Kirsten: It’s really sad and it’s just, just, you think that we’ve come so far, but it’s still – it’s really interesting to think that this election, people are calling it, “historic” because we have on the democratic ticket so far we’re up for either an African-American candidate or a woman as a candidate.
And everyone is saying, “oh this is, historic!” and it’s kind of sad. It’s just like “oh gee, here we are in the 21st century and it’s historic.” [laughs]
Justin: My friend’s daughter, she got into collecting coins with different presidents on them. She got really into that and then she was going through the collection then she was asking, “where is the… where is the girls?”
Kirsten: Yes where are they? Oh, in other countries. [Laughs]
Kirsten: Other countries are ahead of us…
Kirsten: Also on that front. We have to take a break. Stay with us please for a few moments, we will come back for This Week in Science.
Justin: And we’re back…
Kirsten: Yes we are.
Justin: …with more This Week in Science.
Kirsten: Yes, first assumptions were correct. That’s Jake Mann and if you are in the San Francisco bay area this week, I believe on March 13th which is… is a Thursday? That’s a Thursday. He’s playing at Amnesia in the Mission in San Francisco so you can go hear him live if you’re in that area.
Justin: Yes. None of my first assumptions about anything have ever been correct.
Kirsten: [Laughs] No.
Kirsten: No. Try again.
Kirsten: Take it over.
Justin: My first assumptions are always wrong.
Kirsten: All right and it’s time for us to announce, Woo-hoo!…the winner of our CD compilation art contest. I’d like to congratulate Scott Doherty for his fabulous, really cute entry it’s, really you’ll love it, little cute robot eating a bowl of screws and nuts. I love it! I absolutely love it!
Our runner up is Jason Groat [sp] and he, I hope I pronounced your last name correctly. He had another great entry that was really wonderfully artistic and modern. It was kind of sci-fi futuristic looking, both of them were amazing and we had a hard time choosing between the two.
But we had to pick one, so our winner is Scott Doherty, runner up Jason Groat. Scott Doherty, you will have your art on the 2008 science music compilation CD. Congratulations.
Kirsten: There is an interesting study that’s out from the Association of Chemical Sciences, Environmental Science and Technology Journal publishing… wow!… scheduling for its June 1st issue, so we’re a bit early here.
Kirsten: But it’s kind of an interesting take, so as more and more researches done on, as we shift our attention from gas and petroleum as the fuel tanks get more and more costly to keep filled, we start looking at other things such as hybrid and electric vehicles…
Kirsten: …to get our selves around, and we’re looking at all sorts of alternative fuel sources. There is a study that’s out suggesting that policy makers are neglecting the impact that fleets of hybrid and electric vehicles have on water consumption.
Justin: It’s such a joke.
Kirsten: Yes, so but that if we start increasing the amount of electricity consumption that’s going to increase exponentially our water consumption. Instead of just going straight from the petroleum into the gas tank.
So they say that they’ve calculated water usage consumption and withdrawal during petroleum refining and electricity generation in the United States, each mile driven with electricity consumes three times more water than with gasoline, and here in California, water is no laughing matter especially in Southern California where they’re sucking it from up here…
Kirsten: …in the north and over there in the east and…[laughs], from everywhere except where they live because there’s no water in Southern California because it’s a desert climate.
Justin: [Laughs] even this whole Central Valley is pretty much desert mostly.
Kirsten: Yes it is. The researchers, Carey King and Michael Webber, say this is not to say that the negative impacts on water resources makes such a shift undesirable, rather, this increase in water usage presents a significant potential impact on regional water resources and should be considered when planning for a plugged-in automotive economy.”
Justin: Yes but that’s if we stay on the coal-based energy at that point.
Kirsten: Yes, the petroleum, I mean, what they say here is taking petroleum, refining it to turn into electricity which, if we look at other sources such as solar and various, wind and, what’s in the local area, hydroelectric, if you’re looking at stuff that’s underground…
Kirsten: … just using the power of water to move and generate…
Justin: Yes but they’re…
Kirsten: …electricity to turbine use but…
Justin: They’re saying, I mean, that all the power plants are going to have to be using more water to…
Kirsten: More water – that it takes more water.
Justin: …to cool the plants to…
Justin: …it’s just, come on. That seems like the easier solution.
Kirsten: Well because right now we are going gas – petroleum gas into car, and there is no, aside from what’s being used to refine the gas initially.
Justin: But what is gasoline? It is a highly combustible fluid right?…
Justin: That they ship gallon by gallon everywhere.
Kirsten: [Laughs] yes.
Justin: You’re telling me you cannot run an electric truck to the ocean, fill it up with water, and go back to the plant and have that be as an…
Justin: …efficient system as what we were doing with the oil, olive oil, and it’s ridiculous! It’s ridiculous! It doesn’t make any sense to me!
Kirsten: We’d have to look, I haven’t looked at the study to see exactly what factors they’ve taken into account to determine this increase in water consumption for electric vehicles but maybe, it might, who knows, are they taking into account the difference between, all from initiation – from pumping it out of the ground all the way to putting it in your gas tank. Are they taking all of that into account. Who knows?
