Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Can you defy gravity in Gravity Iowa?

A while back I thanked gravity, one of the fundamental forces in nature, for providing renewable energy in the form of hydroelectric power. Today I am thinking more of the town of Gravity Iowa. Yes this little town not far from Council Bluffs has a population of some 218 souls. It is also located along the middle branch of the One Hundred and Two River. Yes some guy named a river in Southern Iowa that is a tributary of the North Platte the One hundred and Two River because it was 102 miles from nowhere.

I just gave two talks the past week at Iowa State University. I was invited back to my graduate school thirty two years after gaining my masters degree in thermodynamics. The first talk was on the subject of “Energy and Agriculture”, the second was on the “Carbon and Water Footprints of Manufacturing Biotech Drugs”. Interestingly the audience for the energy and agriculture talk and debate was not partial toward bio-ethanol and in fact the President of The Iowa Farm Bureau who also spoke was not a proponent at all of converting Iowa farm land to switch grass for cellulosic derived bio-ethanol. His opinion was that Iowa farms should produce corn and soy beans for food. Wow! The people on the ground in Iowa who have the most to gain from the cellulosic nonsense would rather feed us food, while the pretenders at the University of California Bezerkly are promoting this cellulosic scientific dead end. Perhaps Berkeley and its Renewable and Inappropriate Energy Lab should relocate to a new river that I will name the 103 Mile River. This river will flow pure bio-ethanol and a billion vehicles will miraculously get their fuel from it without disturbing the earth in any way.

While in Ames, I also spent an hour with my major professor who guided me through my thesis. I thanked him for lighting the fire in me to study thermodynamics and told him that through my articles and my blog I was trying to make this complex subject more understandable to the lay person. We joked that if I could master the laws of thermodynamics then indeed lay people would become energy gurus. I also drove through the countryside between Ames and Des Moines that is perhaps the most fertile farmland on the planet. The seeds had not yet germinated so all one could see was the rick black topsoil that was recently tilled. Here in Marin County we pay five dollars for a two cubic foot bag of topsoil that is only half as good. Mother Nature intended Iowa to be the breadbasket. In a world short of food and protein, the farms in Iowa should produce food and not let misguided government policy steer them toward switch and bait grass.

I did not pass through Gravity Iowa, but If I had I would have posed this question to the police chief about folks who live there and become drunk and disorderly. Are the drunkards defying gravity? If they are defying gravity then the folks at Bezerkly could bottle the bio-ethanol produced there and the road we travel on will always be downhill.


  1. Food over fuel - good thing those Iowans have their head on straight!

    One question - you diss cellulosic, but isn't one of the ideas to use the "leftovers" from corn production as a source of cellulosic biofuel, rather than grow a new crop to provide it. That way, we'd get food AND fuel!

  2. If the drunkards of gravity, iowa can defy gravity, I might just want to move there. Sounds fun. FYI - I believe UC Davis has more on the topic than Bezerkly on biofuel.

  3. Catherine and Jen

    thanks for your comments. The leftovers are cellulosic and require even more effort to collect, transport, and then convert into fermentable sugars to ferment into ethanol. This is crazy stuff. Just plow the leftovers into the soild and use as compost.

    Davis is almost Bezerk and have a team of profs who are equally corrupt as bezerkley They get money from the oil companies and the idiotic california state govt Thanks Lindsay

  4. Hello,
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    Also, new energy sources:THE CORONA EFFECT and THE NUCLEAR FUSION.