Posts about Europe

Global Installed Wind Power Now Over 1.5% of Global Electricity Demand

graph of global installed wind power capacityChart showing global installed wind energy capacity by Curious Cat Science and Engineering Blog, Creative Commons Attribution. Data from World Wind Energy Association, for installed Mega Watts of global wind power capacity.


Globally 27,339 MW of capacity were added in 2008, bringing the total to 121,188 MW, a 29% increase. The graph shows the top 10 producers (with the exceptions of Denmark and Portugal) and includes Japan (which is 13th).

In 2007, Europe had for 61% of installed capacity and the USA 18%. At the end of 2008 Europe had 55% of installed capacity, North America 23%, Asia 20%, Australia 1.5%, Latin America .6% and Africa .5%. Country shares of global capacity at the end of 2008: USA 21%, Germany 20%, Spain 14%, China 10%, India 8% (those 5 countries account for 73% of global capacity).

USA capacity grew 50% in 2008, moving it into the global lead for the first time in a decade. China grew 107%, the 3rd year in a row it more than doubled capacity.

Related: Wind Power Provided Over 1% of Global Electricity in 2007USA Wind Power Installed Capacity 1981 to 2005Wind Power has the Potential to Produce 20% of Electricity by 2030Top 12 Manufacturing Countries in 2007

European Eels in Crisis After 95% Decline in Last 25 years

Eels in crisis after 95% decline in last 25 years

But the action the Environment Agency is about to take is upsetting those who rely on the eel for their livelihoods. A ban on exporting eels out of Europe – they are a popular dish in the far east – is proposed, along with a plan to severely limit the fishing season and the number of people who will be allowed licences.

It seems pretty obvious we have over-fished the oceans. Without effective regulation we will destroy the future of both the wildlife and our food source.

Related: Fishless FutureSouth Pacific to Stop Bottom-trawlingNorth American Fish ThreatenedChinook Salmon Vanish Without a Trace

The eel remains one of the world’s most mysterious creatures. It is generally accepted that European eels – Anguilla anguilla – are born in the Sargasso Sea near Bermuda.

As leaf-like larvae, they are swept by the Gulf Stream towards Europe, a journey that may take a year. When the larvae reach the continental shelf they change into “glass eels” and in the spring begin to move through estuaries and into freshwater.

The animals develop pigmentation, at which point they are known as elvers and are similar in shape to the adult eel. Elvers continue to move upstream and again change colour to become brown or yellow eels.

When the fish reach full maturity – some can live to 40 and grow to 1m long – they migrate back to the ocean. Females are reported to carry as many as 10m eggs. They return to the Sargasso Sea, spawn and die.

Study Finds Obesity as Teen as Deadly as Smoking

A Swedish study has found obesity is as deadly (increasing adult mortality) as smoking for teens. Combined effects of overweight and smoking in late adolescence on subsequent mortality: nationwide cohort study

Regardless of smoking status, overweight and obesity in late adolescence increases the risk of adult mortality. Obesity and overweight were as hazardous as heavy and light smoking, respectively, but there was no interaction between BMI and smoking status. The global obesity epidemic and smoking among adolescents remain important targets for intensified public health initiatives.

Obesity Just as Risky for Teens as Heavy Smoking

Dr. Martin Neovius of the Karolinska Institute and colleagues analyzed data from more than 45,000 18-year-olds who underwent military conscription tests in which their body mass index (BMI) and smoking status were recorded. The men were followed for an average of 38 years.

During the follow-up period, 2,897 of the men died. The incidence of death was highest among obese men and lowest among those of normal weight. Compared with those who had a normal weight at age 18, those who had been overweight were about a third more likely to die early, whereas those who were obese were more than twice as likely to die prematurely.

Related: Global Cancer Deaths to Double by 2030Obesity Epidemic Partially Explained$500 Million to Reduce Childhood Obesity in USAActive Amish Avoid Obesity

Broken Window Theory Bolstered with Experiments

The broken window theory is that as the visible deterioration of an area (broken windows, graffiti, lettering…) takes place, crime will increase. And that this starts a cycle of decline for the area feeds upon itself (a negatively reinforcing loop in system thinking parlance). The theory was put forth in an article in The Atlantic in 1982 by George L. Kelling and James Q. Wilson.

Criminology Can the can, The Economist

Kees Keizer and his colleagues at the University of Groningen deliberately created such settings as a part of a series of experiments designed to discover if signs of vandalism, litter and low-level lawbreaking could change the way people behave.

The most dramatic result, though, was the one that showed a doubling in the number of people who were prepared to steal in a condition of disorder. In this case an envelope with a €5 ($6) note inside (and the note clearly visible through the address window) was left sticking out of a post box. In a condition of order, 13% of those passing took the envelope (instead of leaving it or pushing it into the box). But if the post box was covered in graffiti, 27% did. Even if the post box had no graffiti on it, but the area around it was littered with paper, orange peel, cigarette butts and empty cans, 25% still took the envelope.

