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Thursday, August 26, 2004

hydrogen from sun

ot to be outdone by their british colleagues, researchers at virginia tech and the university of new south wales have decided to skip the flower part and make their hydrogen from sunlight.

the virginia tech group uses “supramolecular complexes” to do the deed – you can read more here. the catch here is that their supramolecular complexes are expensive. this work is with karen brewer.

the new south wales group opted for titanium oxide ceramics. you can read the press release (which is conveniently prominently linked from the university’s front page), or for a glossy version, check out the brochure [pdf]. leads here are charles sorrell and janusz nowotny.

posted by roj at 8:01 am  

Thursday, August 26, 2004

hydrogen from sunflower oil

for those of us interested in the potential of a hydrogen economy, it may be a good idea to stock up on sunflowers. university of leeds department of fuel and energy researchers have developed a fossil-fuel-free hydrogen production process based on a couple catalysts and water.

the paper, Production of Hydrogen from Sunflower Oil [pdf], was presented yesterday by dr. valerie dupont.

posted by roj at 7:43 am  

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

making circuits out of nothing

i’m a bit behind on my idle reading agenda, but a little piece published in the august 5 nature got my attention.

researchers from cornell, tohoku university and the university of tokyo figured out how to control the presence of oxygen in semiconducting materials with fancy lasers (no mention of fricken sharks). this could get interesting with the technique combined with the high-temperature perovskite superconductors.

of course, that’s going to mean an upgrade to my desktop machine’s cooling capability, but… i’m willing to go there.

posted by roj at 3:38 pm  

Saturday, August 21, 2004

ilc picks niobium

if you’re in the mood for some wild speculation, jump on the niobium futures… the international linear collider will go with niobium magnets instead of copper magnets.

Particle collider edges forward [bbs news, august 2o, 2004]

Making its announcement at the International Conference on High Energy Physics, the International Committee for Future Accelerators said the collider should employ niobium superconducting technology in the system it uses to accelerate particles.

if the laws of physics don’t change between now and then… and if the politicians stay on track and fund this thing… and if there isn’t a major technological breakthrough that makes room-temperature superconductors made out of recycled office paper… then this beast will need 30 kilometers of niobium superconducting magnets. go go gadget magnets!

want to horde some niobium? cia. brasileira de metalurgia e mineração [brazil], mineração catalão de goiás [brazil], niobec [canada], silmet [estonia].

for more on niobium, a handy report from the us government is here [pdf].

posted by roj at 5:19 am  

Saturday, August 21, 2004

glotell for meth fiends

in other drug news (not to be confused with inhaling alcohol), we have news about lesser methamphetamine through chemistry.

researchers at southern illinois university, carbondale cooked up some kid-safe, environment-safe and crop-safe stain to add to anhydrous ammonia as a theft-deterrent.

grainnet (of course there is) has the story of glotell, which you add to your anhydrous ammonia. and will be available starting september 1.

basically, anyone coming into contact with this stuff ends up flourescent pink for 24 to 72 hours. it also, apparently, makes your crystal meth pink, which is, presumably, not a desirable color to the average meth fiend. there are other advantages – it will show you where there are leaks in your tanks and such – but it’s mostly about making the agricultural chemical less interesting to illicit lab operations.

back in june there was some noise about some other anhydrous ammonia magic from iowa state university researchers, but that’s not this.

posted by roj at 4:52 am  

Friday, August 20, 2004

music makes you smarter

it’s official, at least officially released from the american psychological society, there’s a formal study [pdf] that suggests that kids that study music get smarter.

this, of course, means we can blame the cuts in arts programs (particularly music programs) in the schools for the all the recent stupid.

posted by roj at 4:32 am  

Thursday, July 29, 2004

secret squirrel screams

my neighborhood squirrels wave at me, but the bbc reports that they scream too.

The researchers believe the whispers might be “secret” alarm calls – that the squirrels’ predators cannot hear.

calling secret squirrel. come in secret squirrel.

the article also makes an important, if more general, observation:

Ultrasonic communication is probably far more prevalent in the animal world than we know because, simply, we cannot hear it.

so when i get my transhuman ear upgrades, i’m going to be driven mad by all the screaming animals. great.

posted by roj at 2:29 am  

Saturday, July 24, 2004

japan begins the clone wars

there’s hot news for all the cloners out there… move to japan.

Japan Science Council OKs Human Cloning [ap via abc news, july 24, 2004]

Japan’s top science council voted Friday to adopt policy recommendations that would permit the limited cloning of human embryos for scientific research, an official said.

The recommendations would let researchers use and produce cloned human embryos but only for basic research, said Tomohiko Arai, an official at the Cabinet’s Council for Science and Technology Policy.

this is big news for anyone who thought they had a career working on human problems that might be solved by cloning, but somewhere in the back of my head, i had a vague recollection of another story…..

ah! yep. there it is.

No sex please — we’re Japanese [usa today, june 2, 2004]

Nothing is happening with depressing regularity between Japanese men and women these days. Marriages, births and hanky-panky are all spiraling downward with troubling implications for the nation’s future: A sagging birthrate means that fewer working-age people will be around to support a growing population of elderly; a social crisis looms.

no worries. we’ll clone our way out of this problem.

and really, who better to tackle this problem than the japanese? they have a great track record on efficiency and mass production (and a lot fewer bibles-per-capita).

posted by roj at 6:09 am  

Friday, July 23, 2004

albino blue crab iso swf

just another freaky thing in the local waters….

“I’ve seen some crabs split down the middle with color on one side but none completely white,” Ingledue told The (Easton) Star Democrat.

The crab measured almost seven inches across its back. The shell was translucent enough to watch the water and air sloshing in its gills when it was out of the water.

the star democrat is online, but it’s also registration-blocked, so we’ll mention them, but that’s about it.

the crab will be given to the university of maryland biotechnology institute, so watch there for news on the freak beastie from the bay. they want to breed him, so if you know of any single white females, give them a call….

posted by roj at 8:08 pm  

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

cinnamon vs. mosquitos

published in the journal of agricultural and food chemistry, crazy scientists are mixing food with their mosquito larvae.

Results of larvicidal tests demonstrated that the leaf essential oils of cinnamaldehyde type and cinnamaldehyde/cinnamyl acetate type had an excellent inhibitory effect against the fourth-instar larvae of Aedes aegypti

we draw your attention to this little bit of science, because it’s in roughly the same vein as these guys that found a cheap approach to their problem too.

the next step is to get the “mosquito repellant” study done, and then we can all start using cinnamon sprays instead of freaky chemicals to save us from west nile. will we all smell like cinnamon in a few years?

posted by roj at 2:36 am  
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