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This Ancient Wooden Toe Is A Weird Archaeological Find
JAY GORY, MANAGING EDITOR, science
Scientists are using a wooden prosthetic toe from ancient Egypt to learn more about the civilization that once thrived in northern Africa.
Nanotubes could monitor your car's tire tread wear for cheap
JAY GORY, MANAGING EDITOR, science
Is there anything nanotubes can't do? Aside from pay my student loans, that is.
The Most Common Reason Good Startup Ideas Die
JAY GORY, MANAGING EDITOR, science
The Most Common Reason Good Startup Ideas Die
Hummer factory gets second life making electric cars
JAY GORY, MANAGING EDITOR, science
A U.S. auto plant that once made giant gas-guzzlers will now make cars that don't need gas at all. AM General, which previously built the Hummer H2, sold its factory in South Bend, Indiana to the electric carmaker SF Motors, both firms announced  Thursday. SF Motors will pay $110 million to produce "intelligent electric vehicles," according to publicly available filings. It will spend another $30 million to upgrade the 700,000-square-foot commercial assembly plant. SEE ALSO: Electric vehicles are now the cleanest cars in America The company didn't elaborate further on its plans for the factory, such as how many cars it will produce annually or what types of smart driving or electric-powertrain technologies they'll use. But executives said the arrangement will preserve about 430 U.S. auto worker jobs that were at risk of disappearing.  AM General built Hummer H2s from 2002 to 2009.Image: Scott Olson/Getty ImagesSF Motors is a young division of Chongqing Sokon Industry Group, a major Chinese manufacturer of motorcycles and commercial vehicles that's expanding into the U.S. electric car market. SF Motors officially launched earlier this month with a new headquarters in Silicon Valley. The division has hired several former engineers from the leading electric automaker Tesla, Electrek reported. Tesla cofounder and original CEO Martin Eberhard is also reportedly a consultant for SF Motors, according to the news site. SF Motors' move into Indiana is a pretty poignant symbol of the clean energy transformation: a plant that once produced beastly sport-utility vehicles will now churn out cars with virtually no tailpipe emissions. A Kentucky coal mining museum sparked a similar narrative this spring when it installed solar panels on the building's rooftop. 2017: solar panels installed at the coal museum and electric cars being built at the old Hummer factory https://t.co/ZPmpOCypPb — Tom Randall (@tsrandall) June 22, 2017 The deal with AM General also arrives as sales of electric vehicles are surging in the U.S. and globally. About 2 million plug-in hybrid and battery-powered vehicles were on the roads worldwide in 2016, a 60-percent jump from the year before, the International Energy Agency reported this month.  While that's still only 0.2 percent of total light-duty vehicles globally, the agency said it expects sales to keep climbing as car battery prices plunge and governments adopt policies to fight climate change. A Tesla Roadster recharges.Image: Justin Sullivan/Getty ImagesTransportation comprises about one-fifth of total greenhouse gas emissions, mainly through the burning of petroleum fuels. AM General originally built the South Bend plant in 2002 to make the Hummer H2, a civilian version of the Humvee (High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle) sold by General Motors. The company produced the H2 under contract to GM until January 2009. The Indiana company said the sale will not affect its military assembly plant, where it supports and upgrades hundreds of thousands of Humvees still serving the U.S. armed forces. WATCH: Faraday Future just unveiled a super fast Tesla competitor — here's what it looks like
Blast from air guns used in hunt for oil killing plankton and threatening marine ecosystems, scientists warn
JAY GORY, MANAGING EDITOR, science
Air guns used to explore for oil below the seabed appears to kill off vast amounts of plankton and krill – upon which much of the marine food chain depends – up to 1,200m from the site of the blast, according to a new study. The research was published shortly after the US National Marine Fisheries Service announced it was considering allowing oil exploration off America’s Atlantic coast for the first time to the outrage of conservationists. The Southern Environmental Law Centre warned the air guns – compared to “dynamite-like blasts going off every 10 seconds for weeks or months on end” – would do “significant harm” to the fishing industry and endangered whales in the region.
Archaeologist Searching for Amelia Earhart Remains: If We Find Human Bones, We Might Solve Mystery
JAY GORY, MANAGING EDITOR, science
An expedition to search for the remains of Amelia Earhart is set to begin on Saturday, and archaeologist Fred Hiebert says they are hopeful human bones will be found. Earhart and her co-pilot Fred Noonan went missing on July 2, 1937. “Amelia Earhart caught the attention of the early age of air exploration,” Hiebert tells Newsweek.
