Archive for October, 2011

IBM sees energy, money in motion of the ocean

Publication: msnbc.com   Date: October 31, 2011   View Article

The computer giant IBM sees a profitable future in high-tech analytical tools that could expedite and enhance the rollout of machines to turn the motion of the ocean into electricity.

Such machines, called wave energy converters, are under development around the world as a means to tap what appears to be a clean, green source of renewable energy — wave power.

The why of water bouncing balls

Publication: msnbc.com   Date: October 27, 2011   View Article

Some balls bounce on water, and some do it better than others. The best in class is the trademarked Waboba, which stands for water bouncing ball. And now a team of mechanical engineers has figured out why the Waboba works so well.

The team led by Michael Wright at Brigham Young University’s Splash Lab in Provo, Utah, did this by attempting to skip three types of balls across the water, videotaping the activity, and analyzing the footage. Their results are posted on arXiv.org, including a video that explains it all.

Yeast adds vitamins to bread

Publication: msnbc.com   Date: October 24, 2011   View Article

Bread loaded with beta-carotene, the stuff that makes carrots orange and helps prevent blindness, could improve the health of millions of people, thanks to a strain of genetically enhanced yeast developed by undergraduate students.

“It looks exactly like normal bread,” Arjun Khakhar, a junior biomedical engineering student at Johns Hopkins University, told me Monday. “There’s no orange color or anything because the yeast only makes up a very small part of the bread.”

Magnetic algae make biofuels sticky

Publication: msnbc.com   Date: October 21, 2011   View Article

Scientists at a government lab in New Mexico have created what appear to be magnetic algae, a breakthrough that could lower the cost of harvesting biofuels from the microscopic plants.

Science fair projects with buzz

Publication: msnbc.com   Date: October 19, 2011   View Article

What do a self-balancing trike, an emergency water filtration system and a virtual cane that senses obstacles such as overhangs and branches have in common?

>They’re all inventions found in the musty halls of high school science fairs, only these projects have some oomph behind them in the form of funding and mentors that could make them a hit in the real world.

Insuring against extreme weather

Publication: msnbc.com   Date: October 13, 2011   View Article

A high-tech crop insurance company aims to make farming profitable — and itself — by writing policies that offer protection against floods, frosts, droughts and other bouts of crop-damaging weather that are on the rise.

Whether the increase in these weather events are due to human-caused climate change, the company said, is not their business, but the events are trending upwards and they have the technology to analyze the risk they pose to individual farmers and price polices accordingly.

Himalayas: The future of solar?

Publication: msnbc.com   Date: October 12, 2011   View Article

The high peaks of the Himalayas may soon be a beacon for adventurous solar power entrepreneurs, suggests a new study that identified the lofty region as having some of the world’s greatest potential to capture energy from the sun.

Other regions not traditionally considered hotbeds of solar power potential include the Andes of South America and Antarctica, note Takashi Oozeki and Yutaka Genchi with the National Institute of Industrial Science and Technology in Japan.

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