February 14, 2014
February 11, 2014
February 10, 2014
Deer highway leading past garden shed to my house
They don’t sleep here every night but it is in an L formed by my house and my detached garage that is sheltered from the wind. At least four of them there at a time.
Here is where they are stomping down the snow to get at plant material to eat. A lot of work for a few calories.
In the winter their digestive systems convert to being able to eat this past year’s twig growth and buds. That is why they are so destructive to new tree plantings and why I have to shroud my azaleas so I can get blooms next spring.
If this winter keeps up like this for another month the stress on the deer population could cause a large drop in numbers.
February 7, 2014
Leave a Comment
A Virginia Tech research team has developed a battery that runs on sugar and has an unmatched energy density, a development that could replace conventional batteries with ones that are cheaper, refillable, and biodegradable.
The findings from Y.H. Percival Zhang, an associate professor of biological systems engineering in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and the College of Engineering, were published today in the journal Nature Communications.
While other sugar batteries have been developed, this one has an energy density an order of magnitude higher than others, allowing it to run longer before needing to be refueled, Zhang said.
In as soon as three years, Zhang’s new battery could be running some of the cell phones, tablets, video games, and the myriad other electronic gadgets that require power in our energy-hungry world, Zhang said.
“Sugar is a perfect energy storage compound in nature,” Zhang said. “So it’s only logical that we try to harness this natural power in an environmentally friendly way to produce a battery.”
In America alone, billions of toxic batteries are thrown away every year, posing a threat to both the environment and human health, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Zhang’s development could help keep hundreds of thousands of tons of batteries from ending up in landfills.
This is one of Zhang’s discoveries in the last year that utilize a series of enzymes mixed together in combinations not found in nature. He has published articles on creating edible starch from non-food plants and developed a new way to extract hydrogen in an economical and environmentally friendly way that can be used to power vehicles.
In this newest development, Zhang and his colleagues constructed a non-natural synthetic enzymatic pathway that strip all charge potentials from the sugar to generate electricity in an enzymatic fuel cell. Then, low-cost biocatalyst enzymes are used as catalyst instead of costly platinum, which is typically used in conventional batteries.
Like all fuel cells, the sugar battery combines fuel — in this case, maltodextrin, a polysaccharide made from partial hydrolysis of starch — with air to generate electricity and water as the main byproducts.
“We are releasing all electron charges stored in the sugar solution slowly step-by-step by using an enzyme cascade,” Zhang said.
Different from hydrogen fuel cells and direct methanol fuel cells, the fuel sugar solution is neither explosive nor flammable and has a higher energy storage density. The enzymes and fuels used to build the device are biodegradable.
The battery is also refillable and sugar can be added to it much like filling a printer cartridge with ink.
February 6, 2014
We heard how Raghupati Raghva Rajaram was one of Mahatma Gandhi’s favorite bhajans. Here is one he used in his daily prayers.
Vaishnava janato is a popular Bhajan, written in the 15th century by the poet Narsinh Mehta. It is in Gujarati and the bhajan was included in Mahatma Gandhi’s daily prayer. The bhajan speaks about the life, ideals and mentality of a Vaishnava Jana (a follower of Vishnu or Krishna).
Here’s the translation:
One who is a Vaishnava (one who is a devotee of Vishnu)
Knows the pain of others
Does good to others, especially to those ones who are in misery
(even if he does good to others), he doesn’t take pride about his act.
A Vaishnava, Tolerates and praises the entire world
Does not say bad things about anyone
Keeps his/her words, actions and thoughts pure
O Vaishnava, your mother is blessed
A Vaishnava sees everything equally, rejects greed and avarice
Considers some one else’s wife/daughter as his mother
Will never speak lies with his/her tongue,
Does not even touch someone else’s property
A Vaishnava does not succumb to worldly attachments
Who has devoted himself to staunch detachment to worldly pleasures
Who has been addicted to the elixir coming by the name of Ram
For whom all the religious sites are in his own body
Who has no greed and deceit
Who has renounced lust of all types and anger
The poet Narsi will like to see such a person
By who’s virtue, the entire family gets salvation
February 5, 2014
Leave a Comment
Flatulent cows contributed to a fire at a German farm Monday, police said. The gas had built up inside a shed, causing an explosion.
BERLIN — Methane gas from 90 flatulent cows exploded in a German farm shed on Monday, damaging the roof and injuring one of the animals, police said.
High levels of the gas had built up in the structure in the central German town of Rasdorf, then “a static electric charge caused the gas to explode with flashes of flames,” the force said in a statement.
One cow was treated for burns, a police spokesman added.
February 4, 2014
Leave a Comment
February 3, 2014
Once every three years, there is an international competition in horticultural sculpture, called “mosaiculture,” in a major city in the world. This year it is in Montreal .
This is not topiary but rather creating sculptures out of living plants. The greatest horticulturalists in the world, from 20 different countries, submitted plans a year in advance.
Steel armatures were then created to support the works (some 40 feet high); they were then wrapped in steel mesh and filled with dirt and moss and watering hoses. Then they ordered 3 million plants of different shades of green and brown and tan, and these were grown in greenhouses all over Quebec .
In late May, these horticulturalists came to Montreal and planted all of their plants in the forms at the Montreal Botanic Gardens, and they have been standing for three months now.
There were 50 major sculptures along a path two miles long. They were incredible. If you would like to visit a few and walk along the path, click on: