Our Future? Your choice

With the merging of biology and AI technology starting to come over our species’ horizon I was wondering if in 100 years we’ll be able to answer the question – ‘Who are we?’. These poems by Richard Brautigan look at this thought from two different ways.

“I like to think (and
the sooner the better!)
of a cybernetic meadow
where mammals and computers
live together in mutually
programming harmony
like pure water
touching clear sky.”

“Finding is losing something else.
I think about, perhaps even mourn,
what I lost to find this”

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Print a replacement hand with 3D

These last few months I’ve been getting interested in how technology can be applied to solve problems of the human condition. I came across an article about how an artist / engineer / gadget guy uses 3D printing to quickly and inexpensively make fully articulated artificial hands. He is using this technology to replaced one or more fingers or whole hands. Follow the link below will take you to a whole new place.

You must right click on the link and open it in a new tab.  Sorry, Yahoo seems to protect its site this way.

http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/best-person-in-the-world/ivan-owen-gives-the-world-a–3d-printed–hand-145713712.html

What your grandmother saw

All the press and talk that’s been going around for the last few years on climate change may seem a bit overwhelming to most of us. People ask ‘Where can I see the effects of this?’. Well, these changes can be hard to see most of the time – it’s like watch grass grow. I’ve included a couple of links that will give you some perspective. The first one shows the changes in the Louisiana coastline from 1922 to 2014. The changes are dramatic and they are accelerating – not only in Louisiana and the rest of the Gulf Coast but on a planetary scale.

The second one is the latest report from the United Nations’ ‘International Panel on Climate Change’. These two reports will give you some idea of where we were and where we are going with climate change.

Think Global – Act Local!

http://www.vox.com/2014/8/30/6084585/watch-how-louisianas-coastline-has-vanished-in-the-last-80-years

http://www.ipcc.ch/report/ar5/wg2/

Microscope for a dollar!

I’ve always been interested in gadgets that are useful, inexpensive and have many applications. I came across this microscope made out of paper that is one of these. It can be used by professionals, the untrained and students. The microscope costs less than a dollar to make and can be used in classrooms, laboratories and field hospitals. There is also a projector model which can be viewed on any surface at a cost of a few pennies more.
I can see immediate applications of this in field biology, elementary education and nursing. Oh, it’s rugged too.

Check out the link below. IMPORTANT – Right click the links below and open in a new tab or window to view them.

http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/this-could-be-big-abc-news/super-cheap-paper-microscope-could-save-millions-lives-133616732.html?vp=1

http://www.microbehunter.com/foldscope-a-paper-microscope/

Think Global – Act Local!

 

Memorial to Pete Seeger

Some of you may remember a folk singer, writer, activist and poet named Peter Seeger. The words that he put to music had something to say. He helped to make the careers of several well known musical artists and influenced generations of environmentalists and political activists.

A man of simple needs and far reaching ideas and ideals, Pete Seeger made a difference in the way I looked and now look at the world. His words were one of the reasons I stayed in Marine Biology and didn’t go back into a much more lucrative career in electronics.

He passed away on January 27, 2014 at the age of 94. Pete was out chopping wood ten days before he died.

The world was a better place with him and a lesser place now that he is gone. You really did have a hammer. Thanks, Pete!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pete_Seeger#Death

 

Your Dam is Cracked!

Humans like to think that everything and everyone around us is going to stay just about the same as we go through life. We like stability. Here in the Northwest the dams on the Columbia River fall into that category. Well, that just isn’t so.

 

A 65 foot two-inch crack on a spillway of Wannapum Dam on the Columbia River has been discovered. Emergency meetings are underway. If you’d like to read more follow the link below.

http://digitaljournal.com/tech/technology/65-foot-long-crack-found-in-major-dam-in-washington-state/article/373871#ixzz2uoEK3pzz

Think Global – Act Local!

Body heat powers flashlight

A 16 year old Canadian high school student developed a hand-held flashlight that runs off the heat from your hand. It has no batteries, solar cells or motion driven generators. It uses peltier tiles which produce electrical energy from the difference between a person’s body heat and the ambient temperature.

The flashlight was entered into the 2013 Google Science Fair. In September 2013 it was named a finalist for the student’s age group. It won and the student was awarded a trophy made out of Legos, a visit to the Lego Group headquarters in Denmark, and a $25,000 scholarship.

A patent has been applied for and work continues to increase the output which is currently at 24 lumens. If you want to know more about this follow the link below. FOR SOME REASON!! You need to right click on the link and open it in a new tab, then it will work.

http://www.people.com/people/article/0,,20791083,00.html

Think Global – Act Local!

Cold weather and Global warming?

Now that North America has gone through its first very nasty winter in a few decade people have been asking me; ‘Why is it so cold?’ and ‘What up with global warming?’.

Well, it’s all part of the same thing – climate change.As sea ice in the arctic melts due to global warming the warmer ocean water heats up the cooler atmosphere above it. This in turn causes the jet stream to slow down. When the jet stream slows down it becomes unstable and starts to meander from its historic pattern. When and if the jet stream forms a new pattern is unclear, But, there will continue to be shifts in the jet stream bringing colder winter weather than in the past and this weather will last longer.

Significant impacts on crop and live stock production can be expected as the majority of these take place in the mid-latitudes of our planet where the cold weather is having its effects. Follow the link below to find out more.

http://news.yahoo.com/jet-stream-shift-could-prompt-harsher-winters-scientists-132931128.html

Think Global – Act Local!

Bye, bye solar panels?

Humans are always trying to find new ways to improve just about everything in our lives and one that we’d love to find is a more efficient replacement for the suburban roof accessory called the solar panel.
Most of us are familiar with lighthouses which project a beam of light miles out to sea, warning ships of shallow water and reefs. An integral part of every lighthouse is a lens system to project the beam many miles out to sea. Well, why not use a similar type of lens system to capture light and make it drive a solar power system? A system that follows the sun, is weather proof and can be easily moved to new locations is under development using a ball lens. If you’re interested follow the link below.
The French did this. Really? The French!
http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/rawlemon-solar-devices

 

 

Think Global – Act Local!

 

 

How can I help?

Here in the Pacific Northwest the drum for environmentalism is beaten daily, lived by thousands of people and we know that climate change is a reality. We do a lot of hiking, biking and hosts of other outdoor activities and see the changes daily. But, what can we do to directly help the research by hundreds of scientists in the Northwest and around the world?
It’s usually at this point that someone asks you to help fund a project or a cause. This is NOT what this article is about so you’re safe to keep reading.
If you’re taking a camping trip up in the Cascades or Rockies or maybe even somewhere exotic like the rainforests of Central America – there simple ways to help.
Scientists need large amounts of data in their research projects and many times there isn’t enough funding to collect all that is needed or they might like. There ways you can aid in their research while you’re out there. Collecting a few grams of soil or water, a leaf from a particular species of tree or taking the temperature of the water can be helpful.
Follow the video link below and you may find some project(s) that you can assist. If you’re a teacher then maybe students at a class level could be involved.

So, to sum it up –  give your word – lend a hand – give a damn!

http://www.adventureandscience.org/north-america.html

Act Local – Think Global!