April 21, 2014

1:44 PM | The Wolf of BP, Swedish Meatballs to the Rescue?, Hippo and Croc Swarm!
By Jason Bittel All eyes on Nebraska: The State Department announced Friday that it will extend its consideration of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, in light of a recent ruling in Nebraska that the governor’s decision to let the pipeline to traverse the state was unconstitutional. Because a new proposed route may be in the offing, government agencies will have an extended period to comment on the potential environmental, cultural, and […]
1:05 PM | Is this Hazardous?
By Kacee Deener  How do you know when something isn’t good for you? Sometimes it goes without saying (rattlesnake venom), and sometimes it’s not as obvious and requires deeper evaluation. I recently kicked off a blog series about human health risk assessment and described its four-step process.  Remember that hypothetical factory? How do we know […]
1:03 PM | A Fond Farewell and Welcome at the Plugged In writing desk
Almost three years ago (on July 5, 2011) Plugged In joined the Scientific American blogging family, creating a space for exploring developments that connect us to energy, our planet and each other.... -- Read more on ScientificAmerican.com
1:00 PM | Drones: The Newest Water-Saving Tool for Parched Farms
Farmers are looking to the sky for the latest water-saving tool. But will aviation authorities allow it?
3:05 AM | borderlands
This is my favorite border picture from my trip last month to Arizona-California-Sonora-Baja. You can see the old border fence on the right, one of those repurposed metal landing strip things, which as near as I can tell is where the actual border is. The big new fence is pulled back 50 yards or so ...Continue reading ‘borderlands’ » Related posts:River Beat: The Flood of 1905 Nationalism on the Lower Colorado multiple meanings of “presa”

April 20, 2014

11:58 PM | Scientists Probe Secrets of the Sun’s Seething Interior By Mapping Magnetic Fingerprints on its Surface
If solar physicists could only see deep inside the sun, they could discern the source and evolution of profound magnetic forces that produce explosions of solar material from the surface — explosions that can later wreck havoc on power grids and telecommunications systems here on Earth. Direct observation is impossible. But the sun’s internal activity […]The post Scientists Probe Secrets of the Sun’s Seething Interior By Mapping Magnetic Fingerprints on its Surface […]
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
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
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

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 →
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 […]
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?
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
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

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
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:

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 […]
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 »
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 […]
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.
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 »
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 […]
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 »
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.
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 […]
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 […]
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
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 […]
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 […]
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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