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Posts

March 27, 2014

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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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3:57 PM | Siemens to Build Major Factory for Offshore Wind Power in UK
Siemens is investing more than €190 million ($263 million) in new offshore production facilities in Great Britain. Production of rotor blades for offshore wind turbines of the 6-megawatt class is planned, with a new logistics- and service center in the Hull area (Yorkshire). Read more »
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2:12 PM | Fragmented Carbon Nanotube Macrofilms Hold Promise for Better Batteries
The electrodes in lithium-ion batteries typically comprise three components: active materials, conductive additives, and binders. Now, a team of researchers at the University of Delaware has discovered that fragmented carbon nanotube macrofilms may eliminate the need for binders. Read more »

Cao, Z. & Wei, B. (2014). Fragmented Carbon Nanotube Macrofilms as Adhesive Conductors for Lithium-Ion Batteries, ACS Nano, 8 (3) 3049-3059. DOI:

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1:54 PM | Air Is Public Enemy #1?, Exxon Opens Up (a Little), Moose Worm Goes Off-Off-Broadway
By Jason Bittel Breathe, breathe in the air: A new report from the World Health Organization says air pollution contributes to one in eight deaths worldwide and is today’s single greatest environmental health risk. The death rate is more than double than previous WHO estimates, because we can now scientifically link air pollution to stroke, heart disease, and cancer. But remember, air gets dirty in all sorts of ways. There’s the smog hanging […]
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12:59 PM | What is SEG-Y?
The confusion starts with the name, but whether you write SEGY, SEG Y, or SEG-Y, it's probably definitely pronounced 'segg why'. So what is this strange substance? SEG-Y means seismic data. For many of us, it's the only type of seismic file we have much to do with — we might handle others, but for the most part they are closed, proprietary formats that 'just work' in the application they belong to (Landmark's brick files, say, or OpendTect's CBVS files). Processors care about other kinds […]
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10:48 AM | Towards a climate risk management approach for adaptation
By Reinhard Mechler, IIASA Risk, Policy, and Vulnerability Program On March 25, member countries of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) started discussing the key findings of the second volume of the Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) in Yokohama, Japan. The report focuses on climate-related impacts, risks and adaptation. Once approved by the 150+ governments … Continue reading →

March 25, 2014

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7:43 PM | Buoys to Capture Weather Data for Offshore Wind Energy Research
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill will deploy two large buoys 20 miles offshore of the coast and 40 miles north and southwest from Cape Hatteras to capture wind, temperature and barometric pressure data for ongoing offshore wind energy research. Read more »
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5:56 PM | Johnson Controls to Develop New EV Battery Cooling Systems
Johnson Controls and Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft have signed a collaboration agreement to develop the next generation of more energy efficient, cost effective battery cooling systems for electric vehicles. Read more »
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5:38 PM | More Than a Drop in the Bucket
By Jason Bittel Somewhere, way up in the Rocky Mountains of western Montana, it’s raining. Tiny puddles form. Those puddles join up and create a trickle. A trickle becomes a stream, a stream becomes a river. And before those raindrops know it, they’re on a winding 2,000-mile journey to the Gulf of Mexico—nourishing countless ecosystems and cities along the way. This is the water cycle as we know it. It’s tough to imagine the […]
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4:47 PM | New Solar Cell Moonlights as Light Panel
Nanyang Technological University (NTU) scientists have developed a next-generation solar cell material which can also emit light, in addition to converting light to electricity. Read more »

Xing, G., Mathews, N., Lim, S., Yantara, N., Liu, X., Sabba, D., Grätzel, M., Mhaisalkar, S. & Sum, T. (2014). Low-temperature solution-processed wavelength-tunable perovskites for lasing, Nature Materials, DOI:

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4:16 PM | The Great Green Desert
By Julene Bair If, like me, you grew up on family land, then you will know what I mean. The land contains you, and you can’t really differentiate between what it is and who you are. Yet you can leave, because your family will always be there, keeping you one with the land. You don’t realize they are performing this service or that you need them to. I left Kansas when I was 18, headed for excitement, I suppose. But the most exciting thing I did […]
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2:31 PM | Researchers Plan to Obtain Isobutene From Sugar, Not Oil
In a pilot project researchers want to obtain isobutene—a basic product used in the chemical industry— from sugar instead of oil for the first time. Read more »
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2:26 PM | TV Rots the Brain (and the Earth), Oil Deforms Lil’ Fishies, Hare Today, Lunch Tomorrow!
By Jason Bittel Midnight dumper: Let me tell you about a guy in Youngstown, Ohio, who likes to pour stuff down the drain—not prescription drugs (bad idea), but thousands and thousands of gallons of a black chemical brine full of benzene and toluene (even worse idea) that eventually wound up in the Mahoning River watershed. Ben Lupo dumped the waste from his excavating business after dark, when all the other employees went home. After initially denying […]

March 24, 2014

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8:47 PM | After the Whitewash: Facing the Exxon Valdez Disaster 25 Years Later
By Eva Saulitis The sculptures—figures of polar bears, red knot birds, Eskimo curlew, and the extinct great auk—are covered with tar, lime, and glue. They’re part of an art exhibition named  “Whitewashed” that I stumbled onto recently at the Bainbridge Island Museum near Seattle. The artist, Joseph Rossano, describes whitewashing as “to gloss over, cover up, conceal, or palliate flaws, failures, vices, crimes or […]
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7:23 PM | Algae Work as Biofuel Source Even in Cold Climates
Even in a cool climate as in Finland, algae might be used to produce biochemicals and biofuels, besides use in capture of industrial carbon dioxide emissions. The ALGIDA project coordinated by VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland explored algae growing in Finland. Read more »
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5:07 PM | 60% of U.S. Consumers Worry About Impact of Energy on Environment
PPPL collaborations have been instrumental in developing a system to suppress instabilities that could degrade the performance of a fusion plasma. PPPL has built and installed such a system on the DIII-D tokamak that General Atomics operates for the U.S. Department of Energy in San Diego and on the Korea Superconducting Tokamak Advanced Research (KSTAR) facility in South Korea —  and now is revising the KSTAR design to operate during extended plasma experiments. Suppressing […]
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2:53 PM | Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Still Affects Environment
In the early morning hours of March 24, 1989, the Exxon Valdez oil tanker sliced into Prince William Sound’s Bligh Reef, spilling hundreds of thousands of barrels of crude oil into pristine Alaskan waters. It is considered one of the most devastating human-caused environmental disasters. Read more »
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2:20 PM | Oil Oozes on Exxon Valdez Anniversary, IPCC Leaks, Electric Kool-Aid Waterfall Test
By Jason Bittel Happy anniversary?: Just after midnight 25 years ago, a drunk ship captain ran the Exxon Valdez oil tanker aground in Alaska’s Prince William Sound. The resulting spill left 1,300 miles of rocky shoreline and all the wildlife that lived there covered in thick, black ooze. Sea otter populations have only just recovered. In the years since the environmental disaster, many things have changed. The Oil Pollution Act of 1990 began requiring […]

March 23, 2014

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6:31 PM | Nanopillars of nanotubes! A novel method to drastically improve charge transport in hybrid nanotube devices
A hot buzzword in the materials science communities these days is nano-engineering – that is, exploring unique physics at the nanoscale (10^-9 meters or less)  to improve device performance.  The idea is that there are fundamentally different ways in which … Continue reading →

Barbero, D., Boulanger, N., Ramstedt, M. & Yu, J. (2014). Nano-Engineering of SWNT Networks for Enhanced Charge Transport at Ultralow Nanotube Loading, Advanced Materials, DOI:

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March 22, 2014

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7:59 PM | Wind Industry, Even With Energy Storage Costs, Is Sustainable
Today’s wind industry, even with the necessary batteries and other grid-scale storage, is energetically sustainable, Stanford scientists say. Read more »

Carbajales-Dale, M., Barnhart, C. & Benson, S. (2014). Can we afford storage? A dynamic net energy analysis of renewable electricity generation supported by energy storage, Energy & Environmental Science, DOI:

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March 21, 2014

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7:48 PM | Spent Nuclear Fuel Could Be Used as Energy Source
Lawrence Livermore scientists have modeled actinide-based alloys, such as spent nuclear fuel (SNF), in an effort to predict the impact of evolving fuel chemistry on material performance. Read more »

Turchi, P., Söderlind, P. & Landa, A. (2014). From Electronic Structure to Thermodynamics of Actinide-Based Alloys, JOM, 66 (3) 375-388. DOI:

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6:50 PM | Weekend Reads: Scientific Serendipity, Brain-Busting Toxins, Greenland Ice is Going, Going...
By Jason Bittel The Toxins That Threaten Our BrainsAs Florence Williams first told you in last year’s OnEarth cover story “Generation ToXic,” the brain development of U.S. children is at risk from an array of neurotoxins found in pesticides, industrial chemicals, and everyday household products. James Hamblin mirrors Williams’ reporting with an in-depth and similarly scary piece, which begins with a focus on how many IQ points a […]
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