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Posts Tagged "energy"

@ScientificAmerican

Earth Day E-Book Examines The Future of Energy: Earth, Wind and Fire

Scientific American E-Book: The Future of Energy: Earth, Wind and Fire

Since the Industrial Revolution our civilization has depended on fossil fuels to generate energy—first it was coal; then petroleum. But there are two problems: the first is that petroleum isn’t an infinite resource; and the second is that burning coal and oil puts billions of tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, trapping heat. Temperatures [...]

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Beautiful Minds

Is Your Child Ungifted?

PROLOGUE

  When Jay Leno asked Steve Carell how his kids were doing, he didn’t seem too concerned: “I hate it when people talk about kids on talk shows. I hate it, because every person who talks about their kids, their kids are obviously the most intelligent and the cutest. They’re all very, very gifted children. Ask [...]

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But Not Simpler

Excerpts From The Mad Scientist’s Handbook: So You’re Ready to Vaporize a Human

5277424033_c3c7b8cd42_b

In Chapter 4* we discussed the proper maintenance and operation of energy weapons such as plasma rifles and Tesla cannons. In this chapter, you will learn how to direct those beams and blasts like a true mad scientist! (See Chapter 9 for “The Dos and Don’ts of Maniacal Laughter: Part 1″.) As any successful mad [...]

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Expeditions

Engineering students head back to the villages to build rocket stoves

Dartmouth, Tanzania, Africa, energy, engineering

Editor’s Note: Students from Dartmouth’s Thayer School of Engineering are working in Tanzania to help improve sanitation and energy technologies in local villages. This series chronicles work being done by the student-led group, known as  Dartmouth Humanitarian Engineering (DHE) [formerly known as Humanitarian Engineering Leadership Projects (HELP)], to design "rocket stoves" in the village of [...]

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Expeditions

School’s out: Time for Tanzanians to take up the cause for healthier, more energy-efficient stoves

Tanzania, Dartmouth

Editor’s Note: Students from Dartmouth’s Thayer School of Engineering are working in Tanzania to help improve sanitation and energy technologies in local villages. This series chronicles work being done by the student-led group, known as  Dartmouth Humanitarian Engineering (DHE) [formerly known as Humanitarian Engineering Leadership Projects (HELP)], to design "rocket stoves" in the village of [...]

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Expeditions

Student engineers re-introduce coffee husk stoves in Tanzania as time runs out on their project

Dartmouth, Tanzania

Editor’s Note: Students from Dartmouth’s Thayer School of Engineering are working in Tanzania to help improve sanitation and energy technologies in local villages. This series chronicles work being done by the student-led group, known as Humanitarian Engineering Leadership Projects (HELP), to design "rocket stoves" in the village of Mwamgongo and top-light updraft design (TLUD) gasification [...]

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Expeditions

Student engineers in Tanzania seek government support for stove-design project

Tanzania, Dartmouth

Editor’s Note: Students from Dartmouth’s Thayer School of Engineering are working in Tanzania to help improve sanitation and energy technologies in local villages. This series chronicles work being done by the student-led group, known as Humanitarian Engineering Leadership Projects (HELP), to design "rocket stoves" in the village of Mwamgongo and top-light updraft design (TLUD) gasification [...]

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Expeditions

The bean test: Student stove goes head-to-head against Tanzanian three-stone stove to test efficiency

Dartmouth,Tanzania, energy

Editor’s Note: Students from Dartmouth’s Thayer School of Engineering are working in Tanzania to help improve sanitation and energy technologies in local villages. This series chronicles work being done by the student-led group, known as Humanitarian Engineering Leadership Projects (HELP), to design "rocket stoves" in the village of Mwamgongo and top-light updraft design (TLUD) gasification [...]

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Expeditions

Lessons learned? Engineering students set about designing a greener, more durable stove for African villagers

Dartmouth, engineer, environment

Editor’s Note: Students from Dartmouth’s Thayer School of Engineering are working in Tanzania to help improve sanitation and energy technologies in local villages. This series chronicles work being done by the student-led group, known as Humanitarian Engineering Leadership Projects (HELP), to design "rocket stoves" in the village of Mwamgongo and top-light updraft design (TLUD) gasification [...]

