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A New Take on Renewable Energy


Bleeding-edge scientists are already looking into ways to take your coal-sucking cluster and turn it into a model of green, but here at GT we’re even ahead of them. Can’t afford thousands of dollars every month just to power your supercomputer? Here are our favorite ideas for alternative ways to power that cluster — and keep your postdocs in shape, too.

Solar power

Here’s the latest trend in nerd self-identification: clothing and accessories with solar panels on them. Granted, these were invented to power small devices, such as your cell phone or iPod. But we’re willing to bet if you outfitted your lab staff with these backpacks and got them to spend enough time outside, you could get a compute cluster up and running.

Stomp power

A couple of students at MIT have been working to harness the energy used in every footstep, and to that end they came up with a design for a special floor that can convert the energy from footfalls, or any other kind of motion, into electrical power. James Graham and Thaddeus Jusczyk call it “crowd farming” and estimate that just over 84 million footsteps could launch a space shuttle. GT says: install the special flooring outside your institution’s cafeteria and, if possible, wherever concerts are held. If you can’t cover the entire floor, just focus on where the mosh pit usually forms.

Bike power

A company called SiCortex unveiled this concept at Wired magazine’s NextFest meeting earlier this fall. The cluster is powered by the energy generated from seven or eight bicycles (we assume this task would be relegated to postdocs, but you can make that call for yourself). No word from SiCortex on what happens when your cyclists need a bathroom break, but you sure can’t beat the price tag.

The Scan

Comfort of Home

The Guardian reports that AstraZeneca is to run more clinical trials from people's homes with the aim of increasing participant diversity.

Keep Under Control

Genetic technologies are among the tools suggested to manage invasive species and feral animals in Australia, Newsweek says.

Just Make It

The New York Times writes that there is increased interest in applying gene synthesis to even more applications.

Nucleic Acids Research Papers on OncoDB, mBodyMap, Genomicus

In Nucleic Acids Research this week: database to analyze large cancer datasets, human body microbe database, and more.