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Dr. Don Huber's Mystery Organism - A Legacy of Disinformation

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Ending COVID19 - The Decision is Ours

One message that is not being shared about COVID19- It is 100% controllable with changes in our personal behavior. A virus is just a tiny collection of infectious chemistry that only spreads when we permit it to spread. This is why testing, tracing, staying home, washing hands, controlling your respiratory aerosols, and keeping distance are so important. We each, control its spread together. Australia did an excellent job at this and yesterday logged zero new cases. Life there is normal; their businesses can thrive. Hospitals can go back to treating the involuntarily ill and health care workers can know they are not risking their lives by treating someone that perhaps elected to become infected via their own negligence. How can we do reach zero in the States when we are turning the corner into increasingly unprecedented infections? If everyone were to assume they were infected and took their most extreme efforts to protect others, the numbers would plummet within weeks. Unfortunate

The Chemistry of the Beirut Tragedy

  The use of ammonium nitrate in explosives is nothing new. It is a potent oxidizing agent that accelerates the combustion of fuels, instantaneously liberating the energy within their bonds. This is how explosives work. The Oklahoma City bombing in 1995 is an example of its devastating potential. A rental vehicle filled with about   4,000 pounds of ammonium nitrate fertilizer prills (1–2 mm soluble beads) treated with diesel fuel   (47:1) was detonated in front of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, destroying the adjacent building and damaging 325 others in a substantial radius of the blast. Ammonium nitrate is a readily-available fertilizer, as plants thrive on the nitrogen present in both the ammonium and the nitrate moieties of the compound. Malicious use has decreased with stiffened regulations and availability. The use of ammonium nitrate to accelerate the combustion of fuel is common in industrial applications such as mining. The mixture is referred to as  ANFO  for  ammonium

Condoning Car Attacks on Protesters

The interesting thing about COVID19 times is that whenever I sense we have hit the lowest low, society always seems to find a level lower.  At a time when we admire the work of physicians, nurses and other folks on the front line of the pandemic, there are equal magnitudes of disappointment from some that represent a significant mindset within our nation. Today someone I knew from high school posted this on Facebook: A new low in counter-protest swag endorses the recent trend of using vehicular violence to quash social movements.  Clearly the All Lives Splatter  is a play off of Black Lives Matter , and the car plowing into protesters depicts the increasingly frequent use of vehicles weaponized by those aggressively opposed to the requested social change.  Since the death of George Floyd in late May, there have been 66 vehicle attacks on protesters. The tactic typically employed by Islamic militant groups has now been adopted by those wishing to limit the American tradit

The Joy of Growing Food for Others - What we can learn from a four-year-old farmer

Olivia is a tiny girl, probably somewhere between four and five, that doesn’t really walk from place to place as much as she bounces. Her hair is white-blonde from the sun, she always smiles, and she sings while she talks. We met her at a Gainesville, Florida farmers market. My wife Natalia sells the fruits and vegetables she produces there, and Olivia and her parents are regular customers. One day last fall Olivia would fall in love with the  cucamelon . Also known as the  mouse melon  or  Mexican sour gherkin , the cucamelon is a fresh-market fruit that has the color and size that would be perfect as a watermelon for Barbie and Ken. Cucamelons have a pickle-like quality and a hint of citrus, and they are a favorite at the market. We eat them in salads and on cheese boards, plucked by the dozens from long prolific vines. And Oliva just loves them. During the early spring Florida growing season in January and February she’d come back week after week, searching for the frui

Film Review: The Need to Grow

The recurring ads on Facebook pulled at me to watch The Need to Grow , a documentary film about food and farming.  As someone connected with these areas professionally and personally, I thought it would be worth a watch.  Here is a review. First the good things.  The film is nicely shot and well written.  The majority of the work builds on themes such as nutritious diets healthy soils, and efficient energy. Those are the central underlying values of the film, and ones that I wholly endorse.  However, where the film falls apart is in its approaches to achieve those end points.  Two of the "experts" recruited for the film are none other than Jeffrey Smith and Vandana Shiva, two people with little training in science or farming (and no, Vandana Shiva is not a physicist as the film claims).  The narrator is actress Rosario Dawson, who early in the film makes the proclamation, "Agriculture is the most destructive human activity on the planet." It is clear where t

Science From Home 3-30 to 4-3

Hi Everybody,  I'll keep doing the daily science story at 11AM EDT at facebook.com/kmfolta .   This week: Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday