• It was harvest time at the Infinity Science Center in Hancock County, Monday. NASA technology is being used to grow specially-engineered lettuce in an indoor controlled environment.

    It looks like something you’d pick up in the produce department at any grocery store. But this lettuce is grown with water and fog. Special LED lights provide the sunshine.

    “We can grow a head of lettuce from seed to harvest size within about 35 days. It typically takes you between 50 and 60 days to grow the same lettuce outdoors,” said Joseph Graben with Innovative Imaging & Research.

    The hope is to some day grow lettuce and other vegetables like this in space for astronauts conducting long duration space missions.

    “The food the astronauts use now is freeze dried or packaged and processed. If you’ve looked at it, it’s not exactly what you’d like to say, ‘I’m going to spend my time for the next two years going to Mars eating this,’” explained Graben. “You might want something a little fresh and green.”

    Students from Mays Prep. School in New Orleans got a chance to harvest and put the space lettuce to the taste test.

    “It was very good. It’s better than the lettuce at the stores,” said Destiny Pounds, age 9.

    Kevin Wilson, 10, agreed, “It was very good. It was very nice and it was very nutritious and I just liked it a lot.”

    Graben said the biggest benefit to growing food like this in space is it would save a lot of money. To lift food, or any pay load into space costs about $10,000 a pound.

    “Instead of having to pay the cost to lift a head of lettuce into space, here all we have to do is fly up a light pack of seeds and then grow it up there. So a lot less cost if you grow it and produce it up there.”

    He said the benefits and possibilities of this high tech growing method are endless for use in space and here on earth.

    Infinity leaders say the growing technology is also being researched for future medical purposes. Officials hope to grow plants that produce vaccines and other medications faster than conventional methods.

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  • In September of 1972, I began a nine-year career as a coal miner. With only the sparsest of instructions regarding how to operate a self-rescuer (explanation not demonstration) and a description of light signals, I was shuttled onto the elevator and led on a half-mile hike to the section. Within an hour of arriving at the coal mine for my first shift I was on a production section thrown into the position of ventilation man.

    Thirteen years later I began my work as the training manager at Borg-Warner Chemicals near Parkersburg. One of the first things I noticed was that the attention and approach to safety was quite different in the two industries. The coal mine approach was to put you on the job with rudimentary instructions and let you learn while working. (I found this process a scary way to be introduced to one of the most dangerous workplaces in the country.)

    In the chemical industry, you were placed with an experienced person for several weeks before you were allowed to operate anything. At BorgWarner in the mid-1980s, when a coffee pot cord got hot or smoked, it was reported as a fire. At every meeting the first agenda item was safety.

    In the coal mine, batteries exploded and cables kicked power in water puddles and little was noted other than downtime for the piece of equipment involved. Of course, full-blown, flaming fires, were addressed and reported.

    No one in either industry, workers or company personnel, wanted any employee to be hurt or killed. Regardless, the focus on safety in the two industries was different in intensity. Coal miners had stickers on their hard hats and dinner buckets that said, “Safety First, Safety Needs No Luck, Keep Safety in Mined, Think Safely-Work Safely, and Safety Has No Quitting Time.” We had a 15-minute safety meeting every Monday, but throughout the rest of the week various shortcuts and risk-taking was commonplace.

    When I saw the attention to safety at BorgWarner, I was amazed. However, since a chemical plant accident could threaten whole communities, I came to realize that even more attention to safety was necessary. We instituted communication training across the plant to help all employees talk about safety and production issues. We revamped the entry level training to include 12 days of sessions on the plant, its equipment, and the chemicals involved. Each segment had a pre-test and post-test and a successful grade of 70 percent was mandatory.

    Safety at every workplace could probably stand more rigorous attention. Facilitated dialogue about the important business issues can help people internalize and demonstrate needed behaviors. Leader should occasionally ask themselves, “What in our business if we could change it would dramatically improve our performance and safety record?” Because performance and safety go hand-in-hand in the minds of the employees.

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  • Hidden within the rolling ribbons of the Lincolnshire countryside a great number of quaint, chocolate box villages nestle, and with its spectacularly haunting Elizabethan hall, ancient chestnut tree and smattering of natural stone houses, semi-rural Nocton is no exception.

