SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – We're all thirsty and we don't even know it.
But an Estonian start-up called Jomi Interactive aims to solve this problem.
Although they're only in a developmental stage right now (Read: Give us your money!), the company managed to turn more than a few heads online this week when prototypes of their new products were featured on TechCrunch and several other websites.
The product is a Jomi band (or sleeve). You attach it around your water bottle and it monitors your fluid intake, reminding you, with sounds and LED indicators, that, perhaps, its time to drink more water.
Or, if you've filled your Nalgene with vodka, that perhaps it's time to stroll through the hallway naked, stealing office supplies.
"Dude, that's my highlighter."
Naturally, the band will also sync up to your mobile device via Bluetooth so you can check your hydration stats. Presumably while you urinate for the next 30 minutes.
What you might actually do with this water-consumption info is sort of a mystery, but I suppose sharing it with friends is no less ridiculous than pontificating over your fantasy football results.
In fact, I'd rather hear all about your fluid intake far more than how many fake points Tom Brady scored in your Week 3 win over the A-Town Booger Heads.
Hopefully, unlike those super-fantasy nerds, Jomi fanatics will eventually give it a rest. Because the start-up claims their crusade is "to make sure we never forget it."
"It" being to drink water.
That, or the Alamo.
So, it'll be interesting to see if this product eventually takes off. Especially since at least one similar product already exists in the market -- the HydraCoach.
(Now with the special Rutgers Edition! When it's time to drink, HydraCoach will call you a homophobic slur and launch basketballs at your head! Operators are standing by!)
Sadly, however, despite all these innovative devices, and despite the fact that water is so important to our health, I don't think I'll ever actually give up on Diet Coke. I'm in the cult. And I'm in it real bad.
But not THAT bad.
You see, the day you start selling black market copper wire to pay for Diet Coke is the day you realize you have a serious problem.
And when you then find yourself missing your kid's T-ball game to slug down 20 ouncers under a bridge with actual addicts, that's when it's time to officially re-evaluate your life.
"Hey, man, beat it! This place is for serious drugs!"
Fortunately, for me, it never came to that. But there was certainly a semi-dangerous period in life where my body's entire liquid intake consisted only of Diet Coke. And I say that without a hint of hyperbole.
On a normal day I would drink three or four cans at work and then come home to literally chug out of a 2-liter bottle from the fridge.
I'm very classy. Chicks dig me.
But they don't dig me nearly as much as my dog, Mikey, who would anxiously stare up into my eyes as I power-blasted "daddy's medicine."
Mikey stared partly because I think he was amazed at what a disgusting, chemically-infused human pig I had become. But he also stared because he was (and is) always a grateful recipient of the empty plastic bottle.
Which, for a dog, is basically like getting a new Nintendo 64 every single day. You know, back when that was actually a relevant analogy.
Of course, despite the 100% scientific fact that Diet Coke is made from the tears of angels and unicorns, and carbonated by the gentle vibrations of Art Garfunkel's voice, I believe -- though, some research doesn't necessarily agree -- that a major negative side affect of this addiction is chronic dehydration.
It's fluid. But it's not water.
Either way, it probably wasn't a smart way to live, and I was always parched.
So I've worked out some rules to help ease me back into healthy hydration. Mind you, they're terrible rules, and I routinely bend them to achieve a far more important goal. Namely, to drink more Diet Coke.
I'm enjoying one right now. Loopholes. They're everywhere!
The basic idea is that I can only have Diet Coke on the weekends and days off from work. However, business travel counts as a weekend. And, if Diet Coke is provided free as part of a work lunch or company event, that also negates the not-at-the-office rule.
Additionally, Friday at 12:00:01am is when weekends officially start. And if I'm going on vacation, the last actual day of work that week counts as a Friday.
Other exceptions include national holidays, important televised soccer matches (including pre- and post-game analysis), and whenever somebody says the secret magic word. Today it's "Synergy."
