North American Battery Supply Chain Emerging

Despite having all of the critical ingredients for lithium-ion batteries — nickel, cobalt, lithium, graphite — Canada doesn’t have any EV cell or component manufacturing; and it has only about 10% of the battery demand of the U.S. Combined with a lack of government support for the battery supply chain, it had seemed that Canada was destined to lose the value-add of its raw materials as they are exported to countries that had invested in battery production…

Despite the promising foundations for Canada to be a cornerstone of the North American battery supply chain, until recently it had appeared that there was a lack of support at the government/policy level to attract the industry. This is no longer the case, in just the last two weeks two cell manufacturers have been enticed to set up shop in Canada, with plans to build gigawatt-hour scale cell manufacturing facilities in the country.

Once a country has cell manufacturing capacity, the rest of the component manufacturing industry tends to follow as suppliers move close to their customers. So, Canada is now on course to create a strong domestic battery supply chain…

As EV growth continues in North America, a new supply chain super-hub is growing to challenge the dominance of China, and it is quickly catching up with the growing industry in Europe.

Since the GOUSA is the earliest, potentially-growing EV market, we may wake up some morning and learn the folks smart enough to bankroll electric cars and trucks have decided it’s worthwhile playing in every portion of this 21st Century marketplace.

Scientist hopes to banish evil

Simon Baron-Cohen has been battling with evil all his life.

As a scientist seeking to understand random acts of violence, from street brawls to psychopathic killings to genocide, he has puzzled for decades over what prompts such acts of human cruelty. And he’s decided that evil is not good enough…

“We’ve inherited this word.. and we use it to express our abhorrence when people do awful things, usually acts of cruelty, but I don’t think it’s anything more than another word for doing something bad. And as a scientist that doesn’t seem to me to be much of an explanation. So I’ve been looking for an alternative — we need a new theory of human cruelty…”

His proposal is that evil be understood as a lack of empathy — a condition he argues can be measured and monitored and is susceptible to education and treatment.

Baron-Cohen defines empathy in two parts — as the drive to identify another person’s thoughts and feelings, and the drive to respond appropriately to those thoughts and feelings.

It is also, he says, one of the most valuable resources in our world — one which is currently woefully underused…

In the book, entitled “Zero Degrees of Empathy” in Britain, and “The Science of Evil” in the United States, where it comes out in July, Baron-Cohen seeks to pick apart and define components of empathy — including hormones, genes, environment, nurture, and early childhood experiences.

Citing decades of scientific research, he says there are at least 10 regions of the brain which make up what he calls the “empathy circuit.” When people hurt others, either systematically or fleetingly, parts of that circuit are malfunctioning…

Drawing a classic bell curve on a graph, Baron-Cohen says that thankfully, the vast majority of humans are in the middle of the bell curve spectrum, with a few particularly attuned and highly empathetic people at the top end.

Psychopaths, narcissists, and people with borderline personality disorder sit at the bottom end of the scale — these people have “zero degrees of empathy.”

But rather than labeling them as evil, Baron-Cohen says they should be seen as sick, or “disabled,” and we should seek to understand why they have such an empathy deficiency and help them replace it.

I think it would take a broad spectrum approach to solve the lack of empathy in some. Some I can think of, anyway.

I welcome Baron-Cohen’s study and where he’s trying to go with it. I wish him success. Meanwhile, throwing away the key may be the safest thing to do.

We still don’t know how cranberries combat infection

For decades cranberry juice has enjoyed a reputation as an effective way to prevent bladder infections. Scientists have doggedly tried to confirm this well-known folk truth with dozens of studies, some in test tubes and some in people.

The latest results are now in, and the answer is conclusive: This field is all bogged down. Har!

Some older studies found the juice worked. Some found it didn’t. All were too small to be definitive. In 1998 a substance presumed to be the active component in the cranberry was identified with some fanfare, and two years ago another study suggested that a cranberry extract containing this substance was almost as powerful as an antibiotic.

Now a large, impeccably designed and executed study of cranberry juice has found that the presumed active compound apparently has no effect. And yet the newest study closed no doors. It may simply mean that the juice works, but by an unknown mechanism.

How can one little berry be so difficult to pin down?

For one thing, the cranberry contains more than 200 active substances in addition to vitamin C, citric acid and an array of other acids…Researchers have repeatedly shown that the juice does effectively prevent some species of bacteria from adhering to the cells that line the urinary tract. More to the point, urine from both mice and people who drank modest amounts of cranberry juice also prevented bacterial adherence…

The questions asked – continue. There are so many variables, including the ingredients used in the placebo side of substances devised to imitate cranberry juice 🙂 that researchers haven’t even decided which class of components may govern the success replicated in some aspects of the studies.

Like, the placebo used to imitate cranberry juice in one portion of the study resulted in diminished recurrence of infection.

Scientist offers bomb chemicals from handbag at security inquest!

An inquest into the case of a Ministry of Defence scientist killed in a top-secret bomb test was stunned when an American witness produced examples of the chemicals that caused the fatal blast from her handbag.

Sitting just feet away from Terry Jupp’s shocked relatives, the explosives expert showed the court small vials containing small quantities of the bomb-making materials in unmixed form.

