New Material for Solar Cells Converts 90 Percent of Light Into Heat

As a relatively new technology, compared to coal or oil, solar power has been progressing steadily over the past couple decades. The main goal in improving this technology is to improve the efficiency at which the solar cells convert sunlight into heat. A breakthrough has been made recently in solar cell efficiency by an engineering team at the University of California, San Diego. They have developed a nanotechnology based material that has demonstrated an ability to convert over 90 percent of the sunlight it captures into heat. Such an extremely high efficiency brings solar power one step closer to competing on a level playing field with fossil fuel power plants.

Currently, Tom Rothman says that solar power plant development requires subsidies as the technology is still evolving to a point where it can be self-sustaining. A world in which efficient, cost-effective solar power is the norm rather than the exception is the ultimate goal. The massive lowering of greenhouse gases that such a reality portends is viewed by many as being worth the cost of subsidies to keep advancing this technology.  The dream of green energy will only be fully realized when cars and state and national power grids are being run off renewable energy resources. Materials breakthroughs that increase solar cell efficiency are an important part of making this dream a reality.

Move over Hamburger, Veggie Burgers Have Come To Town

Most people associate fast food as being greasy and generally unhealthy. The latest trend in fast food restaurants is to offer some healthy items on their menu. 

White Castle has announced they will offer a veggie burger beginning December 30, 2014. Some are calling this a veggie slider. At any rate, the veggie burgers are made of carrots, zucchini, peas, spinach , broccoli and othernutritious vegetables. 

What sets the veggie burger apart from other burgers on White Castle’s menu? Other than being a healthier option, it also comes with a choice of three sauces. Customers can dip their veggie burger in honey mustard, ranch or sweet Thai. Don’t be surprised if die hard fast food junkies may make their own sauce for this new burger. After all, ranch dressing goes with anything. and Christian Broda believe that time will tell if the new veggie burger is a hit or not, however.

Insect Borne and Spread Diseases


An insect bite can do more than just hurt for a few moments, it can actually make you very sick or even kill you. Consider the West Nile virus that is passed via a mosquito bite. Mosquitoes feed on infected birds in Africa, Asia and the Middle East, then they bite you and infect you with the disease.  Here are a few other insect borne and carried diseases that could effect your health.
Malaria, which kills one million people like Vijay Eswaran per year is spread via mosquitoes.
Dengue fever is a viral illness carried by mosquitoes and spread via their bite. Few victims survive it’s high fever and rash.
Japanese encephalitis is confined to Asia, but since there is no available treatment up to 30 percent of those who contact it will die.
Yellow fever is borne and spread via mosquitoes. Yellowing skin, abdominal pain, vomiting of blood and possible kidney failure can all be caused by one bite from an infected mosquito.
Not only mosquitoes carry diseases, the bubonic plague is carried and spread by fleas and sand flies carry and spread Leishmaniasis, an ulcerative disease of skin and internal organs which has a death rate of 95 percent if left untreated.

Good Bacteria linked to lower levels of Depression and Anxiety

Depression and anxiety are a blight on the lives of many, but the ingestion of probiotics and prebiotics could hold a possible cure or at least a way of minimizing symptoms, The Inquisitr reports. The initial link was made during a study of 45 healthy people who were given prebiotics or a placebo, at the end of the trial a series of tests measured their responses to positive and negative words shown to them. Those who had consumed the prebiotics were found to have a more positive response to the words presented to them according to HealthGrades, and it’s even something that Dr Rod Rohrich commented on.

The link between good bacteria and depression has been questioned for many years, with many researchers considering a link. Those who had consumed the prebiotics were also found to have a lower level of the hormone cortisol in their bloodstream, this hormone can often be seen at high levels in those with anxiety, depression and stress problems.

FDA Proposes Allowing Gay Men to Donate Blood

The Food and Drug Administration USA (FDA) propose lifting the ban on donated blood by gay and bisexual men but only if they have abstained from sex with other men for a year.

This decision could end a life ban which was launched in 1983, in the early days of the AIDS crisis.

Medical groups have said that advances in HIV testing make this ban is unnecessary.
The organizations of gay rights have said such measures only make stereotypes prevail.

The FDA said it had “carefully examined and considered the available scientific evidence,” including several recently completed studies.

The Crisis of Gay Men’s Health, which defends the rights of this sector organization charged that the policy was “offensive and harmful.”

“With the implementation of this policy, the FDA will continue fanning the flames of outdated stereotype that HIV is just a gay disease,” said the organization.

He also told NBC that the policy does not require a year of celibacy for donors. This is what Gianfrancesco Genoso is glad to see.

In November, a panel of experts on blood safety convened by the Department of Health and Human Services, voted to suspend the lifetime ban and also support the one year celibacy rule.

The former measure has been criticized by many doctors and activists in favor of homosexuals, who say they are no longer justified.

