Global warming refers to an increase in the Earth’s average surface air temperature. Global warming and cooling in themselves are not necessarily bad, since the Earth has gone through cycles of temperature change many times in its 4.5 billion years. However, as used today, global warming usually means a fast, unnatural increase that is enough to cause the expected climate conditions to change rapidly and often cataclysmically.

Our planet is warmed by radiant energy from the sun that reaches the surface through the atmosphere. As the surface warms, heat energy reflects back toward space; meanwhile, gases in the atmosphere absorb some of this energy and reradiate it near the surface. This is often called the greenhouse effect, named for the way heat increases inside a glass enclosure. In the greenhouse effect around Earth, the atmosphere can be visualized as a blanket that is made thicker by the action of a small amount of water vapor, carbon dioxide, methane, ozone, nitrous oxide, other gases, and soot; it thus holds in more heat, forcing air temperature higher. The scientific term for this action is, in fact, “forcing.”

On an average day, this effect is caused by water vapor and clouds (75 percent) and carbon dioxide (20 percent), with the rest fthe heating caused by other gases. Relatively small additions of carbon dioxide and methane force more heat, and that heat allows the air to hold more water vapor, creating a feedback loop that magnifies the effect. Although water vapor is naturally prevalent in the atmosphere, it does not trap as much heat per molecule as carbon dioxide and methane. Also, water vapor molecules cycle through the atmosphere in only a few days, a brief period compared to the residence time of CO2,which persists for many decades and creates some warming even after as long as three hundred years. Dust and aerosol chemicals in the air cause some cooling (negative forcing); they are also very short lived. Even though the gases are measured only in parts per million (ppm) or billion (ppb), they have been powerfully, and naturally, influencing the Earth’s temperature for millions of years. Without them, instead of an average air temperature of about 58°F (14.5°C), the Earth would be below the freezing point. Life as we know it now would be impossible.

Earth’s temperature is also subject to natural forcing cycles from solar radiation and the movement of the planet around the sun. Scientists think these cycles, which have left a visible signature extending back millions of years, arewhat led to past iceages and the warming that ended them. Currently, we are in a period between major iceages. The last great glaciation, when temperatures were about 10°to 12°F (6°to7°C) cooler than today, began fading away about 18,000 yearsago. The initial transition out of the ice age was unstable,with many rapid temperature shifts. As temperatures warmed, climate was affected.
Climate is the accumulation of weather effects—wind, rainfall, heat, cold—experienced in a place over many years, an average of thousands of days’ worth of weather. Climate is what one expects in a certain place; weather is what occurs day by day. One result of global temperature increase or decrease is climate change, referring to a shift in not only average local temperature but also rain- and snowfall, cloudiness and storms, the seasons, and river flow, with associated impacts on the biosphere, the portion of the Earth and its atmosphere that supports life. Although in our daily lives we are attuned to day-by-day swings of temperature and weather, the long-term changes of climate and average Earth temperature are more difficult to apprehend.

During most of the more recent past (say, 10-11,000 years), the concentration of greenhouse gases remained relatively stable, and so did the Earth’s temperature and climate. This was the time when humans developed civilizations and learned how to build cities, grow food, and invent machines. It is possible that early farming and forest clearing had a warming effect on the Earth beginning five thousand to eight thousand years ago. There are also a few examples of natural temperature shifts, such as the Medieval Warm Period, which was followed by the Little Ice Age in the fifteenth through eighteenth centuries. These were possibly not global in extent, and there is scientific disagreement over their causes which seem to have included periods of solar radiation increase and decrease and volcanic eruptions.

During the Industrial Revolution, people began to use coal and, later, petroleum, to heat cities and run machines. Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, a by-product of burning both coal and oil, began to increase. Since then, levels of carbon dioxide have risen by almost 35 percent, methane concentrations (coming from ricefields, cattle, landfills, and leaks of natural gas) have more than doubled, and nitrous oxide concentrations (another by-product of oil) have gone up by about 15 percent. Some chemicals invented by humans, like chlorofluorocarbons, are also greenhouse gases. Increased greenhouse gases mean more heat is kept in the atmosphere, which led beginning in the late 1800s to arise in both ocean and air temperature. Between then and 1945, world temperature rose but then leveled off and even decreased a little through the 1960s. The best explanation for that dip appears to be the rise in industrial air pollution during and after the war years, including dust and sulfur, which, as aerosols, cool the atmosphere. Beginning in the 60s, laws mandated the reduction of aerosol pollution. The sun’s luminosity varied a little through these years, but this appears to have had only minor influence
The recent increase in atmospheric CO2 is 200 times as great as any previous change known and the current level is 385 parts per million, the highest seen in 800,000 years of deep glacier ice core records. It shows no signs of decreasing. Since the 1970s atmospheric heat has been rapidly increasing. Whereas the average temperature of the planet rose about 1°F (0.6°C) between the mid-nineteenth century and the end of the twentieth, in the past twenty-five years alone the temperature has risen just over 0.8°F (0.5°C). (The last ice age would have ended in only four hundred years—instead of many thousands—at this rate of heating.) The total heating from the late nineteenth century to 2005 is 1.4°F (0.8°C). The ocean has actually absorbed most of the added CO2 and heat -- becoming warmer and very slightly more acidic. The only explanation that comports with data and observations of sun, atmosphere and ocean is the steep rise in greenhouse gases. This rise has been shown to be the result not of natural changes but of human activities ( "antropogenic"), primarily the burning of fossil fuels but also farming and forest clearing. Extensive urbanization, air pollution, forrest fires and increased pumping of water have caused regional change as well. Furthermore, scientists know the added carbon dioxide comes from our actions because this CO2 has an unmistakable chemical signature.

This research has created what has become the single most powerful icon of climate change, the so-called "hockey-stick" graph of temperatures. In 2005-6 it was subjected to intense re-analysis. Evidence of previous cool and warm periods has increased, but the rapid and sustained heat gain especially since the 1970s remains unparalleled in recent earth history. All this evidence, plus the vast range of changes to plants, animals, storms and glaciers which correlate strongly to the measured temperature rise, caused world climate scientists to declare in 2007 that "Warming of the climate system is unequivocal," and that there is more than a 90 percent assurance that "most of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-20th century is ... due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations." (see below)
These increases have a giant effect on weather, climate zones, plants and animals, sea life, glaciers and river flow. In response, our planet has been changing with warming winds and rising seas. The 10 warmest years on record have all occurred since 1997, according to meteorologists. 2005 and 1998 were the warmest. At the poles and in mountains, ice is melting and glaciers are receding. Arctic sea ice reach the smallest summer extent ever recorded in the past few years. Even in Antarctica, where winter sea ice has been larger in extent recently, it melts back much more than before in the summers, affecting the food supply of whales and penguins. The planet has heavier downpours now but also deeper droughts. Down into the temperate zone, change is rearranging the boundaries of life. The plants and animals with whom we share the planet are adapting and moving -- some even going extinct -- because they have no choice.

We six billion humans are being affected, too. Coastal towns are suffering from rising sea level, storms are getting more intense and 35,000 people died in European heat waves in 2003. However, we have choices to make to help correct and ameliorate global warming. This is a story of frightening scale and and great urgency that is just beginning to be told.

Locations documented by Gary Braasch in World View of Global Warming, 1999-2010

Better Batteries Bottom Up

This is more battery research and in thiscase they are growing a forest of nano batteries in order to gain in energy density.  No one really knows what the successfulprotocol will ultimately be, so we must push forward on every good idea.

This looks a long ways from been optimized soit is good to see early success in methodology. This is something that could be commercialized into circuit boards and miniaturedevices.

Anyway, the battery rush continues.

Better batteries from the bottom up
Rice University researchers build microbatteries with nanowire hearts


CONTACT: Mike Williams
PHONE: 713-348-6728

Rice University researchers havemoved a step closer to creating robust, three-dimensional microbatteries thatwould charge faster and hold other advantages over conventional lithium-ionbatteries. They could power new generations of remote sensors, display screens,smart cards, flexible electronics and biomedical devices.

The batteries employ vertical arrays of nickel-tinnanowires perfectly encased in PMMA, a widely used polymer best known asPlexiglas. The Rice laboratory of Pulickel Ajayan found a way to reliably coatsingle nanowires with a smooth layer of a PMMA-based gel electrolyte thatinsulates the wires from the counter electrode while allowing ions to passthrough.

The work was reported this week in the online edition ofthe journal Nano Letters.

"In a battery, you have two electrodes separated by athick barrier," said Ajayan, professor in mechanical engineering andmaterials science and of chemistry. "The challenge is to bring everythinginto close proximity so this electrochemistry becomes much moreefficient."

Ajayan and his team feel they've done that by growingforests of coated nanowires -- millions of them on a fingernail-sized chip --for scalable microdevices with greater surface area than conventional thin-filmbatteries. "You can't simply scale the thickness of a thin-film battery,because the lithium ion kinetics would become sluggish," Ajayan said.
"We wanted to figure out how the proposed 3-D designsof batteries can be built from the nanoscale up," said Sanketh Gowda, agraduate student in Ajayan's lab. "By increasing the height of thenanowires, we can increase the amount of energy stored while keeping thelithium ion diffusion distance constant."

The researchers, led by Gowda and postdoctoral researcherArava Leela Mohana Reddy, worked for more than a year to refine the process.
"To be fair, the 3-D concept has been around for awhile," Reddy said. "The breakthrough here is the ability to put aconformal coat of PMMA on a nanowire over long distances. Even a small break inthe coating would destroy it." He said the same approach is being testedon nanowire systems with higher capacities.

The process builds upon the lab's previous research tobuild coaxial nanowire cables that was reported in Nano Letters last year. Inthe new work, the researchers grew 10-micron-long nanowires viaelectrodeposition in the pores of an anodized alumina template. They thenwidened the pores with a simple chemical etching technique and drop-coated PMMAonto the array to give the nanowires an even casing from top to bottom. Achemical wash removed the template.

They have built one-centimeter square microbatteries thathold more energy and that charge faster than planar batteries of the sameelectrode length. "By going to 3-D, we're able to deliver more energy inthe same footprint," Gowda said.

