Chemistry Experiment Simulations and Conceptual Computer Animations

Aimed at beginning chemistry classes, this virtual lab from Thomas Greenbowe of Iowa State University in Ames features some 70 exercises and animations.

Simulations illustrate concepts such as Boyle’s law, which describes the relation between a gas’s volume and pressure, and let students run experiments in electrochemistry and other areas.

Animations depict molecular interactions such as the formation of hydrogen bonds between water molecules or the reaction between silver ions and a lead electrode in a solution of silver nitrate.

Bloomberg To Create NYC 'Office of Sustainability'

Via Treehugger:

As of June 15, NYC’s mayor, Michael Bloomberg, was one of 248 mayors from 41 states to have signed the ‘U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement’.

Under the agreement, mayors “strive to meet or beat the Kyoto Protocol targets in their own communities”. According to WNYC, Bloomberg is taking another important step toward this commitment: The public radio station reported yesterday that the billionaire mayor will create a New York City ‘Office of Sustainability’.

As one would imagine, this office will be charged with identifying strategies to reduce the City’s greenhouse gas emissions. Coincidentally, this report was issued the same day that the Department of Energy predicted that worldwide carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels would increase 75 percent above current levels by 2030.

See also ::Buildings Account for Half of All CO2 Emissions, ::Electric Taxis Coming to NYC?

Faux Chateaux a Glut on the Market

Via Treehugger:

Earlier this week the Wall Street journal covered Micro-houses; now it covers the decline of the McMansion as a result of a number of factors: Demographics, as the baby boomers look to fund their retirements; Energy Costs- Electricity is up 12% and Gas up 43% in the last five years; speculative mania: “Folks bought megasized houses well beyond their needs to increase their investment in real estate,” Gas prices and increases in mortgage rates. We shouldn’t say “we told you so” but we told you so. ::Wall Street Journal

The Value of A High Efficiency Home Furnace

Read the full story at Treehugger.

“Is a high efficiency furnace worth it”? That’s the question posed by Kim, one of our readers.

From a technology standpoint, we scanned this overview by “” and decided there are too many options to offer a yes or no answer. A few efficiency points added to millions of home furnaces would result in a large cumulative cutback in greenhouse gas emissions; and, hopefully, much money saved. But, is it worth that outcome to discard millions of perfectly good furnaces, taking a chance on newer technology, of unknown reliability? Could there be unintended consequences?

Let’s start with an assumption that your existing furnace burns natural gas or propane, is quite old, and operates near or below the low end of the “name plate” efficiency range of modern furnaces. Unfortunately, if you burn oil, and have no access to natural gas, there is not much can be done in the way of high efficiency furnace technology…

GUSSE: Urban Sustainability Meets Social Networking

Read the full story on Treehugger.

While the World Urban Forum 3 in Vancouver will end on Friday, organizers hope that the conversations started this week will continue long beyond the live meeting.

To facilitate these discussions, a team of techies and visionaries from the University of British Columbia have created GUSSE, an open-source platform for exchanging sustainability solutions. Using a “social networking” model, GUSSE’s developers hope to create a valuable resource that’s as easy to navigate as MySpace.

Wal-Mart Careers – A New Department?

Read the full story at Treehugger.

We were reading through our PRWeek today and when we approached the “jobs” section we couldn’t help but raise our eyebrows.

A huge ad for Wal-Mart containing several PR, communications and marketing jobs was staring back at us with the words “sustainability/long term” and “we need PR pros who think outside the big box.”

After reading about Jeffrey Hollender’s recent visit to the Wal-Mart headquarters we’re wondering if they are taking into account his suggestions. Are they possibly creating a whole new department for environmental communications. Job descriptions are as follows…

Perdue Eyes Biodiesel As Growth Market

Via Treehugger:

Check out this “Maryland Coast Dispatch” [USA] article for a local take on how chicken feed production links to national biodiesel trends.

Major drivers: Perdue is the 800 Pound Chicken producer; Perdue already processes soybeans at various locations, producing soymeal for chicken feed; Maryland is a major chicken producing State, as are many others in the US mid-Atlantic region; biodiesel fuel markets bring good prices and direct distribution brings better margins; local units of government are clamboring for more biodiesel; hence, Perdue is logically looking to get into biodiesel markets. A good thing in many ways.

But let’s not fool ourselves with license plates like “Veggie Cruiser”. There’s tertiary impact we’re more concerned with. Soy oil feedstock-driven green businesses rely on cheap byproduct oil to keep profit margins intact. Stock up on oil when the commodity price is low, then make soy oil products until the next good buy opportunity. If biodiesel pulls soy oil prices up and keeps them there, small businesses could be threatened. Oh, what tangled webs we TreeHuggers weave.

GreenLeaf Market: An Online Farmer's Market

Via Treehugger:

GreenLeaf Market is a new internet-based business that believes everyone should have the opportunity to eat fresh, local, healthy food no matter where they are; to this end, they’re creating a virtual network of farmers and food producers with local grocers, restaurants and consumers.

Not officially launched just yet, GreenLeaf Market is designed to make buying and selling local produce as easy, convenient and cost effective as possible. Created as a foil to the question, “Why is it easier to buy from someone 2,000 miles away than it is from someone 20 miles away?”, GreenLeaf is touting itself as an eBay for local food, and we love the idea.

Local farmers will be able to post what they have to sell, and buyers will be able to browse through the offerings and make online purchases from the farmers. No matter how you slice it, local food is better; it’s fresher, easier on the planet and supportive of local economies (Need more convincing?

Read 10 reasons to eat local, as well as experiences from trying the 100-mile diet). We’ll look forward to blackberry season and wait for the official launch. ::GreenLeaf Market via ::WorldChanging

According to their FAQ, “GreenLeaf was created to make it easier for schools, hospitals, restaurants, and other institutional buyers to buy local food first. We will have options for individuals in the very near future.”

Design Graduates 2006: Domesticating Dirt by Sam Hulbert

Via Treehugger:

After YouMake creative eco learning kits, here’s another peculiar project from the Goldsmiths College Design degree show this year.

Sam Hulbert is Domesticating Dirt! He’s ‘exploring ways in which inhabitants and dirt can live together in greater harmony in the domestic environment’ in order to make cleaning more pleasurable and satisfying.

If you’re curious now, try Blooming Dirt and you won’t have to throw way the dirt collected in vacuum cleaners anymore. Instead you use it to grow plants! If that’s too radical, how about some Dust Bunny & Friends? They comment on how ornaments just sit and accumulate dust in our homes. These ones are made from recycled household dirt that ones landed on surfaces around the house.

To get your dirt blooming, contact ::Sam Hulbert ::Goldsmiths Design

Biomimicry: Namib Beetle teaches Engineers New Tricks

Read the full story at Treehugger.

If you lived where the rainfall was less than half an inch (12mm) for the whole year you’d either die, or get pretty smart about how to get a drink.

The Namib Desert beetle is one such clever critter. Its shell has evolved microscopic hydrophillic (water-loving) bumps that attract fine water droplets in the fog that blows across the desert, but would not otherwise condense. The minute water drops collect more fog, growing like weeny snowballs until they are heavy enough to roll down the mounds into waxy, hydrophobic (water-repelling) channels. Whoosh! Into the beetle’s thirsty mouth.

Inspired by an article about this phenomena in Nature journal, engineers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have had a stab at some biomimicry to see if they could recreate the effect.

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