Sunsets don't happen later during the summer — here's why it's so confusing
JAY GORY, MANAGING EDITOR, science
June 21 is the longest day of the year in 2017, at least when it comes to northern daylight hours. After the summer solstice, daylight starts fading from the morning and evening, beginning the north's slog toward the cold depths of winter darkness. The summer solstice occurs when sunlight reaches its maximum extent, either in the northern or southern hemisphere.
Newest USPS Forever Stamp Features Total Solar Eclipse
JAY GORY, MANAGING EDITOR, science
These special solar eclipse stamps are on sale today.
Downward Dog, Doctor's Order: Yoga Could Ease Back Pain
JAY GORY, MANAGING EDITOR, science
To ease low back pain, you may want try a downward dog: A new study suggests that doing yoga may be as effective as physical therapy for reducing low back pain. Some yoga poses could be harmful to the back. About 10 percent of U.S. adults have chronic low back pain, according to the study, published today (June 19) in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine.
Plastic pollution in the ocean is officially everywhere, even Antarctica
JAY GORY, MANAGING EDITOR, science
Given Antarctica's extreme location on the bottom of the Earth, scientists long believed the continent was free from the plastic pollution tarnishing the rest of the world. But not even this remote expanse is safe from our crap, a new study shows. Plastic debris was far worse in the Antarctic than expected, researchers from University of Hull in England and British Antarctic Survey said this week. Levels of microplastics in the region were five times higher than what you'd normally expect to find from local sources, such as research stations and ships. SEE ALSO: A 'conveyor belt' of plastic is polluting the Arctic Ocean "Antarctica is thought to be a highly isolated, pristine wilderness," Catherine Waller, the study's lead author and a marine biologist at the University of Hull, said in a statement. "The ecosystem is very fragile." Microplastics are particles smaller than 5 millimeters in diameter that are found in many household items, including shampoo, toothpaste, and polyester clothing. Particles are also created when larger debris — such as soda bottles, toys, and fish netting — breaks down. The study, published this week in the journal Science of the Total Environment, suggests that much of the plastic debris is coming from outside the Antarctic. In the surrounding Southern Ocean, for instance, tourism, fishing, and scientific research activities all contribute to plastic pollution. It could be particles from these plastics are turning up in the pristine polar wilderness via the Antarctic Circumpolar Current, which flows clockwise around the continent and was historically thought to be impenetrable, researchers said. Microplastic fibers collected from the Southern Ocean.Image: Catherine Waller/university of hullScientists estimate that up to 1,100 pounds of microplastics from personal care products and up to 25.5 billion clothing fibers enter the Southern Ocean per decade. While that's "negligible" when spread across the ocean's 8.5 million square miles — or 5.4 percent of the world's oceans — it represents a rising threat to local ecosystems. Seals, penguins, and other wildlife can eat plastic debris and choke, or become entangled. Tiny krill and other zooplankton also gobble microplastics, introducing harmful chemicals into the food chain. However, it's still unclear how that plastic diet affects marine animals in the Southern Ocean, said Claire Waluda, a co-author of the study and a biologist at British Antarctic Survey. Researchers said they will continue monitoring plastic pollution in the region, along with other rising threats to the ecosystem, including the effects of human-driven global warming and an influx of non-native species. "This paper represents an excellent first step towards recognizing the presence of microplastics in Antarctica and allows us to call for international effort in monitoring the situation whilst it is still in its earliest stages," Waluda said in a statement. WATCH: These Adidas sneakers are made of plastic garbage found in the ocean
What Are Your Eclipse Plans?
JAY GORY, MANAGING EDITOR, science
On August 21, a swath of the continental United States will experience one of the strangest and most wondrous phenomena it is possible to witness on Earth. A total solar eclipse will sweep the country from coast to coast. Along the eclipse’s curvaceous path from Oregon to South Carolina, the moon will momentarily block the face of the sun, obscuring all but its wispy, diaphanous atmosphere, and bathing the land below in darkness.
Coal company sues John Oliver for being John Oliver
JAY GORY, MANAGING EDITOR, science
A U.S. coal company is firing back at John Oliver after the Last Week Tonight host slammed its CEO in a June 18 show. On Wednesday, Murray Energy filed suit against Oliver, HBO, and Time Warner for defamation. The lawsuit accuses Oliver of hosting a "false and malicious broadcast" and of carrying out a "meticulously planned attempt to assassinate the character and reputation" of Bob Murray, the Ohio company's chief executive. SEE ALSO: Richard Branson: Business leaders are 'baffled' by Trump on climate change Oliver's show also skewered President Trump's pro-coal platform and promises to revive the long-suffering industry. The Trump administration has made a big spectacle in recent months of championing coal while sidelining efforts to address climate change. President Trump and Scott Pruitt, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, have often invited hardhat-wearing miners on stage to celebrate the rollback of key federal regulations — including orders to reduce carbon emissions and toxic air pollution from coal plants and limit water contamination from surface mining operations. Like Trump and Pruitt, Murray has frequently accused the former Obama administration of waging a "war on coal" that's led to steep losses in mining jobs and waning coal production. The 77-year-old magnate has blamed his industry's troubles — including widespread bankruptcies and mine closures — on President Obama's "evil agenda," though energy experts say coal's misfortunes have more to do with cheap natural gas. On his HBO show, Oliver poked holes in Trump's claims that his administration can erase the coal industry's broader economic problems and revive thousands of jobs. He also stressed the serious, and sometimes fatal, harm that coal miners can face while in the mines — including those owned by Murray Energy. In 2007, safety lapses at Murray Energy's Crandall Canyon mine in Utah resulted in the "needless deaths" of nine miners and rescuers, the U.S. Labor Department found. Federal regulators in 2015 accused Murray Energy of attempting to silence miners who filed confidential safety complaints to regulators.  President Trump signs a resolution in February disapproving  a rule addressing the impacts of surface coal mining operations on "surface water, groundwater, and the productivity of mining operation sites."Image: Ron Sachs-Pool/Getty ImagesThe coal company in recent years also terminated health benefits — including medical, prescription drug, and life insurance — for hundreds of its employees, a decision it largely blamed on Obama-era policies.  Oliver, in his characteristically over the top way, called Murray a "geriatric Dr. Evil" who is "on the same side as black lung."  The talk-show host pointed to a satirical article in the United Mine Workers of America's journal describing a squirrel hopping onto Murray's porch and telling him, "You shouldn't be operating your very own mines." To drive home his point, Oliver brought out a person in a giant squirrel costume. Murray CEO Bob Murray speaks to reporters in 2007 near Huntington, Utah, during the Crandall Canyon mine disaster.Image: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images"Bob Murray, I didn't really plan for so much of this piece to be about you, but you kinda forced my hand on that one," Oliver said.  He clearly anticipated the suit, saying: "And I know you're probably going to sue me over this. But, you know what? I stand by everything I said." Murray Energy took him up on that offer. The lawsuit, filed in a West Virginia circuit court, seeks financial damages and a court order barring rebroadcasts of the Last Week Tonight segment. "The false and defamatory statements in this broadcast severely and destructively impact Mr. Murray, and all of Murray Energy ... as well as coal mining itself," Murray Energy said in a press release. An HBO spokesman told the Associated Press that the show didn't violate Murray Energy's rights or those of Murray. WATCH: This portable charger is powered by energy created with your hand
The USGS sent SoCal a quake alert on Wednesday for a tremor that actually occurred in 1925
JAY GORY, MANAGING EDITOR, science
A powerful and deadly earthquake struck the coastal California city of Santa Barbara back on June 29, 1925. More than a dozen people died and $8 million in damage was reported in the historic quake, which had a magnitude of 6.8 on the Richter Scale. Flash-forward almost 92 years and a quake with the same magnitude and with the same epicenter was reported by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) on Wednesday.  Only this latest event was a false alarm — a database aftershock to be more precise — of the 1925 event. SEE ALSO: Facebook updates Safety Check to make the tool more personal and informative The USGS sent out the alert about a 6.8-magnitude tremor near Santa Barbara on Wednesday afternoon — but turns out it was a false alarm. Sorry about the USGS tweet about the #earthquake in #California I monitor various alerts. Sorry 4 the false alarm. This is the email sent: pic.twitter.com/v8nUfJTdmx — Aaron Ellis (@aaronellis01) June 22, 2017 The alert went out with a date in the future: June 29, 2025. That's 100 years to the day after the Santa Barbara quake. It went out on Wednesday because of a database error, the USGS said. The USGS quickly explained what had happened, citing a software issue encountered while revising data about the 1925 earthquake. The changes prompted the system to send an alert as if the quake had just struck. Regarding: https://t.co/z8Ykmo6OXX pic.twitter.com/68Q0I2Ix2j — USGS (@USGS) June 22, 2017 The non-quake is reminiscent of a National Weather Service flood warning malfunction in 2014 that made it look like a biblical flood was going to hit the eastern U.S. That wasn't the case, either. Even if the USGS' mistake was only up for about 30 minutes today, it looked like a large and real quake had shook the area — and strangely no one felt it. It also illustrated how connected news organizations and Twitter users in California are to the USGS, given the state's vulnerability to earthquake hazards. You're an @LATimes journalist, your office is in this earthquake zone, you see this #robojourno story on your screen, you feel no quake. pic.twitter.com/wcgRGgaPDD — Darryl Mason (@DarrylMason) June 22, 2017 You know: normal day...with an earthquake in the Channel! (Didn't feel it, but still.) pic.twitter.com/BadZzhlJPV — Geoff Conner Newlan (@geoffcn) June 22, 2017 Anyone in Santa Barbara Cal. feel the 6.8 earthquake?? — Margaret Scott (@serialmom13m) June 22, 2017 The Southern California faux-quake came only a few hours after a (real) noontime earthquake up north in the Bay Area. That was a true quake, but a small one with a magnitude of just magnitude 3.0. But that one people actually felt, and the USGS correctly reported. WATCH: Say goodbye to itchy bug bites with this electric pen
NASA Official Says Mars Mission Is Space Agency's Top Priority
JAY GORY, MANAGING EDITOR, science
"Sending humans to orbit Mars is our primary mission now," said Lt. Gen. Larry James.
