Interesting Science Stuff

NationalTitles18

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May 25, 2003
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For all of us science nerds, geeks, and weirdos - here's a thread to post about anything that is related to the sciences. Bazza has the space thread going so space stuff can (probably should?) still go there.

I shouldn't have to say this, but I will: This is not the place to argue politics or to post crackpot conspiracies or otherwise argue that scientists don't know what they're doing by posting contrarian articles that lack rigorous scientific evidence. No one really cares about opinions that run counter to the science. We care about the amazing and wonderful world of scientific discovery and exploration.

I'll get us started with geology related article, paper, and video. In particular, these are mainly relating to the general area where I live in northeast California. Millions of years ago the Yellowstone hotspot was located nearly under my feet at the High Rock Caldera Complex. The "Ancestral Cascades", which are now the Sierra Nevada Range, were present here. There was a break in the subducting Farallon Plate near here, which led to the not only the hotspot eruptions but also the Steen and Columbia River Flood Basalts. The Warner Mountains have a 180 meter thick layer of ash tuff (probably from the HRCC noted above). There is a new Walker Lane Fault developing that will be the future San Andreas Fault in the sense that the movement of the Pacific and North American plates is shifting east to the Sierra Nevada Range. Then there's the clockwise rotation of the NW US that transitions in this area from the Basin and Range extension to this rotation (which may be partially explained by the shifting plate boundaries???). All of this fascinates me.

But I don't want to restrict this thread to purely Earth sciences so feel free to post about technological breakthroughs, medical discoveries, or other scientific interests.

Time to geek out. Enjoy.



 

4Q Basket Case

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Some of you are aware that I’m a wine geek, and am going through some of the certification programs. A big part of all that is totally unrelated to tasting, and concentrates on the production of wine.

For decades, there’s been a move toward more environmentally-friendly production techniques — sustainable, organic, bio-dynamic, natural, etc. Historically, though, a major hurdle on all of those is that they raise costs and/or reduce yields, making the wine more expensive and not necessarily any better.

Well, technology is changing all that.

Go to YouTube and search on Precision Viticulture….you’ll turn up dozens of videos on the subject.

The Cliffs Notes version is: Technology — sensors, software and drones — is coming to the rescue. Growers can now execute various vineyard processes (pest or disease control, fertilizer of whatever derivation, canopy management, irrigation, etc.) in only those parts of the vineyard that need it. Even down to the individual vine.

So they use much less of whatever it is they’re putting in the vineyard. They save money by buying less. They have lower labor costs because they’re not treating the whole vineyard. Depending on the process, they might be able to execute it on an automated basis, further reducing field labor. And they put much less of the material into the soil.

There are also self-driving tractors, and because there’s a ton fewer factors for a tractor in a vineyard to deal with than, say, a Tesla on a city street, they’re a lot easier to develop and employ. Plus, whereas each conventional tractor requires a human operator, a single trained operator can monitor and control a half-dozen self-drivers — cutting labor cost at a time when labor is both expensive and hard to find.

So you really can have environmentally-friendly farming practices that actually save money.

Right now, the main barrier is the upfront costs. As a practical matter, you need a pretty sizable vineyard to justify the investment. But as with anything tech-related, costs are expected to come down.

Additionally, you still need diesel power to establish a vineyard -- clear old crops, any sitework, establishing rows, planting vines, installing irrigation, etc. Still, that's a one-time thing. After the vineyard is established, electric power is fine, and typical commercial vines last 20 - 30 years.
 

TexasBama

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Some of you are aware that I’m a wine geek, and am going through some of the certification programs. A big part of all that is totally unrelated to tasting, and concentrates on the production of wine.

For decades, there’s been a move toward more environmentally-friendly production techniques — sustainable, organic, bio-dynamic, natural, etc. Historically, though, a major hurdle on all of those is that they raise costs and/or reduce yields, making the wine more expensive and not necessarily any better.

Well, technology is changing all that.

Go to YouTube and search on Precision Viticulture….you’ll turn up dozens of videos on the subject.

The Cliffs Notes version is: Technology — sensors, software and drones — is coming to the rescue. Growers can now execute various vineyard processes (pest or disease control, fertilizer of whatever derivation, canopy management, irrigation, etc.) in only those parts of the vineyard that need it. Even down to the individual vine.

So they use much less of whatever it is they’re putting in the vineyard. They save money by buying less. They have lower labor costs because they’re not treating the whole vineyard. Depending on the process, they might be able to execute it on an automated basis, further reducing field labor. And they put much less of the material into the soil.

There are also self-driving tractors, and because there’s a ton fewer factors for a tractor in a vineyard to deal with than, say, a Tesla on a city street, they’re a lot easier to develop and employ. Plus, whereas each conventional tractor requires a human operator, a single trained operator can monitor and control a half-dozen self-drivers — cutting labor cost at a time when labor is both expensive and hard to find.

So you really can have environmentally-friendly farming practices that actually save money.

Right now, the main barrier is the upfront costs. As a practical matter, you need a pretty sizable vineyard to justify the investment. But as with anything tech-related, costs are expected to come down.

Additionally, you still need diesel power to establish a vineyard -- clear old crops, any sitework, establishing rows, planting vines, installing irrigation, etc. Still, that's a one-time thing. After the vineyard is established, electric power is fine, and typical commercial vines last 20 - 30 years.
I went to a wine tasting a while back and learned about how acidity and sugar content work. I am a Chemical Engineer by education, and find it fascinating. It would have been a good career to get into. :)
 

4Q Basket Case

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I went to a wine tasting a while back and learned about how acidity and sugar content work. I am a Chemical Engineer by education, and find it fascinating. It would have been a good career to get into. :)
A lot of wine production, especially in the winery (as opposed to in the vineyard) is really applied organic chemistry.

Esters, thiols, aceteldehyde, anthocyanins, etc. Aerobic vs. anaerobic fermentations, effects of temperature on all that. Hundreds of years ago, all that stuff got worked out by trial and error. Now, chemists sort it all out.

So yeah, the industry employs a lot of chemists and chemical engineers, whether directly by a large producer or indirectly as consultants who do work for lots of producers.
 
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