Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Time Out For Baseball -- The Bonds (Rx) Prescription

On the eve of Barry Bonds overtaking Hammerin' Hank for the all-time home run record, the Weekly Green takes time out from its planet-saving duties to address the Great Asterisk Controvery.

Since most fans agree an asterisk not only fails to preserve records achieved under vastly different conditions -- famously, Maris' unofficial "61*" -- we propose a notation that accounts for the "player" not the "record" having been alterred.

For example, using this method the current standings for lifetime HR's would look like this:

1 Aaron..........755
2 Bonds(Rx)..751
3 Ruth............714
4 Mays...........660
5 Sosa(Rx).....602

Saturday, July 14, 2007

RUNNING BARACK OBAMA'S CAMPAIGN (PT.3) -- Who IS Running His Campaign?

Some of you, drawn by our ongoing feature, Running Barack Obama's Campaign, have lately visited this site searching for clues to Obama’s campaign staff.

Good, it’s time people started wondering. Because, frankly, to this point they rate a C-

If you're looking to contact them (hint: find the websites for their consulting firms, email them there) direct them here, too. I’ve listed his team below starting with David Axelrod.

Axelrod’s TV presence has been decidedly underwhelming. A low-watt, not very suave media presence, he delivers determinedly content-free spin. Is that the strategy, to dance while Hillary closes in on the nomination? Described as "the strategist at Obama’s right hand, perhaps the best-known Democratic consultant working outside of Washington, D.C., equally adept at sensing the right metaphor for high-minded aspirations and at finding the vulnerable spot to savage an opponent," none of those qualities has yet been on display.

Besides fundraising, what is there? Where are the articulate, passionate public policy addresses? Lincoln left a raft of writings from barnstorming speeches prior to his election that gave every indication he was, in the Emersonian sense, a Representative Man. Brilliant analyses of the constitutional questions of the day.

Barack Obama needs to do something similar. There's plenty to talk about. For example...

With the next election ours for the losing, Democrats can’t rest. Some big-time inoculation is needed immediately in the ever-so-likely event of another terror attack.

That means a rhetorical preventive strike. He needs to say LOUDLY and repeatedly that the country remains in jeopardy, that the politically unglamorous work of dismantling terror cells, of penetrating and neutralizing our enemies has yet to be done. That this administration's decision to fight a noisy, unnecessary war rather than focus on that difficult, secret work has left us more, not less vulnerable. While we've been fortunate not to have had a terror attack since 9/11, this administration has made the job of drying up support for Al Qaeda and rolling up its organizational base that much more difficult. But it's a job that must be done, and he intends to make certain it gets done.

America needs to know the terrorists love these Republicans the way Fire loves Gasoline.

They, the terrorists, more than anyone else have benefitted from this administration's ham-fisted approach, so we should not be surprised when they do everything in their power, including another terror attack, to bring another version of Geo. W. Bush back in ’08.

Okay, the rest of the Obama campaign team seem to be ...
Robert Gibbs, communications director, a campaign veteran;
David Plouffe, an Axelrod partner who worked on Obama's 2004 Senate campaign;
Bill Burton, national press secretary for the House Democrats' midterm campaign;
Julianna Smoot, finance director for John Edwards' 2004 campaign and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee in 2006
Peter Giangreco, a Chicago-based media consultant and veteran of the Iowa caucuses;
Cassandra Butts, who first met Obama at the financial aid office at Harvard;
Betsy Myers, chief operating officer. Executive director of the Center for Public Leadership at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government (and sister of Dee Dee Myers, Clinton's first press secretary)...
But the group most tightly circled around Obama is a longstanding one, made up of old friends who share an understanding of how he works. Key players include straight-talking Valerie Jarrett, a veteran of Chicago Democratic circles and John Rogers, head of Ariel Capital Management, a friend of Michelle Obama's brother Craig Robinson, with whom Rogers played basketball at Princeton…
If Barry isn’t up to honing his sound-bite rhetoric he might just as usefully be letting us see his thinking in crafted addresses. Fundraising does not a campaign make.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

The Truthiness Of GREEN Nanotechnology

Since 42% of the public in a recent poll had no idea what ‘nanotech’ is, lets spend a moment explaining it. Nanotechnology involves imaging, measuring, manipulating and manufacturing things on a scale of 1-100 nanometers. A nanometer is 1 billionth of a meter; a sheet of paper is about 100,000 nanometers thick.

Nanotechnology was first introduced as an idea in 1959 when conventional-sized robot arms were instructed to construct a replica of themselves one-tenth their original size. Then, using that new set of arms (and instructions) they were made to manufacture an even smaller set. Theoretically then, the demonstration suggested the process could be repeated until the molecular scale is reached. A nanorobot, therefore, is/was a theoretical device measured in nanometers that when fully realized works at the atomic, molecular and cellular level to perform tasks in both the medicine and industry.

Nanoprobe attaching to a red blood cell -- CGI 'vision' of nanotech at work


When Floyd Landis won the Tour de France last year it was a victory for nanotechnology. Landis road a bike that was enhanced with carbon nanotubes. As a result, the frame of his BMC Pro bike weighed less than a kilogram, just under 2.2 pounds.

It’s estimated that nanotech in some way, shape or form is already part of $30 billion dollars worth of consumer products this year.

