Sunday, December 22, 2013

Indonesia Plans To Build A 99 Stories Skyscraper Integrated With Wind Turbines

Indonesian energy company Pertamina plans to build a new headquarters in Jakarta, with 99 stories high. The building will be green and self-sustainable.

The building will integrate a wind turbines at the top of its roof. A funnel captures wind, sucks it inside, and speeds it up to run a series of vertical wind turbines. Pertamina is working with architecture firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP (SOM) to design the building. SOM's design of sun-shading “leaves” on 2 sides of the building helps to cut glare and shade the sunlight while still keeping the inside of the building bright enough. The building also uses water-based radiant cooling systems, instead of conventional air conditioners to reduce power consumption.

Building Facts
 
Project Completion Year: 2020
Site Area: 57,512 m2
Project Area: 495,000 m2
Number of Stories: 99
Building Height: 530 m

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Comparing Cree & Philips 60-Watt Incandescent Replacement LED Bulbs

Philips is releasing a new type of design for the 60-watt incandescent replacement LED bulb. Philips's SlimStyle LED removes the heatsink found on most LED bulbs. Without heatsink the light should cost significantly less to manufacture, which translates to lower selling price. Philips hasn't disclosed any retail price yet.

CNET compared the SlimStyle to Cree's A19 60-watt incandescent replacement LED bulb. Both bulbs show similar specification, but in actual there are some differences.


(1) SlimStyle is slightly more natural and less yellowy in tone than the Cree.

(2) Even though both claims to be omnidirectional, meaning that they cast light evenly in all directions, distinct dim areas are seen on each side of the SlimStyle's arc. Cree's A19 shows a much even light distribution.

(3) Cree comes with 10-year warranty and Philips only offers 3 years.


In the end, it will all come down to pricing. If the absence of heatsink is enough to keep the cost per bulb way below US$10, then SlimStyle stands a good chance to capture the market share.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

How Plastic Contaminating Your Seafood?

We have long heard that some fish contain mercury and eating too much of them would harm our body. Besides mercury, what else could fish ingest and digest into their tissue? Recent study published in Nature, Scientific Reports says that sometimes fish get chemicals from the plastic debris they ingest.

"The ocean is basically a toilet bowl for all of our chemical pollutants and waste in general," says Chelsea Rochman, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of California, Davis, who authored the study. "Eventually, we start to see those contaminants high up in the food chain, in seafood and wildlife."

In the study, Rochman and her co-authors fed medaka, a fish species often used in experiments, 3 different diets:
(1) regular fish food
(2) diet contains 10% "clean" plastic (with no pollutants)
(3) diet contains 10% plastic that had been soaking in the San Diego Bay for several months

When they tested the fish 2 months later, they found that the ones on the marine plastic diet (group #3) had much higher levels of persistent organic pollutants. Also, fish on the marine plastic diet were more likely to have tumors and liver problems.

When plastics are soaked in the ocean they behave just like a sponge which absorbs chemicals in the seawater. When the plastics got into the fish stomach they will interact with the stomach acid and release the chemicals absorbed, then get transferred into the bloodstream and tissue. Eating too much of such contaminated fish poses health risk.

According to Edward Humes, author of Garbology, there are 5 massive gyres of trash particles swirling around in the Indian, Atlantic and Pacific oceans alone. Those gyres contain plastic that has been weathered and broken down by the elements into these little bits, and it's getting into the food chain.

Even so, the consensus in the public health community still seems to be that the benefits of eating fish exceed the potential risks. Many researchers believe that the levels of dioxins, PCBs and other toxic chemicals in fish are generally too low to be of concern.

More studies are needed to really understand the impact of contaminated plastics in the ocean and risk poses to fish and human. As for Rochman, she says her research in marine toxicology has persuaded her to eat seafood no more than twice per week. And she now avoids swordfish altogether.
 

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Android App To Calculate Sabah 2014 Electricity Tariff

I have developed a simple Android app to calculate the new electricity bill for Sabah Electricity Sdn Bhd (SESB) consumers with 2014 new tariffs. The name of the app is "Sabah's 2014 Electric Tariffs" and can be downloaded from Google Play Store.

The app will calculate the new and old bills, and give a percentage increase. It covers all domestic, commercial class 1, 2 & 3, industrial class 1, 2 & 3 consumers. The app intends just to give an idea how the new bill will look like. The actual amount still has to be based on SESB's monthly bill.


Tuesday, December 10, 2013

10 Top Toxic Ingredients From Coal, Oil, Gas Production

Fossil fuel productions (oil, coal, gas) are using tons of chemicals, often not disclosed, which many are highly dangerous to human health. Here, some of the more commonly cited toxic ingredients, which used across all 3 major fossil fuel extraction industries: oil, coal, and natural gas, are listed.

(1) Benzene (Oil, Coal, Natural gas): one of the largest-volume petrochemical solvents used in the fossil fuel industry. It is a well-established carcinogen with specific links to leukemia as well as breast and urinary tract cancers.

(2) & (3) Sulfur Dioxide and Nitrogen Oxides(Oil, Coal, Gas): 2 primary air pollutants from coal power plants. They are known to cause serious health problems, like lung cancer and other cardiopulmonary mortality.

(4) Petroleum Coke or Pet Coke (Oil): by-product of tar sands bitumen oil processing. It is a heavy dust which resembles coal. It contains dozens of dangerous chemicals and heavy metals, including chromium, vanadium, sulfur, and selenium.

