This is Episode 35 of the show! Today we bring you meatless meat for carnivores, getting energy from where the sun don’t shine, eyes in the back of your head, and whether or not humans should go to Mars.
Meat-Eaters, Meet your Non-meat meat!
- Plant based ground beef alternative
- Developed by “Impossible Foods”
- Founded by a Stanford biochemist Patrick Brown
- This isn’t a just a pseudo-meat for vegetarians and vegans, either
- Target market is hardcore carnivores
- We’ve discussed a few times about the amount of water, electricity, and other resources required to meet the global demand for meat
- This product requires far less resources, has a drastically shorter time-to-table and should become price competitive in the near future - hopefully even becoming cheaper than the real deal
- Apparently, if the article is to believed, the taste is incredible
- The author noted that it was a bit less flavorful than real beef, but had he not known that it wasn’t meat, he wouldn’t have noticed.
- Looks pink and marbled uncooked, sizzles on the grill/pan, juicy and has real meaty flavor
- The flavor secret: Heme
- Heme is an iron-containing molecule in blood that carries oxygen
- Legumes contain leghemoglobin which could have been used… buuuut…
- Extracting that is expensive, time consuming and still unearths carbon, which is one of the main goals of finding an alternative product
- Technology to the rescue!
- They took the gene responsible for producing heme from the soybean and added it to yeast
- Now they can make vats of the magic ingredient
- One vat is enough to make 20,000 1/4lb (~110g) patties!!
- It even smells right
- Using gas chromatography mass spectrometry
- Cooked meat gases were analyzed
- Dozens of scents combine to smell like meat, which have been replicated
- VS Beef:
- More protein
- Less fat
- Fewer calories
- No cholesterol
- No animals were harmed in the making of this burger (religious & ethical objections quelled)
- They’re not the only game in town: Beyond Meat’s “Beyond Burger” is targeted at very much the same goal.
- Brown calls the “Beyond Burger” a “home run” and sees plenty of room in the market for both of these players - with Beyond Burger targeting grocery stores first and Impossible Foods going for restaurant chains first.
Pearl Auto Retrofits Your Car with a Rearview Camera
- Pearl Auto is a bunch of ex-Apple people, apparently. I hope that means their products look great, are easy to use, and cost a fortune.
- RearVision claims to be “the backup camera redefined.”
- ORLY? How do you redefine what is in effect a straightforward service? A camera shows you what’s behind you. Seems straightforward enough.
- Hard to call this “redefinition.” More like...a little complicated, but well-thought out.
- Mounts to the license plate. There’s a bracket that goes through the screw holes. Then the unit mounts to the bracket. Secure, will be okay for most, but a little yuck for me.
- Has 2 cameras. One’s a wide angle, one’s a more typical view. Both HD. At least, that’s the way the demos look. Tech notes say one is optimized for daytime, and the other is IR and optimized for night. Also a solar charger.
- Car adapter plugs into the OBD-II port. Hope you weren’t using it for anything else. So plate camera system to adapter, wirelessly. Adapter to phone app, wirelessly. But it’s more than just a wireless relay sucking power from the OBD port. “Through advanced image processing, it analyzes the video streams to detect obstacles in your path, providing audible alerts and sending visual alerts to your phone.” Seems it offloads some compute of the imaging system in the back.
- Wireless from there to a phone app, where in the demo you see a split screen. One camera view on top, another on bottom. Or see all from one camera in landscape mode.
- Comes with a magnetic phone mount.
- Some tech details.
- "Any iPhone® 5 (or newer) with iOS 9 (or newer) OR Select Android™ phones with Bluetooth® 4.0 and Lollipop 5.0 (or newer)"
- Theft deterrent screw. Because getting those bits is hard.
- $500 to pre-order, shipping in September.
Renewables can’t produce enough off-peak power to meet demand… or can they?
- Coal, Gas, and Nuclear are pervasive and reliable
- Wind and Solar are catching up, but in the US there is a persistent idea that they cannot meet more than 15-20% of the grid’s demand
- This article argues that this isn’t strictly true
- Portugal recently ran for several days off 100% wind, solar, and hydro power
- This is obviously a very different use case than the US
- Germany has had incredible market penetration in renewables
- Can the US really do that, too?
- Multi-pronged system
- Hydro-power bridging the gap - it’s not ubiquitous, but it always generates power, assuming the river hasn’t been dammed or diverted somehow
- About controlling demand and supply
- Demand response - grid interactive electronics: water heaters, electric cars are both cited as good candidates for this - we discuss
- My local utility is starting to experiment with this concept - leveling out the demand by preventing peaks in demand, distributing load intelligently. It’s an opt-in program with 3 tiers:
- Do nothing - I’ll “manage” my demand myself
- Be notified - I can manage my demand in response to notifications
- Utility control - They control the water heater, etc. remotely.
- I like to imagine having my own solar array that provides all my electricity, but that doesn’t sound feasible for me for at least a few years. Is this a more realistic way to achieve renewable energy? Distributing it and leaving it up to your electric utility provider?
Should humans go to Mars?
- Fulfillment of a fantasy.
- We humans are curious.
- Progress - a technological achievement.
- Earth’s support for humans long-term is in question. (Climate change, rising oceans, etc.)
- Water under the Martian surface is quite helpful.
- Because not the moon.
- No atmosphere.
- Wild temperature fluctuations.
- No protection from solar radiation.
- Moon dust would be like “tiny shards of glass.”
- Temperature at the equator can get as warm as 70F at midday. (Although overall, it’s pretty darn cold.)
- Maybe now people will stop e-mailing me.
- A decent chance that the trip will kill you.
- It’s FAR. 225 million kilometers on average. Closest approach to Earth back in 2003 put it about 56 million Km.
- We’re bad at efficient propulsion systems.
- Mars is not terribly hospitable to human life.
- Very little atmosphere - 100 times thinner than that of Earth’s, and made of mostly carbon dioxide with just a smidge of nitrogen.
- Toxic - salt compound perchlorate in the ground.
- Expensive. Not just going to the moon over a few days. Just getting to Mars would take 6-7 months. And now you have to supply the folks there with supplies, since they aren’t going to land and be self-sufficient.
Content I Like
PBS Space Time - Youtube Channel
- The history of the Planck constant
- Why the universe “needs” dark energy
- Curved Spacetime in General Relativity
Today I Learned
Apollo 13 was terrible, Hollywood tripe.
Ron Howard stated that, after the first test preview of the film, one of the comment cards indicated "total disdain"; the audience member had written that it was a "typical Hollywood" ending and that the crew would never have survived.
“Regolith is a layer of loose, heterogeneous superficial material covering solid rock. It includes dust, soil, broken rock, and other related materials and is present on Earth, the Moon, Mars, some asteroids, and other terrestrial planets and moons.”