The researchers’ conclusion is that one example of disorder, like graffiti or littering, can indeed encourage another, like stealing. Dr Kelling was right. The message for policymakers and police officers is that clearing up graffiti or littering promptly could help fight the spread of crime.

Related: A Crack in the Broken-Windows TheoryBroken Windows Turns 25Reconsidering the ‘Broken Windows’ TheoryCredit Freeze Stops Identity Theft Cold

Genes Counter a Bacterial Attack

Gene against bacterial attack unravelled

Humans have an innate defence system against deadly bacteria. However, how the step from gene to anti-bacterial effect occurs in the body is not yet known. To date, B. Pseudomallei, a bacterium suitable for bioweapons, had managed to elude medics. It can remain hidden in the human body for many years without being detected by the immune system. The bacteria can suddenly become activated and spread throughout the body, resulting in the patient dying from blood poisoning. AMC physician Joost Wiersinga and the Laboratory for Experimental Internal Medicine discovered which gene-protein combination renders the lethal bacteria B. pseudomallei harmless.

Wiersinga focussed on the so-called Toll-like receptors. These are the proteins that initiate the fight against pathogens. There are currently ten known Toll-like receptors which are located on the outside of immune cells, our body’s defence system. The toll-like receptors jointly function as a 10-figure alarm code. Upon coming into contact with the immune cell each bacterium enters its own Toll code. For known pathogens this sets off an alarm in the immune system and the defence mechanism is activated. Yet B. pseudomallei fools the system by entering the code of a harmless bacterium. As a result the body’s defence system remains on standby.

Yet some people are resistant: they become infected but not ill. Wiersinga found a genetic cause for this resistance. He discovered which toll receptor can fend off B. pseudomallei. He did this by rearing mice DNA in which the gene for Toll2 production was switched on and off. ‘The group where the gene for Toll2 was switched off, survived the bacterial infection’, says Wiersinga. ‘The other receptor that we investigated, Toll4, had no effect – even though for the past ten years medics had regarded this as the most important receptor.’ The ultimate aim of this study is to develop a vaccine.

PLoS paper: MyD88 Dependent Signaling Contributes to Protective Host Defense against Burkholderia pseudomallei

Related: Bacteria Can Transfer Genes to Other BacteriaDisrupting the Replication of BacteriaAmazing Designs of Lifeposts on medical research

Huge Tomb Uncovered in Rome

‘Gladiator’ tomb is found in Rome

The tomb of a general thought to have been an inspiration for the main character in the Oscar-winning film Gladiator has been unearthed in Rome.

The tomb was discovered along the northbound Via Flaminia where construction work has been taking place. Many marble columns, inscriptions and decorations have been beautifully preserved thanks to the mud caused by a centuries-old flood of the River Tiber. It is “the most important ancient Roman monument to come to light for 20 or 30 years”, said senior archaeologist Daniela Rossi.

Workers renovating a rugby stadium have uncovered a vast complex of tombs that mimic the houses, blocks and streets of a real city… Meanwhile, archaeologists restoring imperial residences in the heart of ancient Rome are also reported to have found what they believe to be the underground passageway where the Emperor Caligula was murdered by his guards…

Related: Ancient Greek Technology 1,000 Years EarlyLaser Tool Creates ‘blueprints’ of Archeology SitesPrayer Book Reveals Lost Archimedes Work Studying Ideas at Heart of Calculus

59 MPG Toyota iQ Diesel Available in Europe

image of seating in the toyota iQ

59 MPG Toyota iQ On Sale In Europe, US Plans Unclear

With lower carbon dioxide emissions than the Prius — around 159 grams of CO2 emitted per mile by the 1.0 liter gas engine and 166 g/mile for the diesel version — not only does the iQ deliver on fuel economy, but its straight-up conventional engine is a pollution winner too.

At just about 9.8 feet long, 5.5 feet wide and 4.9 feet tall, Toyota certainly has pulled of a near engineering miracle with the amount of stuff they’ve crammed into this tiny vehicle. Toyota claims the iQ can fit 3 adults and 1 child “comfortably.”

Toyota expects to sell about 80,000 of them a year in Europe.

I own some Toyota stock (and bought a bit more recently) based on their excellent management and production system and the results they have achieved (so I pay attention to what they are doing – plus I own them because they do things I see as wise so it is a self reinforcing dynamic). Business week recently wrote about Ford’s 65 mpg Diesel Car the U.S. Can’t Have.

I owned Ford stock back when they were adopting Deming based management principles but when they dropped those to pursue short sighted goals and poor management practices I sold and bought Toyota (turned out to be a very wise decision – my mistake was holding Ford too long hoping they would realize their mistake).

