Posts tagged ‘green’

The Sun is Green

By Chad Upton

I know, the sun doesn’t look green. But, keep in mind the sky looks blue and we know it’s not really blue. The sky appears blue for the same reason some people’s eyes look blue — an optical illusion known as the Tyndall effect.

sun is green

When scientists measure the wavelength (color) of the sun, the peak output is in the transition area between blue and green (about 500 nanometers). So, technically, the sun is green-blue. But, why doesn’t it look green? (more…)

May 17, 2013 at 2:00 am 3 comments

How to Maximize a Window in Mac OS

By Chad Upton | Editor

One of the most annoying Mac OS traits is the inconsistent behavior of the maximize (aka “zoom”) button.

Some native apps, such as iCal, Mail, iPhoto, behave as you might expect and completely fill the screen when the maximize button is clicked. But, many other applications do not fill the screen, instead they the button maximizes the height of the window, but not the width.

But, there is another trick that maximizes some other applications, such as Chrome. Holding down shift while clicking the green maximize button, will maximize the window to fill the screen.

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November 13, 2012 at 2:00 am 4 comments

Niagara Falls Water Volume is Lower at Night

By Chad Upton | Editor

The magnificent waterfalls known as Niagara falls are split on the US/Canada border. People come to see massive amounts of water flowing over the falls and that’s exactly what they get, during the day.

While the falls are a popular tourist attraction, many people don’t know the water is an important source of power. There is one power company on each side of the border that draws water from above the falls to turn their generators.

Unfortunately, drawing water from the river above the falls can impact what the falls look like.

During the tourist season (April to October), the power companies must maintain the water flow over the falls at 100,000 cubic feet per second. That’s not very difficult since the river has a natural flow of about 212,000 cubic feet per second on a typical summer day. That means they normally draw about 100,000 cubic feet per second for power generation and allow that same amount over the falls.

But at night, they can draw even more water and lower the flow at the falls to about 50,000 cubic feet per second. This extra flow allows them to turn their turbines and fill up their reservoirs so they have more water after the tourism flow is restored in the morning. Since the falls erode about two feet per year, drawing extra water at night also slows erosion so the falls will be around for many generations to come.

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Image: Alberto Mari (cc)

Source: NiagaraFrontier.com

August 26, 2011 at 3:00 am 4 comments

Blue Eyes Are Not Actually Blue

By Chad Upton | Editor

The most common eye color is brown and the least common is green. Eye color is determined by a number of genes, the actual number of which is unknown. Using six known genes, scientists can predict eye color from brown to blue with 90% accuracy.

The darkness of brown eyes is determined by the amount of melanin (pigment) in them. Blue eyes have little or no melanin, making them translucent; they only appear blue because of an optical illusion known as the Tyndall effect.

The color we perceive something to be is usually due to their pigment, but somethings appear colored for other reasons. Structural colors are one classification of colors that occur not because of their pigment but because of the way light interacts with the matter.

Without getting too technical, different colors of light have different wavelengths. When those waves pass through matter, they can be filtered or scattered in different ways. The Tyndall effect occurs when a light scattering particulate is suspended in a light transmitting medium and the size of the individual particulate is slightly below or near that of the visible spectrum of light.

Some things that appear to be colored due to optical effects are: blue jay and peacock feathers, mother of pearl, butterfly wings, beetle shells, bubbles, oil slicks and one we see every day: the sky.

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Photo: Jennifer Durfey (cc)

Sources: Wikipedia (Eye Color, Tyndall Effect, Color)

March 7, 2011 at 2:00 am 17 comments

Potatoes: Green Means Stop

By Chad Upton | Editor

If you eat potatoes, in any form, you’ve probably come across a partially green one.

Most importantly, don’t eat the green part — it’s toxic enough that you may get very ill, and it can cause death in rare cases. Secondly, it’s very bitter, so you’re not going to enjoy it. French fries and potato chips are also affected, so avoid the green stuff there too.

The green coloration is chlorophyll. Like many other plants, chlorophyll is formed with enough exposure to certain types of light. Of course, many green leaves are part of a healthy diet, so it’s not the chlorophyll itself that is the problem.

