• Germany to extend life of nuclear reactors

    Germany said on Monday that it would extend the life of the country’s 17 nuclear reactors by twelve years on average — the lives of older plants will be extended by eight years and those of newer ones by fourteen years; Chancellor Angela Merkel’s predecessor Gerhard Schroeder had decided to mothball the reactors by around 2020, but Merkel said the extension was necessary to allow more time for renewable energy to become cost effective

  • Small thorium reactors could lead to fossil-fuel-free world within five years

    An argument is made that nuclear reactors which use thorium as an accelerator (hence the technical name: Accelerator Driven Thorium Reactors, or ADTR) could lead to fossil-fuel-free world within five years; thorium is an abundant mineral deposit, with 3 to 5 times more thorium in the world than uranium; more importantly, virtually all of the thorium mined can be used as fuel compared to only 0.7 percent of the uranium recovered in its natural state, this means, in energy terms, that one ton of thorium mined is equivalent to 200 tons of uranium mined, which is equivalent to 3.5 million tons of mined coal; ADTRs also enjoy proliferation resistance advantages compared to other reactor systems

  • Seafood stewardship questionable: experts

    The world’s most established fisheries certifier — the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) — is failing on its promises as rapidly as it gains prominence, according the world’s leading fisheries experts; “The MSC is supposed to be a solution, but a lot of what they do has turned against biology in favor of bureaucracy,” says one expert

  • Dramatic climate change is unpredictable

    Scientists examine two models to explain climate change; one scenario is like a seesaw that has tipped to one side; if sufficient weight is placed on the other side the seesaw will tip — the climate will change from one state to another (an ice age, or warmer climate as is the case today); in the other model, the climate is like a ball in a trench, which represents one climate state; the ball is continuously pushed by chaos-dynamical fluctuations, and the turmoil in the climate system may finally push the ball over into the other trench, which represents a different climate state

  • New smell sensor uses genetically engineered frog eggs

    Researchers use genetically engineered frog cells to develop a sensor that detects gasses; the researchers embedded the sensor into a mannequin, so that it could shake its head when a gas was detected, making it easier to observe

  • Coal waste has contaminated water in 34 states

    Coal-waste disposal sites have contaminated drinking and surface water in 34 states; the sites released pollutants such as arsenic, selenium, lead and chromium into water sources on which both humans and farm animals depend; there could be a bigger problem yet: large coal ash-generating states like Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Indiana, Ohio, Mississippi, Missouri, New Mexico, and Tennessee, require no monitoring by law at coal ash ponds, so the pollution of water by coal ash is not even monitored

  • Infrared camera to identify size of dangerous asteroids

    The 1908 Tunguska event that flattened over 2,000 square kilometers in Russia was by some basic estimates caused by an asteroid only sixty meters in diameter; the impact of even a 1-kilometer-sized NEO would probably destroy an average state

  • In 30 years world to be powered mainly by solar and wind energy

    Total oil and natural gas production, which today provides about 60 percent of global energy consumption, is expected to peak about ten to thirty years from now, followed by a rapid decline

  • China's Three Gorges Dam's showing cracks

    The Three Gorges Dam is China’s largest construction project since the Great Wall; the dam was hailed as an engineering feat that could withstand the worst flood in 100 years, but this year’s torrential rains have severely tested its capacity to control the surging Yangtze

  • Humans will be extinct in 100 years: Fenner

    Eminent Australian scientist Frank Fenner, who helped to wipe out smallpox, says humans will probably be extinct within 100 years because of overpopulation, environmental destruction, and climate change; he said he believes the situation is irreversible, and it is too late because the effects we have had on Earth since industrialization

  • Mankind must abandon earth or face extinction: Hawking

    Stephen Hawking says mankind’s only chance of long-term survival lies in colonizing space, as humans drain Earth of resources and face a terrifying array of new threats

  • Explore the geometry of cleaning up the Gulf coast

    Fueled by oxygen, naturally occurring bacteria can slowly destroy blobs and slicks of crude oil without the use of additional chemicals; Virginia Tech researchers hope to determine whether the shape of crude oil remnant — be it a flat syrupy sheet or a tar ball — can affect deterioration rates

  • Undersea oil remains in Gulf of Mexico

    A study of the effects of the Deepwater Horizon spill has confirmed the presence of a toxic chemical residue one kilometer below the sea surface; the investigation shows a plume of crude oil-based chemicals up to 200 meters high and 2 kilometers wide, extending 35 kilometers from the spill site

  • Obama panel recommends active U.S. backing for clean coal

    A panel appointed by President Obama calls for an active U.S. government role in promoting carbon capture and storage, or CCS, a largely undeveloped technology that aims to prevent carbon emissions blamed for global warming from entering the atmosphere; panel recommends government’s consideration of accepting liability over carbon storage sites for thousands of years to come

  • Gulf's future depends on oil-eating bacteria, lingering toxicity

    Many marine bacteria have evolved to consume oil and other hydrocarbons, and now the spill has allowed these bacteria to follow their food beyond their natural habitat near oil seeps at the bottom of the Gulf; microbes may degrade the oil quickly, but their activity could eventually pose risks to the Gulf’s ecosystem, particularly in the deep ocean; scientists also worry about lingering toxicity — this is because oil’s toxic constituents, such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, can disrupt reproduction of marine organisms and can lower their offsprings’ vitality; this chronic toxicity will be magnified along the Gulf Coast’s beaches, salt marshes, and wetlands, because oil degradation in these sites will proceed at a much slower pace than in oxygen-rich environments