Experiments by Harvard and Carnegie Institute scholars have confirmed that, under deep-earth pressures, non-living compounds can combine to create methane. Apparently this experiment was the result of a happy coincidence: a Nobel laureate with access to a"diamond anvil" (on left) capable of recreating pressures equivalent to depths from 140 to 4000 miles below the earth (and allowing the results inside to be examined with laser and X-ray without being opened) happens to be interested in the history of his field. In this case the history was a book about periodic table developer Dmitri Mendeleev, a member of a tradition of Russian and Ukranian scientists who believed that petroleum products might be the result of"abiotic" (non-living) processes rather than the remains of ancient plants and animals.
"The new findings may serve to corroborate other evidence, cited by Gold, that some of the earth's reservoirs of oil appear to refill as they're pumped out, suggesting that petroleum may be continually generated. This could have broad implications....." Really?
Bio-Feedback (so to speak): I was talking to a couple of friends during our sons' swim class, and the price of oil came up, so I mentioned the Herschberg experiments above. The astrophysicist pointed out that limestone, one of the major components of the experiments cited above, is a byproduct of living organisms: molluscs and shellfish. The computer scientist pointed out that, impressive as that is, it's easier to make petroleum products starting from living tissue waste: turkey guts and medical waste. The byproducts of that process are heavy oils, fertilizer-quality nitrogen compounds, distilled water, methane, activated carbon and"dry minerals." The methane goes back into running the plant, and when you add in the payments from the turkey processor for waste disposal (now that the Mad Cow scare has abated, the plant has to pay for turkey waste, since it competes with cattle feeders), the oil produced is nearly commercially viable. The article I found is almost two years old, so here's an update with current costs and inputs, and noting that Europeans are interested in the technology.
Truth is wierder than fiction: On or before the ides of March, someone stole the"Ides of March" a work that has been called an"American Stonehenge" (see for yourself on right). Why? How? Why?
Recantation: When I suggested that handguns and hunting weapons should be legal and easily obtained because they are less problematic than more powerful weapons, I was wrong. I hereby return to my default position: guns are dangerous; the more guns, the greater the danger; the less controls, the greater the danger.