They feel the PMMA coating will increase the number oftimes a battery can be charged by stabilizing conditions between the nanowiresand liquid electrolyte, which tend to break down over time.

The team is also studying how cycling affects nanowiresthat, like silicon electrodes, expand and contract as lithium ions come and go.Electron microscope images of nanowires taken after many charge/dischargecycles showed no breaks in the PMMA casing -- not even pinholes. This led theresearchers to believe the coating withstands the volume expansion in theelectrode, which could increase the batteries' lifespans.

Co-authors are Rice graduate student Xiaobo Zhan; formerRice postdoctoral researcher Manikoth Shaijumon, now an assistant professor atthe Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Thiruvananthapuram,India; and former Rice research scientist Lijie Ci, now a senior research anddevelopment manager at Samsung Cheil Industries.

The Hartley Family Foundation and Rice Universityfunded the research.

Nuclear Reaction Defies Expectations

All our workhas been focused on naturally occurring fission reactions and living with theconsequences.  Here we have an empiricalresult that questions the present theoretical regime and we need to ask what isnext?

We havelearned what we have learned by hurling neutrons mostly at speeds sufficient toovercome the electrostatic potential of the target.  Now we have an unusual alternative outcomethat is unpredicted in our modeling.

There couldbe a whole range of very low probability events in play that could completelyreshape our knowledge of the detail.  Oneshould not think that what we have is anything more than a good approximationto the empirical data that is likely to run foul of the facts as has justhappened.

Cold fusion,by the way, is a strong hint.

Theelectrostatic fields are not necessarily continuous or mathematically convenientand many good questions have never been asked let alone answered in thelab.  I thought cold fusion was anapparatus able to ask and answer some of those questions.  Other similar apparatus need to befabricated.

Wouldn’t itbe lovely to be able to move a low speed neutron along an axis to directcontact with an elemental nucleus at a specified location?  If we ever pull that off, then perhaps weknow something that can be trusted about the nucleus.

Nuclear reaction defies expectations

Dec 10, 2010 

A novel kind of fission reaction observed at theCERN particle physics laboratory in Genevahas exposed serious weaknesses in our current understanding of the nucleus. Thefission of mercury-180 was expected to be a "symmetric" reaction thatwould result in two equal fragments but instead produced two nuclei with quitedifferent masses, an "asymmetric" reaction that poses a significantchallenge to theorists.

Nuclear fission involves the splitting of a heavynucleus into two lighter nuclei. According to the liquid-drop model, whichdescribes the nucleus in terms of its macroscopic quantities of surface tensionand electrostatic repulsion, fission should be symmetric. Some fissionreactions are, however, asymmetric, including many of those of uranium and itsneighbouring actinide elements. These instead can be understood by also usingthe shell model, in which unequal fragments can be preferentially created ifone or both of these fragments contains a "magic" number of protonsand/or neutrons. For example, one of the fragments produced in many of thefission reactions involving actinides is tin-132, which is a"doubly-magic" nucleus, containing 50 protons and82 neutrons.

The latest work, carried out by a collaboration ofphysicists using CERN's ISOLDE radioactive beam facility,investigated the interplay between the macroscopic and microscopic componentsof nuclear fission. It used what is known as beta-delayed fission, a two-stepprocess in which a parent nucleus beta decays and then the daughter nucleusundergoes fission if it is created in a highly excited state. This kind ofreaction allows scientists to study fission reactions in relatively exoticnuclei and was first studied at the Flerov Laboratory in Dubna, Russia,about 20 years ago, although the Dubna measurements did not reveal themasses of the fragments produced.

Firing protons at uranium

The experiment at ISOLDE involvedfiring a proton beam at a uranium target and then using laser beams and amagnetic field to filter out ions of thallium-180 from among the wide varietyof nuclei produced in the proton collisions. These ions then became implantedin a carbon foil, where they underwent beta decay and some of the resultingatoms of mercury-180 then fissioned. Silicon detectors placed in front of andbehind the foil allowed the energies of the fission products to be measured.

The researchers were expecting the fissionreaction to be symmetric, with the mercury-180 splitting into two nuclei ofzirconium-90, a result thought to be particularly favoured because these nucleiwould contain a magic number of neutrons (50) and a "semi-magic"number of protons (40). What they found, however, was quite different. Theenergy of the fission products recorded in the silicon detectors did not peakat one particular value, which would be the case if only one kind of nuclei wasbeing produced in the reactions, but instead showed two distinct peaks centredaround the nuclei ruthenium-100 and krypton-80.

Collaboration spokesperson Andrei Andreyev of the University ofLeuven, Belgium, (and currently at the University of West of Scotland) saysthat this asymmetric fission was unexpected because the observed fragments donot contain any magic or semi-magic shells. His colleague, theorist Peter Möller ofthe Los Alamos National Laboratory in the US had in fact devised a model ofthe nucleus that predicted that mercury-180 would undergo asymmetric fission.But he wasn't able to explain why that is, having plotted a three-dimensionalpotential energy surface for the fission of mercury-180 and then identified aminimum in that surface, but he couldn't identify which of the three variableswere responsible for that minimum.