In wind
JAY GORY, MANAGING EDITOR, science
Speaking in one of the top wind-producing states in the country, President Trump on Wednesday attacked wind energy for harming birds and being unreliable.  "I don't want to just hope the wind blows to light up your homes and your factories," Trump said at a rally in Cedar Rapids. After pausing for applause, he said, "As the birds fall to the ground." This alluded to a favorite attack he has aimed at the rapidly growing wind power industry since his campaign, which is that turbines are responsible for harming birds.  The wind energy criticism was odd given that Iowa has policies aimed at encouraging the development of wind power in the state. While Texas generated more wind energy than any other state in 2016, according to the Energy Information Agency, Iowa's wind and solar output had the highest share of the state's total electricity generation.  The two renewable sources accounted for 37 percent of the state's electricity generation last year, the EIA found.  Tom Kiernan, the CEO of the American Wind Energy Association, fired back at Trump on Twitter.  We were confused by some of the President's remarks #TrumpSpeech about #windpower tonight? Here are some industry updates. (1 of 4) — Tom Kiernan (@TomCKiernan) June 22, 2017 Iowa reliably generates >36% of its electricity using #windpower, has over 8K #windpower jobs, and over 2K well-paying factory #jobs. — Tom Kiernan (@TomCKiernan) June 22, 2017 #windpower causes
Paris Air Show: 4 coolest aircraft revealed
JAY GORY, MANAGING EDITOR, science
Paris Air Show: A look at the four coolest aircraft showcased, including C-130J, Scorpion attack jet, RACER helicopter and the X6 Military Helicopter
Richard Branson: Business leaders are 'baffled' by Trump on climate change
JAY GORY, MANAGING EDITOR, science
British billionaire Richard Branson said business leaders were left dumbfounded by President Trump's decision to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris Climate Agreement. But if there's a silver lining, it's that companies are now even more driven to invest in clean energy and cut greenhouse gas emissions. "Whether it's GE, or whether it's the big oil companies... I haven't come across one business person who doesn't want to get out there and do everything they can to try to compensate for the [Trump] administration's very strange stance," Branson said on a Wednesday call with reporters. SEE ALSO: Apple is investing $1 billion in clean energy with this unique approach "A lot of people in the world are baffled by the American administration's comments," the Virgin Group CEO said. Trump and his top officials have made quick work of unraveling not only the former Obama administration's policies to fight climate change, but even longstanding scientific research programs.  A coal-fired power plant in Juliette, Georgia.Image: AP/REX/ShutterstockOn June 1, Trump announced he would withdraw the U.S. from the international climate agreement, which commits countries to reducing emissions to limit global warming. The president has rolled back regulations to reduce emissions and pollution from fossil fuel production, and he's issued orders to expand offshore oil and gas drilling. Trump himself has never acknowledged the overwhelming scientific consensus that the world is warming primarily due to human emissions of greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide and methane. His top officials — including Energy Secretary Rick Perry and Scott Pruitt, head of the Environmental Protection Agency — have repeatedly denied the scientific consensus on climate change. The agencies they lead are both facing billions of dollars in budget cuts and steep job losses as the administration curtails funding for climate science, renewable energy, and energy efficiency while doubling down on coal, oil, and natural gas projects. Trump shakes hands with a coal miner after disapproving a rule to reduce water pollution in coal mining operations.Image: Ron Sachs-Pool/Getty ImagesBranson, a business magnate and philanthropist, is an outspoken climate activist (and a friend of former President Obama). His nonprofit organization Carbon War Room, which merged with the Rocky Mountain Institute, works to boost clean energy technologies in the U.S. and globally. On Wednesday, he announced a new initiative, called Run on Less, that aims to promote fuel efficiency in long-haul trucks. In September, seven U.S. trucking fleets will participate in a cross-country roadshow to demonstrate how aerodynamic trailers, smarter driving practices, and other steps can significantly lower a conventional truck's fuel consumption and tailpipe emissions. Branson acknowledged that Class 8 trucks are conceptually far less sexy than, say, glassy solar panels or towering wind turbines. But he noted that trucks, cars, trains, and planes are now the biggest source of U.S. carbon emissions, accounting for about one-third of the