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Plugged In

More than wires - exploring the connections between energy, environment, and our lives

Measuring "Success" in R&D

Each year, private and public organizations dedicate significant resources to research and development (R&D). The U.S. federal government alone sets aside billions for R&D in the federal budget, considering it to be a "vital investment in [the country's] future ." (1) Under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), more than $10 billion was dedicated to R&D and basic science activities...

December 29, 2011 — Melissa C. Lott

Growth of the Alberta tar sands from 1984 to 2011

NASA has posted a series of satellite photos documenting the expansion of the Athabasca tar sands. The Athabasca pits cover over 54,000 square miles in Alberta with an estimated reserve of 1.75 trillion barrels of oil - good enough for third in the world behind Saudi Arabia (1) and Venezuela (2).Production increases noticeably from the mid-1980s to present day:Visible in the pictures are the tailing ponds holding contaminated water and material from the extraction process, along with surface stripping.So, in light of the near-certain death of the Keystone XL pipeline, will Canada's tar sand production continue to grow in the coming years?...

December 28, 2011 — David Wogan

Hydrogen in iPhone's Future?

In the future, Apple might be using hydrogen to power its iPhones and iPods. According to the Daily Mail, Apple has already filed a patent application for a new hydrogen battery technology...

December 27, 2011 — Melissa C. Lott

Not Your Average Tree Lighting

This year, the U.S. Department of Energy showed its holiday spirit in traditional ways at its annual holiday party – with holiday cookies and punch at its downtown headquarters building...

December 25, 2011 — Melissa C. Lott
About Those Neti Pots …

About Those Neti Pots …

… and the brain-eating amoebas that can kill you if you use them. Lots of people, naturally, are covering this terrifying story.

December 22, 2011 — Scott Huler

On the Loveseat: Gingrich,Pelosi and Climate Change

In a 2008, for a few moments, Republicans and Democrats came together in support of action to mitigate the impacts of climate change. In an ad sponsored by former Vice President Al Gore's group, Alliance for Climate Protection, Former Speakers of the House Nancy Pelosi and Newt Gingrich sat down together and voiced their agreement that the "country must take action to address climate change." Pelosi went further, saying that the country needs "cleaner forms of energy....

December 22, 2011 — Melissa C. Lott

20 Years in the Making - National Standards for Mercury Pollution from Power Plants

Today, after 2 decades of controversy, the U.S. EPA released a final version of its new standards to limit toxic emissions from power plants. Under the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS) and the New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) for fossil-fired power plants, the EPA will be able to regulate the emission of: Heavy metals – including mercury * , arsenic, chromium, and nickel Acid gases including hydrochloric acid and hydrofluoric acid Particulate matter Sulfur dioxide (SO 2 ) Nitrogen oxides (NO x ) As a result of this rule, the EPA estimates that 17,000 premature deaths and hundreds of thousands of illnesses will be prevented each year...

December 21, 2011 — Melissa C. Lott

300 years of fossil fuels history - in 5 minutes

From the Post Carbon Institute comes a quick video of the history of fossil fuels and the growth of the modern economy over the last 300 years: You might also be interested in this recent post: "Energy source transitions over time - what comes next?"Bonus points for using A Tribe Called Quest.Via Adam Frank at NPR 's excellent 13.7 blog...

December 21, 2011 — David Wogan

SunShot - Driving Toward the Dollar Watt

Since 1995, the U.S. has seen the price of solar systems drop by 60% thanks to investments by government and private organizations in research, development, and deployment activities.

December 20, 2011 — Melissa C. Lott

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Science or SciFi?

Science or SciFi?

Vanishing Particles. Spooky Action.