So, if you're a betting man, the smart money is on another Diet Coke!
I also have a good feeling about the A-Town Booger Heads.-www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – Violent clashes erupted in Santiago as tens of thousands marched through the streets demanding education reforms in Chile. Police fired tear gas and water cannons to disperse the crowds.
Over 100 demonstrators were reportedly detained and eight officers injured as massive street protests once again rocked the city. One of the injured officers is said to be in critical condition after being hit by acid.
Some 80,000 protesters took part in the demonstration, authorities said, while organizers – the Student Federation of the University of Chile – put the figure as high as 150,000.
The bulk of the protests did not see any major violent incidents, though small pockets of vandalism caused property damage and some protesters threw Molotov cocktails and rocks at riot police. The organizers complained of excessive use of force by police, who have employed riot control tactics such as water cannons and tear gas.
One AP photographer documenting the protest captured two students clad in leopard print clothing and bright makeup, holding up signs that read, "The state does not regulate the business of prostitution because it is a 'private business.' If education is a private business, what can we expect?"
The protests, which have been ongoing in Chile since the 2006-2010 term of former President Michelle Bachelet, have proved to be an even larger political liability for her successor Sebastian Pinera.
Students taking part in the protests are demanding that the Chilean government provide free education, and have complained of inadequate public schools and unaffordable private universities. Though Pinera’s administration vowed to allocate a portion of the country’s 2013 budget to finance school loans at lower rates, student alliances seem dissatisfied with the government’s lack of progress in the two-plus years of his term.
Chile is considered to have one of the best – and most expensive – education systems in Latin America. The country also has one of the world’s lowest levels of public funding for higher education, which protesters believe has resulted in poor teaching quality and overall inequality in Chilean society.
The massive protests are mainly organized by the Confederation of Chilean Student Federations (CONFECH), which has presented a 'Social Agreement for Chilean Education' that proposes increased state support for public higher education leading to free education, the elimination of for-profit universities and the repeal of laws that prohibit student participation in university governance.
The unrest has badly damaged President Pinera’s approval ratings, which sank below 30 percent in 2011 and have not made a significant rebound. Though Chile is considered one of the most stable countries in the region, student protests have accounted for the largest civil unrest since the country’s return to democracy in 1990, making education reform one of the top issues in the upcoming 2013 presidential elections.-www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – Efforts to divert water from mountains in Morocco to irrigate oases farms have dramatically increased the natural saltiness of groundwater.
For more than 40 years, snowmelt and runoff from Morocco’s High Atlas Mountains has been dammed and redirected hundreds of kilometers to the south to irrigate oases farms in the arid, sub-Saharan Draa Basin.
Researchers from Duke University and Ibn Zohr University in Agadir, Morocco, measured dissolved salt levels as high as 12,000 milligrams per liter at some locations—far above the 1,000 to 2,000 milligrams per liter most crops can tolerate.
Dissolved salt levels in the groundwater of the three southernmost farm oases are now so high they endanger the long-term sustainability of date palm farming there.
“The flow of imported surface water onto farm fields has caused natural salts in the desert soil and underlying rock strata to dissolve and leach into local groundwater supplies,” says Avner Vengosh, professor of geochemistry and water quality at Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment. “Over time, the buildup of dissolved salt levels has become irreversible.”
The scientists were able to know this by identifying the distinctive geochemical and isotopic signatures of different elements in the water, such as oxygen, strontium, and boron. Elements in low-saline water have different stable isotope signatures, or fingerprints, than those in high-saline water.
“Once we get a water sample’s fingerprint, we can compare it to the fingerprints of other samples and track the nature of the salinity source,” explains Nathaniel Warner, a PhD student at Duke who led the study. “We can also track the source of low-saline water flowing into a system.”
