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Posts

April 20, 2014

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8:50 PM | electricity and crow
This is our 21st spring in the house on Aliso Drive, the longest (by a significant margin) that I’ve lived in the same place. The utility pole in the back corner of our yard has been at the fringe of my perception that whole time. I never completely ignored it, but I never thought much ...Continue reading ‘electricity and crow’ » Related posts:Dad always had a camera The Blues electricity and beer
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3:31 PM | the ants of spring
This crew is building an architectural masterpiece in our driveway. Related posts:Pulse flow, from outer space Portal to the past? Pulse flow slows
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2:06 PM | Beautiful Sunday: 18 Blooms of Easter
Enjoy … By Youtube user, jdanilon Anyone want to take a shot at identifying the flowers?  Here, I made a list by color … 1. Green sprout – ? 2. Red – Gerbera 3. Orange – Day lilies 4. Pink – Lilies 5. Green – Grass? 6. Red – ? 7. Yellow – ? 8. […]

April 19, 2014

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7:59 PM | Sweet1 by Nature: African Cities and the Natural World
Spring in Brussels. Balmy weather, traffic jams, helicopters hovering in skies of pale, duck-egg blue. Politicians, policy-makers and lobbyists rub shoulders with the G4S security personnel tasked with their safety. The guards outnumber their charges, and by some margin. The … Continue reading →
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3:08 PM | Down the Landsat rabbit hole, Albuquerque edition
Now that I’ve figured out how to easily download NASA Landsat imagery, (thanks, USGS!) I don’t think I’m going to get much else done this weekend. It’s an amazing conceptual tool for helping to think about how water moves through western North America. Here’s Albuquerque on April 13, with the colors tweaked to highlight growing plants. ...Continue reading ‘Down the Landsat rabbit hole, Albuquerque edition’ » Related posts:River Beat: Lake […]
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3:03 AM | De-Extinction: Bay Area Researcher Hopes to Bring Back the Passenger Pigeon
Researchers are working to revive the passenger pigeon, once the most abundant bird in the world, and the woolly mammoth, which they say could slow down the melting of Arctic permafrost. It may be possible, but is it right to turn back the clock?
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3:00 AM | Pulse flow, from outer space
I’ve apparently got more time on my hands than skill, but I figured out, somewhat crudely, how to downland LANDSAT maps and make some pictures. Here’s the largely dry bed of the Colorado River on February 27. Apologies for the large file size, but it should have enough resolution to click and zoom if you’re ...Continue reading ‘Pulse flow, from outer space’ » Related posts:a boy and his river Pulse flow slows A pickup, stuck in the Colorado River sand
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12:52 AM | In drought-stressed Sacramento, relaxing lawn water rules
In Sacramento, you no longer need fear getting a citation for letting your lawn go brown. What’s next – water meters? Related posts:California Drought Those Wacky Californians Drought’s over! (not)

April 18, 2014

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7:22 PM | Farewell
Well, it’s time for me bid y’all farewell. It’s crazy to think that three years have already gone by. I started contributing to Plugged In shortly after I completed graduate school, and I hope that... -- Read more on ScientificAmerican.com
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6:42 PM | X-Rays Help Understand High-Temperature Superconductivity
A new study pins down a major factor behind the appearance of laser-induced high-temperature superconductivity in a promising copper-oxide material. Read more »

Först, M., Tobey, R., Bromberger, H., Wilkins, S., Khanna, V., Caviglia, A., Chuang, Y., Lee, W., Schlotter, W., Turner, J. & Minitti, M. (2014). Melting of Charge Stripes in Vibrationally Driven La1.875Ba0.125CuO4: Assessing the Respective Roles of Electronic and Lattice Order in Frustrated Superconductors, Physical Review Letters, 112 (15) DOI:

