Posted on September 1st, 2015

Apollo News Snippets – September 2015

  • From advancements in wind power, this month we look at recent research that could improve battery technology.

First, here are three ideas for improved batteries that were inspired by nature. Norway researchers developed a “fuel cell” that creates energy when bacteria purify wastewater. Silk could help improve both the storage capacity and the longevity of current lithium-ion batteries. Or how about batteries made of alfalfa seeds and pine resin!

Now, here are some ideas to improve batteries but admittedly they do not share a common theme! A sponge-like lattice of silicon nanofibers 100 times thinner than a human hair could double the storage capacity of lithium-ion batteries. Research at Purdue University has converted old packing peanuts into highly efficient anodes for lithium-ion batteries. While Stanford University research suggests that aluminum batteries could be a fast and safe alternative to current technology.

Could a battery made simply of two gases be a reality – this research suggests that a sodium-oxygen version is possible. While we commonly burn petrochemicals, perhaps the more efficient way to use them is converting gas and jet fuel directly to energy in a fuel cell. And finally, it looks like fuel cells have moved forward fast enough to replace the loud, smelly portable light systems many of us have seen used on nighttime construction projects and/or in disaster relief efforts.

The NOAA July Temperature Percentile Departure map shows record warmth over parts of every continent other than Australia (and Antarctica as it is not included on these maps). Patches of cold could be found in Northern Europe and Asia as well as in North America.

  • I am guessing this will come to no surprise for any of our regular readers, but the July 2015 NOAA Global Climate report confirms that the record warm continues. July 2015 was the warmest July on record, and in fact, it is the warmest month on record over the land and sea in the 1,627 months records have been maintained. In fact, July temperatures are currently increasing at a rate of 1.17 degrees Fahrenheit per century.
  • On September 25, 1513, Vasco Nunez de Balboa first sighted the Pacific Ocean after crossing the narrow stretch of land known as the Isthmus of Panama. And in honor of this event, my Google search for the month was, “Vasco Nunez de Balboa and GIS.” In the results you might find this thesis by Kishore Srinivasa Reddy of San Diego State University who created an online GIS application that showed the paths (and more) of many Spanish and Portuguese explorers.
  • From the southeast we travel to the north-west section of our country for a review of North Dakota’s largest city’s online GIS resources, Fargo. And unfortunately the online GIS resources for Fargo are certainly not ideal – the best tool they offer is this online map. However, it appears to only let users turn layers on and off, zoom in and out and other lower level map tasks. There is parcel search engine that lets you query the database by partial address or the parcel ID number. Users can also access premade maps in PDF format but I do not see anywhere to download the source GIS files – perhaps you can obtain them by emailing the GIS department directly?

Brock Adam McCarty
Map Wizard
(720) 470-7988

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