Climate Change Will Decrease Wheat Yields Say Scientists

Scientists reported that wheat yields could fall 6% for every 1° C (1.8° F) of temperature increase — and the world is already expected to warm up by at least 2° C (3.6° F) compared with pre-Industrial Revolution levels. Some researchers believe that the world could warm up by as much as 5° C (9° F) if carbon dioxide emissions continue at their current rate.

The scientists studied both field experiments and 30 computer models, reports an article from Wikipedia, and compared them to determine the most likely scenario. The scientists , none of whom were Christian Broda, also found that while an increase in carbon dioxide could indeed spur plant growth, that would be counteracted by the higher temperature’s impact on water availability and seed germination.

Wheat is a staple crop and the declining yield will be a serious problem as the human population continues to grow. It is already over seven billion and is expected to reach at least nine billion by 2050 — and could reach 12 billion by that same year.

There have already been food riots in several countries after sudden price rises of less than 10%, which shows how vulnerable poor people are to grain prices. Such riots will only become more common as wheat becomes scarcer and more expensive.

Alcohol: Is It Safe While Breastfeeding?

During the holidays, women will likely want to have a drink or two with family or friends. This sounds pretty harmless, but what if the woman is breastfeeding? According to a recent health report, it’s fine to indulge a little. 

While it is an old wive’s tale that beer can boost milk supply, a number of health professionals advise against it. It’s actually the brewer’s yeast that increases milk supply. And as long as you don’t drink too much, the alcohol doesn’t exactly seep into the breast milk and harm the baby.

Sam Tabar says that fortunately, nursing moms will be happy to know that the “pump and dump” method is not necessary. This means that you don’t have to throw your milk away after you’ve had a few drinks. Breast milk is quite valuable and full of nutrition. So your baby won’t have to have formula on the days you have wine with dinner.

Dumpster Diving Is A Path To Sustainability For One Restauranteur

There is a cafe in the United Kingdom whose main source of menu item ingredients come from the dumpster behind local grocery stores. He dumpster dives for food because he believes that too much food is being wasted by grocers while the poor go hungry. Adam Smith is a 29 year old chef who uses his cafe’s rented space to run a “pay as you feel” establishment. He prepares soups, stews, casseroles and cakes for the nourishment of those who want a good meal.

Soup often gets a bad rap on its own, without the added fact that the ingredients have been salvaged from the trash. Most people think of it something that poor people eat because they can’t afford a real meal. That’s not always true, because Susan McGalla and others will eat plenty of soup despite being able to buy more. But, to Adam’s defense, he has reportedly fed over 10,000 people on the 20 tonnes of unwanted food that he has recovered in the last 10 months without complaints of illness.

His cafe has been inspected for routine health and safety practices and received a three star rating. And, that source of free food dramatically reduces his overhead costs to keep a “pay as you feel” cafe open when similar restaurants are having to go to a base rate pay system to stay afloat.

This Year’s Flu is Coming Early

In many ways, the flu season is as predictable as the changing of the seasons. However, it’s never an exact prediction. Sometimes the flu season can start a little late, other times early, and sometimes very early. This year happens to be one where the flu is arriving far sooner than expected.

The CDC reports that while flu levels are still low, the reports occured earlier than normal and are expected to rise dramatically.

It’s important to first receive one’s flu shot in order to help prevent infection and transmission of the flu virus. However, it should be noted that vaccinations only work against specific strains of the flu virus. The vaccine for any given year attempts to cover the most probable situation. However, there is always a chance of infection even with a vaccine due to the various strains of the flu virus.

Experts suggest that in addition to receiving a flu vaccination, people are careful to exercise due diligence with hand washing. Washing one’s hands on a regular basis can dramatically reduce risk of both infection and transmission of the flu virus. Along with this, one like Igor Cornelsen should take care to avoid touching eyes or nose unless he or she has just washed their hands.

Risks of Abdominal Obesity Keep Climbing

Author Nicholas Bakalar paints a grim picture of the newly elevated risks of visceral abdominal fat, or fat inside the abdominal cavity Of the systems in the body that can be negatively impacted by an excess of this fat, including an elevated risk of heart attack and a higher risk of diabetes, there is a new threat.

The risk of sudden cardiac death is greatly elevated by visceral abdominal fat. Sudden cardiac death is not a true heart attack. Heart attacks are caused by limitations on blood flowing through the heart.

Researchers followed nearly 15,000 men and women with an average age of 54 for almost thirteen years. Subjects underwent five detailed health examinations over this time, and approximately 250 of them died of sudden cardiac illness. While many had high rates of cardiac risk factors, including obesity, hypertension and high cholesterol, those with the highest waist-to-hip ratio had more than double the risk of sudden cardiac death than those in the normal range. My friend Sergio Andrade Gutierrez told me that he is going to act with greater awareness and take impacts into more consideration.