Data Furnaces: Free Heating, for Those with Fiber Internet
Posted on May 29, 2015 Comments (0)
Data furnaces have arrived in the Netherlands offering free heating for those with fiber internet connections. Those running data centers spend a lot of money cooling them off or thinking of ways to keep cooling costs down Google Uses Only Outside Air to Cool Data Center in Belgium (weather should provide free cooling for all but about 7 days a year).
Nerdalize is offering an interesting engineering solution to this issue. Even better than eliminating cooling costs this idea will use the excess heat to warm people’s houses.
This structural cost advantage allows us to offer computing power that is up to 55% more affordable than major cloud-providers or co-location solutions whilst giving incredible performance.
The Nerdalize heater contains high-performance servers in the form of a radiator and allows for them to be placed in your home safely and secure. As Nerdalize covers the cost of electricity, the heat generated by computations, such as medical research, heat your home for free.
The installation of a server heater, the Eneco eRadiator, in the living rooms of five families at different locations in the Netherlands this month starts a field test of the units. The purpose of the test is to collect information on customer experience and to identify possible areas of improvement of the eRadiator.
Sign up on their website if you want free heating (Netherlands is likely the best bet but they may expand around Europe also, or even further).
Intel International Science and Engineering Fair 2015
Posted on May 19, 2015 Comments (0)
Raymond Wang, 17, of Canada was awarded first place for engineering a new air inlet system for airplane cabins to improve air quality and curb disease transmission at this year’s Intel International Science and Engineering Fair.
Wang’s system improves the availability of fresh air in the cabin by more than 190% while reducing pathogen inhalation concentrations by up to 55 times compared to conventional designs, and can be easily and economically incorporated in existing airplanes. Wang received the Gordon E. Moore Award of US$75,000. The system uses vents to create a “bubble” around passengers that deflects incoming air.
Nicole Ticea, 16, of Canada received one of two Intel Foundation Young Scientist Awards of US$50,000 for developing an inexpensive, easy-to-use testing device to combat the high rate of undiagnosed HIV infection in low-income communities. Her disposable, electricity-free device provides results in an hour and should cost less than US$5 to produce. Ticea has already founded her own company, which recently received a US$100,000 grant to continue developing her technology.
Karan Jerath, 18, of Friendswood, Texas, received the other Intel Foundation Young Scientist Award of US$50,000 for refining and testing a novel device that should allow an undersea oil well to rapidly and safely recover following a blowout. Jerath developed a better containment enclosure that separates the natural gas, oil and ocean water; accommodates different water depths, pipe sizes and fluid compositions; and can prevent the formation of potentially clogging methane hydrate.
This year’s Intel International Science and Engineering Fair featured approximately 1,700 young scientists selected from 422 affiliate fairs in more than 75 countries, regions and territories.
Related: Intel Science Talent Search 2012 Awardees – Great Projects From First Google Science Fair Finalists (2011) – 2008 Intel Science Talent Search – High School Student Creates: Test That is Much More Accurate and 26,000 Times Cheaper Than Existing Pancreatic Cancer Tests
Car Powered by Compressed Air
Posted on May 12, 2015 Comments (0)
I wrote about cars powered by compressed air back in 2008. Turning such innovative prototypes into products of sustainable businesses is quite difficult.
This new attempt to produce cars powered by compressed air has an innovative design with a joystick instead of a drivers wheel. The AirPod is being developed in France. Compressed air has been used to power trams in France since the 19th century.
The AirPod has a range of 150 to 200 km and a top speed for 80 km per hour. The cost will be about US$10,000.
They claim the cost per mile is about 1/3rd of that for electric vehicles. It is nice that we have engineers around the globe continually working on new uses of technology to provide us better options for living.
I hope such cars can be a success. It does seem to me electric cars seem the more likely large scale success but it is good to have people seeking out innovative solutions.
Related: Compressed Air Powered Car Webcast (2008) – Self Driving Cars Have Huge Potential for Benefit to Society – Engineers Save a Life, With Safe Car Design – Toyota Scion iQ (2011) – Car Style Mass Transit Mag Lev System (2009)
Images of 200 Calorie Portions of Various Foods
Posted on May 2, 2015 Comments (1)
Wisegeek has photographed what 200 calories of various foods looks like. A small sample is shown here:
Some of the other 200 calorie portions they show are 1425 grams of celery, 588 grams of broccoli, 385 grams of apples, 333 ml of whole milk, 290 grams of grapes, 204 grams of sliced smoked turkey, 150 grams of eggs, 72 grams of a blueberry muffin, 53 grams of brown sugar and 52 grams of a donut or pretzel.
