Friday, June 11, 2010

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

ASHRAE Report Confirms Funk in Cooling Towers

ATLANTA –New research supported by ASHRAE indicates that non-chemical devices (NCD) marketed to control the growth of biological agents, such as Legionella in cooling towers, may not materially reduce biological growth.

Research project No. 1361, Biological Control in Cooling Towers Using Non-Chemical Water Treatment Devices, a two-year project recently completed by Dr. Radisav Vidic at the University of Pittsburgh, evaluated  five  non-chemical devices using different technologies to control biological activity in a model cooling-tower system.  The devices studied included a hydrodynamic cavitation device, pulsed and static electric field devices, an ultra-sonic device and a magnetic device.

In Dr. Vidic’s research, none of the non-chemical devices measurably reduced planktonic or sessile microbial populations in comparison to no-treatment tests and to a conventional chemical microbial control treatment protocol.  The findings appear to be inconsistent with previous research by non-chemical device manufacturers and some independent researchers on some of the same devices tested in the ASHRAE study.  Those other studies reported measurable degrees of biological control within the parameters of testing conducted.

“These results suggest that equipment operators, building owners and engineers should consider taking more frequent water sample tests for their systems that rely on NCDs for biological control. If the testing shows an issue, one possible measure is to add  chemical treatment capability to their system to prevent a potential health hazard from developing until additional research and field testing can resolve this question,” according to  Dr. Vidic .

The study results are still subject to final approval by the sponsoring technical committee, TC 3.6 – Water Treatment.  ASHRAE anticipates formal approval and the release of the final report for this project at its 2010 Annual Meeting Conference in June. Original link here.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Full iPad Coverage: Nobel Prize, Blenderizing, Fake Steve Jobs Letter

iPad™ Wins Nobel Peace Prize, 
First Electronic Device to Win, Experts Say

OSLO, NORWAY (The Borowitz Report) – In a remarkable break with tradition, the committee that awards the Nobel Peace Prize chose today to bestow that coveted honor on the Apple iPad™.

It was believed to be the first time an electronic device has won the Peace Prize, which is usually awarded to a human being, experts say.

“We didn’t want to fall prey to all of the hype surrounding the iPad™,” said Nobel committee chairperson Gustav Traavik, who waited at the Apple store in Oslo for over two hours to buy the device. “But it is sweet.”

In the twenty-four hours since it was released, the iPad™ has been credited with an impressive list of accomplishments, including saving the newspaper industry, the publishing business, and Tiger Woods’ marriage.

In other news...

And finally, an open letter to the people of the world from Fake Steve Jobs.

Friday, March 19, 2010

ZERO Charger a Stake Through the Heart of Vampire Power

By BC Upham | Triple Pundit
No, it’s not an euphemism for a two-year-old cellphone battery. The new ZERO Charger from AT&T, in stores in May, automatically cuts off the electrical circuit when not charging, eliminating wasted electricity, also known as “vampire power.”

The US Department of Energy estimates internal and external adapters burn through about 120 billion kilowatt hours (kWh) per year of electricity wasted as heat, costing consumers more than $12 billion in electric bills.

Why don’t we have these already?

The ZERO charger, which AT&T calls a “global first,” incorporates a circuit which senses when the charged device is disconnected and breaks the electrical circuit. The “block and cable” design gives it universal compatibility, and AT&T said the ZERO will cost the same as existing replacement chargers.
The ZERO will come in recycled paper packaging, part of AT&T efforts to reduce the amount of waste in its product packaging.

More good news on the charger front

In February, the GSMA announced a deal with major cellphone manufacturers to introduce a single standard for power adapters by 2012, eliminating the need to have a different adapter for each brand of handset. The new standard could have a huge positive environmental impact, reducing the amount of plastic wasted on those little black boxes worldwide.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Earthquake in Chile Knocks Earth Rotation, May Have Shortened Days

The Feb. 27 magnitude 8.8 earthquake in Chile may have shortened the length of each Earth day.
JPL research scientist Richard Gross computed how Earth's rotation should have changed as a result of the Feb. 27 quake. Using a complex model, he and fellow scientists came up with a preliminary calculation that the quake should have shortened the length of an Earth day by about 1.26 microseconds (a microsecond is one millionth of a second).
Perhaps more impressive is how much the quake shifted Earth's axis. Gross calculates the quake should have moved Earth's figure axis (the axis about which Earth's mass is balanced) by 2.7 milliarcseconds (about 8 centimeters, or 3 inches). Earth’s figure axis is not the same as its north-south axis; they are offset by about 10 meters (about 33 feet).
By comparison, Gross said the same model estimated the 2004 magnitude 9.1 Sumatran earthquake should have shortened the length of day by 6.8 microseconds and shifted Earth's axis by 2.32 milliarcseconds (about 7 centimeters, or 2.76 inches).
Gross said that even though the Chilean earthquake is much smaller than the Sumatran quake, it is predicted to have changed the position of the figure axis by a bit more for two reasons. First, unlike the 2004 Sumatran earthquake, which was located near the equator, the 2010 Chilean earthquake was located in Earth's mid-latitudes, which makes it more effective in shifting Earth's figure axis. Second, the fault responsible for the 2010 Chiliean earthquake dips into Earth at a slightly steeper angle than does the fault responsible for the 2004 Sumatran earthquake. This makes the Chile fault more effective in moving Earth's mass vertically and hence more effective in shifting Earth's figure axis.
Gross said the Chile predictions will likely change as data on the quake are further refined.
Alan Buis

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Andromeda in blue

NASA has just released the first images from its Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE). WISE's primary mission is to survey the entire sky in infrared, though it's also tasked with tracking asteroids, comets, and other objects.
Here the shortest-wavelength camera on WISE highlights the Andromeda galaxy's older stellar population in blue.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Snowpocalypse or Snowmaggedon?

