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Posts

April 01, 2014

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5:03 PM | Needle in a Landfill
By Jason Bittel For over three weeks, the world has been searching for Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370, with no physical sign of the plane or its 239 passengers anywhere. But what search parties have found, over and over again, is a lot of trash floating in some very remote corners of the ocean. Almost immediately after the plane went missing on March 8, authorities spotted two unrelated oil slicks in the South China Sea, and since then, flotsam has […]
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4:58 PM | Perovskite Solar Cell Doubles as Laser
Earlier this month we reported on a new perovskite solar cell that can also work as a light panel. Now, researchers from Professor Sir Richard Friend’s group at Cambridge’s Cavendish Laboratory—working with Snaith’s Oxford group—have demonstrated that perovskite cells can also be used to produce cheap lasers. Read more »

Deschler, F., Price, M., Pathak, S., Klintberg, L., Jarausch, D., Higler, R., Huettner, S., Leijtens, T., Stranks, S., Snaith, H. & Atature, M. (2014). High Photoluminescence Efficiency and Optically-Pumped Lasing in Solution-Processed Mixed Halide Perovskite Semiconductors, The Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, 2147483647. DOI:

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3:58 PM | Getting started with Modelr
Let's take a closer look at modelr.io, our new modeling tool. Just like real seismic experiments, there are four components: Make a framework. Define the geometries of rock layers. Make an earth. Assign a set of rock properties to each layer. Make a kernel. Define the seismic survey. Make a plot. Set the output parameters. Modelr takes care of the physics of wave propagation and reflection, so you don't have to stick with normal incidence acoustic impedance models if you don't want to. You can […]
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3:49 PM | PECDEMO to Convert Solar Energy to Hydrogen With 8% Efficiency
Within just three years, research partners of the EU project PECDEMO are planning on developing a practical system capable of converting over 8% of solar energy into hydrogen. Read more »
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2:40 PM | Death of a Rather Important Rhino, Syanara Whaling?, Climate Change Is No Biggie—April Fools!
By Jason Bittel This joke’s getting old: The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released its newest report on the growing risks a changing climate will present humankind in the near future—an issue that effects every civilization on Earth—and the three major cable news networks basically decided to ignore it. CNN gave the report about 40 seconds of coverage over the span of 6 hours, choosing instead to devote itself to rehashing […]
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2:04 PM | U.S. Accounts for 10.4% of World’s Oil Production
U.S. tight oil production averaged 3.22 million barrels per day (MMbbl/d) in the fourth quarter of 2013, according to U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates. This level was enough to push overall crude oil production in the United States to an average of 7.84 MMbbl/d, more than 10% of total world production, up from 9% in the fourth quarter of 2012. Read more »

March 31, 2014

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8:15 PM | Multilayered Waveguide Array Opens New Possibilities in Solar Power
A new study by researchers at the University at Buffalo explores the use of a nanoscale microchip component called a “multilayered waveguide taper array” that improves the chip’s ability to trap and absorb light. Read more »

Ji, D., Song, H., Zeng, X., Hu, H., Liu, K., Zhang, N. & Gan, Q. (2014). Broadband absorption engineering of hyperbolic metafilm patterns, Scientific Reports, 4 DOI:

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6:12 PM | Lack of Math / Statistics – what to do?
Nice article on how students realize they suck at math / statistics, but don’t know what to do about it.. it ultimately falls on the universities and advisors to provide this training.. and they are currently failing!  While this article focuses on … Continue reading →
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5:53 PM | Researchers Gain Insight Into Organic Solar Cell Efficiency
Research from North Carolina State University reveals that organic solar cell efficiency is based upon a delicate balance between the size and purity of the interior layers, or domains. These findings may lead to better designs and improved performance in organic solar cells. Read more »

Ma, W., Tumbleston, J., Ye, L., Wang, C., Hou, J. & Ade, H. (2014). Quantification of Nano- and Mesoscale Phase Separation and Relation to Donor and Acceptor Quantum Efficiency, Jsc, and FF in Polymer:Fullerene Solar Cells, Advanced Materials, DOI:

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4:02 PM | Online Tool Helps African Governments Develop Renewable Energy
The Joint Research Center (JRC), the EU in-house scientific service, has developed an online tool to support national governments in deciding which energy options would better accommodate their needs for off-grid, rural electrification. Read more »
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2:19 PM | Prairie Chicken Throwdown, IPCC Update, Coal is Good for Us?
By Jason Bittel The worst is yet to come: The latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change came out today, citing dire concerns about food security, melting icecaps, extreme weather, global water supplies, coral reefs, endangered species, sinking coastlines, mass migrations—in short, sadly, the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. The most recent iteration focuses on the need to address these problems NOW, because the cost of doing so […]
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1:39 PM | Calculated Risk
By Melissa Mahony Climate change is putting you at risk. It’s not personal. It’s coming for all of us in some way. We don’t know when and how (exactly), but it’s coming, and we need to be prepared for whatever it brings.Oh, and we should get on that, pronto.That’s the gist of the latest report from the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, released earlier today in Yokohama, Japan. The draft assesses the impacts that […]

March 28, 2014

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6:48 PM | BGS Publishes Report on Global Oil, Gas Well Integrity
The British Geological Survey (BGS) in partnership with the ReFINE (Researching Fracking in Europe) consortium, led by Durham University, published a review of global oil and gas well integrity in the journal Marine and Petroleum Geology (see footnote). Read more »

Davies, R., Almond, S., Ward, R., Jackson, R., Adams, C., Worrall, F., Herringshaw, L., Gluyas, J. & Whitehead, M. (2014). Oil and gas wells and their integrity: Implications for shale and unconventional resource exploitation, Marine and Petroleum Geology, DOI:

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4:34 PM | Report Analyzes Future of Automotive Fuels in EU
​Twenty five years ago, University of Utah scientists announced a discovery that touched off a worldwide sensation."Basically, we've established a sustained nuclear fusion reaction by means which are considerably simpler than conventional techniques," said Professor Stanley Pons on 23 March 1989. He was describing an experiment on the Utah campus that sent waves of optimism around the globe. Some thought so-called "cold fusion" would solve the world's energy problems and lead to […]
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3:55 PM | Weekend Reads: Chasing Antarctica, Poaching Destroys Humans, Too, Here Lies the Great Barrier Reef...
By Jason Bittel The Madness of Modern Day PoachingEveryone knows poaching is bad. Most of us have seen photos of dried up elephant carcasses with their faces hacked off and caged wild animals on display in markets. But I still feel the need to warn you about the Paul Kvinta piece featured here today: The people who run poaching operations are not very nice (to put it mildly), and the scenes they create are horrendous. I’m talking about human […]
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3:02 PM | Engineered Bacterium to Produce Rocket Fuel
Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology and the Joint BioEnergy Institute have engineered a bacterium to synthesize pinene, a hydrocarbon produced by trees that could potentially replace high-energy fuels, such as JP-10, in missiles and other aerospace applications. Read more »

Sarria, S., Wong, B., Martín, H., Keasling, J. & Peralta-Yahya, P. (2014). Microbial Synthesis of Pinene, ACS Synthetic Biology, 2147483647. DOI:

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2:08 PM | Firefighters Fight Flame Retardants, BYOBag, Bye-bye Bangladesh
By Jason Bittel The rising tide: The world’s top climate scientists are scheduled to release the next IPCC report this Sunday, and in anticipation of that comes a two-parter on the threat of rising sea levels. The first story looks at the issue from the perspective of people living in Bangladesh, the country most considered to top the List of The Sincerely Screwed. The second part breaks down the ways climate change and rising seas will affect other […]

March 27, 2014

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10:56 PM | Study: Costs for Wind Energy and Natural Gas Are Comparable
The costs of using wind energy and natural gas for electricity are virtually equal when accounting for the full private and social costs of each, making wind a competitive energy source for the United States, according to a new study on the federal tax credit for wind energy. Read more »
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9:26 PM | Clear and Present Danger
By Susan Cosier It’s oil spill week, America! Or it sure seems like it, anyway, as oil companies mark the 25th anniversary of Alaska’s Exxon Valdez disaster with a tanker collision in Galveston Bay and a refinery leak into Lake Michigan, which supplies Chicago’s drinking water. The damage in Texas is still being assessed, but it could be significant: 168,000 gallons of spilled fuel oil threaten some of the most delicate ecosystems and […]
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8:46 PM | New Magnetic Materials Hold Promise for Better Generators
Scientists from the Charles III University of Madrid (UC3M) are developing a new type of tidal energy generator that will be cheaper and more efficient. The device would replace conventional magnetic materials for new materials that are made using an alternative technology. Read more »

Torralba, J., Hidalgo, J. & Morales, A. (2013). Powder injection moulding: processing of small parts of complex shape, International Journal of Microstructure and Materials Properties, 8 (1/2) 87. DOI:

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5:47 PM | Ionic Liquid Resistance Mechanism to Advance Biofuel Production
Researchers with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)’s Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI), a multi-institutional partnership led by Berkeley Lab, have identified the genetic origins of a microbial resistance to ionic liquids and successfully introduced this ionic liquid resistance into a strain of E. coli bacteria for the production of advanced biofuels. Read more »

Ruegg, T., Kim, E., Simmons, B., Keasling, J., Singer, S., Soon Lee, T. & Thelen, M. (2014). An auto-inducible mechanism for ionic liquid resistance in microbial biofuel production, Nature Communications, 5 DOI:

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5:20 PM | How to load SEG-Y data
Yesterday I looked at the anatomy of SEG-Y files. But it's pathology we're really interested in. Three times in the last year, I've heard from frustrated people. In each case, the frustration stemmed from the same problem. The epic email trails led directly to these posts. Next time I can just send a URL! In a nutshell, the specific problem these people experienced was missing or bad trace location data. Because I've run into this so many times before, I never trust location data in a SEG-Y […]
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4:17 PM | Researchers Observe Microstructural Degradation in Li-Ion Battery in 3D
Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Brookhaven National Laboratory have made the first 3D observations of how the structure of a lithium-ion battery anode evolves at the nanoscale in a real battery cell as it discharges and recharges. Read more »

Wang, J., Chen-Wiegart, Y. & Wang, J. (2014). In Situ Three-Dimensional Synchrotron X-Ray Nanotomography of the (De)lithiation Processes in Tin Anodes, Angewandte Chemie, DOI:

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2:34 PM | Bioenergy From Forestry Is Not Sustainable Enough for EU
The levels of forest residue bioenergy, considered to be sustainable from a forestry perspective, may provide considerable reductions in greenhouse gas emissions in European countries. Still, these reductions fall short of a 60 % threshold planned by the EU. This mismatch may have important climate policy implications. Read more »

Repo, A., Böttcher, H., Kindermann, G. & Liski, J. (2014). Sustainability of forest bioenergy in Europe: land-use-related carbon dioxide emissions of forest harvest residues, GCB Bioenergy, DOI:

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2:12 PM | The Incredible Shrinking Salamander, Poisonous Paint by Numbers, Plan Your Disaster Vacation!
By Jason Bittel The Chris Christie Show: New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s administration is back in the headlines for doing, well, whatever it wants. A state appellate court ruled this week that it was illegal for New Jersey to withdraw from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. While the state has the right to leave the program, it must go through the proper democratic channels laid out in the NJ constitution. It didn't. (If you’re […]

March 26, 2014

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9:39 PM | My Life as an Urban Egg Smuggler
By Melissa Mahony If you don’t read the New York Times cover to cover each day, you might have missed the fact that my chickens are now famous. A recent piece on what to do in the Ridgewood neighborhood of Queens covered life at the oldest Dutch colonial farmhouse in New York City, where my boyfriend and I have been caretakers since last summer. Keith and I got mentions, but the chickens snagged the headline. Fortunately, fame (such as it is, when the […]
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8:34 PM | New Transmission Lines To Bring West Texas Wind To Dallas And Austin
Texas is the largest producer of wind energy in the United States by a wide margin.  In fact, Texas is one of the largest producers of wind energy in the world; producing more than all but a hand full of … Continue reading →
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7:59 PM | China Becomes World’s Largest Importer of Petroleum
In September 2013, China’s net imports of petroleum and other liquids exceeded those of the United States on a monthly basis, making it the largest net importer of crude oil and other liquids in the world. Read more »
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6:08 PM | Study: Electric-Vehicle Tax Incentives Are Inefficient
New research published in Energy Policy (see footnote) suggests that electric-vehicle proponents and policymakers have missed the mark when it comes to targeting mainstream consumers, arguing that electric-vehicle tax incentives for mainstream buyers are “wasteful, inefficient and ineffective.” Read more »

Green, E., Skerlos, S. & Winebrake, J. (2014). Increasing electric vehicle policy efficiency and effectiveness by reducing mainstream market bias, Energy Policy, 65 562-566. DOI:

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3:59 PM | Unknown Unknowns
By Kim Tingley In 1901 an astronomer named A. E. Douglass had a revolutionary idea for how to study the effect of sunspot cycles on the earth’s weather and climate: cut down a tree and look at the growth rings on a cross-section of its trunk. At low elevations, he found, the width of the rings correlates with precipitation. Only later did he realize that the rings could also be used as a dating tool to help archaeologists figure out the age of ancient […]
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