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A Way to Make Motor Fuel Out of Wood? Add Water

submitted by Samuel Bendett

The New York Times - by Matthew L. Wald - September 27, 2011


Technology from Renmatix obtained this sugar solution from wood pulp by applying very hot water at high pressure. The New York Times Company

A Georgia company says it has overcome a major roadblock in turning agricultural waste into vehicle fuel and other useful chemicals by experimenting with a technology that treats the waste with compressed water heated to very high temperatures.

The company, Renmatix, plans to cut the ribbon on a research and development center on Tuesday in King of Prussia, Pa., near the heart of the nation’s chemical and refining industry, to complete development of the process. The goal is to accomplish something that has eluded a dozen companies in recent years despite big government inducements: to commercialize a technology for making use of cellulosic biomass, or wood chips, switchgrass and the nonedible parts of crops.

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The Power of the 21st Century Librarian

Michael D. McDonald, Dr.P.H.

It can be argued that libraries have their origins in the swarm behavior of individuals and groups acquiring and sharing cultural artifacts (e.g, pictographs, books) as the fundamental repositories of knowledge within a community and the broader society.  Librarians have played a key role in the founding and differentiation of  America at its origins.  Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin, for example, played key roles in deepening and broadening the tradition of knowledge sharing within the early United States. 


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Robert Kuttner: Can Europe Be Spared Cascading Collapse?

The failure of the European authorities to arrest the speculative run on Greek bonds and the sense of inevitable wider collapse reminds me of the diplomatic failures that led to World War I.

In the summer of 1914, myopic bluffing by Europe's key leaders produced a catastrophe that nobody wanted. It began in Serbia, a small nationalistic province of a decaying Austro-Hungarian empire, but the conflagration soon spread to all of Europe like a chain of firecrackers. No leader was farsighted enough to grasp the wider common stakes and head off disaster. Each pursued only narrow self-interest.

Jeremy Rifkin: The Third Industrial Revolution: Toward a New Economic Paradigm


Our industrial civilization is at a crossroads. Oil and the other fossil fuel energies that make up the industrial way of life are sunsetting, and the technologies made from and propelled by these energies are antiquated. The entire industrial infrastructure built off of fossil fuels is aging and in disrepair. The result is that unemployment is rising to dangerous levels all over the world. Governments, businesses and consumers are awash in debt and living standards are plummeting everywhere. A record one billion human beings--nearly one seventh of the human race--face hunger and starvation.

By 2030 China's Economy Could Loom as Large as America's in the 1970s

The Economist - September 9, 2011

Global Economic Dominance - Spheres of Influence


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'Wi-fi Refugees' Shelter in West Virginia Mountains

BBC News - September 12, 2011


Nichols Fox lives alone in a home powered primarily by gas just outside the Quiet Zone

Dozens of Americans who claim to have been made ill by wi-fi and mobile phones have flocked to the town of Green Bank, West Virginia

There are five billion mobile phone subscriptions worldwide and advances in wireless technology make it increasingly difficult to escape the influence of mobile devices. But while most Americans seem to embrace continuous connectivity, some believe it's making them physically ill.

Diane Schou is unable to hold back the tears as she describes how she once lived in a shielded cage to protect her from the electromagnetic radiation caused by waves from wireless communication.

"It's a horrible thing to have to be a prisoner," she says. "You become a technological leper because you can't be around people.

"It's not that you would be contagious to them - it's what they're carrying that is harmful to you."

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Explosion at French Nuclear Waste Plant

The Guardian - September 12, 2011


Rescue workers and medics land by helicopter at the Marcoule nuclear site, in France. Photograph: Claude Paris/AP

An explosion at a French nuclear waste processing plant that killed one person and injured four others sparked fears of a radioactive leak on Monday.

An emergency safety cordon was thrown around the Marcoule nuclear site near Nimes in the south of France immediately after a furnace used to melt nuclear waste exploded and caused a fire. It was lifted later in the day after France's nuclear safety agency, the Autorité de Sûreté Nucléaire (ASN), said there was no danger to the public.

Reports said the body of one male worker at the plant had been "found carbonised", but there was no evidence that the explosion had caused any radioactive leak, though the ASN admitted there was the "possibility of a leak of low-level radioactivity, but no shooting of radioactivity in the air". There was no information as to the cause of the explosion.

The accident came just a week after the French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, bucked the anti-nuclear trend following Japan's Fukushima disaster and pledged €1bn (£860m) of new investment in atomic power.

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Microbes Generate Electricity While Cleaning Up Nuclear Waste

Michigan State University - September 6, 2011

Homeland Security Newswire - September 7, 2011


MSU microbiologist Gemma Reguera (right) and her team of researchers have unraveled the mystery of how microbes generate electricity while cleaning up nuclear waste. Photo by Michael Steger.

EAST LANSING, Mich. — Researchers at Michigan State University have unraveled the mystery of how microbes generate electricity while cleaning up nuclear waste and other toxic metals.

Details of the process, which can be improved and patented, are published in the current issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The implications could eventually benefit sites forever changed by nuclear contamination, said Gemma Reguera, MSU microbiologist.

“Geobacter bacteria are tiny micro-organisms that can play a major role in cleaning up polluted sites around the world,” said Reguera, who is an MSU AgBioResearch scientist. “Uranium contamination can be produced at any step in the production of nuclear fuel, and this process safely prevents its mobility and the hazard for exposure.”

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Video - Mobile Phones Without Towers Coming Soon

The Sydney Morning Herald - September 1, 2011

A mobile phone communications system that doesn't need towers is being developed at Adelaide's Flinders University.

The Serval Project was inspired by the 2010 Haiti earthquake in which the phone network crashed as infrastructure went down.

Creator Paul Gardner-Stephen said the earthquake showed the lack of resilience in a communications system that relied on infrastructure.

"If the towers are knocked out, mobile phone handsets become useless lumps of plastic in our hands," he said.

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The Economics of Rapidly Emerging Cities

As the human populations of our small planet exceeds 7 billion on its way potentially to 9 million or 10 billion by the mid-21st Century, migrations of millions are becoming common place -- some out of desperation, others out of seeking opportunity and a better life.  According to a large percentage of climatologists and other scientists that are studying global change, the social ecologies of many large cities will become non-viable for their human populations and many other species due to climate change, the drying up of water supplies, the lose of food sources, natural disasters, wars, and other factors.  In other cases, new cities of opportunity or attractive culture will draws those seeking a better life and way of being.  

Tens of millions, and perhaps hundreds of millions will be forced to leave their homes in search of more viable communities.  Millions more will create new communities with intentionality, exploring new economic, social, and political models that improve health, human security, resilience and sustainability for the new citizens.  In some cases, simple shared principles will shape new, fast growing economies, and, in other cases, rules and conditions will be imposed on inhabitants of new communities and cities.

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