as much for the pornographic pleasure of envisioning widescale human suffering, as they are for the profit and power mongering.  Harold Hotelling understood something about the economics of substitution,  and the smarter humans of today will take the trouble to learn to pay attention to ongoing ingenious substitutions that are taking place.

One cannot take the greens' and neo-Malthusians' predictions of doom seriously -- not when they have been chanting the same rant over and over for more than 40 years.  Rather than handing over our hard-earned resources to cynical politicians, activists, and their criminal partners, it is time to start investing in human ingenuity first of all.  That is indeed the ultimate resource.

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This Is Your Brain On Smut


Wait, that's not right. This is not your brain on smut -- this is smut! Corn smut, a fungal parasite on maize, and something that is rapidly becoming a food delicacy in the Napa Valley.
It's now an established scientific fact: Smut is GOOD for you. Corn smut, that is.

For years, scientists have assumed that huitlacoche (WEET-LA-KO-CHEE) — a gnarly, gray-black corn fungus long-savored in Mexico — had nutritional values similar to those of the corn on which it grew. But test results just published in the journal Food Chemistry reveal that an infection that U.S. farmers and crop scientists have spent millions trying to eradicate, is packed with unique proteins, minerals and other nutritional goodies.

And here's a bonus: agro-economists have found it can sell for more than the corn it ruins. _Source
Corn smut is packed with lysine -- an essential amino acid that corn cannot supply in adequate quantities. Smut unpacks the latent nutrition in corn, supplementing it with rich fungal nutrition.

Steve Sando runs a specialty food company in Northern California. He led an expedition to Xochimilco -- on Mexico City's south side -- looking for the corn smut, huitlacoche (the name means sleeping shit in the indigenous tongue). They hit paydirt, finding basketloads full of the stuff, as well as chili-stuffed smut tamales.
An ear of huitlacoche costs about 41 cents to produce and sells for about $1.20. By comparison, an ear of sweet corn costs about less than a dime, with profits of just a few cents per ear.

Sando has few competitors in the fresh market, even though gourmet chefs pay $20 or more per pound for a chance to add the delicacy to their menus. But there are several Hispanic food companies, including San Marcos and Del Fuerte, who sell canned huitlacoche in the U.S. _Source


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27 April 2010

Brains Like Ours?

Terrence Sejnowski is a Princeton trained physicist who found his way into neurobiology via a Harvard postdoc.  He is currently the head of the Computational Neurobiology Laboratory at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla.  Sejnowski suggests that humans may begin to create "brains like ours" sooner than most people think.
Last November, IBM researcher Dharmendra Modha announced at a supercomputing conference that his team had written a program that simulated a cat brain. This news took many by surprise, since he had leapfrogged over the mouse brain and beaten other groups to this milestone. For this work, Modha won the prestigious ACM Gordon Bell prize, which is awarded to recognize outstanding achievement in high-performance computing applications.

However, his audacious claim was challenged by Henry Markram, a neuroscientist at the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne and the leader of the Blue Brain project, who announced in 2009 that: "It is not impossible to build a human brain and we can do it in 10 years.". In an open letter to IBM Chief Technical Officer Bernard Meyerson, Markram accused Modha of “mass deception” and called his paper a “hoax” and a “scam.”

...Unfortunately, the large-scale simulations from both groups at present resemble sleep rhythms or epilepsy far more closely than they resemble cat behavior, since neither has sensory inputs or motor outputs. They are also missing essential subcortical structures, – such as the cerebellum that organizes movements, the amygdala that creates emotional states and the spinal cord that runs the musculature. Nonetheless, from Modha’s model we are learning how to program large-scale parallel architectures to perform simulations that scale up to the large numbers of neurons and synapses in real brains. From Markram’s models, we are learning how to integrate many levels of detail into these models. In his paper, Modha predicts that the largest supercomputer will be able to simulate the basic elements of a human brain in real time by 2019, so apparently he and Markram agree on this date; however, at best these simulations will resemble a baby brain, or perhaps a psychotic one.... _SciAm
And from there, Sejnowski unfortunately veers off to briefly discuss "intelligent communications systems", then quickly ends his article. In other words, Sejnowski doesn't actually tell us anything about when we might expect to create "brains like ours."

