Methane On Mars May Indicate Living Planet

Riding with Robots writes “NASA is announcing today that the definitive detection of methane in the Martian atmosphere means the planet is still alive, at least geologically, and perhaps even biologically. ‘Methane is quickly destroyed in the Martian atmosphere in a variety of ways, so our discovery of substantial plumes of methane in the northern hemisphere of Mars indicates some ongoing process is releasing the gas,’ said one agency scientist. The gas was detected with observations made over over several Martian years with NASA telescopes at Mauna Kea, Hawaii. Both biological and geological processes could explain the methane.”

Tapping the Earth For Home Heating and Cooling

suraj.sun recommends a CNet post giving details of a still little-known energy technology: the ground source heat pump or geo-exchange system. This is distinct from so-called geothermal energy, which taps the heat in the earth to provide energy. Geo-exchange is suitable in scale for small industry — the article describes one commercial re-development of an old mill into apartment and commercial space that put in a geo-exchange at about half the cost of traditional fossil fuel-based alternatives. Even some individual homeowners are opting for this green method of heating and cooling, at a premium in price of about 50 percent (but costs are very much per-project, largely because drilling is involved). “Rather than use underground heat, geothermal heat pumps attached to buildings capitalize on the steady temperature of the ground or deep water wells. In effect, they treat the Earth like a giant energy savings bank, depositing or withdrawing heat depending on the time of year. “

Mammoth discovery beneath Grand Traverse Bay?

Mammoth discovery beneath Grand Traverse Bay?

Holga: Grand Traverse Bay by Matt Callow

Interlochen Public Radio’s Tom Kramer has a fascinating interview with underwater archaeologist Dr. Mark Holley. While surveying shipwrecks, Holley may have stumbled upon one of the most significant finds in recent Michigan memory – a discovery that could shed light on a time period known as “the black hole of Michigan archaeology”. On one rock in a circular pattern of rocks on the bay’s floor, he found an etching that appears to be a mastodon with a spear in it.

Listen to Rare Find in GT Bay from IPR News Radio because it’s really, really cool. IPR has an update to the story with John Bailey of the Grand River Band of Ottawa Indians who thinks that the ancient rock carving in Grand Traverse Bay could bolster his view of the span that Native Americans have been living in the Great Lakes.

By the way, Dr. Holley was surveying shipwrecks for the Grand Traverse Bay Underwater Preserve, and you can check that link to learn more about that organization and their efforts.

Underwater images from a Lake Michigan Stonehenge

Lake Michigan Stones

Lake Michigan Stones, photo by bldgblog.

In Stonehenge Beneath the Waters of Lake Michigan, Geoff Manaugh of BLDGBLOG writes:

In a surprisingly under-reported story from 2007, Mark Holley, a professor of underwater archaeology at Northwestern Michigan University College, discovered a series of stones – some of them arranged in a circle and one of which seemed to show carvings of a mastodon – 40-feet beneath the surface waters of Lake Michigan. If verified, the carvings could be as much as 10,000 years old – coincident with the post-Ice Age presence of both humans and mastodons in the upper midwest.

Regarding the slightly repurposed “sector scan sonar” device that Northwestern Michigan University professor and underwater archaeologist Dr. Mark Holley & Brian Abbott were using to survey some old wrecks when they made their discovery, Geoff writes:

The circular images this thing produces are unreal; like some strange new art-historical branch of landscape representation, they form cryptic dioramas of long-lost wreckage on the lakebed. Shipwrecks (like the Tramp, which went down in 1974); a “junk pile” of old boats and cars; a Civil War-era pier; and even an old buggy are just some of the topographic features the divers discovered.

You’ll definitely want to click through to read the rest and see more pictures!

You can read a detailed feature about this in U.S. archeologists find possible mastodon carving on Lake Michigan rock at NowPublic and listen to some radio reports from the time of the discovery in August of 2007 that include an interview with Dr. Holley and another with Grand Traverse Bay Ottawa Indian tribal member and historian John Bailey in Mammoth discovery beneath Grand Traverse Bay? on Absolute Michigan.


Save the planet. Kill yourself.

