Center for Pecan Innovation sees “tremendous opportunities”

pecans-ground

While I’m of the opinion that the highest and most noble use of the pecan involves their placement in a pie, the folks at the Georgia Pecan Commission have higher aspirations. They recently established the Center for Pecan Innovation, with the goal of finding new uses for Carya illinoinensis.

The initial focus of the Atlanta-based center will be new food products made from pecans, according to John Robison, the commission’s chairman.

“The recent 30-year study from Harvard University showing that regular nut eaters were less likely to die of cancer or heart disease is just one more supporting voice to the center, which was established to encourage more companies to find ways to use pecans in their products,” he said.

Beyond that, the commission sees opportunities for biodegradable pecan shells, from roadbeds and packing material to bath products. Cosmetic companies are looking for natural products to replace plastic micro-beads in facial cleansers, and the Journal of Food Science reports that a new study shows that extract from pecan shells may be effective at protecting meats such as chicken from listeria growth.

The US produces the vast majority of the pecans harvested annually – as much as 95 percent, or 300 million to 400 million pounds.

Georgia leads the nation in pecan production, growing 40 percent of the US total, more than the next two states – New Mexico and Texas – combined, according to the US Department of Agriculture.

Map showing, in blue, US states where pecans are grown.

Map showing, in blue, US states where pecans are grown.

“In 2012 Georgia led the nation in pecan production, harvesting 100 million pounds for the domestic and global markets,” Robison said. “China is one of the biggest markets for our in-shell pecans, but there still is tremendous opportunity for companies to use pecan pieces – even the shells.  The Center for Pecan Innovation will work to develop new products that use Georgia pecans.”

Georgia Department of Agriculture Commissioner Gary W. Black said the Georgia Pecan Commission is taking a creative approach to agriculture by establishing the center.

“Farmers today do far more than just grow food and fiber,” he said. “They take an active part in promoting their crops to grow their markets, as we have done with our Georgia Grown program. The Center for Pecan Innovation is yet another step to increase awareness for Georgia pecans.”

The Georgia Pecan Commission, begun in 1995, funds research, educational and promotional programs in order to increase demand for Georgia pecans.

Old-time movie show San Francisco in days before Quake

While on a recent visit to the West Coast my dad and I were able to visit the San Francisco Railway Museum, a small but fascinating locale dedicated to the city’s long and varied rail transportation history.

San Francisco is renowned for its cable cars, but the city also has a long background with streetcars, trains, carriages, buses and, in later years, light rail and subways.

The above footage is remarkable for a couple of reasons: First, it shows the diversity of conveyances evident in the city in the early 20th century.

In addition to cable cars, streetcars and horse-drawn carts shown making their way down San Francisco’s Market Street toward the Port of San Francisco, there are also bicycles, cars and numerous people attempting to navigate what would appear to be a rather chaotic thoroughfare.

The photo below, taken from the movie, shows at least three different cable cars, a street car, an automobile, a bicycle, and at least one horse-drawn carriage.

It’s interesting to note the horse-drawn carriages and carts traveling in front of the cable cars. Doing so allowed them to traverse the smoother path offered by the rails and avoid, for at least a short time, the rougher ride of the cobbled street.

And at different points of the movie one can witness one of the constant hazards of an era when horse-drawn carts were still prevalent, as manure can be seen at different locations on the street.

Interestingly, there appears to be numerous cars evident in the movie, made by the early film duo the Miles Brothers.

However, the Miles Brothers actually used just a handful of cars, having them loop back into the camera’s view repeatedly through the 13-minute-plus film. When the movie was made, San Francisco, the wealthiest city on the US West Coast, had but 200 cars in all.

The second noteworthy feature of this footage is that is believed to have been shot just days before the April 18, 1906, earthquake that devastated San Francisco.

For years, the film was believed to have been taken in 1905, but recent research based on weather conditions, the positioning of shadows and the timing of newspaper ads promoting the Miles Brothers film titled “A Trip Down Market Street” indicate that it was shot in April 1906.

That means many of the structures seen in the footage would shortly be destroyed either by the quake itself or the ensuing fire. The disaster is believed to have claimed more than 3,000 lives. The movie, then, is a brief glimpse at an epoch that was about to end.

SF movie

Resting place of long-lost Japanese battleship found

musashi a

The Japanese warship Musashi, one of the two heaviest and most powerfully armed battleships ever constructed, has likely been found in the Sibuyan Sea, where it was sunk by US forces during World War II.

Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen said earlier this week he found the wreck of a long-lost World War II Japanese battleship near the Philippines.

Allen and his team of researchers have spent more than eight years searching for the Musashi, a 74,000-ton, 800-foot battleship that carried a crew of 2,500.

The Musashi, built at the Mitsubishi Shipyard in Nagasaki, was sunk on Oct. 24, 1944, during the Battle of the Sibuyan Sea, part of the Battle of Leyte Gulf, in the central Philippines.

The Musashi was sunk by an estimated 19 torpedo and 17 bomb hits from American carrier-based aircraft over the course of four hours.

More than 1,000 of the Musashi’s crew died during the battle and sinking. The 1,300-plus survivors were taken aboard by other Japanese warships, according to the US Navy report.

The Musashi was found at a depth of approximately 3,280 feet, according to Allen.

The Musashi and sister ship the Yamato were the two largest battleships ever built. Both carried the largest naval artillery ever fitted to a warship, with nine 18-inch guns, each capable of firing 3,000 pound shells more than 25 miles.

