Every piece of garbage can be turned into raw material that can be used in future products. With his influential Cradle to Cradle movement, Germany's Michael Braungart espouses a form of eco-hedonism that puts smart production before conservation.
Exotic pests, shrinking ranges and a changing climate threaten some of the world's most rare and ecologically important plants, and so conservationists establish seed collections to save the seeds in banks or botanical gardens in hopes of preserving some genetic diversity. For decades, these seed collections have been guided by simple models that offer a one-size-fits-all approach for how many seeds to gather. A new study, however, has found that more careful tailoring of seed collections to specific species and situations is critical to preserving plant diversity.
A team at IBM recently developed what they call a High Concentration Photo Voltaic Thermal (HCPVT) system that is capable of concentrating the power of 2,000 suns, they are even claiming to be able to concentrate energy safely up to 5,000X, that’s huge.
The process of trapping the sunlight produces water that can be used to produce filtered drinkable water, or used for other things like air conditioning etc. Scientists envision that the HCPVT system could provide sustainable energy and fresh water to communities all around the world.
“Each 1cmX1cm chip can convert 200-250 watts, on average, over a typical eight-hour day in a sunny region.
In the HCPVT system, instead of heating a building, the 90 degree Celsius water will pass through a porous membrane distillation system where it is then vaporized and desalinated.
Such a system could provide 30-40 liters of drinkable water per square meter of receiver area per day, while still generating electricity with a more than 25 percent yield or two kilowatts hours per day.
"Last Call at the Oasis, now in theaters! Help aid the global water crisis.
The global water crisis will be the central issue facing our world this century. We can manage this problem, but only if we are willing to act now. Last Call at the Oasis is a powerful new documentary that shatters myths behind our most precious resource. This film exposes defects in the current system, shows communities already struggling with its ill-effects and highlights individuals championing revolutionary solutions during the global water crisis. Firmly establishing the global water crisis as the central issue facing our world this century, the film posits that we can manage this problem if we act now."
Scientists have issued a new warning to the world’s coastal megacities that the threat from subsiding land is a more immediate problem than rising sea levels caused by global warming.
"A new paper from the Deltares Research Institute in the Netherlands published in April identified regions of the globe where the ground level is falling 10 times faster than water levels are rising - with human activity often to blame.
In Jakarta, Indonesia’s largest city, the population has grown from around half a million in the 1930s to just under 10 million today, with heavily populated areas dropping by as much as six and a half feet as groundwater is pumped up from the Earth to drink.
The same practice led to Tokyo’s ground level falling by two meters before new restrictions were introduced, and in Venice, this sort of extraction has only compounded the effects of natural subsidence caused by long-term geological processes."
A puzzle of just 82 letters of DNA is challenging what it means to be a species.
In new research published in June in the journal Science, Wolf’s team has found that a surprisingly small chunk of DNA may hold the answer. A comparison of the carrion and hooded-crow genomes showed that the sequences are almost identical. Differences in just 82 DNA letters, out of a total of about 1.2 billion, appear to separate the two groups. Almost all of them are clustered in a small part of one chromosome. “Maybe just a few genes make a species what they are,” said Chris Jiggins, a biologist at the University of Cambridge in England, who was not involved in the study. “Maybe the rest of genome can flow, so species are much more fluid than we imagined before.”
The findings are striking because they suggest that just a few genes can keep two populations apart. Something within that segment of DNA stops black crows from mating with gray ones and vice versa, creating a tenuous mating barrier that could represent one of the earliest steps in the formation of new species. “They look very different and prefer to mate with their own kind, and all of that must be controlled by these narrow regions,” Jiggins said.
"In what appears to be the first study of its kind, computer scientists report that an algorithm discovered more than 50 years ago in game theory and now widely used in machine learning is mathematically identical to the equations used to describe the distribution of genes within a population of organisms. Researchers may be able to use the algorithm, which is surprisingly simple and powerful, to better understand how natural selection works and how populations maintain their genetic diversity.
By viewing evolution as a repeated game, in which individual players, in this case genes, try to find a strategy that creates the fittest population, researchers found that evolution values both diversity and fitness.
Some biologists say that the findings are too new and theoretical to be of use; researchers don’t yet know how to test the ideas in living organisms. Others say the surprising connection, published Monday in the advance online version of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, may help scientists understand a puzzling feature of natural selection: The fittest organisms don’t always wipe out their weaker competition. Indeed, as evidenced by the menagerie of life on Earth, genetic diversity reigns."