Exposure to light can also cause another reaction that forms a substance called “solanine.” It is not related to chlorophyll, but is often formed at the same time. Solanine is toxic. 16 ounces of a fully green pototo could be enough to make a 100lb person sick.

The green chlorophyll is a good warning about the presence of solanine, but solanine can form when chlorophyll does not. So, even if the potato looks normal, the bitter taste will serve as a warning.

Cooking a green potato will not help, it’s still toxic. But, a cooked potato cannot turn green since the required enzyme mechanisms are destroyed in cooking.

Bottom line: if it’s green or bitter, skip it.

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Photo: Selva / Eden (cc)

Sources: Purdue, Elkhorn

January 14, 2011 at 2:00 am 8 comments

How to Dispose of Household Hazardous Waste

By Chad Upton | Editor

Every home has things that should NOT go in the trash. Yet, many people don’t know what to do with them or even what some of these items are.

Some examples are:

  • batteries
  • compact fluorescent light bulbs
  • paints and stains
  • pesticides and herbicides
  • fertilizers and poisons
  • cleaners and disinfectants
  • car fluids
  • medicines and prescription drugs

The main concern is that when many of these hazardous materials make it to landfills, they will eventually leech into our water supply and have potentially dangerous consequences.

Many large retailers such as Lowe’s, Radio Shack, Best Buy, Sam’s Club, Whole Foods and many others will accept certain types of batteries, Ni-Cad and Car Batteries being the most popular types accepted. Some retailers, like Home Depot and Lowe’s, will also accept compact fluorescent light bulbs.

For most other hazardous materials, you’ll likely need to go to your city’s drop off depot. Sometimes this service is paid for by your taxes, other cities charge a usage fee depending on what you’re dropping off.

A great site to help you find a nearby retailer or city depot to recycle or safely dispose of some of these items is earth911.com. You tell it what hazardous material you have and where you are, it will try to tell you the nearest place you can take it. I got really good results for everything I tried.

For medicines, check out this previous post: How to Dispose of Medicine.

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Sources: Oregon Live, Earth 911City of Toronto

January 3, 2011 at 2:00 am Leave a comment

Lights Use More Energy While Turning On

By Chad Upton | Editor

There is a belief that it takes more energy to turn a light bulb on than it does to leave it running. That is true.

But, in some cases it’s still more energy efficient to turn the lights off when you leave the room.

That’s because the spike of additional electricity that is used to turn on a light bulb, is very short lived. That extra energy varies depending on the type of light bulb.

For most bulb types, the extra energy is equivalent to less than one second of energy that is consumed while the light is on. That means, you’d have to leave the room and return within one second to save energy by leaving the light turned on.

The one exception is fluorescent tubes (not compact fluorescents), they require a lot more energy to turn on than they consume while running normally.

Depending on the source of the information, fluorescents use energy equivalent to 5 to 24 seconds of regular use, just to power up. Therefore, if you use fluorescent tubes, there would be times when it would be more efficient to leave them on than turn them off.

If you have a large room that is lit with fluorescent tubes and you were going to leave the room for a few minutes or less, it would be more efficient to leave them on instead of turning them off and then back on when you return. But, if you’re leaving for more than that, you should shut them off.

That said, turning lights on and off does cause wear and tear on the bulbs. LED “bulbs”, which are now available at most hardware stores, are most resilient to this type of wear and tear.

Incandescent bulbs are extremely cheap, so the cost of replacing these bulbs isn’t an important consideration, although the environmental impact may be. But, it is important to consider this wear and tear for more expensive bulbs such as compact fluorescents. It is for this reason that the EPA recommends that compact fluorescent lights are used in areas where they will usually be turned on for at least 15 minutes at a time. This will contribute to bulb lifespan.

Although I used a couple other sources for this post, Mythbusters did some great experiments on this subject and I’ve embedded the video if you’d like to watch it.

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Sources: Mythbusters, EPA, EnergyStar (PDF)

July 30, 2010 at 5:00 am 1 comment

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