Inability to meet "grand challenges" of physics likely to hurt US competitiveness

Link: Inability to meet “grand challenges” of physics likely to hurt US competitiveness

The National Academies of Science has produced a report that details the state of materials science and identified the grand challenges of the next decade. Rising costs, stagnant funding, and vanishing industrial research raise fears that these challenges will be met outside the US.

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Scientists Attempt to Replace Crude Oil With Sugars

Link: Scientists Attempt to Replace Crude Oil With Sugars

amigoro writes with a link to the Press Esc blog, discussing a possible replacement for crude oil in plastics, fuels, and other industrial uses. The post outlines findings to be published in an upcoming issue of the journal Science. Essentially, researchers at the Institute for Interfacial Catalysis are attempting to process the sugars in plant matter into an oil-like compound, a daunting challenge. “Glucose, in plant starch and cellulose, is nature’s most abundant sugar. ‘But getting a commercially viable yield of HMF from glucose has been very challenging,’ Zhang said. ‘In addition to low yield until now, we always generate many different byproducts,’ including levulinic acid, making product purification expensive and uncompetitive with petroleum-based chemicals. Zhang, lead author and former post doc Haibo Zhao, and colleagues John Holladay and Heather Brown, all from PNNL, were able to coax HMF yields upward of 70 percent from glucose and nearly 90 percent from fructose while leaving only traces of acid impurities.”

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

ZFS on a laptop? (14 Jun 2007)

Link: ZFS on a laptop? (14 Jun 2007)

Way cool feature of zfs.”One of the most important things a user needs to do on a laptop is to back his data up. Copying your data to DVD or an external drive is one way. ZFS snapshots with ‘zfs send’ and ‘zfs recv’ is a better way. Due to its architecture, snaphots in ZFS are very fast and only take up as much space as much data has changed. For a typical user, taking a snapshot every day, for example, will only take up a small amount of capacity.” ZFS on a laptop?