Tag Archives: organic

MESSENGER sends first data back to Earth – uncovers ice on Mercury

For several years scientists have been begging to test their theories about Mercury, the closest planet to the Sun. You see, the radar signals come back showing ice exists on the planet, but how could ice exist on a planet so incredibly hot?

NASA sent the spacecraft MESSENGER to orbit the planet and figure the mystery out (among other things). It turns out that ice exists at the planet north and south poles and possibly underneath some “dirt-shielding”.

All of this was uncovered by Professor David Paige, who has previous experience with Mars and the Moon, as he explains in his own words:

 

“I was able to use the Mercury laser altimeter in conjunction with a three-dimensional ray-tracing thermal model that I built to study ice on the moon, Paige said. “Using these models, I calculated the average temperature on the surface of the planet and concluded that the surface temperatures were too warm to permit the long-term stability of ice. The only possibility was some sort of thin layer of cover that allowed the ice to survive.”

This thin, dark layer is called a regolith and is probably made of organic substances like the Earth’s soil, rich in hydrocarbon compounds that may have come from the comets and meteorites that struck the planet over time. The comets and meteorites may have also contributed the water that seeped under the soil cover to form the icy patches.

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MESSENGER (Mercury Surface, Space Environment, Geochemistry and Ranging) is the first spacecraft to orbit Mercury. Its goal is to collect better data about the composition and atmosphere of the planet, and it just completed its first year of information gathering.

***

While the mix of water and organic compounds on another planet may raise the possibility of extraterrestrial life for some scientists, this is not what excites Paige. For him, the discovery of ice on Mercury is the triumph of science.

“We’re getting a good agreement between models and observations,” Paige said. “What we thought was true is true. The most exciting part of this? We may not know lot of things, but on Mercury we have things under control.”

via UCLA Today

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Growing coffee trees in California

In this day of the $6 cup of coffee, when bragging rights mean knowing not only the varietal but the beans’ latitude, anything exotic gets the antennae waving. Which may explain why Jay Ruskey of Good Land Organics is inundated with requests to visit his north Santa Barbara County farm, where he is the only person cultivating coffee in California. He’s been turning down the requests—until now. This month the curious can sign up online for an agritour and the chance to see how Ruskey coaxes a plant inextricably tied to Latin America and Africa to flourish on U.S. soil.

The coffee-growing experiment is part of the UC small farms initiative, which supplied Ruskey with bushes and an expert, Mark Gaskell, who has worked in Central America. While coffee is normally grown at altitudes approaching thousands of feet, Ruskey’s farm sits at 650. The beans thrive in his coastal canyon largely because of the lack of extreme cold or heat and the low winds.

via Los Angeles Magazine

 

Ruskey's Coffee Trees

 

He now has 470 trees in the ground, which would fill half an acre if they had been planted in a continuous block. By chance, he planted the young trees among mature avocado trees and found that the two were good companions, as the coffee benefited from the rich soil generated by the avocado trees’ mulch.

…his mature trees are mostly Typica, the Arabica type from which most others developed, and Caturra, a mutation of Bourbon discovered in Brazil. He also has 100 young trees of Geisha, a rare Panamanian strain of Ethiopian origin, legendary for its superb quality.

He is sufficiently convinced of the feasibility of his project that he and Gaskell are working to organize a Santa Barbara coffee growers association with several other farmers who have planted or committed to planting coffee trees.

via Los Angeles Times

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The Rose Parade – Organic for 120 years – you gotta love it

Every inch of every float must be covered with flowers or other natural materials, such as leaves, seeds or bark.

The process starts with a specially-built chassis, upon which is built a framework of steel and chicken wire. In a process called “cocooning”, the frame is sprayed with a polyvinyl material, which is then painted in the colors of the flowers to be applied later.

Volunteer workers swarm over the floats in the days after Christmas, their hands and clothes covered with glue and petals. The most delicate flowers are placed in individual vials of water, which are set into the float one by one.

