Saturday, October 06, 2007
Over the last few years, ever since I decided to get off my ass and make something out of myself, I've noticed this phenomenon. I have this weird, cosmic sense of timing. I shouldn't say "sense" actually because that implies that I know something that other people don't or that I'm doing something based on this knowledge. What I mean is that the amount of coincidences (good ones, that is) have drastically increased over time. I think about a friend of mine back home and they call me within a day or two; right before I get a chance to reach out to them. I start thinking about something on a regular basis and it happens to me or someone around me. In this case, I stumbled onto a blog for no particular reason and found someone who, put simply, agrees exactly with what I think about energy policy. And he happens to be awesome too... Here is what Scott Adams has to say about energy policy:
...coming up with green and economical alternative sources of energy would virtually solve all [our] other problems, either directly or by boosting the economy.
Imagine a president who brought experts together and mapped out a plan to make the country energy independent by a year certain. It would require a combination of a dozen or more industries and thousands of technologies that all do their little part. I can imagine massive investment in developing improved biofuels, building Sterling generators in the desert, nuclear plants, windmills, clean coal, harnessing the ocean waves, maybe using Tesla’s wireless power grid http://www.damninteresting.com/?p=703, and so on. I’m thinking of a war-time-like effort that brings the entire country together on this mission.
The direct benefits of a great energy policy would be a long-term solution to global warming (as developing nations copied our breakthroughs), and freedom from Middle East oil, and wars. That would be reason enough to make it a top priority. But the indirect benefits, through the impact on the economy, could be just as important.
Imagine mobilizing the entire country toward energy independence. The effort would increase jobs, including everything from harvesting sugar cane to assembling windmills. And it would stimulate technical advances that would have ripple effects for generations. Best yet, when energy becomes less expensive, it boosts profits of every company, increases personal wealth, and makes it easier to fund healthcare, education and anything else. And America would become the leader in alternative energy, exporting our products and services to developing countries.
Long quote I know but this is exactly what I think. In fact, I would do this post injustice if I went on and on about how I agree with it because it's put perfectly!
If it ain't broke...
Thursday, October 04, 2007
Will, no one else followed the "post only the banner on 10/4" and now I feel stupid. So on with the program.
This is the lab I work in. In you're not familiar with the first picture, it's an airbox which is a sealed unit where you work with air-sensitive chemicals. It's an all nitrogen environment and it's a pain in the ass to work with. You get used to it though...
Here are the deprotonated (minus one hydrogen atom) amino crystals that I posted the structure for here:
And a long shot of one side of the lab:
No, not impressive but cool to see if you haven't ever.
Tuesday, October 02, 2007
I certainly would rather be writing in here than transferring online BioChem powerpoints to bullet-pointed Word files but school calls.
I did, however, want to share two quick things: a source and an article from that source. Since the article is, once again, outside my usual transportation scope, I wanted to provide an explanation. First, the site:
The site is a feed and can be added to your reader program (if you have no idea what I'm talking about but would like to, comment and I'll help you out).
In their words:
Inhabitat.com is a weblog devoted to the future of design, tracking the innovations in technology, practices and materials that are pushing architecture and home design towards a smarter and more sustainable future.
Design to save us all. Making sustainability part of "the cool" is, simply, the only way to get it to catch. Make the coolest thing the most sustainable (or vice versa) and it happens, just like that.
I've always found minimalist construction and design the most beautiful. Aesthetics to me have more to do with working with what you have rather than brute force. For example: a domicile constructed into a hillside is far more beautiful than one that was built on the flat grave site of the same hill.
In the same vein, remodeling old structures and outfitting the inside with modern design elements appeals to me A LOT. There is a building here in San Diego that gutted an old, unused church to make huge loft condos.
So, it makes sense that this structure is, in my eyes, undeniably gorgeous:
Read the article for more information but contemplate this little nugget of happiness...