'Beautiful experimental achievement'

Phil Walker of the University of Surreyin the UK, who is not a member of the collaboration, describes the research asa "beautiful experimental achievement" that has "an impressivetheoretical outcome". He says that the result will be mainly of interestto academics but believes that it might just have practical implications."Much of our energy generation depends on nuclear fission," he pointsout, "and if we want to make reactors safer and cheaper we need to be ableto trust the basic theory of the fission process. I would say that the theoryhas been found to be sadly lacking, and it needs to be fixed."

Andreyev agrees. "I hope that as a result ofour paper theorists will start to think about this problem and tell us what ishappening," he says. "For the moment we don't know."

The research appears in Physical Review Letters.

Aboutthe author

EdwinCartlidge is a science writer based in Rome

Bulgarian Sun Temple Eight Millenia Old

The structure of the temple orobservatory or whatever one calls a measuring device was produced throughplanned excavation.  This is a methodwell within the capabilities of all primitive societies and I must presume thatit was commonly used.  This is merely adiscovered and more importantly, a recognized site.

I think that we can presume thatjust about everywhere throughout Europe atleast were there existed a common culture of cattle raising and forest soils,that something like this was available to every tribe.  We have already seen plenty of examples ofwood henges and a turf henge is no departure at all. 

Obviously used as a ceremonial siteto confirm the solstices and plausibly other important dates to an agriculturalcommunity, a cycle of gatherings would readily provide the workforce tomaintain and rebuild such sites.

At least no one is challenging theastronomical significance of Stonehenge anymore when we keep finding similarstructures all over Europe with the exact samealignments.  There are obviously a lotmore as yet undiscovered.  At least nowwe know to check the soils.

December 16, 2010

The oldest temple of the Sun has beendiscovered in northwest Bulgaria, near the town of Vratsa,aged at more then 8000 years, the BulgarianNational Television (BNT) reported on December 15 2010.

The Bulgarian 'Stonehenge' is hence about 3000years older than its illustrious English counterpart. But unlike its morerenowned English cousin, the Bulgarian sun temple was not on the surface,rather it was dug out from under tons of earth and is shaped in the form of ahorse shoe, the report said.

The temple was found near the village ofOhoden. According to archaeologists, the prehistoric people used thecelestial facility to calculate the seasons and to determine the best times forsowing and harvest. The site was also used for rituals, offering gifts to theSun for fertility as BNT reported.

This area of Bulgaria waspreviously made famous because remnants of the oldest people who lived in thispart of Europe were found.

Archaeologists also found dozens of clay and stone disks in the area of thetemple.

"The semantics of the disks symbolise the disk of the Sun itself, whichmeans that this is the earliest ever temple dedicated to the worship of the SunGod, discovered on our lands," archaeologist Georgi Ganetsovski told theBNT.

Black Swans for 2011

The hardest trick is to predict the onset of a black swan event.  Yet I have been pretty good at it for asingle reason.  The serious black swansare able to take advantage of preexisting conditions in the market and acceleratethem

I anticipated the market meltdown in 1987 which was completely unexpectedat the time.  I understood that themarket before 9/11 was specifically vulnerable to such an event (it did notreally affect the market itself but the signals were red flagging) and was notsurprised but stunned at how large the event itself and the reactionbecame.  I also anticipated the crisis of2008, but that one was patently obvious to all but the willfully blind.

This writer tries to list several prospective black swans, most of whichare not.  In the list, please payattention to Chinaconstruction, national defaults, and fossil fuel production.  The rest are not significant enough for thepresent.  My first comment unbelievably isthat they are not important enough, although they certainly can createheadlines.

China is converting internal currency into nonproducing capital stock in the form of housing and is using it as a stimulusprogram to sustain the development of the economy.  I hope that there are better solutionsdeveloping, but we can live with this. In the meantime Chinacontinues to own a ton of UScurrency which is been converted into assets as quickly as they can which isgreat for the global dollar cased economy. It is not going to stop soon, although inflation is chewing things upnow.

Spain et al will be patched in the same way the rest was patched.  Again, the money has long since been spentand the printing press is covering the losses.

Energy is the big story and it is not known which way the press will runwith it.  A major loss of conventionalproduction would cause a price burst that will give us a rerun of 2008 of agentler nature.  The real story is thatwe can use fresh oil production to keep the US on an oil diet for some years tocome, but this is not obvious yet.  Mostimportant all that new production is coming on stream internally and we areabout to begin displacing imported oil in its entirety over the next decade asexternal production continues to face serious declines.

So yes, these are all plausible sources of market shocks during 2011, butnot in the form of a serious black swan unless we have a major oil production crisissomewhere.  That could be a sharp loss inSaudi production.  I still do not thinkthe vulnerability is that particularly high.

The big black swan would be for Focus Fusion to announce a major economic successin the production of fusion energy at an obviously cheap price structure.  Such could be rolled out at great speed andthe entire global energy industry becomes terminally obsolete.  Equally plausible is the ultracapacitor businessemerging this year making the E car truly viable.  Both are now possible and increasinglyprobable.  Both are capable of replacingand dominating their sectors extremely fast. Everything else is a side show.

