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Open thread 1/10/24

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  • ghostsniper January 10, 2024, 8:07 AM

    A few years ago someone came up with “transparent concrete”, now they have transparent wood.
    Soon, you’ll be able to build an invisible house.
    Walking from the shower to the bedroom may get you a ticket for indecent exposure.


    See-Through Wood Is Stronger Than Plastic and Tougher Than Glass
    Transparent wood material is being exploited for smartphone screens, insulated windows, and more

    Thirty years ago, a botanist in Germany had a simple wish: to see the inner workings of woody plants without dissecting them. By bleaching away the pigments in plant cells, Siegfried Fink managed to create transparent wood, and he published his technique in a niche wood technology journal. The 1992 paper remained the last word on see-through wood for more than a decade, until a researcher named Lars Berglund stumbled across it.

    Berglund was inspired by Fink’s discovery, but not for botanical reasons. The materials scientist, who works at KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden, specializes in polymer composites and was interested in creating a more robust alternative to transparent plastic. And he wasn’t the only one interested in wood’s virtues. Across the ocean, researchers at the University of Maryland were busy on a related goal: harnessing the strength of wood for nontraditional purposes.

    Now, after years of experiments, the research of these groups is starting to bear fruit. Transparent wood could soon find uses in super-strong screens for smartphones; in soft, glowing light fixtures; and even as structural features, such as color-changing windows.

    “I truly believe this material has a promising future,” says Qiliang Fu, a wood nanotechnologist at Nanjing Forestry University in China who worked in Berglund’s lab as a graduate student.

    Wood is made up of countless little vertical channels, like a tight bundle of straws bound together with glue. These tube-shaped cells transport water and nutrients throughout a tree, and when the tree is harvested and the moisture evaporates, pockets of air are left behind. To create see-through wood, scientists first need to modify or get rid of the glue, called lignin, that holds the cell bundles together and provides trunks and branches with most of their earthy brown hues. After bleaching lignin’s color away or otherwise removing it, a milky-white skeleton of hollow cells remains.

    This skeleton is still opaque, because the cell walls bend light to a different degree than the air in the cell pockets does — a value called a refractive index. Filling the air pockets with a substance like epoxy resin that bends light to a similar degree to the cell walls renders the wood transparent.

    The material the scientists worked with is thin — typically less than a millimeter to around a centimeter thick. But the cells create a sturdy honeycomb structure, and the tiny wood fibers are stronger than the best carbon fibers, says materials scientist Liangbing Hu, who leads the research group working on transparent wood at the University of Maryland in College Park. And with the resin added, transparent wood outperforms plastic and glass: In tests measuring how easily materials fracture or break under pressure, transparent wood came out around three times stronger than transparent plastics like Plexiglass and about 10 times tougher than glass.

    “The results are amazing, that a piece of wood can be as strong as glass,” says Hu, who highlighted the features of transparent wood in the 2023 Annual Review of Materials Research.

    The process also works with thicker wood but the view through that substance is hazier because it scatters more light. In their original studies from 2016, Hu and Berglund both found that millimeter-thin sheets of the resin-filled wood skeletons let through 80 to 90 percent of light. As the thickness gets closer to a centimeter, light transmittance drops: Berglund’s group reported that 3.7-millimeter-thick wood — roughly two pennies thick — transmitted only 40 percent of light.

    The slim profile and strength of the material means it could be a great alternative to products made from thin, easily shattered cuts of plastic or glass, such as display screens. The French company Woodoo, for example, uses a similar lignin-removing process in its wood screens, but leaves a bit of lignin to create a different color aesthetic. The company is tailoring its recyclable, touch-sensitive digital displays for products including car dashboards and advertising billboards.

    But most research has centered on transparent wood as an architectural feature, with windows a particularly promising use, says Prodyut Dhar, a biochemical engineer at the Indian Institute of Technology Varanasi. Transparent wood is a far better insulator than glass, so it could help buildings retain heat or keep it out. Hu and colleagues have also used polyvinyl alcohol, or PVA — a polymer used in glue and food packaging — to infiltrate the wood skeletons, making transparent wood that conducts heat at a rate five times lower than that of glass, the team reported in 2019 in Advanced Functional Materials.

