Australia gets a little greener

We've been thinking eco lately, with blogs about how small changes in the way companies like Google and Wal-Mart run their businesses could save mondo megawatts every year. Now, it looks like a whole country is getting into the act: Australia has just announced a ban on incandescent light bulbs, to be completed phased out and replaced by more efficient fluorescent bulbs by 2010. That little change, according to their environmental minister, could cut the country's greenhouse gas output by as much as 4 million tons annually.

They make a good point: regular light bulbs, designed in the 19th century by engineers like Thomas Edison and Joseph Swann, are stuck in the stone age compared to the rest of our technology. They waste massive amounts of energy radiating useless heat, and energy-efficient bulbs use somewhere on the order of 20% as much electricity. Another fun tidbit: also according to Australia's top enviro guy, "If the whole world switches to these bulbs today, we would reduce our consumption of electricity by an amount equal to five times Australia's annual consumption of electricity." I'd love to know how switching to energy efficient bulbs compares with driving energy efficient cars in terms of greenhouse gas output -- anyone have any leads?

A Very Brief History of Chamber Pots

Some of the oldest chamber pots found by archeologists have been discovered in ancient Greece, but portable toilets have come a long way since then. Whether referred to as "the Jordan" (possibly a reference to the river), "Oliver's Skull" (maybe a nod to Oliver Cromwell's perambulating cranium), or "the Looking Glass" (because doctors would examine urine for diagnosis), they were an essential fact of life in houses and on the road for centuries. In this video from the Wellcome Collection, Visitor Experience Assistant Rob Bidder discusses two 19th century chamber pots in the museum while offering a brief survey of the use of chamber pots in Britain (including why they were particularly useful in wartime).

A Tour of the New York Academy of Medicine's Rare Book Room

The Rare Book Room at the New York Academy of Medicine documents the evolution of our medical knowledge. Its books and artifacts are as bizarre as they are fascinating. Read more here.


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