On the front of bad black swans, we really have nothing to worry abouteconomically, because all the excess is sorting itself out.  It could be better and much faster but it isat least sobering and perhaps we can avoid a repeat for another eighty years orperhaps forever.  We remain on track toestablish a modern middle class global civilization and we are already past thefifty percent mark and are now starting to quickly chew up the balance.  We may reach the ninety percent mark insideof as little as twenty years and by that I mean everywhere at the same level asChina today.

Politically is another issue.  Ithink that Iranis ready to collapse and end its problem. I also think North Korea is presently terminal.  No one else particularly matters and willdisappear in the mopping up that will take place over the next two decades.  That leaves us with the question of how thosetwo plan to die.  Obviously all arefocused on arranging a soft landing for both.

As an aside, ongoing Islamic economic failure is steadily undermining Islamicextremism and we are now experienced in confronting it.  They will continue to trash around for sometime longer until they grow tired of been the ditch diggers to the rest of theworld.

In whole I am an optimist for the coming year and think that we willcontinue to muddle along quite well.

Ten Black Swans for 2011

By Christian A. DeHaemer| Thursday, December 30th, 2010

On April 17, 1793, three French soldiers brokeinto the tomb of Michel de Nostredame, a man we know as Nostradamus.
Legend has it that one man, a Corporal Adelaide,picked up the skull in an attempt to gain the power of the long dead seer.
His fellow soldiers bore witness that his eyesopened wide as he gained full knowledge, then was immediately struck down andkilled by an errant bullet, fired from the nearby riots.
A plaque around the neck of the corpse read 1793.
It is by channeling the ghost ofNostrodamus — as if drinking blood from the very skull itself — that Igive you my Black Swans for 2011.

For those of you who don't know, Black Swans areunpredictable events that destroy prediction models.
After 20 years in the derivatives industry, NassimTaleb created the BlackSwanTheory to explain:
  • The disproportionate role of high-impact, hard to predict, and rare events that are beyond the realm of normal expectations in history, science, finance, and technology.
Thenon-computability of the probability of the consequential rare events usingscientific methods (owing to their very nature of small probabilities).

The psychological biases that make people individually and collectively blindto uncertainty and unaware of the massive role of the rare event in historicalaffairs. In other words, you can't create a mathematical certainty in themarket. Long Term Capital Management taught us that. Computer models and baseprobabilities on bell curves... Yet it's the three percent on either end thatmakes all their algorithms fail. And by the very nature of statistics, an eventthat's 1% likely to happen willhappen— if you wait long enough. Today I bring you ten events that couldbe that unpredictable, disruptive long shot for 2012.

1. Chinareal estate bubble pops
Hedge Fund Manager Jim Chanos said thefollowing about China onCNBC:
Construction is 60-plus percent of GDP, comparedto exports of 5 percent... The problem is that consumption as a percentage ofChinese economy has declined in the last 10 years, from 40 to 35 percent. It’sall real estate...When construction is 60 percent of your economy, and you arebuilding lots of things that people don’t need, the state may let this get outof control... It’s hard to manage this type of bubble.
China BusinessInsider estimates there are 64million vacant homes in China.If the Chinese real estate bubble pops, commodities such as copper,iron, and moly will crater.
2. Spain defaults
High national debt, high inflation, highunemployment, plummeting housing prices, and a second round of bankfailures coupled with political mismanagement sends Portugal into insolvency, followed quickly by Spain.
This overwhelms the EU's 440 Euro bail-out fundand sends U.S. Treasuryyields into the negative as investors flee to safety.
3. Decadeof natural gas
The U.S. Department ofEnergy (DOE) more thandoubled its estimate of unproved, technically recoverable shalegas reserves from 347 trillion cubic feet to 827 trillion cubic feet forits 2011 Annual Energy Outlook. This means lower natural gas prices —and twice the production for shale gas.
Furthermore, you should expect an additionaltwenty percent increase in U.S. naturalgas production through 2035 than was predicted last year.
The national leadership won't take advantage ofthe opportunity to end our dependency on imported oil due to the combinedlobbies of big petroleum and green energy.
In any event, natural gas storage facilitiesand pipelines will continue to grow until there is a global network of portsand facilities to transport natural gas in much the same way we transport oil.Right now, natural gas is around $4 in Texasbut $12 inJapan. Obviously, there are opportunities here.
4.Uranium companies surge
Last year, I predicted uranium would surge to $90a pound.
That didn't happen. Instead, it went from $40 to$65. I predict uranium in the $90s again based on the continued building ofnuclear plants around the world.
If you'd listened to my prediction last year andbought uranium miners, you'd have doubled your money:
5. Chinaclings to dollar, riots ensue
China links its currency to the dollar. The dollar isin a state of decline as a policy move to inflate away U.S. debt.
This means that everything in China is goingup in price. The official rate in China is 5.1% for November — butfood inflation is running at 11.7%. The last time food prices jumped in 2007,there were riots at supermarkets.
6. Farmland jumps in price
According to a survey by the Chicago FederalReserve Bank: “Farmland in Iowaincreased in value by 13 percent between the fall of 2009 and fall 2010. Oursurvey for Indianashows that farmland values since 1985 have gone up about 270 percent, or 5.5%per year."
Farmland prices are increasing at more than twice the historical average.This will continue, despite the fact that all other real estate prices arefalling, and create a bubble. Farmers will overextend themselves, crop priceswill fall, and we'll have a raft of farm foreclosures.
Willie Nelson and John Cougar will go on tourfor Farm Aid VII. The national leadership will continue to squeeze food pricesthrough subsidies for ethanol... After all, you can't be president without astrong showing in the Iowacaucus.
7. Dowhas four 10% correction in 2011 — ends the year up 9.7%
Volatility is down to pre-crisis levels. Bernankehas set a paperweight on his laptop number pad. It is adding zeros to thenational debt as fast as his Lenovo will allow.
Last year I wrote: “No one is talking about anextended bull market... The money that is currently being produced by theTreasury and hoarded by the banks could flow to equities and launch anotherbubble."
I predicted Dow 20,000. This didn't happen —but the DJIA did climb18% on pure liquidity from the Fed.
Judging by how few bargains there are out there,I'd say that the market has gotten ahead of itself. The Bernank will continuewith its flood of cash, but expect a lot of mixed signals and volatility...
8. TheYear of the Electric Car
Look for EVs to sell out this year. The NissanLEAF, the Chevy Volt, and the Fisker Karma will hit the ground rolling, givingearly adopters all sorts of smug happiness.
Charging stations are springing up in downtownseverywhere. You will be able to buy them at Best Buy. The Geek Squad willhook them up in your garage.
9. Deadtech revival
Old companies like Intel (NASDAQ: INTC)(which had its best year ever), Cisco (NASDAQ: CSCO), IBM (NYSE: IBM) and Corning (NYSE: GLW) willbreak out of their ten-year sideways range based on the revival of businessspending. These companies are all trading at small P/E ratios and sitting onlarge amounts of cash... Intel has $20 billion; Cisco has $38billion.
10. FidelCastro dies
Cuban Dictator Fidel Castro finally kicks thebucket. His brother Raúl makes overtures by allowing free speech andreleasing all political prisoners. He seeks to open trade talks with the United States.
The State Department continues to spurn alladvancements. Leaders in both parties do nothing because you can't be presidentwithout Florida, and you can't win Florida without theCuban vote.
Have a great New Year,

