Technology

Scientists Invent Leg Brace That Generates Power!

This is such a super cool thing. A great invention. We need more ideas like this in all areas of our existence if we really are going to beat global warming. People step outside the box, put on those thinking caps! I know we can do it!!!! Love, Elizabeth Fiend

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Taking People Power to a New Level

Source: The New York Times
By JOHN SCHWARTZ

Some people exercise by power walking. But what if walking could actually provide electrical power? Researchers have developed an electrical generator mounted on the knee that turns walks into watts.

The device, which in its current form looks a little like a simple knee brace with cyborg bling, harnesses power from part of the stride.

J. Maxwell Donelan, the lead researcher and a professor of kinesiology at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, compared the device to the regenerative braking used to produce electricity for hybrid cars.

The generator does not capture the motion throughout the entire stride, since that would subject the user to a dragging feeling with each step. Instead, the gearwork disengages at the beginning of the step and re-engages as the leg swings back from a stride.

This means that the only drag occurs at the tail end of the stride, when muscles are actually working to slow the leg down. It does not detract from the energy required for moving forward, and in fact, by slowing down the leg at that stage of the stride, ends up relieving the muscles of some of the effort.

One device on each leg can produce about five watts of electricity, Dr. Donelan said. That is enough to run 10 cellphones, or potentially, medical devices like insulin pumps or prosthetic limbs. The power generated could be stored in a battery.

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Biotech Behomoth Dumps GMO Growth Hormone 🙂

Maker of Prozac & Cialis Buys 🙁

By Elizabeth Fiend

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In a stunning consumer victory the biotech behemoth Monsanto announced on August 8th that they want to dump their business of producing rBGH and hope to find a buyer for the product. rBGH is a lab produced, genetically modified artificial growth hormone that is being administered to about 15-17 percent of America’s milk producing dairy cows. r = recombinant which means it’s artificially produced in a lab; BGH, Bovine-Growth-Hormone is the common description for the hormone bovine somatotropin (BST) sold to dairy farmers under the commercial name of Posilac. The label on a bottle of Posilac lists 20 possible toxic effects. Posilac was approved by America’s Food and Drug Administration in 1993 but the product has always been banned in the European Union, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Australia and other countries that have more sense than our own.

The beef with rBGH? Many farmers and animal advocates believe this growth hormone is harmful to cows and many mothers worry that it might actually cause cancer in humans — all this just to get cows to pump up their production of milk by one gallon a day?

rBGH did pump up Monsanto’s bottom line, for awhile. But due to continued consumer backlash many corporations that sell milk and dairy products like yogurt and cheese are realizing that their customers do not want to feed their children milk containing genetically modified growth hormones and have discontinued selling milk that contains rBGH. Thank you Wal-Mart (did I really just say that?!?!) and a shout out to Starbucks, Kroger supermarkets and Kraft who have all announced earlier this year that they were going to only source their milk from dairy processors that have rBGH-free cows. And the Nurses, again on the forefront, have passed an official resolution at the latest American Nurses Association stating that they support state laws and policies that aim to reduce rBGH. This is a huge issue because many states, including Pennsylvania, have tried to pass (or have already passed) laws that would make it illegal to label milk “rBGH Free.” The nurses go even further and announce they favor hospital and health care industry purchases of rBGH free products — in other words, the whole shebang anything that will reduce the use of rBGH. [So Doctors, what’s up with you?]

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SIZE MATTERS: Nanotechnology, What’s It All About?
article by ELIZABETH FIEND

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As an avid cyber punk fan I’ve been longing for William Gibson’s future, where I could step into a convenience store nano-dispenser and emerge clad in a swirling, gleaming, electronic nano-dress, one that changes motif with my every thought. A world where my social calendar, stored in a nano-rhinestone atop my sunglasses, would be filled with the wild parties of tomorrow.

Today’s nanotechnology isn’t quite as sexy as that, but it’s just as unrestrained. Currently nanotechnology centers around the production of super-teeny-tiny materials and chemicals. We’re talking small, atomic scale small, the size of a molecule – like a particle one thousandth the width of a human hair. Specifically, one nano-metre is equal to one billionth of a meter. As more and more particles are being manufactured with lengths between 1 and 100 nanometers, industry experts say these materials may pose unpredictable risks to the public. OK, I’m going to go out on a limb here and go on record right now: I predict that these super-small materials will pose unexpected problems.

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What’s so great about being so small? The whole point of nanomaterials is that by bunching together a mass of very teensy particles, you increase surface area – a lot. Take a moment to think about that.

Nanotech is invading almost every industry – plastics, energy, medicine, electronics, food packaging, all the way up to the atmosphere via the aerospace industry. These novel material structures and their unique properties make stuff really strong and long lasting, they allow materials to absorb and radiate extremely specific wavelengths of light, and by being so small they have the ability to penetrate cellular barriers. They’re also extremely chemically active.