(5) Formaldehyde (Natural Gas): commonly used in a new drilling method of natural gas extraction called "fracking". Formaldehyde is known linked to leukemia and rare nasopharyngeall cancers. It also been linked to spontaneous abortions, congenital malformations, low birth weights, infertility, and endometriosis while exposed to formaldehyde.

(6) Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons PAH (Oil, Coal): is a group of toxic chemicals which link to childhood asthma, low birth weight, adverse birth outcomes including heart malformations, and DNA damage.

(7) Mercury (Coal): a dangerous neurotoxin. It damages the brain and the nervous system either through inhalation, ingestion, or contact with the skin. Coal-fired power plants are notorious for airborne mercury emissions which can travel thousands of miles from the source.

(8) Silica (Silicon Dust/Fracking Sand) (Natural Gas): is commonly used, in huge amounts, during fracking operations for natural gas drilling. It is a known human carcinogen; breathing silica dust can lead to silicosis, a form of lung disease with no cure.

(9) Radon (Natural Gas): is a colorless, odorless, tasteless radioactive gas which causes lung cancer. Newly-developed extraction methods “fracking” represents a significant source of radon exposure. Radon is released into local groundwater and air during fracking operations.

(10) Hydrofluoric Acid (Oil, Gas): a common ingredient used in oil and gas extraction. HF can immediately damage lungs, leading to chronic lung disease; contact on skin penetrates to deep tissue, including bone, where it alters cellular structure. HF can be fatal if inhaled, swallowed, or absorbed through skin.

These are just a quick summary of the dangerous chemicals from oil, coal and gas production. For more detail please visit http://cleantechnica.com/2013/12/09/10-top-toxic-ingredients-used-coal-oil-gas-production/

Monday, December 9, 2013

New Cute One-Seat Electric-Vehicle To Launch In Germany In 2015

Colibri is a German-built electric car, by Innovative Mobility Automobile GmbH, with a selling-price targets to be around US$12,000. Every month the owner needs to rent the battery at US$74. According to the company, the car is designed with lifespan of 8 years making the total car cost to be about US$19,000 (~ RM61,300). Colibri is strictly a city commuter, with room for a single person and a few bags of groceries.


Specifications:
Peak engine power: 24 kW
Battery: 6 kWh
Range per charge: 110 km
0 to 100 km/h: 9.9 sec
Top speed: 120 km/h
Weight: 1,000 lb

Friday, December 6, 2013

Why Are People Allergic To Peanuts?

Majority of Americans who were born before millennium pretty much grew up with think peanut butter on breads as breakfast. But food allergy, especially peanut allergy in children have seen a dramatic increase.

According to U.S.A. Centers For Disease Control there has been a 50% increase in the number of children with food allergies since the last 15 years. About 1 in 20 U.S.A. children have food allergies. Also, children with food allergy are 2 to 4 times more likely to have other related conditions like asthma and other allergies.

No one knows for sure what caused the increase, but Robyn O'Brien explores the toxic agricultural practices behind peanut farming in her article called “The Hidden Truth about Peanuts: From Food Allergies to Farm Practices.”  She discovered that peanut crops are often rotated with cotton, which receives applications of glyphosate (commonly known as weed killer) that severely damages the beneficial microorganisms in the soil. This leads to an increase in the population of bad organisms in the soil which increases the number of diseases affecting peanut crop. Farmers will increase the amount of pesticide used on the peanut crop. USDA found 8 pesticides in peanut butter, and piperonyl butoxide, an organic compound used as a component of pesticide formulations which is carcinogen, was found 26.9% of the time.

Also, peanuts tend to be grown in the warm places which promoting the growth of fungus. The fungus itself isn't a problem but it will release a poison called aflatoxin which causes cancer. Scientists at Cornell University have found a correlation between liver cancer and peanut consumption. The levels of aflatoxin in peanut butter vary greatly, depending on brands. The highest levels are in those freshly ground peanut butter from health food stores.

It makes sense that eating foods bathed in chemicals will have a serious impact on human health, and we’re probably just starting to see the effects (peanut allergy in children) since shifting from small, diversified farms to large-scale mono-crops. While it’s probably too late to undo the plethora of peanut allergies, perhaps we can decrease allergies in the next generation by paying closer attention to how peanuts are produced.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Sabah Electricity Tariff Hikes More Than 16.9% For Most City People

Effective Jan 1, 2014, electricity tariff in Sabah and Labuan FT will be increased by 16.9%, or 5 sen/kWh from 29.52 sen/kWh to 34.52sen/kWh in average, as announced by Energy, Green Technology and Water Minister Datuk Dr Maximus Ongkili yesterday.

But if you use more than 500 kWh a month than your bill actually increases more than 16.9% for domestic users (households).

Lets make a simple calculation. If a family has 2 1-HP (~ 0.8kW power consumption) air con and use them for 10 hours every day. In a month the 2 air con would use 480 kWh. If you include the TV, hot water heater, lights, etc, then you are easily using more than 500 kWh per month. If you have 3 air con then most likely you will be in the top rank of > 1,000 kWh usage. Below I calculated the electricity bill for household usage. You can see the increment for usage > 1,000 kWh is actually  almost 25%.

Below is the new and old SESB's tariffs for comparison.

Monday, December 2, 2013

3-D Printed Toothbrush Cleans Your Teeth In Just 6 Seconds

Blizzident is a new company that will tailor-make toothbrush for your teeth using 3-D printing technology. Simply biting and grinding, the dense field of bristles will clean all your teeth in 6 seconds.