Related: Toyota Engineering Development ProcessToyota Cultivating Engineering TalentToyota Winglet, Personal TransportationToyota iUnitToyota iQ media kit (lots of details)

Wind Power Provided Over 1% of Global Electricity in 2007

graph of global installed wind power capacity

Data from World Wind Energy Association, for installed Mega Watts of global wind power capacity in 2007. 19,696 MW of capacity were added in 2007, bringing the total to 93,849 MW. Europe accounts for 61% of installed capacity, Germany accounts for 24% and the USA 18%.

The graph shows the top 10 producers (with the exceptions of Denmark and Portugal) and includes Japan (which is 13th).

Related: USA Wind Power Installed Capacity 1981 to 2005Wind Power has the Potential to Produce 20% of Electricity by 2030Top 12 Manufacturing Countries in 2007Sails for Modern Cargo ShipsMIT’s Energy ‘Manhattan Project’

Incident in LHC Sector 34

Incident in LHC sector 34

During commissioning (without beam) of the final LHC sector (sector 34) at high current for operation at 5 TeV, an incident occurred at mid-day on Friday 19 September resulting in a large helium leak into the tunnel. Preliminary investigations indicate that the most likely cause of the problem was a faulty electrical connection between two magnets, which probably melted at high current leading to mechanical failure. CERN ’s strict safety regulations ensured that at no time was there any risk to people.

A full investigation is underway, but it is already clear that the sector will have to be warmed up for repairs to take place. This implies a minimum of two months down time for LHC operation. For the same fault, not uncommon in a normally conducting machine, the repair time would be a matter of days.

Related: CERN Pressure Test FailureAt the Heart of All MatterNew Yorker on CERN’s Large Hadron ColliderWhat Makes Scientists Different 🙂

Symptom of America’s Decline in Particle Physics

Land Of Big Science

Probing more deeply than ever before into the stuff of the universe requires some big hardware. It also requires the political will to lavish money on a project that has no predictable practical return, other than prestige and leadership in the branch of science that delivered just about every major technology of the past hundred years.

Those advances came, in large measure, from the United States. The coming decades may be different.

A third of the scientists working at the LHC hail from outside the 20 states that control CERN. America has contributed 1,000 or so researchers, the largest single contingent from any non-CERN nation.

The U.S. contribution amounts to $500 million—barely 5 percent of the bill. The big bucks have come from the Europeans. Germany is picking up 20 percent of the tab, the British are contributing 17 percent, and the French are giving 14 percent.

The most worrying prospect is that scientists from other countries, who used to flock to the United States to be where the action is, are now heading to Europe instead.

This is a point I have made before. The economic benefits of investing in science are real. The economic benefits of having science and engineering centers of excellence in your country are real. That doesn’t mean you automatically gain economic benefit but it is a huge advantage and opportunity if you act intelligently to make it pay off.

Related: Invest in Science for a Strong EconomyDiplomacy and Science ResearchAsia: Rising Stars of Science and EngineeringBrain Drain Benefits to the USA Less Than They Could Beposts on funding science explorationposts on basic researchAt the Heart of All Matter

Best Research University Rankings – 2008

The annual ranking of research Universities are available from Shanghai’s Jiao Tong University. The methodology values publications and faculty awards which provides a better ranking of research (rather than teaching). Results from the 2008 rankings of Top 500 Universities worldwide, country representation of the top schools:

location Top 100 % of World
% of World GDP % of top 500
USA 54     4.6%   27.2%  31.6%
United Kingdom 11  0.9  4.9 8.3
Germany   6  1.3  6.0 8.0
Japan   4  2.0  9.0 6.2
Canada   4  0.5  2.6 4.2
Sweden   4  0.1  0.8 2.2
France   3  0.8  4.6 4.6
Switzerland   3  0.1  0.8 1.6
Australia   3  0.3  1.6 3.0
Netherlands   2  0.2  1.4 2.4
Denmark   2  0.1  0.6 0.8
Finland   1  0.1  0.4 1.2
Norway   1  0.1  0.7 0.8
Israel   1  0.1  0.3 1.2
Russia   1  2.2  2.0 0.4
China  20.5  6.6 6.0
India  17.0  1.9 0.4

There is little change in most of the data from last year, which I think is a good sign, it wouldn’t make much sense to have radical shifts over a year in these rankings. Japan lost 2 schools in the top 100, France lost 1. Denmark (Aarhus University) and Australia (University of Sydney) gained 1. Last year there was a tie so there were 101 schools in the top 100.

The most dramatic data I noticed is China’s number of top 500 schools went from 14 to 30, which made me a bit skeptical of what caused that quick change. Looking more closely last year they reported the China top 500 totals as (China 14, China-Taiwan 6 and China-Hong Kong 5). That still gives them an impressive gain of 5 schools.

Singapore has 1 in the 102-151 range. Taiwan has 1 ranked in the 152-200 range, as do Mexico, Korea and Brazil. China has 9 in the 201-302 range (including 3 in Hong Kong). India has 2 in the 303-401 range.

University of Wisconsin – Madison is 17th again 🙂 My father taught there while I grew up.
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