What is jatropha? It's a weed whose seed produces and oil that can be refined into biodiesel. It's like corn to ethanol south of the border. Companies and farmers south of the equator are buying up millions of acres to cultivate this weed, which can grows most anywhere. It is also used to make soap, candles and animal feed. With more than million acres worldwide earmarked for cultivation, a Christian Science Monitor article chronicles the perils of jatropha ventures. A hectare or 10,000 square meters produces about only 6.5 barrels of fuel, according to Wikipedia and some claim the economics don't work. But jatropha, which is popular in India, has plenty of boosters including the Center for Jatropha Promotion.
The engineers and inventors of the post WWII period turned their attention to advancements in electronics, communication, and entertainment. Breakthrough inventions range from LEGOs and computer gaming to the integrated circuit and Ethernet -- a range of advancements that have little in common except they changed our lives.
Neil Fromer is the executive director of the Resnick Institute, a program for energy and sustainability at the California Institute of Technology, working to develop new ideas and research technologies related to providing a sustainable future. He spoke to us about the severity of the current drought in California and how solar energy can help prevent such situations in the future.
From home enthusiasts to workers on the manufacturing floor, everyone's imagination is captured by the potential of 3D printing. Prototyping, spare parts creation, art delivery, human organ creation, and even mass product production are all being targeted as current and potential uses for the technology.
Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.