The practice of importing freshwater to irrigate crops is widespread throughout much of the world’s arid regions, Vengosh notes. Governments have invested billions of dollars to construct reservoirs, dams, pipelines, canals and other infrastructure to bring the vital resource from areas where it is plentiful to where it is scarce.
Future climate change models predict significant reductions in precipitation in the Southern Mediterranean and Northern Africa regions in coming decades. Snowmelt and runoff will diminish.
Local groundwater may be the best—perhaps only—source of water remaining for many communities.
“Protecting this vital resource, and helping governments in desert areas worldwide find new, untapped sources of it, is the wiser approach in the long run,” Vengosh says. “The forensic tracing technologies we used in this study can help do that.”
Warner notes that by using the isotopic fingerprinting technologies, the researchers discovered a previously overlooked low-saline water source that flows naturally into the Draa Basin from the adjacent Anti-Atlas Jabel Saghro Mountains.
The natural flow of freshwater from this source dilutes the saltiness of nearby groundwater aquifers and improves prospects for the future of farming at the basin’s three northernmost oases.
Dissolved salt levels in these oases’ groundwater are between 450 and 4,225 milligrams per liter—a more sustainable level, especially for growing date palms, which are the primary commercial crop in the basin and relatively salt-tolerant.
“Prior to our study, people didn’t think this was a major water input into the Draa system,” Vengosh says. “We now know it is—and that it deserves to be protected as such.”-www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) -- One of the ways for identifying prophets is through miracles; extraordinary actions that can't be taught or learned by normal people that others aren't capable of doing.
Prophet Isa (pbuh) had several miracles, namely: awakening the dead, curing those born blind and curing the sick. The Quran says: “…and when You made out of clay the figure of the bird by My leave, you breathed into it and it became a bird by My Leave; and you healed those born-blind and the lepers by My Leave and when you brought the dead to life by My Leave…” Nevertheless, walking on water hasn’t been mentioned in the Quran, although it has been pointed to in a hadith by Imam Sadiq (as).
 Jafar Sobhani, Al-Ilahiyyat fil-Kitabi wal-Sunnah, vol. 2, pg. 64.
 Mohammad Baqir Majlisi, Biharul-Anwar, vol. 14, pg. 254: “اتَّقُوا اللَّهَ وَ لَا یَحْسُدْ بَعْضُکُمْ بَعْضاً إِنَّ عِیسَى ابْنَ مَرْیَمَ ع کَانَ مِنْ شَرَائِعِهِ السَّیْحُ فِی الْبِلَادِ فَخَرَجَ فِی بَعْضِ سَیْحِهِ وَ مَعَهُ رَجُلٌ مِنْ أَصْحَابِهِ قَصِیرٌ وَ کَانَ کَثِیرَ اللُّزُومِ لِعِیسَى ابْنِ مَرْیَمَ ع فَلَمَّا انْتَهَى عِیسَى إِلَى الْبَحْرِ قَالَ بِسْمِ اللَّهِ بِصِحَّةِ یَقِینٍ مِنْهُ فَمَشَى عَلَى ظَهْرِ الْمَاءِ فَقَالَ الرَّجُلُ الْقَصِیرُ حِینَ نَظَرَ إِلَى عِیسَى ع جَازَهُ بِسْمِ اللَّهِ بِصِحَّةِ یَقِینٍ مِنْهُ فَمَشَى عَلَى الْمَاءِ فَلَحِقَ بِعِیسَى ع فَدَخَلَهُ الْعُجْبُ بِنَفْسِهِ فَقَالَ هَذَا عِیسَى رُوحُ اللَّهِ یَمْشِی عَلَى الْمَاءِ وَ أَنَا أَمْشِی عَلَى الْمَاءِ فَمَا فَضْله”
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) –Gold could be deposited almost instantaneously in the Earth's crust during earthquakes, say Australian researchers.
The researchers have found gold is formed when an earthquake widens a fluid-filled rock fracture, causing a drop in pressure, which in turn allows gold dissolved in the fluid to rapidly leach out.
