- For this month’s focus on technology, we look at advancements in fuel sources and batteries.
Technology often mimics nature and many of this month’s advancements fall in this vein, for instance self-healing silicon batteries. How about a wood-biochar based supercapacitor (or a super-charged battery) to power your camera flash? Bio-batteries are becoming quite popular and here is an idea to use Escherichia coli to convert glucose, a simple plant sugar, into energy. This group has designed a bio-battery based on quinones which are similar to the molecules plants and animals use to store energy.
Fossil fuels are a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions so finding renewable fuel sources could both lower the cost we pay at the gas pump and improve the environment. UC Berkeley researchers are reviving an old technology which uses bacteria to produce bio-diesel; while the US Department of Energy is employing a liquid algae slurry to produce crude oil. And this group is working with yeast to convert sugar into biodiesel.
Finally, here are two more novel approaches to producing fuel from alternate sources: the US Navy is experimenting with converting seawater into jet fuel; and this British adventurer has used waste plastic bags to produce jet fuel.
- Are you a politics geek like me? If so, you need to check out this awesome website. It is a map of the Representatives and Senators sitting on each of the various committees. And even as a super politics geek, I had no clue how many committees there were and who sat on each!
- Keeping in line with my focus on politics, this month I Googled the phrase, “GIS and politics,” and found this excellent piece written by Kenneth Bauer on changes in pasture boundaries in Tibet. In this study, Bauer completed extensive field work with local pastoralists to map current and historic field boundaries. He found that the boundaries had changed significantly through time and in ways that ecology alone could not explain.
- From the heart of the Midwest, we travel to Louisville, Kentucky this month for an exploration of their online GIS resources. The city itself has a GIS site that leaves a lot to be desired, in fact all they offer is a collection of maps in PDF format that can be found here. Thankfully the Louisville/Jefferson County Information Consortium fills the void with a robust online mapping application offering a wide variety of vector layers (such as transportation, planning and environmental data) as well as historic aerial imagery.
Brock Adam McCarty