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As the Internet continues to expand and spread knowledge we must be more diligent when filtering fact from fiction.  Life Magazine has an amazing little game that tests your ability to separate the two.   Try it for yourself.

http://www.life.com/archive/realfake

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Say what you want about US based GM being a dinosaur of a car company, building inefficient cars in inefficient manufacturing plants, but the same cannot be said about their European subsidiary Opel (soon to be owned by Canada’s Magna).

Check out this You Tube video from one of their European plants.

Geothermal power is power extracted from heat stored in the earth. This geothermal energy originates from the original formation of the planet, from radioactive decay of minerals, and from solar energy absorbed at the surface. It has been used for space heating and bathing since ancient roman times, but is now better known for generating electricity. About 10 GW of geothermal electric capacity is installed around the world as of 2007, generating 0.3% of global electricity demand. An additional 28 GW of direct geothermal heating capacity is installed for district heating, space heating, spas, industrial processes, desalination and agricultural applications.

Geothermal power is cost effective, reliable, and environmentally friendly, but has previously been geographically limited to areas near tectonic plate boundaries. Recent technological advances have dramatically expanded the range and size of viable resources, especially for direct applications such as home heating. Geothermal wells tend to release greenhouse gases trapped deep within the earth, but these emissions are much lower than those of conventional fossil fuels. As a result, geothermal power has the potential to help mitigate global warming if widely deployed instead of fossil fuels.

There are a 3 main issues with geothermal that need to be addressed before we decide that this is the best option.

  1. What impact do the gases released from geothermal implementations have on greenhouses gas emissions?
  2. How much geothermal energy does the Earth possess (and how much can we take before having an impact)?
  3. How the heck do we drill efficiently and deep enough to extract this energy.  Currently we use diamond tipped drill bits to bore holes into the Earth’s crust but this method had proven costly, time consuming and ineffective.

Issue #1 and #2 still remain controversial however a new invention from Jared Potter has addressed issue #3.  Check out the video of this prototype in work.  It is very impressive.

Sources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geothermal_power
http://www.popsci.com/scitech/article/2009-06/jets-7200°f-hydrogen-cut-through-granite-100-feet-hour
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qmxxsf_AJ3w&eurl=http://www.popsci.com/&feature=player_embedded

It is amazing what can be done with unlimited and autonomous sources of electricity. Recently scientists have discovered a relatively simple way to extract pure drinking water from air humidity.  My first thought was that this technology probably won’t benefit some of the places with little or no drinking water because it is those places that don’t have any humidity in there air, such as the dessert in African and Asia.   Also this invention requires electricity to work – obviously a rare commodity in the world’s poorest countries.  But both concerns seem to have been addressed.

Here is the article:

Research scientists at the Fraunhofer Institute for Interfacial Engineering and Biotechnology IGB in Stuttgart working in conjunction with their colleagues from the company Logos Innovationen have found a way of converting this air humidity autonomously and decentrally into drinkable water.

“The process we have developed is based exclusively on renewable energy sources such as thermal solar collectors and photovoltaic cells, which makes this method completely energy-autonomous. It will therefore function in regions where there is no electrical infrastructure,” says Siegfried Egner, head of department at the IGB. The principle of the process is as follows: hygroscopic brine – saline solution which absorbs moisture – runs down a tower-shaped unit and absorbs water from the air. It is then sucked into a tank a few meters off the ground in which a vacuum prevails. Energy from solar collectors heats up the brine, which is diluted by the water it has absorbed.

Because of the vacuum, the boiling point of the liquid is lower than it would be under normal atmospheric pressure. This effect is known from the mountains: as the atmospheric pressure there is lower than in the valley, water boils at temperatures distinctly below 100 degrees Celsius.

The evaporated, non-saline water is condensed and runs down through a completely filled tube in a controlled manner. The gravity of this water column continuously produces the vacuum and so a vacuum pump is not needed. The reconcentrated brine runs down the tower surface again to absorb moisture from the air.

“The concept is suitable for various sizes of installation. Single-person units and plants supplying water to entire hotels are conceivable,” says Egner. Prototypes have been built for both system components – air moisture absorption and vacuum evaporation – and the research scientists have already tested their interplay on a laboratory scale. In a further step the researchers intend to develop a demonstration facility.

Source: Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft

I am getting really sick of having to own an array of remote controls just to watch a DVD on TV in surround sound.  I am baffled why companies don’t start integrating end point devices into one another.  The basis for the platform should be the flat panel television or monitor.  The DVD player, cable box and speakers should all be built in, with expandable ports for such things as game consoles.

The TV is the most important part of an entertainment system and we cannot afford to sacrifice much in the interest of integration.  That said, the TV has gotten remarkably smaller (thinner) in the past 10 years so there is lots of room to take a small step backwards and allow for expansion in order to fit all the require components directly into the television.

Why in 2009 do we still need a DVD player that is the size of an 80’s VCR?  Laptop DVD players are not much bigger than the palm of my hand and have been discreetly integrated for years.  Game consoles too have gotten much smaller.  A processor, some software and a controller is all that one requires to play a video game.

In order to pull this off and allow for nonproprietary and open competition all that we have to do is set standards.  We have standards for everything, including most things related to multimedia already.  If we took it a step farther we would be able to buy a complete home entertainment system that hangs discreetly on the wall, without all the wires and without the need for a dozen power sources (or power bars).  A true out-of-the-box solution.

A “Green” House

This is a You Tube video of a true green house.  It has wind, solar and passive energy.  The coolest thing is that uses hay as insulation.  Apparently the hay or straw has breathing capabilities, making it its own heat recovery ventilation system.    It is amazing what you can do if you build and design your own home.

Mayor_Newsom_bus_shelter_unveiling

San Francisco is quickly becoming a world leader in progressivism.  Mayor Gavin Newsom has created aggressive grants for any resident of San Francisco who wishes to install solar panels in the interest of energy conservation.   He has also started purchasing solar powered bus shelters with free Wi-Fi (pictured above).

Check out the PDF flyer from the city’s website.  Seems like a no-brainer to me?

http://sfwater.org/Files/FactSheets/solarflyer_revAPR09.pdf

This is so awesome!