How To Clean Burnt Food In An Oven
Now that the cooler weather is here, we’ll be using our ovens more and more. And you know what that means? The appliance will get dirtier from food falling causing stains and odors. Luckily, our friends over at Real Simple found an easy way to clean up burnt food in an oven.
After the oven cools, remove large pieces of food with a plastic spatula. Then, scatter baking soda over the remaining particles and spray with water. Allow this to sit overnight and scrub with a cloth.
We like this advice because it requires very little elbow grease and will definitely come in handy this time of year.
Soaps and Detergents
- Soaps can be used to control a wide range of plant pests. Small, soft-bodied arthropods such as aphids, mealybugs, psyllids and spider mites are most susceptible to soaps.
- The ease of use, safety and selective action of soaps appeal to many people.
- Limitations of soaps include the need to wet the insect during application, absence of any residual effectiveness, and potential to damage some plants.
- Soaps or detergents used for control of insects are applied as dilute sprays, mixed with water to produce a concentration of about 2 percent.
Soaps have been used to control insects for more than 200 years. Recently, there has been increased interest in and use of these products. This change is due to a better understanding of how to use soaps most effectively and a desire to try insecticides that are easier and safer to use than many currently available alternatives.
How soaps and detergents kill insects is still poorly understood. In most cases, control results from disruption of the cell membranes of the insect. Soaps and detergents may also remove the protective waxes that cover the insect, causing death through excess loss of water.
Soaps and detergents act strictly as contact insecticides, with no residual effect. To be effective, sprays must be applied directly to and thoroughly cover the insect.
Several insecticidal soaps are distributed for control of insects and mites. Available under a variety of trade names, the active ingredient of all is potassium salt of fatty acids. Soaps are chemically similar to liquid hand soaps. However, there are many features of commercial insecticidal soap products that distinguish them from the dishwashing liquids or soaps that are sometimes substituted. Insecticidal soaps sold for control of insects:
- are selected to control insects;
- are selected to minimize potential plant injury; and
- are of consistent manufacture.
Some household soaps and detergents also make effective insecticides. In particular, certain brands of hand soaps and liquid dishwashing detergents can be effective for this purpose. They are also substantially less expensive. However, there is increased risk of plant injury with these products. They are not designed for use on plants. Dry dish soaps and all clothes-washing detergents are too harsh to be used on plants. Also, many soaps and detergents are poor insecticides. Identifying safe and effective soap-detergent combinations for insect control requires experimentation. Regardless of what product is used, soap-detergent sprays are always applied diluted with water, typically at a concentration of around 2 to 3 percent (Table 1).
Most research with insecticidal soaps and detergents has involved control of plant pests. In general, these sprays are effective against most small, soft-bodied arthropods, such as aphids, young scales, whiteflies, psyllids, mealybugs, and spider mites. Larger insects, such as caterpillars, sawflies and beetle larvae, generally are immune to soap sprays. However, a few large insects, including boxelder bugs and Japanese beetles, are susceptible.
Insecticidal soaps are considered selective insecticides because of their minimal adverse effects on other organisms. Lady beetles, green lacewings, pollinating bees and most other beneficial insects are not very susceptible to soap sprays. Predatory mites, often important in control of spider mites, are an exception: a beneficial group of organisms easily killed by soaps.
One of the most serious potential drawbacks to the use of soap-detergent sprays is their potential to cause plant injury — their phytotoxicity. Certain plants are sensitive to these sprays and may be seriously injured. For example, most commercial insecticidal soaps list plants such as hawthorn, sweet pea, cherries and plum as being sensitive to soaps. Portulaca and certain tomato varieties also are sometimes damaged by insecticidal soaps. The risk of plant damage is greater with homemade preparations of household soaps or detergents. When in doubt, test soap-detergent sprays for phytotoxicity problems on a small area a day or two before an extensive area is treated.
Plant injury can be reduced by using sprays that are diluted more than the 2 to 3 percent suggested on label instructions. To reduce leaf injury, wash plants within a couple of hours after the application. Limiting the number of soap applications can also be important, as leaf damage can accumulate with repeated exposure.
However, because of the short residual action, repeat applications may be needed at relatively short intervals (four to seven days) to control certain pests, such as spider mites and scale crawlers. Also, application must be thorough and completely wet the pest. This usually means spraying undersides of leaves and other protected sites. Insects that cannot be completely wetted, such as aphids within curled leaves, will not be controlled.
