The symmetry of life

Raising kids as you and your parents grow old & older illustrates vividly the surprising number of similar experiences humans have when they are very young and very old. Today Shel Silverstein reminded me of that with this poem: “The little boy and the old man.”

Said the little boy, “Sometimes I drop my spoon.”

Said the little old man, “I do that too.”

The little boy whispered, “I wet my pants.”

“I do that too,” laughed the little old man.

Said the little boy, “I often cry.”

The old man nodded, “So do I.”

“But worst of all,” said the boy, “it seems

Grown-ups don’t pay attention to me.”

And he felt the warmth of a wrinkled old hand.

“I know what you mean,” said the little old man.

Starving sea pandas at the Festschrift of Russ McDuff

My PhD advisor Russ, celebrated his career by inviting all his students to give ignite talks in Oregon for the Festschrift of Russ McDuff. This is my 5-minute presentation in his honor with 20 slides advancing every 15 seconds as required:

We might be able to get this to display better using some sort of modal that can “pop-up” the WP post content, or part of it, with appropriate dimensions (1080 pixel height)… This WP Post Modal plugin might help.

2017 increased refrigerator and in-wall oven efficiency

Replacement fridge

Old fridge

Fridge set to 3 (5 oC); freezer set to A (-14 oC)

Power demand after reaching target temperatures:

33W closed

98W right and left open

73 left (freezer) closed; right (fridge) open

57 left open; right closed

R+L = 65; R=~40; L=~24 (probably mostly the wattage of the light bulbs)

Power demand with compressor at work:


330 Compressor starts

300 >30s

298 >60s

292 >180s

290-95 >10min (steady state while working to reach target temperatures)

Watt-up measurements of old fridge:

10.54 kWhr for 60:27 hr

= 174 W

Watt-up measurements of new fridge:

Fridge set to 3 oC; deli drawer set to 3 oC; freezer set to -19 oC (changed to -15 oC on 11/16/17)

5.62 kWhr for 80:15 hr

= 70 W

~ 40% of old load

New oven

I am a left egalitarian, social Democrat (like Bernie)

I’ve had an evening of political realization, thanks to Benjamin Studebaker, an American PhD candidate in Politics and International Studies at Cambridge.  This post helped me understand that Bernie is my candidate and this next one convinced me that it is strategic to fight now for his vision: “a future to believe in.”  That sounds vacuous, but it’s not because for too long I’ve believed in egalitarianism — without having a name for it — but not seen so clearly how to realize it in a future, more equitable society in the U.S.

Will we defend the now-decrepit monster [neoliberalism] they [the 1%] gave us until they inflict a new and more terrible monster upon us, or will we stick up for our own ideology and put up a real fight against Trump and Cruz [the right nationalists]?

In taking on this fight, it seems advantageous to use the term “egalitarian” to emphasize that we value a more equitable society.  This value underlies some recent phenomena like the WTO protests and Occupy movement.  And it might also be accurate and savvy to call ourselves Social Democrats, rather than Democratic Socialists.

$2M for WA algae industry

State algae industry gets a boost from U.S. Senator Patty Murray

Murray recently helped secure $2 million for the Washington State Algae Alliance, a consortium made up of Seattle area companies Targeted Growth and Inventure Chemical as well as Washington State University. But not every U.S. politician is on board with the $2 million, with U.S. Senator John McCain calling out the algae research project in a Tweet back in October as more “pork barrel” politics.

The algae-ethanol question

This makes me wonder what wild marine phytoplankton might have sufficient sugars to warrant ethanol production, or actually produce ethanol. This article seems to imply that Algenol’s algae are pumping ethanol into water somewhere, but it’s unclear if that is the medium or just water in the cell.
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New York Times

Algae Farm Aims to Turn Carbon Dioxide Into Fuel

Algenol grows algae in troughs filled with saltwater that becomes saturated with carbon dioxide.

Published: June 28, 2009

Dow Chemical and Algenol Biofuels, a start-up company, are set to announce Monday that they will build a demonstration plant that, if successful, would use algae to turn carbon dioxide into ethanol as a vehicle fuel or an ingredient in plastics.

“We give them the oxygen, we get very pure carbon dioxide, and the output is very cheap ethanol,” said Mr. Woods, who said the target price was $1 a gallon.

The company has 40 bioreactors in Florida, and as part of the demonstration project plans 3,100 of them on a 24-acre site at Dow’s Freeport, Tex., site.
Algenol and its partners are planning a demonstration plant that could produce 100,000 gallons a year. The company and its partners were spending more than $50 million, said Mr. Woods, but not all of that was going into the pilot plant.
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Venter on super-algae

It will be interesting to see whether his team is using genes from fresh or salt-water organisms, macro-algae or phytoplankton… Perhaps in a closed system with no competition, a pure culture of genetically-modified cells really could simple excrete the lipids. It certainly would be nice to simply skim the lipids off the water surface without damaging the productive cells instead of struggling to extract the lipids from the cells as grazers like copepods must do…
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Synthetic Genomics’ team already has genetically optimized an algae species so that almost half of the organism’s mass consists of lipids, a broad group of naturally occurring molecules that include fats, waxes, sterols and other energy storage compounds. Now the team is enhancing the organism further to make even more lipids. Such algae would serve as a biofuel feedstock.

Craig Venter Has Algae Biofuel in Synthetic Genomics’ Pipeline
Venter said “the new algae” is something that “secretes whatever lipid size we want to engineer. This changes algae from what everybody’s been looking at as a farming problem into a manufacturing problem. So we are trying to get algae to go into a continuous production mode, pumping up these lipids, that come out in a pure form.”
Genetically engineered algae needs sunlight and carbon dioxide, and then secretes a liquid that “can basically be used right away as biodiesel,” according to Venter.
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New incentive for the blue revolution

Unclear when this prize will actually be available, but it’s surely a good thing for pushing R&D forward. Will the rules preclude experiments in the wild (e.g. ocean fertilization)?
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Prize Capital Moves Closer to Creating $10 Million Algae Fuel Prize
San Diego-based Prize Capital said today it has entered the final phase of creating a $10 million prize to encourage advances in algae biofuels technologies.

As part of the final planning process, Prize Capital founder and chairman Lee Stein convened a workshop of 26 leaders to draw up rules and other criteria for what Stein calls the $10 million Algae Fuel Prize. The group met for much of the day at UC San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography, and Stein told me during a break he had invited venture investors, scientists, environmentalists, and business and government leaders from across the country. But he was not willing to say how long final planning will take before the competition will be unveiled.

Prize Capital’s announcement is the culmination of work that began more than a year ago, Stein said, when initial planning began at the Washington Renewable Energy Conference
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