Monday, November 21, 2016

Seaweed Found to Reduce Cow Methane
For those of us concerned about global warming, it's a fact that around 20 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions globally are due to methane released from cattle and other ruminant animals. 

Scientist in Canada have now discovered a particular seaweed that when fed to cattle reduces methane to nearly zero in their burps and their other, smelly and noxious, gaseous emissions. In the U.S. alone there are some 40 million cows, and all of them are contributing methane to our breathable air. 

Joe Dorgan, a farmer in Seacow Pond, Canada, began feeding his cattle seaweed he carried from the beaches nearby as a way to cut costs. He was so impressed with the lack of odors coming from his herd that he decided to turn the seaweed into a retail product.

Scientists from Dalhousie University tested Dorgan's seaweed mix and found it reduced the methane in the cows' emissions by about 20 per cent. They tried 30 to 40 other seaweeds and discovered that a red seaweed named Asparagopsis taxiformis reduces methane emissions in cows to almost nothing.

According to Rob Kinley, the lead scientist, "Agriculture stands to be one of the first to make major changes in the greenhouse gas inventory and so it's really a game changer if we can get this out into the market."

Kinley says it could take around three to five years to get commercial animal feed made from the seaweed to market. "Agriculture stands to be one of the first to make major changes in the greenhouse gas inventory and so it's really a game changer if we can get this out into the market. We're talking numbers equivalent to hundreds of millions of cars."

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Friday, August 19, 2016

New Flying Butt Takes Flight!

Yes, you are probably reading it first here ... the new Airlander 10, billed as the world's largest aircraft, has officially taken flight on its maiden voyage in Jolly Old England. The huge craft completed its first test flight taking off from the Cardington Airfield in the English countryside of Bedfordshire and stayed in the air to the amazement and probably joking public for around 20 minutes Wednesday.

               (A less graphic image): 

Nicknamed by many as the "Flying Bum", the helium-filled craft developed by Hybrid Air Vehicles (HAV), of Shortstown, Bedford is 302 feet long by 142 feet wide and supposedly can reach an altitude of up to 16,000 feet. It will normally stay airborne from about five days to two weeks depending on the assignment ... (sorry!).

The craft was originally designed to be used by the US government for surveillance but there were budget cutbacks and those plans were scrapped. So, HAV decided to turn it into a commercial aircraft. The gigantic butt ... er aircraft ... can take off and land from many different surfaces including water, sand or ice. It's powered by four 325 horsepower diesel V8 engines that operate independently and has a top speed of about 91 miles per hour. The payload capacity is stated as being up to 11 tons.

HAV says the Airlander is designed to carry heavier loads than most other aircraft and use less fuel in the process. The ship, or perhaps even larger versions of it, (bigger butts?) may begin transporting passengers and cargo around 2020. One report questioned whether whether its butt-like appearance will be changed or become any less hilarious by then.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Olympic Waters Still Full of Raw Sewage

Just days before the Olympic Games are scheduled to begin in Rio de Janeiro, apparently the waters there are just as filthy as ever. Raw human sewage, dangerous viruses and bacteria, trash and God knows what else is swimming around everywhere, according to a new AP study.

Nearly 90 percent of the test sites tested positive for infectious cultures which, according to biomedical expert Valerie Harwood from the University of South Florida, is "unheard of" in surface waters in the US. "You would never, ever see these levels because we treat our waste water. You just would not see this."

The Australians are complaining too. And not just about the water. Ceilings in their rooms are falling in, exposed wires and needing buckets to catch water leaks are also problems. The accommodations in Rio's Olympic village are described as 'unlivable'.

In the AP report, not only are the 1,400 athletes at risk of becoming violently ill in the water competitions, but their tests indicate that tourists will also be facing potentially serious health risks on the beaches of Ipanema and Copacabana.

The most contaminated points are said to be the Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon, where the Olympic rowing competition will take place, and at the Gloria Marina, where the sailing races are to start.

Raw sewage continues to flow into the Gloria Marina through storm drains. The AP study shows up to 1.7 million times what would normally be considered worrisome concentrations of sewage in the United States or Europe. At those concentrations, the swimmers and athletes who ingest just three teaspoons of water will almost certainly be infected with viruses that can cause stomach and respiratory illnesses and potentially heart and brain inflammation.

The danger is not only in the water. The beach sand has been tested at Copacabana and Ipanema revealing high levels of viruses, which recent studies suggest can pose a health risk - particularly to babies and small children.

The beaches are so bad that they even violate Rio state's own standards, which are much less stringent than those in the US.  But athletes who have trained a number of years to have a chance at Olympic glory have apparently resigned themselves to competing in the filth. However, tourists may not realize the dangers.

Rio has been trying to clean up its waterways for decades. A promised billion-dollar investment in cleanup programs was supposed to be among the games' most important legacies, but the lofty promises have almost all ended in failure.

Planning on a trip to the games this summer? Not me.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Instagram and Kim K. Accused of “Un-Islamic” Crimes

The Organized Cyberspace Crimes Unit of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards has accused Facebook’s Instagram of working with Kim Kardashian West to corrupt Iranian women. The report is making headline news in the Muslim world and a spokesman for the OCCU is quoted as saying, ‘"There is no doubt that financial support is involved as well. We are taking this very seriously."

According to British tabloid reports, an ongoing effort has been going on for several months in Iran designed to crack down on Instagram posts which authorities there consider “un-Islamic.” And now Ms. Kardashian-West, who has erupted on the world scene over the past several years as being an unstoppable pop and culture icon in the entertainment industry, is now charged with a “complicated ploy” designed to corrupt the lifestyle of the Islamic republic.