Environmental factors also can affect use of soaps. In particular, soaps (but not synthetic detergents) are affected by the presence of minerals found in hard water, which results in chemical changes producing insoluble soaps (soap scum). Control decreases if hard-water sources are used. Insecticidal soaps may also be more effective if drying is not overly rapid, such as early or late in the day.
Soaps and detergents can offer a relatively safe and easy means to control many insect pests. As with all pesticides, however, there are limitations and hazards associated with their use. Understand these limitations, and carefully follow all label instructions.
Percent dilution desired Approximate amount of soap to add to water to produce: Gallon Quart Pint
|Table 1: Approximate mix to produce various dilute soap sprays.|
|1||2 1/2 Tbsp (-)||2 tsp (+)||1 tsp (+)|
|2||5 Tbsp (-)||4 tsp (+)||2 tsp (+)|
|3||8 Tbsp (+)||2 Tbsp (+)||1 Tbsp (+)|
|4||10 Tbsp (-)||2 1/2 Tbsp (+)||4 tsp (+)|
|(+) Will produce a solution of slightly higher concentration than indicated.
(-) Will produce a solution of slightly lower concentration than indicated.
1Colorado State University Extension entomologist and professor, bioagricultural sciences and pest management. 12/96. Reviewed 3/08.
Colorado State University, U.S. Department of Agriculture and Colorado counties cooperating. CSU Extension programs are available to all without discrimination. No endorsement of products mentioned is intended nor is criticism implied of products not mentioned.
Breakthrough: nerve connections are regenerated after spinal cord injury
Sun, 08/08/2010 – 17:46 – NLN
Researchers for the first time have induced robust regeneration of nerve connections that control voluntary movement after spinal cord injury, showing the potential for new therapeutic approaches to paralysis and other motor function impairments.
In a study on rodents, the UC Irvine, UC San Diego and Harvard University team achieved this breakthrough by turning back the developmental clock in a molecular pathway critical for the growth of corticospinal tract nerve connections.
They did this by deleting an enzyme called PTEN (a phosphatase and tensin homolog), which controls a molecular pathway called mTOR that is a key regulator of cell growth. PTEN activity is low early during development, allowing cell proliferation. PTEN then turns on when growth is completed, inhibiting mTOR and precluding any ability to regenerate.
Trying to find a way to restore early-developmental-stage cell growth in injured tissue, Zhigang He, a senior neurology researcher at Children’s Hospital Boston and Harvard Medical School, first showed in a 2008 study that blocking PTEN in mice enabled the regeneration of connections from the eye to the brain after optic nerve damage.
He then partnered with Oswald Steward of UCI and Binhai Zheng of UCSD to see if the same approach could promote nerve regeneration in injured spinal cord sites. Results of their study appear online in Nature Neuroscience.
“Until now, such robust nerve regeneration has been impossible in the spinal cord,” said Steward, anatomy & neurobiology professor and director of the Reeve-Irvine Research Center at UCI. “Paralysis and loss of function from spinal cord injury has been considered untreatable, but our discovery points the way toward a potential therapy to induce regeneration of nerve connections following spinal cord injury in people.”
According to Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation data, about 2 percent of Americans have some form of paralysis resulting from spinal cord injury, which is due primarily to the interruption of connections between the brain and spinal cord.
An injury the size of a grape can lead to complete loss of function below the level of injury. For example, an injury to the neck can cause paralysis of arms and legs, loss of ability to feel below the shoulders, inability to control the bladder and bowel, loss of sexual function, and secondary health risks including susceptibility to urinary tract infections, pressure sores and blood clots due to an inability to move the legs.
“These devastating consequences occur even though the spinal cord below the level of injury is intact,” Steward noted. “All these lost functions could be restored if we could find a way to regenerate the connections that were damaged.”
He and his colleagues are now studying whether the PTEN-deletion treatment leads to actual restoration of motor function in mice with spinal cord injury. Further research will explore the optimal timeframe and drug-delivery system for the therapy.
Algae: fuel of the future?Environ. Sci. Technol., Article ASAPDOI: 10.1021/es902509dPublication Date (Web): September 2, 2009Copyright © 2009 American Chemical Society
Biofuels produced from algae, rather than from crops, have entered the spotlight lately, and several companies now say that they are close to overcoming the technical hurdles to making algae-derived biofuels competitive on a commercial scale. However, experts caution that significant obstacles still need to be dealt with to make algae competitive with energy from fossil fuels.
