Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Global Forest Watch Tracking Tree Loss Around The World

Global Forest Watch is tracking the deforestation around the world as a near real-time event. It is a new dynamic online forest monitoring and alert system that "empowers people everywhere to better manage forests". It is supported by world renowned corporations and organizations like Google, UNEP, NASA, etc.

Below picture shows the loss and gain of forest between Jan. 2000 and Dec. 2012 for my country Malaysia.

The next picture shows the forest status between Jan. 2006 and Dec. 2012. From it we can see that we have more blue colors than red. This means Malaysia is actually planting back the tree.

I guess it is a good sign that we Malaysian are helping to combat the global warming.

Exposure To BPA During Baby Time Is Linked To Prostate Cancer

New research done by University of Illinois at Chicago, U.S.A., has linked prostate cancer to the early foetal exposure to low concentration of Bisphenol A (BPA). According to the National Cancer Institute, 15% of American men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer at some point in their lives.

BPA is used to make polycarbonate plastics and can be found in aluminum beverage cans, most food cans, infant formula that comes in cans, dental sealants, paper receipts, and epoxy-lined beer cans. Estimated more than 90% of Americans carry traces of BPA in their bodies, so that there is almost “universal fetal exposure” to BPA.

The researchers implanted stem cells from deceased young men into lab mice. Then fed BPA to the mice for the first 3 months of life. 33% of the stem cells has cancerous or precancerous lesion later in their life. 45% of the cells that were exposed to BPA before and after mice implantation developed precancerous or cancerous lesions later.

The researchers propose that early exposure to BPA permanently reprograms a fetus’ stem cells. Those stem cells are then used to replenish organs throughout the course of a person’s life, and if those stem cells are extra-sensitive to estrogen as a result of early exposure, they will pass on that sensitivity to the prostate tissues later in life. It’s already known that men’s rising levels of estrogen, which happens naturally as they age, are partly responsible for causing prostate cancer.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

New Solar Fuel Cell Runs On Biomass

Georgia Institute of Technology, U.S.A., has come out of a new fuel cell design that incorporates solar thermal energy, enabling it to use woody biomass, algae, and even chicken waste for energy input instead of relying on hydrogen gas. The non-hydrogen angle is significant because hydrogen gas is expensive and energy-intensive to produce.

The idea of using biomass to run a fuel cell is nothing new. The only problem is that to break down the carbon bonds in natural polymers you need a catalyst which involves expensive precious metals, like platinum.

The key in the design is the use of inexpensive transition metals called POM (Polyoxometalate) catalyst. POM is both a photochemical (chemical interaction with light) and a thermochemical (chemical interaction with heat) catalyst. When mixed in a solution with ground-up biomass and exposed to sunlight or heat, it then oxidizes the biomass and delivers the charges from the biomass to the fuel cell’s anode. The electrons are then transported to the cathode, where they are finally oxidized by oxygen through an external circuit to produce electricity.

POM catalyst is durable and can be re-used without re-treatment, which helps to cut costs. Another advantage of POM-biomass mixture is that it is inert at room temperature (in the absence of sunlight or heat) which helps to reduce storage cost.

WhatsApp Soon Will Be Under Facebook

Facebook announced yesterday that it will buy fast-growing mobile-messaging company WhatsApp for US$16 billion, which US$4 billion will be in cash and remaining US$12 billion in stock.

As part of the deal, WhatsApp co-founder and Chief Executive Jan Koum will join Facebook's board, and the social network will grant an additional $3 billion worth of restricted stock units to WhatsApp's founders, including Koum.             

In the acquisition, Facebook promised to keep the WhatsApp brand and service.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Candy Crush's Maker - King Digital Entertainment Is Going IPO

A lot of people might not know about King Digital Entertainment (KDE), but when I say Candy Crush game then most of us will know or even played or playing. KDE is the maker of the popular game Candy Crush and it is going IPO, or going to be listed in the U.S.A. stock market.

Unlike 68% of the IPOs, KDE actually is already a very profitable company. Below are some of its performances:

(1) 2013 revenue US$1.3 billion.
(2) 2013 profit US$567.6 million, 7,000% surge from US$7.8 million in 2012.
(3) 2013 average monthly users 408 million, 508% increase from a year ago.

KDE makes most of its money from the 12 million monthly unique users that purchase virtual goods from the company, which accounts for about 4% of all users.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Food Poisoning That Can Be Transmitted Thru Sex

2 men went to vacation in Bahamas 25 years ago suffered from food poisoning after a seafood dinner. Few hours after dinner, the men started having stomach pains and diarrhea. Their legs began to tingle and burn. And their sense of temperature went haywire: Ice felt hot while fire felt cool.

