California's crippling drought has prompted conservation efforts, such as replacing grass lawns and minding how long you leave the tap water running. But what about the food on your plate? Agriculture uses 80% of California's water supply, and producing what you eat can require a surprising amount of water. The LA Times' Interactive Water Footprint tells you How much water is used to produce your food? [more inside]
Mars might have liquid water, according to new findings We know Mars has water, and we also know that Mars once had liquid water (a whole ocean, in fact) but now it seems we may have evidence of liquid water today. [more inside]
At the very top of oceans and inland waters lies a distinct micrometer-thick microbial habitat. It influences climate change, fosters unusual and deadly bacteria, and is made of jelly. It is the surface microlayer.
NASA posits a larger amount of water in the solar system and beyond. With the recent hypothesis (trigger: bad science) that extra terrestrials might be quite large, how long do we have until the Space Whales come for us? Discuss.
California Drought Tests History of Endless Growth [New York Times]
A punishing drought is forcing a reconsideration of whether the aspiration of untrammeled growth that has for so long been the state’s engine has run against the limits of nature.California Water Use [New York Times] Are you affected? [New York Times] The Drought, explained. [New York Times Video] [more inside]
Toshio Shibata’s Mesmerizing Photographs of Water [New York Times]
The Japanese photographer Toshio Shibata is fascinated by water — in particular, the way it interacts with man-made structures. For the later half of his almost-40-year career in photography, he has explored this relationship in novel ways, hiding horizon lines and taking the perspective of the water itself with his camera, visually evoking its rushing sound.
"When we drink bottled water we throw away plastic, [and] 80% of the bottles are not recycled..... Ooho! uses the culinary technique of sphereification, the water is encapsulated in a double gelatinous membrane. The technique consist into apply sodium alginate (E-401) from the brown algae and calcium chloride (E-509) in a concrete proportions in order to generate a gelification on the exterior of the liquid. The final package is simple, cheap (2ct/unit), resistant, hygienic, biodegradable and even eatable."
Rainworks are positive messages and art that only appear when it rains. Peregrine Church watched a video showing off the properties of superhydrophobic coatings and got an idea uniquely suited to his environment: famously rainy Seattle.* Using a spray-on coating, he did a stencil at a bus stop. It's invisible in dry weather, but as rain hits it and the wet concrete darkens, the writing and art becomes clear. Since then, more have been added: tentacles, hopscotch grids, environmental messages, lily pads, and more. [more inside]
"Honestly? I've never had more fun cooking. Or eating. I didn't want to write this piece; it's almost humiliating to hear myself talk this way. But there it is. I'm in Berkeley. I'm lucky to be here. I may stay." Mark Bittman talks about California produce. [more inside]
With the discovery of life beneath the Ross Ice Shelf, the abundance of water in our solar system and a huge salty ocean under Ganymede's ice, scientists are rethinking the possibilities of life on other worlds.
...it might look something like this." Located in Missouri, Bonne Terre was an active mine until the early 1960s. In 1980, Doug and Cathy Goergens purchased it, flooded the 88 miles of passages on its three lowest levels, and turned into a scuba diving destination. Guests can take guided diving tours along dozens of underwater trails, past mining carts and other abandoned equipment.
Most people know that the expiration date on bottled water is for the bottle, not for the water. However, if your stored water is orangey, has the consistency of maple syrup, and is a billion years old, you're going to have worse problems than just a plasticky taste. [more inside]
What the collapse of ancient capitals can teach us about the cities of today — Warnings from history: Angkor was a thriving metropolis of 750,000 before a series of mega-monsoons made it unliveable. Can modern flood-threatened cities learn from its downfall?
"Death #1: Devoured by bats. Death #2: Sailed too close to the Elder Continent; my ship, bones gained sentience." People have been discussing Sunless Sea, the nouveau-Roguelike game just released by FailBetter Games. What else are they saying? Rock, Paper, Shotgun: "...the most delicious collection of words in all of gaming." Eurogamer: "This is the video game at its most mystical and revealing." There is, of course, a trailer. [more inside]
From Poop to Potable - a self-powering incinerator funded by The Gates Foundation that extracts drinking water from human feces.
Coyote Booms, Bear Attacks And How Climate Change Is Wreaking Havoc On The Animal Kingdom. "'The long-term drought impacts on vegetation that affect the prey of the animals that predators feed on is also a reason for encroachment,' said Crabtree. He said he thinks all large carnivores have this problem, especially the ones that depredate, or plunder — such as coyotes, bears, mountain lions and wolves. 'The drought decreases natural forage for herbivores like deer,' said Crabtree. 'There will be a relatively higher density of deer in urban areas where there are lawns.'" [more inside]
Lost your car? This might help. Just "do the damned experiment".