To get a Blizzident brush, you go to the dentist, get a dental impression of your teeth and then send the data to a dental laboratory, where it will generate a digital 3-D model that can then be turned into a toothbrush.

 

Of course, this toothbrush doesn't come in cheap! Each will cost US$299 and will only last for 1 year. A replacement costs between US$ 89 (refurbished) and US$ 159 (brand-new).

Friday, November 29, 2013

How Much Subsidy Does Sabahan Get On Electricity?

Have you ever wonder what is the actual production cost of Sabah Electricity Sdn Bhd (SESB) and how much subsidy do we receive? Below picture shows the breakdown of 2010 SESB's costs. We can see that the actual electricity production cost was 75.54 cents/kWh and the average tariff was 31.69 cents/kWh. Hence, we receive 43.85 cents of subsidy per kWh.


Thursday, November 28, 2013

Malaysians Are Expecting Another Round Of Electricity Tariff Hike In 2014

Malaysians could expect 10% to 20% increase in electricity tariff per kWh next year, according to Minister of Energy, Green Technology and Water, Datuk Seri Dr. Maximus Ongkili. He also added that anything below 20% is reasonable. The final decision has yet to be made by the Cabinet, but the hike could happen anytime in 2014.

The hike will apply to both industrial and households increase. But Ongkili hinted that the government would maintain the current structure where consumers using 300 kWh per month and below would not experience any hike. Below are the snapshots of current domestic and commercial tariffs.



Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Shelf Life Of Cosmetics And Skin Care Products

Do you know that all cosmetics and skin care products have an expiration date? This means most likely that we, especially ladies, have been keeping the products longer than they should be. Of course, using expired cosmetics and skin care products don’t seem nearly as bad as drinking a glass of spoiled milk, the ingredients still get absorbed by your skin. Natural products have an even shorter shelf life than mainstream, drugstore products, which are full of preservatives.

Below is a quick list obtained from LifeHacker with the usual expiration dates for products that contain preservatives. Organic Authority has a similar list for all-natural products.


Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Do Fried Foods Cause Cancer?

Back in 2002, Food and Drug Administration (FDA), U.S.A., brought fear to many french fry lovers that it is carcinogen (meaning it could cause cancer). This is because most fried foods contain a chemical called acrylamide.

Acrylamide (or acrylic amide) is a chemical compound with the chemical formula C3H5NO. Acrylamide presents in many commonly eaten foods — including French fries, potato chips, bread and even coffee, and known to cause cancer in lab animals when ingested at high doses

SO, HOW DOES ACRYLAMIDE GET INTO OUR FOODS?

Acrylamide turns up in foods when they are fried, baked or cooked at high temperatures. It forms from sugars and an amino acid naturally found in food. It is part of the chemical reaction that transforms the flavor and color of food when cooked. It has been in our foods probably for as long as we've been cooking, but we didn't know it until a little over a decade ago.

The confusion part is that since the first warning given years ago, researchers have been studying acrylamide in humans but most of the studies published so far have failed to find any links between dietary acrylamide and various types of cancers.

"We found a suggestion that it might increase ovarian and endometrial cancer, but we found nothing for breast and nothing for prostate," said Kathryn Wilson, an epidemiologist at Harvard's School of Public Health.

Still, even though the human research hasn't pinpointed much of a cancer risk from eating acrylamide, the National Toxicology Program lists it  as "reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen," because of those animal studies.

And as for french fries? As Wilson notes: "You probably shouldn't be eating them for a lot of other reasons than acrylamide content."

Monday, November 25, 2013

Hydro Power In Sabah

Borneo Post posted on 22nd November that about RM57 million was approved under the 10th Malaysia Plan for upgrading the electricity generation system in the Tenom Pangi hydro power station at Sabah.

Sabah Electricity Sdn Bhd (SESB) managing director Ir Haji Abdul Razak Sallim said the project would boost the existing power generation capacity of 66 MW to 75 MW and is expected to be completed by the end of 2015. The said station has been in operation for 30 years and is time for upgrading to support the generation of electricity to consumers in the state.

Currently there are total of 81 MW of hydro power in Sabah and will continue be the focus of renewable energy development for SESB, as mentioned by one of the speaker during the SESB's Sustainable Energy Convention held on 14th and 15th of November.

12 sites have been identified as feasible hydro power with total capacity of 782 MW. SESB estimates that by 2023, the state's total hydro power would stand at 880 MW. Existing 180 MW Upper Padas  hydro development will be the biggest in SESB's road map and is targeted to be completed in 2019.

Upper Padas hydro power would consist of 3 x 60 MW Francis turbines. 120 MW would be firm supply and 60 MW would be for peak hours. The dam will be 120 meters tall with volume of 925,000 cubic meters. Below picture is taken from the presentation during the convention.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

2013 Global CO2 Emission Continues In Raising!

According to new figures from Global Carbon Project 2013 global CO2 emission will set a record high again. CO2 released from fossil fuel burning and cement production has increased 2.1% in 2012, reaching a total of 35.3 billion tonnes emitted to the atmosphere, which is 58% increase compared to 1990 emissions (the carbon emission baseline reference of Kyoto Protocol). CO2 emission is projected to increase by another 2.1% this year, making a total CO2 emission to reach 36 billion tonnes, which is 61% above 1990 emission.

The 2.1% rise in 2012 emission was lower than the predicted value of 2.6%, mainly due to the slower economic growth in China, as commented by Roisin Moriarty from University of East Anglia’s Tyndall Center for Climate Research.

