Archive for Science and Technology

Trapping sunlight with silicon nanowires

A new development in solar cells made from silicon are  going to revolutionize how we get renewable green energy.  Scientists have developed silicon photovoltaics that can convert sunlight into electricity at  20 percent efficiency.  One problem with this new technology is that it is very expensive, so mass producing it now is out of the question.  Researchers with the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory  are working on a soulution that  could substantially reduce these costs.  With better ways to draw energy from the sun we are one step closer to getting rid of our reliance on fossil fuels.  But just as all things healthy for the environment or us, such as organic food, they are more expensive than the alternitives.

the rest of the article can be seen here

Esteban P.

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Coral Castastrophe

Coral reefs, not only a home for hundreds of organisms living symbionicaly, but also essential to the safety of our oceans. Coral reefs are extremely sensitive organisms that are affected by temperature, pH, and the fishing and harvesting by humans. Coral reefs have been killed and used for centuries for bathing and now in fish aquariums. Because coral reefs are located toward the surface of the ocean near to land, they are especially important to echinoderms, molluscs and over 25% of the ocean’s fish.

But how do these coral reefs relate to the world of sustainability? Coral reefs are built when the polyp absorbs carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and water and produces a hard outer shell, calcium carbonate. When these coral reefs are destroid by humans or parrotfish, the carbon dioxide is then released back into the oceans.

Another reason coral reefs are inportant to the study of sustainability is because they are so sensitive to the temperature of the water. As the oceans started to heat up due to the accumilation of greenhouse gasses, the coral reefs started to die. Errosion of the beaches causes sand and algea to cover the coral reefs and stop the absorbance of carbon dioxide and kill the reefs as well.

-Tanner Kewley

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China’s fertilizer use

America’s “breadbasket”, or the midwest, is notorious for its use of environmentally harmful nitrogen fertilizers which cause algae blooms and soil acidification. However, according to this article China is even worse. On the typical farm in Illinois an average of 200 kg of nitrogen fertilizer is being used per hectare, but in China it could be up to 800 kg. Experts say that farmers could cut this number in half (which is still a lot of fertilizer) and not affect yields. This seems like an issue that could be very easily improved if the government was to put a limit on the amount of fertilizer used per hectare.

-Matt Z.

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The sixth Sense!

Ever since my father showed me this video, I could not stop thinking about it. I am not sure how it is related to sustainability and going green but I feel there is some connection. I am amazed by the fact that human are that smart. So it is about a guy and group of other researchers from MIT who invented a technology that can replace many of today’s technologies such as smart cell phones, digital cameras and even computers.I like what they called it “The sixth Sense”   

I highly recommend you to see this video and tell me what you think of it! Here is a shorter video.

Needa L

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The brilliant engineers of Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu is always one of those places I keep in mind to go visit some day. With an elevation of 8,000 ft. above sea water, sheer cliff drops on all sides, and with neighboring peaks all around, makes it a breathtaking sight I can’t wait to experience in real life.  Aside from the physical beauty of it, there’s also the historical mystique of the Incas who once lived their.  What really threw me recently was watching a nova program that aired on Feb. 2 titled The ghosts of Machu Picchu, when they started talking about the engineering of the underground drainage systems.  I was flabbergasted to realize what a feat it must have been, and how they executed their designs perfectly to insure that Machu Picchu still stands today, and for many years to come.  Built on the site where it stands today is an astonishing accomplishment that would challenge any modern day engineers, even with all their measurements and paper work.  They had the incredible foresight to think about the environmental disasters that would occur with heavy precipitation that cause floods, erosion, and landslides.  All the extra granite scraps leftover from building the actual foundation were used deep underground as drainage systems.  They built multiple terraces to prevent water runoff by creating multiple levels of rich top soil, granular soil, and finally the granite scraps.  The water would then quickly absorb into the ground and would secure their foundation from eroding.  Even in the city plaza their were drainage holes on all sides of the walls to prevent water from collecting and pooling.  They also engineered an incredible canal system of fresh water with just the right angle, to cause a slow steady flow into the city that stretched on for 2,500 ft.  Enough water to supply a population of 10,000  people.  These canals also supplied water for the visually spectacular fountains within the plaza walls. They accounted for heavier rainfall by overflow drainage leading into their irrigation fields.  The engineers of Machu Picchu were geniuses in hydrology where nothing they did was by accident.  Modern technology have a lot to learn from the miracles of a historical site that has withstood time, and a highly volatile mountain slope for more than 450 yrs, thanks to the brilliance of well thought out drainage systems.

-Anne-Marie A.

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Generating Energy From Waste

>Scientists are testing out biofuels made from wastes at teeside university. Biofuels are usually made from organics such as crops. What these researchers are doing is seeing if they can use waste materials such as domestic refuse and sewage sludge to produce biofuel instead of crops. If they are succsessful we can hit two problem causing “birds” with one stone. Eliminate the build up of waste, and fix our energy problems, reducing our reliance on fossil fuels. heres a link
Esteban Pacheco

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