STEMpowerment

Posts in category STEM news

STEM News: Ice Cream

icecream

Ice cream is an integral part of my life, especially in the summer time. It’s practically it’s own food group – there’s protein, grains, fruits/veggies, and ice cream.

Right?

I eat it more than I should, but not as much as I want. Sometimes, in an effort to be a little more healthy, I substitute Greek yogurt for ice cream. It’s almost as good (or so I tell myself), and a bit more healthy.

So I was talking about that on Twitter the other night (ice cream is THAT important in my life!), and it was brought to my attention that some areas of the United States are experiencing an ice cream shortage due to a recall. I vaguely remembered hearing about a recall a while back, but had no idea it was still affecting ice cream consumers. Sounds horrible!!

Being the ice cream connoisseur I am, I thought this would be the perfect news story for us to talk about from a STEM angle.

Here’s a great infographic from the CDC that describes the outbreak. Check it out. People got sick from a type of bacteria called Listeria that was found in Blue Bell ice cream.

Want to know what floors me the most?

Only 10 people in the entire United States (1 in Arizona, 5 in Kansas, 1 in Oklahoma, and 3 in Texas) were confirmed to be hospitalized over a period of five years, but that was enough for the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to isolate the source of the contamination.

That’s incredible!

Think about how many people get sick across the country every day, every year, or every 5 years. To keep track of all those sicknesses and identify a trend from just 10 people blows my mind. Of course, there may have been more cases that weren’t linked, but still, that’s incredible!

Researchers who find these kinds of medical trends are called epidemiologists. Want to know how they found the problem in this case?

Scientists used genetic testing to look at the entire DNA sequence of the listeria of the people who were sick, and compared it to the entire DNA sequence of bacteria found in different Blue Bell ice cream samples. Most of the cases in this outbreak were actually linked to ice cream that people ate while already in the hospital. Talk about horrible luck!

The Blue Bell production sites had been inspected by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) during the period that contaminated ice cream was being produced, but Listeria was not found during the inspection. There were other health violations, but I assume most factories have minor violations in routine inspections. I don’t know how major or minor the violations were in this case.

I’m certainly not an expert, but it seems like Blue Bell took the right steps throughout the investigation of the outbreak by voluntarily recalling different products as soon as they were linked to the outbreak. Eventually, they ended up shutting down their manufacturing facilities completely, leading to a major ice cream shortage in areas of the south. I feel for you, my friends, especially now that we’re in the thick of the summer heat!

Since genetically different version of Listeria were found in the different manufacturing facilities, and Listeria was not found during the routine FDA inspections, I’m not sure what the actual source of the contamination was, and whether each factory had the same contamination problems.

As I was doing a little more research for this article, I came across some really fantastic breaking news. Blue Bell is going to be back in stores at the end of this month. You heard it here first, folks!! (or it may have come from this news article, too). I hope by summer’s end, you’ll all have access to all the cold, creamy, delicious ice cream you could possibly imagine.

So, my friends, let’s get to the fun (for me) part! The CDC and various States’ Departments of Health did an incredible job identifying the bacteria and tracing it to the source before too many people got hurt. Where else can we apply STEM toward solving this ice cream problem?

One of the first things that comes to me is by developing improved monitoring systems. (Why? Because this is an area I’ve worked at in my own job, of course!) Ice cream begins its life as a liquid. Is there a way to somehow continuously filter that liquid to isolate and/or test for bacteria? Bacteria have basic genetic and chemical difference from dairy byproducts that would make them pretty easy to tell from ice cream product, assuming you could clearly identify bacteria even at very low contamination levels.

That could work for plain chocolate, vanilla, or even superman, but what about the chunky ice creams? What if you have chocolate chips, cookie dough, brownies, sprinkes, or some other goodness in the ice cream? What if there’s a contaminant in the solid chunk? How could we identify that? Would it be better to grind up all the solid parts into tiny pieces and analyze the powder that’s left, or is it better to test the ice cream in its more natural, chunky form? I don’t know! That’s a big problem to think about.

The next thing that comes to my mind is how the company cleaned their manufacturing line enough to be absolutely sure there will be no further contamination. Usually, when I work with bacteria or other biological things, the most common methods of sterilizing are bleach, UV light, or a high-pressure/high temperature cleaning using a machine called an autoclave.