Related: A Healthy Lifestyle is More About Health Care than the Sickness Management That We Call Health Care Is – Healthy Diet, Healthy Living, Healthy Weight – Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants. – Better Health Through: Exercise, Not Smoking, Low Weight, Healthy Diet and Low Alcohol Intake – Obesity Epidemic Explained – Kind Of (1970 – Americans ate an average of 2170 calories per day 2000 – Americans ate an average of 2700 calories per day) – Examining the Scientific Basis Around Exercise and Diet Claims
Chimpanzees Use Spears to Hunt Bush Babies
Posted on April 25, 2015 Comments (0)
Savanna Chimpanzees, Pan troglodytes verus, Hunt with Tools by Jill D. Pruetz and Paco Bertolani
Tool construction entailed up to five steps, including trimming the tool tip to a point. Tools were used in the manner of a spear, rather than a probe or rousing tool. This new information on chimpanzee tool use has important implications for the evolution of tool use and construction for hunting in the earliest hominids, especially given our observations that females and immature chimpanzees exhibited this behavior more frequently than adult males.
The full paper, from 2007, was available as a pdf when I visited (I don’t really trust these publishers and what articles by professors they will block access to later when they don’t clearly say it is open access – in fact the journal broke the link on the post I made about this in 2007 now that I checked – sigh).
The full paper isn’t filled with overly complex scientific jargon (as scientific papers can be). In that sense it is an easy read; it is a bit graphic for those that are squeamish.
Dr. Jill Pruetz maintains an interesting blog the Chimpanzees she studies: Fongoli Savanna Chimpanzee Project
Related: Chimps Used Stones as Hammers – Orangutan Attempts to Hunt Fish with Spear – Bird Using Bread as Bait to Catch Fish – Crows can Perform as Well as 7 to 10-year-olds on cause-and-effect Water Displacement Tasks
Scientific Inquiry Leads to Using Fluoride for Healthy Teeth
Posted on April 18, 2015 Comments (0)
This webcast, from the wonderful SciShow, explores how we discovered fluoride helps prevent tooth decay and how we then used that knowledge and finally discovered why it worked.
I love stories of how we learn for observing what is happening. We don’t always need to innovate by thinking up creative new ideas. If we are observant we can pick up anomalies and then examine the situation to find possible explanations and then experiment to see if those explanations prove true.
When working this way we often are seeing correlation and then trying to figure out which part of the correlation is an actual cause. So in this dental example, a dentist noticed his patients had bad brown stains on their teeth than others populations did.
After investigation the natural fluoridation of the water in Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA seemed like it might be an explanation (though they didn’t understand the chemistry that would cause that result). They also explored the sense that the discolored teeth were resistant to decay.
Even without knowing why it is possible to test if the conditions are the cause. Scientists discovered by reducing the level of fluoridation in the water the ugly brown stains could be eliminated (these stains took a long time to develop and didn’t develop in adults). Eventually scientists ran an experiment in Grand Rapids, Michigan and found fluoridation of the water achieved amazing results for dental health. The practice of fluoridation was then adopted widely and resulted in greatly improved dental health.
In 1901, Frederick McKay, a recent dental school graduate, opened a dental practice in Colorado Springs, Colorado. He was interested in what he saw and sought out other dentists to explore the situation with him but had little success. In 1909, he found some success when renowned dental researcher Dr. G.V. Black collaborate with him.
Dr. H. Trendley Dean, head of the Dental Hygiene Unit at the National Institute of Health built on their work when he began investigating the epidemiology of fluorosis in 1931. It wasn’t until 1945 that the Grand Rapids test started. Science can take a long time to move forward.
Only later did scientists unravel why this worked. The fluoride reacts to create a stronger enamel than if the fluoride is not present. Which results in the enamal being less easily dissolved by bacteria.
Health tip: use a dental stimudent (dental picks) or floss your teeth to maintain healthy gums and prevent tooth decay. It makes a big difference.
Related: Why does orange juice taste so bad after brushing your teeth? – Microbiologist Develops Mouthwash That Targets Only Harmful Cavity Causing Bacteria – Using Nanocomposites to Improve Dental Filling Performance – Finding a Dentist in Chiang Mai, Thailand – False Teeth For Cats – Why Does Hair Turn Grey as We Age?
MudWatt: Make Power From Mud!
Posted on April 11, 2015 Comments (0)
Keegan Cooke and Kevin Rand created MudWatt kits as a way to engage kids/students with science. From the website:
Unfortunately, our experience in school wasn’t unique. In 2011, less than one-third of 8th graders in the U.S. were deemed proficient in science. Today, 70% of the fastest growing careers are in STEM fields. The supply of STEM education is not meeting the demand.
Most of the world’s mud contain microbes that produce electricity when they eat. That is the engine driving the MudWatt. Colonies of special bacteria (called shewanella and geobacter) generate the electricity in a MudWatt.
The electricity output is proportional to the health and activity of that bacterial colony. By maintaining these colonies in different ways, you can use MudWatt to run all kinds of great experiments. Thus the MudWatt allows kids to engage with science, using their natural curiosity to experiment and learn. Engaging this too-often-neglected human potential will bring joy to those kids (as kids and as grown-ups) and benefit our society.
With standard topsoils, typical power levels are around 100 microWatts, which is enough to power the LED, buzzer, clock, etc..