For several years, entrepreneurs, investors, and even oil companies have been quietly looking to turn the photosynthetic powers of the once lowly and obscure but now coveted green slime, algae, into energy. Industry giants such as Dow Chemical Co., ExxonMobil Corp., BP p.l.c., and Chevron Corp. have recently made major investments in companies seeking to develop renewable fuels from algae, pushing this group of prolific organisms to center stage.
With thousands of strains of algae to choose from—each possessing varying ratios of oils, proteins, and starch in their cells—experts are exploring a wide range of possibilities for harnessing energy from these microbes. For example, the algae can be indigenous strains or genetically engineered organisms. And companies can choose from a diverse range of growing techniques, from inexpensive open ponds to carefully controlled enclosed tanks, to coax algae into secreting the desired product, which might be ethanol, biodiesel, or pump-ready gasoline.
Algae thrive in the presence of sunlight, CO2, and water. They multiply quickly and can be harvested year-round. Unlike conventional biofuel feedstocks such as corn, soy, palm, and canola, algae do not require vast and often valuable tracts of land and ample freshwater to grow, advocates say. Instead, algae can be grown on nonagricultural land in a fraction of the space and with brackish water or wastewater.
In addition, algae are potentially far more productive than other leading oil crops such as palm, canola, and soy. Some companies are reporting that they can produce up to 6000 gallons of fuel per acre per year (gal/ac/yr) from algae, even though they’re not yet operating on a large scale. In comparison, palm yields 650 gal/ac/yr; canola, 150 gal; and soy, 50 gal. And because algae consume CO2, algae companies plan to link up with power plants, cement factories, and other industrial plants to capture heat-trapping CO2 that would otherwise waft into the atmosphere. “There are a lot of opportunities to address multiple problems that might make algae all the more attractive,” says Martha Groom, a conservation biologist who is at the University of Washington Bothell and studies land and habitat issues associated with energy development.
Although algae are relative newcomers on the alternative-energy scene, researchers have been investigating the promise of algae as an energy source for decades. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) began researching algae for biodiesel production in 1978, but the program was shuttered in 1996 when the price of oil dropped so low that growing algae for biofuels did not seem economically feasible. NREL researchers also ran into difficulties with contamination by non-native algae species and with the replication of laboratory conditions in the field.
Companies have spent the past few years grappling with such technical hurdles and now say that they expect to be able to produce algae-based biofuels on a commercial scale. Harrison Dillon, cofounder and president of Solazyme, Inc., founded in 2003 and one of the first algae companies to emerge, says that his company has used algae to produce more than 10,000 gal of oil at a quality that meets existing fuel standards. Dillon believes that the company can produce oil from algae at a cost that is competitive with fossil fuels within two and a half years. Other companies are focusing on a similar time frame. Paul Woods, chief executive of the biofuel start-up Algenol Biofuels, says, “I’m a believer that we’re one, two, and three years away from having this on a commercial scale.” And Andrew Beck, vice president of public affairs at PetroAlgae, Inc., an emerging renewable energy company, says that his company is commercial-ready today and that they have signed a license deal for 10 commercial units to be built in China. They hope to begin construction later this year and say that the system will take one to three years to be completed.
Yet some experts warn that, although there is plenty of room for enthusiasm, significant challenges remain. “Just the logistics of bringing [this technology] to a large scale are mind-boggling,” says Jergen Polle, an algae physiologist at Brooklyn College of the City University of New York who has worked on algae for nearly two decades.
One issue is that algae cultures grown in an open pond can easily be contaminated and overtaken by invasive species. So, some companies have opted to grow their algae in enclosed containers that allow them to precisely control the light, CO2, and water conditions needed by various strains of algae. Doug Henston, CEO of the start-up company Solix Biofuels, says, “Closed systems have shown over time that they have significant yield benefits and merits over open ponds.” But others maintain that enclosed growth systems, commonly called “photobioreactors”, are far too costly to make algae competitive with fossil fuels. In addition to production costs, Polle notes that it’s equally important to consider the energy balance of building enclosed systems. “Even if a photobioreactor is 100 times more productive than an open pond, does it then work out in the economics and the energy balance?” says Polle. “All of the materials that go into a photobioreactor cost energy to make.”
Another hurdle is choosing which species of algae to work with from the tens of thousands available. During the 18-year NREL program, researchers sifted through more than 3000 strains of algae from across the U.S. before settling on 300 species that they thought were the most promising oil producers. Some species of algae can yield more than 50% of their weight in oil, while other strains are not as bountiful.