In the case of making food meant for human consumption, I prefer bleach not be involved in the process – but that may be how the machines are cleaned. I imagine most of the machinery is far too big to be put into a high pressure chamber, and there may be parts within the machines where UV light won’t reach. In that case, I assume some other form of chemical cleaners are used to kill the bacteria, but I don’t know for sure. Wouldn’t it be great if we had some young STEM lady or gentleman to improve the cleaning and sterilization processes within the factory, so that safe, non-toxic, inexpensive cleaning methods can be used?

Lastly, as I think about all my friends who’ve been deprived of a summer of ice cream, I think about supply chain management – how can we quickly and efficiently get the product back out to as many consumers as possible? Which types of ice cream should phased-in first, in what order should manufacturing lines be brought back on-line, and where should the newly-made, safe ice cream be shipped first?

There are so many questions, and so many great ways we can use STEM to improve ice cream accessibility and safety. I think I’m going to grab myself an ice cream, and think about how I can get myself a job in one of the ‘coolest’ industries I can think of! Let me know how you’d use STEM to improve the ice cream industry!

 

–theSTEMinista

 

STEM news – Frida Khalo: Botanist

Stem newsWe’re starting off another week friends. Here in Michigan, it’s the last week of school for K-12 students. I confess, I’m a little jealous.

One of my girlfriends is a teacher at a STEM-focused school in the Chicago area, and posted this news story to facebook this morning (follow me on facebook – I share lots of fun STEM things!) about a teacher who uses concepts in stories to communicate ideas about computer science. One example mentioned is how in stories where the character has to choose between two options, it’s a perfect example for binary logic. Brilliant!

Another interesting point made in the article is that communication and art skills are really important for people in STEM. It reminded me of one of my favorite jokes:

 

Q: How do you find an outgoing engineer?

 

A: (S)He looks at YOUR shoes

 

As in, engineers are shy and quiet and don’t communicate well. Get it? LOL

So this got me thinking about the STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) versus STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, math) viewpoints – I agree with many others that it’s import for people in STEM to get a some Art in their life too. You need to be able to communicate (see above), but you need to see the beauty and art in things, and be comfortable using your creative side to solve problems. Having knowledge of history is also important to understand the evolution of theories and design over time, and to ensure not making the mistakes of the past.

So this whole process got me thinking about art. The Detroit Institute of Arts has an exhibit about Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo that I hear is lovely. I hope I get to see it before it ends July 12. YOU should check it out too if you’re in the area!

So I was paging through the news, and came across this story, about the New York Botanical Garden doing a show about Frida Khalo as well. Perfect! Who know that Frida Khalo, in addition to being a recognized artist was also an accomplished botanist? She had a diverse assortment of cacti, succulents, fruit trees, and other plants in her garden. If you’re in New York, go check out that exhibit – the photo looks lovely.

When she worked, her window overlook the garden, which I imagine gave her boundless inspiration. Even more cool, the story mentions that hybrid theory and duality were also inspiration for her paintings. The article says that she considered herself a bit of a hybrid, coming from European and Mexican parents.

In her painting “Portrait of Luther Burbank”, the hybrid concept is quite literal. Luther Burbank was a botanist, and she depicts him as a plant-human hybrid.

Portrait of Luther Burbank, borrowed from http://www.fridakahlo.org/portrait-of-luther-burbank.jsp

Portrait of Luther Burbank, borrowed from http://www.fridakahlo.org/portrait-of-luther-burbank.jsp

In “Self-Portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird”, there is a contrast between Frida, depicted as calm and dressed in white and the bold background, with lush greenery, and a monkey, cat, and butterflies seemingly on top of her. Further, she is wearing a necklace made of thorns, causing her to bleed, and still remains stoic. It’s a beautiful piece of art, and speaks to the STEM/STEAM overlap.

Self-Portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird, borrowed from http://www.fridakahlo.org/self-portrait-with-thorn-necklace-and-hummingbird.jsp

Self-Portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird, borrowed from http://www.fridakahlo.org/self-portrait-with-thorn-necklace-and-hummingbird.jsp

That’s it for me tonight, friends – have to get my beauty rest!  Have a great week, especially if you’re starting summer vacation!

