Renewable energy is slowly turning the tide (groan, I know) against less environmentally friendly power by providing less harmful alternative sources of renewable energy. Environmental issues first came to the fore of the American consciousness back in the late 60’s thanks to a river that caught fire. No, seriously. It took a river literally catching fire for us to stop and think that maybe we should reconsider what we were doing since flaming water = bad. Since then, the environmental movement has come a long way toward making sure we don’t irreversibly damage our only home in the solar system. While we have made some progress, we still have a ways to go.
One of the most interesting and potentially lucrative facets of the environmental movement has to be perfecting renewable energy technology. Massive sums of money are now being poured into searching for a renewable energy solution that will hopefully help us move away from our fondness for burning fossilized creatures. Though there are many forms of green energy currently being developed, there are two alternative energy sources that we all know: wind power and solar power. While the slow proliferation of these technologies into our power grid are steps in the right direction, it seems that renewable energy is not for the birds. Why? Well, it turns out that solar and wind power come with the unfortunate consequence of being pretty efficient bird assassins.
Let’s start with the more obvious of the two renewable energy sources, wind power. If you’ve ever stuck your finger (or anything else) in a fan, you can pretty much figure out how wind power is killing off our feathered friends. I’m sure anytime you see wind turbines you have that fleeting morbid thought that wonders just how many birds get hurt by those things. (No? Just me?) Well, some likely bummed out researchers (who I’m sure were in need of kitten videos to cheer up afterward) were tasked with trying to find out just how many birds are killed annually by wind power. After completing their depressing research, it looks like up to 328,000 birds are killed by wind turbines every year! Ouch. And if you think that solar power might be a more humane way for birds to die, you would be wrong. It turns out that solar power delivers death in a manner that mad scientists would totally appreciate.
How can the same technology that powers your calculator and Casio watch kill? Well, in order to generate enough power, massive solar power farms and facilities are necessary to gather enough solar energy. One such station is the Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Project that will be using thousands of mirrors to melt millions of pounds of salt in order to heat water and generate steam. Who knew that green energy was so cool, right? Well, this genuinely nifty idea has the unfortunate consequence of literally vaporizing any unfortunate creature in its path thanks to the intense heat from the reflected light. Oops! In a recent test (before it officially comes online in March), the Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Project ended up vaporizing about 130 birds in just one day. In fact, the vaporization of the birds is so dramatic that the scientists have taken to calling the incinerated birds “streamers.” Cue the laugh of an evil genius. Anyway, any third grader can tell you that the 328,000 birth deaths from wind power is more than the upper estimates of 28,000 solar power deaths per year. However, the total kill count for green energy combined is still lower than just coal which kills about 7.9 million birds annually. So, in terms of bird deaths, we are moving away from the fiery rivers of coal power and more toward the flaming tap water of green energy. Hooray for progress?
11-Year-Old Scientist Creates Lead Detector for Water.
Genius can show itself in many ways, some people have propositions, others create. It’s all a game of “Who can implement these solutions to a full extent?”. This 11-year-old girl decided to take the matters into her own hands and revolutionized the world of science and health. By creating a lead detector device, this girl contributed to end the massive contamination of the liquids in her region once and for all.
The story begins at Flint, Michigan. An 11-year-old girl named Gitanjali Rao took notice of the water crisis people were having at the time. The drinking water became contaminated with led and caused a major public health crisis.
“I had been following the Flint, Michigan, issue for about two years,” Gitanjali told ABC News. “I was appalled by the number of people affected by lead contamination in water and I wanted to do something to change this.”
When she saw the current solutions that were painfully average and slow at best. The girl decided to step up and fight this, but how? Lead isn’t that easy to detect in contaminated water, right? Well, like any inventor, she made her best effort to make this an easy process for everyone.
She told Business Insider that: “I went, ‘Well, this is not a reliable process and I’ve got to do something to change this,’ ” And so, she went on a quest to find the best solution to the problem.
First, she went to the MIT’s Materials Science and Engineering website to see “if there’s anything’s new,” she read about new technologies that could detect hazardous substances and decided to see whether they could be adapted to test for lead.
Once she found out a project that worked best, she created a device that fulfills one basic purpose: Identify lead compounds in water, portable and relatively inexpensive. And she succeeded.
The device consists of 3 essential parts: There is a disposable cartridge containing chemically treated carbon nanotube arrays, an Arduino-based signal processor with a Bluetooth attachment, and a smartphone app that can display the results. The name? Tethys, like the Greek Goddess of Fresh Water.