No you don’t, but there’s a shit load of money to be made in promoting, in a coded fashion, just that idea. Just look at publications such as the disgustingly elitist ‘green home’ magazine Dwell (which purports to be aimed at ordinary people, but invariably prints articles about trendy Yup families in their ‘green’ homes who are clearly in the high five-to-six-figure-a-year income bracket, and builders who sneer that their eco-friendly small prefab houses aren’t for “people who live in trailer parks”, and whose ads and promotional pieces are all for companies who sell supposedly ‘earth-friendly’ luxury products that are needless consumer goods just the same), and you’ll quickly come to realize that much of the whole ‘green’ idea is little more than a passing fad aimed at the wannabe hip twenty percent of the economy who can afford to indulge their fantasies of being responsible stewards of the earth while continuing on in the binge-spend-consume lifestyle that they have been led to believe they are eminently entitled to pursue.

-Right Democrat


Telegraph, UK – With the possible exception of the ice that covers Greenland, the West Antarctic ice shelf is the most important body of water in the world. If it thaws, the results will be disastrous for millions, raising sea levels and flooding coastal cities such as London, New York, Tokyo and Calcutta. So it is understandable that scientists are alarmed as to why one particular section of it – Pine Island Glacier – is melting so much faster than the rest.

Pine Island, which contains around 30 trillion liters of water, is slipping into the sea at an ever accelerating rate, a development that alone could raise sea levels by as much as 10cm over the next century. Starting at an altitude of 2,500m, the glacier is 95 miles long and 18 miles wide, reaching the sea as an ice wall 750m high. Even before it began to speed up, it was one of the fastest-flowing glaciers in the world, at nine yards a day.

Scientists believe that the thinning of the glacier, and its acceleration, are due to unusual melting under the base as it enters the ocean. This is caused by either global warming or a hitherto unknown factor, such as an underwater volcano.

Finding proof of either, however, has been problematic. The mountain glaciers in the west of the Antarctic have the worst blizzards and some of the harshest temperatures on the planet. The zone is too hostile for any research station, so scientists have to base information on satellite studies and aerial surveys.

Navajos want industrial hemp for cash crop

Story Published: Sep 6, 2000

Editor;s note: Interviews for this story on the potential of an industrial hemp operation on the Navajo Nation were conducted prior to Aug. 24 when agents of the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Federal Bureau of Investigation seized thousands of hemp plants on two plots on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. Grand jury indictments are expected. The plants were being raised for a building project, meeting requirements of a 1998 Oglala Sioux Tribal ordinance. However, Earl Tulley says that action will have no effect on plans on the Navajo Nation. “The sky is not falling here.”

WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. – Navajo entrepreneurs are urging new Navajo Nation laws to permit cultivation of industrial hemp, citing research showing profits from small-scale farms.

Encouraging the cultivation of hemp as a cash crop, and for Navajo food and clothing, Earl Tulley says, “Hemp is better than the edible egg.

“We’re here. We are people of the Earth, and we want to grow our own economy.”

Tulley said efforts to introduce hemp follow the language of the Navajo Treaty of 1868, which urges self-sufficiency in the cultivation of land and production of clothing.

Pointing out that hemp crops add nitrogen to the soil, Tulley sees multiple possibilities, from producing oil and profitable fibers to establishing a Navajo seed bank.

“It’s going to be better than the casino. It is going to put us back to working. It is going to get us out from in front of the TV and out working the land.”

The Navajo Nation Council recently passed the first of two resolutions necessary for the legal cultivation of hemp. The first resolution changed an existing law that allowed for the legal possession of one ounce of marijuana on the Navajo Nation.

“We had to make sure there is zero tolerance,” Tulley said.

Changing the law was necessary for the protection of small businessmen who want to avoid confusion about the purpose of growing industrial hemp. “We wanted to put people at ease. This was done for those who think that everyone is going to be out in the cornfields smoking.”

Tulley said the agricultural crop lacks the properties of marijuana used to obtain an altered state of consciousness.

“The way I explain it to my mother is, ‘It’s like blue corn and yellow corn.’ People would have to smoke a cigarette the size of a telephone pole (to get high).”

Tulley, working with Ervin Keeswood, tribal councilman from Hogback, N.M., said the second legislation, now being drafted, will further allow for legal hemp crops.

Christopher Boucher, president of Hempstead Corp., in Laguna Beach, Calif., is a consultant to the Navajos’ proposing hemp cultivation.