–theSTEMinista

STEM news – The World Needs Your Energy and Your Light (really!)

stemnews 051915

STEM friends, this has been such an amazing week! I asked you guys to share and like me on facebook, and the response was UN-BE-LIEVABLE!! Thank you all so much, and welcome to the site! I also had some great twitter convos last night that will have their own separate post – to my new Twitter friends, I’m so glad to have ‘met’ all of you too! You rock!

I was thinking about what kind of news story would be good for this week, and picked three headlines that sounded interesting to me. My reasoning is shown in parentheses:

  1. Apocalyptic skies return above Chile after second volcano erupts” (so sensationalized – who could resist?! What does an apocalyptic sky look like, anyway?)
  2. Dallas-area quakes are likely due to fault lines, geologist says” (fault lines seem like obvious cause, but Dallas isn’t known for earthquakes)
  3. One in seven people still live without electricity” (no way – that can’t possibly be right. this is why we need people to pursue STEM)

I just couldn’t pick, so I consulted Mr. SciGuy. I had to drag him away from watching The Weather Channel to get his opinion– he thinks tornados are fascinating! I read him the headlines I picked, and he said “power is obviously the most important thing to talk about”. So, there we have it – tonight we talk about power.

This story fits perfectly with what we talked about on Monday. Those of us who are blessed to live in the developed world can’t imagine going a night without our smart phones, let alone lights and running water. There are lots of us who think it’s a big problem and want to solve it, and I know many people who actively work in the energy industry.

What if you went to a town without power, though? What if you took someone from that town, and gave someone the education and resources they need to develop an energy infrastructure? I would bet 99% of people, given the opportunity, would work tirelessly to bring power to their friends and family.

Being personally invested in something makes you work so much harder. Everyone has their own interests, causes, and passions. For every interest, cause and passion, there are accompanying problems that need to be solved. Thus, we circle back to the point from Monday that we need people from all walks of life to bring their passions together to solve big problems.

Whew, we haven’t even gotten past the headline yet….lets continue.

According to the article, the United Nations developed an initiative called Sustainable Energy 4 All in 2011. One of its aims is to provide access to ‘modern’ energy services worldwide by 2011. We’ll just focus on that part for now.

In the past 5 years, global electrification increased by 2% to 85%, and energy access was provided to 100 million people. That’s incredible. Last year, about 20 million people who had never had power got access to it. For comparison, the population of the entire state of Florida is about 20 million. India made the biggest progress – go India!!

Let’s stop and do the math though. 1.2 billion people were without power, and 0.1 billion people (1/12) got the power they needed in the first 5 years of the initiative. Assuming we keep moving at the same pace (I assume we won’t, but for simplicity sake), it will take 60 years to finish. That’s not until 2070 – we’re missing the 2030 deadline! The banking powers that be suggested ‘we’ as a global economy may need to invest as much as $1.2 trillion annually to meet the 2030 goal. We’re going to need some of you economists and mathematicians to figure out how on Earth we’re going to pay for that.

Another major problem the story points out is the type and reliability of energy infrastructure being developed. A lot of infrastructure is being developed for urban centers, but it isn’t always reliable. The lines are there to run high power, but there isn’t enough power to go around. In Kinshasa, capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo, most people spend nights in the dark, even though the grid runs to 90% of the population. Engineers and physicists, this is a problem for you. How do we efficiently, inexpensively save up energy during the day to distribute at night – in the third world?

Rural areas have their own issues, too. It doesn’t make sense to run power infrastructure to extremely remote locations. For those places, portable renewable energy from sources like solar, wind, and water flow make more sense. Physicists and engineers, inventers and entrepreneurs – I hope you haven’t checked out. We need you on the case here to develop energy options that are inexpensive, durable (it is in the third world!)long-lasting, and reliable. That’s a lot of features to check off your design list!

Want to learn about a couple energy options in development? I was pretty curious myself, so I googled for you. The first story I got back was a 2012 National Geographic article, which talks about some cool energy developments.

Ten years ago, putting solar panels on a house with capability to light 3 rooms cost $1500. Today, portable solar lamps are available for just $2-3 each and can rugged versions with phonce chargers can be purchased for less than $50. Think about how many more people $1500 impacts at $3 / light!

An even cheaper option (for sunny days) is to build ‘windows’ into the roofs of homes using pop bottles filled with water and bleach. This idea was developed at MIT, but the idea may be based on designs of a Brazilian mechanic (someone looking to solve a problem he was passionate about!)