How does it work? The carbon nanotubes in the cartridge are sensitive to changes in the flow of electrons. Those tubes are lined with atoms that have an affinity to lead, which adds a measurable resistance to the electron flow.
Once the cartridge is dipped in water that is clean, the electron flow doesn’t change and the smartphone app shows that water is safe to drink. However, if it is contaminated water, the lead in the water reacts to the atoms, causing resistance in the electron flow that is measured by the Arduino processor. The app then shows that the water isn’t safe to drink.
This invention is such a work of art and creativity; it deserves the greatest amount of recognition. And as such, Rao was dubbed “America’s Top Young Scientist” in the Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge this distinction comes with a check for $25,000, more than enough compensation for saving many.
Here at GeekReply, we hope that this child genius aspires to the greatest of futures. With the recent contributions that have been helping science and health developments. People like this could be a great help for the brighter future of human society.
General Motors to Release 20 Electric Cars by 2023
There have been a lot of new pushes to take the electric cars to the next level. A lot of countries have been approving laws that will decrease the use of fuel cars for the sake of a better future. It seems like General Motors is going to add more to the plans of a greener environment where cars are usually hybrid or electric.
In a push to produce cars powered by batteries or fuel cells, General Motors laid out a strategy to vastly expand the number of electric models in the marketplace. G.M. said it would introduce two new all-electric models within 18 months as part of a broader plan toward what the company says is the ultimate goal of an emissions-free fleet. The two models will be the first of at least 20 new all-electric vehicles that G.M. plans to bring out by 2023.
G.M.’s chief executive, Mary T. Barra, announced in September that the company, America’s largest automaker, expected the industry to move aggressively toward an automotive future with zero emissions, traffic accidents and highway congestion.
“General Motors believes in an all-electric future,” Mark Reuss said at a media event at the company’s technical center in the Detroit suburb of Warren. “Although that future won’t happen overnight, G.M. is committed to driving increased usage and acceptance of electric vehicles.”
He declined to specify what type of new models will be built off the Bolt’s underpinnings, but the chief of G.M.’s electrification strategy, Pam Fletcher, said the company is focusing on the development of sport utility vehicles and car-based crossover models.
There still isn’t a set timeframe for an all-electric portfolio of products, and the company expects to continue making cars and trucks powered by gasoline engines for an indefinite period of time. But at the very least they want to make some progress like many other companies have.
California Might Ban the Sale of Non-Electric Cars
Gas-powered cars might soon be a thing of the past in California, at least if Governor Jerry Brown and chairman of the California Air Resources Board Mary Nichols have any say on the matter.
According to Bloomberg, Nichols claimed Brown is interested in banning the sale of cars (and other vehicles) that use an internal-combustion engine within the state of California. This ban is not just a response to similar proposed bans in foreign countries, including China and France; it is also designed to help California meet climate goals set by Global Automakers, which hope to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 80% from 1990 levels. According to Nichols, the best way to reach this goal is to “pretty much replace all combustion with some form of renewable energy by 2040 or 2050.” Replacing internal-combustion engines with electric engines just might do the trick.
While the ban won’t take effect for at least a decade, Nichols believes it might run into several legal problems. While California can create pollution laws thanks to the Clean Air Act, these laws need to be supported by waivers from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). However, the EPA has been under attack from the Trump administration, which, according to Nichols, means California likely won’t receive an EPA waiver to enforce the ban. However, Nichols has suggested several alternatives, such as controlling of vehicle registration rules and deciding which vehicles can or can’t access state highways.
Another possible wrench in Brown and Nichols’ ban plan is if it’s feasible. Global Automakers has purportedly claimed that China’s internal-combustion engine car ban would be impossible, although, to be fair, China’s plan is much more ambitious. Instead of replacing all internal-combustion cars by 2050, China hopes to replace one-fifth of their cars by 2025, create quotas in 2018 to facilitate the replacements, and to enforce severe penalties on those who doesn’t comply. At first glance, this plan doesn’t look more ambitious, but reports indicate the number of people who own cars in China eclipses the population of California. Depending on how California plans to enforce the ban, Global Automakers might oppose it.
Nichols believes a ban on selling non-electric cars could happen as early as 2030, but we will have to wait much longer to see if the ban effectively cuts down on carbon dioxide emissions. Or if California car-owners accept the ban.
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