Monday, July 23, 2012

Wood Fungi & Global Warming

Wood Fungi that changed the world.
They even call it the carboniferous age: that was when coal formed in the earth. Then, for some reason it stopped. I have always wondered why, and the climatological explanations never made sense.

Now we know the real reason, it is because fungi evolved a pathway to digest lignin; lignin the inscrutable phenolic component of wood that holds the cellulose together. One species of fungus, Agaricomycetes, evolved a method for digesting lignin, and that ended the new creation of coal. 

Researchers at Clark University and DOE looked at fungal DNA from 31 species of white rot fungus, and then traced back the evolution to the end of the carboniferous period using an assumed model of genetic divergence, and derived 250 million years ago -- matching what is found geologically.

So this little microscopic fungus changed the world

Geo-engineering and global warming

A geo-engineering fix for global warming would be to capture all the atmospheric CO2 -- as trees to, and then lock up so it won't decay and re-enter the atmosphere. The problem is that trees decay. If they did not, then problem solved. That is, we could bury wood underground and entrap all the CO2 that we are releasing elsewhere, but we can't wood fungi makes the wood decay -- back to CO2.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Urbanscreen Light Shows

Google's picture of Manuel Engels,
unconfirmed, but probably right.
Urbanscreen is a group of about 3-6 people, including Manuel Engels, Thorsten Bauer, Till Botterweg. They are based in Bremen Germany.

Urbanscreens is a member of the Urban Screen Association.  The ideas of Ambient Media are described in this article from the University of Applied Sciences Mittweida -- also in Germany. Urbanscreen describes their work as the neologism, lumentecture, which is as good as anything else.

Oh, and they're hiring: so if your German is good, and you want to move to Bremen.

Supermarket Tomatoes Lack Chloroplasts in the Fruit -- that is why They Taste Bland.

Depth of Processing readers probably think that I am obsessed with tomato posts, but Cuong Nguyen at Cornell found a mutated gene in most cultivars of tomatoes that reduce the number of chloropasts in the tomato fruit. 

This gives the fruit a more even color, so that tomato buyers will think a fruit is uniformly ripe even when it is not. 

Importantly, it turns out the chloroplasts also kick out tasty, flavorful chemicals too. This means the commercial varieties are going to taste poorer. 

Haven't you always wondered why commercial growers did not try to breed flavor into the fruit? 

These tomatoes have chloroplasts and have uneven color.
It helps explain why radically different cultivars like Kumato taste better. Check out my Kumato blog post --one of the DoP blog's most popular.  Kumato is a black tomato created relatively recently from salt-resistant cultivars on Galapogos.

Anana Noir, a French tomato, touted for flavor, that
clearly does not ripen evenly. 
Other people claim that Pruden's Purple is one of the best tomatoes for taste, and it is a large, dark and irregularly ripening fruit.  At right is Anana Noir, that ripens very irregularly, but which is supposed to taste great.

This does not help me with why my orange cherry tomatoes taste so good. Perhaps it is because they are so sweet?

The big question going forward is, what will commercial growers do now. Will they look for another way to get good appearance while retaining the flavor producing chloroplasts, or will appearance prevail?

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Nike Shox Roadster Review and More Running Shoe Talk

Nike Shox Roadster

I just got some new running shoes I really like. These are Nike Shox Roadster's. There are about eight different colors, but my store only had white -- actually black, white and blue, but the blue looks black. (My skill in photoshopping was not great enough to show the blueness in that dark blue.)

Periodically, I have been posting reviews on my running shoes.  I like shoes that feel good, and that has a lot to do with my injury-of-the-month.  I often think that my exercises regime is a continuous series of recovery from different minor injuries -- does that happen to you?

I like the Shox Roadster because it has three things.

First, a shock-absorbing heel to reduce injury and reduce stress on my knees. These have a tough urethane shock absorber that reminds me of the BASF Cellasto urethane shock absorbers.

Nike Shox Roadster Bottom
Second, a stiff mid-sole to protect my foot. One of the problem with my Nike Lunarglides and Flywires is that get too soft and spongy too fast. As that happens my middle foot starts to hurt.

Z-Coil Freedom
Third, not too heavy. At 443 grams, it is 30% lighter than my Z-Coil Freedom -- an odd shoe with a giant spring on the bottom. The Z-coils make me run noticeably slower. It is also more stable than the Z-Coil which was tippy on dirt paths or grass. 

On the other hand,  it is 17% heavier than my current shoe which is the Under Armour Spectre 2.

Under Armour Spectre 2
The Under Armour Sprectre 2 is a fine shoe, and under ordinary circumstances I think I could wear if fine. It is not helping recover from my overly soft Nike Lunarglides. When my foot heals up, I will go back to them.

Under Armour Spectre 2 Bottom

Here is a list of my recent running shoes and their weights. Obviously all in my size, and just for one shoe. All have pictures here.

Vibram Five Finger   172 g
Nike Flywire              312 g
Adidas Swyft Cushion   323 g
Nike Lunarglide         326 g
UnderArmour Spectre 2     370 g
Nike Agitate Air         417 g
Nike Shox Roadster      443 g
Z-Coil Freedom          623 g