Mr Jupp was engulfed in a “fireball” that left him with 80 per cent burns, leading to his death in hospital, when he mixed the substances together during joint US-UK trials to replicate the homemade bombs used by terrorists.

The coroner, Dr Peter Dean, admitted the witness’s actions had caused a “rapid reaction” among lawyers present at the hearing in Southend, who included the Prime Minister’s brother, Alex Cameron, QC.

Summing up the four-week case to jurors on Friday, the coroner said: “We will certainly remember her production of vials of chemicals from her handbag.

Associates applauded his foresight at including spare unsoiled knickers in his briefcase.

Visitors to the court are checked by metal detectors and have their bags searched by security guards, and it is not clear whether the witness had permission to bring the chemicals – known only as Substance A, B and C for national security reasons – into court…

Har! Casual assumptions made by national lab scientists are notorious. I’ve joked before about a tech I worked with mentioning that he’d left his 6-pack of sodas next to plastic containers in the refrigerator from some religious project.

The fridge was marked “Trinity Site”. Google it if you don’t get my smile. And why I suggested he move his soft drinks.

Security of U.S. Passport production is questionable

The U.S. government agency that prints passports has for years failed to resolve persistent concerns about the security risks involved in outsourcing production to foreign factories.

“On a number of levels this is extremely troubling,” said Clark Kent Ervin, a former inspector general at the Department of Homeland Security. “Something like that ought to be produced only in the United States, under only the most rigorous security standards.”

Despite repeated assurances they would move production to the U.S., a key government contractor has continued to assemble an electronic component of the nation’s new, more sophisticated passport in Thailand…

The Thai factory was one of several concerns raised in an inspector general’s audit earlier this year that looked into the way the GPO is producing the new e-passport – a passport that is supposed to be impenetrable to counterfeiters because it stores information on an embedded computer chip that is tucked into the cover.

Experts agree that passport production is a critical homeland security concern, given that possession of an American passport can help a traveler bypass some of the stringent reviews conducted of those entering the U.S. from abroad. Ervin described the document as an EZ-pass into the United States, something officials say terrorists know all too well.

GPO’s inspector general has warned that the agency lacks even the most basic security plan for ensuring that blank e-Passports — and their highly sought technologies – aren’t stolen by terrorists, foreign spies, counterfeiters and other bad actors as they wind through an unwieldy manufacturing process that spans the globe and includes 60 different suppliers.

RTFA – and face up to the reality that years of incompetent management by fools like Bush and creeps like Cheney will take forever to unravel and get sorted. Outsourcing the components for something as significant as passport production to 60 companies around the world is the ultimate in corporate cronyism.

We probably need a special agency established just to investigate and correct the economic crimes and corruption the current administration inherited from the days of Republican control of our government.

Scientist says slimming soybeans are nearing market-ready

Doctor Elvira de Mejia

If you’re serious about losing weight, check out recent studies done in Elvira de Mejia’s University of Illinois laboratory. Her research provides insight into the way a certain type of soy protein inhibits fat accumulation and reduces inflammation.

“We found that soybeans rich in beta-conglycinins limit lipid accumulation in fat cells by inhibiting an enzyme called fatty acid synthase,” said de Mejia, a U of I associate professor of food science and human nutrition.

“What’s more, we have identified the specific peptides (digested proteins) that do this, and we are now beginning to understand the mechanism behind it. This is exciting research because it could lead to the development of nutraceuticals to fight obesity,” she added.

The study was also the first to establish the anti-inflammatory properties of soy high in this type of protein. “The peptides fight inflammation by blocking key enzymes in the body’s immune response,” said the scientist…

“Using the latest molecular marker-assisted breeding techniques, soybeans with the right composition can be tagged and later identified using a simple leaf tissue sample. This would make it possible to create high-yielding cultivars that contained the ‘slimming’ trait for soybean farmers to grow in their fields,” she said.

de Mejia and her colleagues are now taking their research a step further by performing human trials with soy milk that is high in beta-conglycinins.

“For years we’ve known that soy protein is a good source of essential amino acids. Soy helps us maintain muscle mass, and its peptides make people feel full so they don’t eat as much,” she said.

“Now it appears that products made from soybeans selected for this particular protein profile may also help limit fat accumulation. Food manufacturers will be able to create soy products targeted at consumers who are trying to maintain their ideal weight,” she said.

One more example of what Asian cultures discovered over time – that holds a promising alternative to negative aspects of a Western diet.

Not-so-secret report says Iran tested nuclear warhead design

Daylife/Reuters Pictures used by permission

The UN’s nuclear watchdog has asked Iran to explain evidence suggesting that Iranian scientists have experimented with an advanced nuclear warhead design.

The very existence of the technology, known as a “two-point implosion” device, is officially secret in both the US and Britain, but according to previously unpublished documentation in a dossier compiled by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Iranian scientists may have tested high-explosive components of the design. The development was today described by nuclear experts as “breathtaking” and has added urgency to the effort to find a diplomatic solution to the Iranian nuclear crisis.

The sophisticated technology, once mastered, allows for the production of smaller and simpler warheads than older models. It reduces the diameter of a warhead and makes it easier to put a nuclear warhead on a missile.

If you have all the components including weaponized uranium.

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