Archive for 2011

Computer software helps engineer organisms

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

A computer software program is outfitting biotechnology companies with the ability to determine the genetic plans they need to engineer microorganisms for the production of products such as building materials, drugs and biofuels.

Companies routinely use microorganisms such as E. coli to manufacture products such as insulin. This has primarily been done by cutting and pasting DNA found in nature into organisms that can be grown in the lab, explained Howard Salis, a synthetic biologist at Pennsylvania State University.

Graphene-coated sensors to strike oil?

Publication: msnbc.com   Date: July 20, 2011   View Article

Tiny sensors coated with the wonder-material graphene and powered by flowing water could expedite the discovery of oil and natural gas reserves, according to university researchers supported by the energy industry.

The idea is to plop the sensors into the water injected down exploration wells where they can then move sideways through cracks and crevices in the Earth in search of hydrocarbons. The electricity generated by the flow of water would allow the sensors to relay their findings to the surface.

Cutting trees to cool the planet?

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

In a twist, a new study suggests that regularly logging forests can quadruple the amount of carbon dioxide soaked up from the atmosphere.

The trick is to use the harvested wood in place of steel and concrete during the construction of new homes and buildings and replant the forest with fast-growing, carbon-soaking trees.

Six easy ways to get your garage ready for a plug-in car

Publication: MSN / SwitchYard Media   Date: July 16, 2011   View Article

So you want an electric vehicle? Cool. You are at the leading edge of a trend that has the potential to revolutionize transportation.

Before you change the world, though, you might need to make a few changes around the house. After all, your garage is about to become a filling station.

Here are six ways to get your garage ready for your electric car.

Food Waste + Fish Poop = Lettuce

Publication: msnbc.com   Date: July 6, 2011   View Article

If, in a few years, you are suddenly overcome with a sense that there’s something fishy about the lettuce in your salad, you might be on to something. There’s a chance it was grown with fish poop.

“There’s no fish taste whatsoever,” Michael Amadori, a master’s student in ecological engineering at the State University of New York’s College of Environmental Science and Forestry, assured me Wednesday.

For now, Amadori is growing the futuristic lettuce in question as part of a science experiment aimed at closing the loop between the food we throw away and the food we eat.

Human Sacrifice Found in Maya City Sinkhole

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: July 6, 2011   View Article

The bones of six humans—including two children—jade beads, shells, and stone tools are among the Maya”treasures” recently found in a water-filled cave off a sinkhole at the famous archaeological site of Chichén Itzá in Mexico, archaeologists say.

The ancient objects are most likely related to a ritual human sacrifice during a time when water levels were lower, sometime between A.D. 850 and 1250, the researchers say.

Microbe could make biofuels hot

Publication: msnbc.com   Date: July 5, 2011   View Article

A record-breaking microbe that thrives while munching plant material at near boiling temperatures has been discovered in a Nevada hot spring, researchers announced in a study published today.

Scientists are eyeing the microbe’s enzyme responsible for breaking down cellulose — called a cellulase — as a potential workhouse in the production of biofuels and other industrial processes.

© 2008-2010 Collected Writings By John Roach