In 2012 most emissions were from coal (43%), oil (33%), gas (18%), cement (5.3%) and gas flaring (0.6%). The growth in coal itself  was accounted for 54% of the total growth in fossil fuel emissions.


CO2 emissions from deforestation and other land-use change added 8% to the emissions from burning fossil fuels. Cumulative emissions of CO2 since 1870 are set to reach 2015 billion tonnes in 2013 – with 70% caused by burning fossil fuels and 30% from deforestation and other land-use changes.

In a statement, Prof Pierre Friedlingstein from the University of Exeter said: "We have exhausted about 70% of the cumulative emissions that keep global climate change likely below 2 degrees. In terms of CO2 emissions, we are following the highest climate change scenario of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released in September."

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Stanford Creates A Durable, Low-Cost Hydrogen Generating Devide Made Of Nickel-Coated Silicon

Water splitting is an emerging technology for hydrogen fuel cells. Two semiconducting electrodes are connected and placed in water. The electrodes absorb light and use the energy to split the water into oxygen and hydrogen. The oxygen is released into the atmosphere, and the hydrogen is stored as fuel. The hydrogen can later be recombined with oxygen to produce energy with byproduct of just water.

The entire process is sustainable and clean. But finding a cheap way to split water has been a major challenge. Today, researchers continue searching for inexpensive materials that can be used to build water splitters efficient enough to be of practical use.

Silicon solution

Scientists from Stanford University, California, have created a low-cost and corrosion-free water splitter using nickel-coated silicon electrode to absorb sunlight to generate hydrogen. "Silicon, which is widely used in solar cells, would be an ideal, low-cost material," said Stanford graduate student Michael J. Kenney, co-lead author of the study. "But silicon degrades in contact with an electrolyte solution. In fact, a submerged electrode made of silicon corrodes as soon as the water-splitting reaction starts."

To find a low-cost alternative, the team tried to coat silicon electrode with a 2 nanometer think ordinary nickel. "Nickel is corrosion-resistant," Kenney said. "It's also an active oxygen-producing catalyst, and it's earth-abundant. That makes it very attractive for this type of application."

When light and electricity were applied, the electrodes began splitting the water into oxygen and hydrogen, a process that continued for about 24 hours with no sign of corrosion. To improve performance, they mixed lithium into the water-based solution. "Remarkably, adding lithium imparted superior stability to the electrodes," Kenney said. "They generated hydrogen and oxygen continuously for 80 hours – more than three days – with no sign of surface corrosion." This was one of the longest lasting silicon-based photoanodes for water splitter,

The team plans to do additional work on improving the stability and durability of nickel-treated electrodes of silicon as well as other materials.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Volkswagen Announces Its Super Efficient Diesel Hybrid

Volkswagen will be debuting its 250 MPG (~ 106 km per liter) Twin Up! diesel hybrid later this month at the LA Auto Show. The Twin Up! uses a modified version of the XL1′s 47 hp, 800 cc diesel engine and electric hybrid drivetrain to return a claimed fuel consumption of more than 256 MPG and CO2 emissions of just 27 g/km on the European cycles.

Just a comparison. Toyota Prius yields about 50 MPG and generates about 100 g/km of CO2 emission. So Twin Up! is 5 times more fuel efficient and 4 times less emission than Prius.


The new Volkswagen diesel hybrid would, if sold in the US, carry the highest EPA mileage rating of any hybrid car.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

SmartLight - An Innovative Way To Use Sunlight For Indoor Illumination

Researcher Anton Harfmann and Jason Heikenfeld from University of Cincinnati, U.S.A., have come out with a new lighting technology called SmartLight to enhance sunlight distribution in building. SmartLight utilizes tiny electrofluidic cells and a series of open-air "ducts" to distribute sunlight into windowless work spaces deep inside office buildings and excess energy can be harnessed, stored and directed to other applications. The technology could be applied to any building – big or small, old or new, residential or commercial.

SmartLight works like this: A narrow grid of electrofluidic cells which is self-powered by embedded photovoltaics is applied near the top of a window. Each tiny cell – only a few millimeters wide – contains fluid with optical properties as good or better than glass. The surface tension of the fluid can be rapidly manipulated into shapes such as lenses or prisms through minimal electrical stimulation – about 10,000 to 100,000 times less power than what's needed to light a traditional incandescent bulb. In this way, sunlight passing through the cell can be controlled.

The grid might direct some light to reflect off the ceiling to provide ambient room lighting. Other light might get focused toward special fixtures for task lighting. Yet another portion of light might be transmitted across the empty, uppermost spaces in a room to an existing or newly installed transom window fitted with its own electrofluidic grid. From there, the process could be repeated to enable sunlight to reach the deepest, most "light-locked" areas of any building. And it's all done without needing to install new wiring, ducts, tubes or cables.


SmartLight also can be controlled wirelessly via a mobile software application. So instead of manually flipping a switch on a wall, a user would indicate their lighting preferences through an app on their mobile device, and SmartLight would regulate the room's brightness accordingly. SmartLight could even use geolocation data from the app to respond when a user enters or leaves a room or when they change seats within the room by manipulating Wi-Fi-enabled light fixtures.

But what happens at night or on cloudy days? That's where SmartLight's energy storage ability comes in. SmartLight can funnel surplus light into a centralized harvesting- and energy-storing hub within the building. The stored energy could then be used to beam electrical lighting back through the building when natural light levels are low.

"We're going to look for some substantial funds to really put a meaningful program together," Heikenfeld says. "We've already done a lot of the seed work. We're at the point where it would be a big, commercially driven type of effort. The next step is the tough part. How do you translate that into commercial products?"

