Underwater Wineries

This idea came across my Amazon Show this morning and frankly, I really had to wonder.  Aging wine under seawater?  Really??

Well, who knew.  Apparently this is showing absolutely stunning results. Read this article from The Drinks Business

My engineering mind of course goes to all the things that can go wrong.  After all, the bottles will become encased in sea growth … and how would you know if any seawater had leaked in … which would result in an expensive bottle return process plus a loss of trust.

But, apparently my engineering concerns are not well founded.

What I would really like to know is whether they have tried barrels rather than bottles.  Didn’t someone remind them wine is not bottled until it is already aged?

Growing Fat

I have to admit that when I first saw this headline I thought it was one more criticism and commentary on the consequences of this COVID pandemic.

But, no, this is about artificially growing meat fat so that we can improve the tastes of all these artificial meats that have emerged.

Fat is the secret ingredient that defines how meat looks, cooks and tastes,” said Max Jamilly, co-founder of Hoxton Farms, a startup that’s aiming to grow animal fat in the lab. Leading alt-protein offerings — the burgers from Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat, for instance — contain plant fats that lack the meaty taste of the real thing. Hoxton’s big idea is to grow animal fat from animal cells, which would avoid the need to rear and slaughter actual animals.  It is too early to pass judgement on the company which has raised $2.7 million in a seed round (pun intended). But the startup is symbolic of the increasing specialization of the alt-protein sector. Incumbents such as Impossible developed much or all of their technology, but a new generation of startups is focusing on specific solutions such as bioreactor technologies, 3D printers and low-cost alternatives to the serums that are used to grow animal cells.

Isn’t it funny that nobody is objecting to the fact that these fats are problems in and of themselves?  Don’t we have clear evidence that these are the fats that our medical profession condemns?

Why are we now so virtuous because we made them without raising or killing animals?

Am I the only one to see this?


Thinking Positively about Negatives

Francis Maseres

While the first set of rules for dealing with negative numbers was stated in the 7th century by the Indian mathematician Brahmagupta, it is surprising that in 1758 the British mathematician Francis Maseres claimed that negative numbers “… darken the very whole doctrines of the equations and make dark of the things which are in their nature excessively obvious and simple.”

Maseres and his contemporary, William Friend, took the view that negative numbers did not exist. However, other mathematicians around the same time had decided that negative numbers could be used as long as they had been eliminated during the calculations where they appeared.

It was not until the 19th century when British mathematicians like De Morgan, Peacock, and others, began investigating the ‘laws of arithmetic’ in terms of logical definitions that the problem of negative numbers was finally sorted out.

Against that backdrop, it should come as no surprise that negative interest rates showing up now in Europe are met with surprise. Yet, they simply reflect that invisible-hand governed by the laws of supply-and-demand. If there is too much money seeking a place, then you will have to pay people to take it!!

As I read about green hydrogen, I am tempted to recoil at anyone using solar this wastefully … but if I think about the negatives positively, it simply becomes an active agent in the energy portfolio when the use in this way becomes a least-cost or most expedient storage medium. Once again, that invisible hand is at work.

However, we humans have a tough time thinking about negatives positively. It is almost cultural to think of a negative number as some sort of failure. Negative numbers in any management reporting system seem like losses.

Maybe not.



A prior blog looked at insects for protein sources.  That idea is far from new in many parts of the world.  But, our 23 year old son found one for renewable energy.  Not sure how we will feed all these insects to keep them going, and it is far from clear to me how you would take the energy expended by these insects and harvest it as electricity.  Perhaps the idea is to simply use them for air movement in the home.

On a serious note, consider the point of view in this cartoon.  They are poking fun at people who are making claims about energy.  It is hard to tell, but could it be that they think all the claims of renewables dominating the energy sources within 20 years are a bit far-fetched?  Could it be that they are doubting the energy grandstanding you see almost everywhere along with the virtue signaling of major corporations.  It is hard to know.

I entered this business with the common belief that fuel cells were about five years off from being economic.  It is now 40 years later and they are still about five years off.  We thought oil was going to be more than $100 a barrel and we were going to run out of it by 1990 or the latest 2000.

Our “woke” society will not permit making fun of this as you know.  I am sure to get criticism for expressing the facts.  They simply do not align with what we are being told to expect.

I do hope we move to reduce our carbon footprints, recycle and reuse more of the things in our lives, and live gently on this planet.  I certainly do hope we don’t do what China did for decades … limit the number of children out of a fear of not being able to provide for them.

But, I wonder when people are going to wake up and realize that we are talking about decades of change and while we are enabling those changes we need all the sources we can rightfully and cost effectively use to move towards these lofty goals.  So, when is the obvious going to be made clear to those who want to ban natural gas in new construction now decades ahead of any carbon free electricity concepts in the regions where they are banning natural gas?  Where is all the electricity going to come from in the near term to power all these fleet electric vehicles being purchased by the large national accounts?  Yep, you’ve got that right … the incremental carbon emitter will be natural gas in most cases.

I remember giving a lecture on carbon accountability to the national accounts which started out by placing a water bottle on the podium.  I reminded them that bottled water would become the scarlet letter to environmental agendas and that landfills and our oceans could not withstand the continued waste in our societies.  That was and still is the big issue … yet I don’t hear any politicians talk against bottled water.  I remember when the speed limit was reduced to 55 because our energy crisis was the moral equivalent of war.  If we really care why wouldn’t we do that again?

Stay tuned … this has to catch up with reality eventually.

Anthropomorphism or True Empathy?

Photo: Tobias Baumgaertner www.tobiasvisual.com

A photographer named Tobias Baumgaertner spent three nights with a little penguin colony in St. Kilda, Melbourne Australia and was able to snap this photograph. We see a slightly taller black penguin with his flipper on the back of a smaller silver penguin. Thanks to a volunteer on site, Baumgaertner was able to learn more about these penguins.

“A volunteer approached me and told me that the white one was an elderly lady who had lost her partner and apparently so did the younger male to the left,” Baumgaertner wrote. “Since then they meet regularly comforting each other and standing together for hours watching the dancing lights of the nearby city.”

He wasn’t allowed to use any lights and the penguins kept moving their flippers, but his tenacity finally paid off.  “The way that these two lovebirds were caring for one another stood out from the entire colony,” he shared. “While all the other penguins were sleeping or running around, those two seemed to just stand there and enjoy every second they had together, holding each other in their flippers and talking about penguin stuff.”

While it’s a romantic story it may not be entirely accurate. Earthcare St. Kilda, a non-profit that manages the colony, wrote that the penguins might actually be related. They identified the penguin on the right as a pre-molt adult and the penguin on the left as a juvenile that may be the offspring of the adult.

Stories like this seem to always offer us two alternatives: to see God’s handiwork or to see life as nothing more than science and random events. If you do check this out you will of course see many rightful cautions about “anthropomorphic” bias we may have. After all, our perspective is that of a human. It would be wonderful if we could somehow truly understand what these two penguins were actually thinking and saying to each other.

To me, the beauty of this is that we can’t know for sure. And, just like all other areas of faith and hope we are left with the free will of making that choice. I hope you choose to see this as heartwarming as I do.