We Have Thousands of Viruses In Us All the Time
Posted on April 4, 2015 Comments (0)
Biology and the amazing interactions within a human body are amazing. Our bodies are teeming with other life (and almost life – viruses). All these microbes have a drastic impact on our health and those impacts are not always bad.
But every once in a while, one of these viral inhabitants might help us out.
Young people infected with a type of herpes virus have a better immune response to the flu vaccine than those not infected, scientists at Stanford University report Wednesday. In mice, the virus directly stops influenza itself.
We’re talking about a ubiquitous critter, called cytomegalovirus. About half of all Americans carry it. And so do nearly 100 percent of people in developing countries.
In younger people, CMV had the opposite effect that Davis had predicted: “The virus ramped up the immune system to give better protection from pathogens,” Mark Davis says. “We tested only for the flu, but I speculate it protects against everything.”
So should we all go out and get infected with CMV? No way! Davis exclaims.
You see, CMV has a dark side. It can become dangerous if the immune system is suppressed, which happens after an organ transplant or during treatments for autoimmune disorders. CMV is also a concern for pregnant woman. It’s the top viral cause of birth defects worldwide.
The human microbiome is incredible and teams with thousands of species (bacteria, viruses, members of domain Archaea, yeasts, single-celled eukaryotes, helminth parasites and bacteriophages). The complexity of interactions between all the elements of what is in our bodies and cells is one of the things that makes health care so challenging. It is also fascinating how these interactions provide benefits and costs as they work within our bodies.
The fact that we have evolved in concert with all these interactions is one of the big problems with anti-biotics. Antibiotics are miraculous when they work, but they can also decimate our natural micro-biomes which does create risks.
I would have thought Stanford wasn’t still supporting closed science Sadly this research is not published in an open science manner.
Related: Foreign Cells Outnumber Human Cells in Our Bodies – Microbes Flourish In Healthy People – Tracking the Ecosystem Within Us – People Have More Bacterial Cells than Human Cells – Cats Control Rats With Parasites – Skin Bacteria
Camera Trap Images of Very Rare Wild Cats
Posted on March 28, 2015 Comments (2)
This video show some wonderful images from remote cameras equipped to film when an animal is spotted. These camera have aided scientists in understanding wildlife in their natural environment and also by providing us cool images.
Yacouba Sawadogo – The Man Who Stopped the Desert
Posted on March 8, 2015 Comments (1)
Quote from the video
Dr. Chris Reij, Vrije University of Amsterdam.
As is normally the case making improvements in the real world is challenging and visionaries often face setbacks. Even when they have success that success is threatened by those that want to take the rewards but ignore the lessons. The clip above is a excerpt from the documentary film on his efforts.
Over-farming, over-grazing and over population have, over the years, resulted in heavy soil erosion and drying in this landlocked West African nation.
Zai is a very simple and low-cost farming technique. Using a shovel or an axe, small holes are dug into the hard ground and filled with compost. Seeds of trees, millet or sorghum are planted in the compost. The holes catch water during the rainy season, so they are able to retain moisture and nutrients during the dry season.
According to the rules of Zai, Yacouba would prepare the lands in the dry season – exactly the opposite of the local practice. Other farmers and land chiefs laughed at him, but soon realized that he is a genius. In just 20 years, he converted a completely barren area into a thriving 30-acre forest with over 60 species of trees.
Yacouba has chosen not to keep his secrets to himself. Instead, he hosts a workshop at his farm, teaching visitors and bringing people together in a spirit of friendship. “I want the training program to be the starting point for many fruitful exchanges across the region
2014 Ranking of the World’s Best Research Universities
Posted on February 28, 2015 Comments (0)
Shanghai’s Jiao Tong University produces an annual ranking of research universities. The methodology values publications and faculty awards (Nobel and Fields) which belies the focus on ranking research not for example the quality of education provided.
You could argue one measure does partially address teaching as the Nobel and Fields prizes to alumni are created to the institution (that is separate from a measure of faculty that receive those honors). I would agree it partially measure the education though it also measures the ability of that school to attract the absolute best candidates (whether they would have been just as successful going elsewhere is a fair question).
Results from the 2014 rankings of top 500 universities with the number of schools by country:
|location||Top 100||% of World
|% of World GDP||% of top 500|
The top countries for top 100 and top 500 schools are listed above, but I skip over many after the top 7 or 8 to include a few countries I like to watch, see the ranking site for the full list. Country population and GDP data were taken from the World Development Indicators 2013, by the World Bank.
There is little change in top 100 since 2008, which I think is a good sign, it wouldn’t make much sense to have radical shifts quickly in this type of ranking. The USA lost 2 schools in the top 100, UK lost 3, Germany lost 2, Switzerland gained 2, Netherlands gain 2…
There is more change in the top 500 where changes are more sensible (there is probably not much separating schools ranked in the 300’s from those in the 500’s so variation and strong pushes (from countries like China) can have an impact. China gained 14 more schools in the top 500. China’s GDP also increased from 6.6% of global GDP to 11.7%.