A biological battery

Plugging into sources of energy within our body — such as heat, internal motion or metabolites — to power implanted medical devices has long been the goal of biomedical engineers. Now researchers based in Cambridge, Massachusetts have demonstrated that a sensing device embedded in the ear can be powered by the ear’s own electrochemical battery. Our auditory mechanism picks up external sounds and sends information … Continue reading A biological battery

Electron Transport by Filamentous Bacteria

Necessity is the mother of natural selection. When conditions become threatening, maverick or mutant members of a group which can cope with the threat survive and multiply. The latest example is the discovery of a special type of bacteria in the ocean, which join together to form a long conducting nanowire cable to transport electrons and capture the oxygen at the surface for metabolic use. … Continue reading Electron Transport by Filamentous Bacteria

Online Courses and the future of universities…

Source: The Guardian Two years ago, I sat in the back seat of a Toyota Prius in a rooftop car park in California and gripped the door handle as the car roared away from the kerb, headed straight towards the roof’s edge and then at the last second sped around a corner without slowing down. There was no one in the driver’s seat. It was … Continue reading Online Courses and the future of universities…

Life behind the Iron Curtain

Source: The New Yorker When Germany invaded Poland, on September 1, 1939, the date that W. H. Auden used for his famous poem—“I and the public know / What all schoolchildren learn, / Those to whom evil is done / Do evil in return”—Poland had commitments in hand from France and Britain to come to its aid if its independence was threatened. In Warsaw, in … Continue reading Life behind the Iron Curtain

Organic Farming

Nature Magazine did a cover story in 2004 on Organic Farming. Interactive Graphics Is organic the future of farming? In its pure form, maybe not. But elements of the organic philosophy are starting to be deployed in mainstream agriculture. In this web focus, Nature’s reporters analyse this trend, assess the extent of organic farming worldwide, and frame the questions on which its wider adoption will … Continue reading Organic Farming

Maximum theoretical wind power

Wind turbines convert kinetic to electrical energy, which returns to the atmosphere as heat to regenerate some potential and kinetic energy. As the number of wind turbines increases over large geographic regions, power extraction first increases linearly, but then converges to a saturation potential not identified previously from physical principles or turbine properties. These saturation potentials are >250 terawatts (TW) at 100 m globally, approximately 80 TW at 100 m over … Continue reading Maximum theoretical wind power

Climate variability and violence

In an earlier post, I have referenced the effect of climate change on health. This week’s issue of PNAS has an article on climate change and violence, which is quite worrisome. Recent studies concerning the possible relationship between climate trends and the risks of violent conflict have yielded contradictory results, partly because of choices of conflict measures and modeling design. In this study, we examine climate–conflict … Continue reading Climate variability and violence

Science Education

Michael Faraday’s lectures at London’s Royal Institution in the early 19th century were so popular that the carriages dropping people off to see him used to choke Albemarle Street in Mayfair – as a result, the street was designated the first one-way road in London. Faraday was a master communicator who thrilled audiences with the latest discoveries in chemistry and electricity. He was as much a brilliant … Continue reading Science Education