The best scientific evidence shows that global climate change is caused by burning fossil fuels (oil, coal, and natural gas), which emit carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
These greenhouse gases act like a bubble around the Earth, trapping heat in, and in turn, causing temperatures to rise on the planet’s surface. This phenomenon can be observed through shrinking glaciers, thawing of permafrost, rising sea levels and, yes stronger storms.
Superstorm Sandy brought unprecedented levels of flooding to areas across the Eastern seaboard. New York City and the Jersey Shore were particularly hard hit. In Manhattan, a record-breaking storm surge reached 14 feet, shuttering one of the largest transit systems in the world.
Although climate change did not cause the storm, a growing number of researchers say that climate change increases the severity of hurricanes, including stronger storm surges like the one in Manhattan. This on top of rising sea levels, which will leave many cities, including New York, partially underwater, means just one thing: To save our cities, we need to slow climate change.
To moderate the effects of climate change we must start by lowering greenhouse gas emissions, which involves investing in clean and renewable energies.
Renewable energy is energy that comes from natural resources such as sunlight, wind, tides and geothermal heat. Unlike oil, these energy sources won’t run out (although some are highly unpredictable) and carbon-neutral, so they d! on’t con tribute to climate change.
We aren’t just talking wind turbines and solar panels, though. People around the world are developing innovative and sometimes strange ways to decrease their dependence on oil and gas.
Wave Snakes use the natural up-and-down motion of waves to generate electricity.
The 460-foot long, British-made floating tubes represent the world’s first commercial-scale wave-power stations.
The snake-like power farms, which were first launched off the northern coast of Portugal in 2008 from the town of Aguçadoura, are an original concept in clean energy design.
Using the natural up-and-down motion of waves, the stations are able to convert enough electricity to power more than 1,000 homes.
The Wind Blimp is equipped with spinning blades to catch wind and generate energy.
Magenn Power Inc. developed its first wind blimp prototype in 2008. The MARS (Magenn Air Rotor System) is essentially an extremely lightweight wind turbine that is anchored to the ground by a tether. Helium is used to lift the blimp, which is equipped with spinning blades to catch wind, generating energy. The electricity is then transferred by the tether to either a power grid or batteries.
MARS has several advantages over other wind systems due to its size, weight, and the ability to operate in very light wind speeds. The blimp is transportable, easily deployed, and well-suited for off-site or rem! ote loca tions. The floating wind turbine also has the potential to produce electricity at under $.20 per kWh versus $.50 cents to $.99 cents per kWh for diesel.
Archimede is the first solar power plant to use molten salts as a heat transfer fluid to store energy from the sun.
Location: Syracuse, Sicily.
On July 14, 2010, Italian utility Enel unveiled “Archimede,” the world’s first solar power plant to use molten salts as a heat transfer fluid. The system contains 30,000 square meters (320,000 square feet) of parabolic mirrors that concentrate solar rays onto 5,400 meters of high heat-resistant pipes that carry the fluid molten salt. The fluid is then collected in special tanks and used to produce steam, which eventually contributes to electricity generation.
The salts — a mixture of sodium and potassium nitrate — are an extremely efficient heat transfer mechanism. Unlike synthetic oils used in traditional concentrating solar plants, molten salt can work at much higher temperatures (up to 550°C instead of 390°C). The salts store enough energy to keep the plant generating power at night or on cloudy days, which is a common limitation of many renewable energy sources.
Chipworks, which compared the new hotness (am I right?) on the right to the first iPad’s A4 processor on left, has a pretty striking comparison on its hands:
The Apple A4, which by all accounts is still commercially viable given the price of used Apple products on craigslist, measured in at 53.3 mm². Only two (and a half?) generations later, we have the Apple A5X weighing in at 165 mm² – a whopping 310% larger.
It’s worth noting that the A5X is still built using a 45 nm fabrication process—which in human English refers to the size of the tiniest parts each chip is made out of. The smaller the number, the more transistors can be packed onto a processor, which generally translates into a more efficient, cooler chip. Apple didn’t make its CPU more sophisticated in order to crank out more retina display-filling power—it just made it humungous. [Chipworks via Cult of Mac]
Study: free apps drain 75 percent more power, badly built advertising to blame originally appeared on Engadget on Tue, 20 Mar 2012 12:59:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.
Folding: it’s detestable and boring, as any Gap employee can tell you. But it’s also a totally fun thing you can do in a video game! And today it’s particularly exciting because players of the online game Foldit have redesigned a protein, and their work is published in the science journal Nature Biotechnology.
It seems nobler than shooting people in the face, somehow. Granted, Foldit attracts a unique kind of gamer who enjoys obsessing over biological protein folding patterns. Proteins get their function from the way they are folded into coils like in the image above. When the amino acids in a protein interact, they create that coiled, three-dimensional structure. Scientists can manipulate the structure to make the protein more efficient. In Foldit, designs that create the most efficient proteins garner the highest scores.
University of Washington in Seattle scientists Zoran Popovic, director of the Center for Game Science, and biochemist David Baker developed Foldit (which is different from Folding@home, Stanford software that lets people donate their idle computer processing power to create a protein-folding supercomputer). By playing it, at-home gamers have redesigned a protein for the first time, and they did it better and faster than scientists who have trained their entire careers to build better proteins. Justin Siegel, a biophysicist in Baker’s group told Scientific American:
I worked for two years to make these enzymes better and I couldn’t do it. Foldit players were able to make a large jump in structural space and I still don’t fully understand how they did it.
Here’s how it works: Researchers send a series of puzzles to Foldit’s 240,000 registered users. The scientists sift through the results for the best designs and take those into the lab for real-life testing. They combed through 180,000 designs to get to the version of the protein published today. The paper details an enzyme that thanks to the crowdsourced redesign is 18-fold more active than the original version.
Now for the anticlimactic part: this particular enzyme doesn’t really have any practical uses. But the researchers say it’s a proof of concept, and future Foldit designs will be more useful. In fact, Baker has fed players a protein that blocks the flu virus that led to the 1918 pandemic—and their puzzle solving for this one could lead to an actual drug.
Dr. Augustine Fou is Digital Consigliere to marketing executives, advising them on digital strategy and Unified Marketing(tm). Dr Fou has over 17 years of in-the-trenches, hands-on experience, which enables him to provide objective, in-depth assessments of their current marketing programs and recommendations for improving business impact and ROI using digital insights.
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