Their study, reported in the journal Nature Geoscience, explains how the metal changes from a soluble state to concentrated deposits.
"[This process] may underpin the formation of up to 80 per cent of the world's gold deposits," they write.
Much of the world's gold is found in quartz veins that formed during periods of mountain building up to three billion years ago and was deposited by large volumes of water along deep, seismically active faults.
The veins were formed under fluctuating pressures during earthquakes, but until now, the magnitude of these pressure shifts and how they influence the formation of gold was unknown.
Dr. Dion Weatherley of the University of Queensland and Professor Richard Henley from the Australian National University, developed a mathematical model to see how different earthquake magnitudes affect fluid-filled rock fractures.
They found that a sudden drop in pressure in the fracture causes the fluid inside to expand and vaporise — a process known as flash vaporization.
"The change in the volume of the fracture causes a change in fluid pressure," explains Weatherley.
"The fluid becomes supersaturated at the low pressures and the various minerals that are dissolved will precipitate out very rapidly."
Gold deposits build up
Different minerals are known to precipitate out of fluids at specific pressures.
Weatherley and Henley found the ability of minerals to dissolve out of the water grew quickly even for relatively small earthquakes.
While a single event may not deposit significant levels of gold, successive earthquakes in the same area can cause a build up of these deposits within the fracture eventually leading to economically viable gold concentrations, say the researchers.
The bulk of gold mined today has been found where deposits are exposed on or near the surface.
According to Weatherley, geologists believe they've explored the majority of the dry part of the planet, and now have to start looking for deposits which are hidden in deeper parts of the crust.
That requires more knowledge on the geological processes that have been occurring in that part of the world.
"When we know what forms a deposit, we can go looking for ancillary tell-tale signs of where those kind of mechanisms may have been occurring both in the recent past and through geological time," says Weatherley.
"This may assist in future gold exploration efforts."-www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – Running cold tap water over accidental burns and scalds is generally accepted as the best way to cool the skin and prevent blistering.
But a study in the Journal of Plastic, Reconstructive & Aesthetic Surgery suggests the reverse—that using warm instead of cold water, while counterintuitive, may be a more effective method of limiting tissue damage and restoring blood flow to burned areas.
Swiss researchers used a heated metal template to induce same-size burns on anesthetized rats in four places on each of their backs. (Pain medication was administered before and after the procedure).
One group of rats was treated for 20 minutes with gauze soaked in water cooled to 62.6 degrees Fahrenheit. A second group received gauze containing water at 98.6 degrees.
A third group of control rats wasn't treated. The burns and unburned spaces between the burns were tested after one hour, 24 hours, four days and seven days.
Within 24 hours, burn damage in the control rats had extended to underlying tissues, whereas the burned area didn't immediately change in the rats treated with cold or warm water, researchers said. After four days, all the animals developed tissue damage, or necrosis, in the spaces between the burns, but the damage was significantly less in the rats treated with warm water.
Although the experiments were performed on rats, the researchers said the basic principles and mechanisms of burn progression are similar to those in humans.
While applying cold tap water to burns helps to cool the skin, it can be painful after 20 minutes and leads to abnormally low temperature in the skin, according to lead researcher Reto Wettstein, a plastic and reconstructive hand surgeon in Basel, Switzerland.
Wettstein personally practices rapid cooling with cold water for about a minute and then switches to warm water to help restore circulation.-www.shfaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – Fresh water. The planet has only so much to meet the needs of a growing world population. And global warming throws more uncertainty into the mix by increasing chances of extreme weather, such as more intense droughts in some places.
Dry spells, such as the devastating drought that gripped much of the United States last year, come with economic costs in the developed world and deadly consequences in poorer countries.
There is no secret source of water of the future. Conservation is the best answer, agreed panelists at a discussion held Thursday here at the New York Academy of Sciences.