    And researchers are coming up with other tweaks to increase wood’s ability to hold or release heat, which would be useful for energy-efficient buildings. Céline Montanari, a materials scientist at RISE Research Institutes of Sweden, and colleagues experimented with phase-change materials, which flip from storing to releasing heat when they change from solid to liquid, or vice-versa. By incorporating polyethylene glycol, for example, the scientists found that their wood could store heat when it was warm and release heat as it cooled, work they published in ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces In 2019.

    Transparent wood windows would therefore be stronger and aid in temperature control better than traditional glass, but the view through them would be hazy, more similar to frosted glass than a regular window. However, the haziness could be an advantage if users want diffuse light: Since thicker wood is strong, it could be a partially load-bearing light source, Berglund says, potentially acting as a ceiling that provides soft, ambient light to a room.

    Hu and Berglund have continued to toy with ways to bestow new properties on transparent wood. Around five years ago, Berglund and colleagues at KTH and Georgia Institute of Technology found they could mimic smart windows, which can switch from transparent to tinted to block visibility or the Sun’s rays. The researchers sandwiched an electrochromic polymer — a substance that can change color with electricity — between layers of transparent wood coated with an electrode polymer to conduct electricity. This created a pane of wood that changes from clear to magenta when users run a small electrical current through it.

    More recently, the two groups have shifted their attention to improving the sustainability of transparent wood production. For example, the resin used to fill the wood scaffolding is typically a petroleum-derived plastic product, so it’s better to avoid using it, Montanari says. As a replacement, she and colleagues invented a fully bio-based polymer, derived from citrus peels. The team first combined acrylic acid and limonene, a chemical extracted from lemon and orange rinds that’s found in essential oils. Then they impregnated delignified wood with it. Even with a fruity filling, the bio-based transparent wood maintained its mechanical and optical properties, withstanding around 30 megapascals of pressure more than regular wood and transmitting around 90 percent of light, the researchers reported in 2021 in Advanced Science.

    Hu’s lab, meanwhile, recently reported in Science Advances a greener lignin-bleaching method that leans on hydrogen peroxide and UV radiation, further reducing the energy demands of production. The team brushed wood slices ranging from about 0.5 to 3.5 millimeters in thickness with hydrogen peroxide, then left them in front of UV lamps to mimic the Sun’s rays. The UV bleached away the pigment-containing parts of lignin but left the structural parts intact, thus helping to retain more strength in the wood.

    These more environmentally friendly approaches help limit the amount of toxic chemicals and fossil-based polymers used in production, but for now, glass still has lower end-of-life environmental impacts than transparent wood, according to an analysis by Dhar and colleagues in Science of the Total Environment. Embracing greener production schemes and scaling up manufacturing are two steps necessary to add transparent wood to mainstream markets, researchers say, but it will take time. However, they are confident it can be done and believe in its potential as a sustainable material.

    “When you’re trying to achieve sustainability, you don’t only want to match the properties of fossil-based materials,” Montanari says. “As a scientist, I want to surpass this.”


  • ghostsniper January 10, 2024, 9:50 AM

    Go read the rest at the link.

    One can only imagine the sort of giddy high Willis and Wade were riding as they flexed their provincial power over a man they commonly despised. They must have imagined themselves as a superman and woman, flying above the rules and considerations that bind lower beings, entitled to the best life has to offer in payment for the historic, heroic service they were performing. It’s not hard to fathom that the situation got them hot and bothered, and that they turned to one another to experience the rush physically. They’re of the same ilk as the repugnant Lisa Page and Peter Strzok, the sleazy pair who abused the trust of the public and their spouses as they went after President Trump hammer and tongs.


  • ghostsniper January 10, 2024, 10:31 AM

    Are you prepared as best as possible for prolonged service interruptions?

  • ghostsniper January 10, 2024, 12:36 PM

    A dollar bill is .0043 inches thick.
    A stack of one trillion one dollar bills is 67,866 miles high.
    The US national is now more than 30 trillion dollars.
    That stack is now more than 2,000,000 miles high.
    That is a distance of 4 trips to the moon and back.

    The cool part is, I didn’t spend any of that nor did I request anyone to spend it so I am not responsible for paying it back.

    I don’t even feel sorry for the retards that did spend all that money.

    I do however hope those that spent all that money are held accountable for it.

  • ghostsniper January 10, 2024, 2:11 PM

    That’s All?
    pshaw…mere pocket change for politicians….

    Grab your loved ones and hold them close, “extreme weather ” is coming. (Also known as winter.) There will be storms, snow, hail and cold weather. But it’ll be extreme. So extreme that the weather will practically be a climate insurrection.

