Monday, June 25, 2007

Mindmashup: SPARC Student Video Contest

The Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC) invites students to participate in Mindmashup: a video contest to illustrate the value of information sharing.

The winner will receive $1,000, a public screening and a “Sparky Award”.

Perhaps the Chemists Without Borders Open Chemistry position statement and initiatives such as Useful Chemistry could be a good starting point for developing such a video?

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Water wars and Darfur

Once again, the lack of water is the cause of disaster. In Darfur, the lack of water, as well as the cutting of trees has rapidly caused environmental harm.

On the brighter side, the implementation of efficient stoves to make clay bricks has done some good:

In the Es Sallam camp next to El Fasher, a U.S. aid group, International Lifeline, has introduced a redesigned stove that uses up to 80 percent less wood. Nearly three-quarters of the camp's families now use the stoves, said Wahid Jahangiri, an Iranian who spent weeks in Es Sallam teaching women how to operate them.

"We started this as an environmental project and we're only beginning to realize the whole social and cultural impact it's having," said David Welf, the aid group's director.

You can read the whole article here.


Sunday, June 17, 2007

How Open Access Chemistry Helps Developing Countries

Excerpt from Peter Suber's Open Access News blog, Sunday, June 17, 2007 - please see OA News for the links:

Ales Fajgelj, Assuring Quality of Analytical Measurement Results: The IUPAC Role, Chemistry International, May/June 2007. Chemistry International is the news magazine of the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry.

Over the past 30 years the value of world trade has risen dramatically. In 2005 it amounted to almost USD 17 trillion.... A large proportion of this trade is dependent upon chemical analyses, since food, pharmaceutical products, medicines, ores, and chemical products in general represent the largest groups of trading items. To gain acceptance in the trading process, the quality of analytical measurement results needs to be assured and demonstrated....

...A careful look into the distribution of the most influential organizations and bodies related to standardization and harmonization in the area of analytical chemistry reveals that there is a strong concentration in the northern hemisphere. The fact is that barriers of trade exist and are still growing between developed and developing economies. One reason for this is the standardization and application of very strong quality requirements in the accreditation process, without provision of the required assistance and support to developing countries. In this respect, the role of independent, non-commercial, non-profit scientific organizations like IUPAC is of utmost importance. The second important way of overcoming such differences is by open access to scientific literature (e.g., via the Internet). The IUPAC journal Pure and Applied Chemistry is a valuable example.Open Access News blog:

Friday, June 15, 2007

CA water worries

From The SF Chronicle:

The Sonoma County Water Agency was directed by the State Water Resources Control Board on Wednesday to reduce its water diversions from the Russian River by 15 percent to protect the fall spawning of salmon. That order spurred Thursday's restrictions, which will be implemented by individual water districts and other entities that get water from the agency.
While flows in the Russian River are down because of the dry winter, Sonoma's situation is complicated by reduced flows into one of its reservoirs, Lake Mendocino, because of changed federal licensing requirements for a Pacific Gas and Electric Co. hydroelectric power plant upstream.

In Santa Clara County, about half of the water supply comes from reservoirs and aquifers and the other half from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. Supplies from the delta have been cut because of restrictions at pumping stations to protect the delta smelt, a tiny fish on the brink of extinction.

It looks like next year could be pretty bad if CA doesn't have an above average rainfall...