Ray Kurzweil predicts human level computing by 2029, but Mitch Kapor is betting that Ray is wrong. Henry Markram's prediction for an artificial human brain by 2019 goes far beyond what the Blue Brain website is willing to predict, or what some of his more sober colleagues at Lausanne are willing to claim. Ben Goertzel and Peter Voss each believe they are on the trail of artificial general intelligence (AGI), and see no reason why they cannot achieve their goal.

Noah Goodman -- a researcher at MIT's Cognitive Science Group -- is quite forthcoming and honest in this interview at Brian Wang's NextBigFuture. Goodman says that "we could achieve human-level AI within 30 or 40 years", but he also admits that it could take longer.

A startling new approach to massively parallel computing comes from Michigan Technological University working with a research team in Japan.
In their work, instead of wiring single molecules/CA cells one-by-one, the researchers directly build a molecular switch assembly where ∼300 molecules continuously exchange information among themselves to generate the solution. This molecular assembly functions similarly to the graph paper of von Neumann, where excess electrons move like colored dots on the surface, driven by the variation of free energy that leads to emergent computing...

...By separating a monolayer from the metal ground with an additional monolayer, the NIMS/MTU team developed a generalized approach to make the assembly sensitive to the encoded problem. The assembly adapts itself automatically for a new problem and redefines the CA rules in a unique way to generate the corresponding solution.

"You could say that we have realized organic monolayers with an IQ" says Bandyopadhyay. "Our monolayer has intelligence."

Furthermore, he points out that this molecular processor heals itself if there is any defect. It achieves this remarkable self-healing property from the self-organizing ability of the molecular monolayer.

"No existing man-made computer has this property, but our brain does: if a neuron dies, another neuron takes over its function" he says.

With such remarkable processors that can replicate natural phenomena at the atomic scale researchers will be able to solve problems that are beyond the power of current computers. Especially ill-defined problems, like the prediction of natural calamities, prediction of diseases, and Artificial Intelligence, will benefit from the huge instantaneous parallelism of these molecular templates.

According to Bandyopadhyay, robots will become much more intelligent and creative than today if his team's molecular computing paradigm is adopted. _Nanowerk
Most intelligent observers of the AI field who have been able to take a step back and view the phenomenon from the perspective of many decades of history, are forced to conclude that a new physical substrate -- other than von Neumann architecture supercomputers -- will be necessary before anything close to a human-level AGI can be built.

Whether using memristors, qubits, molecular monolayers, fuzzy logic - enabled neural nets with genetic algorithmic ability, or physical substrates and architectures not yet envisioned or announced, AGI researchers of the near to intermediate future will eventually make rapid strides toward useful machine intelligence -- once the right architectural substrate is discovered.

In the meantime, cognitive scientists are learning a great deal about how the brain works, and how artificial mechanisms may better emulate brain function. I suspect that both Modha and Markram (along with several other prognosticators including Kurzweil) may have allowed wishful thinking to get the better of them, when making timeline predictions.

In the dramatic history of genetic science, only after the breakthrough of Watson and Crick could molecular biology explode into the present and future. The ongoing history of artificial intelligence is still lacking its "Watson and Crick." Progress can be made, but not the explosive progress that is necessary to approach human level intelligence.

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Wind Power Emerges as Scandalous Failure

Hundreds of European offshore wind turbines have a design flaw that causes them to slide on their bases . More, expensive gearbox failures are an industry-wide problem . Worst of all,wind energy is unpredictable and massively expensive for power utilities to integrate into a dynamic power gridPDF. Big wind turbines are gaining a well-deserved reputation as expensive failure-prone hobby-horses for incompetent green activists and politicians.

Now that we have discovered how deep and wide the problem of organised crime infiltration into the wind industry is becoming, it is long past time for taxpayers to begin to confront their elected officials with the massive waste and fraud that their tax dollars are being diverted to support.

Whenever klutzy monolithic governments are made to scramble to solve a nonexistent manufactured problem such as carbon climate catastrophe, waste and fraud are guaranteed to occur -- probably on a massive scale. Indeed, that is what we are seeing across a broad panorama of wind industry investment, lobbying, and media public relations. There are literally trillions of dollars to be made in the "clean energy industry", and political reputations to be made. Nothing can be allowed to stand in the way of the juggernaut -- not even the stark cruel facts.