    Who can save us from these terrifying catastrophes? The United Nations. (Obviously.)

    The UN, already famous for having ended war, genocide, tyranny and ushered in utopia in 1956 has a plan to save the planet. It’ll just take a little pocket change.

    $150 trillion. But that’s just a minor detail. Isn’t a mere $150 trillion (also known as 150% of the world’s GDP) a small price to pay for ending the threat and menace of… extreme weather?

    The United Nations has issued its predictions for 2024, saying there will be increasing climate disasters, high food prices and more extreme weather.

    Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together… MASS HYSTERIA!

    Throughout 2022 and 2023, high food prices impacted the quality of life of people around the world. The UN says these high prices will continue in Africa, South Asia and Western Asia.

    Amazing. I can’t imagine how the UN could have predicted that.

    In his foreword to the report, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, known to be a bold advocate for climate action, says that, “Investment in climate action and sustainable development is falling woefully short.”

    How short? Shorter than a midget trying to climb Mount Rushmore.

    The report says that “massively scaling up climate finance” is a “critical priority”.

    They say current finance “remains far below the required level of green investment to limit the temperature rise to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, as set out in the Paris Agreement in 2015.”

    The authors have put numbers on what is needed, albeit estimates, saying that $150 trillion is needed between now and 2050 to transition to clean energies.

    They say $5.3 trillion is needed every year “to transform the global energy sector alone.”

    Or, and I’m just brainstorming here, we could chain every UN employee, especially those in UNRWA, to a bicycle and electroshock them if their pedaling drops below a certain speed. I understand that this is cruel. Especially to the bicycles. But we have no choice if we’re not going to save the planet. And it’s more humane than the forced abortions, bug-eating and reducing everyone to hunter-gatherer level that the UN has in mind for everyone not wearing blue.


  • Terry January 10, 2024, 7:16 PM

    Looks like it is only you and I ghost. Must be some moronic crap on the boob tube this evening.

    • ghostsniper January 11, 2024, 3:38 AM

      Seems to be dwindlin’ dudn’t it?
      Maybe I should do the same.

  • Anne January 10, 2024, 9:32 PM

    Expecting -34F this Saturday. The lowest temperature I was outside in was -27F–could not breath!

  • Anne January 10, 2024, 9:38 PM

    The coldest temperature I have ever experienced was outside at -27F. We are expecting -34F this Saturday! Gonna stay inside and keep my hero warm!

  • ghostsniper January 11, 2024, 3:46 AM

    You Call That A Debate?
    Like most people, when I was in HS they had debates in class on various subjects.

    “A formal discussion on a particular topic in a public meeting or legislative assembly, in which opposing arguments are put forward.”

    There was sort of a “joining of the minds” as it were.
    Each side learned something about the other, and common ground was often found.

    Today, american political debate is anything but debate in the traditional sense of the word.
    The debaters come across like cheezy aluminum siding salesmen and the person in charge is like a supervisor at a day care center.

    The whole mess is trash town.
    break out the ‘sheen gunz

  • Joe Krill January 11, 2024, 5:00 AM

    From Revolver;
    The blatant disregard for professionalism, rules, and transparency shown by these crooked goons attacking President Trump is unprecedented. Just look at Fani Willis, the controversial special prosecutor from Georgia, who is fervently attempting to convict President Trump of election interference in her state. Interestingly, it has come to light that she’s involved in a personal affair with a subordinate—the guy overseeing the Trump case—who billed thousands of dollars for meetings he had with White House officials.
    Nothing to see here, folks…

  • ghostsniper January 11, 2024, 1:33 PM

    Before the internet, did we care about stupid shit like this?

  • ghostsniper January 11, 2024, 2:00 PM

    From 172 years ago….
    Brains, hands, pencils, paper, backbone, muscles, and heart.
    Yes, it is art, and more, much more.


  • ghostsniper January 11, 2024, 5:32 PM

    One Year Ago Today
    Progress report
    by VANDERLEUN on JANUARY 11, 2023
    Gerard’s still in the hospital but things are looking slightly up. His last COVID test was negative, so that’s good. He has somewhat better pain control although his back spasms are still formidable. He also has had some physical therapy to get him walking again, but he’s got quite a way to go.