Christian DeHaemer
 Energy and Capital

Room Temperature Superconductors

This piece is a bit heavy to make sense out of butgive it a try.  I separated everysentence to assist the reader and bolded some key points.  The writer is not overly coherent here either.

The upshot isthat we are apparently close to room temperature superconductivity.  We may still be a long way from practical devicesthough.  For now we can take roomtemperature and work toward mastering the theoretical basis for all this.

One can appreciatefrom this why we have been at it for several decades and still do not have itfigured out.

DECEMBER 11, 2010

The possibility to achievethe room temperatures superconductivity has been argued for decades in thesuperconductivity research field.

Because the real mechanism ofsuperconductivity has never been revealed, so the estimates about the upperbound on the superconducting transition temperature are all empirical.

Based on thesuperconductivity mechanism proposed in this paper, clearly, the roomtemperatures superconductivity must lie in the materials in which the threecriteria for superconductivity have to be optimally satisfied.

For the time being, we cannotpredict what the upper bound of the superconducting transition temperatureshould be, but we assert that it isdefinitely higher than the room temperatures.

We believe that the dream toachieve the room temperatures superconductivity will come true in the nearfuture.

The physicalmechanism of superconductivity is proposed on the basis of carrier-induceddynamic strain effect.

By this new model,superconducting state consists of the dynamic bound state of superconductingelectrons, which is formed by the high-energy nonbonding electrons throughdynamic interaction with their surrounding lattice to trap themselves into thethree - dimensional potential wells lying in energy at above the Fermi level ofthe material.

The binding energy of superconductingelectrons dominates the superconducting transition temperature in thecorresponding material.

Under an electric field,superconducting electrons move coherently with lattice distortion wave andperiodically exchange their excitation energy with chain lattice, that is, thesuperconducting electrons transfer periodically between their dynamic boundstate and conducting state.

Thus, the intrinsic feature of superconductivity is to generate anoscillating current under a dc voltage.

The coherence lengths incuprates must have the value equal to an even number times the latticeconstant.

A superconducting materialmust simultaneously satisfy three criteria required by superconductivity.

Almost all of the puzzlingbehavior of the cuprates can be uniquely understood under this new model.

We demonstrate that thefactor 2 in Josephson current equation, in fact, is resulting from 2V, thevoltage drops across the two superconductor sections on both sides of ajunction, not from the Cooper pair, and the magnetic flux is quantized in unitsof h/e, postulated by London, not in units of h/2e.

The central features ofsuperconductivity, such as Josephson effect, the tunneling mechanism inmultijunction systems, and the origin of the superconducting tunnelingphenomena, are all physically reconsidered under this superconductivitymodel. 

A superconducting material must simultaneously satisfy the following threenecessary conditions required by superconductivity.

