• Earthquake risk looms large in the Pacific Northwest

    A comprehensive analysis of the Cascadia Subduction Zone off the Pacific Northwest coast confirms that the region has had numerous earthquakes over the past 10,000 years, and suggests that the southern Oregon coast may be most vulnerable based on recurrence frequency

  • Earth’s oceans, ecosystems still absorbing about half the greenhouse gases emitted by people

    Earth’s oceans, forests, and other ecosystems continue to soak up about half the carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere by human activities, even as those emissions have increased, according to a study published yesterday in the journal Nature

  • New STEM education initiative in Virginia

    A 2010 Georgetown University study found that by 2018, Virginia will need to fill more than 400,000 science, technology, engineering, and applied mathematics (STEAM)-related jobs, while the country will confront a shortage of three million STEAM-educated college graduates; Virginia Tech and the Virginia STEAM Academy are forming a strategic partnership to address critical STEAM education needs in the Commonwealth of Virginia

  • Under industry pressure, DHS drops chemical plant employee screening proposal

    Security experts agree that short of a nuclear attack on a U.S. city, the most casualty-heavy disaster would occur as a result of an accident in, or a terrorist attack on, a chemical plant which would release a cloud of toxic fumes; there are about 15,000 plants in the United States which produce, process, use, or store volatile and toxic chemicals; more than 300 of the these plants are so close to large population centers, that a chemical release in any one of them would cause more than 50,000 casualties; DHS wanted to have employees in these plants screened for potential ties terrorism, but the chemical industry objected, saying this would be too costly; last Thursday DHS pulled the proposal

  • New, affordable instant warnings of bridge collapse

    The Federal Bureau of Transportation lists nearly 70,000 U.S. bridges as “structurally deficient,” requiring extra surveillance; in addition, more than 77,000 others are categorized as “obsolete” — exceeding their intended lifespan and carrying loads greater than they were designed to handle; researchers developed a new technology for monitoring these 150,000 aging U.S. highway bridges

  • A second look at off-shore use of vertical-axis wind turbines

    Wind energy researchers are re-evaluating vertical axis wind turbines (VAWTs) to help solve some of the problems of generating energy from offshore breezes; though VAWTs have been around since the earliest days of wind energy research, VAWT architecture could transform offshore wind technology

  • Men in maritime disasters save themselves first --“women and children first” is a myth

    Since the sinking of the Titanic, there has been a widespread belief that the social norm of “women and children first” gives women a survival advantage over men in maritime disasters, and that captains and crew members give priority to passengers; a new study find that the Titanic disaster, in which 70 percent of the women and children on board were saved compared to 20 percent of the men, is a glaring exception to the rule; during maritime disasters, men use their relative strength to save themselves; what is more, studies of human behavior during natural disasters show the same results: in life-and-death situations, it is every man for himself

  • Raytheon's Space Fence technology tracks space debris

    Space debris threatens systems the U.S. military and economy depend on every day, including satellites that power navigation, weather and critical infrastructures; the Space Fence program is capable of detecting more and much smaller objects in low earth orbit

  • Surface coal mining destroying West Virginia streams, rivers

    More than 22 percent of streams and rivers in southern West Virginia have been degraded to the point they may now qualify as impaired under state criteria; the substantial losses in aquatic insect biodiversity and increases in salinity is linked to sulfates and other pollutants in runoff from mines often located miles upstream

  • Conflict of interests charges surround two pro-fracking studies

    Two recent studies — by research institutes at  the University of Buffalo and the University of Texas — on the relationship between fracking and the contamination of groundwater, offered what was claimed to be scientific, peer-reviewed research which concluded that fracking does not contribute to such contamination; an examination of the two reports reveals that they were not properly reviewed according to accepted academic standards, and that their authors, and the research institutes which sponsored them, are heavily involved with companies which conduct fracking operations; the author of the University of Texas report sits on the board of a leading fracking company, where his compensation is more than twice as large as his UT salary; he did not disclose this fact in the study — or inform UT of this connection; UT is investigating

  • Science group: storing spent nuclear fuel in dry casks significantly safer then wet pools storage

    An NRC report on the lessons of the Fukushima disaster says that storing spent nuclear fuel in wet pools is “adequate” to protect the public; a science groups says there is a significantly safer way to store the 55,000 tons of radioactive waste currently stored by the 104 nuclear power plants operating in the United States: transferring the spent fuel to dry casks

  • President Obama honors 96 early-career scientists, engineers

    In 1996 President Bill Clinton established the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE), the U.S. government’s highest honor for scientists and engineers in the early stages of their independent research careers; award nominees are considered according to two criteria: their pursuit of innovative research at the frontiers of science and technology and their commitment to community service as demonstrated through scientific leadership, public education, or community outreach; last week President Obama awarded the 2012 PECASE to ninety-six scientists and engineers

  • Chronic 2000-4 U.S. drought, worst in 800 years, may be the "new normal"

    The chronic drought that hit western North America from 2000 to 2004 left dying forests and depleted river basins in its wake and was the strongest in 800 years, scientists have concluded, but they say those conditions will become the “new normal” for most of the coming century

  • Food prices in U.S., world set to rise as a result of drought

    The U.S. Midwest is suffering the worst drought since 1956, and a total of 1,369 counties in thirty-one states across the United States have been designated for disaster aid; the prolonged drought will lead to an increase in food prices in 2013 as animal feed costs increase

  • Global warming unequivocal in its advance, says NCAA expert

    Global warming is unequivocal in its advance and will lead to more record-setting temperatures, says Warren Washington, a senior scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research; in a talk at Sandia Lab, Washington presented graph after graph showing how various atmospheric processes have combined to create stronger rainfall near the equator and more intense droughts in the subtropics, as well as sea-level rises and increased storm surges