Computerized animation has had an enormous impact on Rose Parade floats. Recent Parade floats have featured King Kong stomping through a floral jungle, a guitar-playing dinosaur, pigs dancing the hula and a 60-foot-tall talking robot, all controlled by computers.

But through all the changes, the Rose Parade has remained true to its floral beginnings, and each float is decorated with more flowers than the average florist will use in five years. Applications for floats are accepted usually more than a year in advance.

via The Pasadena Tournament of Roses Parade

 

Homemade organic toothpaste: baking soda and water (that’s it!)

A few months ago I made the switch from store toothpaste to the homemade version. There were so many recipes available on the internet that it was hard to find the right one. After several months of experimenting I’ve found the perfect recipe:

Baking Soda + Water

I can’t believe it either, but it works really well. Baking soda is a natural cleanser that helps control pH balance and neutralizes any substance that causes stains or odors. This means that not only will your family’s teeth shine, but they will have much less phlegm.

This also allows you to help your kids skip all the chemicals in the store-bought toothpaste, including fluoride which has some controversy surrounding small children.

No exact measurements are required, but you will notice that baking soda tends to stay dry. So just add a little water every so often.

I store mine in a used plastic container and that’s it!

You really can’t beat this deal since baking soda is so cheap. Plus, you have no waste products, a great bonus considering that very few of those toothpaste tubes are recyclable.

Should you be tempted to try out some of the other homemade toothpaste recipes, here is some advice.

Absolutely skip the hydrogen peroxide. I can’t believe people recommend this but they do say it matches the “cleaning power” of store toothpaste. That’s a scary thought.

I’ve also tried adding salt, coconut oil, and vegetable glycerin. Only coconut oil wasn’t dreadful and is promoted as “naturally anti-bacterial and anti-viral,” but I didn’t notice any benefit.

Finally, if you want some flavor I recommend cinnamon, but add just a dash as it is pretty powerful. Many sites also recommend mint but it hasn’t worked for me. I’ve even used fresh garden mint to no avail. Maybe I need to grind it to dust, mortar and pestle style.

I hope this helps you make the switch and make sure to let me know how it goes!

Classic magazine ad from Ipana.

Photos: CRZ (baby), Nesster (Ipana Ad)

Homemade organic toothpaste: baking soda and water (that's it!)

A few months ago I made the switch from store toothpaste to the homemade version. There were so many recipes available on the internet that it was hard to find the right one. After several months of experimenting I’ve found the perfect recipe:

Baking Soda + Water

I can’t believe it either, but it works really well. Baking soda is a natural cleanser that helps control pH balance and neutralizes any substance that causes stains or odors. This means that not only will your family’s teeth shine, but they will have much less phlegm.

This also allows you to help your kids skip all the chemicals in the store-bought toothpaste, including fluoride which has some controversy surrounding small children.

No exact measurements are required, but you will notice that baking soda tends to stay dry. So just add a little water every so often.

I store mine in a used plastic container and that’s it!

You really can’t beat this deal since baking soda is so cheap. Plus, you have no waste products, a great bonus considering that very few of those toothpaste tubes are recyclable.

Should you be tempted to try out some of the other homemade toothpaste recipes, here is some advice.

Absolutely skip the hydrogen peroxide. I can’t believe people recommend this but they do say it matches the “cleaning power” of store toothpaste. That’s a scary thought.

I’ve also tried adding salt, coconut oil, and vegetable glycerin. Only coconut oil wasn’t dreadful and is promoted as “naturally anti-bacterial and anti-viral,” but I didn’t notice any benefit.

Finally, if you want some flavor I recommend cinnamon, but add just a dash as it is pretty powerful. Many sites also recommend mint but it hasn’t worked for me. I’ve even used fresh garden mint to no avail. Maybe I need to grind it to dust, mortar and pestle style.

I hope this helps you make the switch and make sure to let me know how it goes!

Classic magazine ad from Ipana.

Photos: CRZ (baby), Nesster (Ipana Ad)