Cowspiracy is a crowdfunded documentary now being screened that examines the environmental impact of animal agriculture and seeks to examine why prominent environmental groups have apparently not made it a focus of their efforts. David Robinson Simon, the author of Meatonomics who appears in the film, interviews filmmakers Kip Andersen and Keegan Kuhn. [more inside]
Zero Percent Water. Alan Heathcock visits the Central Valley in California to talk to farmers about the drought, hear their perspective, and see first-hand what the land looks like.
A gigantic fish-eater (Bigger than a T. rex!) with a crocodile snout and a large sail on its back, Spinosaurus aegyptiacus has always been a strange and enigmatic creature. It may have just become something stranger: a semiaquatic, quadrupedal theropod dinosaur. [more inside]
Halfway through my three-week, 417-mile journey down the “most endangered” river in America, the water began flowing backward and the mud started talking. It spoke in baritone gurgles, like Barry White trapped in a bong. You know what this is, John? No, Barry White mud. This is QUICKSAND.
The drought in California and the American West is bad. Really bad. And it could get worse. The rich have their own plans.
All of California remains in drought with over 80% in worst categories of 'extreme' or 'exceptional' drought. Reservoir levels are 50% below average. (previously) [more inside]
Why the modern bathroom is a wasteful, unhealthy design (The Guardian): "Piped water may be the greatest convenience ever known but our sewage systems and bathrooms are a disaster" [more inside]
Welcome to Detroit's water war – in which upward of 150,000 customers, late on bills that have increased 119 percent in the last decade, are now threatened with shut-offs. Local activists estimate this could impact nearly half of Detroit's mostly poor and black population – between 200,000 and 300,000 people. [more inside]
On March 23, the floodgates of the Morelos Dam, near Yuma, Arizona opened, unleashing a three-day "pulse" into the dry Colorado River delta. The waters recently reached the Sea of Cortez, and a group of scientists and journalists were there to raft it. [more inside]
To commemorate the 300th Anniversary of the original Longitude Prize (won by John Harrison with the invention of a clock that could keep time at sea), UK charity Nesta has launched a new £10million prize to encourage inventors and scientists to find a solution to one of six problems facing the world. [more inside]
Last November, after five years of remarkable negotiations that unfolded far from the Delta, representatives from the U.S. and Mexico agreed to a complex, multi-part water deal that will give them desperately needed flexibility for weathering the drought. More surprisingly, the two nations will join the team of environmental organizations to release a flood of more than 105,000 acre-feet of water – 3.8 million big-rig tankers' worth – into the Delta's ancient floodplain, and chase it with a smaller, permanent annual flow to sustain the ecosystem.For High Country News, Matt Jenkins describes the most ambitious water sharing plan ever created between Mexico and the United States (single page print version). For much more about this project and the water issues surrounding it, there's Eli Rabett's roundup of John Fleck's blogposts about this. (Or read the tl;dr version by Alex Harrowell.)
It is the unlikeliest of times to pull off a deal like this. Rather than hoarding all the water for themselves in this drought –– the river supplies some 35 million people –– the West's largest water agencies have pledged to send some all the way to the sea. That move is, to some extent, a long-overdue acknowledgment that the U.S. bears responsibility for the impacts its dams have caused beyond its borders. And after years of fruitless court fights in the U.S. by environmental groups, the Mexican government finally insisted that water for the Delta be a cornerstone of the broader deal.
Architecture And Vision has used warka trees and towers made of bamboo and fabric to harvest 100+ litres of potable water from the air (video) per day.
"The only way to end Haiti’s cholera epidemic is to keep infected waste out of food and water. A subterranean network of pipes, pumping stations, and waste-treatment plants would be the ideal solution, but Haiti’s successive governments have had too little money, power, or will to build massive public works on their own.... International donors have been little help: in one case, the U.S. government, to protest the way an election was conducted, withheld funds to build water and sanitation infrastructure in northern Haiti for more than ten years. From 1990 to 2008, the proportion of Haitians with access to basic sanitation decreased from 26% to 17%. Cholera broke out in 2010. Four years into the epidemic, a trip to the bathroom for most Haitians still means looking for an open field or wading into a public canal at dawn. Those who can afford to, dig cesspools under outhouses. When the cesspools get full, it’s time to call a man like Leon." [more inside]
What would a great ad for a university of technology be? An ad, that itself, solves a problem through technology This is exactly what the University of Engineering and Technology of Peru and their ad agency Mayo DraftFCB have done - the first billboard in the world to make drinking water out of thin air and alleviate the lives of Peru's people.
