A book described on its back cover as a “contemporary thriller [which] explores the growing interest in biodiscovery and the modern crime of biopiracy, against the back-drop of the beauty and challenges of the Daintree World Heritage site … and [the] popular resort world of Port Douglas” recently leapt from the shelf of my local library into my hand. It lived up to its promise, too, being both entertaining and informative.
The (perfectly valid) scientific background to the story is a search in the Daintree rainforest for a botanical cure for the affliction known locally as the Daintree ulcer or Mossman ulcer. It is a nasty flesh-eating ulcer with no known prevention or cure, caused by a bug (Mycobacterium ulcerans) related to those which cause leprosy and tuberculosis. Continue reading “Bergstrom’s Orange, Daintree ulcers and rainforest”
Most of us know by now that we need to decarbonise the global economy – fast – if we are to have any hope of avoiding catastrophic climate change. Fortunately, the technology to do just that is booming, charging ahead so quickly that merely keeping up with the news is difficult.
Last year, for most of us, was the Year of the Battery. Tesla’s big South Australian battery did something its many little Powerwalls couldn’t, i.e., make battery storage seem like a serious option for the real world rather than just a cool idea. Bloomberg’s 2018 outlook report sees this continuing and allowing electric vehicles to undercut conventional, internal combustion engine cars on both lifetime and upfront cost by the mid-to-late 2020s.
The Green Path facebook page does its best to keep up with all this news but anyone wanting it all, and unfiltered, should bookmark or follow these sites:
We all know about recycling, re-using stuff which might otherwise have been thrown away (and we all know that there is no “away”, don’t we?) and “upcycling” is the next refinement of the idea. Many of my favourite examples are in the arts and crafts area – Waste to Wonder‘s inner-tube jewellery, for instance – but the National Gallery of Victoria’s Triennial (Dec 2017 – April 2018) had some extreme examples.
Dutch design studio Formafantasma exhibited several pieces of furniture created primarily from tech waste, such as the computer-case drawers at left.
Their design and construction was superlative, and I enjoyed their quirky decorative use of small items of tech junk.
While I was putting together my suggestions on Negotiating Christmas three weeks ago I came across a tech website advertising its “Top Five Energy Saving Gift Ideas Under $50” and an “Energy-efficient slow cooker.”
I didn’t include either of them on my pre-Christmas post (and I’m still not going to give them free publicity by linking to them here) because I found them somewhat problematic, but they are worth examining.
Osram DOT-it Battery Operated LED Light
Know someone who is always cursing when they can’t find something in a dark cupboard or cabinet? This low-cost battery powered LED light could be the answer.
It’s a permanently installed strip light, so it’s ‘new’ only because the low power demands of LEDs will let batteries last long enough to be a sensible option. Continue reading “Energy-saving gadgets”
Adventures of a Young Naturalist – the Zoo Quest Expeditions
Two Roads, 2017
This substantial volume is a re-issue of Attenborough’s first three Zoo Quest books, recounting his expeditions to Guyana, Indonesia and Paraguay in the late 1950s, “slightly abbreviated and updated from the originals,” as he says in the Introduction.
The Zoo Quests were joint projects of the London Zoo and the BBC in which minuscule expeditions set out to collect wildlife for the Zoo with a TV cameraman recording the process. Collecting expeditions were regular operations of all zoos at the time, and I for one grew up loving Gerald Durrell’s very funny books about similar expeditions, but making one into a TV show was a novel idea Continue reading “Adventures of a Young Attenborough”