LiquiGlide - a super slippery coating
Scientists at MIT have developed this freaky non-stick coating that keeps ketchup flowing. Amazing solution to an old problem. Also one of the weirdest videos you will see this week.
Paul Higgins: A bit cynical about this in the long term. Talked to one of our neighbours last week who builds urban gardens for people. he says that people start out all enthusiastic but many fall into disrepair
Consider this paradox: 49 million Americans live with daily food insecurity, 23 million live in urban food deserts, and collectively we’re all getting fatter. Simultaneously vacant lots, concrete grooves, and other desolate, empty spots dot urban landscapes, while a quarter of traditional agricultural land is severely degraded according to the UN.
Enter the urban farm: a fast, smart, cheap way to bring healthy food closer to those who need it, transform ugly vacant spaces into lush gardens, and promote a healthier, greener, more connected urban community.
A recently released video by the American Society of Landscape Architects uses case studies from edible-city innovators, such as Cleveland and Detroit, to offer practical advice for bringing urban farms to your backyard (or corner lot or rooftop). Here are four helpful tips:
Chinese Restauranteur Boasts 18 Robot Workers
A restaurant in Harbin, China staffs 18 robots; one to welcome customers as they arrive, others to cook the food, and more to deliver plates to tables. The owner says the robots, which cost between 200,000~300,000 yuan ($32,000~$48,000 USD), can display 10 different emotions and speak simple phrases.
The robot stops automatically if a customer gets in its way thanks to ultrasonic range sensors, and will sound an alarm if it needs to be repaired. And it knows to return to its power source when it gets low on juice (its batteries have a life of around 5 hours).
A new meta-analysis suggests farmers should take a hybrid approach to producing enough food for humans while preserving the environment
Full Story:Scientific American
Though an old problem, the highly regulated fisheries of New England present deep misconceptions and much ire among many interest groups.
The few fisheries that remain work closely with environmentalists, economists, food distributors, port cities, coastal planners, non-profits, churches, restaurants, family support groups, higher education institutes, advocacy groups, unions, scientists, state and federal regulators, and even international regulatory bodies. Each of these groups have varying degrees of interests. And no voice is more important than the next.
Working together to provide solutions is much tougher than eschewing one or more parties for ideological reasons.
The above PBS piece shows how a handful of groups worked together to create a new business model for fisheries. There are no universal solutions. But, this model has been adopted in communities up and down the east coast (I’m embarrassed to say that I’m not sure if this model has spread to the west coast or even Asian fisheries. The EU, though, is an entirely different story…).
See my other posts on fisheries.
Paul Higgins: These sorts of charts and numbers irritate me because while I am in full support of not wasting water they are a glib simplification. For example:
Iceberg Lettuce at 1kg = 130L and looks more efficient that lots of others but a Kg of lettuce only contains 587kj of energy and 8g of protein whereas I kg of wheat contains around 14,000 kj of energy and around 110g of protein. In a world that is food constrained and likely to become more so in the future as populations and demand grows this is important.
On top of that you then have to factor in the energy costs of transporting all that weight for a much lower energy density.
I am not sure of the source of the chart above but others that I have seen calculate the water use based on what falls on the crops like wheat or sugar cane. This analysis is then added to the water use of other products like meat and milk where grain is fed to animals.However unless that water is actually used up in the process and is useful elsewhere (either economically or environmentally) the calculations are meaningless at best and manipulative and deceptive at worse. To do a full comparison you need to do a full water cycle analysis compared to not using that land to produce that crop. For instance most of the water that falls on land to grow crops is not used by the crop, it either evaporates back to the atmosphere or moves through the soil to enter underground aquifers and rivers. Why should those amounts be added to the water cost of a product?
The arguments become different when irrigation is used because clearly water has been diverted for the use it is being put to. However the same rigorous analysis should be done, not meaningless easy comparisons designed to influence people.
By all means let us have the debate. The issues of water will become more important as populations grow.
I took the numbers here from http://nutritiondata.self.com which uses USDA data. I also cross referenced them with my own knowledge of grain nutrient levels.
UN-Water World Water Day