total. A truck drives along Interstate 80 in California.Image: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images"If you don't go after transport emissions, you're going to fail" in fighting climate change, he told reporters. "So it's critical that we reduce them." Beyond backing today's technologies, Branson also invests heavily in cutting-edge clean energy innovations. He's put money into Breakthrough Energy Ventures, a $1 billion fund launched by fellow billionaire Bill Gates, to support new forms of clean energy. Branson has also invested in Rise, a $2 billion "social impact" fund to support projects with social and environmental benefits. He pointed to these investments and others as evidence that the world isn't backing down from the climate challenge, despite the U.S. government's about-face under Trump. Branson sits in the driver's seat of a coach bus.Image: Tom Dymond/REX/ShutterstockWhile the world was "disappointed" with Trump's decision to ditch the Paris Climate Agreement, Branson said, "Fortunately, the other [191] countries have stuck with it, most states in America have stuck with it, most companies have stuck with it." "We are all going to get out there and create a green energy revolution," Branson added. WATCH: Obama beat Richard Branson in a kitesurfing face-off
Ancient Egyptian Writing: New Symbols Reveal Development Of Hieroglyphics
JAY GORY, MANAGING EDITOR, science
The elegant pictorial writing system of the ancient Egyptians—known as hieroglyphics—has fascinated generations of archeologists. One ancient Egyptian legend holds that the god Thoth handed the gift of writing to a few chosen scribes. Now, a new discovery may hold some clues as to how carved images evolved into a formal writing system.
Stephen Hawking: ‘I Am Convinced That Humans Need to Leave Earth'
JAY GORY, MANAGING EDITOR, science
Stephen Hawking: ‘I Am Convinced That Humans Need to Leave Earth'
U.S. total solar eclipse sparks spectator excitement
JAY GORY, MANAGING EDITOR, science
By Irene Klotz CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (Reuters) - The first total solar eclipse across the continental United States in a century is expected to spark watching parties and traffic jams as it darkens skies from Oregon to South Carolina, authorities said on Wednesday. It is the first coast-to-coast total eclipse since 1918. Weather permitting, people can watch as the moon's 70-mile (113-km) wide shadow crosses through 14 states from 10:15 a.m. PDT (1715 GMT) around Lincoln Beach, Oregon, to 2:49 p.m. EDT (1849 GMT) in McClellanville, South Carolina.
Could sons of older dads have an educational advantage?
JAY GORY, MANAGING EDITOR, science
Carried out by a team from King's College London along with The Seaver Autism Center for Research and Treatment at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in the USA, the large-scale study looked at behavioral and cognitive data from 15,000 UK-based twin pairs in the Twins Early Development Study (TEDS). The researchers found that sons of older fathers were more likely to demonstrate the "geek-like" traits, care less about what their peers thought of them, and spend more time on their special interests.
Pakistani citizens gasp for clean air
JAY GORY, MANAGING EDITOR, science
Furhan Hussain moved to Islamabad seeking fresher air, only to find Pakistan's leafy capital in a semi-permanent haze. Frustrated, he joined a vanguard of citizens monitoring pollution themselves amid a void in government data. Fast-growing Pakistan is home to some 200 million people and suffers from some of the worst air pollution in the world, thanks to its giant population plying poorly maintained vehicles on the roads and unchecked industrial emissions.
Geek DNA: Sons Born To Older Fathers Are Huge Nerds
JAY GORY, MANAGING EDITOR, science
Sons born to older fathers are more likely to be total geeks — intelligent, driven people who attain academic and career success.
Man stopped on Thai border with orangutans, tortoises, raccoons
JAY GORY, MANAGING EDITOR, science
Thai wildlife officers have arrested a Malaysian man attempting to smuggle two baby orangutans, 51 tortoises and six raccoons into the kingdom across its southern border, officials said Thursday. The animals were packed into plastic boxes and suitcases loaded into Ismail Bin Ahmad's car, officials said. The 63-year-old was stopped Wednesday as he was attempting to drive through a border checkpoint in Thailand's southern Songkhla province -- part of an insurgency-torn region known as a funnel for drugs, weapons and other contraband.
Why IPA beers have 'India' in the name — and why it tastes so unique
JAY GORY, MANAGING EDITOR, science
Patrick McGovern is the scientific director of the Biomolecular Archaeology Project at...
SpaceX's Elon Musk Earns 8th Spot on Glassdoor's Top 100 CEOs List
JAY GORY, MANAGING EDITOR, science
Amid SpaceX's recent successes, employees are raving about their visionary CEO.