Monday, November 11, 2013

5 Things You Might Not Have Known About God And Beer

Just found the topic 5 Things You Might Not Have Known About God And Beer interesting. For centuries, beer has brought people together to worship God. And God has inspired people to make beer. Few examples show below:
  • As far back as the 18th century, Paulaner monks in Germany would brew and drink a heavy, malty type of beer called Doppelbock for Lent. Beer was so nutritious that it kept them nourished for the entire 40-day fast.
  • Arthur Guinness, creator of Guinness beer, was a devout Christian who grew up in a time when drunkenness, mainly from liquor, was rampant. Monks had been brewing beer for ages, and Guinness decided to do it to give people in his community a less potent alternative to liquor.
  • People come to the Greenbelt Festival in London to be inspired by God with the help of art and music. What sets this religious festival apart is the beer. People would grab their cup of beer and sing to praise God.
  • Beer brewing is as ancient as the Sumerians, who had a goddess called Ninkasi with a recipe for beer. The recipe was pressed into a clay tablet that dates back to around 1,800 BC. It was called The Hymn To Ninkasi, and it gives hints on how to brew beer.
  • A long-standing belief is that Benjamin Franklin was quite the beer lover. This may stem from a quote attributed to the founding father, stating, "Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy." A Chicago-based brewing historian Bod Skilnik found that the quote actually reads: "Behold the rain which descends from heaven upon our vineyards; there it enters the roots of the vines, to be changed into wine, a constant proof that God loves us, and loves to see us happy."

Sunday, November 10, 2013

How Much Water Does It Take To Produce A Bottle Of Water?

International Bottled Water Association (IBWA) carried out water use benchmarking study to evaluate water use efficiencies and trends among North American bottlers. In the study, IBWA tried to figure out how much water goes into producing 1 liter of water.

North American companies use 1.39 liters to make 1 liter of water. That's less than the global averages of,

1 liter of soda = 2.02 liters of water
1 liter of beer = 4 liters of water
1 liter of wine = 4.74 liters of water
1 liter of hard alcohol = 34.55 liters of water

But water activists say IBWA's study wasn't comprehensive enough. Bottled water companies (along with many other beverage companies) should include all freshwater used in production, including the water used for packaging. Not just the production of water itself.

"Packaging makes a significant footprint," according to Ertug Ercin from Water Footprint.Network. 3 liters of water might be used to make a half-liter bottle. In other words, the amount of water going into making the bottle could be up to 6 or 7 times what's inside the bottle.

Drilling for oil to make plastic, Ercin says, uses a substantial amount of groundwater. And you need water to make the paper, too, he adds.
 
Chris Hogan from IBWA explained the reason why the study didn't look at these issues as it's hard to know where to stop, "You could extrapolate that ad infinitum".

Hogan says some companies say they don't think they can get any more efficient, but they're trying. He also says, "Water, is the lifeblood of the industry and they want to be as efficient as possible."

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

How Would The Earth Look Like If All The Ice Melts?

National Geographic has published an interactive map showing how the world looks like if all the ice on land has melted and drained into the sea, which would raise the sea-level by 216 feet and creating new shorelines for our continents and inland seas. There are more than 5 million cubic miles of ice on Earth, and some scientists say it would take more than 5,000 years to melt it all. If we continue adding carbon to the atmosphere, we’ll very likely create an ice-free planet, with an average temperature of perhaps 80 degrees Fahrenheit instead of the current 58.
 

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Smoking Makes Your Look Older!

A new study published in Journal of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons comparing standardized photographs of identical twins with different smoking histories to see the impact of smoking to facial aging. Twins who had smoked longer had worse scores for lower lid bags, malar bags, and lower lip vermillion wrinkles.

 The left twin has smoked 17 years longer than the right twin.
 The right twin is a smoker and the left twin is a nonsmoker.
 The right twin has smoked 29 years and the left twin is a nonsmoker.
 The right twin has smoked 14 years longer than the left twin.

I guess this will be a very good reason to quit smoking besides health reasons.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

New Efficiency Record Set For Thin-Film Solar Cell

The Centre for Solar Energy and Hydrogen Research (ZSW), Baden-W├╝rttemberg, Germany, has set a new world record of 20.8% for copper-indium-gallium-diselenide (CIGS) thin-film solar cells. This is the first time that thin-film solar cell beats the best performed multicrystalline (or polycrystalline) silicon cell with 20.4% efficiency. The results have been officially confirmed by third party, Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE.

According to Prof. Dr. Michael Powalla from ZSW that the new record shows that CIGS technology still has untapped technological and economic potential. ZSW is now working to transfer the optimized CIGS process to modules. “It may take a little time for the higher efficiency to be reflected in production,” Powalla notes. “But 16 to 18% in commercial modules is possible over the next few years.” Market available CIGS modules currently stand at 14 to 15% of efficiency.

Compared to standard solar cells, thin-film solar cells saves materials and energy since the coating used is just micrometres thick. This is a considerable cost reduction factor for future production. The experts all agree that the new record demonstrates the great potential of CIGS technology for even more cost-effective and efficient solar modules.

Source: http://www.zsw-bw.de/uploads/media/pi18-2013-ZSW-WorldrecordCIGS.pdf

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Antibiotics Have Come To The End Of Their Life!

When I was a kid everything I had a sore throat the doctor would prescribe antibiotic to me. I still remember the name of the antibiotic as "amoxicillin". It was very effective. One course of it my sore throat would be gone. Recently, I had a sore throat and took it again, but now it has lost its function and had to take another type of antibiotic.