Wind power is expensive, unreliable, and prone to massive breakdown at any time. Siemens and General Electric are attempting to evade one massive problem of wind turbines -- ubiquitous gearbox failures -- but the new turbines have their own problems, and faulty gearboxes are just one piece of the ugly puzzle. Even if wind turbines could perform as specified for their full "20 year lifetime", they would not be close to competitive with nuclear, coal, or gas for electric power production.

The Obama - Pelosi regime is in too deeply to back out of the crime-ridden enterprise now. They have to "tough it out" and hope that they can keep the media under their thumb so that the masses of taxpayers never learn what they are doing.

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Shocker! Why Organised Crime Likes Carbon Hysteria

Anthony Watts looks at an aspect of the global climate complex that is more than a little bit alarming. Is it possible that organised crime has penetrated much more deeply into the politics and "science" of global warming than anyone thought? We know that organised crime has penetrated the European carbon trading schemes. Could the rot go even deeper?
Much like the late 19th century produced plenty of sordid stories and crime in the development of the oil industry, there is a lot of organised crime rushing to get involved in renewable energy. We can either praise the mafia’s newfound sense of ecological correctness or note the large amount of government subsidy being thrown around rather carelessly.

... In 2009 alone, 19 were arrested in Spain in connection with corruption surrounding a wind farm, there was a scandal regarding recycled carbon trading permits in Hungary, a regulator in Maine accepted an ownership interest in a company he regulated and which he went on to lead, a Washington biologist is accused of steering wind farm funding to his non-profit, Canada is investigating lobbying violations by green lobbyists, the list literally goes on and on. _Wattsupwiththat
Anthony goes on to disclose that Lord Oxburgh -- chairman of a recent official investigation into wrongdoing by climate scientists at EAU's CRU (ClimateGate) -- has close connections to companies that would be badly harmed should the investigation disclose any wrongdoing on the part of the climate scientists. Not surprisingly, Oxburgh cleared the scientists of any serious mischief or deception.

It is increasingly clear that the worldwide crusade of carbon hysteria is itself a colossal scam, meant to relieve developed countries of trillions of taxpayer dollars over the next few decades -- for no good reason except graft on the part of UN officials and third world leaders. Is it so surprising that the mafia and other criminal organisations would want to get in on such a grand scam?

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26 April 2010

A Modern Imperative: Learning to Do More, With Less

In a prolonged recession, it sometimes becomes necessary to learn to do more with less. That's why it is good to know several uses for common, cheap, household items such as vinegar, bleach, rubbing alcohol, baking soda, and vaseline. The few links below were located within a few seconds of easy search. Imagine what a few minutes of intense concentration might yield.

Here are 1001 uses for white distilled vinegar. Some of them might get you out of embarrassing situations, or help you get over an ailment when no doctor can be found.

12 extraordinary uses for bleach. Mostly having to do with sanitation, of course. Here's an extra: 5 drops of liquid bleach in 1/2 gallon water can keep stored water potable long term.

13 ways to use rubbing alcohol. Apparently insects do not like rubbing alcohol.

75 extraordinary uses for baking soda -- not all of them for cooking! It can even help clean your stuck drains!

60 uses for table salt. A mixture of salt and baking soda in your Neti Pot can help tremendously in cold and allergy seasons.

30 uses for Vaseline petroleum jelly. The one about getting bubble gum out of your child's hair was a new one for me.

Becoming an expert in the use of cheap, common household products could make you the hero of the hour -- more than once. I won't tell you that such knowledge will save your life someday, but in some circumstances it might.

They call it being resourceful, or being broadly competent, or just being prepared. The best time to learn these simple things is childhood, of course. But who had parent willing to teach them these things? Not many.

Try being your own parent now.

Previously published at Al Fin Potpourri

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No One Can Tell China's Fortune

As a result of declining exports and other factors, Beijing presided over the world’s fastest slowing economy. China’s economy, in fact, grew by about 15 percent in 2007, but fell to negative growth at the end of 2008.

Beijing stopped the precipitous decline with a $586 billion stimulus program, announced in November 2008. The plan created a “sugar high” as the central government flooded the country with money, but resulting growth will be short-lived. The state’s stimulus plan favors large state enterprises over small and midsize private firms, and state financial institutions are diverting credit to state-sponsored infrastructure. The renationalization of the Chinese economy with state cash will eventually lead to stagnation.