    Having fended off the development of the UK’s largest mega dairy, ramblers, residents and potential renters can be sure that Nocton’s rural charm will not be spoilt any time soon. And with that in mind, Your Move is pleased to present this week’s featured letting.

    Number 37 Wegberg Road is a pleasant semi-detached property located on the east side of this small country village. This three-bedroom property, having been newly refurbished and tastefully redecorated, is the perfect place for families and couples alike to start afresh and settle down into country life.

    Matthew Hardwicke, lettings manager for Your Move, says: “37 Wegberg Road overlooks communal parkland, located to the rear of the property, and so is in the perfect location for children with a park and tennis courts available too.

    “The property’s garden itself is to the rear and enclosed, with a shed too, while the front garden is simply laid to lawn.

    “Light and airy throughout, the property has been fully refurbished to a high standard with a multi-burner in the lounge, as well as a new, modern kitchen. From new carpets to decoration, everything has been redone.”

    With tasteful flooring, wood and carpet, as well as a gleaming new white bathroom suite, there is no doubt that quality was at the forefront throughout the refurbishment.

    But there is no room in the property that reflects this more than the kitchen. Clean lines and superior finishing touches and the stainless steel extractor hood, hob and oven really make 37 Wegberg Road a cut above the rest.

    A rare rural find with excellent modern detail, the property briefly comprises entrance hall, lounge with multi-burner fire, brand new fitted kitchen/diner with oven and hob, three bedrooms (two double bedrooms and one single bedroom), as well as a family bathroom, complete with P-shaped bath and shower.

    “The house benefits from being steeped in a village lifestyle that the area commands,” says Matthew.

    “However, it is also an easily commutable driving distance to surrounding towns and cities such as Lincoln and Sleaford.

    “Suitable for families, couples and professionals alike, we are always pleased to offer to let such quality properties. The outlook to the rear is fantastic and with the fully refurbished interior it will make someone a perfect home.”

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  • With electric rates projected to increase, finding ways to cut the bill — and curb energy consumption — can present a challenge.

    “You can turn off your lights when you leave a room to save money, but you also need to unplug any appliances you aren’t using,” said Robert Blocks, assistant store manager of Zimmermann True Value Hardware. “Otherwise, you risk losing power through phantom power loss, which refers to appliances like coffeemakers and toasters that continue to use a small amount of power, even when they’re switched off.”

    To fight phantom power loss, Blocks suggested unplugging any appliances not in use. “It’s not always possible to turn off some appliances, like refrigerators, but there’s always something you can turn off.”

    To cut lighting costs, Blocks advised switching bulbs to energy-efficient CFLs (compact fluorescent lamps) and LEDs (light-emitting diodes). For outdoor lighting, he suggested using solar-powered lights when possible.

    “It’s also important to make your home energy-efficient,” Blocks said. “Install a new furnace filter to maximize your airflow. If your filter is dirty, then your furnace’s motor will need to work harder.”

    Window insulation kits and door sweeps also help keep the cold air out of the home. In addition, ceiling fans should be rotated clockwise to circulate the warm air from the ceiling to the floor.

    Ron Cacioppo, owner of Argon Electric, recommended using occupancy sensors, especially in homes with young children.

    “Kids tend to leave the lights on when they leave a room. Sensors will be able to turn off the lights in case someone forgot,” he said.

    “You can also save money by using dimmers for your lights,” Cacioppo said. “However, you’ll need to use a lot of dimmers for your lights to see a difference in savings.”

    Turning off personal computers when not in use is another way consumers can save money on their electric bill.

    According to Jason Sauer, a technician at Computer Liquidation Outlet, the age of the personal computer also affects how much energy is used. “The new computers are much more energy-efficient and can draw less power when they are in ‘sleep’ mode,” he explained. “If your computer is more than five or six years old, then you should consider buying a new one because they’re much more energy-efficient. It’s a double-dip for the consumer, because the new computers use less energy and also work much faster.”

    The village of Buffalo Grove’s website also has information on ways residents can save money on their electric bills.

    “Residents can take part in the CUB Energy Saver program, which is a free, online program available through the village’s website,” Deputy Village Manager Ghida Neukirch said. “Through the program, residents can receive recommendations on how they can lower their electric bill.”

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