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09 July 2009

Why Sex?, Agri-Energy Kitegen

Why Sex?
Potamopyrgus antipodarum, a snail common in fresh water lakes in New Zealand,..The snails exist in both sexual and asexual versions,..
Researchers Jukka Jokela, of the Swiss FIAST, Mark Dybdahl,.. and Curtis Lively .. began observing several populations of these snails for ten years beginning in 1994...
They found that while clones were plentiful at the beginning of the study, they became more susceptible to parasites over time. And as parasite infections increased, the once plentiful clones dwindled dramatically in number. Meanwhile, sexual snail populations remained much more stable over time. This, the authors say, is exactly the pattern predicted by the parasite hypothesis.

THE SUPERORGANISM: The Beauty, Elegance, and Strangeness of Insect Societies. Bert Hölldobler and Edward O. Wilson. W. W. Norton, 2009. (not read).
termites (Isoptera), although social, are diploid. Furthermore, most lineages of Hymenoptera are solitary. So haplodiploidy is neither necessary nor sufficient for the evolution of sociality.
..Therefore something else has to be involved. One such thing is the principle of parental exploitation, which states that when Mom packs the lunch box, Junior eats what is good for Mom. It involves coercion, and plenty of evidence for coercion is presented in The Superorganism. Another possibility is group selection, which Hölldobler and Wilson now prefer to kin selection,
I just read Joan Roughgarden's new book "The Genial Gene" (she who famously brought you gay giraffes)
sort of about group selection. She reckons that sexual selection is a mirage.
The entire area of co-operation in biology is a mystery. It evidently occurs but Neo-Darwinism really cant describe it. ND always assumes cheats will prosper. JR talks about birds nesting. Its obvious they cooperate but an adequate theory escapes us.
There being no economic theory of niceness...
JR has some sort of belief in Christian but non Intelligent-Design ... wikip says she believes in Dog's "involvement" in evolution.
I am not sure about Peacocks tails.. JR says that females lost them rather than males gained them. A lot of talk about gamete size which is the definition of sex. She rather confusingly rejects the "Red Queen" hypothesis while embracing Bill Hamilton's sex-for-parasite-resistance. I had thought they were the same idea.

2 year olds detect bad French
Children begin to use two or more words at a time by age 2, but ...show no signs of grammatical knowledge. Yet upon hearing a sentence in which a noun incorrectly replaces a verb, or a verb incorrectly replaces a noun,..
Electrical activity, mainly relegated to the left-frontal brain, spiked as toddlers heard nouns in a verb position. Electrical responses further back on the brain’s left side, in the temporal lobe, jumped as toddlers heard verbs in a noun position. Both patterns resembled those that have already been implicated in noun and verb knowledge in adults.
“This experiment suggests that brain networks responsible for language processing get organized extremely early, showing striking similarities with the adult system long before children start producing adultlike language,” Christophe says.
....Christophe’s team studied 27 French toddlers within two weeks of their second birthdays...a woman told a story in French as she acted it out with toys.
... One of the tales, about a chicken and a strawberry, included a correct-noun sentence (translated as “She wants to eat the strawberry”) and an incorrect-noun sentence (“But she strawberries it without noticing”). In French, both sentences contained la fraise, which means the strawberry in the first sentence and strawberries it in the second sentence.

The story also contained a correct-verb sentence (“Now she looks at it with envy”) and an incorrect-verb sentence (“So she pushes the look to grasp it.”) In French, both sentences contained la regarde, which makes grammatical sense as looks at it in the first sentence but not as the look in the second sentence.

Chinese Remainder DNA sequencing

..July 1st Genome Research. .."DNA Sudoku.".. tens of thousands of DNA .. sequences.. at once.

.. more than a hundred thousand DNA samples," says CSHL Professor Gregory Hannon..project that costs upwards of $10 million using conventional methods may be accomplished for $50,000 ..
..The mixing together and simultaneous sequencing of a massive number of DNA ..multiplexing. In previous multiplexing approaches...unique tags...
"But this approach is very limiting," explains Yaniv Erlich...the idea of mixing the samples in specific patterns, thereby creating pools of samples...the pooling strategy, which is based on the Chinese remainder theorem. "It minimizes the number of pools and the amount of sequencing,"... best suited ..short segments.. Hannon envisions wider clinical applications ..such as HLA typing,.. Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory

Matua Island is uninhabited. The eruption of Sarychev Peak

Greg Ladn has a series of memories of remote Zaire (in the Ituri) which are themed anti-missionary

