Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Commercial fishing ...

... wreaks havoc on the environment. The victim this time around? Loggerhead turtles.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Lady in Red

Sorry babe, but that red dress probably catches your man's eye because he's hungry.

Instead it may have evolved for its benefits in foraging - picking out ripe fruit - and was retained for mate selection, say André Fernandez and Molly Morris of Ohio University, Athens. Most primates have three colour receptors, so see a richer visual spectrum than other mammals, which have only two.

Monday, June 04, 2007

A Biodiesel Primer

Courtesy of the Methanol Institute (PDF)

On a related note, I've begun reading Beyond Oil and Gas: The Methanol Economy, and it looks like a very good read. I'll relate more when I've gotten a bit further into the text.

Don't ...

... flush your unused drugs down the toilet.

I doubt it comes as any surprise that these drugs eventually find their way into a water source, in this case a Florida river. And there is no excuse, short of a doctors instruction, to ever stop an antibiotic regimen.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Ode to the Microbe

The Microbe by Hilaire Belloc

The Microbe is so very small
You cannot make him out at all,
But many sanguine people hope
To see him through a microscope.
His jointed tongue that lies beneath
A hundred curious rows of teeth;
His seven tufted tails with lots
Of lovely pink and purple spots,
On each of which a pattern stands,
Composed of forty separate bands;
His eyebrows of a tender green;
All these have never yet been seen--
But Scientists, who ought to know,
Assure us that they must be so....
Oh! let us never, never doubt
What nobody is sure about!

A tribute to bugs

Common Cold by Ogden Nash

Go hang yourself, you old M.D.!
You shall not sneer at me.
Pick up your hat and stethoscope,
Go wash your mouth with laundry soap;
I contemplate a joy exquisite
In not paying you for your visit.
I did not call you to be told
My malady is a common cold.

By pounding brow and swollen lip;
By fever's hot and scaly grip;
By those two red redundant eyes
That weep like woeful April skies;
By racking snuffle, snort, and sniff;
By handkerchief after handkerchief;
This cold you wave away as naught
Is the damnedest cold man ever caught!

Give ear, you scientific fossil!
Here is the genuine Cold Colossal;
The Cold of which researchers dream,
The Perfect Cold, the Cold Supreme.
This honored system humbly holds
The Super-cold to end all colds;
The Cold Crusading for Democracy;
The Führer of the Streptococcracy.

Bacilli swarm within my portals
Such as were ne'er conceived by mortals,
But bred by scientists wise and hoary
In some Olympic laboratory;
Bacteria as large as mice,
With feet of fire and heads of ice
Who never interrupt for slumber
Their stamping elephantine rumba.

A common cold, gadzooks, forsooth!
Ah, yes. And Lincoln was jostled by Booth;
Don Juan was a budding gallant,
And Shakespeare's plays show signs of talent;
The Arctic winter is fairly coolish,
And your diagnosis is fairly foolish.
Oh what a derision history holds
For the man who belittled the Cold of Colds!

I'm a Geneious!

... user that is.

Geneious - Developed by Biomatters

Possibly one of the best genomic utilities out on the market today. Their staff are excellent about responding to user wishes, and their product is of excellent quality. Things are made even better by the inexpensive price tag (under $200 for a years license). I liked Sequencher (when I had access to it and it's $3000+ price tag), but I love Geneious. If you do research, you need to try this software suite out.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

God does not love us any longer ...

... or He's just seriously pissed.

Ok, the higher food prices is one thing, but the following should definitely serve as a wakeup for citizens around the world.

Ethanol production is driving up prices for:

Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.
Benjamin Franklin

The strive for cheaper fuel ...

... has increased grocery costs by $47 per person this year.

Booming ethanol production may help lessen U.S. dependence on foreign oil, but it has already increased the grocery bill for the average American by $47 since July, according to a study from Iowa State University.

The kicker? I don't see a drop in our depedence on foreign oil, and all this ethanol production certainly hasn't translated into lower prices at the pump. In my not so humble opinion, ethanol production from food sources is simply not going to ever cut the mustard. We need food.

Instead of investing money into ethanol plants, why not invest it into better public transportation infrastructures for major metropolitan areas. That should decrease their dependency on gas, and may (hopefully?) drop prices elsewhere.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

My ears are ringing!