Boucher said American Indian tribes could cash in on the $100 million hemp foods industry. The greatest profits are in production and sale of hemp oil for hemp nut butter, shampoo and cosmetics.

“It is ideal for the Navajo Nation. They can develop their own seed and have a plant that grows in their climate.”

Hemp stalk is in demand in the production of a popular horse bedding. The shredded stalk produces anti-bacterial bedding.

“The horses love it,” Boucher says.

Lakotas on Pine Ridge are already cultivating industrial hemp, he said, in hopes the fibers can be used to produce building materials.

“It is a home-based economic endeavor. Most of the developed nations are growing hemp, except for the United States.”

Boucher said the domestic commercial market is ripe because U.S.-based industries now have to purchase hemp products from China, Canada and elsewhere, paying costly tariffs.

Hemp fibers are now in demand by the automotive industry.

After the EPA discovered that the “new car smell” in automobiles was actually a scent from glue pollutants that exceeds allowable standards, Ford Motor Co. switched to hemp for door panel fibers for Mercedes-Benz.

Hemp has exceptional properties, Boucher said.

“The fibers are termite and mold resistant. As a food source, hemp seed is the most perfect essential fatty acid.”

While seeds were once a mainstay of survival, humanity moved away from seeds as food during the past 100 years. The result has been more degenerative diseases such as arthritis and diseases of the heart and kidneys, he said.

“It is essential to life as we know it,” he said of the essential fatty acids.

Further, the seeds have the highest concentration of digestible protein. Although soy is often cited in this category, soy protein is not as digestible as hemp.

In the fields, most pests dislike it. “It is easy to grow and harvest.”

England’s popular Body Shop is a good example of a company that contracts directly with Canadian farmers for hemp products for their lotions and bath products.

Jeff Gain, chairman of the board of the U.S. Agriculture Department’s Alternative Agricultural Research and Commercialization Corp., is among the hemp advocates.

Pointing out that hemp can be used in everything from rope to car bodies and food and clothing, Gain says, “We must have diversity, crops like hemp that grow without pesticides.”

Boucher said his company is ecology based and views hemp as an alternative for a society polluting its oceans with oil spills.

“Hemp looks like a solution to oil-based economies. We need to go back to agricultural-based economies.”

Tulley, an environmentalist and cofounder of Din? Citizens Against Ruining Our Environment which halted clear-cutting of Navajo forests, says cultivation of hemp could eventually lead to a decrease for the demand of lumber for paper products.

“It can keep us from cutting down our forests.”

He said globally, mankind needs to return to agricultural-based societies.

“The people who control the food, control the world.”

Proteins change as pot plants clean up soil

[April 1, 2007]

When cannabis hits the headlines it is often in response to the latest cannabis farm that has been unearthed, be it in a remote field in the country or in someone’s roof in the city. Bad press all round for a plant known for its psychoactive properties and misuse, even though it is finding support from individuals and doctors for alleviating the symptoms of many illnesses. But what many people fail to appreciate is that there are other, safer, varieties of Cannabis sativa that bring different qualities to society.

The pot-smoking species is C. sativa subsp. indica, characterised by relatively large amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive component. However, another cultivar, C. sativa subsp. sativa, produces only trace amounts of THC and grows long and tall, with little branching. This form is cultivated for its fibres and is more often known as industrial hemp. It is easy to grow, typically taking 4 months to rise to heights of 3-10 feet, its fast growth negating the need for herbicides.

It has been estimated that hemp is used in more than 25,000 products, including paper, fibreboard, textiles, biodegradable composites, plastics, rope, sails and furniture. Compared with wood chippings, hemp produces at least double the amount of fibre and does not require bleaching or other toxic chemicals.

But Cannabis sativa has one further property that can get careless industrialists and farmers off the hook. It can help to clean up soil that has been contaminated with toxic heavy metals such as cadmium, nickel and copper. Plants grown in soil that has been fouled by industrial effluent, metal-enriched fertilisers or herbicides can absorb metals into their root systems. So, ideally, crops could be grown on contaminated soil, then the fibres harvested for industrial use.

Little is known about how the Cannabis plant reacts when it takes up excess copper, especially within the proteome. How does it manage this, while still maintaining growth and its normal protein functions? This question has now been addressed by scientists from the University of Piemonte Orientale in Alessandria who have studied the proteome of Cannabis sativa var. Felina 34 grown under copper stress.