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Expeditions

Karibu Tena: Rocket Stoves in Mwamgongo

Mwamgongo,Darthmouth,Africa

Editor’s Note: Students from Dartmouth’s Thayer School of Engineering are working in Tanzania to help improve sanitation and energy technologies in local villages. This series chronicles work being done by the student-led group, known as Humanitarian Engineering Leadership Projects (HELP), to design "rocket stoves" in the village of Mwamgongo and top-light updraft design (TLUD) gasification [...]

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Extinction Countdown

Guerrilla Marketing to Save Mountain Gorillas: Renewable Energy to the Rescue

gorilla marketing virunga national park

How does dressing up in a really bad gorilla costume help to save endangered mountain gorillas? Well, it’s not actually the costume itself that’s important; it’s what the man inside the costume is also carrying. Take a look at the photo to the left. In one hand, the costumed gorilla holds an energy-efficient stove. In [...]

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Food Matters

Biased But Necessary: Single Case Studies

Like a kid who skips the copyright information that precede iPad games, I go straight to the clinical cases in the New England Journal of Medicine whenever I get my hands on a copy. Recently I browsed through a bunch of cases in the online archives. In 1823, the journal called these vignettes “hospital reports.” [...]

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Guest Blog

Can we capture all of the world’s carbon emissions?

In 2011, the world will emit more than 35 billion tons of carbon dioxide. Every day of the year, almost a hundred million tons will be released into the atmosphere. Every second more than a thousand tons – two million pounds – of carbon dioxide is emitted from power plants, cars, trucks, ships, planes, factories, [...]

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Guest Blog

Smaller, cheaper, faster: Does Moore’s law apply to solar cells?

The sun strikes every square meter of our planet with more than 1,360 watts of power. Half of that energy is absorbed by the atmosphere or reflected back into space. 700 watts of power, on average, reaches Earth’s surface. Summed across the half of the Earth that the sun is shining on, that is 89 [...]

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Guest Blog

Deja vu: What does the Gulf oil spill tell us about the Japanese nuclear crisis?

For the second time in under a year, a large-scale energy disaster is unfolding before our eyes. Two different industries. Two different crises. Can we apply any lessons from the Gulf oil spill, and what can we expect for the nuclear industry moving forward? It was just over a year ago that the Macondo well [...]

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Guest Blog

From fuel to film: The story of energy and movies

On Wednesday March 9, energy and film experts gathered at the original Austin City Limits studio on The University of Texas campus to discuss the role of energy and movies in our lives. The event was hosted by Dr. Michael E. Webber, and featured a panel of energy and film experts: author Sheril Kirshenbaum, producer [...]

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Guest Blog

The low-carbon diet: One family’s effort to shrink carbon consumption

Part 2: A Little Research Goes a Long Way (see Part 1: Epiphany from up high: Can a suburban family live sustainably?) Tracking down an energy auditor on the cusp of the 2010 deadline for energy efficiency rebates proved tricky. Yet on a frigid morning in early January, David Pocklington and Shane Matteson of Energy [...]

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Guest Blog

Waste to Energy: A mountain of trash, or a pile of energy?

Collect trash, burn it, and then generate electricity. The technology is called Waste to Energy, and it uses our waste streams to produce electricity that can be cleaner than the average kilowatt-hour (kWh) generated in the United States today. A mountain of trash becomes a pile of energy. But, will this domestic renewable resource be [...]

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Guest Blog

Texas “Tea” becomes the Texas “E”?

At 1 P.M. on February 28, 2010 a jaw-dropping 22 percent of the electricity being used in the state of Texas was supplied by the wind. Today, Texas is home to more than 10,000 megawatts (MW) of wind capacity—more than the next three largest wind states (Iowa, California and Washington) combined. In the course of [...]

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Guest Blog

Epiphany from up high: Can a suburban family live sustainably?

