Robert Heinlein would be proud.

US based Space Exploration Technologies, or SpaceX, became the first private company to success fully put a payload into orbit

Their liquid fuel rocket, Falcon1 put a payload into orbit from a US military facility on Omelek Island in the Kwajalein Atoll yesterday.

It was their fouth try, but if it was easy, everyone would be doing it.

Robert Heinlein would have been proud of their success.

Advertisements

Business card sized web server

Ok, it’s a little thicker, but still way cool.  Tiny web server aren’t that new.  I remember seeing webservers that fit in a matchbox years ago.

The fact that you can etch this board yourself and that it uses a SD card instead of eeprom is slick.

Fully Viable Stem Cells from Adults

No embryo required.  So say the researchers at Harvard Medical School. They are claiming to have developed a method that will produced stem cells from adults that are “potent” as embryonic stem cells.

This method has a benifit over embryonic stem cells.  These adult stem cells could be grown from a patients own tissue.  This would allow them to be transplanted without triggering immune rejection.

This method also avoids the ethical issues many have with harvesting embryonic stem cells.

Green Crude

Sapphire Energy, a San Diego based startup, has a process they claim can produce 91octane gasoline from “algae microorganisms, salt water, carbon dioxide and the power of the sun.”

The interesting twist to their technology is that method doesn’t use a plant that people typically use for food (like corn, sugarcane or sugar beats).  So not only doesn’t this solution use food products, it doesn’t require actual farm land (i.e. land used to grow food) to produce the fuel. 

Sapphire claims that they can set up a production facility in the desert.  The steady sunlight is an important factor in their production, and the salt water can be shipped in.

Their stated goal is to product 10,000 barrels a day, which in the national economy isn’t that much.  It is however, 10,000 barrels a day that isn’t pumped out of the ground, and will be produced domestically.

Solar electric power has officially “arrived.”

Electical solar power at the individual homeowner level is no longer the exclusive realm of the uber-ecowarrior or the Heinlein inspired individualist determined to live “off the grid.”

It’s mainstream now.  The concrete proof of this has arrived.  Solar Power Panel Rustlers!

Police departments in California — the biggest market for solar power, with more than 33,000 installations — are seeing a rash of such burglaries, though nobody compiles overall statistics.

Investigators do not believe the thieves are acting out of concern for their carbon footprints.

Even more American electric cars in the pipeline

Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge are working to get electic cars to market.  It looks like Chevy is going to beat to the market with the Volt though.

These new entries are still “Concept Cars,” so I’m taking their “late 2010” release date with a chunk of salt.

Keep in mind that introducing a lot of plug in hybrids or pure electric cars into the market is either going to require new sources of power (home based cheap solar and industrial scale Nuclear for example) or some serious inovations in electrical grid management.

Cheaper solar cells

The MIT Tech Review has a story about an Atlanta, GA based start up named Suniva.

What makes Sunvia’s product interesting is that they have made the manufacturing process cheaper.  They are squeezing a little more efficiency out of their cells (20%, which is up from the industry standard of 17%), but the cost reduction is the big story.

With Sunvia’s process, electricity from solar power can be produced for 8 to 10 cents per kilowatt-hour.  That is a competative rate in the United States.   Lower costs will result in more solar power being used to generate electricity.   More use of solar power on a small scale will also help on a larger utility scale.

Cheaper electric solar panels will result in more individual homes adopting them.  The more homes that can power their A/C system from solar during the summer, the less demand there will be on the utility grid during peak hours.    Solar panels could be used to charge a set of batteries during the day that would then charge a plug in hybrid car during the night.