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FRIGHTENING STEP BY THE ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY REGARDING CHEMICAL RISK ASSESSMENT – 2 Articles

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EPA OPENS CHEMICAL RISK ASSESSMENT TO CORPORATE LOBBYING — New Process Marginalizes Government Scientists and Promotes Industry Influence
Publication Date: April 14, 2008
Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER)

Washington, DC — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has unveiled a new process for assessing the health risks of new chemicals that allows chemical manufacturers and other industries to play key roles. As a result, it will be much easier to inject corporate influence into public health determinations that should be purely scientific, according Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER).

The overhaul of the EPA “Integrated Risk Information System” became effective on April 10, 2008, the day it was announced. EPA said the changes “created several important opportunities” for affected interests to weigh in “at key points throughout the nomination and assessment” of new environmental contaminants. One hallmark of the changes is pushing government research to the side in favor of outside research which is largely industry-funded. As a consequence –

Affected corporations will be intimately involved in each step of EPA’s risk assessment and will be able to know what staff are assigned to which work, making the agency “research plan” vulnerable to political manipulation through the appropriations process; The Defense and Energy Departments will have a formal role on how pollutants, such as the chemical perchlorate, are evaluated. [to find out more about perchlorate, check out an earlier BiG TeA PaRtY post about this toxic contaminant – CLICK HERE] In addition, these agencies could declare a particular chemical to be “mission critical” that would allow them to control how “data gaps” are to be filled. All intra-and inter-agency communications on risk assessments are deemed “deliberative” and thus confidential; The White House Office of Management and Budget would control both the substance and timing of final decisions on chemical risk assessments. “Under this system, every chemical risk assessment is a special interest scrum,” stated New England PEER Director Kyla Bennett, a former EPA scientists and attorney. “Had this process been in place, the tobacco industry would have stopped EPA from declaring secondhand smoke a lung cancer risk.”

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It’s time for some more kooky, wild, yet surprisingly sane ideas for generating and capturing energy. Energy is all around us, there’s no need to dig it up out of the ground – that is SO old hat.  ciao, VaLerie K

TOP 5 Weirdest Ways to Power Your Home

by Jill Fehrenbacher
inhabitat.com
As solar panels and wind turbines become more and more commonplace in homes, it appears that green energy is finally moving into mainstream. But lest you fear that solar power is becoming too played out, there are still plenty of TRULY ALTERNATIVE energy sources to out there to sink your trendspotting teeth into. From kinetic energy to sound-power and even natural waste (yes, poo), there are more and more creative, weird, and super-promising ways to deliver all the power you need from renewable energy sources all around us. Here are our top 5 Really Alternative Energy Sources…..

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1. POO POWER – Yes, we’re serious. Poop produces methane, which is not only a greenhouse gas, but can be harnessed and used for viable renewable energy. While the technology and processes are still being refined, it’s not unlikely that cow manure will be the new solar panel in the coming years. Dogs and even human waste might eventually join the poo parade as well.

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Storing wind under water?

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Sounds like a strange concept, but research is going forward on this innovative energy idea.

Tell us the wildest energy-generating strategy you’ve heard –

– leave a comment, we love to hear from you!

ciao, VaLerie K

 

 

The Man Making ‘Wind Bags’

By Brady Haran
BBC NEWS

Seamus Garvey wants to “store the wind”.

He believes the future of energy is storing it as compressed air in giant bags under the sea. And a major power company has invested in the scheme.

Professor Garvey, a long-time proponent of compressed air, feels vindicated by the research grant. He said: “As the country and the whole world moves toward using more renewable energy, we’re going to need energy storage.”

His idea would utilize familiar renewable sources – wind, waves and tidal power. But Professor Garvey does not believe we should be forced to “use it or lose it” when conditions are best.

Energy would instead be used to compress and pump air into underwater bags, anchored to the seabed. When energy demand is highest, the air would be released through a turbine, converting it to electricity.

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Fabric that creates electricity:
Could your shirt power your iPod?
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Source: International Herald Tribun Posted by: Elizabeth Fiend

BOSTON: Someday, your shirt might be able to power your iPod – just by doing the normal stuff expected of a shirt.

Scientists have developed a way to generate electricity by jostling fabric with unbelievably tiny wires woven inside, raising the prospect of textiles that produce power simply by being stretched, rustled or ruffled by a breeze.

The research, described in the Feb. 14 edition of the journal Nature, combines the precision of ultra-small nanotechnology with the elegant principle known as the piezoelectric effect, in which electricity is generated when pressure is applied to certain materials.

While the piezoelectric effect has been understood at least as far back as the 19th century, it is getting creative new looks now, as concerns about energy supplies are inspiring quests for alternative power sources.

For example, a Japanese railway has experimented with mats, placed under turnstiles, that translate the pressure from thousands of commuters’ footfalls into usable power. French scientists have proposed capturing energy from raindrops hitting a structure with piezoelectric properties.

For the research described in Nature, Zhong Lin Wang and colleagues at the Georgia Institute of Technology covered individual fibers of fabric with nanowires made of zinc oxide.

These wires are only 50 nanometers in diameter – 1,800 times thinner than a human hair.

