Thursday, February 26, 2009

Students celebrate science at Disney

From the Disney Portal:

Students from Orlando's Pineloch and Richmond Heights elementary schools enjoyed a special treat at Epcot Feb. 19, in celebration of National Engineers Week.

The children learned about careers in engineering and the use of engineering technology in everyday life by participating in several demonstrations and experiments, and riding several attractions.

For the last nine years, Innoventions at Epcot has been the site of this annual event, with IBM as the oldest partner. The program included presentations from IBM, Underwriters Laboratories, Velcro Companies, General Motors, Raytheon and the University of Central Florida.

"This is the longest and strongest program here at Innoventions that touches many Guests, especially children, and I believe we really make a difference," said Linda Reda, IBM exhibit manager. "IBM is committed to continuing this very important program, hoping to inspire a love for math and science, and cultivate the future leaders of the engineering world."

This year was also the first time Orlando's urban schools were invited, with the mission to spread the excitement of engineering, math and science among children who don't normally receive the opportunity. The children learned how to make their own polymers, and used mathematical and engineering principles to make their own snow.

For many of these Disney first-timers and future engineers, the highlight was riding Mission: SPACE.

"My favorite part of riding the ride was when we turned backward and saw Earth from space and then we saw the future," said 4th grader Marquis Gonzalez. "I want to be the person who makes rides like that."

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Lack of rain could lead to 35% loss of harvest and blackouts in Arequipa

This article can be found here. Apparently many areas, especially the south, in Peru are seeing are large reduction in rainfall this year. This could be caused by a cooler ocean as most of this rain comes directly from the Pacific and the Humboldt current.

They are predicting that this lack of rainfall could lead to the loss of 35% of this summer's harvest (the primary harvest of the year).

They have also stated that they are only able to produce 30% of the normal hydroelectric energy at this time. If this continues there may have to be blackouts in Arequipa. As seen on this blog in the past, I have constantly criticized the electric company in Arequipa. It is a government run agency that has a complete monopoly and provides horrible service, worse than what was seen in the US 50 years ago. There have also been reports that they have hundreds of people on their active payroll that are either dead or retired. It is just a mess and needs to be denationalized.

They need to start looking at more sources of power like solar. It is sunny almost every day in Arequipa, there is no reason that solar power should only be used for heating your bath water.

The government needs to encourage companies to sell batteries and solar power systems that can be used to power an entire house. They also need to look into constructing solar power plants in these mountains.

Hydro power disrupts the local ecosystems that depend on the rivers. This leads to extinctions of species. It also is not reliable enough as the water supply is a constantly changing thing. This is especially true in Peru where past cultures like the Nazca people disappeared due to a change in their water supply. Another example where people need to learn from their own history.

Troopers in Peru now allowed to give out speeding tickets on the highway

Well after complaining about the safety of Peru's highways for months, it looks like something is finally changing. More information can be found in the article here. But the basic idea is that previously Peru's highway police (State Troopers called Carreteras in Peru) were not empowered/allowed to give out speeding tickets on Peru's highways. There is currently a push by the transportation ministry to make this happen. It is about time.

Normally on Peru's highways the speed limit is 90-100 Kmph, but I have frequently observed cars going over 200 Kmph right in front of the police. I previously blamed the lazy police who were always half asleep in their SUVs. They also did not patrol the highways. They just sat in small towns on the side of the road.

Apparently most all of these problems are caused by the government. The government only gives these highway police a very limited amount of gas/money for each day. So effective patrols are not possible. Also the troopers were not allowed to give out speeding tickets on the highways and they were not equipped with radars (no reason to use them). Finally there are very few troopers for such a large country.

All of these problems appear to be caused by the government rather than the actual police sleeping on the side of the road. It appears that they were asleep because they didn't really have a job that they could do. The only thing they could really enforce were dangerously overloaded trucks and actual collisions.

There are many bizare articles that come out of Peru, but for me this is certainly one of the most 'funny/sad/backwards'.