Many of the companies doing the work in this field aren’t just focused on the bottom line. They’re also focused on truly improving the lives of their customers. It’s totally inspiring that these people are using their STEM intellect to make a huge difference in the lives of others – literally bringing them light!

Have a great day today, my friends, and stay inspired! (and if you want to know about earthquakes or volcanos, let me know!)

–theSTEMinista

STEM news – taking STEM all the way to the bank

STEM news - bankingRemember earlier this week, when we talked about different math careers (even accounting and finance!), and I shared Benjmin Franklin’s wise words: “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest”?  Let’s keep the money theme going in our news for the week.

The New York Times has reported that FIVE of the biggest banks in the world (Barclays, Citigroup, JP Morgan Chase, UBS, and Royal Bank of Scotland, in case you’re wondering) are getting ready to plead guilty for price rigging and violation of anti-trust laws.    Specifically, they knowingly manipulated interest rates and foreign exchange rates. Those are pretty big crimes in my book.

Usually, there are big consequences when businesses are guilty of breaking the law.  In fact, that reminds me to check in on a refund I should have coming.  During one of those super cold, super snowy winters, there was a mysterious “propane shortage” in my area that caused home heating fuel prices to rise from ~$2.00/gallon to ~$5.00/gallon for no apparent reason.  Michigan’s attorney general said that the companies that charged those prices have to issue refunds to the customers who were unfairly charged because they were unfairly price fixing.   I’m looking forward to getting a couple hundred dollars back – yay!

In this case, we are talking about HUGE financial institutions, not my overpriced $1000 heat bill.  The fines mentioned in the NYT story are in the ballpark of $500,000,000 ($500 Million).  Another bank, BNP Paribas was fined $8.9 BILLION last year for banking with Iran.

However, those numbers must be placed in context.  In 2011, BNP Paribas’ profit was about $6.88 billion dollars.  They had over $2.23 trillion dollars in assets, and $97.3 billion dollars in pure equity.  $8.9 billion actually does very little to their bottom line.  The $500 million penalties at stake for the 5 banks described here are even smaller in comparison.

When banks plead guilty to charges, however, there’s an even bigger consequence than a fine.  The S.E.C. (Securities and Exchange Commission) can ban them from conducting certain kinds of business.  This could include banning  management of mutual funds, to operating branch offices, to offering loans and making future predictions on the economy.

If those bans are put in place, it would hurt the bank’s bottom line, but it would also hurt the national and international economy.  Damage could range from employees losing their jobs to shareholders losing their investment.  Hundreds of thousands of people could be profoundly affected.

This exact scenario happened in the 1990’s to Arthur Anderson, the accounting firm that worked with Enron.  They were found guilty of faulty auditing.  The guilty verdict was later overturned; however, they went from 85,000 employees in 2002 to just 200 in 2007.  84,800 people lost their jobs because of an overturned guilty verdict.

The financial impact of that verdict was devastating, and since then, the justice department and SEC have changed how they prosecute big corporations.  From the article: “The collateral consequences consideration is designed to address the risk that a particular criminal charge might inflict disproportionate harm to shareholders, pension holders and employees who are not even alleged to be culpable or to have profited potentially from wrongdoing,” said Mark Filip of the Justice department.

So what’s going to happen to these five banks that knowingly violated federal banking regulations?  Nobody knows for sure yet, but the tone of the article suggests that for the greater good of the economy, the punishments will be minimal.

What do you think about this news story?

Is there a fair punishment for these banks?

Should individuals within the banks be held personally accountable?

Should the international economy hinge so much on the financial stability of just a few banks?

How could STEM be used to identify price rigging and anti-trust violations before they get this big?

How could STEM be used to develop a model to predict the impact to the company versus impact to the overall economy for different punishments?

If one of these major banks failed, how big of a financial impact do you think it would have on the economy?  How would you even begin to estimate a number like that?

That’s a lot to think about!  Keep investing in your knowledge, STEM friends – I don’t have the answers to these questions.  The world needs brilliant minds like you to search for those answers.

–the STEMinista

STEM news – Cinco de Mayo Meteor Shower

stem news 050515Have you ever grabbed a blanket, taken a drive out to the country, and watched the stars at night? It’s so incredible to watch the sun set, the moon come up, and the stars come out. If it’s dark enough, and you watch long enough, you occasionally see a shooting star. Those are my favorite!

