Hydroponics is raising plants in water rather than soil.

Aquaponics takes that concept a step further. Raise fish or other aquatic organisms in the water and you can make a largely self-sustaining system. Fish waste adds nutrients to the water, feeding the plants.

And at the end of the day you can have tilapia with mixed greens.

(Link goes to an interesting writeup on with an aquaponics system diagram and some ideas of how aquaponics can help grow fresh food in urban settings.)

Before Google

Google seems like a revolutionary company in some respects. Google Labs is just being shuttered, but it’s been chock full of experimental tools and toys for years, all free. Very cool. Employees are encouraged (required?) to set ridiculous quarterly performance goals for themselves – point being that if you think small and incremental, that’s all you get. They want creativity and order-of-magnitude advances.

Know what was cool like that once upon a time? Bell Telephone Labs.

AT&T at midcentury did not demand instant gratification from its research division. It allowed detours into mathematics or astrophysics with no apparent commercial purpose. Anyway so much of modern science bore directly or indirectly on the company’s mission, which was vast, monopolistic, and almost all-encompassing.

That’s a snippet from The Information, which I’m just beginning to read, and with glee.

One more:

The transistor [1948] sparked a revolution in electronics, setting the technology on its path of miniaturization and ubiquity, and soon won the Nobel Prize for its three chief inventors. For the laboratory it was the jewel in the crown.

But it was only the second most significant development of that year….


My world view and professional approach, as explained by Thor

‘They’re specialists, the whole lot of them, and they don’t believe in a method of work which cuts into every field of science from archaeology to botany. They limit their own scope in order to be able to dig in the depths with more concentration for details. Modern research demands that every special branch shall dig its own hole. It’s not usual for anyone to sort out what comes out of the holes and try to put it all together.’

Carl was right. But to solve the problems of the Pacific without throwing light on them from all sides was, it seemed to me, like doing a puzzle and only using the pieces of one color.

– Thor Heyerdahl, Kon-Tiki (1947)

Find fresh local food (subtitle: A little help?)

Today is the official launch day of MyFreshLocal, a website built almost entirely by one person: my wife. It’s quite an amazing feat and I hope you’ll take a look.

Type your zip code in the Finder box on the right side of the home page and you’ll get a list of farmers’ markets and restaurants in your area featuring local food. A very cool feature, though it’s only the tip of the iceberg. There are a bunch of different types of information — original articles like How to use all your farm share vegetables by my former co-worker Sarah Scalet; people pages like Michael Pollan’s showcasing their writing and videos, and so on. 

Whether you’re a so-called locavore or just a person looking for great restaurants and recipes, it’s got lots of great stuff. Check it out.

AND If you like it as much as I hope you will, I’d be eternally grateful for any support you can show:

  • ‘Like’ and/or share myfreshlocal on Facebook
  • Link to something interesting from your blog
  • Tweet it if that’s your thing
  • Write an article about gardening or CSAs or local recipes you love
  • Sign up for a newsletter and forward it to anyone who might have interest
  • Point out glossary terms that should be added

She’s poured hundreds of hours into the development work and it will be fun to watch the site grow even further from here.

Thank you!

Statistics smackdown

Old joke:

An economist is someone who wanted to be an accountant but didn’t have the personality.

Fairly or not, statistics shares this reputation. Intermittantly, haltingly, I have been reading Statistics for Dummies. And unfortunately it is indeed kinda boring.

But if you take statistics and throw in a dash of discord, an argument, a few accusations of bias, it becomes quite fascinating!

(As almost any science does, you might recall.)