The embodied energy in existing materials has been diluted through an extension of the structure’s viability. Through reuse and adaptation the cost of demolition, trucking and land filling debris, the manufacturing, transport and installation of new structural materials has been eliminated. The result is a quiet lesson in “stealth green” - reuse brings both ecological and cultural advantages.
By not wrecking this building to create another, the whole renovation paid for itself. Let that sink it...
Back to the powerpoint
Monday, October 01, 2007
-> I want a hybrid-powered Honda Element. The regular-powered one is great and gets good gas mileage but I want a hybrid version. The technology exists for this to be created.
-> I want a hydrogen reformer that runs off of the power of my car. I want to store a bit of water and have my engine my hydrogen from it and use it to augment my gasoline. I want it to be built by Mitsubishi or Fujitsu. Or Microsoft. The technology exists for this to be created.
-> I want a cheap, efficient multi-fuel transportation option. I want it to run off hydrogen or butane or methane or CNG and have batteries and hybrid functionality. I want to be able to charge it. I don't need a top speed any higher than, say, 80. Range is nice but not the most important. I want to be able to recharge it. The technology exists for this to be created.
-> I want a cohesive, comprehensive green energy solution for my life. I want to be able to call someone and have it installed top to bottom. I want to be taught exactly how it works and what parts of it are likely to improve over the next 5/10/20 years. I want solar cells and hydrogen reformers and I want to be able to work on it. The technology exists for this to be created.
-> I want to build myself a super-environmentally friendly house somewhere nice. The bank account does not yet exist for this to be created.
Low-speed portable tool "PIXY ([pikushi])" of one person riding, uniting with this tool, it depends on automobile which makes movement as an automobile possible, is based on the sharing system type portable unit "SSC (s s sea)" lightly, it is easy to the person, concept of the new vehicle, " SUSTAINABLE MOBILITY ([sasuteinaburumobiritei]) "is proposed. In 2007 May from the economic industrial ministry it was announced it is put out with the "next generation automobile fuel initiative", it is the portable tool which produces the new city traffic where to also "the greatest in the world it paralleled easy car social" conception, possibility of new personal mobility and the sharing system is proposed.
Uhh right. There is something to be said about losing the beauty of a language through a computer auto-translator.
Link to article here
Sunday, September 30, 2007
Some interesting insight from psychologist Barry Schwarz. The title of this post is the title of his most recent book.
Click here for his TEDTalk (20 minutes but well worth your time).
He postulates that the level of choice available to a citizen of an industrial country such as ours works against our well-being (to say nothing of our society or our planet) His four main points:
1) Massive propagation of choice creates regret and anticipated regret. If you have more options for each choice in your life, the best you can ever hope for is good enough for what you want. We delete the idea of "pleasently surprised" because now we have enough options so that we should never expect to be disappointed. Goes with #3.
2) More choice means a preoccupation with missed opportunities (AKA opportunity costs). If you buy one product or marry one person or choose one career, you forfeit the other options available to you. The more options that you forfeit, the more things you have to compare to what you already chose. This lowers your satisfaction with what you have (grass is greener).
3) An increase of choice leads to an increase of expectation. If you have 5 different types of jeans to choose from, it's likely you'll be slightly disappointed. As such, you have realistic expectations about how the jeans will work for you. If, however, you have 100 choices, you expect to find the most perfect pair of jeans possible, even if they do not exist. You are tampering with your ability to be content with what you choose. The best you can get is now just good enough.
4) When you're offered a myriad choices and your expectations are high and you choose something that is less than satisfying, you experience self-blame. Before this massive push towards consumer choice, if you were dissatisfied, it was because the market did not cater directly to you. Now the burden falls on you; if you choose the wrong pair of jeans, what's wrong with you?
I did a fairly poor job of summarizing his talk. If any of this resonates with you, watch his talk. If you think this is a pile of crap, watch his talk. I'll end up referring back to this paradox of choice a lot in the future I imagine.