But the economy could fail before stagnation eventually sets in. Prime Minister Wen Jiabao, to fund his stimulus plan, has forced state banks to create the greatest surge of lending in history. One state manager, Lin Zuoming of Aviation Industry Corporation of China, publicly complained last April that central government officials forced him to borrow the equivalent of $49.2 billion from twelve Chinese banks, saying he did not know what to do with all the cash.

Government-mandated lending pushed unneeded funds into the Chinese stock markets, which caused an abnormal jump in prices; similar funds also flooded into the coffers of casinos in Macau, which had been languishing before the stimulus program. Predictions that Beijing’s plan might trigger the biggest wave of corruption in Chinese history now seem correct. _WorldAffairs

There are interesting parallels between China's attempts to restore pre-2009 growth, and the Obama - Pelosi regime's attempts to re-inflate several US economic bubbles, using crony capitalism and political payoffs. The difference is that as corrupt and poorly responsive as Obama - Pelosi may grow to genuine economic needs in the US, China's CCP will always be much more corrupt and less responsive to the needs of an organic economy.

In the US, even if the government becomes the enemy of a healthy economy, there remain legions of innovative entrepreneurs and institutions who still know how to make capitalism work. The US government is finding it difficult shutting all of them down. Call it a form of latent capitalism that refuses to bow to the fascist O - P reich's corporatist road to socialism.

In China, such society-wide institutions never had the chance to grow, and the entrepreneurs and bankers of China have never experienced being immersed in an environment of capitalism without massive corruption at every level. The latent quantity in China is intelligent energy, but without a history of wide participatory institutions at all levels, which could serve to unite a nation in the midst of violent transformation.
So the Chinese economy, once in an upward super-cycle, is now headed on a downward trajectory. Beijing’s leaders had the opportunity to fix these problems in a benign period of growth, but they did not because they were unable or unwilling to challenge a rigid political system that inhibits adaptation to changing circumstances. Their failure to implement sensible policies highlights an inherent weakness in the system of Chinese governance, not just a single economic misstep at a particular moment in history.

...In addition to its outdated economic model, China faces a number of other problems, including banks with unacknowledged bad loans on their books, trade friction arising from mercantilist policies, a pandemic of defective products and poisonous foods, a grossly underfunded and inadequate social security system, a society that is rapidly aging as a result of the brutally enforced one-child policy, a rising tide of violent crime, a monumental environmental crisis, ever-worsening corruption, and failing schools and other social services. These are just the most important difficulties.

...And so, as the economy began to fail in 2008 and as factories closed by the tens of thousands, workers took to the streets, especially in the country’s export powerhouse, the Pearl River Delta of Guangdong Province. Protests have continued around the country. At the end of July last year, for instance, some thirty thousand steelworkers in the rust-belt province of Jilin fought with police and beat to death a top manager who had threatened large layoffs after a merger. The incident illustrates the trend that disturbances are becoming larger and more violent. In fact, demonstrators in the last few years have been using deadly force as an initial tactic against local authorities.

...Middle-class Chinese, the beneficiaries of decades of reform, now behave like activist peasants and workers whenever they think their rights are threatened. Yet Hu Jintao is repressing, not protecting, those rights. The humorless general secretary is now presiding over a seven-year crackdown on almost all elements of society, even the writers of karaoke songs, and the regime now attempts to control political speech more tightly than it did two decades ago. That is a sign of trouble to come. The party can censor and imprison, but it does so at the risk of creating even more enemies, both internal and external, and further delegitimizing itself.
... _WorldAffairs

The Chinese people have a long history of obedience to central authority. But obedience and loyalty can move over time away from the central government, toward competing movements that better represent and champion the inner values that the people feel.

Right now there is no such movement ready to go toe to toe with the CCP. But just as any empire, China also has a long history of competing clans and warlords, civil wars, and insurgencies. Mao's revolution was successful in taking advantage of the turmoil following the Japanese invasion of WWII, and the subsequent power vacuum when Japan was forced to retreat.

