Water

Mystery ‘oil sheen’ grows near site of BP Gulf disaster, says researcher

Publication: NBC News   Date: January 31, 2013   View Article

A persistent, mysterious “oil sheen” in the Gulf of Mexico near the site of BP’s Deepwater Horizon disaster grew to more than seven-miles long and one-mile wide during a recent stretch of calm seas, based on aerial observations made by a former NASA physicist turned environmental activist.

“We had maybe three or four days (of calm weather) and that’s all it took for the stuff to build up considerably,” Bonny Schumaker, the physicist who now runs the non-profit On Winds of Care, which makes regular flights over regions of the Gulf affected by the 2010 oil spill.

Material generates power from water vapor

Publication: NBC News   Date: January 10, 2013   View Article

When scientist Mingming Ma interlocked two different polymers in hopes of creating a new type of electrode to stimulate atrophied muscles, he made something more powerful: an artificial muscle, or actuator, that can generate electricity by drawing on water vapor.

“The first time I synthesized this material, I put the film on my hand and I found it was just moving by itself,” the chemical engineer at MIT’s David H. Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research told NBC News. “That was very surprising, so I decided to find out why.”

Hydrogel remembers its shape – just add water

Publication: NBC News   Date: December 5, 2012   View Article

Scientists have created a shape-remembering material out of synthetic DNA that is eerily reminiscent of T-1000, the liquid metal assassin in the hit sci-fi film Terminator 2.

“It is almost as soft as water and it is still gel. And water you cannot stretch, but this gel can stretch. That is why it is very, very unusual,” Dan Luo, a professor of biological and environmental engineering at Cornell University, told NBC News.

Drought Reaches New Orleans; Hurricane Isaac Could Add Insult to Injury

Publication:   Date: August 24, 2012   View Article

New Orleans may be the victim of a one-two punch as Hurricane Isaac threatens to strengthen over the Gulf of Mexico and the ongoing effects of this summer’s drought continue to trickle down to the Delta.

The record temperatures and lack of rain that have devastated crops in America’s heartland upstream also have weakened the once-mighty Mississippi River’s defenses against saltwater intrusion.

Freshwater flowing south from the Mississippi and salty water from the Gulf are constantly arm wrestling for territory in the Mississippi River Delta, where the river dumps into the sea. But as dry weather shrinks the Mississippi, the Gulf is gaining ground, pushing more saltwater inland. At risk is New Orleans’ freshwater supply.

High-school girls invent a life-preserver T-shirt for toddlers

Publication: NBC News   Date: October 17, 2012   View Article

An all-girl team of high school students has invented a comfy and cozy T-shirt equipped with a mechanism that automatically inflates it into a life preserver when it gets soaking wet.

Called the Watawescue, the T-shirt is intended for children age 2 to 4 to wear while they are playing near a swimming pool.

Navy aims to turn seawater into jet fuel

Publication: NBC News   Date: October 1, 2012   View Article

The U.S. Navy may need to look no further than the water around its ships to produce jet fuel, according to a program underway at its research laboratory.

The technology would free the Navy from the logistical and economic challenges of refueling ships underway.

Pond scum gets top billing as future fuel source

Publication: NBC News   Date: June 27, 2012   View Article

Algae, known to most of us as pond scum, is the most promising sustainable source of energy to meet the growing demand for juice to power everything from cars to factories, according to a major technical organization.

“There is not an infinite amount of oil in the Earth and we are using it quite rapidly,” William Kassebaum, a senior member with the institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers, the world’s largest technical professional organization, told me today.

© 2008-2010 Collected Writings By John Roach