This is what we call "antibiotic resistance"!

Bacteria, like any living organism, they evolve for survival. Anything we do or the environment does to try to kill them, they will eventually discover ways or find ways around those. So bacterial resistance is largely inevitable.

According to Dr. Arjun Srinivasan, an associate director at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention Antibiotics, U.S.A., we're now living in the post-antibiotic era. The misuse of antibiotics in medical field and farming has caused bacteria to develop resistance to many types of antibiotic.

We’ve fueled the fire of bacterial resistance by overusing and misusing of antibiotics. The more we use an antibiotic, either in patients or in livestock, bacteria would expose to it more. We then create more opportunity for them to develop resistance.

We are quickly running out of therapies to treat some of the infections that previously had been eminently treatable. There are bacteria that we encounter, particularly in health-care settings, that are resistant to nearly all — or, in some cases, all — the antibiotics available.

For a long time, there have been newspaper stories and covers of magazines that talked about “The end of antibiotics, question mark?” Well, now Dr. Srinivasan says we can change the title to “The end of antibiotics, period.”

We’re here. We’re in the post-antibiotic era. There are patients for whom we have no therapy, and we are literally in a position of having a patient in a bed who has an infection, something that five years ago even we could have treated, but now we can’t. …

The interview with Dr. Srinivasan was very long. You can read more in Dr. Arjun Srinivasan: We’ve Reached “The End of Antibiotics, Period”

Saturday, October 26, 2013

WEF 2013 Gender Gap Report

World Economic Forum has published report to measure the gender gap in over 100 countries since 2006. It is a framework for capturing the magnitude and scope of gender-based disparities and tracking their progress. The Index benchmarks national gender gaps on economic, political, education and health criteria.

This year, 5 out of the top 10 countries with the smallest gender gap are coming from Nordic countries. Below lists the best 10 countries.
1. Iceland
2. Finland
3. Norway
4. Sweden
5. Philippines
6. Ireland
7. New Zealand
8. Denmark
9. Switzerland
10. Nicaragua

Among the top 10 one actually is my neighbor country Philippines. Most of the big gap countries are coming from Middle-East, North Africa and South Asia. Korea and Japan ranked 105th and 111th, respectively, and are the only 2 developed countries with ranking outside 100th.

Below shows the ranking of South-East Asia countries.

Brunei -  88
Cambodia - 104
East Timor - N/A
Indonesia - 95
Laos - 60
Malaysia - 102
Myanmar - N/A
Philippines - 5
Singapore - 58
Thailand - 65
Vietnam - 73

You can go to FastCoexist.com which contains an interactive map showing each country ranking.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

How Effective Are Those Antibacterial Soaps?

Actually antibacterial soap doesn't make your hands any cleaner. According to Dr. Carly Stewart, medical expert at Money Crashers, regular soap is just as effective as antibacterial soap in killing germs. Furthermore, bacteria can become resistant to the antibacterial agents in these products, which can make it more difficult to kills these bugs down the line.

Antibacterial cleaners work as they leave a surface residue after being rinsed or wiped away. This residue is supposed to continue killing bacteria afterwards, but it can also foster the growth of resistant bacteria, which are stronger and harder to kill than the original bacteria.

A common ingredient called Triclosan contained in antibacterial products is a probable carcinogen. It has been linked to miscarriages, bladder cancer, thyroid problems, and impaired cellular function.

When come to washing your hands, a plain old bar soap is the way to go. Soap helps to loosen dirt, oil, and microbes on your hands so they can be rinsed away by water. Don't worry too much about the soap at your disposal. Just take the suggested 20 seconds and make sure you scrub all parts of your hands thoroughly.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

A Map Shows What Each Country Leads The World In

Created by people at Doghouse Diaries, the map shows what each country leads, good or bad, the world in. Surprisingly, my country Malaysia actually leads in "caves" which I never realized. Our neighbor Singapore leads in "science", Thailand leads in "rice exports" and Indonesia leads in "volcanoes".



Monday, October 21, 2013

Why Bamboo Is A Reliable Renewable Energy Source?

Bamboos have become one of the most favorable sources of renewable energy in many South-East Asian countries like Thailand. There are more than 1,000 species of bamboo and some works better as renewable energy source than others. Gimsung and Tong bamboo are the 2 main species to produce best energy value because of their biological and chemical properties.

Author Aiden Korr explains why bamboos should be used as alternative source of energy.

#1 Biological and chemical composition
The Gimsung and the Tong bamboo have 6% to 15% moisture, 3% or more Ash, 65% to 70% of volatile matter, 20% of fixed carbon, and higher heating value. This means they could be a great source of energy that can be easily harvested. The government of Thailand has already invested in generating electricity from bamboo as a part of their 15-Year Renewable Energy Development Plan.

#2 Bamboo grows really quick
Gimsung and Tong bamboo can grow as much as 30cm a day, even if there is no rain. If watered well, they can grow much faster.

#3 CO2 Absorption
Any plant that has a good CO2 absorption counts as a good source to be used in biomass power plants.  A 1year-old bamboo shoot can absorb up to 50kg of CO2 (~burning 21 liters of petrol). The absorption increases as they grow older. A 5 year-old shoot can absorb up to 600kg of CO2 (~burning 256 liters of petrol).

#4 O2 Production
Greater amount of CO2 absorption also means greater Oxygen production. Bamboo can create oxygen much faster than many trees can.

