GPS Blog: Environmental News and Discussion

"If you are under 25, and not a Liberal, you have no heart. If you are over 25, and not a Conservative, you have no brain." -Winston S. Churchill.




Worse for the environment then you'd think.

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Archive for September 2011

A liter of Light and a Really Cool Idea

Posted on Friday, September 23, 2011 at 8:30 AM by Richard Schitts

Some students at MIT came up with a cool idea for lighting Philippine slums. I love their idea - it's so simple it's genius; it uses no energy and recycles old pop bottles. There is one downside - it only works in the day. But if you live in a hut with no windows near the equator this might not be too much of a downside.

MIT's Slum Lighting Solution: Cut a hole in your roof, seal a pop bottle with water and a little bleach (to kill algae) into the hole. Voila! You have a light. The cool thing is that because of the way a pop bottle refracts light it captures more light than just a hole in the roof - the equivalent of a 50-55 watt light bulb.

Simple, elegant, beautiful, genius. A picture is worth a thousand words. It made me think - why did it take MIT engineers to come up with this solution? Maybe they are trained to think out of the box - maybe they see past a problem and towards a solution. Environmentalists take note.

Now if only we could genetically engineer algae to be bioluminescent for a couple of hours after dark "slum landlords" would be all set!

Further reading:

Edited on: Friday, September 23, 2011 8:54 AM

Posted in Global Warming (RSS), Other Environmental Discussion (RSS)

Global Warming Climate Science: It's Freakin' Hard!

Posted on Thursday, September 08, 2011 at 10:05 PM by Richard Schitts

The physics laboratory CERN has been doing some very high tech research on climate science. How you may ask? By Using cloud chambers, particle accelerators and cosmic rays. Some very cool stuff!

Clouds are made when water vapor condenses around ammonia and sulphuric acid "seed" molecules. The suns ions (cosmic rays) help to form the "seed" clusters of ammonia and sulphuric acid. This means the sun plays a direct roll in cloud formation (read about the sun's cycles here). The question is - how much of a roll does the sun play?

-More complicated than you'd think.

Some techno-babble:

Today's climate models used to predict global climate change have a hard time linking Sun activity to cloud formation. CERN's research will help with this. CERN's experiments have shown that sulphuric acid and ammonia seeds only account for 1/10 to 1/1000 of the clouds we observe in the atmosphere. Currently climate models assume that ammonia and sulphuric acid are the most common seeds water vapor attaches to in order to form clouds.

This means that in the cloud department current climate models are 1,000 to 100,000 percent off!

(If the climate model says there is 1 cloud it should actually say there are 0.001 to 0.1 clouds.)

Edited on: Wednesday, September 14, 2011 9:55 PM

Posted in Other Environmental Discussion (RSS)