    He noticed in the comments that people were talking about sending funds to help. He’s deeply appreciative of that. So it’s an excellent idea. The address on the blog underneath his photo is actually a mailbox service, so any contributions sent there will be held for him. Here’s that address: Gerard Van der Leun, 1692 Mangrove Ave., Apt: 379, Chico, CA 95926. Or, if you’d prefer to send money through his other page – the one where he takes subscriptions – here’s the link to that page. Lastly, starting some sort of fundraising page at GiveSendGo would be a great idea as well.

    Gerard sends his heartfelt thanks to you for all the good wishes and prayers.


    • Joe Krill January 11, 2024, 9:03 PM

      Ghostsniper, Thank you for publishing that article along with the link. Tempus fugit. .

  • John A. Fleming January 11, 2024, 10:40 PM

    I’m still here, I just don’t always have something original to say, or something worth saying. The muse visits rarely, and I don’t often have a bee in my bonnet.

    All you midwesterners and plainsmen, get ready, here it comes, a little bit of extra cold for your winter pleasure. Look to your family and your livestock. Make sure your bulbs in the ground are well mulched if they don’t yet have snow cover.

    I recommend to not miss the opportunity. Bundle up, get outside and do stuff. Don’t have a little extra cold causing you to scurry into your warm hidey holes. You play like you practice. Just be sure to practice making sure you can stay functional in the cold out-of-doors. In severe cold, it only takes one screw-up, one slip-up, one oops I forgot my gloves or I let the wind blow them away, and you’re on a very fast track to hypothermia and frostbite and worse. The folks wintering over in Antarctica, the Siberians and far northern Canuckistanis, they run lines between buildings so they can’t wander off the track in the whiteout. They let the kids play outside in -20. You should too.

    One other thing. In extreme cold, fire is more dangerous, it’s impossible to fight if it get’s started. Make sure your equipment is in good working order.

    Just have fun out there.

    • ghostsniper January 12, 2024, 3:40 AM

      Good tips John.
      Raining hard here in south Indy and expected to continue for the rest of the day and turn into snow this evening with constant temp drop. Could get down to single digits and the wind will increase. Freezing ice and wind can cause power outages. We have a propane fireplace in the house and propane wall heater here in my office so we should be OK. The house has a propane forced air furnace that requires electricity.

      I have an Ecoflow Delta here in my office for power. I also have a 200′ heavy cord to run from my Blazer to the back door of the house. When needed, I will connect a 1000 watt sine inverter to my vehicle battery, then to that cord, to provide power to the house furnace (turn off the panel) and other things. Plenty of water and food always. My wife got her sled out last night and has it ready to go have some fun, Fun, FUN!!! Worst case scenario, I break out the Troybilt 5500 watt genset.

      • Terry January 12, 2024, 9:49 AM

        My wife and I lived off grid (no power lines even close) for 18+ years. Nevada mountains. Minus 10-20 normal lows. Occasionally -30F. Forty ft. camper trailer. Snow accumulation typically 3 ft. Drifts 6-8 ft. and more. Several times drifts so high and wind packed we were essentially trapped in the trailer. And it gets worse . . .

        Relying on refinery produced products in the coming bad days, is in my opinion not “prepared” whatsoever. We had a photovoltaic electric system (if sunny), generator backups, gasoline, diesel & propane and fire wood. We had several hundred gallons of diesel, kerosene, gasoline and 600+ gallons of propane. Cords and cords of fire wood stacked and under cover. All temporary in serious scenarios. Snowed-in on a couple storm events. No cell coverage back then. We Nordic skied when we had to get to the paved highway. If snow was hard enough I would use snow shoes.

        Water from well with AC pump run by diesel generator. Creeks on and near property frozen in winter. What to do? Melt ice and snow over wood stove. The area was populated by all manner of wild life including big game.

        My business partner had, and still has, a Pelton wheel run generator that heats a series of electrical water heating elements that included a 1000 gal. storage tank for radiator heat in his home. Free heat and lights and excess power to run kitchen appliances. Water for the Pelton wheel comes from a year around creek about 1/4 mile from his house and about 200 ft higher in elevation.

        The creek that runs through our Nevada property freezes in the winter. No Pelton wheel in the winter but we could install one for spring seasonal usage.

        Cannot move back to NV since state taken over by Communists. Police state on steroids.

  • Terry January 14, 2024, 9:20 PM

    Something to start the week off that has warmth. Remember this by Ambrosia? Written by David Pack of course:


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