Google Maps honors indigenous lands in Canada on National Aboriginal Day
JAY GORY, MANAGING EDITOR, science
In the culmination of a seven-year collaboration between indigenous communities across Canada and Google Earth Outreach, indigenous lands have been added to both Google Maps and Google Earth.
Millions of glowing tropical sea creatures have started to appear in the Pacific Northwest
JAY GORY, MANAGING EDITOR, science
Millions of strange-looking glowing sea creatures called pyrosomes have started to "bloom" off...
These Companies Are Creating Biodegradable Urns That Sprout Trees
JAY GORY, MANAGING EDITOR, science
Several companies are making eco-friendly funerals easier by creating biodegradable urns.
The Search For Exoplanets Around Our Closest Stars
JAY GORY, MANAGING EDITOR, science
The Red Dots campaign has started gathering data to look for exoplanets that exist in three nearby star systems, all less than 10 light-years away.
How to stop your dog getting heatstroke – according to science
JAY GORY, MANAGING EDITOR, science
You're lucky – dogs can only sweat through their paws.
NASA enlists citizen scientists to widen its view of totality during solar eclipse
JAY GORY, MANAGING EDITOR, science
Scientists are gearing up to gather data from the solar eclipse on Aug. 21, but the most crucial observations can be made during only two minutes of totality — unless they have help. Fortunately, they have a lot of help. On the day of the eclipse, the moon will block all of the sun’s disk for no more than two minutes and 40 seconds, as seen from any single location. To get more observation time, NASA is calling upon citizen scientists and students along the coast-to-coast path of totality to pitch in. When satellite observations are added to the mix,… Read More
Can the U.S. run only on wind, water, and solar power? Scientists disagree.
JAY GORY, MANAGING EDITOR, science
Scientists widely agree that human activity is the main driver of global warming, and that we have to radically reduce greenhouse gas emissions to avoid its worst impacts. But when it comes to how we can best slash emissions, some scientists are fiercely at odds. A scholarly brawl broke out this week after energy experts ripped apart a widely cited 2015 study that found the U.S. economy could affordably run on 100-percent renewable energy by midcentury. SEE ALSO: Climate change efforts still 'not nearly enough' to meet Paris targets Nearly two dozen physicists, engineers, climate scientists, and scholars poked gaping holes in the previous analysis — which asserts that wind, solar, and hydropower alone could power not only the entire U.S. electric grid but also the transportation system, all heating needs, and the entire industrial sector by 2055.  In response, Mark Jacobson, who led the 2015 study and is a prominent engineer at Stanford University, fired back. His critics knowingly made "factually false claims" and deliberately smeared his research, he said in an email. Pylons carry electricity in Germany.Image: sean gallup/Getty ImagesThe journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences published both the critique and Jacobson's rebuttal on Monday. (It had also published Jacobson's original paper.) On the one hand, this quarrel over whether we can really get to 100-percent wind, water, and hydropower can be seen as a distraction. The U.S. and all countries need to take drastic steps to reduce emissions from the economy within a matter of decades — why stir up a feud about one particular approach, especially at a time when the White House is occupied by a climate denier? On the other hand, this dispute represents a fundamental debate over how America's clean energy future should be implemented. Should we winnow our energy system down to only a few renewable sources, or can nuclear, natural gas, biofuels, and battery storage systems play an important role for decades to come? These two visions aren't hypothetical roadmaps meant for scientific audiences. Instead, they offer competing guides for policymakers to adopt, with trillions of dollars and the sustainability of our planet on the line.  Image: BNEF clean energy investment 2016Studies like these can influence real-world decisions — and indeed, cities and states across the U.S. are increasingly pushing for a 100-percent renewables agenda. The Solutions Project, an organization that Jacobson co-founded after publishing his study two years ago, is working to accelerate a renewables-only plan in all 50 states. That advocacy effort is largely why this group of scientists said they decided to speak out. They're concerned policymakers will mandate goals that can't be achieved with available technologies at reasonable prices, leading to "wildly unrealistic expectations" and "massive misallocation of resources," David Victor, an energy policy researcher at the University of California, San Diego, and coauthor of the critique, told MIT Technology Review. "That is both harmful to the economy, and creates the seeds of a backlash," Victor told the magazine. People gather near the U.S. Capitol for the People's Climate March on April 29, 2017 in Washington, D.C.Image: Astrid Riecken/Getty ImagesIn the original 2015 paper, Jacobson and his coauthors concluded that U.S. energy systems could convert almost entirely to wind, solar, and hydropower sources alone. This would largely be achieved by using vast energy storage systems and by integrating regional electricity grids to better balance supply and demand.  Nuclear power plants, carbon capture and storage technology, big banks of batteries — none of these would be needed in this scenario. Yet the critics — led by Christopher Clack, who is the founding CEO of Vibrant Clean Energy, a grid modeling firm — said this conclusion doesn't hold water. The 2015 analysis and related research "are severely compromised by modeling errors, unrealistic methods, and incorrect, implausible, or inadequately supported assumptions," they wrote in the new paper. For instance, they said Jacobson and his colleagues miscalculated the amount of available hydropower. The 2015 paper shows that maximum output from U.S. hydroelectric plants is around 145 gigawatts today — about 50 percent more than the actual installed capacity.  