Nothing similarly disruptive can be seen on the horizon, but it is impossible to rule out the possibility of insurrection in Tibet or Xinjiang, or catastrophic escalation of hostilities with Taiwan. Border clashes with either Russia or Vietnam are likewise not out of the question. Even something as banal as a trade war with the US could trigger events leading to important schisms within the nation.

In addition, the psychology of a nation that has lived under the "one-child" rule is necessarily different than the psychology of societies where brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts, and cousins are all common. The family fragmentation caused by the one-child rule must leave deep marks on the psyche. Something or someone may come along who knows how to take advantage of that particular quirk.

The situation is dynamic, far from equilibrium.

Previously published at abu al-fin


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Spallation Drilling Says: Don't Write off Geothermal Just Yet

Brian Westenhaus took a recent look at the growth in the number of geothermal projects across the US. And a recent Seeker Blog article on geothermal energy suggests that spallation drilling should provide an economic means for drilling at the necessary depths for high quality heat.  The graph below shows the projected economic benefit of spallation drilling vs. conventional deep rock drilling.

Hydrothermal spallation was invented and patented by cofounder Bob Potter and Jefferson Tester of MIT. The patent is owned by MIT and licensed exclusively to Potter Drilling.
An animation of how hydrothermal spallation works.

An animation of how hydrothermal spallation works.
Chad Augustine MIT PhD Thesis Chemical Engineering

Summary of Potter Geothermal project funded by US DOE

Description of hydrothermal spallation drilling at Energy Boom

2006 Technology Review interview with patent holder Jefferson Tester

Adapted from a post published at Al Fin, The Next Level


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25 April 2010

Obama Behind the Looking Glass


Americans are living in surreal times, when what their president says he will do, and what is actually accomplished, are mirror image opposites of one another. A suggestion that Mr. Obama has a credibility crisis would be a masterstroke of understatement. It is easy to admire Mr. Obama's words on healthcare, the space program, financial reform, and economic recovery, but the whiplash experience of living through the reality of Mr. Obama's actions can lead to disillusion.

Mr. Obama's apologists in the news media are in freefall credibility collapse along with the president. From Joe Klein, to Marc Ambinder, to Brad DeLong, Mr. Obama's defenders would be more credible if they would begin to pay more public attention to the disconnect between Obama's public declarations and the real-world results of the actions of the Obama - Pelosi regime.

The debt crisis that Obama - Pelosi is accelerating, is driving more and more ordinary, non-political Americans to the conclusion that the US government is becoming public enemy number one. Whether Obama - Pelosi has already achieved that status, or whether it needs to pass a few more sweeping and dis-equilibrating reforms first, it is well on the way.

Mr. Obama wishes to emulate the social democracies of Europe, in his own superficial and undiscerning way. But he has chosen a Europe that is in accelerating decline, to emulate. With Europe's ongoing demographic catastrophe, the leaders of Europe have few good choices left -- other than to discard political correctness and return to policies that benefit their own nations and peoples. America's leaders still have good choices they could be making, if they would look to reality rather than the looking-glass.

It is easy for an incompetent government to destroy what should have been a prosperous and expanding economy and society. Look at Kim Jong Il, Robert Mugabe, Hugo Chavez, Mahmoud Ahmedinejad, Vladimir Putin . . . Obama - Pelosi appears to wish to join that list of monumental failures, judging by its actions (not its words).

Can the climactic failure that O - P is bringing on be stopped? The building avalanche of failure has some powerful backers -- including much of Wall Street, the news and popular media, the powerful "Environmental" Lobby, most of Academia, and powerful labour unions and tax-supported leftist activist organisations. The momentum to failure is virtually unstoppable, regardless of 2010 and 2012 election results. But whether or not the suicide can be stopped, there are few good reasons not to try.

The first step, is facing the truth. If one cannot do that, one may as well be a zombie, an automaton. If you voted for the crusade to failure, it is time to dispassionately observe how the grand expectations are turning bad. Step away from your emotional compulsion of the moment and let the clear logic of reality play itself out over the next few years.

When US debt achieves 90% of US GDP -- in just a relatively few years if Obama - Pelosi has its way, any good choices you may have had will have evaporated. And the mechanisms of government will have become so perverse, so self-defeating to any worthwhile goal, that government will become the enemy rather than the means to reverse bad decisions of the recent past.