In addition to natural and indigenous species of algae, some companies are experimenting with the genetic engineering of certain algal strains to select for production of the desired product. Solazyme’s Dillon says that after extensive screening, his company found strains that thrive on biomass materials such as corn stover, wood chips, and sugar cane and then spit out oils that can be refined into anything from jet fuel to food oils. “Once we have the feedstock chosen and the product chosen, we use a lot of sophisticated biotechnology to make the conversion of feedstock into the target oil happen very rapidly,” says Dillon. Another company, Joule Biotechnologies, Inc., recently announced that it is working to produce a variety of products, including ethanol and biodiesel, from an undisclosed genetically engineered microorganism that its proprietors will only say is “not algae”.
Although many companies are focused on harvesting oils from algae, the biofuel start-up Algenol Biofuels is betting its future on ethanol. “A lot of algae can make ethanol,” says Algenol’s Woods. “But none of them do it in industrial quantities.” Rather than the usual process of extracting oil by bursting the cells open, Algenol has selected a few strains that “sweat” ethanol through a natural diffusion process, says Woods. And PetroAlgae’s Beck says that its products include a high-carbohydrate lipid mash and a high-value protein. The protein can be sold into the animal-feed market, and eventually, as food supplements for human consumption, he says.
Among the many promising attributes of algae is their ability to harness unwanted CO2 and thrive in less-than-pristine water. Since algae can be grown in brackish and gray water, they do not compete for precious water resources, as agricultural crops do. Solix Biofuels, Inc., has just begun operating a demonstration plant on the Southern Ute Indian Reservation in southwestern Colorado, where it is pumping CO2 and water from a coal-bed methane production plant into its algae growth chambers. The plant is currently producing oil at a rate of 1500 gal/ac/yr, according to Henston, and aims to produce 4000−5000 gal/ac/yr.
If algae were once considered obscure wild cards in the energy field, nobody would say that anymore. In July, ExxonMobil announced that it was investing $600 million to research algae-based biofuels in collaboration with Synthetic Genomics, Inc., a biotechnology company cofounded by genomics pioneer J. Craig Venter. In 2008, Solazyme forged a partnership with Chevron to develop oils for biofuels, and Algenol recently announced a collaboration with Dow Chemical. And in August 2009, BP announced that it is investing more than $10 million in Martek Biosciences Corp., a firm specializing in the development of nutritional supplements from algae, to research biofuels technology.
Dillon notes that when he got into the business in 2003, he never imagined that algae would receive so much attention. “The investment community didn’t know what we were talking about. Back then, they were like, ‘Algae? Fuel? Biology for energy? We don’t get it,” he says. “They know what we’re talking about today.”
Tel Aviv University study offers an evolutionary approach for today’s fertility problems
About 10% of all couples hoping for a baby have fertility problems. Environmentalists say pollution is to blame and psychiatrists point to our stressful lifestyles, but evolutionary biologist Dr. Oren Hasson of Tel Aviv University’s Department of Zoology offers a different take. The reproductive organs of men and women are currently involved in an evolutionary arms race, he reports in a new study. And the fight isn’t over yet.
“The rate of human infertility is higher than we should expect it to be,” says Dr. Hasson. “By now, evolution should have improved our reproductive success rate. Something else is going on.” Combining empirical evidence with a mathematical model developed in cooperation with Prof. Lewi Stone of the department’s Biomathematics Unit, the researchers suggest that the bodies of men and women have become reproductive antagonists, not reproductive partners. The conclusions of this research were published recently in the journal Biological Reviews.
Favoring the “super-sperm”
Over thousands of years of evolution, women’s bodies have forced sperm to become more competitive, rewarding the “super-sperm” — the strongest, fastest swimmers — with penetration of the egg. In response, men are over-producing these aggressive sperm, producing many dozens of millions of them to increase their chances for successful fertilization.
But these evolutionary strategies demonstrate the Law of Unintended Consequences as well, says Dr. Hasson. “It’s a delicate balance, and over time women’s and men’s bodies fine tune to each other. Sometimes, during the fine-tuning process, high rates of infertility can be seen. That’s probably the reason for the very high rates of unexplained infertility in the last decades.”
The unintended consequences have much to do with timing. The first sperm to enter and bind with the egg triggers biochemical responses to block other sperm from entering. This blockade is necessary because a second penetrating sperm would kill the egg. However, in just the few minutes it takes for the blockade to complete, today’s over-competitive sperm may be penetrating, terminating the fertilization just after it’s begun.
Sexual evolution explained
Women’s bodies, too, have been developing defenses to this condition, known as “polyspermy.” “To avoid the fatal consequences of polyspermy, female reproductive tracts have evolved to become formidable barriers to sperm,” says Dr. Hasson. “They eject, dilute, divert and kill spermatozoa so that only about a single spermatozoon gets into the vicinity of a viable egg at the right time.”