At the same time, however, Jacobson's paper shows hydro output exceeding 1,300 gigawatts, about nine times higher than his own model projected. Grand Coulee Dam in Washington state.Image: nicholas K. Geranios/AP/REX/ShutterstockCritics also noted the analysis assumed the U.S. would build vast amounts of energy storage, with an output capacity that's more than 2.5 times the size of today's entire U.S. electricity system. Hydrogen and underground thermal systems — or heat stored in rocks buried below the surface — would supply almost all of that storage, yet neither technology is widely available at a commercial scale today. Instead of going all-in on renewables, "The most feasible route to a low-carbon energy future is one that adopts a diverse portfolio of technologies," Clack and his coauthors wrote. "The paper should not in any way be construed to support action against policies to encourage renewable energy development," they wrote. "Rather, the paper asserts that wind, solar, and hydropower alone likely do not represent a complete, reliable, or cost-effective pathway to decarbonization." Jacobson defended his research, noting the hydropower numbers are not the result of a modeling error; rather, they reflect assumptions that are baked into the analysis. He noted that commercial-scale storage projects with hydrogen and underground thermal energy already exist in parts of the world, and it's not unreasonable to think they could scale up within a few decades. "Our conclusions are correct," Jacobson said. However we proceed, climate scientists are clear: Today's energy systems will have to drastically change if we're going to curb emissions and prevent dangerous levels of global warming this century. WATCH: It's official, 2016 was Earth's warmest year on record
Stranded Curiosity Rover Gets More Free Will: What Could Go Wrong?
JAY GORY, MANAGING EDITOR, science
NASA's Mars robot can now decide which discoveries are most important to send back to Earth.
New York to London in 40 Minutes? Maybe Someday
JAY GORY, MANAGING EDITOR, science
Private companies are betting that they can build ‘space planes’ for commercial hypersonic travel.
NASA, Honeywell claim they can reduce sonic booms over land, potentially bringing supersonic flight to masses
JAY GORY, MANAGING EDITOR, science
NASA and American multinational conglomerate Honeywell say they now know how to reduce sonic booms when flying a supersonic aircraft over land following the completion of a two-year study.
Your Brain Treats a Blink Like a Tiny Nap
JAY GORY, MANAGING EDITOR, science
Time slows down when your eyes are closed.
This adorable baby turtle blob is bringing hope to Southeast Asia
JAY GORY, MANAGING EDITOR, science
Hello, turtle friend. The months-old blob seen above is an Asian giant softshell turtle. Scientists long thought this species was extinct in the Cambodian portion of the Mekong River — until they discovered some stragglers in the early 2000s. SEE ALSO: This frog's slime can destroy flu viruses Since then, conservation groups have worked with local communities and officials to boost the wild population of these endangered turtles. A team recently released 150 hatchlings back into their natural habitat, bringing the running total to more than 7,700 baby turtles in the past 10 years. Image: Yoeung Sun/wildlife conservation societyHuge swaths of the turtle's habitat in southeast Asia have disappeared due to urban and industrial development along the Mekong River, which flows more than 3,000 miles from China to Vietnam. The sand where turtles breed is routinely hauled away for use in construction projects, while fishing nets scoop up hatchlings. Poachers also take turtles and their eggs to sell for food. "The species has quite a wide historical range across Asia ... but much of that range is now completely gone," said Joe Walston, who worked extensively with softshell turtles in Cambodia for the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), where he's now vice president for global conservation. The freshwater turtle species is officially listed as endangered by the IUCN Red List, an authoritative inventory of threatened plant and animal species. "Giant" hatchlings.Image: MENGEY ENG/wildlife conservation societyFor the last decade, WCS, Conservation International, the Turtle Survival Alliance and local groups have worked to protect turtle nests and breeding grounds. Their goal is to ensure eggs will multiply and hatch, and that baby turtles grow strong enough to eventually fend for themselves in the wild. Walston said he first went to Cambodia shortly after the end of the Khmer Rouge, the brutal regime that controlled Cambodia from 1975 to 1979.  "We had no idea what the state of species would be in the area," he recalled. "But we did know that the Mekong River holds some of the largest examples of freshwater turtles and fish, including the giant Mekong catfish, the giant Mekong ray, and some of these giant softshell turtles." Image: Yoeung Sun/wildlife conservation societyInitial surveys in 2003 and in 2007 found two small populations of the blob-like turtles along a 30-mile stretch between the Kratie and Stung Treng provinces.  Conservation efforts soon followed, including a program to hire former egg collectors to help search for and protect nests instead of harvesting the eggs, said Sun Yoeung, WCS's project coordinator for Asian giant softshell turtles. Turtle friend, we're so glad you made it. WATCH: Scientists are trying to save reef turtles who are dying from mysterious tumors
Scrutiny intensifies over safety at US nuclear weapons lab
JAY GORY, MANAGING EDITOR, science
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The safety record at the U.S. laboratory that created the atomic bomb is facing intensifying criticism as work ramps up to produce a key component for the nation's nuclear weapons cache.