The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite captured this true-color image on February 7, 2010, showing part of the region affected by heavy snowfall. Snow blankets the area hundreds of kilometers inland from the Atlantic coastline. Along the latitude of New York City, however, snow cover thins considerably. More here.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Spot the Trend?

Geothermal Heat Pump Shipments by Tons, 2004-2008

From the DOE's EIA Report

Monday, February 8, 2010

Friday, February 5, 2010

Ramping Up for Clean Energy

OK, on a commercial roll here, but at least this one's about the upcoming energy policy cage match. You never know, we might win one sometime...

Friday, January 29, 2010

Best Commercial Ever?

This is Super Bowl week, which means commercials are front and center. This one will not be airing, but should.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Dollars and No Sense: Money = Free Speech, Zombies Rule

“A corporation is an artificial being, invisible, intangible, and existing only in contemplation of law.  Being the mere creature of law, it possesses only those properties which the charter of its creation confers upon it.”
--Chief Justice John Marshall in in Dartmouth College v. Woodward

Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad Company was a United States Supreme Court case dealing with taxation of railroad properties. The case is most notable for the obiter dictum statement that corporations are entitled to protection under the Fourteenth Amendment.

At the California Constitutional Convention of 1878-79, the state legislature drew up a new constitution that denied railroads "the right to deduct the amount of their debts [i.e., mortgages] from the taxable value of their property, a right which was given to individuals."  Southern Pacific Railroad Company refused to pay taxes under these new changes. The taxpaying railroads challenged this law, based on a conflicting federal statute of 1866 which gave them privileges inconsistent with state taxation.

San Mateo County, along with neighboring counties, filed suit against the railroads to recoup the massive losses in tax revenue stemming from Southern Pacific's refusal to pay. After hearing arguments in San Mateo County v. Southern Pacific Railroad Company, the California Supreme Court sided with the county. Using the Jurisdiction and Removal Act of 1875, a law created so black litigants could bypass hostile southern state courts if they were denied justice, Southern Pacific was able to appeal all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The decisions reached by the Supreme Court are promulgated to the legal community by way of books called United States Reports. Preceding every case entry is a headnote, a short summary in which a court reporter summarizes the opinion as well as outlining the main facts and arguments. For example, in U.S. v. Detroit Timber and Lumber (1905), headnotes are defined as "not the work of the Court, but are simply the work of the Reporter, giving his understanding of the decision, prepared for the convenience of the profession."

Bancroft Davis, the Court Reporter and former president of Newburgh and New York Railway, wrote the following as part of the headnote for the case:

"The court does not wish to hear argument on the question whether the provision in the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution, which forbids a State to deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws, applies to these corporations. We are all of the opinion that it does."

In other words, corporations enjoyed the same rights under the Fourteenth Amendment as did natural persons. However, this issue is absent from the court's opinion itself and in fact is not at all representative of the court's opinion.

The rest is history.

Monday, January 18, 2010

A Day to Remember

"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly."

-- Martin Luther King in "Letter from a Birmingham Jail"

Friday, January 15, 2010

Help Haiti Through Partners in Health

Tracy Kidder is a journalist I greatly admire. His book, Mountains Beyond Mountains, chronicles Paul Farmer and his Partners in Health organization, which has twenty years of service experience in Haiti. There is an old Haitian proverb of “Beyond mountains there are mountains”—as you solve one problem, another problem presents itself, and so you go on and try to solve that one too.

Haiti has no shortage of mountainous problems. Please support Partners in Health's efforts by clicking through to their Stand with Haiti link and donating what you can.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Doomsday Clock Setback

Doomsday Clock Moves 1 Minute Back

By Larry Greenemeier   Scientific American

The human race can breathe a tiny bit easier (but not too much) now that the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists has moved the hand of its Doomsday Clock one minute farther away from midnight, the time which symbolizes catastrophic destruction and the apocalyptic end of civilization. The clock now reads six minutes from that end-of-days witching hour after it was changed during a press conference Thursday in New York City, citing an increased awareness and interest in stopping key threats to humanity (in particular nuclear conflict and global warming) since U.S. President Barack Obama took office about a year ago.

But the Bulletin, a group established shortly after World War II by the likes of Albert Einstein and J. Robert Oppenheimer, tempered its actions with the major caveat that humankind could slip closer to oblivion again if the world's governments do not follow through on promises made to curb the creation of more nuclear weapons and greenhouse gases. Although the Bulletin was originally formed out of concern for global nuclear annihilation, the group has since broadened its purview to include the world's vulnerability to climate change.