Better than building
Using the available water is much cheaper than building more reservoirs, pipelines, desalinization plants (to remove salt from seawater) and other infrastructure, said panelist Brian Richter, director of global freshwater strategies for The Nature Conservancy. [Dry and Drying: Images of Drought]
"'I related it to my personal banking account,'" Richter said, quoting a friend. "'If I am overdrafting my personal bank account it is going to do me no good to open up another account.' You can't build your way out of the problem. We are not making any new water."
The good news is, he said, "We're wasting so much, so there is a lot of potential to do a whole lot better."
History shows that conservation is realistic, said panelist Peter Gleick, co-founder of the nonprofit Pacific Institute.
Between 1900 and 2005, the U.S. gross domestic product (goods and services produced by the economy) grew rapidly. Water use paralleled this growth until 1980, then it leveled off.
"The assumption that our demand for water has to go up with population and economy is a false assumption," Gleick said.
In reality, it is unlikely the United States could have found the water it needed if water withdrawals had continued to grow, he said.
A number of factors tamped down demand for water over the past three decades, he said. Irrigation systems have become more efficient, losing less water to evaporation; Americans are eating less beef, which requires water to raise; toilets, washing machines and industrial processes require less water; Americans are reusing treated wastewater, although "we don't do it much and could do it more," Gleick said.
In fact, wastewater treatment infrastructure could be distributed within particular areas, rather than centralized in a single plant, allowing water to be recycled within those areas. Wastewater would be treated, redistributed to users, then returned for treatment, reducing the substantial costs associated with pumping water across long distances, noted Upmanu Lall of Columbia University's The Earth Institute.
At its source
New York City itself offers an example of good planning, said Adam Freed, director of the Nature Conservancy’s Global Security Water Program, who said that cities are often focal points for the global water crisis. [Earth in the Balance: 7 Crucial Tipping Points]
About 2,000 square miles (5,180 square kilometers) of watershed (land that drains into a particular waterway) has been set aside in the Catskill Mountains and the Hudson River Valley to supply the city with clean water. By investing in protecting the watershed from pollution, the city has saved itself the much larger costs associated with treating the water it needs, Freed said.
This strategy of protecting the water at its source needs to be replicated elsewhere, he said.
Water and money
The private sector has an important role to play, said Brooke Barton, who leads the water program of Ceres, an organization that advocates for sustainable leadership in business.
A number of large companies, such as Coca-Cola and Ford, have recently made commitments to address water use. But the private sector still has far to go, she said. In a study conducted last year, Ceres researchers found that many large companies were far behind the curve with regard to water conservation, Barton said.
The investment community is likely to play an important role in change by pushing companies to gather more data about risks associated with water use, she said.
The cost of water use is often hidden, changing water's price could affect usage, just as gas consumption changes with price, Richter pointed out, with a caveat: "We do have to be careful not to raise the price out of the (range of) affordability of the poor.”
Warming brought by climate change is expected to intensify the water cycle — the processes by which water travels between the oceans, land and atmosphere — by increasing evaporation. This is expected to cause changes in extreme weather, including more heat waves and heavy downpours, as well as intense droughts in some, not necessarily the same, places.
These changes will affect water resources, Gleick said.
“Our water systems were designed for yesterday’s climate, and managed for yesterday’s climate,” he said.
Although current changes are the result of human activity, climate change itself isn’t a new phenomenon. Lall said that in the past, nature has shown great variability, at least as large as anything projected for the future. Knowledge of this history can provide a place to start with regard to adaptation, he said.
"We have to deal with variability," Gleick said. "But climate change may also impose unexpected problems that our past experience isn't sufficient to deal with."-www.shfaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) -- A river flowing through Rui'an city in China's Zhejiang province is so badly polluted that not even a $30,000 reward could persuade a local environmental official to swim in it for 20 minutes.
