CO2 to Ethanol Discovery

Pretty cool…

Thanks Obama

Well what the heck. Have you had a chance to read the follow-up interview? One of the most interesting things was the energy efficiency concept. I thought it was smart to suggest that this could still be viable even at lower efficiencies by simply operating in off-peak hours when stored electricity is less valuable.

Yes, President Obama’s creation of the Manhattan Project is commendable.

Usually the argument about government funded research producing a useful result is that private enterprise would have discovered it decades earlier if government hadn’t distorted the incentives to discover it by funding the topic in the public interest.

It’s not necessarily an argument that holds water, but since we can’t test counter-factuals, the “government can do nothing good ever” crowd is spared some cognitive dissonance.

In this case, the guy accidentally discovered the reaction while doing some other research. So, had the government not funded whatever random thing he was studying, he would not have made this breakthrough. Maybe the government’s funding of academic research conceived by egghead professors with little practical grounding is necessary to catalyze these random discoveries.

I haven’t heard the one about “distorted incentives”. I think private enterprise will find a way to fund anything that is commercially important. If there is a market for diabetes pills… someone is going to research diabetes pills. Like the gender swapping dinosaurs in Jurassic Park, they will “find a way”.