#5 Alternative to fire wood
Bamboo charcoal is quickly substituting firewood in many underdeveloped countries. The International Network for Bamboo and Rattan (INBAR) based in China, along with many African countries are working together to make bamboo an alternative energy source to firewood.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

WHO Maps World Cities Air Pollution Levels

World Health Organization (WHO) has published data about the urban outdoor air pollution levels of almost 1,100 cities in 91 countries. Air quality is represented by annual mean concentration of fine particulate matters of PM10 (smaller than 10 um) and PM2.5 (smaller than 2.um).

The database covers the period from 2003 to 2010, with the majority of values for the years 2008 and 2009. The world's average PM10 levels by region range from 21 to 142 ug/m3, with a world's average of 71 ug/m3.

From the map we are able to see that cities in North America are doing very well. The worst polluted regions are mainly located at East and South Asia and Middle-East.


Friday, October 18, 2013

How Different Is Einstein Brain From Normal People Making Him A Genius

Albert Einstein was named one of the smartest person for the 20th century. In 1905, at age of just 26, he published the theory of relativity which superseded a 200-year-old theory of mechanics created by Isaac Newton.

So, what made Einstein so smart and how different was his brain from us?

Professor Dean Falk, from Department of Anthropology at Florida State University, has revealed the secret of Einstein's brain in the journal Brain. According to Falk, Einstein had an extraordinary corpus callosum, also known as the colossal commissure, which is a flat bundle of neural fibers connects the left and right brain.

Below pictures shows the left and right midsagittal sections of Einstein's brain.

"The corpus callosum keeps each side of the brain informed about what the other half is doing," says Falk. The inter-brain connection allows our hands to coordinate and our bodies to move with intention. But it also allows thoughts and ideas that are generated in the right brain to be processed and expressed with language, which originates in the left.

In 2010, high-resolution images of Einstein's brain were discovered. Falk collaborated with Weiwei Men, from East China Normal University's Department of Physics, using graphical method to measure the thickness and number of nerves of Einstein's corpus callosum on the images. They then compared the result with normal people. "No matter who you compare Einstein to, young or old, the right and left sides of his brain were really connected," says Falk.

Convincing Nobel prize-winning physicists to submit themselves to brain scans is clearly the next job for Falk's team. "It's the obvious thing to do," she says. "It would raise the significance about how a really big corpus callosum affects brilliance."

Thursday, October 17, 2013

81 Years Ago Scientist Had Talked About Global Warming In Newspaper

Tweeted by HistoryInPix an old newspaper article published in 1932 talked about the impact of carbon dioxide to the earth's temperature. To our generation, global warming isn't a new thing. Everyday we talk about renewable energy, energy efficiency, etc, to curb and slow down global warming. But back in 1932, global warming wasn't something serious yet but scientist Dr. Hulburt from Naval Research Lab, U.S.A, had warned about it.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Time For Various Trash To Degrade

  • Aluminum Can  200-500 years
  • Batteries 100 years
  • Cardboard Box 4 weeks
  • Cigarette Butt up to 10 years
  • Cotton Rag 1-5 months
  • Disposable Diapers 500-600 year
  • Glass Bottle  1 million years
  • Leather up to 50 years
  • Lumber 10-15 years
  • Monofilament Fishing Line 800 years
  • Milk Cartons (plastic coated) 5 years
  • Nylon Fabric 30-40 years
  • Orange Peel 2-5 weeks
  • Paper 2-5 months
  • Plastic Film Container 20-30 years
  • Painted Wooden Stake 13 years
  • Plastic 6 pack cover  450 years
  • Plastic Bag up to 500 years
  • Plastic Coated Paper 5 years
  • Plastic Soda Bottles Forever
  • Rope 3-14 months
  • Rubber Boot sole 50-80 years
  • Sanitary Pads 500-800 years
  • Styrofoam More than 5,000 years
  • Tin Cans 50-100 years
  • Tin Foil It does not biodegrade
  • Wool Clothing 1-5 years
Source: http://www.greenecoservices.com/how-long-does-it-take-for-trash-to-biodegrade/

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Biodegradable Nylon - 85% Less Greenhouse Gas Emissions Than Regular Nylon

California-based company Rennovia announced that they have produced a 100% bio-based nylon polymer which emits 85% less greenhouse gas emissions as compared with petroleum-based adipic acid used in making nylon polymer 6,6. The new polymer also possess significant cost advantages and environmental benefits over current petroleum-based feedstock.

Every year 6 billion pounds of Nylon 6,6 is produced as the feedstock for carpets, tire cord, ropes, apparel, hoses, blankets, zip ties, etc. Rennovia claimed that its new nylon 6,6 could decrease cost by 20-25% and contributes no negative impact to the environment.

Many questions were raised after the press release by Rennovia like how toxic is current nylon 6,6? Does the bio-based polymer generate less toxic gases when it burns? Nylon 6,6 is used in automobiles, so would it reduce toxic gases from fires to use a bio-based version?

No matter what it is always nice to use one less source of petroleum-based feedstock, plus the new alternative provides cost benefit.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

6 Historic Uses Of Urine

1) Tanning leather. Urine is full of urea, which degrades into ammonia. Ammonia high pH breaks down organic material, making urine the perfect substance for ancients to use in softening and tanning animal hides. Soaking animal skins in urine also made it easier for leather workers to remove hair and bits of flesh from the skin.

2) Cleaning and whitening clothes. The ammonia removes stains and intensifies the colors of dyes.

3) Gunpowder. Urine can be used to make saltpetre, a key ingredient of the explosive.

4) Tooth Whitener. Again, from the ammonia.