That was the challenge that Chinese entrepreneur Jin Zengmin put to Bao Zhenming, the Environmental Protection Bureau chief in Zhejiang, on Chinese social media website Weibo. Jin posted three photos showing the river full of floating garbage, and said he was able to swim in the river when he was a child. Heblamed nearby rubber shoe manufacturing plants for polluting it.
An official with the local Environmental Protection Bureau was quoted by the state-run China Daily newspaper as saying that Bao had inspected the site and found that "it is not chemical waste" that was polluting the river, but "household refuse dumped by local residents".
Despite the hefty reward to take a dip Bao declined the offer, but not before Jin's photos and "dare" had gone viral online, drawing much attention to the badly polluted state of China's rivers.
China's recent problems with air pollution, dubbed the "airpocalypse", grabbed headlines around the world as a number of cities, especially the capital Beijing, have been frequently shrouded in a thick and dangerous layer of smog since the start of the new year. But the problem of water pollution has also gained increased media and public attention within China.
President Xi Jinping officially becomes head of the China on Tuesday, and environmental protection will be a major priority for his government. In a move last week, the government issued a list of chemicals and industries that will be prioritised for pollution prevention and control.
The Ministry of Environmental Protection in a report also linked pollution in the country's water systems to the spread of cancer in certain villages, which are mostly located close to factories or heavy industry.
So-called "cancer villages" is a term increasingly used to describe areas where the number of cancer cases has increased. It is a phenomenon that has been investigated by journalists, scientists and campaigners, but which had not been officially recognised before.
The document warned that the country faces a "grave" situation from chemical pollution, and that there has been "a string of chemical pollution accidents, leading to polluted drinking water and higher rates of cancer in some areas", according to the state-run China Daily newspaper.
It also confirmed that the level of some dangerous pollutants - including endocrine disrupting chemicals in China's water sources - are above international levels and described the situation as "very grim". China produces and uses “toxic and hazardous” chemicals that are prohibited and restricted in many developed countries.
"In less than 10 years, the quality of groundwater had deteriorated rapidly,” the China Daily said in a commentary last month. “If this trend continues, Chinese people will have no clean water to drink in the near future."
About 40,000 types of chemicals were being used in China and some 3,000 of them contained "poisonous, corrosive, explosive or combustible properties", the ministry report said, highlighting a five-year plan to "guard against and control risks presented by chemicals to the environment".
Greenpeace applauded the government's transparency and apparent move to address the problem.
“This five-year plan is a breakthrough because for the first time it lists the most dangerous chemicals. It shows that the government is taking its first steps and major steps to address pollution caused by chemicals,” toxic campaigner Yixiu Wu told Al Jazeera.
Wu said although scientists and journalists had profiled “cancer villages” previously, never before had the phrase appeared in official documents. “It shows the government is being more transparent and honest in addressing the problems. This is a huge step.”
Social media outrage
Social media such as Weibo has proven a popular way for members of the public to draw attention to such environmental problems and to vent their anger and frustration.
"These sort of social media campaigns are having an impact and growing in popularity," said Debra Tan of China Water Risk, a Hong Kong based non-profit initiative. "I think it is going to be harder to clamp down on them or harder to control.
"It is a way of redress against poor enforcement. And the more people see that their action can lead to suspension or revocation of licences at a local level then the more it will happen," she told Al Jazeera. "There is also a general rise in affluence and as people urbanise, move to cities and have access to the internet, and to these kinds of social media, they also become more aware."
It's not just dirty rivers that have come to the attention of China's micro-bloggers, polluted groundwater has also been a target. Just before the Chinese New Year holiday, journalist and activist Deng Fei posted a request on Weibo for people travelling home over the holiday to take a photo of waterways in their hometowns and post it to the social media website.
A large number of photos showed rubbish and sludge-filled rivers, but it was groundwater that received the most attention. Web users accused factories and chemical plants in Weifang, Shangdong province, of discharging untreated waste underground.
