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October 16, 2009

Vertical farms are not remotely cost-effective

Tobias Buckell takes down vertical farming | Blog | Futurismic
One of the more famous advocates of the Vertical Farm concept, Dickson Despommier, estimates a 30 story farm would feed about 10,000-50,000 people (depending on which article he’s speaking in). Let’s be charitable and assume 30,000 per 30 story skyscraper. A 30 story skyscraper can cost as much as half a billion dollars. So we’re looking at a unit cost of at least that to build these, and that’s not considering the hydroponic and recycling technology costs! New York has 10 million people. To feed New York, you’d need roughly 334 of these buildings, with the building cost being at least $150 billion. That’s affordable on a country scale (10 years of NASA-like budget). But the fact is, the existing land sprawling out around New York and the US and gasoline to transport the goods from the heartland to NYC is still far cheaper when an accountant crunches the figures.

October 15, 2009

Science: Bullying bosses are incompetent idiots

It's official: Your bullying boss really is an idiot - life - 15 October 2009 - New Scientist
Got a bullying boss? Take solace in new research showing that leaders who feel incompetent really do lash out at others to temper their own inferiority. "Power holders feel they need to be superior and competent. When they don't feel they can show that legitimately, they'll show it by taking people down a notch or two," says Nathanael Fast, a social psychologist at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, who led a series of experiments to explore this effect. In one, Fast and his colleague Serena Chen, who is at the University of California, Berkeley, asked 90 men and women who had jobs to complete online questionnaires about their aggressive tendencies and perceived competence. The most aggressive of the lot tended to have both high-power jobs and a chip on their shoulder, Fast and Chen found.

October 14, 2009

New York Times publishes stupidest article about science in the history of stupid

Essay - The Collider, the Particle and a Theory About Fate - NYTimes.com The article claims that the Large Hadron Collider keeps breaking down because time travelers from the future are jinxing it. Seriously.
“It must be our prediction that all Higgs producing machines shall have bad luck,” Dr. Nielsen said in an e-mail message. In an unpublished essay, Dr. Nielson said of the theory, “Well, one could even almost say that we have a model for God.” It is their guess, he went on, “that He rather hates Higgs particles, and attempts to avoid them.” This malign influence from the future, they argue, could explain why the United States Superconducting Supercollider, also designed to find the Higgs, was canceled in 1993 after billions of dollars had already been spent, an event so unlikely that Dr. Nielsen calls it an “anti-miracle.” You might think that the appearance of this theory is further proof that people have had ample time — perhaps too much time — to think about what will come out of the collider, which has been 15 years and $9 billion in the making. The collider was built by CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, to accelerate protons to energies of seven trillion electron volts around an 18-mile underground racetrack and then crash them together into primordial fireballs.

October 08, 2009

British doctors test injectable male contraceptive

BBC NEWS | UK | Scotland | Edinburgh, East and Fife | Men wanted to test contraceptive
The injections contain the hormones testosterone and progesterone, and are given to the men every two months. Sperm counts fall rapidly, and when these are low enough couples taking part in the trial would use the jabs as their method of contraception for a year. Scientists also stress that the effects of the injections are fully reversible. Professor Richard Anderson of Edinburgh University's reproductive and development sciences division said: "If this trial is successful I imagine there would be interest in looking at marketing the injection as a male contraceptive.

October 07, 2009

Didn't Donald Rumsfeld Predict this Exact Eventuality?

NASA to Bomb Moon in Search for Water Mojonaut...

Continue reading "Didn't Donald Rumsfeld Predict this Exact Eventuality?" »

October 03, 2009

Oldest human ancestor found, she's from Ethiopia and 3.2 million years old

Oldest "Human" Skeleton Found--Disproves "Missing Link"
The fossil puts to rest the notion, popular since Darwin's time, that a chimpanzee-like missing link—resembling something between humans and today's apes—would eventually be found at the root of the human family tree. Indeed, the new evidence suggests that the study of chimpanzee anatomy and behavior—long used to infer the nature of the earliest human ancestors—is largely irrelevant to understanding our beginnings. Ardi instead shows an unexpected mix of advanced characteristics and of primitive traits seen in much older apes that were unlike chimps or gorillas (interactive: Ardi's key features). As such, the skeleton offers a window on what the last common ancestor of humans and living apes might have been like. Announced at joint press conferences in Washington, D.C., and Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the analysis of the Ardipithecus ramidus bones will be published in a collection of papers tomorrow in a special edition of the journal Science, along with an avalanche of supporting materials published online.