5) Urine was also used as a health supplement (Gandhi would drink his own every morning and Madonna has claimed that she used it to cure her athlete's foot).

6) Urine was also used to recover phosphorus, as explained by Tree Hugger in PeeCycling: Make Phosphorus From your Own Pee.

Advantages & Disadvantages Of Solar Power

Everything has its advantages and disadvantages. What is for solar power?

Advantages:
(1) Reduce global warming.
(2) Save society billions and trillions of dollars from damages caused by global warming.
(3) Save your pocket as a lot of governments are mandating utility companies to buy back solar energy at premium tariff.
(4) Provide energy security as the Sun is free and can't be turned into a monopoly. No worry of fuel price hike and shortage.
(5) Provide energy independence as once installed, user never have to worry about future increase in energy generation cost.
(6) Create jobs as same money invested in solar power creates 2 to 3 times more job opportunities than coal and gas power.
(7) Solve utility peak demand issues as the solar power system performs best during noon time (when the Sun shines best) when electricity demands are at the peak.
(8) Require lower maintenance as solar system has no moving components like turbine and motor.
(9) Install capacity is flexible as user can install as small as few hundred watts to few kW in their rooftop, to MW of power-plant scale.

Disadvantages:
(1) No 24 hours operation as solar system only works when the Sun rises.
(2) Lower or no output during cloudy or rainy day.
(3) Higher upfront investment.

Clearly it can be seen that solar power actually possesses more advantages than disadvantages. In the long run it is better to invest in solar energy than fossil fuels. Of course, this is just my 2-cent opinion.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Disney's Paper Generators - A New Energy Source

Disney Research is coming out with the idea of Paper Generators which essentially pieces of paper that you touch, rub, or slide to generate enough power to power small gadgets like LEDs, small motor, etc.

 
Paper Generators are based on electrets: materials that hold quasi-permanent electric charge, like quartz, silicon dioxide, polymers, etc. Disney Research is using PTFE (Polytetrafluoroethylene) sheets, like the commonly known brand "Teflon". When the PTFE sheet is rubbed with ordinary paper, negative charge will be built up on the surface of PTFE (Figure a).

When the PTFE sheet is stacked between conductive layers, such as silver coated polyester sheets or paper with printed conductive ink, the PTFE attracts free positive charges to build up on the surface of the conductors (Figure b). This forms the basis structure of Paper Generators.

Energy is created when a user moves the conductors. As the relative positions of the conductors change, the distribution of the induced charges, the electric field, and the total capacitance between the conductors change, resulting in an electric potential difference between the conductors (Figure c). Hence, voltage and current will be generated.

When connecting path (copper wire) and load (LEDs) are connected to the Paper Generators, then energy will be transferred from the Paper Generators to the load and be energized.



For more info, please visit http://www.disneyresearch.com/project/paper-generators/

Monday, October 7, 2013

Charging Mobile Phone With Lightning

For most of us, lightning can be a truly terrifying, powerful and awe-inspiring force of nature, but scientists from Nokia and University of Southampton, UK, have successfully used simulated lightning to charge a Nokia phone.

Scientist Neil Palmer at University of Southampton has created a 200,000 volts man-made lightning bolt using AC current driven by a transformer, sent across a 300mm gap and then stepped into a second controlling transformer to charge a Nokia Lumia 925 phone. The phone circuitry somehow stabilized the noisy signal, allowing the battery to be charged wirelessly.


“This discovery proves that the device can be charged with a current that passes through the air, and is a huge step towards understanding a natural power like lightning and harnessing its energy,” Neil said.

“This is a first for any mobile phone company to trial this kind of technology,” said Chris Weber, Nokia Executive Vice President for Sales & Marketing. “We obviously aren’t recommending people try this experiment at home, but we are always looking to disrupt and push the boundaries of technology and find innovative ways to improve the performance of our products.”

“As one of the first companies to introduce wireless charging into our products, we believe that this experiment has the potential to jump-start new ideas on how we charge our phones in the future.”

Friday, October 4, 2013

New Laser-Based Lighting Device, Alternative To LED Lighting

LED emerges as an efficient and energy-saving alternative to conventional incandescent or fluorescent light sources for meeting the ever-escalating demand for more lighting in more places and to improve the bulbs used in sports stadiums, car headlights and street lamps.

With all the advantages, LED is also facing a challenge that its efficiency falls as operating current rises, making it too hot to power in large-scale applications.

Researchers at University of California, Santa Barbara, led by material scientists Kristin A. Denault and Michael Cantore, have come out with an alternative to LED technology using laser diode, combining with inorganic phosphors, to create high-power white light source.

The laser-based lighting devices are high in efficiency and high in performance metrics, according to the study. The team used 2 methods to create white light.

(1) Using blue laser diode and yellow-emitting phosphor powder.

(2) Using a near-ultra-violet laser diode and a combination of red-, green-, and blue-emitting phosphors.

With these technologies, the team is able to achieve variety of other color temperatures with high color rendition, broadening the range of applications for these new lights.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Malaysia Legoland Trip

Brought my family to visit Malaysia Legoland which located at Nusajaya, Johor. My 3 and 5 year-old daughters enjoyed the trip a lot. Just like to share some pictures taken during the trip.

Below shows the "welcome dance" performed by the Legoland staffs right before the theme park opened.

Below pictures were taken from the "Observation Tower".
The kids were waiting to get their first driving test.
Aquazone Wave Racers which could get wet as passer-by could detonate "water bomb" by pressing buttons located outside the blue fence.