- Here it is folks, the last snippet of 2016, so without further ado let’s jump into our review of recent technological advances.
Biofuel – This genetically-altered algae can produce hydrogen gas at five times the rate of normal algae; and this salt-tolerant grass could be grown on previously marginal crop lands for biofuel production.
Solar – Research on perovskite solar panels dominates the news recently such as this hydrophobic polymer that will make them more stable, efficient and able to resist humidity. This idea uses solar panels to convert sunlight directly into a combustible hydrocarbon. And who would have thought that we could make solar panels from grass clippings, I certainly didn’t!
Wind – Very little is known about bat mortality caused by wind turbine farms, this research helps to shed light on the topic. Here is a cool idea to combine a mini wind turbine with an LED streetlamp. And if this design is adopted, perhaps we will see farms of wind turbines popup on roof tops in cities around the world.
Random & Fun – Newly designed nickel-vanadium electrodes could drive down the cost of converting water to hydrogen gas; while this 3-atom thick membrane could generate power in a salt-water solution. Wouldn’t you like a cell phone powered by mini bacterial wind farms? Or maybe you would prefer a suitcase that knows how to find you and follow you around the airport??
- The October 2016 NOAA global climate report shows a break from the string of record warmth. The temperatures were still well above 20th Century averages but not as grossly inflated as in the past stretch of months. This October 2016 was “only” the third hottest October on month and the lowest departure from average since November 2014.
- On December 20, 1606 the Virginia Company expedition set off for new lands to be called America and in honor of this event, my Google search of the month was “Virginia Company and GIS.” If you peel through the results, you might find this article by David Allen about the “Velasco Map.” And while this article on the “Velasco Map” is not exactly about the Virginia Company, it is rather compelling as it is an analysis of the map to determine if it might be a forgery.
- This month we travel from an Appalachian town to one of the Midwest’s major cities with a review of Wisconsin’s largest city’s GIS, Milwaukee. I have to say that I am very impressed with the functionality you can find on their GIS homepage as they have provided nearly every type of mapping service you could expect. For novice users, they offer a robust list of premade web maps – the only critique I have is that the web maps must be viewed in Internet Explorer or Firefox as they require Silverlight which is not supported in Chrome. For more advanced users, Milwaukee GIS offers web services (such as a REST API), downloadable shapefiles as well as tabular datasets. Nice work Milwaukee GIS!
Brock Adam McCarty