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Posts

April 23, 2014

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10:28 PM | Historic Shipwreck in San Francisco Bay Rediscovered
A long-lost 19th century shipwreck on the bottom of San Francisco Bay is again on the map. Scientists recently re-discovered it using sonar.
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7:15 PM | Google reinforces geopolitical bubbles
Brian Ries, writing at Mashable: Russian users of Google Maps, who use the service through Google.ru, will see that Crimea is wholly a territory of Mother Russia. That black line is a border — the same style that marks all 1,426.07 miles from the Black Sea in the south to Belarus in the north. Americans […]∞
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6:27 PM | Biofuels From Crop Residue May Increase Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Using corn crop residue to make ethanol and other biofuels reduces soil carbon and can generate more greenhouse gases than gasoline, according to a study published in the journal Nature Climate Change (see footnote). Read more »

Liska, A., Yang, H., Milner, M., Goddard, S., Blanco-Canqui, H., Pelton, M., Fang, X., Zhu, H. & Suyker, A. (2014). Biofuels from crop residue can reduce soil carbon and increase CO2 emissions, Nature Climate Change, DOI:

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5:52 PM | A Deeper Look at a Study Finding High Leak Rates From Gas Drilling
A closer look at a hot study on high gas leak rates in Pennsylvania's fracking zone raises coal questions.
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5:52 PM | Are You With Us or Against Us?
When I take issue with the one way skepticism and hyperbolic language of climate skeptics, I’m met with a chorus of “who me?” They especially object to being lumped together with the climate-science-is-a-hoax crowd. It’s a fair complaint. At the same time, it’s worth noting that the representative standard bearers for climate skeptics are Anthony […]The post Are You With Us or Against Us? appeared first on Collide-a-Scape.
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5:37 PM | Seinfeld, His Show, and Inequality
Anand Giridharadas, writing at the New York Times, notes how much the U.S. has changed in just 16 years: The country has changed since “Seinfeld” signed off in May 1998, and Jerry has changed. His popular new online show, “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee,” dispenses with the observational examination of regular life that defined the […]∞
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4:49 PM | Scientists Use Airplane to Detect Methane From Fracking
Using an airplane to detect greenhouse gas emissions from freshly drilled shale gas wells in Pennsylvania’s Marcellus basin, Cornell and Purdue scientists have found that leaked methane from fracking is a tougher problem—between a hundred- and a thousandfold—than previously thought. Read more »

Caulton, D., Shepson, P., Santoro, R., Sparks, J., Howarth, R., Ingraffea, A., Cambaliza, M., Sweeney, C., Karion, A., Davis, K. & Stirm, B. (2014). Toward a better understanding and quantification of methane emissions from shale gas development, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, DOI:

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3:38 PM | Blue-Footed Boobies Have Stopped Breeding—But Why?
One of the most delightful bird species of the Galápagos has almost completely stopped breeding there. According to a new study published this week in the journal Avian Conservation and Ecology,... -- Read more on ScientificAmerican.com
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3:29 PM | Architect Philip Johnson’s dark side
Matt Novak: American architect Philip Johnson designed some of the most iconic buildings of the 20th century. Johnson, who died in 2005, has long been hailed as one of the greats. But there’s one fact about the man that many people in the architecture community don’t like to talk about: Johnson was a fascist who […]∞
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3:24 PM | Slipper animacule
Image taken from micro*scopeParamecia were among the first ciliates to be seen through early microscopes in the late 17th century. The first description occurs in a letter by his contemporary Christiaan Huygens in 1678. Huygens was a prominent Dutch mathematician and scientist. Interestingly is not known for this particular discovery but more for his telescopic studies of the rings of Saturn and the discovery of its moon Titan which was honored by   the European Space Agency (ESA) by […]
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3:05 PM | Highest Efficiency Achieved for Small GaAs Solar Cells
Engineering researchers at the University of Arkansas have achieved the highest efficiency ever in a 9 mm2 solar cell made of gallium arsenide. Read more »

Makableh, Y., Vasan, R., Sarker, J., Nusir, A., Seal, S. & Manasreh, M. (2014). Enhancement of GaAs solar cell performance by using a ZnO sol–gel anti-reflection coating, Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells, 123 178-182. DOI:

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1:40 PM | Wag the Humpback, El Niño Fortune Telling, Beware the Pollen Vortex!
By Jason Bittel Oh, Canada… : The Canadian government has de-listed the humpback whale! So good to hear that the animals are doing so well that they no longer need protections! If only it were, true. Alas, Canada’s quiet-as-a-mouse de-listing of the whale earlier this month is actually meant to help two new pipeline projects gain approval. The western end of one of the proposed pipelines—owned by our old buddies Enbridge—plans to go […]
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1:30 PM | Volkswagen to Promote Electric Cars in China
According to Volkswagen CEO Prof. Dr. Winterkorn, the company will be “launching the biggest initiative for e-mobility in China’s automotive history.” Read more »
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12:00 PM | Island Biodiversity Theory Doesn’t Apply to Metaphorical Islands
The equilibrium theory of island biogeography is three things. One, it’s a mouthful of jargon. Two, it’s long been one of the theoretical pillars of conservation science. Three, it might be completely useless, at lest for those islands not surrounded by water. That’s according to new research published last week in Nature. To understand just
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8:11 AM | Memory tokens
So… despite your very best intentions, you have found yourself in a situation where your brain is coming up with wonderful ideas that you absolutely need to act on, but which you are temporarily prevented from jotting down. Maybe you’re in the car. Perhaps you forgot your notebook, or the battery on your phone just died. It won’t be long before you can get to a pen, but how do you remember in the meantime? Memory and recollection is a very personal thing. I find it easy to […]
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4:08 AM | This week: Open access and open science journalism
I had a couple of guest posts come out today, and surprisingly both happen to be about open access. The first was for Canadian Science Publishing, on open access publishing and gold versus green standards (thanks to John Dupuis for commenting on an early draft of this post): “Open Access (OA) is a popular buzzword…
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1:42 AM | In California Drought, Desperation May Make Water Flow Uphill
A 47-mile section of the California Aqueduct, the main artery of the state's water system, could be engineered to flow backward this summer.

