Bay Area Skeptics

The San Francisco Bay Area's skeptical organization since 1982

by David Almandsmith


California is on its way to using   100% renewable energy by 2045. Since we’ve demonstrated the practicality of using biofuels and/or electricity for cars, trucks, trains, and motorcycles (i just bought an electric motorcycle), a major remaining reliance on fossil fuels is for air travel. There are a few small   airplanes that run on electricity, but their ranges are short. Fortunately, we can   create jet fuel from plants and algae. Test flights using bio fuels in commercial jets are   entering their 2nd decade. There was a major   test last week in India. Although biofuel use puts just as much CO2 into the atmosphere as fossil fuel use, growing the plants and algae removes CO2 from air and water, so it ends up being ‘carbon neutral’. If only some folk didn’t   get in the way.

“Who’d a thunk?” Adding a little seaweed to cow feed   reduces their methane emissions (burps, farts, and manure). Researchers at UC Davis confirmed earlier studies carried out in Australia that may lead to reducing this source of global greenhouse gases.

We are fortunate living in the bay area when it comes to science. (Not so much for highway commutes.) We are surrounded with great science museums, science events, and people engaged in basic scientific research. One such field of research is synthetic biology, the building of unique biological systems for research, medicine, and more. ”   SynBioBeta 2018: The Global Synthetic Biology Summit” will be held in San Francisco from October 1st to the 3rd. Fascinating.

My short list for the week:

  1. Odd Salon: Explore – Tuesday 6:30 PM San Francisco. There will be 6 short talks.
  2. Bioinspired Designs from Gripping Geckos, Bouncing Bugs, Leap’n Lizards, and Smart Squirrels – Wednesday 7 PM Berkeley
  3. Passage to Mars (movie) – Thursday 8 PM San Mateo

More good stuff:

Burçin Mutlu-Pakdil has a   galaxy named after her. How cool is that? And maybe this is just the first of a new TYPE of galaxy she’s found. There may be hundreds of Burçin galaxies in our observable universe.

¿What dietary supplements do YOU take? I’m guilty of taking one (in addition to stuff my doctor wants me to take: an SSRI, a diuretic, & aspirin). In the U.S., the   supplement business rakes in $30 billion, and   globally over 4 times that. There is scant evidence that any of the over 90,000 supplements on the shelves help in any way with health or longevity unless you are   treating a specific disease (in which case it is a medicine, not a supplement). Check with your doctor – unless your doctor is a bit whacko.   Dr. Michael Holick easily fits into the whacko category and has profited admirably. ‘Nuff said.

Sunday morning, while watching Fareed Zacharia’s Global Political Scene (GPS) on CNN, i was ‘treated’ to an   ad from the American Petroleum Institute telling me that, “Thanks to natural gas, the air up here is cleaner than it’s been in 25 years.” A less self-serving assessment would give most of the credit for cleaner air to air pollution regulations. Also, they avoided mentioning that   CO2 levels are higher than they’ve been in 800,000 years. Because of the recent wildfires around the globe attributed to climate change, the   ad might no longer be accurate.

There is a lot to enjoy and a lot to protect. Let’s do both.

David Almandsmith
Bay Area Skeptics board member

“The most important of my discoveries have been suggested to me by my failures.”
Humphry Davy, 1778-1829, Chemist and inventor

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