Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Science Research Needs Continuity

What's That? (57) by jurvetson
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Science Research needs continuity that cannot be found through the use of a market forces model. How Algal Biofuels Lost a Decade in the Race to Replace Oil, an article by Alexis Madrigal sums up the setback in alternative source energy research which happened in the 1980's.

We may now be ready to set things right, if we continue to fund scientific research for alternative energy sources, such as algae.

Carefully read the story of how we, yes we, abandoned alternative sources of energy and played our fiddles while the oil burned up our economy.

Ooops! Now we bemoan the fact. On the positive side, one thing is different now, and that is the ability of people, including scientists, to get their message across without the help of traditional media. Journalists and their bosses failed miserably to report on these issues, so greedy people who only look out for themselves were able to bring us, as a nation, to our knees with the high price of energy and the destruction of our economy.
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How Algal Biofuels Lost a Decade in the Race to Replace Oil

For nearly 20 years, a government laboratory built a living, respiring library of carefully collected organisms in search of something that could grow quickly while producing something precious: oil.

But now that collection has largely been lost.

National Renewable Energy Laboratory scientists found and isolated around 3,000 species algae from construction ditches, seasonal desert ponds and briny mashes across the country in a major bioprospecting effort to find the best organisms to convert sunlight and carbon dioxide into fuel for cars.

Despite meager funding, the Aquatic Species Program (.pdf), initiated under President Jimmy Carter, laid the scientific foundation for making diesel-like fuel from the fat that microscopic algae accumulate in their cells. Fifty-one varieties were carefully characterized as potential high-value strains, but fewer than half of those remain.

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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Michigan Water Pollution

One of my students, Alex, focused on Michigan Water Pollution as he developed his Glog for our Environmental Life Science research.

This is an area of personal concern for this environmental science enthusiast. His evidence of focus on his topic makes this interactive poster quite useful. I would direct you to his inclusion of leftover medicines in the water systems which is an overlooked, yet extremely detrimental water contamination problem.

Teachers could share this Glog as an example for students or as a teaching tool. As always, I would recommend that you cite this blog in your work.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

As Earth Becomes Arrakis, It Won't Be Pretty!

Here is just a small sample of what other continents can see in their future as the glaciers melt and mountain snows never come to recharge the water systems. It's all a part of the natural progression caused by human interference that Earth will go through as it becomes Arrakis. Let's hope there are no worms.

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