Ladies and gentlemen, grab your blankets! Spring has officially arrived, and the Eta Aquarids meteor shower is putting on a special show, just for us. It’s a Cinco de Mayo spectacular!

Tonight is the peak of the shower, but you can still catch shooting stars within a 3-4 day window of the peak.  What is the source of the shower?  Haley’s comet.

The last time Haley’s comet passed by the Earth was 1986, and it won’t be by again until 2061.  So how are we seeing it’s shooting stars now in 2015?   My question exactly! To be honest, I had no idea, so I read up on this for you guys.

It turns out that twice a year, the Earth passes through a cloud of dust left by Haley’s comet – not Haley’s comet itself.  When  we pass through that cloud, tiny little particles of dust enter the Earth’s atmosphere, creating shooting stars.  Incredible!

Here in the northern hemisphere, we’re at a slight disadvantage.  First of all, it’s been cloudy the past few nights here.  Don’t worry, warm weather is coming.  Second, Sunday night was a full moon, so there is a lot of ambient light in the sky.  Finally, the farther north you are, the fewer meteors you will see.

In fact, in the Detroit area where I am, the rate of visible meteorites will be significantly lower than in the south.  To me, it’s still worth going out to watch though.  Alternatively, you can check out live video coverage of the meteor shower broadcast from the Slooh Community Observatory.

If you go out and don’t see anything don’t worry – we have lots of stargazing time left in the season – plus we get the Northern lights!

Stay brilliant ladies and gentlemen, and let me know if you see any shooting stars!

–the STEMinista

STEM news – Baseball and sweat

stem newsAre all you STEM readers dyyyying to know how and why we’re talking about tigers again this week?  I’m so excited for this post.  I am a huge baseball fan, and a huge Detroit Tigers fan.

I have many memories of visiting my grandparents’ house as a child, and playing in the house while my grandfather listened to baseball (the Cincinnati Reds) on a radio on the porch.  At the time, it was an incredibly boring game to me, and I especially couldn’t understand why you would listen to a game on the radio versus watching it on TV.

Now, years later, I have so much appreciation for the game, and if I can’t be at a game in person, I love listening to it on the radio.  Commentators are awesome  – to be able to entertain listeners through an entire game, and have such a vast knowledge of the sport and the players is really a gift.  We are lucky in Detroit that we’ve always had incredible commentators.

When browsing through my social media the other day, I noticed that several of my friends were linking to this Sport Science video of Detroit Tiger Jose Iglesias making a great catch and throw to get an out against the Yankees.  It’s too bad we didn’t have more great plays like this (and more hits!) in that series!  Anyway, the ESPN video does a great job of spelling out the geometry, speeds, and the incredible athleticism of the play, so I’ll leave it to the video:

Isn’t this play amazing? In this case, having high-quality, high-speed video footage allows the ESPN analysts to easily calculate the geometry and the physics of play – radio wouldn’t give you a quantitative understanding of the catch or throw.  If you’re into sports and STEM, Sport Science is a really cool series that you might be interested in following, to see really cool analysis of the plays that everyone is talking about.

Fun fact – the Lead Engineer for the TV show Sport Science is a woman AND a former Wayne State University Engineering Professor.  Talk about using STEM to find your dream job – I’m so jealous!!  Good for her!

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Sweating makes me jump for JOY!

Another thing I noticed on the sports scene this week was this article, “The Smell of Your Sweat Could Make Other People Happy” in Runners World.  Good job to those editors – with a title like that, I couldn’t help but check the article out!  Let me tell you – this story delivers!! The premise of the article is based on an actual scientific manuscript. The study scientists collected the underarm sweat from men watching movies that triggered different emotions, and then had women judge the smell of the sweat.

When the female test subjects smelled the mens’ sweat associated with feelings of “fear”, researchers noted stronger electrical signals in the portion of the womens’ brain responsible for making scared faces. That is pretty cool.  There is no specific mention, however, of if the women had a specific physiologic response to the smell of the men’s ‘happy’ sweat.  It makes me wonder!  Additionally, it was pointed out that the emotional response in the men was stronger than the response in the women who were just smelling the men’s odor.  Makes sense.