There we were, racing through the stratosphere on a short flight home from Baltimore to Atlanta (577 miles and approximately 230 pounds of carbon dioxide per person). My husband, Mike, was tuned to his iPod, and me to my book, How, Flat and Crowded 2.0 when a sentence in the section on oil and geopolitics [...]

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Guest Blog

Power from pondscum: Algal biofuels

In the discussion of alternative energy and fuels, algae have been bubbling to the top of the proverbial feedstock pool. Algae, the little green guys responsible for everything from making your Dairy Queen Blizzard solid to forming the basis of our current fossil fuels, are being looked at long and hard by some of the [...]

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Observations

Obama Vows More Executive Action on High-Tech Manufacturing, Climate Change Mitigation and Renewal of Science

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

After a year buffeted by squeezes to federally funded research from a government shutdown as well as an extremely bumpy rollout of healthcare.gov, President Barack Obama’s fifth State of the Union Tuesday night struck a few hopeful notes for science and technology. Speaking before Congress, he devoted roughly a fifth of his  speech to topics [...]

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Observations

40 Years Later: Electric Cars and the OPEC Oil Embargo

Oregon’s odd-even plan reduced the lines at gas stations during the fuel crisis in the fall and winter of 1973-74. This station was servicing cars with even-numbered last digits on their license plates on an even-numbered calendar day. Image credit: David Falcone, National Archives and Record Administration

The 1973 oil embargo triggered a mad rush of electric-vehicle research. Forty years later, we’re seeing the results

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Observations

EPA Challenges Coal Industry to Adopt New Technology

Image: Gralo

The White House unveiled a powerful incentive to speed track carbon capture technology innovations this morning with the release of highly-anticipated requirements to harness the emissions of new coal-fired power plants and natural gas facilities. “These proposed standards are the first uniform national limits on carbon pollution from new power plants,” said Gina McCarthy, the [...]

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Observations

“All of the Above” Energy Means More Fracking, Renewables, Nukes and Clean Coal

ernest-moniz

There is no technical issue with fracking, the controversial technique of fracturing shale rock with high-pressure, chemically treated water to release natural gas. But there is clearly a political one, judging by the multiple interruptions to a talk at Columbia University by new Secretary of Energy Ernest J. Moniz. The affable former M.I.T. professor and [...]

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Observations

Meet the New Secretary of Energy Nominee: Ernie Moniz

ernest-moniz

Ernest J. Moniz, a nuclear physicist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who serves on Scientific American’s board of advisors, will be President Barack Obama’s pick to replace Nobel laureate Steven Chu as Secretary of Energy. While Moniz has yet to win a Nobel, he served on the President’s Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear [...]

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Observations

ARPA-E Summit Reveals U.S. Energy Future

bill-gates-and-steven-chu

The future of energy will be on display at the fourth annual summit of the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Energy, or ARPA–e. But which future? Energy innovators from start-ups, the national laboratories, universities and even oil companies will gather for three days to hear from the nation’s best about the future of energy.  The [...]

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Observations

Obama Takes Aim at Climate Change, Cyber Security

whitehouse.gov

After a campaign that avoided climate change like the plague, President Barack Obama gave a State of the Union speech that put climate change on center stage. Early in the speech he encouraged law makers to revisit cap-and-trade as a way of tackling emissions of greenhouse gases. “I urge this Congress to pursue a bipartisan, [...]

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Observations

What Will Steven Chu’s Energy Legacy Be?

steven-chu

Steven Chu will step down as Secretary of Energy at the end of this month, though he “may stay beyond that time so that I can leave the Department in the hands of the new Secretary,” he wrote in a farewell letter to Department of Energy (DoE) staff, issued February 1. Regardless, when Chu leaves [...]

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Observations

Does Increased Energy Efficiency Just Spark Us to Use More?

chevy-volt-fuel-economy-sticker

Last year, the U.S. raised its fuel economy standards for cars and trucks for the first time in decades. By 2025, the fuel efficiency of vehicles will be required to double. As a result, oil consumption is predicted to fall and—given that the U.S. remains the world’s largest consumer of oil—global crude prices might fall [...]

