Archive for March 13th, 2012

Stop signs vs. traffic lights

Tuesday, March 13th, 2012

Safer than a signal?


Neighbors near my home have complained for years about speeding traffic along Glascock Street and Brookside Drive. Finally, some opted to petition the city to implement traffic calming measures and the city agreed to act.

Part of the plan includes removing the traffic signal at Glascock and Brookside in favor of stop signs. Some neighbors in Oakwood expressed concern about this change, fearing that it would cause confusion, especially when kids are walking to school.

Well, I have kids at the local school and we either walk or ride bikes there every school day. Glascock isn’t part of our preferred path because, not only is Edmund Street more convenient for us but also too many cars speed on Glascock. Even so, I walk through the Glascock/Brookside intersection nearly every other morning and can say that even with traffic signals (and pedestrian heads) crossing there remains a dicey undertaking.
(more…)

Why the world is running out of helium

Tuesday, March 13th, 2012

My friends at N.C. Nearspace are aghast at the skyrocketing cost of helium used to fill their balloons. One of the planet’s most irreplaceable resources, helium may vanish completely from Earth within 30 years, and the primary cause is a 1996 law passed by Congress. Read more about this crisis from the Independent (UK):

It is the second-lightest element in the Universe, has the lowest boiling-point of any gas and is commonly used through the world to inflate party balloons. But helium is also a non-renewable resource and the world’s reserves of the precious gas are about to run out, a shortage that is likely to have far-reaching repercussions.

Scientists have warned that the world’s most commonly used inert gas is being depleted at an astonishing rate because of a law passed in the United States in 1996 which has effectively made helium too cheap to recycle.

The law stipulates that the US National Helium Reserve, which is kept in a disused underground gas field near Amarillo, Texas – by far the biggest store of helium in the world – must all be sold off by 2015, irrespective of the market price.

The experts warn that the world could run out of helium within 25 to 30 years, potentially spelling disaster for hospitals, whose MRI scanners are cooled by the gas in liquid form, and anti-terrorist authorities who rely on helium for their radiation monitors, as well as the millions of children who love to watch their helium-filled balloons float into the sky.

via Why the world is running out of helium – Science – News – The Independent.

Update: Looks like I posted about this before, but it bears mentioning again.