"The idea that Medieval people drank beer or wine to avoid drinking bad water is so established that even some very serious scholars see no reason to document or defend it; they simply repeat it as a settled truth. In fact, if no one ever documents the idea, it is for a very simple reason: it's not true."
"During the medieval period, there was over a century of drought in the Southwest and California. The past repeats itself." After three consecutive years of below-normal rainfall, California faces its most severe drought emergency in decades. Exacerbating the problem is the fact that the deserts of Southern California have been turned into livable spaces only by huge feats of engineering that divert massive amounts of water from other parts of the state and the country. Marc Reisner's 1986 book Cadillac Desert documents the history of acquiring and diverting water to the American Southwest. A four-part documentary based on the book was released in 1997. Part 1: Mulholland's Dream // Part 2: An American Nile // Part 3: The Mercy of Nature // Part 4: Last Oasis
It only happens once every few years: a brackish river in New Jersey freezes over, and the iceboats come out. It's happening all over the Northeast, where an unusually cold winter is welcomed with delight by aficionados of this sport. Lightly constructed, beautiful, and fast (the record stands at 84 miles an hour propelled by wind alone), iceboats provide a winter thrill ride like none other. Iceboating or ice yachting has thrived in pockets of North America and Europe since the nineteenth century. When conditions are right, see them sailing and racing in Wisconsin, on the Hudson, in Maine, Minnesota, Prince Edward Island. and wherever else "hard-water sailors" congregate.
"My subject is a barren one – the world of nature, or in other words life; and that subject in its least elevated department, and employing either rustic terms or foreign, nay barbarian words that actually have to be introduced with an apology. Moreover, the path is not a beaten highway of authorship, nor one in which the mind is eager to range: there is not one of us who has made the same venture, nor yet one Roman who has tackled single-handed all departments of the subject."Naturalis Historia was written by Pliny the Elder between 77 and 79 CE and was meant to serve as a kind of proto-encyclopedia discussing all of the ancient knowledge available to him, covered in enough depth and breadth to make it by a reasonable margin the largest work to survive to the modern day from the Roman era. The work includes discussions on astronomy, meteorology, geography, mineralogy, zoology and botany organized along Aristotelian divisions of nature but also includes essays on human inventions and institutions. It is dedicated to the Emperor Titus in its epistle to the Emperor Vespasian, a close friend of Pliny who relied on his extensive knowledge, and its unusually careful citations of sources as well as its index makes it a precursor to modern scholarly works. It was Pliny's last work, as well as sadly his sole surviving one, and was published not long before his death attempting to save a friend from the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius that destroyed Pompeii and Herculaneum, famously recounted by Pliny's eponymous nephew Pliny the Younger.
Here is a reasonable translation that is freely available to download from archive.org for your edification.[more inside]
Huge reserves of freshwater lie beneath the ocean floor. There is mounting evidence. "The volume of this water resource is a hundred times greater than the amount we've extracted from the Earth's sub-surface in the past century since 1900".
Here's a mesmerizing 14 minute long video of a dude doing some water transfer printing on some boring car part things. Despite that glorious undersell, it's actually quite interesting. [more inside]
Someone appears to have an answer to why warm water appears to freeze more quickly than cool water, a phenomenon known as the Mpemba effect after Erasto Mpemba who noticed the effect in freezing ice cream. The reasons why have eluded scientists and prizes have been offered for a solution. Now a group headed by Prof. Xi Zhang out of Singapore has proposed a promising theory. The answer as they see it lies in energy stored in the covalent bonds within the water molecules which are affected by the temperature of the water. (via the Presurfer)
Someone went to the trouble of building a waterslide for cute fuzzy baby ducks. Spoiler: the ducklings love it! (SLYT)
Greenville, Mississippi lies in the heart of the Delta and claims a number of writers from its neck of the woods, including Walker Percy and Shelby Foote. What is it about Greenville that would produce such talent? Is there something in the water? Some people think so.
When a liquid is dropped onto a smooth plate that is heated to a specific temperature well above its boiling point, boiled vapor will get trapped underneath the remainder of the droplet insulating it from the hot plate, allowing it to dance around the plate like oil on a wet surface in what is known as the Leidenfrost effect. Intriguingly, surfaces that are grooved into the shape of a saw blade will cause droplets suspended by the Leidenfrost effect to predictably skitter in the direction of the groove, allowing University of Bath undergraduate students Carmen Cheng and Matthew Guy to build a fascinating maze. [more inside]
Further proof that Pygmy music is some of the most awesome on earth.