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Observations

Consumer Electronics Show (CES) Preview: Apps Replace Operating Systems

In a sign of just how important content and mobility have become to gadget lovers, network providers and device makers will take center stage at the 2013 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) next week in Las Vegas. For the first time since 1997 Microsoft won’t deliver a keynote touting its latest version of Windows. Chipmaker [...]

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Oscillator

Petroleum Replicas

Howard et al.--Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

The language of innovation often stresses disruption–eliminating inefficient industries and replacing them with more streamlined, technologically advanced versions. Nowhere is disruption more complex and important than in the energy industry, with implications for so much of the way that we live, affecting global industry, economics, and climate. A major focus of synthetic biology today is [...]

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Oscillator

An Action Hero Approach to Energy

A few months ago (before the recent batch of scandals), Arnold Schwarzenegger gave the keynote speech at the ARPA-E Energy Innovation Summit that several of my colleagues attended. His perspectives as a bodybuilder (“Stephen, how are your glutes?”), a Republican who believes in global warming and the promise of bipartisan environmental legislation, and an action [...]

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Oscillator

Summer Reading

I am one of those people that’s usually “reading” a lot of books at once. This summer I’ve been alternating between skimming and devouring, picking up and putting on hold a few new favorites and some less favorite books, which have coalesced in my head into an overarching narrative about the history and future of [...]

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Plugged In

Photo Friday: A living laboratory for net-zero homes (California)

ipadscreen1

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, Davis, this 1,922 square foot home includes a 9.5 kW rooftop solar panel array and an electric vehicle with 10 kWh of battery storage, [...]

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Plugged In

Appliances responsible for 13% of home energy bill in U.S.

graph_appliance electricity

Energy use for appliances is responsible for about 13% of the monthly energy bills for the average American home. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, at the top of the appliance-energy-use list are water heaters, refrigerators, and clothes dryers (and pool pumps for those homes with swimming facilities). According to their estimates, one’s desktop [...]

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Plugged In

Energy and Community – “Let’s meet at the clothes line”

450px-Clothes_line_with_pegs_nearby

Lowering your thermostat setting to decrease your monthly power bill seems simple enough, until your roommate says the magic words, “I’m cold”. Suddenly, that extra sweater and socks go from being an acceptable solution to the chill to an inadequate bandaid on a bigger problem. You are now facing the tough choice – try to [...]

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Plugged In

A Look At Our (Mostly) Independent Energy Future

energy imports

In my last post, I described how the past eight US presidents pledged to reduce our dependence on foreign oil. None have succeeded yet… but by the time President Obama leaves office, oil imports will be lower than when he arrived, but as I previously explained, it’s not all because of his administration.* Now let’s [...]

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Plugged In

Data centers of the future might be their own power plants

Thor data center_385

Data centers could produce their own energy by using fuel cells.

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Plugged In

Exploding oil train, Alabama edition

AL_train_oil_385

Well, this is becoming an unfortunate trend. Another train carrying oil has derailed and exploded, this time in Alabama. From the Reuters news report: A 90-car train carrying crude oil derailed and exploded in western Alabama in the early hours of Friday morning, spilling oil and leaving eleven cars burning in the rural area. No [...]

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Plugged In

Comparing Apple’s and Big Oil’s profits – in one chart

ipad_air

Apple is blowing and going.

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Plugged In

How Do We Engage More Women In Energy Issues?

As I’ve written in the past, the energy sector is dominated by men. At meetings and conferences, it’s easy to recognize the lack of women in the room, on panels, and involved in the discussion. But a look the latest poll numbers reveals the gender gap goes well beyond the energy sector itself. Consider: In [...]

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Plugged In

China enveloped in smog, as seen from space. Again.

China_smog_Oct_2013_385

Heavy smog that paralyzed eastern China is visible from space in this satellite image from NASA.

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Plugged In

Sealing leaky homes could save Americans $33 billion a year

Credit: iStockphoto.com/BanksPhotos

Americans can shave nearly 4% off their total energy consumption through weatherization measures.