First, the material must possess the high-energynonbonding electrons with certain concentrations requested by coherencelengths. Following this criterion, it is not surprising that most ofalkaline metal, the covalent and closed-shell compounds, and the excellentconductors, copper, silver and gold do not show superconductivity at normalcondition.

Second, the material must have thethree-dimensional potential wells lying in energy at above the Fermi level ofthe material, and the dynamic bound state of superconducting electrons inpotential wells of a given superconducting chain must have the same bindingenergy and symmetry.

According to the types ofpotential wells in which the superconducting electrons trap themselves to formsuperconducting dynamic bound state, thesuperconductors as a whole can be divided into two groups.

 One of them iscalled as usual as the conventionalsuperconductors in which the potential well are formed by the microstructures of materials, such as crystalgrains, clusters, nanocrystals, superlattice, and the charge inversionlayer in metal surfaces.

We propose that the type 1superconductors are most likely achieved by the last kind of potential wellsabove.

The common feature for thissort of superconductors is that the volume of the potential wells for trappingsuperconducting electrons varies with the techniques using to synthesize thesuperconductors, so that the superconducting transition temperature inconventional superconductors usually shows strongly sample-dependent andirreproducible.

Since the potential wells inconventional superconductors generally have relatively large confined volumeand low potential height, so the conventional superconductors normally haverelatively low transition temperature, but magnesium diboride is an exception.

Another group isreferred to as the high-Tc superconductors in which the potential wells fortrapping superconducting electrons are formed by the latticestructure of material only, such as CuO6 octahedrons and CuO5 pyramidspotential wells for cuprates, BiO6 octahedron for BaKBiO3 compounds, C60 inA3C60 fullerides and FeAs4 tetrahedrons in LaOFeAs compounds.

The small and fixed volume ofpotential wells makes the high-Tc superconductors usually have relatively highand fixed transition temperature.

Finally, in order to enable the normal state of the material being metallic,the band structure of the superconducting material must have a widelydispersive antibonding band, which crosses the Fermi level and runs over theheight of potential wells.

The symmetry of theantibonding band into which the superconducting electrons trap themselves toform a dynamic bound state dominates the types of the superconductingdistortion waves.

The typical example forsuperconductivity derived from this criterion perhaps belongs to transitionmetals and their compounds.

Matthias was the first topropose that the transition temperature in transition metals depends upon thenumber of valence electrons per atom, Ne, and two values Ne = 5e/a for V, Nb,and Ne = 7e/a for Tc and Re are favorable to have high value of Tc.62

The similar phenomenon wasalso found in transition metal compounds. It has been confirmed that thedensity of electronic states for both bcc and hcp transition metals are allresulted from a number of the narrow density peaks derived from the d -orbitals bonding states overlapping with a broad low density of states arisenfrom the s - electron antibonding band.

Based on the rigid bandmodel, the Fermi levels for the transition metal with Ne = 1 to 4 all fall inthe region where the density of states is dominated by the d - electron bondingstates.

The potential wells formed bythe grain boundaries, which normally have a potential height less than 0.1 eV,should also overlap with bonding states of the d - orbitals.

In this case, the dynamicbound state cannot be formed in the potential wells, thus it is not surprisingthat the superconductivity cannot be found in these transition metals.

However, for V and Nb, whichhave five valence electrons, Ne = 5e/a, the Fermi level shifts toward the highenergies at where the density of states is mainly resulted from the selectron-antibonding band.

In this circumstance, theenergy levels at the top of potential wells formed by grain boundaries arederived from the s electron-antibonding band, and so the superconducting statecan be achieved and has a s-symmetry wave.

The similar process isrepeated for the transition metal Tc and Re with Ne = 7 e/a.

On the basis of the mechanism of superconductivity proposed above, the key point to achieve superconductivityis that the superconducting electron must periodically exchange its excitationenergy with chain lattice.

That is, the excitationenergy of the superconducting electrons must be reversibly transferred betweensuperconducting electrons and chain lattice.

It is well known that theinteraction between electrons and atomic magnetic moments is irreversible,which, thus, in any case cannot become the driving force of superconductivity.

However, it can be seen fromthis new model that superconductivity and atomic magnetic moments in principleare not intrinsically exclusive each other.

As long as there exists thesame magnetic moment in every potential well in a given superconducting chain,as in the case of the ferromagnetic materials LaOFeAs, and the three necessaryconditions required for superconductivity are satisfied, the superconductingstate can be formed and the superconducting process will persist withoutdissipating energy.

Since the electromagneticinteraction energy for superconducting electrons with atom magnetic momentmaintains the same in every potential well, thus the binding energy ofsuperconducting electrons in potential wells cannot be affected by the atommagnetic moment, and so the scattering centers for superconducting electronscannot be introduced.

But this conditionessentially cannot be achieved for conventional superconductors, so the atomicmagnetic moments are generally detrimental to superconductivity.

Wild Seed Collecting

There is one hidden advantage provided by universal literacy and that isaccess to ongoing information all one’s live. This brings about a revolution in agriculture.  It is not that the knowledge is not there, ithas historically not been applied from simple ignorance.

In the developed world farmers learned to do much different things as amatter of course.  The same will happenin the paddy lands of Asia.