Seedlings were planted in a quartz sand-loam-gravel mix that was dosed with 150 ppm copper sulphate. This level is well above the mean world soil copper concentration of 20 ppm, while remaining below that at which serious plant toxicity is observed. After 6 weeks, the copper-treated plants were smaller than control plants, with shorter leaf areas, root lengths and root volumes.

The copper content, determined by ICPMS, doubled in the shoots, but increased 8-fold in the roots compared with controls. This distribution confirmed that copper intake was preferentially localised in the root system in agreement with published work which declared the copper gradient in hemp to be roots > stems > leaves > seeds.

Proteins in the roots were extracted by standard methods and separated by 2D gel electrophoresis. The protein spots that had statistically significant intensity differences from the control gel were selected for in-gel digestion with trypsin for tandem mass spectrometry analysis. Seven proteins were down-regulated, five were up-regulated and two disappeared altogether.

Subsequent identification was not straightforward, since the C. sativa genome has not yet been sequenced. So the researchers, led by senior reporter Maria Cavaletto, used de novo sequencing from the MS/MS spectra then aligned the proteins to database sequences of related organisms. This cross-species protocol was able to identify some of the protein with altered abundances.

Since no new proteins were observed under copper stress, the team concluded that the plant does not evolve a copper-specific mechanism to incorporate the excess metal ions. They proposed a copper-coping mechanism in which the first protein to interact with the copper ions, present as copper(II), was aldo/keto reductase. It acts as a scavenger, reducing copper(II) to copper(I), a process which makes it available for interactions with other proteins such as phytochelatins that bind copper(I). This reductase is an auxin-induced protein, confirming the involvement of auxin as a plant growth regulator handling the excess metal.

Other implicated proteins include the stress proteins formate dehydrogenase, a protein that increases in response to other stresses such as dark, cold and drought, as well as enolase and elicitor-inducible protein. Other implicated proteins are those which confer greater copper resistance and provide an efficient reducing system (thioredoxin peroxidase, peroxidase and cyclophilin) and those which regulate root growth (actin, ribosomal proteins and glycine-rich protein.

This preliminary work will mark a useful basis for future phytoremediation studies, perhaps being used to develop plants for biomonitoring or for the remediation of heavily metal-polluted soil.

Related links:

* Department of Environmental and Life Sciences, University of Piemonte Orientale

* Proteomics 2007, 7, 1121: “Proteomic characterization of copper stress response in Cannabis sativa roots”;jsessionid=B9527441DE1FE87DF66C0D19CA250C2E?id=16011&type=Feature&chId=10&page=1

The Absinthe Enigma Resurgence of a Legendary Spirit

by Lux and Fire Erowid

Nov 2008
Originally published in Erowid Extracts
Citation:   Lux, Erowid F. “The Absinthe Enigma; Resurgence of a Legendary Spirit.” Erowid Extracts. Nov 2007;(13):12-14

As products called absinthe are once again being widely marketed, absinthe has shifted from obscure historical drink to chic epicurean beverage. Named after Artemisia absinthium (wormwood), its defining herbal ingredient, this spirit has a reputation for producing unique effects not attributable to its alcohol content alone. These effects are commonly attributed to thujone, a psychoactive chemical in wormwood, but new arguments have been proposed claiming that traditional absinthe contained little to no thujone. Some private and peer-reviewed research analyzing vintage bottles of absinthe and contemporary absinthe made from traditional recipes has found lower levels of thujone than expected, raising the question of whether nineteenthcentury absinthe ever contained active amounts.

Major media publications such as The New Yorker, The New York Times, and USA Today have brought public attention to this debate. The issue of thujone content is not only of scientific concern, but of commercial concern as well, since U.S. and European regulations set maximum values for thujone in absinthe. While some vendors emphasize high thujone levels as a selling point, others use the new theory, that absinthe originally had negligible amounts, to defend their low-thujone absinthe as authentic.

The following articles include a look at absinthe’s history, the current U.S. regulatory environment, and the complicated issue of thujone in wormwood and absinthe.

See Also: Absinthe in the United States and The Debate About Wormwood and Thujone Psychoactivity