"I was just angry after receiving information from web users saying that the groundwater in Shandong had been polluted and I forwarded it online. But it came as a surprise to me that after I sent out these posts, many people from different places in northern and eastern China all complained that their hometowns have been similarly polluted," Deng Fei told the state-run Global Times.
In response to the online campaign, the government in Shandong province offered a reward of 100,000 RMB ($16,000) for evidence of local companies pumping waste water underground. It was reported in China's state media that more than 700 companies had been investigated, but the authorities claimed to have found no violations.
Chinese state media has also been drawing attention to the issue of groundwater pollution. Recently state television station China Central Television (CCTV)reported that 55 percent of the groundwater of Chinese cities is either "poor" or "very poor", quoting a study by the Ministry of Land and Resources.
The head of the Environmental and Natural Resources Law Research Institute under the China University of Political Science and Law, Wang Canfa, told CCTV that investment by the government in environmental protection has not caught up with China's economic development.
"We need to allocate at least 2.5 percent or 3 percent of GDP to environmental protection in order to see positive results. But so far, only 1.6 percent has been invested," Wang said.
While the government has made an effort to clean it up, groundwater over the last few years has worsened instead of improving, said Tan. "This is a problem because this is the hardest type of water to clean up. And most of the north of China is more reliant on groundwater than the south of China.
"Pollution has been awful in China recently," she said.
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – ceramic tablet infused with silver or copper nanoparticles can disinfect water for up to six months.
Called MadiDrop, the tablets are being developed for use in communities in South Africa that have little to no access to water.
PureMadi, a nonprofit University of Virginia organization, invented the tablet and has established a water filter factory in Limpopo province, South Africa, employing local workers. The factory has produced several hundred flowerpot-like water filters that utilize the same technology as the tablets to purify water.
“Eventually that factory will be capable of producing about 500 to 1,000 filters per month, and our 10-year plan is to build 10 to 12 factories in South Africa and other countries,” says James Smith, a University of Virginia civil and environmental engineer who co-leads the project with Rebecca Dillingham, director of the university’s Center for Global Health.
“Each filter can serve a family of five or six for two to five years, so we plan to eventually serve at least 500,000 people per year with new filters,” adds Smith.
The idea is to create sustainable businesses that serve their communities and employ localworkers. A small percentage of the profits go back to PureMadi and will be used to help establish more factories.
The filters are made of local clay, sawdust, and water. Those materials are mixed and pressed into a mold. The result is a flowerpot-shaped filter, which is then fired in a kiln.
The firing burns off the sawdust, leaving a ceramic with very fine pores. The filter is then painted with a thin solution of silver or copper nanoparticles that serve as a highly effective disinfectant for waterborne pathogens, the type of which can cause severe diarrhea, vomiting and dehydration.
The design allows a user to pour water from an untreated source, such as a river or well, into the pot and allow it to filter through into a five-gallon bucket underneath.
The pot has a flow rate of one to three liters per hour, enough for drinking and cooking. The filtered water is accessed through a spigot in the bucket.
Smith says testing has shown that 99.9 percent of the pathogens in water can be removed or killed by the filter.
MadiDrop is an alternative to the flowerpot filter, but ideally would be used in conjunction with it. The plan is to mass-produce the product at the same factories where the PureMadi filters are produced.
“MadiDrop is cheaper, easier to use, and is easier to transport than the PureMadi filter, but because it is placed into the water, rather than having the water filter through it, the MadiDrop is not effective for removing sediment in water that causes discoloration or flavor impairment,” Smith says.
“But its ease of use, cost-effectiveness and simple manufacturing process should allow us to make it readily available to a substantial population of users, more so than the more expensive PureMadi filter.”
Testing shows that the filters are safe to use and release only trace amounts of silver or copper particles, well within the safe water standards of the developed world. The filters also would be useful in rural areas of developed countries such as the United States where people rely on untreated well water.