Alternating fibers are coated with gold. As one strand of the fabric is stretched against another, the nanowires on one fiber rub against the gold-coated ones on the other, like the teeth of two bottle brushes. The resulting tension and pressure generates a piezoelectric charge that is captured by the gold and can be fed into a circuit.

The allure of the idea is that it doesn’t take unusual movement to generate usable electricity. Pretty much anything someone does while wearing a piezoelectric shirt would be productive.

“The beauty of this work is that if you have wind, or you have sonic waves, or you have vibrations, that works for you,” Wang said. “You do not need a very large force for that.”

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Studies Say Clearing Land for Biofuels Will Aid Warming

By Juliet Eilperin
Source: Washington Post

Posted by Elizabeth Fiend

February 2008

Clearing land to produce biofuels such as ethanol will do more to exacerbate global warming than using gasoline or other fossil fuels, two scientific studies show.

The independent analyses, which will be published today in the journal Science, could force policymakers in the United States and Europe to reevaluate incentives they have adopted to spur production of ethanol-based fuels. President Bush and many members of Congress have touted expanding biofuel use as an integral element of the nation’s battle against climate change, but these studies suggest that this strategy will damage the planet rather than help protect it.

One study — written by a group of researchers from Princeton University, Woods Hole Research Center and Iowa State University along with an agriculture consultant — concluded that over 30 years, use of traditional corn-based ethanol would produce twice as much greenhouse gas emissions as regular gasoline. Another analysis, written by a Nature Conservancy scientist along with University of Minnesota researchers, found that converting rainforests, peatlands, savannas or grasslands in Southeast Asia and Latin America to produce biofuels will increase global warming pollution for decades, if not centuries.

Tim Searchinger, who conducts research at Princeton and the D.C-based German Marshall Fund of the United States, said the research he and his colleagues did is the first to reveal the hidden environmental cost of producing biofuels.

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Sigh. The European Union is way ahead of us as far as animal rights, improving the environment and regulating unhealthy food products and methods. Regulations have already been passed, and in effect since 2004, that would step by step outlaw animal testing on cosmetics in EU countries. Why can’t we do that here in the U.S.?

Imprisoning, strapping down and dropping noxious chemicals in to a bunny’s eye all to develop a new scent of shampoo is a totally unacceptable practice.

Developing new ways to test cosmetics, without torturing animals, is a great place for business growth. Send me your thoughts on why America can’t ban cosmetic testing on animals too. Leave a comment after the jump. Love, Elizabeth Fiend

(Complete schedule for EU Cosmetic Directive scroll to the end.)

Chips could put lab rats out of work

Source: CNN.com TROY, New York (AP) — The lab rat of the future may have no whiskers and no tail — and might not even be a rat at all.

Scientists are working to develop special chips that can be used instead of animals to test product safety.

With a European ban looming on animal testing for cosmetics, companies are giving a hard look at high-tech alternatives like the small, rectangular glass chip professor Jonathan Dordick holds up to the light in his lab at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

The chip looks like a standard microscope slide, but it holds hundreds of tiny white dots loaded with human cell cultures and enzymes. It’s designed to mimic human reactions to potentially toxic chemical compounds, meaning critters like rats and mice may no longer need to be on the front line of tests for new blockbuster drugs or wrinkle creams.

Dordick and fellow chemical engineering professor Douglas Clark, of the University of California, Berkeley, lead a team of researchers planning to market the chip through their company, Solidus Biosciences, by next year. Hopes are high that the chip and other “in vitro” tests — literally, tests in glass — will provide cheap, efficient alternatives to animal testing.

No one expects the chips to totally replace animals just yet, but their ability to flag toxins could spare animals discomfort or death.

“At the end of the day, you have fewer animals being tested,” said Dordick.

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What’s the Frequency Kenneth?

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BY ELIZABETH FIEND 12/7/7

Categories: New technology; RFID; Radio frequency tags; Privacy rights; Big business

When dragonflies head south, they like to ride the tailwinds generated by cold fronts. But when they go north, they prefer to buzz off on warm winds. We know this because scientists attached radio transmitters to the insects along with a single-wire antenna, powered by a tiny battery, running down the length of their abdomen.

Video may have killed the radio star in 1979, but radio is back, big time. Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags and chips are here. RFID is an identification system that allows information to be stored and then retrieved via radio waves. The tags can be attached or incorporated into a ‘thing’ or a living creature. Complex tags, like the ones used on the dragonflies, contain silicon chips and antennas which require an internal power source. But the simplest tags don’t require a power source at all.

Do you use E-ZPass and just cruise on through the tool booth? Electronic tool booth collection uses RFID technology to speed things along on the road. Got one of those new-fangled credit cards that you just wave in front of a contact-less reader at the store? It has a RFID chip in it. Already cell phone makers are building RFID chips into the phone turning the phone itself into a payment device, which could ultimately replace debit and credit cards.

No soap, radio.

RFID tags are poised to take off in a major way. Wal-Mart and the United States Department of Defense are at the forefront of developing the way this technology is to be used. Doesn’t this make you and your information feel secure?

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