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24 April 2010

Another Refrigeration Cycle -- Sorption Energy


Sorption Energy is a UK company aiming to commercialise vehicle air conditioning systems based upon adsorption heat pump technology. The Sorption units will operate on the waste heat from normal engine operation, rather than parasitising mechanical power from the actual engine output. Sorption aims to save 10% or more of fuel costs during warm weather by this method.
The operation of adsorption heat pumps and refrigerators is based on the ability of porous solids (the adsorbent) to adsorb vapor (the adsorbate or refrigerant) when at low temperature and to desorb it when heated. Adsorption heat pumps thus use an adsorbent chemical rather than a mechanical compressor, and are driven by heat rather than mechanical work.

The systems often use natural refrigerants such as water, ammonia or methanol; Dr. Critoph and Sorption Energy prefer ammonia as a refrigerant and active carbons as the adsorbent.

Adsorption heat pumps are cyclic in operation and require a condenser, expansion valve and evaporator similar to those used in conventional compressor-driven systems. However, the compressor is replaced by the adsorption system.

The basic system consists of two linked containers, one of which contains the solid adsorbent (the generator). The other is the combined evaporator and condenser or receiver in which the refrigerant is evaporated and condensed.

At low temperature and pressure, the adsorbent contains a high concentration of refrigerant, while the receiver contains only refrigerant gas. When the generator is heated, the refrigerant is desorbed, raising the system pressure. Refrigerant condenses in the receiver, rejecting heat and producing a useful heat output if the system is to be used as a heat pump. Here, the evaporator is located outside the building and extracts energy from the surrounding air, transferring it back to the system and eventually to the condenser and generators for use in the dwelling.

Cooling the generator back down to its initial temperature completes the cycle and causes the adsorbent to readsorb the refrigerant. The system pressure is reduced and the liquid refrigerant in the receiver evaporates, absorbing heat. This produces the useful cooling effect if the system is to be used as a refrigerator. Here, the evaporator is used to extract heat from the space to be cooled. The heat from the condenser and the generator cooling is typically dumped outside.

Although the heating and cooling provided by a single generator is discontinuous, it can be made continuous by operating two or more generators out of phase. _GCC
Sorption is a spinoff from University of Warwick, UK, and utilises some significant breakthroughs in adsorption heat pump technology developed at Warwick which improve the efficiency of the system appreciably, and makes the actual devices much smaller and more manageable for small vehicles such as cars. The Sorption devices are based upon an activated carbon / ammonia pairing using a highly compact plate heat exchanger using nickel brazed shims and spacers.

Here is an analysis from USC / CSULB looking at the use of adsorption heat pumps in mass transit vehicles in the Los Angeles area.

This type of heat pump has been used on board satellites, and on shipping containers. They can be driven by any type of heat source, including solar heat. For automobiles, the use of waste engine heat to drive the heat pump is reasonable, and could result in significant savings during summer months. The heat pump could be used for heating the vehicle during cold weather, of course, but conventional automobile heating systems already utilise waste engine heat to keep car occupants warm.

The possibility of using this technology for domestic home and apartment heating purposes is being considered as well -- contingent upon finding an economical and reliable heat source to drive the system, and absolute proof that any system using ammonia as a refrigerant would be safe for household use. Methanol is an alternative coolant.

Cross-posted to Al Fin Energy


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By Popular De Mann: Hide The Decline II

Hide The Decline II from No Cap And Trade Coalition on Vimeo.

YouTube banned the video above, thanks to a bit of prodding from Michael Mann's lawyers. Mann, a climatologist at Penn State University, was recently cleared of wrongdoing in the ClimateGate scandal by a university committee. That bit of academic whitewashing does not alter the incriminating evidence against Mann revealed by the ClimateGate emails.

The original "Hide the Decline" spoof video is provided below, still on YouTube (for now).

H/T Anthony Watts and Steve McIntyre


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Black Like Me? Instant Street Cred for Only $689

A $689 silicone mask called The Player is likely to become more popular, as news about bank robber Conrad Zdierak's ability to elude capture trickles out to the criminally inclined.
Conrad Zdzierak, 30, has been charged with multiple counts of aggravated robbery after robbing four banks and an a CVS pharmacy on April 9, reports ABC News affiliate WFTS in Tampa.

