Tuesday, February 21, 2017

solar water filtration system


"But rising awareness of water scarcity issues has led researchers like Gan and his team in Buffalo to apply new techniques to make solar distillation more efficient. Their solar vapor generator and condenser uses porous paper covered with carbon black, a material that has a near-zero reflectivity and therefore absorbs a higher amount of solar heat. The carbon-covered paper is then placed over floating white polystyrene foam and a thermal insulator that helps concentrate the solar heat onto the carbon layer. The device is then placed on the surface of a dirty water source while the paper acts as a sponge and the carbon as an evaporator. The vapor then condenses on the angled wall of the vaporizer, seeping into a culvert that collects the potable water.
Gan and his team have claimed that their prototype produces as much as three times more potable water as comparable solar stills, or about 4.2 cups an hour under sunny conditions. The average healthy adult needs about eight cups of water a day. Crucially, this is all done using cheap materials that can be scaled, meaning arrays of floating stills could be tapped in emergency situations to provide a considerable amount of fresh drinking water to a disaster-struck community, especially in the sunny parts of Africa, Asia and Latin America.
In November, the researchers registered a company called Sunny Clean Water and are hoping to have a production-ready version of their prototype by the end of the year.  "

I believe clean water will be one of the most important problems in the near future, around the world.  Any cheap method like this will be very welcome.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

We need to completely revamp how we teach our children


"In the future, if you want a job, you must be as unlike a machine as possible: creative, critical and socially skilled. So why are children being taught to behave like machines?
Children learn best when teaching aligns with their natural exuberance, energy and curiosity. So why are they dragooned into rows and made to sit still while they are stuffed with facts?
We succeed in adulthood through collaboration. So why is collaboration in tests and exams called cheating?
Governments claim to want to reduce the number of children being excluded from school. So why are their curriculums and tests so narrow that they alienate any child whose mind does not work in a particular way?
The best teachers use their character, creativity and inspiration to trigger children’s instinct to learn. So why are character, creativity and inspiration suppressed by a stifling regime of micromanagement?
There is, as Graham Brown-Martin explains in his book Learning {Re}imagined, a common reason for these perversities. Our schools were designed to produce the workforce required by 19th-century factories. The desired product was workers who would sit silently at their benches all day, behaving identically, to produce identical products, submitting to punishment if they failed to achieve the requisite standards. Collaboration and critical thinking were just what the factory owners wished to discourage."

Finland has started to completely revamp their educational methods.  Let's look to them for advice.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

graphic artist loses to robots, turns to alternative


"The biggest change he’s referring to is the technologically driven separation of people from traditional jobs. Experts predict that, by 2020, over 5 million jobs will be lost due to robotics, AI, 3D printing, and other technologies—largely in office and administrative work. But other sectors will be affected as well. After all, robots can deliver pizza, mop floors, make soup, work an assembly line, check in hotel guests, carry cargo onto battlefields, and perform surgery. It’s not too much of a stretch to imagine them one day displacing sex workers."

Trump wants to re-open coal mines, which is like bringing back buggie whips.  We have to think more about what job displacement can mean. When I was young the magazine articles promised that robots would mean more leisure time for workers, not less pay and wealth transfer to corporations.  That promise could still be realized.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

MLK was for the guaranteed minimum income!

Turning Chernobyl into a solar farm


"The 1986 explosion at the Chernobyl power plant in Ukraine also resulted in vast areas of land being contaminated by nuclear fallout, with a 30-kilometre exclusion zone, which encompassed the town of Pripyat, being declared in the area round the facility.
Now two companies from China plan to build a one-gigawatt solar power plant on 2,500 hectares of land in the exclusion zone to the south of the Chernobyl plant.
Ukrainian officials say the companies estimate they will spend up to $1bn on the project over the next two years.
A subsidiary of Golden Concord Holdings (GLC), one of China’s biggest renewable energy concerns, will supply and install solar panels at the site, while a subsidiary of the state-owned China National Machinery Corporation (Sinomach) will build and run the plant.
'It is cheap land, and abundant sunlight constitutes a solid foundation for the project,' says Ostap Semerak, Ukraine’s minister of environment and natural resources.
'In addition, the remaining electric transmission facilities are ready for reuse.'"

This is such an excellent idea!  Using land that has no other purpose (except maybe a preserve) and making pollution-free electricity!

Friday, December 30, 2016

robots take more jobs


"The first phase of Foxconn’s automation plans involve replacing the work that is either dangerous or involves repetitious labor humans are unwilling to do. The second phase involves improving efficiency by streamlining production lines to reduce the number of excess robots in use. The third and final phase involves automating entire factories, “with only a minimal number of workers assigned for production, logistics, testing, and inspection processes,” according to Jia-peng.
The slow and steady march of manufacturing automation has been in place at Foxconn for years. The company said last year that it had set a benchmark of 30 percent automation at its Chinese factories by 2020. The company can now produce around 10,000 Foxbots a year, Jia-peng says, all of which can be used to replace human labor. In March, Foxconn said it had automated away 60,000 jobs at one of its factories."

I mentioned before that when I was growing up, the rosy view of the future was that robots would be doing most of the work, which meant workers got more and more leisure time.  Instead, robots get more and more work, while we get less and less income.  The savings go to the corporations, not the workers.  Should known...

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Millenials screwed royally by my generation


"Between 2005 and 2015, those under 30 went from owning their home at about a 34.5% rate down to 27.7%. Over the same decade, we went from owing $350 billion in student loans to over $1.3 trillion by the end of the first half of 2016. It’s likely that graduates coming out of school with a significant amount of debt are putting on buying homes out of necessity, at least for several years after they are done with college."

My generation used to brag that we needed to make sure that the next generation was better off than us, just as our parents had done for us.  Phht.  What a joke.  We let the 1% soak up all the money and left you all in horrible debt.  I apologize.  And I hope this can be reversed somehow.