April 22, 2014

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7:25 PM | Panasonic Achieves 25.6% Conversion Efficiency for HIT Solar Cell
Panasonic Corporation announced that it has achieved a conversion efficiency of 25.6% (cell area: 143.7 cm²) in its HIT (heterojunction with intrinsic thin layer) solar cells, a major increase over the previous world record for crystalline silicon-based solar cells. Read more »
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7:21 PM | Beneath the Surface of China’s Great Urban Rush
Can China's urbanization push sidestep the Western pattern of pollution and sprawl, and can it consider the rights of displaced citizens?
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6:27 PM | Plasmonic Metamaterials Could Improve Solar Cell Performance
New plasmonic metamaterials that operate at high temperatures could radically improve solar cell performance and bring advanced computer data storage technology that uses heat to record information on a magnetic disk. Read more »

Guler, U., Boltasseva, A. & Shalaev, V. (2014). Refractory Plasmonics, Science, 344 (6181) 263-264. DOI:

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5:41 PM | The Paper Trail
Writers are often advised to keep a pen and paper within arm’s reach Advice for writers often includes having a notebook (or other means of note taking/ recording) on your person at all times, the idea being that you never know when you’re going to have a great idea. Insomniacs need to remember to have some kind of note-taking device on the night stand. People who tend to get their best ideas in the shower should consider investing in some waterproof paper and a pencil. In fact, […]
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5:40 PM | Earth Day's Hot and Getting Hotter
By Melissa Mahony Since the first Earth Day 44 years ago, average temperatures have been rising across the globe—and they're going up even faster in the continental United States, according to records from the National Climatic Data Center. The change wouldn’t be enough for you to notice if you were, say, comparing the weather today with how warm you (or your mom) felt during those mass sit-ins in 1970. But the atmosphere has noticed. And the […]
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5:40 PM | Are vouchers always necessary?
We live in times with a heightened sense of urgency to confirm the return of animals thought to be extinct, or to confirm the presence of newly discovered species. Global climate change and rapidly disappearing habitat is endangering species and we become increasingly concerned about the consequences of their disappearance. The standard approach in biology is to go out and collect specimens either to confirm that they do still exist in the wild or to discover new species. However, sometimes […]
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4:13 PM | No Time to Waste: Students Pursue Environmental Progress Instead of Exam Grades
College students get out of the classroom and pursue environmental initiatives with partners in surrounding communities.
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3:46 PM | Americans Don’t Know What to Do With Used Car Batteries
A recent consumer survey commissioned by Johnson Controls found that seven out of 10 Americans don’t know what to do with used car batteries. Read more »
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2:51 PM | What Does Climate Change Have to do with Weather…and Baseball?
By Andy Miller A question I often hear is whether a particular weather event or condition is caused by climate change, and my answer is almost always no.  You can’t say that a specific tornado, torrential downpour or 100 degree plus day is caused by climate change. So if the answer is that the weird […]
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2:21 PM | Study Examines Future of Pumped Storage Systems
A new study of Rheinisch-Westfälische Technische Hochschule Aachen (RWTH Aachen University) about the future role of pumped storage power systems in Germany, commissioned by Voith Hydro, was presented in Berlin. Read more »
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2:09 PM | Chick-fil-A’s New Recipe, a Sailor's Almanac, 56 Earth Day Ideas for the Kiddos
By Jason Bittel Flower power: Judging by the Google doodles, today is the 44th annual Earth Day. The day of environmental action was born in 1970 when 20 million Americans—one in ten—took a page out of the anti-Vietnam War movement and rallied to demand better protection for the environment. Because of their voices, Earth Day and the Environmental Protection Agency were established in the same year. While Earth Day will probably always include […]
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2:00 PM | Giant Tusked Insect Saved from Extinction (Just in the Nick of Time)
The Mercury Islands tusked weta (Motuweta isolate) isn’t exactly a thing of beauty. These massive New Zealand insects can reach more than seven centimeters in length, including the impressive... -- Read more on ScientificAmerican.com
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1:24 PM | Full Frontal Nerdity
I was once caught staring at energy efficiency guru Amory Lovins’ pocket protector, and without blinking he said, “Yes, it’s full frontal nerdity.” There was something refreshing about that... -- Read more on ScientificAmerican.com
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