From one of my favorite technology topics, solar energy, I pivot my attention this month to one of the coolest materials “recently” discovered, graphene.
This wonder material seems to have a million and one uses, so here are just a few of them that caught my attention. Silk is the strongest material found in nature and by spraying it with a graphene coating, it can be made 3.5 times stronger, which should be strong enough to catch a falling airplane! Crumpled graphene might lead to highly stretchable (and wearable) materials that can also store power. Other research suggests graphene might be a source of renewable energy by literally extracting hydrogen gas from thin air.
Now, here are two intriguing medical uses for graphene. First, this idea could lead to stronger and more durable artificial muscles. And then perhaps graphene could be used as the base substrate to print neurons, what?!
While graphene is quite the wonder material, it is very hard to produce at a commercial scale, but hemp supercapacitors might actually be just as good for a fraction of the cost. As a rebuttal, recent advancements by MIT and University of Michigan researchers might make commercial-scale graphene production finally possible.
- The May 2015 NOAA Climate Report confirms that this May was the hottest in the 136-year temperature record. In fact, if you were to look at monthly temperature departure from average, February and March 2015 were the highest departures every recorded, and then May 2015 was the fourth highest departure – that is a disturbing trend no matter how you look at it.
- Summer is in full swing and in honor of the season of fireworks, cotton candy and (veggie) hot dogs, my Google search this month was, “GIS and hot dogs.” If you scan through the results, you might come across this paper by University of Michigan student, Kathryn Neckerman, which uses GIS to measure food access in urban areas. Specifically, Nerkerman used GIS to measure access to healthy foods across New York City with results that might not surprise those of you involved with and/or interested in economic justice and equality.
- From the Southwest we travel to the center of the East Coast with a review of the GIS resources New York, New York makes available online. For a city of the Big Apple’s size, you might think they would be leaders in online mapping technology, but I would not say that is the case. They do have a nice webmap that can be accessed here with tons of layers and the ability to create permalinks, but it is still pretty limited in functionality. Then there is a gallery of preset map views found here. The biggest gap I see is easy access to shapefile and raster formats of the spatial layers that make up the webmap, though some of them appear to be available here.
Brock Adam McCarty