Join Azimuth

I have decided to join Azimuth which was created recently and I will dedicate my efforts there mostly. So I'll post even less here . My motive for doing this is summarized in this post by John Baez (now doing research in Singapore). So if you fell like I do - that we humans are better off by combatting existental anxiety with collective pragmatic actions that we feel has a chance of getting to real and usable knowledge and results which can be applied for enhancing our lives - consider joining up !

If you want a shorter and funny version see this excellent show by stand-up comedian George Carlin ! Thanks John for the reference.


Plant Enzyme Converts Car Exhaust Into Fuel

Diagram of competitive enzyme inhibition.Image via Wikipedia

Ecogeek has an article on t"he microbe Azotobacter vinelandii, found in the roots of many food plants including soy beans, creates the enzyme vanadium.which can convert CO which it converted to propane."

The enzyme could be modified to let cars could run partially off of their exhaust or carbon monoxide in the air around them, reducing pollution and cutting down on the oil we use.

Researchers say there's a more work to do and are working on ways to mass production.
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Protovis for intuitive visualization

Which uses the same declarative mechansims  as Jquery and other semi- or completely functional programming languages for enabling simple and intuitive chainiing of fanctions. It has been developed by a research group at Stanford that focuses on visualization. Protovis. zippad "weighs" less than 1 Mb.

One interactive example targets interactive job categories and shows how the the male-female proportions has changed over the years . It also illustrates how to present help text and interactively change the vizualization on a query immediately.förändrats genom historien både för män och kvinnor.

I also partly agree with with Douglas Crockford that Javascript is now good language - at least as Douglas says in his book - as you use the "The good parts" there.

Here is a quote:

 "The first is that you don't have a choice. The Web has become an important platform for application development, and JavaScript is the only language that is found in all browsers. It is unfortunate that Java failed in that environment; if it hadn't, there could be a choice for people desiring a strongly typed classical language. But Java did fail and JavaScript is flourishing, so there is evidence that JavaScript did something right.
The other answer is that, despite its deficiencies, JavaScript is really good. It is lightweight and expressive. And once you get the hang of it, functional programming is a lot of fun."
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IfItWasMyHome.com - Visualizing the BP Oil Disaster

Just to give some scale of this catastrophy for people living in Stockholm. IfItWasMyHome.com - Visualizing the BP Oil Disaster

Here is a static image for those who doesn't have the time to play with
the above:

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Zooming in on Greenland

Global Gravity Anomaly Animation over OCEANS f...Image via Wikipedia
From an article which came last fall here is a quote and a plot:

"We use monthly measurements of time-variable gravity from the GRACE (Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment) satellite gravity mission to determine the ice mass-loss for the Greenland and Antarctic Ice Sheets during the period between April 2002 and February 2009. We find that during this time period the mass loss of the ice sheets is not a constant, but accelerating with time, i.e., that the GRACE observations are better represented by a quadratic trend than by a linear one, implying that the ice sheets contribution to sea level becomes larger with time."

This can be evidence that the melting is non-linear in nature and might be accelerating even more.
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Message from the Global Biodiversity Outlook

GloBio summarize the results as:

"Natural systems that support economies, lives and livelihoods across the planet are at risk of rapid degradation and collapse, unless there is swift, radical and creative action to conserve and sustainably use the variety of life on Earth. That is a principal conclusion of a major new assessment of the current state of biodiversity and the implications of its continued loss for human well-being." Here is an image of potential global tipping point areas:

This will be presented for the UN General Assembly in the fall of 2010.
The principal conclusions on biodiversity futures for the 21st century:
  1. Projections of the impact of global change on biodiversity show continuing and often accelerating species extinctions, loss of natural habitat, and changes in the distribution and abundance of species, species groups and biomes over the 21st century. 
  2. There is a high risk of dramatic biodiversity loss and accompanying degradation of a broad range of ecosystem services if the Earth system is pushed beyond certain thresholds or tipping points.
  3. Earlier assessments have underestimated the potential severity of biodiversity loss based on plausible scenarios, because the impacts of passing tipping points or thresholds of ecosystem change have not previously been taken into account. 
  4. There are greater opportunities than identified in earlier assessments to address the biodiversity crisis while contributing to other social objectives; for example, by reducing the scale of climate change without large-scale deployment of biofuels and accompanying loss of natural habitats. 
  5. Biodiversity and ecosystem changes could be prevented, significantly reduced or even reversed if strong action is applied urgently, comprehensively and appropriately, at international, national and local levels."
 Here is the full report.
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Upstream technology rules and producer incentives

The Upsala Glacier in the Santa Cruz Province ...Image via Wikipedia
I glansed in a book by Joseph Huber today and just noted a couple of observations he has made initially. Current approaches to technological innovation inside the environmental area are characteristically end of pipe solutions to solve downstream problems. It is more important to try to focus on the upstream technologies and environmental innovation (TEI), in order to prevent problems. It is also important to find incentives for the designers, producers or manufacturers that helps mobilize them

The book "New Technologies and Environmental Innovation" covers 11 technological clusters. Energy, natural resources, agriculture, chemistry and chemicals, materials processing, building settlement structures, vehicles and transport, utility goods, materials reprocessing (recycling, waste management), emissions control and finally environmental measuring and monitoring. His group has made a TEI database with over 500 TEI's.

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