What's sometimes silent, somewhat deadly and totally bad for the environment (hint: they're a major component of fresh Wisconsin air)? Yup, you guessed it … cow farts.
An article on outsideonline.com states that cow flatulence is "responsible for 25 percent of the methane produced on this planet" and according to FastCo.Exist, it accounts for "5 percent of all human-caused greenhouse gasses in the world." That's why folks at Argentina's National Institute for Agricultural Technology have developed a genius solution to the dangers of bovine under thunder: the "fartpack."
Picture a clear balloon-like bag full of booty belches nestled on top of a cow's back with a tube connecting the pack to the animal's digestive system. That, my friend, is a "fartpack." Just one of these sleek new ass-flapper trappers is able to capture the nearly 300 liters of methane a cow produces each day with its trouser trumpet solos. But that's not all; this methane can then be used as an eco-friendly way to generate power. In fact, 300 liters of methane is enough to power one refrigerator for the entire day. Just imagine grabbing a nice cold batch of cheese curds and a glass of milk from your own refrigerator powered by cow cheesers? Ah, now we're in Wisconsin!
Our very own UW-Eau Claire served as stomping grounds for more than a few notable individuals. They may not be the movie stars or recording artists everyone loves to talk about, but they did make an impact ...
Devroy was respected – and feared – by politicians and fellow journalists alike during her career covering the White House for USA Today and The Washington Post in the 1980s and ’90s. After her untimely death from cancer in 1997, a scholarship and forum were created in her memory at UWEC; this year it features Post reporter/columnist Al Kamen, who will speak at 7pm April 17 at Schofield Auditorium.
Glennan helped NASA earn its wings. As the space agency’s first administrator (1958-61), he oversaw the consolidation of various space projects under the NASA umbrella. A native of North Dakota, Glennan attended UWEC (OK, so he’s not technically an alum) and graduated with an engineering degree from Yale. His stint as NASA chief ended just a few months before Alan Shepard became the first American in space.
Ball was a 34-year-old newspaper reporter when he was appointed to fill a vacant U.S. Senate seat in Minnesota in 1940. A Republican who opposed the New Deal and labor unions, he nonetheless backed FDR’s preparations for World War II and even endorsed the Democratic president in 1944. Ball who attended (but didn’t graduate from) UWEC when it was Eau Claire State Normal School, lost his seat in 1948.
Mehring, a 1983 Blugold computer science graduate, worked for and founded a number of software and tech companies before creating CaringBridge in 1997. The website, which serves as a social network for those facing medical crises, gets as many as half a million visitors a day.
UWEC is well known for sending students abroad and bringing international scholars here. Among the latter group is Buch, who earned an MBA from UWEC in 1989. Since then, Buch has compiled impressive academic and publishing credentials, culminating two years ago when she became only the second woman in history appointed to the German Council of Economic Experts, a group of five economists who advise the German government and president.
Several years ago a few entrepreneurs/UW-Madison graduates came up with an online business idea allowing people to order food from multiple restaurants through a single website. While they weren’t the first people to come up this idea, founders Matt Howard, Alex Wyler, and Eric Martell have grown their company – EatStreet – into a booming endeavor. According to an article recently posted at TechCrunch.com the company had reportedly raised over $2 Million about a year ago, and while Howard didn’t disclose how much profit the company has made, he did state that revenue has almost tripled. On top of that, the company has recently raised another $6 million in funding. The founders have already began expanding into more cities and plan to have over 15,000 restaurants in 150 cities covered by year’s end. Eau Claire was one of the first cities to get the EatStreet treatment.
Sure, Wisconsin is home to the Green Bay Packers, cheese and brats, and a plethora of interesting historical locations. But have you ever wondered what Wisconsin-made items have changed the world around us? I did some digging and here are some of my favorite Wisconsin inventions ...
In 1922, Stephen Poplawski, owner of the Stevens Electric Company, put two and two together when he created his liquefying invention, the blender. He used a newly invented fractional horsepower motor (the same style of motor used in current appliances) and slapped a cup with spinning blades onto it. He began selling his invention to drug store soda fountains to help them make malted milk shakes (another Wisconsin invention). It wasn’t long before soda jerks figured out what would happen when fruit was added to the vortex of liquefaction. It gained popularity and in 1937 Wisconsin engineer Frederick Osius improved on the Poplawski blender, allowing it to mix and blend more than just milkshakes. He named it the Miracle Mixer, which was changed a year later to the Waring Blendor (after his financial backer Fred Waring). The Waring blender to this day is still the most popular and recognizable brand for America’s blending needs.