China's wheat harvest is set to grow for the sixth year in a row despite an earlier drought and recent torrential rains, the Ministry of Agriculture said.
Jun 29, 2009

Around 90% of the estimated 122.5 million tons has been harvested, ..
In many areas farmers had been battling major drought conditions as early as last November. When rains did come in late May, it was a case of too much too fast ..
..The worst drought in 60 years had gripped Henan province, which produces around a quarter of China's grains...withered 240,000 hectares of newly seeded wheat.


l. In the USA,... use of gasoline and diesel fuel in farming fell from its historical high of 7.7 billion gallons (29.1 E9 liters) in 1973 to 4.2 E9 in 2005–... gallons / ton of grain...33 in 1973 to 12 in 2005...
..a shift to minimum- and no-till cultural 2/5 of U.S. cropland....
... Fertilizer 20% of U.S. farm energy use. (feu) Worldwide,..slightly higher. ... The USA exports 80 million tons of grain /yr..
... as water tables fall. In the USA 19% of feu... pumping water. ...in India where water tables are falling, 1/2 electricity is used to pump water .
... agriculture accounts for only 20% of the energy used in the U.S. food system. (fse )Transport, processing, packaging, marketing, and kitchen preparation of food are responsible for the rest....
The 14% of fse to move goods .. to consumer = 2/3 of the energy used to produce the food. ..16% of fse = canning, freezing, and drying food..
... Packaging= 7% of fse
“An empty cereal box delivered to the grocery store would cost about the same as a full one.”
...the kitchen. Much more energy is used to refrigerate and prepare food in the home than is used to produce it ...
The big energy user in the fs is the kitchen refrigerator, not the farm tractor...
[ crazy how many kitchens I see where educated people stuff the fridge into a box, no idea about heat dissipation
- Fridges should have 50cm thick insulation and a latching door that is opened only twice a day.]

Adapted from Chapter 2, “Deteriorating Oil and Food Security,” in Lester R. Brown, : Mobilizing to Save Civilization 008),..

India—using a small-scale dairy production model that relies almost entirely on crop residues as a feed source—has more than quadrupled its milk production since 1970, overtaking the United States as the world’s leading milk producer. The value of India’s dairy production now exceeds that of its rice harvest..........
As water tables have fallen and irrigation wells have gone dry, China’s wheat crop, the world’s largest, has declined by 8% since it peaked at 123 million tons in 1997. In that same period China’s rice production dropped 4%. The world’s most populous nation may soon be importing massive quantities of grain.
- biochar in Aceh didnt improve crops...
Not only has China ended its dependence on food aid, but almost overnight it has become the world’s third largest food aid donor.

The key to China’s success was the economic reforms in 1978 that dismantled its system of agricultural collectives, known as production teams, and replaced them with family farms. In each village, the land was allocated among families, giving them long-term leases on their piece of land. The move harnessed the energy and ingenuity of China’s rural population, raising the grain harvest by half from 1977 to 1986. With its fast-expanding economy raising incomes, with population growth slowing, and with the grain harvest climbing, China eradicated most of its hunger in less than a decade—in fact, it eradicated more hunger in a shorter period of time than any country in history.

[this is an unusually optimistic view of China. Other projections indicate PRC as a major importer..]
The spread in double cropping of winter wheat and corn on the North China Plain helped boost China’s grain production . Winter wheat grown there yields 5 tons ha . Corn also averages 5 tons. Together these two crops, grown in rotation, can yield 10 tons per hectare per year. China’s double cropped rice annually yields 8 tons per hectare
in Africa is the simultaneous planting of grain and leguminous trees. At first the trees grow slowly, permitting the grain crop to mature and be harvested; then the saplings grow quickly to several feet in height, dropping leaves that provide nitrogen and organic matter, both sorely needed in African soils. The wood is then cut and used for fuel. This simple, locally adapted technology, developed by scientists at the International Centre for Research in Agroforestry in Nairobi, has enabled farmers to double their grain yields within a matter of years as soil fertility builds.

Uigher fallout
... Tohti remembers the week that it rained dust. That summer o
f 1973 he was in elementary school in Xinjiang Province, China’s westernmost region, which is inhabited mostly by Uygurs. ... “There were three days that earth fell from the sky, without wind or any sort of storm. The sky was deadly silent—no sun, no moon,”...years later that he realized it was radioactive dust raised by the test detonation of a nuclear bomb within the province.

.. A few hundred thousand people may have died as a result of radiation from at least 40 nuclear explosions carried out between 1964 and 1996 at the Lop Nur site in Xinjiang...He is establishing the Lop Nur project at Sapporo Medical University.
Takada.... book, Chinese Nuclear Tests (Iryo­ka­gakusha, 2009).