Here is the Nanotechnology Consumer Products Inventory – http://www.nanotechproject.org/index.php?id=44 as maintained by the Pew Trust-endowed Project On Emerging Nanotechnologies. Their website lists over 450 items.

Back in April the Project released a report, "Green Nanotechnology: It's Easier Than You Think," which outlined ways to harness nanotech's power. It explores the benefits of linking nanotech with green chemistry and engineering to minimize environmental impacts through resource-conserving and waste-eliminating improvements in processes and products.

The report focused on four areas:

Creating new nanotechnology-enabled products and processes that are environmentally benign - or "clean and green";

Managing nanomaterials and their production to minimize potential environmental, health, and safety risks;

Using nanotechnology to clean up toxic waste site and other legacy pollution problems;

Substituting green nanotechnology products for existing products that are less environmentally friendly.

For example, James Hutchison, a University of Oregon chemist, uses DNA molecules in a novel process that holds promise for building nanoscale patterns on silicon chips and other surfaces. The method saves materials and requires less water and solvent than the traditional printing techniques used in the resource-intensive electronics industry.

Other researchers are investigating nanoscale approaches to replace lead and other toxic materials in electronics manufacturing. Nanotech has opened promising new routes for making inexpensive solar cells and improving the performance and cost of fuel cells. And work at the nanoscale is leading toward tools for removing toxic materials and cleaning up hazardous waste sites.

And Engineers are trying to build a system to remove the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide from the atmosphere in an effort to reduce global warming. A research and development company called Global Research Technologies, LLC (GRT) and Klaus Lackner from Columbia University recently successfully demonstrated a device that captures carbon from the air.

Their air extraction device uses sorbents (absorbing compounds) to capture carbon dioxide molecules from free-flowing air and releases those molecules as a pure stream of carbon dioxide for sequestration. It met a wide range of performance standards in the GRT research facility.

"This is an exciting step toward making carbon capture and sequestration a viable technology," said Lackner. "We are trapping carbon dioxide about 1,000 times faster than a tree does," he said. "Once you have the CO2 attached to the sorbent, you have to pry it loose again, which is the costly part of the procedure."

Having dreamed the sci-fi dream of "true nanotech" back in the 90's -- "true nanotech" being nanotech that can "self-assemble," like the nanobots envisioned in 1959, building nanotools and nanofactories from a set of instructions -- the Weekly Green began its inquiry into Green Nanotechnology with hopes that "real" nanotech might be on the verge of creating not only "scrubbers" like Lackner’s device but perhaps free-floating nanoparticles, co2 eaters. That we might find that perhaps soon an egoogleplex of nano pacmen could simply be released into the air to bind with global warming gases and produce a harmless green rain of inert material.

Not so.

In fact, sadly, as we shall see in PT 2 – The Bad News About Green Nanotech, the recent bad news about the dangers of Nanotech at this point may outweigh the good.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

"How Many Doctors Does It Take..

To Screw Up A Terror Attack?"
"I give up, Osama, how many?"
"None! That's how many! Zero! Never, never again. No doctors, we are done with those arrogant whoreson dogs."
"Apologies, Osama."
"What did I tell you? They give Al-Qaeda a bad name. How many times, Ayman, did we beg them?"
"Many times, 'O'--"
"--Many, many times. 'Just come to a training camp,' we say. 'Don't be silly, Osama, it is not necessary, we are Doctors.' 'For two weeks. That is all. Come in August when you are not so busy.' 'August?!' they cry like stuck-up little Paris Hiltons, 'Do you know how hot Afghanistan is in August? Besides, we've been to med school, Osama. How difficult can it be to blow up a car?' What do we get? A lot of broken glass and one fool with second-degree burns screaming 'Allah, Allah'!"
"You are very right, Osama."
"So from here on out, architects, okay, lawyers, maybe, but the next doctor who wishes an assignment tell him no, no way--"
"--Yes, Osama--"
"Immediately show him the door. No better, have him sign in at the window and take a seat in the waiting room. A cave deep in Tora Bora..."

Monday, July 02, 2007

Mighty Green Chemistry


Who dat man? A true eco-celebrity -- Paul Anastas is the father of green chemistry. It's wonderful the world's getting so much help from planet-conscious media celebs, but what we really need are those with the requisite technical skillsets to save our globe.

Mr. Anastas is today's poster boy for those efforts. Director of the Green Chemistry Institute, Paul Anastas was formerly the Assistant Director for the Environment in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. Trained as a synthetic organic chemist, Dr. Anastas has published widely on topics of science through sustainability, such as the books Benign by Design, Designing Safer Polymers, Green Engineering, and his seminal work with co-author John Warner, Green Chemistry: Theory and Practice.

On the eve of last year's 10th annual Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference, Anastas discussed green chemistry and its challenges with the ACS News Service Weblog

The central questions for Green Chemists he summarized in this fashion:

"What is the molecular basis of hazard – toxicological, physical and global? Can we use weak forces as a design tool in imparting performance as we have done with covalent forces? What is the pathway toward designing catalysts from first theoretical principles? Can we use energy in the place of matter to effectively carry out transformations catalytically on a commercial scale? Are the reaction types and feedstocks we use currently in chemical manufacturing the one’s we should be using in the next ten, twenty years? If we are to meet the challenges of sustainability, it will require that we address the problem at the molecular level as one part of the solution."

The interview can be read in its entirety at the above link.