Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Haiti earthquake

A magnitude 7.0 earthquake struck Haiti this evening, causing extensive damage to the capital, Port-au-Prince. The main shock appears to have initiated less than 25 km southwest of Port-au-Prince. (all via Scienceblogs).

The catastrophe is just starting to come to light.

What can you do?

Doctors without Borders.
The Globe and Mail has a good list as well.

Bamboo bikes

Carbon fiber and aluminum are so 2009. This year's best bicycling model is made out of bamboo and hemp. A new generation of manufacturers are coming up with some of the most environmentally friendly transport yet. Lighter, stronger, more comfortable and these bikes have also got a much smaller carbon footprint.

Around a hundred frames later, Calfee had finally built a bamboo bike frame he could believe in. His verdict: The vibration absorption of the bamboo frame was better than that provided by a carbon fiber frame. "The bamboo bikes are a much smoother ride," he says. He also found that the bike had impressive impact resistance and was tougher than carbon fiber and less prone to fracturing. These results were confirmed after the bamboo frames were tested at the EFBe bicycle testing laboratory in Germany. But such hardiness has a price -- a mountain bike frame made out of bamboo will set the average rider back around $2,700 (€1,879).,1518,670689,00.html

This stuff isn't new... Bamboo seems like a pretty great resource for building.

Bamboo is the fastest-growing plant on Earth; it has been measured surging skyward as fast as 121 cm (48 in) in a 24-hour period,[6] and can also reach maximal growth rate exceeding one meter (39 inches) per hour for short periods of time. Many prehistoric bamboos exceeded heights of 75 metres (250 ft). Primarily growing in regions of warmer climates during the Cretaceous period, vast fields existed in what is now Asia.

Unlike trees, all bamboo has the potential to grow to full height and girth in a single growing season of 3–4 months.

It also shows an potential to replace concrete in many parts of the world, which has been extimated to contribute 5-10% of the world's greenhouse gases.

Phyllostachys aurea, Tetragonoclamus angulatus, Phyllostachys nigra f. punctuata,
Phyllostaches bamb. violascens, Phyllostachys nigra f. 'Boryana',Phyllostachys viridis
'Sulphurea', Phyllostachys bambusoides.
(Illustration Photo by Wetterwald M.F. - via here.)

It even has better tensile strength than steel. Bamboo's tensile strength is 28,000 per square inch versus 23,000 for steel.

Bamboo fibers, unlike those found in trees, contain silica, the substance associated with the glassy sturdiness of sand. This silica content also helps bamboo resist rot and termites.

Knowledge on mechanical properties of bamboo in strip forms (strip or strand) is very important because LBSL contains bamboo in these forms. Studies on the anatomy of bamboo internode cross-section have revealed that the strength properties change (increase) from inner to outer layer of the culm.

Here's some stuff to build out of bamboo.
Here's where you can get bamboo cheap (distribution centre in Toronto). Ebay is also really cheap.

Thrush Hermit ticket sales are up!!!

All shows. I got one ticket for each of the Toronto shows. If anyone is up for a roadtrip let me know, and I'm in.

How Poland votes, 2007

Mr Hecht did some overlay work, and came up with this remarkable fit: “The divide between the (more free-market) PO and the (more populist) PiS almost exactly follows the old border between Imperial Germany and Imperial Russia, as it ran through Poland! How about that for a long-lasting cultural heritage?!?” How about: amazing, bordering on the unbelievable?

“Your map showing the electoral divide in Ukraine (#343) is quite interesting, and put me in mind of a similar one that I saw last year, that prompted me do a bit of map research,” writes David G.D. Hecht. “If you look at the Wikipedia article on the Polish legislative elections of 2007, there is a map there similar to the Ukrainian one. I looked at this map and thought, hmmm…where have I seen this divide before? Looks very familiar. This isn’t just some urban/rural, professional/worker, white-wine-and-brie/beer-and-sausages thing!”

The Ukraine map isn’t the first example on this blog of electoral cartography showing older cultural divides. Map #330 demonstrates a correlation in the Southern US states between areas of intense cotton production in 1860 and counties voting for Obama in 2008. And map #108 shows the regional divides at issue in France during the 2007 presidential election. I am reminded of German artist Heinrich Böll (b. 1917 in Cologne), who once said that he could still sense the cultural difference between both banks of the Rhine, once the border between the Roman Empire and the barbarian hordes across the river.

Old habits die hard.