Sunday, October 25, 2015

Making Fuels from Air

Given that we may be passed the tipping point on global warming, it may be time to think about reversing the process. Here is a method to remove CO2 from the atmosphere. 
The process uses a large wall of fans, known as a contactor, to push air through a liquid that reacts with the CO2. That carbon dioxide-rich solution is then put through several processing steps to create a purified stream of CO2 gas and the liquid that is returned to the contactor. Keith and his team have cleverly combined industrial processes that are already in use in existing industries, for instance in paper mills.
It requires power, but with a carbon-free power source it could be used to create feedstock for our current carbon-based chemical industry from the carbon that pollutes the air. 

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Multilevel Marketing Scam

Is conservative politics nothing more than a multilevel marketing scam? Groups that raise money to support candidates or lobby for conservative causes seem to do nothing more than line the pockets of the consulting firms made up of people who started the fundraising groups to begin with . Nice work, if you can get it.

Update: Krugman has more links to more stories on this issue.  There's a nice graph about how the Tea Party Leadership Fund spends the dollars it collects from donors. Only 14% goes to actual candidate activities. People with that kind of passion coupled with a dearth of critical thinking are such easy marks.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Mysterious Star

There is a candidate for the most mysterious star in our galaxy. It is truly unique in that there are a great number of things which block its light on a regular cycle. If it were a young star, this could be explained as dust and debris left over from the star formation. But it isn't young. Over time gravity consolidates this stuff into planets which block comparatively little light. This behavior is truly anomalous. Out of 150,000 stars studied for potential exo-planets, this is the only one that has this much blockage.

Perhaps we have found our first Dyson sphere. Could it be that an alien civilization is in the process of constructing large structures in orbit around a star to capture its energy?

Thursday, October 08, 2015

The China Debt Fizzle

When are we going to stop believing the idle fear-mongers? Remember when we used to fear the possibility that China would stop buying US Treasury bills? In recent times,
they have been selling off the debt they hold. And nothing much has happened. That's one less thing to worry about.

Lockheed Martin begins manufacturing ATHENA laser weapon

Cool. Lasers mounted on vehicles. By the time the Russians get the kinks ironed out with their cruise missiles, we will have a laser-equipped military.

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Benghazi Bites Back

In light of the admission by Kevin McCarthy that the Benghazi committee's 
goal was to embarrass Hillary Clinton, whatever influence it may have had will shortly be evaporated. Not only was it a witch hunt, they have actually copped to that out loud. As Hillary proceeds to make hay out of the Republicans misuse of the public trust to pursue political vendettas, expect the Republican stock to go down as Hillary's fundraising goes up.

Monday, October 05, 2015

Health Care Is Not A Normal Free Market

In another example of how free market economics fails in a health care model,
a study shows that profits drive the propagation of new health technologies rather than their value to human welfare, In other words, if a technological innovation is really good for people but is difficult to commercialize, it doesn't attract investor funding. How much better would health care be if other things were valued as much as profits?

Women's Health Care and Catholic hospitals.

There seems to be a trend of religious-sponsored hospital systems taking over non-religious systems. Perhaps it's because they don't face the same pressures to produce profits. Running at a loss may be acceptable as long as the loss is not excessive. But the clientele pay a price. Religious hospital systems more things in their agenda that affordable, quality health care. Medical procedures that relate to sexual activities are not equal to other procedures that protect health and relieve suffering. In an attempt to call these hospital systems to account about this, the ACLU is suing Catholic hospitals for their policies that place non-medical restrictions on the care they provide.

Thursday, October 01, 2015

Deep water

It seems that there is a reservoir of water three times the volume of all the oceans hidden in the Earth's mantle. It's good that it's there and not on the surface. If it were on the surface we would be a real Waterworld with only a few mountain peaks sticking above the waves.

A New Way To Fund Elections from Seattle

In an attempt to limit big money influence in its elections,
Seattle experiments with a public voucher system for funding city elections. It will be interesting to see how this turns out.

Who knew?

Meal worms can eat styrofoam. And all these years we thought the stuff was going to be our generation's archaeological legacy. Not only do they eat styrofoam, the produce droppings that would make good fertilizer.