The National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, and the University of Virginia support PureMadi. Partners include the University of Venda in South Africa; Potters for Peace, a nonprofit organization committed to providing safe drinking water in the developing world; and local communities in Limpopo province in South Africa.-www.shfaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – Dyson - the British engineering group - has unveiled a device that combines a high-speed hand dryer with hot and cold water outlets.
The Airblade Tap builds on the firm's success with its existing standalone cold air hand driers, but is more expensive at £1,000.
The firm's founder, Sir James Dyson, said that the device offered long-term savings over hot air dryers and towels.
However, one expert said its appeal might be limited until its cost fell.
The machine consists of a unit placed underneath the sink containing a motor, an air filter and sound-silencing equipment; a pipe that carriers the water, electrics and air to the tap; and a stainless steel head unit from which the water flows and unheated air jets out at 430mph (692 km/h).
Infrared sensors detect where the user's hands are - if placed under the tap's centre water comes out, if under its sides the air nozzles are triggered.
The firm said that the technology was protected by 110 granted patents with another 100 pending.
Dyson's existing Airblade range - launched in 2006 - has proved a money spinner for the firm. It said that to date the hand dryers had been installed in more than 250,000 locations worldwide.
Although the minimalistic hybrid water-air tap head is the device's signature feature, Sir James said that the "secret" of the machine was its motor, which had taken seven years to develop.
It uses an electromagnetic field, rather than carbon brushes, to accelerate from standstill to up to 100,000 revolutions per minute within 0.7 seconds. That was about four times the number of revolutions per minute that motors its size typically produced, Sir James said.
Software run off a built-in computer chip then makes about 6,000 adjustments a second to maintain optimum efficiency, and the unit is mounted on springs to prevent vibrations being passed on to the rest of the equipment.
The motor is guaranteed to last for five years, and the firm estimates over its lifetime it should be able to pump the equivalent amount of air needed to fill 26 million party balloons.
Companies such as Hyco, Warner Howard and Airdri make much cheaper hand driers - with basic units selling for between £50 and £80. But Sir James said his latest product offered advantages in the long run.
"If you had a hot air hand dryer you would have five times the [running] cost, and if you had paper towels you'd have 15 times the cost," said Sir James.
"So actually although the initial cost is expensive it saves you money and you use a lot less energy with it."
He added that his firm would initially target the device at restaurants, hotels, airports and sports stadia, but added that he thought it ultimately "ought to be in everybody's house" as it was more hygienic than using and re-using hand towels.
Will Dunn, news editor of Stuff Magazine, described the new dryer as "impressive" but suggested that unless there was a radical price drop its appeal was likely to be limited to businesses willing to pay a premium for stylish design.
"It would fit into the home because it doesn't look obtrusive and doesn't take up much space," he said.
"But it would take a long time to pay for itself because the idea of spending £1,000 on a tap is unrealistic for most people beyond the very rich."
However, he added that it would now be interesting to see what other more affordable uses the firm would have for the motor.
"What Dyson always do is invent new technologies that then trickle down into lots of different things."
Made in Singapore
Sir James confirmed that while the research and design of the new dryer had been carried out at the firm's facility in Malmesbury, Wiltshire, the company was going to build the taps at its new plant in Singapore.
Dyson began shifting production to Asia in 2002 when it announced it was cutting jobs to build its vacuum cleaners in Malaysia. 550 posts were lost. At the time the union Amicus - now known as Unite - condemned the move, accusing the firm of having "betrayed" British manufacturing.
But Sir James said the past decade had proved the move had been justified.
"The problem for us is that all the components [involved] are made in the Far East," he said.
"The important thing is that all the research and development is here in Britain... all our exports are done from Britain and all our tax is paid in Britain and we employ large amounts of people - 2,000 of them - down in Malmesbury."
In addition to the Airblade Tap, Dyson is also refreshing its existing hand dryer range to take advantage of the new motor. The new machines will be made available in 37 countries.-www.shfaqna.com/English