All the while, their wives were completely fine - until they had sex with their hubbies. For several weeks, the women had terrible pain and burning in their pelvis.

Doctors hypothesized that the men passed the poison along to their wives through their semen, as writing in the journal Clinical Toxicology. The poison caused the strange foodborne illness is known as Ciguatera Fish Poisoning. It will open up a little holes in our nerves, triggering an array of crazy symptoms like:

- reversal of how you experience temperature
- vertigo
- the sensation that your teeth are falling out
- dyspareunia (painful sex)
- hallucination
The ciguatoxin is produced by a single-celled protozoan that sticks to algae on tropical reefs, then feed to the large, predator fish, and at the end eaten by us.

There's no cure for the poisoning. One treatment can reduce the symptoms, but it must be given within 3 days of ingestion. Otherwise, you will be stuck with the strange neurological problems for a few weeks.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Recover Diesel Fuel From Used Plastic Bags

Disposing used plastic bags has become a big issue for all cities across the globe. American throw away 100 billion plastic bags every year and only 13% gets recycled. Now, researchers at  Illinois Sustainable Technology Center, University of Illinois, U.S.A., have found a process to convert these used plastic bags into compatible drop-in diesel fuel, along with a host of other petroleum products, like natural gas, naphtha, gasoline, waxes and lubricating oils.

The conversion uses the pyrolysis process (which I had talked about similar process in Malaysia Is Pushing For 2nd-Generation Biofuel), which involves heating the plastic bags in an oxygen-free chamber which is able to recover. It is able to recover almost 80% of the plastic into useful products.

This diesel recovered from the plastic bags has an equivalent energy content, a higher cetane number and better lubricity than ultra-low-sulfur diesel. The team was able to blend up to 30% of their plastic-derived diesel into regular diesel without any compatibility problems.

The remaining question now is whether this process can be successfully scaled up and makes a significant impact in recovering those used plastic bags.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Even Disney's Children Clothings Are Toxic!

Greenpeace has carried out study on children products sold by famous brands, including Disney, GAP, Nike, Adidas, Burberry, Puma, etc, to study the levels of hazardous chemical in products. The findings showed little distinction between the levels of hazardous chemicals in clothing made for children and adults, but children are far more vulnerable to the adverse effects of chemicals on human reproduction, hormonal and immune systems.

Chih An Lee, Detox Campaigner at Greenpeace East Asia, said:

“This is a nightmare for parents everywhere looking to buy clothes for their children that don’t contain hazardous chemicals. These chemical ‘little monsters’ can be found in everything from exclusive luxury designs to budget fashion, polluting our waterways from Beijing to Berlin. For the sake of current and future generations brands should stop using these monsters.”

The report indicates that every brand tested contained hazardous chemicals, like nonylphenol ethoxylate (NPE), phthalates, organotins, perfluorated chemicals (PFCs) and antimony.

China remains the world’s largest textile producer and chemicals consumer and Greenpeace is calling on the government to help stop the use of hazardous chemicals in the textile industry. It is critical they publish a chemical blacklist to be acted upon immediately and urge factories to disclose chemical information, in order to facilitate chemical elimination and supply chain transparency and create a level playing field for the industry.

The full report can be find here at A Little Story About the Monsters In Your Closet

Monday, February 10, 2014

1 lb Of Beef Needs 6,810 Liters Of Water To Produce

We need water to survive. I was taught that we need to drink 8 glasses of water per day to stay healthy.

But how many of us really know the amount of water needed to produce goods and services we consume? Me neither!

National Geographic has published a list of things and amount of water associates to produce. Astonishing, the amount of water used to produce little things are tremendous. More than what I expected. You need 12,000 liters of fresh water to produce just 1 lb of chocolate, eating chicken actually save more water than eating beef or pork.

Below are some of the products and their water consumption.


1 lb of beef needs 6,810 liters of water
1 lb of pork needs 2,182 liters of water
1 lb of chicken needs 1,773 liters of water
1 lb of sheep needs 2,769 liters of water


1 liter of milk needs 877 liters of water
1 liter of beer needs 686 liters of water
1 liter of coffee needs 877 liters of water
1 liter of tea needs 128 liters of water


1 lb of rice needs 1,700 liters of water
1 lb of corn needs 409 liters of water
1 lb of soybean needs 818 liters of water
1 lb of barley needs 750 liters of water


1 apple needs 70 liters of water
1 orange needs 50 liters of water


1 egg needs 200 liters of water
1 lb of chocolate needs 12,000 liters of water
1 slide of bread needs 40 liters of water