Category Archives: Science

posts about science

Students Enter Competition To Produce Zero-Emissions Snowmobile


Snowmobiles long ago replaced dogsleds for hauling people and cargo in the polar regions, particularly in remote research stations and field camps such as those on the Greenland Ice Sheet and in Antarctica.

But for all their utility, snowmobiles are not very environmentally friendly.

So, on March 19, 2007, four National Science Foundation (NSF)-supported teams will compete in the SAE Clean Snowmobile Challenge in Houghton, Mich., to produce a zero-emissions snow vehicle. The challenge attracts teams of undergraduate engineering students from across North America with the goal of designing a snowmobile with lower environmental impact, less noise, fewer emissions and a lighter footprint–all without sacrificing the performance snowmobile enthusiasts love.

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Ask The Sietch – Energy Vs Electricity

question markDo you have a question you would like to Ask The Sietch? Contact us or post your question in the Forums, and we will do our best to answer it.

Got this question from the forums, Jennifer asks,

Hello there,
I have a serious question for you. The question is what does Energy and Electricity mixed together make? Also i am very serious about this and this project is due in another 2 days.

First lets talk about electricity. I am not sure what grade you are in so forgive me if you find this answer simple, but I always find that starting simple is the best way to go. Electricity is all around us every day, it makes our light bulbs shine, it makes our computers work, it also causes your hair to stand up. Most people however do not know much about electricity, where it comes from, or how it gets to your house, or how it makes your light bulb shine, or make your hair stand up. In fact the only time most people think about electricity is when the power goes out.

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Algae, It’s Not Just For Biofuel Anymore

blue green algae

We talk a lot about the biofuel potential of algae around here (1 2 3 4) it seems the stuff is good for other things besides making biofuel.

Imagine a cancer drug inspired by one of nature’s simplest creations – a type of blue-green algae.
It’s not so far fetched.

Scientists at the University of Michigan – led by Life Sciences Institute research professor David Sherman and researcher Zach Beck – believe they have solved one of the stumbling blocks to realizing that vision.

After four years of work, Sherman said he’s hopeful that a pharmaceutical company will take his team’s discovery to the next step, and work with the U-M scientists to develop and test a drug prototype.

Their research was featured on the cover of the January issue of the scientific journal ACS Chemical Biology.

A compound found in blue-green algae, called cryptophycin 1, could be particularly useful in fighting some types of cancerous tumors that are resistant to other drugs.

“It’s a very, very potent anti-cancer compound,” said Sherman, 49, who lives in Ann Arbor. (via)

The scientists are attempting to find a way to extract large amounts of this compound, if they are successful it could create a potent new weapon against cancer. I wish them the best of luck.

January Hottest On Record

selected extreme events jan 2007

It was unusually warm here this January, seems this was not the only place that experienced record heat this winter.

The combined global land and ocean surface temperature was the highest for any January on record, according to scientists at NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C. The most unusually warm conditions were in the mid- and high-latitude land areas of the Northern Hemisphere. In the contiguous United States, the monthly mean temperature was near average in January.

Global Temperatures
The combined global land and ocean surface temperature was 1.53°F (0.85°C) warmer than the 20th century average of 53.6°F (12.0°C) for January based on preliminary data, surpassing the previous record set in 2002 at 1.28°F (0.71°C) above the average. Last month’s record was greatly influenced by a record high land-surface temperature, which was 3.40°F (1.89°C) warmer than average. Separately, the global ocean-surface temperature was fourth warmest in the 128-year series, approximately 0.1°F (0.05°C) cooler than the record established during the very strong El Niño episode in 1998.

During the past century, global surface temperatures have increased at a rate near 0.11°F (0.06°C) per decade, but the rate of increase has been three times larger since 1976, or 0.32°F (0.18°C) per decade, with some of the largest temperature increases occurring in the high latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere.

Seems we are starting this year off right, come on everyone lets go for the record! We’re number one! We’re number one! We’re number one! We’re number…ohh wait.

Replanting The Desert One Tree At A Time

Tree Nation

Every once in a while you come across an idea and you think to yourself, “now that’s a really, really, good idea.” That is the feeling I got when I stumbled upon Tree Nation. Tree Nation, a Spanish based company, wants to plant 8 million trees in the sub-Saharan, in the shape of a gigantic heart. And they are using an ingenious method to do so. Combining aspects of social networking, Sim games, and global Internet fundraising.

Tree nation has developed an ingenious tree mapping software that allows you to (using GPS) zoom to the spot where your tree is planted. The map interface reminds me of Sim city, and is very well done.

tree nation map

When you see each little square being filled up with trees, it adds to the feeling of accomplishment, and helps people stay focused on such a large goal. This same model, of asking people from all over the world to concentrate on one project a small bit at a time, could be re-used for a million good causes. I would love to see something like this where you (the “game player”) install solar panels and wind turbines in developing nations. In a way Tree Nation has created the most realistic online “game” ever. A game where the outcome of success is not just a level up, but the regeneration of a nation, and the improvement of real peoples lives.

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