During the Great Depression, President Roosevelt needed a solution to the poverty that was crippling the nation. He turned to the University of Wisconsin-Madison for the answer. Professor Edwin Witte, as a champion of the “Wisconsin Idea” (universities should work for the benefit of the people), was placed at the head of this project. Witte and others created the basis for the Social Security Act which passed in 1935. This had a significant impact on the economy. In the first three years, it gave more than 25 million workers unemployment pay. It also gave 1.7 million Americans monthly allowances if they were old enough to qualify. Social Security became an “economic cushion,” as some historians call it, for many Americans and provided much needed purchasing power to help boost the economy once again. While some people may say the system needs an overhaul, or to be removed all together, it’s pretty splendid a fellow Wisconsinite is to thank for what it did.
The introduction of silage into the diets of cows came in the nineteenth century. Since then, the way to store the various grasses and grains so they could ferment has been every changing. Originally, pits were dug in the ground and lined with straw. This was inefficient however, so farmers began constructing rectangular silos. These had issues however due to pressure from the silage, as well as rot and air pockets in the corners. The solution came around 1910 from University of Wisconsin agricultural physics professor W.H. King, who designed the first round silo. The walls were made to withstand the pressure of the silage, and as long as it was over 24 feet tall, there would be no worries of air pockets due to the compression. The cobalt blue silos you see dotting the dairy farm landscapes of Wisconsin are the ancestors of King’s revolutionary invention.
While the first bone marrow transplant did not occur in Wisconsin, the method for determining whether or not two patients are compatible was developed here. Dr. Fritz Bach of the University of Wisconsin-Madison (seeing a trend yet?) developed the technique of testing cells in a test tube, to avoid dangerous procedures ending in bone or cell rejection by the body. His technique takes cells from the donor (most often a close family member) as well as cells from the patient. By mixing them outside of the body, in a test tube, he was able to see how the cells reacted, just as they would inside the body. His technique was first used in 1968 to save a 5-month-old boy with a bone marrow defect, and again to save a 2-year-old boy suffering from constant bleeding and infections. These two boys were the first people to receive a successful bone marrow transplant surgery.
Like many food origins, the ice cream sundae isn’t without its share of controversy. There are three popular origin stories; one from Evanston, Illinois, one from Ithaca, New York, and the last from Two Rivers, Wisconsin. The Two Rivers story is said to take place in 1881, earlier than either of the other two, so there is a good chance it’s the first right? The story goes that soda fountain owner Ed Berners had a customer request a dish of ice cream topped with the syrup they used for sodas. Berner served the customer, and liking it himself, added it to his menu and charged a respectable nickel for the dish. As word spread, George Giffy, owner of a competing soda fountain in Manitowoc felt he should also serve this new dish. However, he felt a nickel was too cheap, and decided to only serve it on Sundays. It became known as the Ice Cream Sunday, and after even more success, he changed it to the Ice Cream Sundae and served it every day.
Does it really come as a surprise to anyone that one of the most revolutionary inventions in pouring a cold beer came out of Wisconsin? Because it did. In 1995, University of Wisconsin-Madison engineering student Matt Younkle was waiting in line for a beer. The slow moving line was taking what seemed like forever, but this gave Younkle time to have an epiphany. What came out of it was the TurboTap draft beer tap, released in 2004. (World changing, I say!) This tap device slips over the end of a standard U.S. beer faucet, and through the powers of laminar flow (which in basic terms makes, um, fluid move faster), allows a tap to fill a pint in under 4 seconds. It also minimizes waste and spillage and even makes a consistently perfect foam at the top. So next time you are at the big game and you only have to wait in line for a few minutes as opposed to half the game, give thanks to the TurboTap.
It's true, and you can learn all about it right here. This is third year for the competition in which "amateurs and professionals compete in 4 'heats' to determine the best grilled cheese sandwiches in Wisconsin."
The free event boasts live music, beer and wine, fabulous prizes for contestants and a competition viewing area for those who'd just like to kick back and take it cheesy. Oh, and don't worry parents, there is also a "Kids Grilled Cheese Construction Site," where your youngsters can finally learn what it means to be a true Wisconsinite by "constructing" their own grilled cheese sandwiches. And on top of all that, this year they are offering VIP tickets for folks who want to test genuine, "competition level" sandwiches. Mmm.
This year, the WGCC is taking place in Dodgeville on April 27 from 11am to 4pm and will be emceed by Kyle Cherek, host of WPT's Wisconsin Foodie. (Unfortunately the nearby Wisconsin Tomato Soup Convention was cancelled this year, so you'll have to make due with the endless amounts of grilled cheeses.)
Still not convinced? Check out this video from a previous Wisconsin Grilled Cheese Championship.