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Is Peak Oil a myth?

Op-Ed Contributor - ‘Peak Oil’ Is a Waste of Energy - NYTimes.com Harper's had an article years ago that implied Peak Oil was a scam by the oil industry to drive up prices. But it serves many interests to believe that oil is running out. The industry wants it to be true, and activists want it to be true so that there will be pressure to reform our energy policies. But what if it's wrong?
A careful examination of the facts shows that most arguments about peak oil are based on anecdotal information, vague references and ignorance of how the oil industry goes about finding fields and extracting petroleum. And this has been demonstrated over and over again: the founder of the Association for the Study of Peak Oil first claimed in 1989 that the peak had already been reached, and Mr. Schlesinger argued a decade earlier that production was unlikely to ever go much higher. Mr. Birol isn’t the only one still worrying. One leading proponent of peak oil, the writer Paul Roberts, recently expressed shock to discover that the liquid coming out of the Ghawar Field in Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest known deposit, is around 35 percent water and rising. But this is hardly a concern — the buildup is caused by the Saudis pumping seawater into the field to keep pressure up and make extraction easier. The global average for water in oil field yields is estimated to be as high as 75 percent. Another critic, a prominent consultant and investor named Matthew Simmons, has raised concerns over oil engineers using “fuzzy logic” to estimate reservoir holdings. But fuzzy logic is a programming method that has been used since I was in graduate school in situations where the factors are hazy and variable — everything from physical science to international relations — and its track record in oil geology has been quite good.

August 24, 2009

Israeli scientists successfully fabricate DNA evidence

DNA Evidence Can Be Fabricated, Scientists Show - NYTimes.com
The scientists fabricated blood and saliva samples containing DNA from a person other than the donor of the blood and saliva. They also showed that if they had access to a DNA profile in a database, they could construct a sample of DNA to match that profile without obtaining any tissue from that person. “You can just engineer a crime scene,” said Dan Frumkin, lead author of the paper, which has been published online by the journal Forensic Science International: Genetics. “Any biology undergraduate could perform this.” Dr. Frumkin is a founder of Nucleix, a company based in Tel Aviv that has developed a test to distinguish real DNA samples from fake ones that it hopes to sell to forensics laboratories.
And of course they also built the test to detect faked samples.

August 23, 2009

Obesity makes your brain shrink

Expanding waistlines may cause shrinking brains - health - 23 August 2009 - New Scientist
BRAIN regions key to cognition are smaller in older people who are obese compared with their leaner peers, making their brains look up to 16 years older than their true age. As brain shrinkage is linked to dementia, this adds weight to the suspicion that piling on the pounds may up a person's risk of the brain condition.

August 20, 2009

Soviet scientists attempted human/chimp hybrids

Humanzee - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Ilya Ivanovich Ivanov was the first to actually attempt to create a human-ape hybrid. As early as 1910 he had given a presentation to the World Congress of Zoologists in Graz, Austria in which he described the possibility of obtaining such a hybrid through artificial insemination. In 1924, while working at the Pasteur Institute in Paris, Ivanov obtained permission from the Institute's directors to use its experimental primate station in Kindia, French Guinea, for such an experiment. Ivanov attempted to gain backing for his project from the Soviet government. ... Ivanov's proposal finally sparked the interest of Nikolai Petrovich Gorbunov, the head of the Department of Scientific Institutions. In September 1925 Gorbunov helped allocate US$10,000 to the Academy of Sciences for Ivanov's human-ape hybridization experiments in Africa. In March 1926 Ivanov arrived at the Kindia facility, but stayed only a month without success. The Kindia site, it turned out, had no sexually mature chimpanzees. He returned to France where he arranged through correspondence with French Guinea's colonial governor to set up experiments at the botanical gardens in Conakry. ... On February 28, 1927, Ivanov artificially inseminated two female chimpanzees with human sperm. On June 25, he injected a third chimpanzee with human sperm. The Ivanovs left Africa in July with thirteen chimps, including the three used in his experiments. They already knew before leaving that the first two chimpanzees had failed to become pregnant. The third died in France, and was also found not to have been pregnant. The remaining chimps were sent to a new primate station at Sukhumi.