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Meat Makes The Planet Thirsty

If you want to save the environment, don't eat meat. Meat Makes the Planet Thirsty - NYTimes.com
But for those truly interested in lowering their water footprint, those numbers pale next to the water required to fatten livestock. A 2012 study in the journal Ecosystems by Mesfin M. Mekonnen and Arjen Y. Hoekstra, both at the University of Twente in the Netherlands, tells an important story. Beef turns out to have an overall water footprint of roughly four million gallons per ton produced. By contrast, the water footprint for “sugar crops” like sugar beets is about 52,000 gallons per ton; for vegetables it’s 85,000 gallons per ton; and for starchy roots it’s about 102,200 gallons per ton. Factor in the kind of water required to produce these foods, and the water situation looks even worse for the future of animal agriculture in drought-stricken regions that use what’s known as “blue water,” or water stored in lakes, rivers and aquifers, which California and much of the West depend on. Vegetables use about 11,300 gallons per ton of blue water; starchy roots, about 4,200 gallons per ton; and fruit, about 38,800 gallons per ton. By comparison, pork consumes 121,000 gallons of blue water per ton of meat produced; beef, about 145,000 gallons per ton; and butter, some 122,800 gallons per ton. There’s a reason other than the drought that Folsom Lake has dropped as precipitously as it has. Don’t look at kale as the culprit. (Although some nuts, namely almonds, consume considerable blue water, even more than beef.) That said, a single plant is leading California’s water consumption. Unfortunately, it’s a plant that’s not generally cultivated for humans: alfalfa. Grown on over a million acres in California, alfalfa sucks up more water than any other crop in the state. And it has one primary destination: cattle. Increasingly popular grass-fed beef operations typically rely on alfalfa as a supplement to pasture grass. Alfalfa hay is also an integral feed source for factory-farmed cows, especially those involved in dairy production.

February 28, 2014

Ghosts might just be your eyeballs resonating

At 18 Hz your eyeball vibrates. It's the resonant frequency of your peepers. When people are exposed to that particular vibration it makes them see things, ghostly images and weird presences. In 1998, Vic Tandy, experimental officer and...
In 1998, Vic Tandy, experimental officer and part-time lecturer in the school of international studies and law at Coventry University, and Dr. Tony Lawrence of the psychology department wrote a paper called “Ghosts in the Machine” for the Journal of the Society for Psychical Research. Their research suggested that an infrasonic signal of 19 Hz might be responsible for some ghost sightings. Tandy was working late one night alone in a supposedly haunted laboratory at Warwick, when he felt very anxious and could detect a grey blob out of the corner of his eye. When Tandy turned to face the grey blob, there was nothing. The following day, Tandy was working on his fencing foil, with the handle held in a vise. Although there was nothing touching it, the blade started to vibrate wildly. Further investigation led Tandy to discover that the extractor fan in the lab was emitting a frequency of 18.98 Hz, very close to the resonant frequency of the eye given as 18 Hz by NASA. This was why Tandy had seen a ghostly figure—it was an optical illusion caused by his eyeballs resonating. The room was exactly half a wavelength in length, and the desk was in the centre, thus causing a standing wave which caused the vibration of the foil.

February 10, 2014

On the mystry of sloth poop

Evolution is ceaselessly mind-blowing. Sloth poop, moths and algae form a beautiful chain of symbiosis according to this article. The Mystery of Sloth Poop: Yes, That's a Thing | TIME.com
Among the greatest mysteries of the tropical rainforest are the pooping habits of sloths. Really. Those furry, slow-moving tree dwellers almost never descend from the safety of the tree tops—except for once a week, when nature calls. It’s a dangerous and often lethal potty break. On the forest floor, they are spectacularly vulnerable to predators, and the question biologists have been asking for years is, why descend at all? What possible benefit could make this life-or-death journey better for the sloth than simply cutting loose, as it were, from the safety of a tree? Theories abound: Maybe the sloths are somehow picking up minerals from the soil that their leafy diets don’t provide them. Maybe they are fertilizing their favorite trees with their poop. Or maybe it has to do with the other species that call the sloths themselves home. Sloth fur is populated by colonies of moths and flourishing coats of green algae. The moths are known to leap onto sloth poop to lay their eggs before returning to their host when the bathroom break is through. But symbiosis being what it is, there ought to be some benefit to the sloth from this arrangement too.