Uncommon knowledge, news, and opinion

Uncommon knowledge, news, and opinion

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Incredible Science Discoveries

August 19, 2011 at 5:17 pm By Roz Potter

From The Big Picture blog,  Link and Washington’s blog, Link


It has been an amazing month for science.

MIT researchers have succeeded in printing solar panels onto any piece of paper.

Dutch company PlantLab has figured out how to triple the yield of plants using only 10% of the water typically needed:

When grown outdoors plant photosynthesis is only about 9% efficient. With the correct balance of colored LED light, PlantLab has increased that efficiency to 12 or 15%, aiming for 18%. Double the efficiency means increased yield (or more likely equal yield with less energy). By keeping the plants in a contained system, PlantLab can also recycle evaporated water, which helps them grow crops using just one tenth the water as with traditional greenhouses. Because PlantLab’s harvest is indoors, they don’t have pests (and could quickly isolate rooms that somehow got contaminated) and they don’t need pesticides. Finally, PlantLab’s production facilities can be built almost anywhere: from the Sahara to the Artic, it’s all going to look the same indoors. So everyone’s food can be grown as local as possible. That means fresher food with less costs of transportation.

PlantLab’s Gertjan Meeuws recently discussed some of the other benefits and results of their work on Southern California public radio (KPCC). He claims they’re able to increase crop yield by a factor of three so far!

Scientists at MIT have designed a drug that can cure virtually any viral infection.

Scientists at the University of Pennsylvannia have found a way of “turning the patients’ own blood cells into assassins that hunt and destroy their [leukemia] cancer cells.”


Half Animal, Half Plant

And Live Science reported last January:

A green sea slug appears to be part animal, part plant. It’s the first critter discovered to produce the plant pigment chlorophyll.

The sneaky slugs seem to have stolen the genes that enable this skill from algae that they’ve eaten. With their contraband genes, the slugs can carry out photosynthesis — the process plants use to convert sunlight into energy.

“They can make their energy-containing molecules without having to eat anything,” said Sidney Pierce, a biologist at the University of South Florida in Tampa.


“This is the first time that multicellar animals have been able to produce chlorophyll,” Pierce told LiveScience.

The sea slugs live in salt marshes in New England and Canada. In addition to burglarizing the genes needed to make the green pigment chlorophyll, the slugs also steal tiny cell parts called chloroplasts, which they use to conduct photosynthesis. The chloroplasts use the chlorophyl to convert sunlight into energy, just as plants do, eliminating the need to eat food to gain energy.


The babies of thieving slugs retain the ability to produce their own chlorophyll, though they can’t carry out photosynthesis until they’ve eaten enough algae to steal the necessary chloroplasts, which they can’t yet produce on their own.

The slugs accomplishment is quite a feat, and scientists aren’t yet sure how the animals actually appropriate the genes they need.

Here’s a photo of the slug:


windcatcher said…

Hi GW, this is an email instead of a post. Because of your interest in Science, I would like to share with you Low Pressure Turbine Dynamics; I am the inventor and builder of the concept into a working prototype model.

My invention is advancement in wind energy technology although most people can not get their minds around the new concept because they are “propeller heads”. Of course, advancement in technology is entirely different than the old technology. It is true that advancement in Science is first ridiculed, than violently opposed, than excepted and finally becomes the norm. I am still in the first stages.

Video of prototype Baker Wind Turbine:

Written description and operation:


I am currently designing and building a 4 ft diameter permanent magnetic, air cooled, flywheel generator that will match my unique high torque power curve. I shit you not, rated at 1 ½ megawatts!

In a nut shell, a propeller operates on a single plain dimension with three contact points and rotates crosswise to the energy source.

A turbine operates directly into the energy source and has 144 contact points and the 660 lb rotor rotates the same direction that the source of energy is flowing (smooth and quiet). The turbine is uniquely multidimensional and the cupped turbine vanes are powered from one side to the other without drafting any of the other turbine vanes. The diameter is divided into 18 progressive stepped rows with 48 lineal feet per row.

Does the wind blow any harder on the row of 48 feet of lateral turbine vanes than it blows on the tip of 48 feet of horizontal blade? The turbine has more surface area in three rows than a 50’ propeller and there are nine rows that are under continuous power.
Lawrence Baker

January 13, 2011 11:17 AM

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Get Your Family and Community Ready: A Disaster Preparedness Day with 2 Workshops

September 2, 2010 at 8:57 pm By Roz Potter

On Saturday, October 2, 2010, Defying Disaster will give two Disaster Preparedness workshops at the Embassy Suites Hotel in Napa. The morning session (9-12) will cover essential disaster, communications, and evacuation plans, as well as grab and go kits for home, work and school. Participants will receive Defying Disaster’s comprehensive planning materials. In the afternoon session (1:30-4:30 PM), participants will learn how to build home preparedness kits that take each family’s unique needs into account. The demonstration will include the supplies needed for a variety of disasters as well as the fundamentals of safe food, water, and alternative energy use during power outages.

Defying Disaster is underwriting the cost to $35.00 for each session or both sessions for $60.00. Reservations  received after September 27th or same day registrants will pay $45.00 for each session. Please call 707 255-7146 or use the Contact page form for reservations or inquiries.

Defying Disaster Games, Website and GermTheory™ LLC provide information only, not medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. See Additional Terms