Risky gold rush: Indonesia tackles illegal mining boom
JAY GORY, MANAGING EDITOR, science
Hulking excavators claw at riverbanks on Indonesia's Sumatra island in the hunt for gold, transforming what was once a rural idyll into a scarred, pitted moonscape. It is one of a huge number of illegal gold mines that have sprung up across the resource-rich archipelago as the price of the precious metal has soared, luring people in rural areas to give up jobs in traditional industries. Now authorities in Sumatra's Jambi province, which has one of the biggest concentrations of illegal mining sites in Indonesia, have started a determined fightback, combining a crackdown with attempts at regulation.
Queen's Speech: Plan aims to secure space sector
JAY GORY, MANAGING EDITOR, science
A government plan to protect the UK's £13.7bn space industry has been laid out in the Queen's Speech.
5 Weird Objects Sent to Space
JAY GORY, MANAGING EDITOR, science
From the pages of Playboy Magazine to the lightsaber from "Star Wars" and KFC's fried chicken sandwich, here are 5 weird objects that were sent to space or are going up in space this year. 
Long Abandoned Soviet Tech Might Help China Land on the Moon
JAY GORY, MANAGING EDITOR, science
Shelved more than 40 years ago, the Soviet LK lander could help build the space boat that ferries China's astronauts to the Moon.
EU court: Vaccines can be blamed for illnesses without proof
JAY GORY, MANAGING EDITOR, science
LONDON (AP) — The highest court of the European Union ruled Wednesday that courts can consider whether a vaccination led to someone developing an illness even when there is no scientific proof.
Are you forgetful? That's just your brain erasing useless memories
JAY GORY, MANAGING EDITOR, science
The argument is that memory isn’t supposed to act like a video recorder, but instead like a list of useful rules that help us make better decisions, says study co-author Blake Richards, a University of Toronto professor who studies the theoretical links between artificial intelligence and neuroscience. In the new paper, Richards sites a 2016 study in which scientists trained mice to find a water maze. Here, there are many parallels with artificial intelligence and how these systems learn, according to Richards.
Vietnam environment official sacked over mass fish kill
JAY GORY, MANAGING EDITOR, science
A senior Vietnamese environment official has been fired for negligence over a toxic waste dump that killed tonnes of fish in a major environmental crisis last year, according to officials and state media. Luong Duy Hanh, director of Vietnam's Environment Protection Management Department, is the latest official to be punished over the toxic leak, which was blamed on a multi-billion dollar steel plant run by the Taiwanese firm Formosa. Formosa was fined $500 million for the waste dump and Vietnam has vowed to punish 11 officials over the country's worst-ever environmental disaster.
Scientists rescue samples of melting Bolivian glacier for posterity
JAY GORY, MANAGING EDITOR, science
A team of international scientists are transporting samples of ice from a melting glacier in Bolivia to Antarctica, for study and preservation before the glacier disappears. The international "Ice Memory" expedition of 15 scientists took samples from the glacier on Illimani Mountain in the Andes and will store them in Antarctica at the French-Italian base of Concordia. The scientists were helped by local guides and porters, who live near the base of Illimani.
Apes Have Social Traditions Just Like Humans
JAY GORY, MANAGING EDITOR, science
Chimps and humans have a lot in common, like our DNA an ability to form a cultural tradition.
Unpacking the mystery of wobbly suitcase syndrome
JAY GORY, MANAGING EDITOR, science
You are rushing to catch a train or plane and suddenly the suitcase you're pulling starts to rock from wheel to wheel, threatening to flip over. "The tendency of a two-wheeled suitcase to oscillate from one wheel to another is due to an inherent mechanical instability," explained senior author Sylvain Courrech du Pont, a researcher at the Complex Materials and Systems Laboratory of Paris-Diderot University. "The problem is the interaction" -- the clash, in other words -- "of rotational and translational motion," Courrech du Pont told AFP.