Posted on February 4th, 2014

Apollo News Snippets – February 2014

  • From advancements in solar technologies we turn this month to the biofuel industry.The Navy is investigating the use of switchgrass as a biofuel source for jet fuel. Another promising source of biofuel and rubber is a small flowering weed that thrives in the Southwest, guayule.

    Microorganisms are crucial to the realization of commercial biofuel. This strain of bacteria can produce electricity in a fuel cell from pure hydrogen gas and carbon dioxide. A new strain of yeast could drastically increase the efficiency of bio-ethanol production from organic waste matter, like corn husks, straw and wood scraps. And here is a cold-weather algae discovered in Colorado that could extend the zone of biofuel production toward the Poles.

    Finally, these companies are on the brink of commercial success with biofuels, both with a focus on California: Cool Planet and Solazyme.

  • It doesn’t take academic research to figure out that our federal government is more divided than ever. If you want to see some research that proves this point, check out this animation of voting relationships from the 101st to the 113th Congress. The difference in the graphs from the 101st to the 113th Congress is stark.
The graphics in this YouTube video were created by Renzo Lucioni and then narrated by The Economist.
  • Burr, its cold out there! So in honor, let’s do a Google search of “GIS and snow” to see what we can find. Here is an interesting paper written by researchers at University of Calgary and George Mason University which uses GIS and other remote sensing inputs to predict the locations and runouts of avalanches in the back country. This sort of modeling could be an important safety improvement for areas frequented by back country winter athletes and those without historic avalanche records.
  • From Indianapolis, a drive across Illinois to Des Moines, Iowa takes us to our next stop on this tour of local GIS websites. While it is not the most user-friendly website, there are a wide variety of mapping tools on the City of Des Moines GIS website. To start, there is an impressive online map that features a variety of vector layers and aerial imagery. There is also a list of multiple premade maps that can be downloaded as PDFs (check the heading, “PDF Maps”). And finally, for more advanced users, GIS files can be downloaded from a public FTP site.

Brock Adam McCarty
Map Wizard
(720) 470-7988

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