How Wolves Changed the Yellowstone Ecosystem
Posted on February 22, 2014 Comments (0)
A great short video explaining the dramatic changes to the Yellowstone ecosystem with the re-introduction of wolves. Even the rivers changed.
Related: Light-harvesting Bacterium Discovered in Yellowstone – Fishless Future – The Sea Otter story – Yellowstone Youth Conservation Corps – Polar Bears Playing with Huskies – Curious Cat travel photos of Yellowstone National Park
Do It Yourself Solar Furnace for Home Heating
Posted on February 15, 2014 Comments (5)
“Just mount it on the side. If you touch the side of the house, even at —20 C, it’s still hot. We should be gathering that heat and driving it inside as quickly as possible.”
It is great to see do it yourself solutions that easily tap the energy provided by the sun to heat your house.
I had a friend that had a south facing greenhouse (attached to her house) that had 2 huge water tanks. They would heat up in the sun and give off heat all night (the stone floor would do the same thing).
Related: Brian’s Pop Can Solar Heater – Solar DIY Space Heating Projects – How to Build a Soda Can Heater – Pay as You Go Solar in India – Soda-can furnaces powered by solar energy heat Denver neighborhood – Green Building with Tire Bales – Cost Efficient Solar Dish by Students (2008)
Why Don’t All Ant Species Replace Queens in the Colony, Since Some Do
Posted on February 8, 2014 Comments (1)
My response to: There are other species of ants that do replace the queen, so why did some species not do this?
Basically the method they evolved copes well with losing the queen. Out of various ways of dealing with having a dominant Queen some may lead to replacement if she dies.
There are lots of examples of method is very effective at creating lots of successful offspring but happens to be less than ideal in some situations. Natural selection is pretty amazing and awesome at creating effective genes but we certainly can look at the results sometimes and see improvements that would be useful.
Likely if losing the queen was very common a good way of dealing with that would be found (or that species would be disadvantaged and at risk). If the queen happens to evolve to being very reliable coping with her death becomes less important. If they produce lots of useful offspring but have a less than ideal method of coping with their home colony losing her it is entirely sensible to imagine that species could flourish.
I would imagine species with queens that had shorter lifespans, that invested more in the home colony, that were less effective at setting up new colonies… would be more likely to have better queen replacement strategies/results.
Pedal Powered Washing Machine
Posted on February 4, 2014 Comments (7)
It is very easy to forget billions of people alive today do not have access to electricity, clean water and things like washing machines at home. As I have said before I love appropriate technology. Even more than that I love to see successful deployments of appropriate technology that make people’s lives better.
It is also great to see kids with the perseverance to make these products to meet needs they see around them. We need to do what we can to encourage these types of kids. They are the future engineers and entrepreneurs that will make lives better for the rest of society.
Remya Jose, a 14 year school girl from Kerala, India created this wonderful machine. Another version of it, has the normal bike pedals (closer together, instead of spread out, on opposite sides of the machine, like in the video).
As far as I can tell the original video was from 2008 (and Remya created the machine in 2005). I haven’t been able to find the current status of the product, this is the best I could find (from 2008). Turning these innovations into products that succeed commercially is very hard.
If I had control of a national development program (or if I just become super rich and have millions to devote to making the world better, I think an effort like this would be something I would try) I would put working with these kids to make the products work very high on my list of priorities. The learning process and creation of engineers and entrepreneurs would be extremely valuable on top of any success the products had.
Related: Appropriate Technology: Washing Clothes by Machine Instead by Hand – Washing Machine Uses 90% Less Water – Engineering a Better World: Bike Corn-Sheller – another bicycle washing machine – Automatic Dog Washing Machine