Here's more proof that things may not be as bad as they seem. In fact, some "things" appear to be getting better and better.
A Department of Energy report has found that nanotechnology could reduce the high costs of hydrogen cars by developing revolutionary ways of producing and storing hydrogen. Hydrogen stores energy more effectively than batteries, burns twice as efficiently in a fuel cell as gasoline does in an engine, and produces a single waste product, water.
"The amount of hydrogen that would be needed for a hydrogen economy is about five times what we're producing today..." In order to generate hydrogen energy, we first need to develop inexpensive, renewable sources of electricity like wind or solar power. Some nanotechnologists are already working on more efficient solar cells…
[Hydrogen gas may] have to be compressed, and the tank that holds it would need to be able to withstand the resulting high pressure. Nanotechnology could provide materials strong, light, and cheap enough to build such a tank. Another approach would be to have a tank filled with a solid material that absorbs hydrogen at fill-up time, and releases it while driving. Nanotechnology could produce that very porous solid material.
The good news:
As we reported last week (item 5), gasoline may play a role in the first generation of hydrogen-powered cars. According to the DOE report, nanotechnology may pick up where today's fuels leave off.
Ironically, most of the nine million tons of hydrogen we produce today is extracted from fossil fuels. In order to generate hydrogen energy, we first need to develop inexpensive, renewable sources of electricity like wind or solar power. Some nanotechnologists are already working on more efficient solar cells, which would help provide inexpensive electric power to produce more hydrogen at low cost.
Currently, it costs ten times as much to operate a car using hydrogen fuel cells than it does gasoline.
That price can only go down as hydrogen technology is phased in. Hydrogen powered vehicles will be great for the environment and will reduce the world's dependence on Arab oil. Imagine the political importance of being able to tell the Saudis, "keep the oil and the Wahhabism please."
Yep, sounds like a pretty good idea.
After the spectacular crashes of big-name Internet grocers in the late 1990s, the dream of a grand new wave of online food stores appeared to fizzle. But with intentionally meager fanfare, grocers have made Internet shopping available to tens of millions of consumers nationwide, and upcoming expansions will expand it to millions more.
Industry watchers say it's no longer a question of whether Internet grocery can be successful, but rather of how big it will become.
The good news:
It has taken a few false starts to get us to this point, but it looks as though there really is a viable business model for this service. What helps is that the offering now includes services such as storable, reusable shopping lists and delivery within a 2-hour window. It costs about $10 bucks.
Online grocery shopping will really take off when the supermarkets themselves becomes virtual. When we can stroll the aisles, comparison-shop, use virtual coupons clipped from our virtual newspapers...
Of course, at that point, it won't represent that much of a time savings. Also, it is likely that virtual grocery shopping will never be as big a hit with women as it is with guys. (I for one can't imagine the Specuwife buying meat or produce this way Phil.)
Online grocery shopping is a long-promised, long-anticipated feature of the digital age. And now it looks as though we have it.
The US is to accelerate its approval of new HIV drugs for the world's poor from four years to as little as six weeks.
But the US Food and Drug Administration, which will run the scheme, says it will not cut corners on safety to rush drugs through the system. Many will be combinations of medicines that have already been approved, it says.
The good news:
There are two pieces of very encouraging news, here:
It's especially encouraging to run a story like this on a Monday.
Quote of the Day
Extended longevity means extended healthy life span, not more years of increasing infirmity. You would never be old for longer - you would be healthy and in the prime of your life for longer. Hopefully for as long as you choose, if medical research proceeds rapidly enough.
Resources are never fixed, and nor are the ways in which we use them. We humans continue to produce more resources, and make better use of existing resources, all the time through our advancing technology and knowledge of the world.
-- Reason at Fight Aging!
Winning back the title of world's fastest supercomputer is the goal of a $25 million contract awarded by the Energy Department to Oak Ridge National Laboratory's Center for Computational Science…
"The new machine will enable breakthrough discoveries in biology, fusion energy, climate prediction, nanoscience and many other fields that will fundamentally change both science and its impact across society," Oak Ridge National Laboratory Director Jeff Wadsworth said. "Our plans are to surpass the world's current fastest supercomputer--Japan's 40-teraflops Earth Simulator--within a year."
The partnership begins with Oak Ridge's Cray X1 computer, which will be upgraded to 20 teraflops this year, and next year will be combined with a second 20-teraflops Cray Red Storm-based processor. Also next year, partner Argonne National Laboratory will add a 5-teraflops IBM Blue Gene computer that is expected to move the partners past the Earth Simulator.
The good news:
You don't have to be jingoistic flag-wavers like we are to appreciate the importance of not living in a scientific backwater.
But taking a broader view, faster computation (6.25 times faster than today's champ in just three years) means that problems too complex today will be solved tomorrow.
We're also encouraged that this is not a one-shot bid to beat Japan. As history has shown, with computers one cannot rest on past accomplishments. Success is a process, not a finish line.
You ever see the Terminator movies?
Just 11 More Steps
The first step to recovery is to admit you have a problem.
The Bush administration is now admitting that the limited number of embryonic stem cell lines may be impeding research.
In the letter, Dr. Zerhouni reiterated the president's stand that tax dollars not be used to "sanction or encourage further destruction of human embryos." But he also wrote, "It is also fair to say that from a purely scientific perspective more cell lines may well speed some areas" of research.
The good news:
Rather than tightening restrictions on stem cell research in a second term (as we have pessimistically predicted), this may signal an easing of restrictions. The government is such a big player in R&D, that restrictions in government funding can steer American science away from promising fields like embryonic stem cell research. So it's particularly good news that Bush is admitting that his policy may be slowing science.
The easing of restrictions can't come too soon for those suffering with disease. And the rest of us ain't getting any younger either…yet.
This is probably election-year triangulation. Activists should get a commitment from Bush while the election is still tight. If they fail to get a commitment, this may be the last we hear of it from the Bush administration.
The admission that more stem cell lines would do some good is significant. We'll see what happens next.
Attention Rhode Island residents: A free washing machine is yours for the taking at the corner of Tangent and Burgess in East Providence.
It might not clean your clothes, but it could come in handy as a movie prop or ... something.
Sounds enticing? Jen Duclos hopes her notice on the Free Market (http://www.freemarketri.org) will attract an Internet-savvy dumpster diver willing to cart away the unsightly appliance, which was mistakenly posted as a stove.
"It's been sitting out on the curb for like a year," Duclos said. "It just makes the neighborhood look so ghetto, I hate it."
There may be no such thing as a free lunch, but online exchanges offer free lumber, refrigerators and other slightly used treasures for anybody willing to come haul them away.
The good news:
Have you ever said this:
"eBay? Forget it. I couldn't give this stuff away!"
Well, here's your big chance to see if you were right.
Better All The Time is compiled by Phil Bowermaster and Stephen Gordon. Live to see it!Posted by Phil at May 17, 2004 08:33 PM | TrackBack