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PsiVid

Green Screen Climate Fix Flicks and the Green Ninja

Green Screen Climate Fix Flicks

I seem to be surrounded by green lately (check my website for more about my Girls camp on Environmental Engineering and the great new MOOC (Massively Open Online Course) on Sustainability at UIUC to be offered beginning in August). For PsiVid, though, a video focus seems appropriate. The Australian based Green Screen Climate Fix Flicks [...]

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Solar at Home

Should You Add Backup Batteries to Your Grid-Tied Solar Array?

My neighbors took a newfound interest in my solar array after Hurricane Sandy. Most of our town in New Jersey lost power for two weeks, and everyone who knew about my panels was asking: Did they keep my lights on? Alas, no. When the grid goes down, our array goes down. The inverter mounted on [...]

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Solar at Home

Clouds Over the Solar Industry in Britain [Guest Post]

A couple of years ago, I reported on the experiences of a solar homeowner in England, and I was curious how the situation in Britain has evolved since then. Alex Hole, owner of Strenson Solar, a British firm which provides solar panels in Sussex, recently approached me and I invited him to write the following [...]

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Solar at Home

Before we began: A home energy audit, infrared scan and all

Editor’s Note: Scientific American‘s George Musser will be chronicling his experiences installing solar panels in 60-Second Solar. Read his introduction here and see all posts here. Last fall, before we decided to go solar, my wife and I had done a fair amount of work on weatherstripping and insulating and had reached a decision point [...]

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The Curious Wavefunction

Vaclav Smil: “The great hope for a quick and sweeping transition to renewable energy is wishful thinking”

Vaclav Smil (Image: Wikipedia Commons)

That’s Vaclav Smil, the prolific University of Manitoba thinker writing in this month’s issue of Scientific American. When Smil says something I usually listen. In the last two decades he has written more than 30 books on almost every imaginable aspect of energy, the environment and the biosphere. The typical Smil approach – and one that [...]

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The Curious Wavefunction

The only two equations that you should know: Part 1

The exponential relationship between equilibrium constant and free energy, the basis of chemistry and life.

“Chemistry”, declared Roger Kornberg in an interview, “is the queen of all sciences. Our best hope of applying physical principles to the world around us is at the level of chemistry. In fact if there is one subject which an ­­­­­educated person should know in the world it is chemistry.” Kornberg won the 2006 Nobel [...]

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The Curious Wavefunction

Five questions that (should) keep chemists awake at night

The origin of life is chemistry's quintessential Big Question (Image: NASA)

It is often said that chemistry lacks “big questions” like physics and biology. But this is not entirely true. The origin of life is a quintessentially chemical problem, and it’s as big as fundamental questions can get. More importantly, what chemistry may lack in terms of big questions it has in spades in terms of [...]

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The Curious Wavefunction

Renewables: Fewer subsidies and more R&D please

There is still a substantial gap to be filled when it comes to funding renewable energy (Image: IEA)

There’s a good article in Slate which lays out a case for shuttling some of the funds spent on subsidies for renewable energy into R&D instead. The article’s main point is that the use of solar and wind power is crawling up at a snail’s pace while there is little indication that the price of [...]

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The Curious Wavefunction

Deconstructing John Miller’s arguments against nuclear energy in the New York Times

Nuclear power plants (Image: Fast Company)

John Miller, a social psychologist and journalist who once served as an officer on a nuclear submarine has a piece on Andrew Revkin’s New York Times blog Dot Earth in which he purportedly dismisses several claims about nuclear energy and provides evidence to the contrary; these include general claims as well as those made more [...]

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The Curious Wavefunction

Lindau 2013: Steven Chu talks innovation, energy, climate change and awareness

Former Secretary of Energy and Nobel Laureate Steven Chu gave a wide-ranging and engaging talk at Lindau about science innovation and a realistic appraisal of problems. There were two main messages in his presentation: first, that scientific innovation has often thwarted doom and gloom prognostications, and second, that an accurate recognition of the nature of [...]

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