According to an article published this week on the website IranWire, operated by Iranian citizen journalists, the OCCU thinks that Ms. Kardashian West has been working on behalf of the CEO of Instagram, Kevin Systrom, to “target young people and women with photos of a provocative nature that depict a lifestyle that is in conflict with Islam.”

Mostafa Alizadeh, a spokesman for the OCCU, is quoted as saying on a Sunday night Iranian news program that the aim of Mr. Systrom is to try and make fashion modeling more native to the country of Iran and that Ms. Kardashian West is apparently attempting to implement this scheme for him.

"They are targeting young people and women," according to Alizadeh. "Foreigners are behind it because it is targeting families. These schemes originate from around the Persian Gulf and England. When you draw the operational graph, you will see that it is a foreign operation."

While the concept of Ms. Kardashian West being a “secret agent” may be considered laughable in the West, the effort is quite serious in Iran. “Operation Spider II” is now in effect by the Iranian government designed to crack down on any Instagram posts that Iranian authorities consider “un-Islamic”. According to the BBC, the OCCU has been monitoring around 300 Instagram web profiles and a number of modeling agencies, hair salons and photo studios in Iran with eight people already having been arrested.

So far, there have been no comments from Instagram or Ms. Kardashian West about the accusations.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Wide Load (UFO?) on Arizona Highway

On March 4th Charlene Yazzie was driving north on Arizona Route 77 near Holbrook when she was forced to pull over to let a caravan of Department of Public Safety vehicles pass by. They were escorting a flatbed semi-hauler carrying a really wide load covered in a tarpaulin and looking remarkably like what you and I would probably describe as a saucer-shaped UFO. 

Charlene told local TV station KPHO that the truck was escorted by three black DPS (Arizona Department of Public Safety) vehicles. When the TV station contacted the DPS for an explanation of what the tarp-draped object might be, a Duty Officer responded, “Unfortunately we do not know what that is but it looks interesting.”

Some conspiracy theorists think that the DPS response indicates that they had been kept in the dark about the nature of the object. Other UFO hunters allege that government “higher ups” had hoped to get away with transporting alien technology that had been recently recovered from a crash site in broad daylight. Many UFO conspiracy theorists are convinced that U.S. military and government agencies have recovered crashed UFOs from a number of sites in the past and that government engineers and scientists are currently working in a number of top-secret bases possibly trying to reverse-engineer the propulsion technologies of the UFOs.

According to numerous conspiracy accounts, the earliest and most widely publicized case known to the public occurred in 1947 when an alien UFO crashed near a Roswell, New Mexico ranch. It has been widely stated by a number of military people who claim to have been at the scene that alien corpses were recovered from the crash site and taken away by the military.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Bird Poop Shuts Down NY Nuclear Power Plant
All the news that's fit to print probably doesn't apply here but I thought this was funny. There's an old nuclear power plant that's been around for ages located in Buchanan, New York just a little south of Peekskill. It's on the east banks of the Hudson River, around 25 miles north of New York City. Apparently back in December, the plant shut down because of bird droppings that fell from the skies and landed on some electrical equipment. This caused the plant's reactor to shut down automatically. You'd think they would be prepared for such an event, but apparently not. 

The plant, when it's in operation, generates something around 2,000 megawatts of electrical power. After the shutdown, NY Governor Cuomo ordered an investigation and part of the report is reproduced here:

“Damage was caused by a bird streamer. Streamers are long streams of excrement from large birds that are often expelled as a bird takes off from a perch.

“If a streamer contacts an energized conductor, the electrical current may travel through the streamer back to the bird or pole/transmission tower. The result may be a bird electrocution, power outage, and/or line trip.”

The outage was the thirteenth unplanned shutdown of the plant since June 2012. It isn't clear how many of the other shutdowns were also due to bird droppings.

Monday, November 9, 2015

NASA Erased First Moon Landing Tapes
The news is trickling out today that NASA, our government's space agency, apparently screwed up royally again a few decades ago by completely erasing over the original videotapes made on July 20, 1969 when Apollo 11 landed on the Moon. The first humans to ever set foot on the lunar surface, Americans Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, spent almost three hours outside the spacecraft collecting lunar material while astronaut Michael Collins piloted the command module in lunar orbit. All the action and suspense was duly videotaped by NASA's remarkable camera and recorded on 1-inch videotape for the world to cherish and remember forever. Or so we thought.

The television camera that recorded all the action was mounted onto the side of the Lunar Module. Armstrong was recorded stepping down onto the lunar surface, describing the event as "one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind." 

When the lunar module landed, it effectively ended the "Space Race" between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. and fulfilled a national goal proposed earlier in 1961 by President John F. Kennedy in a speech before Congress that the U.S. would land a man on the moon and return him safely to Earth "before this decade is out."

The broadcast of Armstrong setting foot on the moon and subsequent video of the astronauts on the Lunar surface was recorded by NASA on 1-inch magnetic tapes. NPR attempted to find the tapes in 2006 and reported to NASA that they appeared to be missing. NASA launched an exhaustive 3-year search to find the missing tapes and determined that they had been inadvertently erased. Apparently the original tapes were probably destroyed during a period when NASA was erasing old magnetic tapes and reusing them to record satellite data.

"We're all saddened that they're not there. We all wish we had 20-20 hindsight," says Dick Nafzger, a TV specialist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland, who helped lead the search team. "I don't think anyone in the NASA organization did anything wrong," Nafzger says. "I think it slipped through the cracks, and nobody's happy about it."

Since then, NASA has arranged with a Hollywood digital restoration firm to enhance old television footage of the event so that the public can see the first moonwalk in more detail than ever before. But the lost tapes mean that the world will probably never again see the original images beamed back to Earth by the lunar camera that is now resting on the moon's dusty Sea of Tranquility, right where Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin left it.

Wait a go, NASA! ;-{