Any small improvement in male sperm efficiency is matched by a response in the female reproductive system, Dr. Hasson argues. “This fuels the ‘arms race’ between the sexes and leads to the evolutionary cycle going on right now in the entire animal world.”
Advice for doctors and marriage counselors
Sperm have also become more sensitive to environmental stressors like anxious lifestyles or polluted environments. “Armed only with short-sighted natural selection,” Dr. Hasson argues, “nature could not have foreseen those stressors. This is the pattern of any arms race. A greater investment in weapons and defenses entails greater risks and a more fragile equilibrium.”
Dr. Hasson says that IVF specialists can optimize fertility odds by more carefully calculating the number of sperm placed near the female ova. And nature itself may have its say as well. Sexually adventurous women, like females of many birds and mammals who raise their offspring monogamously but take on other sexual partners, help create a more fertile future. But not always, says Hasson and Stone’s mathematical model ― certain types of infertile sperm race to the egg as competitively as any healthy sperm, and may block the sperm of a fertile lover.
But whatever the source of infertility, Dr. Hasson, who also works as a marriage counselor, can’t recommend cheating, not even as an evolutionary psychologist. Infertile marriages can be stressful, but unlike birds, we have the capacity for rational thinking. He advises infertile couples to openly communicate about all their options, and seek counseling if necessary.
Weed is a drug. Drugs are bad. Wine is alcohol. Politicians drink alcohol. Therefore, alcohol is ok and weed is not. Say WHAT? This is how most people function when it comes to issues of right and wrong. And while maybe it’s not as simple as caveman grunting, the way we’re wired to think is actually as a result of systemic beliefs created by institutions. Government is an institution. We live under government. Government creates drug laws. Drug laws are institutional. See what I mean?
Basically, if we don’t question what’s created by institutions, then we are products of that institution, and created by that institution for the sake of its perpetuation. This doesn’t really sound like LIFE, to me. It sounds like Alias, or Twilight, or some other fictionalized scary story. And so, we must question.
That’s what marijuana legalization advocate Steve Fox is doing, in the new book  Marijuana is Safer: So Why Are We Driving People to Drink? And he’s not a Judd Apatow character, ripping bong hits. This ish is for real–marijuana is a perfect symbol for how we’ve been institutionalized in this country to believe something harmless is bad.
From  LasVegasCityLife:
For a plant that’s never caused a single human death in the tens of thousands of years it’s been with us, marijuana still faces a gargantuan social stigma.
Government propagandists and some social conservatives, in their quest to proscribe our behavior, and consumption, are quick to cite anecdotal evidence and piles of bogus liquor- and prescription-drug-industry-funded studies that warn of the dangers of firing up even that first joint.
Yet these crusaders invariably fail to cite a little thing we call the truth: That alcohol, tobacco and prescription drugs kill or maim hundreds of thousands of Americans each year while marijuana kills, oh, no one; that marijuana – still this nation’s leading cash crop, with estimated sales of $35.8 billion in 2006 – was legal in this country until almost 1940 (long after Prohibition had come and gone); that legalizing, and taxing, the sale of a plant that’s been legal for most of our history could help pull state governments, including Nevada’s, out of recent budgetary sink holes; that’s it not the government’s (or anyone else’s) business to tell Americans what they can and cannot put into their own bodies.
Luckily, a growing number of legal, medical and policy experts are changing perceptions through the intellectual and logical force of their arguments that the time has come to re-examine and change our failed drug policies. Policies which will cost us more than $15 billion this fiscal year alone.
Steve Fox, director of State Campaigns for the Marijuana Policy Project (the nation’s largest organization dedicated to reforming marijuana laws) is one such expert. A former congressional lobbyist and a longtime proponent of sanity in public policy, Fox recently spent some time with CityLife talking about his new book Marijuana is Safer and to hash out and contrast the relative harms, and legal status, of this nation’s two most popular recreational substances: alcohol and marijuana.
CityLife: Considering the growth of the medical marijuana movement, especially here in the American West, and an increasing number of government and university studies that show alcohol to be far more dangerous that marijuana, do you think the United States will join other civilized nations such as The Netherlands and Portugal in re-legalizing cannabis?
Fox: It’s seeming like the writing is on the wall, but that doesn’t mean we’re as close as we’d like to be. There are, obviously, decades of propaganda and myth out there that have the ability to stall reform. It will be a battle, in the end, to change things.