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4:58 PM | California Snowpack Melts With Breathtaking Speed as Drought Continues in Most of the Western United States
Severe drought continues in a large portion of the West, according to the latest U.S. Drought Monitor report, issued yesterday. In California, already particularly hard hit by drought, the situation is worsening. Temperatures there were 9 to 12 degrees above normal, which caused breathtakingly rapid melt of the California snowpack. Some areas of the Sierra […]The post California Snowpack Melts With Breathtaking Speed as Drought Continues in Most of the Western United States appeared […]
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4:35 PM | Scientists Reduce Solar Panel Glare, Increase Efficiency
Scientists at Loughborough University have found a way to reduce solar panel glare while simultaneously increasing the efficiency of a solar installation. And they didn’t even need to use gold to achieve this goal. Read more »
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4:22 PM | Weekend Reads: The Beauty of Death, Googling the Great Outdoors, the Coming Climate Barons
By Jason Bittel Where the Wild Things AreThe Grand Canyon, the Great Barrier Reef, Hawaii’s Volcanoes National Park, the Galapagos Islands—thanks to Google, you can now visit these places without leaving the comfort of your computer chair. Or “no thanks,” as it were. Jason Mark explains why putting every inch of wilderness on the World Wide Web may not be such a good idea for the protection of these places. In fact, he argues that […]
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4:00 PM | SpaceX Launch: Next Attempt Is Friday; Watch It Live
SpaceX, a private space company, is trying again on Friday to launch its Dragon spacecraft to the International Space Station. Its first attempt to launch this mission was scratched on Monday because of a helium leak.
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3:41 PM | Ceramic Materials for Hydrogen Storage Developed
Engineers at the University of California, San Diego, have created new ceramic materials that could be used to store hydrogen safely and efficiently. Read more »
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2:55 PM | Whose river is the Colorado?
When I set up a Google News alert some years ago on the words “Colorado River”, I noticed a revealing pattern. In spring, as the weather warmed, the water management and drought news I was hoping for was increasingly mixed with stories of drunk people drowning in the river. In the fall the mix of drunks ...Continue reading ‘Whose river is the Colorado?’ » Related posts:Leaving Water in the River The Colorado River is no one thing Arizona Pondering Water […]
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2:20 PM | ‘MatHero’ Project to Create Greener Organic Solar Cells
A new project coordinated by Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), called “MatHero”, aims at making organic photovoltaics competitive to their inorganic counterparts by enhancing the efficiency of organic solar cells, reducing their production costs and increasing their life-time. “Green” processes for materials synthesis and coating play a key role. Read more »
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2:00 PM | NASA’s Cassini Divines Hidden Waters of Saturn’s Moon Enceladus
Modern explorers have found a previously unknown ocean -- but this one's on Saturn's moon Enceladus. Learn more from Chabot Space & Science Center's Ben Burress at KQED Science.
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1:47 PM | Mercury in the Backcountry, the Case for Kosher Crickets, Let Them Eat Quinoa!
By Jason Bittel Everywhere you go, there you are: A new study by federal scientists has discovered that even animals deep in our nation’s protected areas can be loaded with mercury. The researchers looked at sport fish caught in remote areas of Yellowstone, Yosemite, and several parks in Alaska, and found that 4 percent of them exceeded safety limits for mercury consumption. While the news is disconcerting—I mean, you’d think the […]
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1:13 PM | Act On Climate: Become a Climate Citizen Scientist for Earth Day 2014
By Rebecca French Did you know that everyone can participate in climate change research? Public participation in scientific research—“citizen science”—has a long and proven track record. And you and your family can join in on the fun! Using data from a 114-year-old citizen science project, the Christmas Bird Count, EPA scientists have identified an important […]
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12:00 PM | Which Shall Live and Which Shall Die? Conservation Triage for Birds
There’s a struggle at the core of wildlife conservation between our desire to help and our ability to help. It’s a mismatch between the seemingly unending flow of species from existence to extinction and the limited resources at our disposal for use in stopping that flow. On the one hand, we could try to spread
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10:00 AM | Two talks on climate change and resilience
Climate change poses seemingly insurmountable obstacles for the human species, not to mention all other species on the planet. It is not the only environmental pressure that humans are putting on planet Earth, but seems to be intricately tied to all others including the shrinking availability of natural resources necessary for survival. Whatever you may […]
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9:45 AM | Proper attire for gardening
If your gardening shoes are no longer up to the job, you can recycle them into planters! Now that spring has finally sprung, we’re all spending more time out in the garden. It’s a great place to be when the weather is nice, and most of us could use the exercise after a winter indoors, but it pays to bear in mind some healthy and safety aspects if you want to avoid injuring yourself. It won’t take long, I’m just going to share with you some of the advice that I included […]
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8:00 AM | Photo Friday: A living laboratory for net-zero homes (California)
This picture is of the user interface screen of the home’s energy management system in the new Honda Smart Home in California. Located in the West Village at the University of California,... -- Read more on ScientificAmerican.com
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4:46 AM | Do Not Spray
Related posts:abandoned citrus electricity and beer Watering the desert, circa 1937
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12:34 AM | Scientists Find A Planet Like Earth
The planet, about 500 light-years from Earth, orbits in its star's habitable zone.
Editor's Pick

April 17, 2014

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8:02 PM | Biologists’ Paradox: Killing and Collecting Rare Creatures to Prove They’re Not Extinct
A group of biologists asks their peers to start documenting newly discovered and "rediscovered" species by non-destructive techniques instead of killing a specimen to bring home.
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7:27 PM | Stream Bioassessment with DNA Barcodes
Bioassessments measure both the physical condition of a water body, and the integrity of the associated biological communities. Adding such physical and biological metrics to standard chemical and toxicological assessments provides a more comprehensive evaluation of the condition of a given body of water. Resident organisms can be better indicators of overall environmental health than measurements of individual stressors (such as toxic chemicals or other pollutants) or more general […]
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7:17 PM | Danish Project to Make Polymer Solar Cells More Profitable
Project Megawatt intends to make polymer solar cells profitable enough to allow power generation from polymer solar cells to compete on market terms with traditional coal-fired power plants. Read more »

Krebs, F., Espinosa, N., Hösel, M., Søndergaard, R. & Jørgensen, M. (2014). 25th Anniversary Article: Rise to Power - OPV-Based Solar Parks, Advanced Materials, 26 (1) 29-39. DOI:

Sommer-Larsen, P., Jørgensen, M., Søndergaard, R., Hösel, M. & Krebs, F. (2013). It is all in the Pattern-High-Efficiency Power Extraction from Polymer Solar Cells through High-Voltage Serial Connection, Energy Technology, 1 (1) 15-19. DOI:

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5:44 PM | Li-Sulfur Batteries Last Longer With Metal-Organic Frameworks
Researchers at the PNNL added a kind of nanomaterial called a metal-organic framework, to the battery’s cathode to capture problematic polysulfides that usually cause lithium-sulfur batteries to fail after a few charges. Read more »

Zheng, J., Tian, J., Wu, D., Gu, M., Xu, W., Wang, C., Gao, F., Engelhard, M., Zhang, J., Liu, J. & Xiao, J. (2014). Lewis Acid–Base Interactions between Polysulfides and Metal Organic Framework in Lithium Sulfur Batteries, Nano Letters, 2147483647. DOI:

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