Liver-colored, reeking of rancid animal flesh… Titan arum — affectionately called the corpse flower — is hardly the stuff of bouquets and love poems. It’s more like the Godzilla of the plant kingdom: big, stinky and likely to traumatize small children.
“This is the horticulturists’ dream come true. It’s the cleanest form of perfection a flower can produce,” said Gary Cromp, a Berkeley gardener who was one of a few hundred gawkers who trekked to the UC Berkeley Botanical Garden Wednesday to experience Titan arum in all its fetid splendor.
Only a few hundred Titan arum exist, mostly in botanical gardens. UC Berkeley’s garden has a dozen of the plants, all from the same seeds collected in 1995 in Sumatra. The last one bloomed in 2009.
Photo: US Botanic Garden.
This sounds like an idea worth pursuing, from PHYSORG:
Wind turbines may be one of the best renewable energy solutions, but as turbines get larger they also get noisier, become more of an eyesore, and require increasingly larger expanses of land. One solution: ocean-based wind turbines. While offshore turbines already have been constructed, they’ve traditionally been situated in shallow waters, where the tower extends directly into the seabed. That restricts the turbines to near-shore waters with depths no greater than 50 meters — and precludes their use in deeper waters, where winds generally gust at higher speeds.
An alternative is placing turbines on floating platforms, says naval architect Dominique Roddier of Berkeley, California-based Marine Innovation & Technology. He and his and colleagues have published a feasibility study of one platform design — dubbed “WindFloat” — in the latest issue of the Journal of Renewable and Sustainable Energy.
And this sounds like an idea that ought to be scrapped. Peter Fairley at ieee.org:
Russian nuclear engineering group Rosatom launched the world’s first floating nuclear power plant Wednesday, according to The Voice of Russia. Photos show the Akademik Lomonosov, a 21,500-ton barge equipped with twin 35-megawatt light-water reactors, slipping into the water at St. Petersburg’s Baltic Shipyard.
The Akademik Lomonosov represents a particularly flexible example of the small modular reactor (SMR) nuclear power plants that are under development worldwide. SMRs provide a ‘scale of multiples’ that could lower the cost of financing nuclear energy. But their flexibility also brings a phalanx of new risk considerations to the nuclear bargain — particularly one like this that’s designed to change locales. No surprise then that Greenpeace Russia has dubbed the Akademik Lomonosov the world’s most dangerous nuclear project in a decade.
Jeremy Hance at mongabay.com:
A group of Brazilian legislatures, known as the ‘ruralistas’, are working to change important aspects of the Brazil’s landmark 1965 forestry code, undermining forest protection in the Amazon and the Mata Atlantica (also known as the Atlantic Forest) and perhaps heralding a new era of booming deforestation.
The ruralistas, linked to big agribusiness and landowners, are taking aim at the part of the forestry code that requires landowners in the Amazon to retain 80 percent of their land area as legal reserves, arguing that the law threatens agricultural development.
From the Telegraph UK:
Usually Atlantic salmon do not grow during the winter and take three years to fully mature.
But by implanting genetic material from an eel-like species called ocean pout that grows all year round, US scientists have managed to make the fish grow to full size in 18 months…
US watchdog the Food and Drug Administration is currently considering whether the GM Atlantic salmon, called AquAdvantage, is safe to eat. The fish could be on supermarket shelves within a year.
The EPA on Wednesday released the first round of information on the testing the agency has been conducting on chemical dispersants. The agency concluded that, in general, the eight dispersant products it tested have “roughly the same impact on aquatic life” and are less toxic than the oil itself. But as other scientists have pointed out, the first results were on the dispersant products alone, not on their toxicity when mixed with oil.
The NY Times:
When the Deepwater Horizon drilling platform set off the worst oil spill at sea in American history, it was flying the flag of the Marshall Islands. Registering there allowed the rig’s owner to significantly reduce its American taxes.
The owner, Transocean, moved its corporate headquarters from Houston to the Cayman Islands in 1999 and then to Switzerland in 2008, maneuvers that also helped it avoid taxes.
At the same time, BP was reaping sizable tax benefits from leasing the rig. According to a letter sent in June to the Senate Finance Committee, the company used a tax break for the oil industry to write off 70 percent of the rent for Deepwater Horizon — a deduction of more than $225,000 a day since the lease began.