Studies like this are awesome, but also leave me with so many questions.  First and foremost – where do they find the men and women to volunteer for the study?  Do perfumes or other scents create an equivalent or stronger emotional response?  What are they going to do in future experiments to build on these findings, and how can it be applicable to all of us one day?  The Runners World authors said that if you skip a shower after a workout, it could be possible to send good emotions to your friends through the smell of your sweat (they assume that a good workout brings out happy emotions).  Do you think this is over-stating the results presented in the article?  Do you think the sweat/smell/emotion relationship is the same when watching a movie versus when being physically active?  If so, do you think the overall emotional outcome of a run is ‘happy’?  What if you have a bad workout day, or a bad practice?  Would you broadcast less-happy emotions?

That’s a lot of questions for one article, and there are so many more questions we could ask about the biochemical, cellular, and electrical responses!  That’s where the scientific method and problem solving come in.  If you or I were part of the research project, we could use one or more of these questions to plan out the future experiments to better understand the complex processes going on.  What hypothesis would you suggest for the scientists to examine next?  How could they test it?

Don’t love baseball, running or the Tigers?  I’m sorry – but don’t worry.  The point of this website is to highlight the diversity of STEM – we won’t talk about baseball again for a while, unless I get lots of comments begging me otherwise – then I’ll be happy to post more about baseball!  We may come back to the sports theme once football season comes around – but there’s no need to rush fall.  We’ll enjoy summer and baseball and sweating for now.

–theSTEMinista

STEM news – Great Lakes Water

Stem News 042315What a week it’s been!  I can’t wait to tell you about it tomorrow on Big Accomplishment Friday!  For tonight, I wanted to start our series of STEM in the news.  In this section, I’d like to pull a story or two from the news every week and talk about how it relates back to STEM.  When I came up with the idea for this website, Mr. Sci Guy really liked that angle.  In honor of him, we’re going to talk about this news story he came across the other night.

We were shocked by some of the numbers in it, along with all the political considerations that go along with water.  The article discusses the major drought in California, and whether the Great Lakes can be a potential source of water for California.  A lot of the discussion is business and politics – who ‘owns’ the water, and who is entitled to use the water, and who reports their usage to what agency?  Toward the end of the article, they get into exactly how much water we’re talking about – this is where the STEM comes in.

Would you believe that we use 42.4 BILLION gallons of water a day?  That is so much, except that 40.1 billion of those gallons are returned back to the Great Lakes.  Only 2.3 billion gallons are lost every day ( ‘only’).  This still seemed like a lot of water to me, except that apparently, the Great Lakes contain 6.5 QUADRILLION gallons (the article points out for those of us who don’t use quadrillions on a regular basis that this is the same as 6.5 million billion gallons – wow!!).  That is 20% of all the surface fresh water on the entire Earth.

Amazing view of the dam from the Mike O'Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge

Amazing view of the dam from the Mike O’Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge

Living in Michigan, this article is very relevant to us, but it also caught our attention because we visited the Hoover Dam on a recent trim to Las Vegas.  If you haven’t been there, you should!  It is absolutely incredible.  At the time it was designed, some people thought it was crazy, and obviously there were very strong opinions both for and against building the dam.

#thisisMYstem selfie from the top of the Hoover Dam

#thisisMYstem selfie from the top of the Hoover Dam

The dam couldn’t be poured as a single unit, so it was poured in ‘small’ (if you call 50 square ft x 5 ft tall ‘small’) forms.  Each form had piping built in to pump cooled water through the concrete to help it set quicker.  It took over THREE MILLION cubic yards of concrete to build the dam, and almost two years just to pour the concrete.  Not only that, before any concrete was ever poured, the entire river had to be diverted around the dam site.  That’s really dam incredible!! (sorry, I couldn’t resist!)  The inner workings of the dam and power generation are also fascinating – when you go, take the tour!

Turbines inside the dam

Turbines inside the dam

So it seems I’ve gone off on a tangent – but I promise, I’m moving toward a point.  The Hoover Dam (and other dams too) was created to help control the flow of water through California and Mexico.  At the time it was a monumental feat of engineering, and it is still considered one of the engineering wonders of the modern world.  It provides controlled access to water to a huge portion of the southwest – and the money made from the power generated by the plant paid for the entire cost of construction in just a few years.  So is it really out of the question to consider whether we could engineer a way to send water from the Great Lakes to California?  Do you think it’s possible?  Is the water a ‘common’ resource, or is it owned by a specific entity?  It’s an interesting problem to think about – from the both the STEM side, and the political side.

What do you think about all of this?

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