Detectives say Zdzierak was initially able to elude the cops because of his disguise, an expensive silicon mask called “The Player” valued at around $650.

"The suspect seen in the surveillance photographs and that we were looking for, we believed to be an African-American male. The suspect was actually a male, white, who was wearing an elaborate disguise," Springdale, Ohio, Police Lt. Michael Mathis told WFTS.

Investigators believe Zdzierak likely removed the mask between the robberies in order to confuse the cops who believed they were looking a black man. _nydailynews_via_boingboing_via_keelynet
Expect such disguises to grow ever more sophisticated with the advances in materials science, nanotechnology, and electronics that are occurring. Not only disguises for a person's face and clothing, but also disguises for a person's getaway vehicle. Automobiles with paint that changes colour, for example.

While crime is more common within communities of lower IQ minorities, the most successful criminals over time tend to have above average intelligence. As the tools of disguise grow ever better, brighter criminals will find it easier to elude the grasp of conventional law enforcement.

The race-changing perp above, Conrad, was caught because a money-bag dye pack exploded inside his Volvo, allowing police to locate his motel room where he was hiding. That information suggests that Conrad was not actually that intelligent after all.


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Sea Ice Growing Out of Control! Cold Climate Worries!


A rapid and out-of-control recent growth in Arctic sea ice has raised concerns about a coming spell of cold weather. Oleg Pokrovsky of the Voeikov Main Geophysical Observatory is predicting significant growth of sea ice in the Arctic. This will make it much more difficult for nations such as Russia, Canada, the US, and others to develop Arctic mineral resources.

Modern populations have been hoodwinked by an opportunistic climate industry into believing that the global climate is rapidly warming, and that the oceans are being poisoned by CO2. In fact, neither of those rallying points is accurate -- although news media outlets continue to parrot the false findings. In the area of climate, we have become accustomed to being inundated with false findings.

Taxpayers who support most scientific research are beginning to question whether they are getting their money's worth. They are beginning to wonder whether this dishonesty and opportunism is limited to climate science, or whether it is a central feature of all modern scientific research. If all science becomes tarred by unscrupulous climate grifters, then future societies will suffer for it.

Much better for science to police itself. The sooner the better.


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23 April 2010

China Busy Remaking Africa Like Europe Once Did

“As soon as we have problems, we ask someone else to take care of them for us,” Isaac continued. “We ask the Europeans. We ask the Americans. We ask the Chinese. We will run this train into the ground, and then we will tell the Chinese we need another one. This is not development.” I thought of the wreckage by the tracks. In China, there is no such thing as metallic waste. Armies of migrant workers scour the countryside with hammers and chisels, collecting and selling every scrap to the insatiable smelters that feed the country’s industries. Here, by contrast, was a land without industry. _Atlantic

China has a deep and abiding interest in doing business in Africa. The interest is in Africa's vast mineral resources, primarily, and in Africa's fertile soil secondarily. China also has an interest in using Africa as a political tool against the west, but that interest remains largely in the background.
Some people suggest that China wants to rip Africa's face off. In the sense of grabbing resources without all the ecologic niceties demanded by western political interests of their own companies, that is figuratively true.
It's no secret that China thirsts for natural resources. That country's demand for oil increased 28% year-over-year in January, a magnitude of increase the International Energy Agency called "astonishing." Further, while China accounts for 20% of the world's population, it consumed just 10% of the world's oil in 2009. As that latter number continues to rise, China will find itself in more and more of a pickle because China's domestic oil production today satisfies just half of domestic demand. In other words, the country's energy security relies on imports -- a reality the government finds very unsettling.

...More directly, the Chinese government is also signing deals with African governments to secure rights to farmland and mineral resources in exchange for infrastructure building. The highest-profile action here may have been last summer's $9 billion agreement between China and the Democratic Republic of Congo, which delivered to two Chinese SOEs the rights to more than 10 million metric tons of copper and 600,000 tons of cobalt. And while China is delivering on its part of the agreement to build roads in the DRC, a fabulous recent article by Howard French in The Atlantic suggests that Chinese infrastructure construction won't actually benefit the country. First, there's the issue of maintenance (roads in that part of the world won't last more than a few years). Second, there's the fact that the first roads being built aren't useful for the general population or for local industry, but will rather simply connect the country estates of the current political elites to major cities.