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Oldest English cannonball linked to War of Roses clash

war of the roses

Researchers believe they have discovered the oldest surviving cannonball used in English warfare.

The damaged lead projectile, about three inches in diameter, was found at site of the Battle of Northampton, a War of the Roses clash fought nearly 555 years ago, in 1460.

The cannonball was actually discovered several years ago by Northampton resident Stuart Allwork and was only found in his house last year following his death.

Its significance was not realized until protests over plans to put sports fields on the battlefield site sparked demands for an archaeological survey, according to the BBC.

A study of the missile has led experts to the belief that artillery was used for the first time in conflict in England at the Northampton battle, fought between the House of Lancaster and the House of York, according to the media outlet.

The ball has been analyzed by medieval artillery expert Glenn Foard, who said the object suffered massive impact damage from at least two bounces and may have struck a tree.

It is not clear which side fired the cannonball, but some contemporary accounts suggest the Lancastrian guns failed to fire because of the rain – which means it most likely came from a Yorkist cannon.

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Researchers narrow search for remains of Don Quixote author

miguel de cervantes statue

Researchers believe they may have found the remains of the man said to be the author of the first modern European novel, beneath the chapel of a cloistered convent in Spain.

Experts searching for the remains of Don Quixote author Miguel de Cervantes said earlier this month that they found wooden fragments of a casket bearing the initials “M.C.” containing bones beneath the Convent of the Barefoot Trinitarians in Madrid’s historic Barrio de las Letras, or Literary Quarter, according to the Associated Press.

Archaeologists are seeking to solve the centuries-old mystery of where the famed Spanish writer was laid to rest. The initials on a plank of the coffin were formed with metal tacks embedded into the wood.

While the bones of at least 10 people were found inside the niche containing the broken wooden planks of the coffin, some of the remains belonged to children.

Cervantes’ remains went missing in 1673 when work was undertaken at the convent. They were thought to have initially been taken to another convent before being returned, according to the Daily Mail.

Researchers are examining the bones to try to determine whether Cervantes’ are among them. Cervantes, who was 69 when he died in 1616, left several clues that should aid investigators with their probe, including:

  • He had just six teeth when he died; and
  • He suffered three wounds during the famed Battle of Lepanto, including one that left one of his arms withered.

Cervantes’ influence on the Spanish language is such that it is often called the “the language of Cervantes.”

His magnum opus, fully titled The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha, and published in two volumes in 1605 and 1615, follows the adventures of Don Quixote, a landless nobleman who has imbibed too many chivalric novels and lost touch with reality. In a bid to bring justice to the world, he turns knight errant, recruits a simple farmer, Sancho Panza, as his faithful squire, and roams the world in search of adventure.

Cervantes himself led a fascinating life. Born in 1547, he had by 1569 moved to Rome, where he worked as chamber assistant to a cardinal.

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Mysterious stone carving shows up at British yard sale

stone-garden-ornament

A British archaeologist and television producer, perusing a yard sale in Leicester, England, came across an item being sold as garden ornament that was unlike other objects being proffered.

Instead of a garden-variety garden ornament, the stone carving had a complex pattern that “may be some form of writing,” according to James Balme, who purchased the article.

Weighing approximately 60 pounds, the stone is about 18 inches long and 5-1/2 inches wide at its base.

The stone appears to have been used as “a keystone from an archway or indeed a vaulted ceiling,” according to Balme.

While its exact date is uncertain, Balme believes it’s from the Anglo-Saxon period, which began when the Romans abandoned Britain around 410 AD and ended with William the Conqueror’s invasion of England in 1066, according to the online publication RedOrbit.

The sandstone carving has been used as a garden ornament for several years, Balme told the Danish publication Jyllands-Posten.

In an effort to identify the use and exact date of the stone carving, Balme is turning to social media such as Twitter to try to learn more about the stone.

(Top: Stone found by James Balme on sale as a garden ornament in Leicester, England.)

Imploding buildings are nothing more than male catnip

One of the great mysteries of genetics is where exactly on the Y chromosome does the unfettered enjoyment of all things explosive reside.

Whether it’s imploding buildings, the sinking of obsolete ships or something as simple as blasting an anvil into the air, most males will admit to an innate delight at seeing things blown up. (Of course, whether individuals take added delight in seeing living creatures harmed in said explosions is a good way to ferret out sociopaths from the average guy.)

That said, watching imploding buildings and exploding ships on YouTube would seem to be to males what videos of kittens and cute toddlers are to many women.

Don’t tell me there isn’t a McArthur Fellowship waiting for the individual who can determine where on the human genome the difference resides.

The above implosion took place Wednesday at Sparrows Point Terminal in Baltimore.

The former Bethlehem Steel L-furnace, which stood 32 stories tall, weighed more than 11 million pounds and was the largest furnace in the western hemisphere, was brought down to make way for new businesses and Port of Baltimore-related development.

The demolition was handled by Baltimore-based Controlled Demolition Inc. The edifice actually consisted of two structures: the 320-foot-tall blast furnace and the free-standing exoskeleton around it that provided various levels of access.

Controlled Demolition used 94 explosive charges at 12 separate points, according to WBAL-TV.

The Controlled Demolition’s video shows the implosion from no fewer than six different angles, including a spectacular slow-motion view that begins at the 1:37 mark.

Time well spent, indeed.

(HT: Bring the heat, Bring the Stupid)