As we progress, this item on wild seeds needs to be though through.  Do we have some way for local land owners tocollect and keep seeds on an ongoing manner? Wild seeds are normally easy to collect. What is lacking is a good reason.

On top of that the local owner already knows were to look forsamples.  As a farm boy, I was able tolocate and identify every known wild plant in Ontario in one summer and within a distanceof perhaps one kilometer.  I certainlycould have collected all the seeds over a summer while doing other tasks.

A successful collector can soon over a much larger region if it isconsidered appropriate.

Wild seeds seen as world crop'insurance'

by StaffWriters

London (UPI)Dec 10, 2010 

British scientists say they plan to collect wild plant relatives of essentialfood crops including wheat, rice and potatoes to preserve their genetic traits.

The project,coordinated by the Global Crop Diversity Trust, aims to safeguard valuable genetic traits in wild plants that could be bred intocrops to make them more hardy and versatile, the BBC reported Friday.

The plant materialcollected will be stored in seed banks in the long term, but will also be usedin "pre-breeding trials" to find out if the wild varieties could beused to combat diseases already threatening food production.

"There is a realsense of urgency about this," said Paul Smith, head of the Millennium SeedBank at London's Kew Gardens.

"For some ofthese species, we may just get this one bite of the cherry, because so many ofthem are already threatened (with extinction) in their natural habitats," he said.

The hope is that thewild relatives of food crops will help plant-breeders produce strains that cancope with changing climate, plant diseases and loss of viable agriculturalland.

"All our cropswere originally developed from wild species -- that's how farming began,"said CaryFowler, executive director of the Global Crop Diversity Trust.

"Climate changemeans we need to go back to the wild to find those relatives of our crops thatcan thrive in the climates of the future."

No rice please, we're Indonesians

Cigugur, Indonesia (AFP) Dec 12, 2010 -Indonesia is one of the world's biggest producers -- and consumers -- of rice,but in the interests of public health and food sustainability the government has launched anambitious drive to wean people off their beloved staple.

For ordinaryIndonesians like Andi Santoso, a 23-year-old student, the thought of goingwithout rice for a day, as the government is proposing, is almost unthinkable.

"I eat rice forbreakfast, lunch and dinner," he said, a little bemused. "If I don'teat rice, I feel like I haven't eaten. What else can I eat?"

Welfare Ministrysecretary-general Indroyono Soesilo says the answer is simple, even if itsounds crazy to a nation that produces more than 40 million tonnes of rice ayear and consumes around 33 million tonnes.

He likens the push toalternative sources of nutrition to asking a smoker to give up cigarettes.

"We urgeIndonesians to kick their habit of eating rice. We need to diversify our diets.Many Indonesians still think that if they don't eat rice, they don't eatwell," he said.

"Indonesiaproduces 66 kinds of other carbohydrates, such as corn, sago, cassava, sweetpotato, potato and others. These all can replace rice for two out of three mealsa day, for example.

"We urgeIndonesians to diversify their eating habits from childhood."

With 240 millionhungry mouths to feed, Indonesiais the world's fourth most populous country. The average Indonesian consumesmore than 100 kilograms (220 pounds) of rice a year, more than the Japanese andChinese.

Improving farmingtechniques and a post-colonial food security drive have seen the country gofrom being the world's biggest rice importer in the 1960s to beingself-sufficient now.

But while rice is plentifuland cheap, the government is worried that the nation is becoming too dependenton a single crop.

The grain that springsfrom paddy fields across Indonesiais vulnerable to shifting global weather patterns, such as this year's unseasonalrains linked to cooler sea-surface temperatures in the Pacific, known as the LaNina effect.

Other concerns includepopulation growth and the shrinking availability of arable land due to factorslike urbanisation and rising sea levels from global warming, which thegovernment fears could slash Indonesia's rice production.

But for millions ofpoor Indonesians, rice is not just a food staple, it's a livelihood thatsustains life and deserves worship as a gift from the gods.

"Rice is life. Itgives jobs and food," explained Djati Kusuma, the "king" ofCigugur, a village in the middle of Java island where the annual Seren Taunfestival celebrates Dewi Sri, the goddess of rice.

For three days thevillagers gather "to ask for her protection in order to avert disaster andto get an abundant harvest", he told AFP at the festival last month.

No one in Cigugurappears to be thinking of growing anything different on the verdant green paddyfields that flourish in the rich volcanic soil around the village.

The people in Java'srice-growing villages see the grain as something noble, occupying an elevatedseat in the agricultural hierarchy compared to roots like cassava, which isassociated with poverty.

Industrial growershowever are rapidly seeing the potential of crops like cassava and sago fortheir dual uses as food and biofuel.

A September report bythe International Rice ResearchInstitute (IRRI) and the US-based Asia Society said Asian countries need to sharplyincrease and better manage rice stocks to improve food security in a regionwhere 65 percent of the world's hungry live.

Asia's rice-producing areas are home to nearly 560million extremely poor people, who live on less than 1.25 dollars a day. About90 percent of rice is grown in the region, on more than 200 million farms.

Rice is the staplefood for more than three billion people, about half the world's population.