Well, this new treatment discovered by researchers at UC Irvine helps alleviate tinnitus.

I wonder, can we get insurance companies to pay for iPods now?

Monday, February 12, 2007

Interesting use for biofuel ...

India uses biodiesel to run cellular networks in rural areas.

Phase two will involve setting up a supply chain using locally-grown crops to produce biodiesel to power up to ten base stations in the Maharashtra region.

Using locally grown crops is an even better idea.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

A step in the right direction ...

United States the fastest growing biodiesel market in the world.

The question now is: Will we be able to maintain that momentum?

Also, it should be noted that even with this growth, only about half of 1% of all biodiesel is sold in the United States. So we have a ways to go as a nation.

Oregon says ...

Don't look at us for biofuel production.

Based on their analysis, the authors concluded that these three biofuel options appear to be a costly way to achieve limited progress toward energy independence or reduce greenhouse emissions in Oregon.

Monday, February 05, 2007

In a situation similar to what I blogged ...

... on Mexico, Europe's food industry calls for a more balanced biofuel policy.
Using agricultural land to grow bio-energy crops would also compete with the use of land for food and animal feed production, the CIAA stated in its memorandum.

For most consumers, raising food pries to cut fuel costs is not a viable alternative. Food prices need to remain low, which means we need to find biomass alternatives to canola, corn and sugar (as three major examples). The article cited specifically speaks of the increase in rapeseed (canola) prices, which doubled in the last five years as increasingly larger portions of the canola market went to biofuels production. Other cereals and starches went up 20% in the same time span. That trend needs to be reversed.

To deviate a bit ...

... from the discussion of biofuels (remember, I said that I might talk on other issues), I'd like to point out this article of Dr. Maureen Condic in First Things.

What We Know About Embryonic Stem Cells

Embryonic stem cells have received a lot of hype, and this article does a pretty good job in my opinion, of taking the veneer off the topic.

Algae Biofuel Process

PetroSun announces final testing for algae biofuel process

PetroSun, Incorporated announced last week that the field testing of the cultivation of algae for biodiesel production has now progressed to the final stage prior to the construction of a commercial cultivation facility.

Also reported ...

Algae BioFuels is considering sites in Arizona, New Mexico, California, Louisiana and Michigan for its initial commercial cultivation of algae feedstock in the United States. Australia and China are the leading candidates for production and refinery operations in the foreign marketplace.

Friday, February 02, 2007

MicrobeWorld Podcast

If you go to MicrobeWorld, they have a podcast section over on the right hand side of the site. Their latest podcast is entitled "The future of biogas". It's a little over 90 seconds in length.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

While We're At It ...

While new sources of energy are critical, we should also learn to do more, with less.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

USDA Releases Proposed 2007 Farm Bill

Johanns Unveils 2007 Farm Bill Proposals.

As I mentioned in an earlier blog, $1.6 Billion is geared towards renewable energy research, development and production. This research will be targeted towards cellulosic ethanol. There is an additional $500 million initiative geared towards bio-energy and bio-based product research.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Effects of ethanol fuel on society

Mexico grapples with soaring prices for corn

Mexico is in the grip of the worst tortilla crisis in its modern history. Dramatically rising international corn prices, spurred by demand for the grain-based fuel ethanol, have led to expensive tortillas. That, in turn, has led to lower sales for vendors such as Rosales and angry protests by consumers.

Sometimes I'm not sure whether or not we, as members of society, think of the effects that our demands for cheaper fuel cause for others. This is one such instance. Is corn-based ethanol a "fix" for us that is going to cause problems for others? If so, then perhaps we need to rethink our stance on it, and move to a crop which will not have a negative impact, such as switchgrass.

Friday, January 26, 2007

USDA Devoted To Bio-Fuel Development

USDA Announces Plan For $1.6 Billion Investment In Renewable Fuels

"It remains a priority across USDA to support the development of biofuels. We will continue to build on current programs and turn the corner on renewable energy," said Johanns. "With biofuels coming to the forefront, American agriculture faces the greatest opportunity of a generation to lead a future in which we get our energy by the bushel and not by the barrel."