In the early 1990s ..was invited by scientists in Kazakhstan, which borders Xinjiang, to evaluate the hazard from Chinese tests. He devised a computer model ...radiation levels measured in Kazakhstan from 1995 to 2002...estimate that 194,000 people would have died as a result of acute radiation exposure. Around 1.2 million received doses high enough to induce leukemia, solid cancers and fetal damage. “My estimate is a conservative minimum,” Takada says.

..Tohti was only able to speak out in 1998, when he moved to Turkey, ostensibly as part of his medical training. There he joined forces with a team of British documentary filmmakers whom he smuggled back into Xinjiang as tourists. Together they uncovered medical records showing that cancer rates were 30 to 35% higher in the province than the national average.


Australovenator wintonensis (above, in an artist's impression) is one of three new dinosaurs recently unearthed in the Australian outback town of Winton.

The 16.5-foot-long (5-meter-long), 6.5-foot-tall (2-meter-tall) meat-eater is the most complete theropod—a group of two-legged dinos related to birds—ever found in Australia and maybe even in the world, Hocknull said in July 2009.

Nicknamed Banjo, the velociraptor-like dinosaur had three slashing claws on both hands and larger arms than its cousin, Tyrannosaurus rex.
S-300PMU2 Favorit to Iran??
Its unclear if Russia will sell these... the most recent comments seem to indicate no. (why are Putin/Medv cooperating with BO?)

MOSCOW, June 29 (RIA Novosti) .....Russian sources said in March that Iran had not yet received any S-300 .. Russia had reiterated its commitment to fulfill the contract,
S-300PMU2 Favorit range 195 km
As Iran's quest for the advanced Russian-made S-300 air defense system is believed to have hit rock bottom, a report by RIA Novosti said Tehran is eying a Chinese-made HQ-9 surface-to-air missile under the name FD-2000 ..
....Later media reports claimed that Russia's plan to turn a "new page" in its ties with the USA is likely to prompt Moscow to shelve the delivery of the S-300 system to Iran.
"If Tehran obtained the S-300, it would be a game-changer in military thinking for tackling Iran," ..Dan Goure.
... Payvand News - 05/10/09 ... -
15 Apr 2009 22:32:46 GMT
.Iran's Deputy Foreign Minister Mahdi Safari says the contract to buy Russia's S-300 advance missile system is still on track.
MOSCOW - Russia will not sell sophisticated S-300 missile systems to Iran, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Andrei Nesterenko told reporters here Oct. 9.

Kite Energy
A recent LCA study for a conventional 3 MW wind turbine ... energy input for building and maintaining the turbine as ca. 8000 MWh for 20 years of lifetime. ... weight ... about 400 tons, ... embodied energy 20 kWh/kg. The turbine will produce 160,000 MWh during its lifetime ... EROEI is ca. 20.
...for the kitegen. the energy requ.ired to make a 3 MW kitegen stem is of 40kWh/kg. structure, copper for power lines, neodimium and boron for the magnets, machining, transportation, building includes also the energy costs involved with having workers at the plant and for the periodic substitution of cables and kites over a 30 year lifespan.
the stem is much lighter: 30 tons for a 3MW plant energy requirement as 30*40= 1200 MWh. Assuming 5000 hours per year of operation 15,000 MWh per year, or 450,000 MWh in 30 years. The final result is an EROEI = 375 (!!)///larger kitegen plants of the carousel type it would be possible to reach higher heights, tap into stronger winds and increase even more the EROEI
[ this is fantastically optimistic - kites everywhere we will all be richer than Saudi...
certainly the loss of kite-borne generators and conducting cables is very clever.
Failure modes need to be considered... with wind drop or flap-failure kites would be crashing down (how often?)
how hard is it to re-launch? kite train? The kites might only weigh tens? of kg . not tons. The cables could be simple nylon ropes. So crashes mighnt be too bad. Perhaps not safe over cities but rural folks could be warned (txt msg: "Kite falling warning" ]

.. each airfoil can produce energy for about 300° of carousel rotation; only a small fraction (about 1%,..) of the generated energy is used to drag the kite against the wind for the remaining 60°...land usage for a kite generator may be lower than a current wind farm of the same power by a factor of up to 30–50. Electric energy production costs lower by a factor up to 10–20.
old oil = 100+ = this is the basis for care-free car culture
corn ethanol 1.5? - this is not a basis for an energy rich society
kitegen 200+ better than cheap oil!!