Justin: I really, I really don’t…
Kirsten: Who knows? But it’s interesting. I think it’s just interesting to take these things into account.
Justin: I think it, that means that we need to catch up with the French.
Kirsten: Everything’s got a downside.
Justin: …and go some proper power that is nuclear: Nuclear?
Kirsten: Yes Justin.
Justin: We have a caller.
Good morning TWIS minion. You are on the air with This Week In Science.
Male Caller: Hi. I think the first question that you need to ask is, who did the study? Now that would give you a regular answer.
Kirsten: Right, so whether or not who they are being funded…
Male Caller: Exactly…
Male Caller: …That’s a lame reason for getting the good water.
Justin: [Laughs] It seems weird.
Male Caller: But I bet you if you did good research you would find out if it’s all excellent and everybody that did the study in …
Kirsten: Possibly. That’s a really good question so…
Male Caller: All right, you have a good day.
Kirsten: …I will have, I will have to look into that. Thanks for bringing that up. Thank you.
Justin: It could be… it definitely could be, or it could just be totally ill-conceived or could be absolutely correct and we’re just in total denial and like… come on enough, figure out the solution. Let’s… that was an easy one.
Justin: Regardless, that’s got to be something that can be overcome relatively easily, run out of what… there’s a whole ocean of water out there that we can mine if you think you cannot…
Kirsten: If we, if we get better water desalination technology…
Justin: I don’t even think that, I don’t even know if it needs to be desalinized…
Kirsten: Right now, it’s probably good…yes.
Justin: For cooling in a plant?
Kirsten: Salt is really corrosive. Salt is terribly corrosive.
Kirsten: [laughs]. Give me a story.
Justin: Oh, I’ve got…
Kirsten: What are you doing, just sitting there complaining? [laughs]
Justin: Scientists… scientists…scientists have discovered an Antarctic krill, Euphausia superba living feeding down to depths of almost two miles in the waters around the Antarctic Peninsula.
Kirsten: Now, that’s interesting, so don’t krill are…normally like they’re very…
Justin: Much higher up
Kirsten: Much…yes…in… what is it?… I can’t remember…the top layer of the ocean water…
Justin: …Yes, they are up there getting eaten…
Kirsten: …where the sun… where the sunlight comes in.
Justin: …yes, they are up there getting eaten by everything.
Justin: You know, penguins, seals, whales…they’re like a major food source.
Kirsten: Yes. Huge food source.
Justin: Yes. The discovery completely changes what scientists…scientists, scientists understand about the major food source of, yes again, fish, squid, penguin, seals, and whales.
Remotely operated vehicle that made the discovery, Isis, filmed the previously unknown behavior of the krill.
While most krill make their living at the ocean surface waters, the new finding must revise significantly understanding the depth and distribution and ecology of the Antarctic krill. It’s a very big surprise to actually see actively feeding adult krill including females that were apparently ready to spawn so close to the sea bed and deep, deep water.
So, wow that’s pretty amazing!
Discovery has also got some other… some other unique stuff here about the krill.
They feed on phytoplankton? And are in turn eaten by wide range of the larger creatures and they thought, I mean, they have been looking at the krill for a while and have noticed that their numbers have dropped about 80%?
Justin: …to the 1970s. Over the last 30 years they dropped 80%.
Kirsten: That’s significant.
Justin: And one of the major reasons is that krill feed on the algae that is only found under the surface of sea ice that’s sort of their nursery so kind of hang out underneath the arctic shelf, and that’s their major… major feeding ground.
Kirsten: Wow. That’s fascinating
Justin: Yes. The total weight of Antarctic krill is calculated to be between 50 and 150 million tons [whistles]. That’s a lot because they are very small, these little shrimp-like crustaceans…
Kirsten: That’s a lot.
Kirsten: Yes. Lots of birds like to eat them.
Justin: That’s a lot.
Kirsten: One of my graduate advisers studies the birds that eat the krill and the phytoplankton. Yes.
Funding cuts in the federal government are jeopardizing clean up of nuclear waste sites says the March 10th issue of Chemical and Engineering News, a weekly news magazine.
The article cites a new United States Department of Energy Audit of Operations that estimate clean-up costs could reach 305 billion dollars in about 25 sites where nuclear weapons materials were manufactured and that’s about 50 billion dollars above the Bush Administrations earlier estimate. The audit indicates that it might take until 2062 to finish the clean-up job. It’s about 20 years longer than they originally estimated.
Kirsten: So 50 billion dollars and 20 years longer than they estimated. The clean-up budget proposed this year by the Bush Administration is 5.5 billion. One of the lowest since the massive remediation efforts began in the 1980s.
The budget cuts may be particularly hard felt at large clean-up sites such as Washington States Hanford Nuclear Site, the most contaminated site in the country, and people are fearing that these, budget cuts and the lack of funding is going to delay all the clean up.
Justin: Yes. I say, don’t clean it up.
Kirsten: [Laughs] Yes.
Justin: No really…
Kirsten: Just leave it… All right.
Justin: No. I say don’t clean it up. Pour all of that money into nuclear-