• The world's longest tunnel to open 15 October

    At 57 kilometers, the Gotthard tunnel, connecting Zurich and Milan, will be the world’s longest tunnel; constructing the tunnel, which opens on 15 October, required the excavation of m an estimated 24 million tons of rock at a cost of $9.5 billion

  • New cement absorbs CO2

    Concrete — the essential material used by the world’s $3.8 trillion construction industry — accounts for 5 percent of the world’s man-made carbon dioxide emissions; each ton of cement emits about 800 kg (1,763 lb.) of CO2 during manufacture — and every year, some 3 billion tons of cement turn into nearly 30 billion tons of concrete, a British start-up has devised a new cement — based on magnesium silicates rather than limestone — that absorbs and stores CO2 when it is produced

  • Water-proofing cities by using buildings for flood protection

    Buildings, car parks, and roads can be designed in such a way that they can protect the urban area behind them from flooding, alongside their regular urban functions; these innovative construction techniques can also be adapted to the circumstances in the long term, enabling flood protection systems to take account of external influences such as climate change and economic development

  • New method predicts communication-disrupting solar activity

    Major solar eruptions (coronal mass ejections) normally take several days to reach the Earth, but the largest recorded in 1859 took just eighteen hours; solar flares — which can also cause significant disruption to communications systems — take just a few minutes; U.K. researchers develop a method of predicting solar storms that could help to avoid widespread power and communications blackouts

  • Scientist offers better ways to engineer Earth's climate to blunt global warming

    A Canadian scientist suggests two novel geoengineering approaches to limit the effects of climate change on Earth: “levitating:” engineered nano-particles, and the airborne release of sulphuric acid; both ideas are more refined than, and have advantages over, another geoengineering concept developed by geoengineers: mimicking volcanic eruptions by injecting massive amounts of sulphur dioxide gas into the upper atmosphere

  • 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

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  • 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

  • Cisco buys Arch Rock, beefing up smart-grid business

    Cisco is beefing up its smart-grid and data center businesses by acquiring San Francisco-based Arch Rock, a maker of a system for collecting information from mesh networks of IP-based wireless sensors, routers, and servers; On Wednesday, Cisco announced a deal with meter maker Itron to develop communications products that use the Internet Protocol, rather than proprietary protocols for sending information from meters back to utilities

  • U.S. nuclear power plants bolster defenses against cyberattacks

    The threat to digital systems at the U.S. nuclear power plants is considerable — especially for new nuclear power facilities that would be built in the United States and throughout the world, as control rooms would employ digital systems to operate the plants; these state-of-the-art instruments and systems make them targets for hackers

  • 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

  • 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

  • Are New Orleans' storm defenses strong enough?

    The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has invested $14.45 billion in bolstering New Orleans’ defenses against storms, and there is a consensus that the city’s protection now is better than they were on 29 August 2005, when Katrina made landfall, and its 8.5-meter surge went on to overpower a poorly constructed and poorly connected levees and flood walls; critics say, though, that the better designed and built levees do not take into account the stronger hurricanes which climate changes causes, and that the best defenses against hurricanes — coastal marshes, wetlands, and barrier islands — are being eroded and lost at an alarming rate as a result of urban development and the Corps’ own engineering approach to harnessing and taming the Mississippi River

  • U.S. military wants to cyber-protect critical infrastructure

    The U.S. military wants to exert more influence over the protection of power grids, transportation networks, and financial network systems because the military relies on these networks to deal with suppliers and these networks could become military targets

  • 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

  • New Florida museum is glass-covered hurricane-proof fortress

    The new Salvador Dali Museum in St. Petersburg is designed to withstand category 5 hurricanes; the roof is 12-inch thick solid concrete; the walls are even thicker, at eighteen inches; the glass, which makes up big sections of the outside of the museum, can hold up to a category 3 hurricane; if that glass breaks, letting rain, wind, and debris into the facility, the art will still be safe: storm doors will shield the galleries on the third floor, and the vault, which is on the second floor (all of the art is placed on the second and third floors, above the 30-foot storm surge of a category 5 storm)