This is graft, plain and simple (a practice Chinese business leaders reportedly are not unfamiliar with), and it looks like resource-rich African nations are giving up their natural wealth to China without realizing tangible, lasting benefits. _Fool

China is beginning to move manufacturing to Africa. That will certainly have the effect of moving pollution away from Chinese air and rivers, to African air and rivers. But will the new African factories built by China employ African workers or Chinese? Here is part of the answer:
And on the other hand, the Chinese are also moving manufacturing to the continent. In South Africa, for instance, three Chinese companies are making television sets — and most of their workers are black Africans, not Chinese. In Zambia's Copperbelt, they will soon manufacture copper cables, a much sought-after, value-added product.

Yet despite China's interests in securing Africa's natural resources, the average African doesn't appear to be getting any richer.

Most of the Africans I spoke to said they don't blame the Chinese for making sure the wealth is spread around. They blame themselves. If the profits from a nation's resources seem to be squandered or spread about within governing elites, they said, that is a matter for Africans to resolve. _CBC
China's economy is becoming an integral part of Africa's economy by the day. China is buying a lot more fossil fuels from Africa. And Chinese traders do not tend to squabble very much about paying bribes to key personnel who can help the deal go through. That can make it tougher for non-Chinese companies to make honest deals that are structured to benefit a wider swath of the population, not just the elite.
CHINESE FARMERS have been trickling into Africa for years, buying small plots and working them using Chinese techniques. But China began to prioritize large-scale agricultural investment in Africa around the time of the lavish 2006 China-Africa summit in Beijing, a milestone in China’s courtship of the continent. At the time, China promised to establish 10 agricultural demonstration centers promoting Chinese farming methods, and to send experts far and wide. Last June, the Economic Observer, an independent Chinese weekly newspaper, reported that China, “faced with increasing pressure on food security,” was “planning to rent and buy land abroad to expand domestic food supply.” Beijing had earmarked $5 billion for agricultural projects in Africa in 2008, with a focus on the production of rice and other cash crops.

...I asked [a Congolese lawyer] if the arrival of the Chinese was a new and great opportunity for the continent, as some have said. “The problem is not who is the latest buyer of our commodities,” he replied. “The problem is to determine what is Africa’s place in the future of the global economy, and up to now, we have seen very little that is new. China is taking the place of the West: they take our raw materials and they sell finished goods to the world What Africans are getting in exchange, whether it is roads or schools or finished goods, doesn’t really matter. We remain under the same old schema: our cobalt goes off to China in the form of dusty ore and returns here in the form of expensive batteries.” _Atlantic

The mainland Communist Chinese is among the most racist of all cultures of Earth. When the Communist Chinese go to Africa to do business, they hire Africans only as brute labour. For skilled jobs they tend to import Chinese professionals and craftsmen. Skilled Chinese workers only want to stay in Africa long enough to save money to buy a good place to live, and to set themselves up financially back in China.

The CCP government is only interested in getting the job done, in getting the goods -- whether the goods are oil, coal, copper, gold, uranium, or food. Questions of improving the conditions of the average African are irrelevant, as long as a well placed bribe can remove local governmental obstacles to the job.

The infrastructure that China builds inside Africa will crumble and fail as soon as China no longer needs to maintain it. This is true of railways, expensive hotels, power generating equipment, or basic paved roads. The Africa that China will leave behind will not be a nice place -- because most of Africa's profits have gone into the bank accounts of government-connected elites. That wealth is already gone to Switzerland, never to return.

European colonialism did not permanently help Africa. Generous foreign aid from American and European governments and NGOs has not helped Africa over the long run. And Chinese investment and infrastructure is not likely to help Africa, once the Chinese exhaust the resources they came for.

What Africa needs, it can not get from outsiders. Africa must somehow learn to incorporate the organisational skills, maintenance ethic, and self-discipline of successful outside cultures. Even more, Africa needs to learn how to bring in human capital from the outside in such a way that the outsiders become true Africans -- without fear that a new Idi Amin or Robert Mugabe will arise and drive them away from everything they have worked for.

To do that, Africa will have to outgrow its own racism and learn to accept persons of other colours as Africans. There is no other way. As long as it is Africa against the world, Africa will lose.

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