Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Science News

Posted by Trent Walters at 9:54 AM
Via Physorg, build your own biodiesel! Find some old McDonald french fry oil and store it somewhere well-ventilated. Replace the glycerol with methanol and lye.


Nano self-assembly (sort of)? Say it ain't so!

Chemical lithography doesn’t "succumb to many of the defects and limitations of previous lithography techniques.... [It arranges particles] controlled by differences in reactivity....

"[S]cientists pre-patterned [silicon] wafers using etching techniques based on a phenomenon called “atomic step movement.” Because atom-high steps innately exist on silicon surfaces, the scientists could move these steps during high-temperature treatments to fabricate a desired pattern. Chemical reactions (between the silicon, nitrogen and oxygen) caused very thin nitride linings to form in accordance with the atomic step boundaries, thereby pre-patterning the wafers."


Via Scientific American, the World Cup for Soccer traded for greener prospects:

"In Tamil Nadu, India, Women for Sustainable Development, a nonprofit organization, will oversee the installation of 700 to 1,000 biogas reactors--simple enclosed pits about the size of a well into which villagers dump cow dung. The fermenting mass generates gas, which fuels stoves and replaces kerosene. Two other sustainable energy projects will take place in South Africa. One will capture off-gas at a sewage treatment facility and burn it to supply electricity to Sebokeng, a township near Johannesburg. The other will replace a citrus farm's coal-fired heating system with one that burns sawdust--a by-product of wood processing usually discarded.


How do bears improve local ecology through wasting food?

Spawning salmon bring ocean-derived energy into land. Salmon provide bears fat to "hibernate" during the winter.

"[B]ears actually fertilize the forests, nourishing them by discarding partially eaten salmon carcasses.... Flies, beetles, slugs and other invertebrates colonize the carcasses almost immediately and deposit their eggs there. Gulls, ravens, crows, jays, magpies, mink, marten, and other species of birds and mammals readily and often quickly make a meal of the carcasses.... [M]ore than 50 species of terrestrial vertebrates [are] nourished by salmon carcasses.... [And to benefit plants,] rain and microbial activity... break down the carcasses, making the nitrogen, phosphorus available."


Global warming explained: "water vapor and carbon dioxide... absorb a portion of the infrared heat radiated by the Earth's surface.... It will be difficult to slow or stop this global warming thanks to the warming of the Earth's oceans as well."


Get a weather station for your home.

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