Thursday, April 25, 2013

New Genetically-Engineered Bacteria Can Create Biofuel That Actually Works

Finally, we have a "super-bacteria" that actually does some good!

Researchers from Britain's University of Exeter have created a new form of E. coli bacteria that appears to turn glucose sugar into a fuel that can be used in normal internal combustion engines, something never done before. Most biofuels are not very engine-friendly and actually damage engine parts via corrosion over time. The new super-bacteria fuel is nearly identical chemically to petroleum-based fuels and doesn't have the same problems.

The Exter researchers combined genes from camphor, algae, and regular soil bacteria to create the new bacteria. When fed sugar, it creates fatty acids and then converts them into hydrocarbon molecules that are "chemically and structurally identical to commercial fuel."

According to a lead researcher:
"We are biologically producing the fuel that the oil industry makes and sells."
Now all they have to do is figure out how to ramp up the process on a massive scale that's profitable to oil-production companies. Experts believe the new bacteria's DNA can be further altered to allow it to feed on cheap straw and/or manure. So, if things work out, we won't need to use food crops to create gasoline for our cars (as is the case with ethanol).

We say: This is great. Where can we buy some of this bacteria so we can start turning dog poop into gas??

Learn some mo: Bacteria churn out first ever petrol-like biofuel

Monday, April 15, 2013

Gold Prices Dropping Like a Hot Potato

Gold prices have taken a stunning hit on the same day that a small terrorist attack in Boston dinged the stock market. Monday's 9% drop was the biggest one-day decrease in gold values since 1980 and caps an overall 25% reduction since October 2012. Many investors fear the normally "safe" precious metal investment is no longer a sure bet.

One of the biggest causes of the drop was evidence showing a major slow-down in the growth of the Chinese economy. A new report released this morning showed that China grew at only 7.7 percent since the beginning of 2013, compared to around 8% at the end of 2012. A combination of bad manufacturing data from the US and the Boston Marathon attacks led to a stock market sell-off on top of the gold price implosion.

After a decade of incredible prices increases, it looks like the "magic" of gold seems to be vaporizing. It's value has seen a steady decline since reaching a historic high of nearly $1900 an ounce in the summer of 2011. Combined with the 4% price reduction of last Friday, Monday's drop pushed gold into an official "bear" market (defined as a 20% drop from  recent high value).

The drops have come as a huge surprise to many, especially the thousands of Americans who have invested most or all of their retirement savings in physical gold or gold-related investments in recent years. Many financial experts have been expecting gold prices to begin rising again due to the Federal Reserve's stimulus-focused bond-buying/money-printing actions.

Also, to the dismay of many right-wingers and Obama-haters in the US, the country's economy is slowly improving and massive inflation has not hit. The 2012 election has not yet led to the dramatic economic problems so many have been betting on with gold. According to metals trader Matt Zeman:
"Gold has had all the reason in the world to be moving higher — but it hasn’t been able to do it... The situation has not deteriorated the way that a lot of people thought it could."

We say: Oh good, now we can afford to buy some more gold! :)

Learn some mo': Price of Gold Takes a Flashy Fall; Other Markets Follow

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Omega 3 Fat DHA Will Boost Your Immune System

More good news for fish oil fans...

The omega 3 fats found in seafood may boost the immune system, according to new research from Michigan State and ECU. Scientists found that consuming fish oil high in the omega 3 component docosahexaenoic acid (aka DHA) appears to increase activity of immune system cells, specially "B" white blood cells.

Most interestingly, the unique way the DHA appears to boost immune response in mice makes researchers think it may be especially valuable for people with weak immune systems. There is still some doubt about whether or not fish oil supplements and other omega 3 supplements are better than, or even as good as, whole fish and shellfish. But most experts agree consuming fish 2-4 times per week is a good idea for optimal health.

According to Dr Raza Shaikh from East Carolina University:
“This work confirms similar findings on fish oil and B cells from our lab, and moves us one step closer to understanding the immune enhancing properties of eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid."
We say: Omega 3 fatty acids may help us live longer, get sick less often, avoid heart disease, and possibly even kill tumors?? We say pass the krill oil!

Learn some mo': Fish Oil Could Boost Immune System, Study Suggests

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Expert: Smart Watches to Replace Smartphones

photo of 3 Pebble watches
The New "Pebble" Smartwatches
Many tech experts believe that smart watches are going to be the "next big thing" in personal technology. Writer Michael Wolf thinks the new "intelligent" watches being unleashed on the US market might soon replace our iPhones, Galaxies, and other smartphones.

In a new article on he says that the new wrist computers will soon change how we think about mobile computing, just like the iPad and other tablets did. In fact, they could eventually become even more popular than tablets and laptops.

It's definitely true that the pace of modern technology development means things that once seemed absurd can quickly become "must have" devices. In the 80's (and even early 90's) very few people would have believed that billions of human beings would be walking around talking on mobile phones by the mid 2000's.

Wolf believes the new smart watches will eventually overtake smartphones in popularity in some demographics (like men who hate carrying phones everywhere). They will get to a point, probably rather quickly, where they have all the same essential features of smartphones. Also, improvement in voice recognition software should make smart watches much more useful than they are now.

Here's one great quote from Wolf:
"... think about it this way. Five decades ago computers filled entire rooms, and phones were stuck to walls. Twenty five years ago computers filled entire desktops, and for the past few decades they've been on our lap. Now they've teamed up with the phone and taken up residence in our pocket.... Is it so strange to think that one day they might actually sit on our wrists?"
Definitely not!

We say: We are 100% certain smart watches are going to be BIG, at least in the United States and, most likely, Asia. We actually hate having to carry clunky cell phones everywhere so being able to strap a "mini" smartphone on our wrists and go sounds like a wonderful idea!

Learn some mo': Here's Why a Smartwatch May Eventually Replace Your Smartphone

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Omega 3 Fats from Fish Might Help You Live Longer

Eating oily fish full of healthy omega-3 fats can help you live longer, according to new research from the Harvard School of Public Health. A study there showed that older people with the highest blood concentrations of omega-3 fatty acids from salmon, herring, tuna, mackerel, and trout lived over 2 years longer than people with lower levels.

The study did not look at fish oil, krill oil, or other omega 3 supplements -- only at normal dietary intake of the healthy fats via seafood. Researchers say higher blood levels of omega-3's reduced overall risk of dying from any cause by up to 27%, and by 35% of dying from cardiovascular/heart disease.

Interestingly, the Harvard study was one of the first to rely on actual blood testing instead of self-reporting of dietary habits. The participants, who averaged around 75 years of age, provide blood samples and allowed the researchers to perform physical exams during the course of the study.

We say: This is very good news... we love smoked kippers, crackers, and beer!

Learn some mo': Omega-3s Prolong Life: Harvard Study