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News

When wildfires attack: Should I stay or should I go?

As California enters its third consecutive year of drought, officials are standing by for the state’s wildfire season, set to peak later this summer. They have reason for concern: During the previous two summers alone, wildfires have burned more than 12,000 square kilometers and killed more than two dozen people. A new study offers advice on how California can minimize wildfire deaths and save property: Don’t force residents who live near the margins of forest and urban areas to evacuate; instead, give them the option of staying and defending their homes.

01 Jun 2009

Paving the way for electronic waste recycling

Americans throw away a couple million tons of unwanted computers, cell phones, TVs and other electronics every year. Researchers in China, a major destination of the waste, say they know how to get rid of this mounting e-waste: Recycle the nonmetal components of the printed circuit boards found in many electronics for use as an additive to make asphalt more durable. Pavement engineers say it’s not such a bad idea — but unless several potential roadblocks are cleared, don’t expect to drive down a highway paved with old computer parts anytime soon.

22 May 2009

"Missing link" or major hype?

A squirrel-sized primate that lived 47 million years ago in the rainforests of Europe may be the common ancestor of monkeys, apes and humans, according to scientists who announced the discovery of the “missing link” fossil yesterday at a press conference. The well-preserved fossil has been at the center of a whirlwind PR blitz, including a History Channel documentary airing next week and an upcoming book — yet some scientists say the bones don’t live up to the hype.

20 May 2009

Making electric grids smarter

How information technology will make America's electrical system cleaner, more efficient and more reliable.

19 May 2009

DOE promises $2.4 billion for clean coal

Blogging on EARTH

Secretary of Energy Steven Chu announced today at a meeting of the National Coal Council that $2.4 billion in stimulus money will go to developing carbon capture and storage technologies.

15 May 2009

Dry dock to wet tap: Old ships become floating desalination plants

Last year’s hurricane season was not kind to Haiti. First, tropical storms Fay, Gustav and Hanna hit the Caribbean nation; then Hurricane Ike pummeled the island, flooding much of the country, wrecking roads and bridges and leaving Haitians desperate for food, water and other basics. To help the battered country, the United States sent hundreds of metric tons of supplies and hygiene kits aboard the aircraft carrier USS Kearsarge. The Navy deployed helicopters, landing craft and personnel to help local residents. And they brought in thousands of gallons of freshwater.

14 May 2009

Student scientists cast a long shadow

Last December, in the enormous, fluorescent-lit hall of San Francisco’s Moscone Center South, thousands of geophysicists and geologists milled through dozens of aisles of poster displays, chatting enthusiastically about the latest in geophysical research at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union. Within each aisle, people clustered around the more intriguing displays, trying to hear more about a given researcher’s work. At the center of one such group, commanding his own audience, was the youngest scientist ever to present research at an AGU conference.

13 May 2009

Geoscientists Without Borders: Geologists Lend a Hand

Craig Beasley’s one-year term as president of the Society for Exploration Geophysicists had a challenging start. After about two months in office, a magnitude-9-plus earthquake struck off the coast of Sumatra on Dec. 26, 2004, triggering a powerful tsunami that killed more than 225,000 people and left hundreds of thousands homeless.

SEG members wanted to help, but did not know how to contribute their expertise. “I could encourage members to donate money and time, but how does that distinguish a contribution from SEG from what people would normally do?” Beasley says.

08 May 2009

FY 2010 budget cuts Yucca, oil and gas programs

Blogging on EARTH

The White House Office of Management and Budget released today its FY 2010 budget reductions and savings — what programs it plans to cut or reduce.

07 May 2009

Soft tissue preserved in 80-million-year-old dino fossil

A two-year-old debate is back in the flesh — literally.

Molecular paleontologist Mary Schweitzer of North Carolina State University in Raleigh and colleagues presented evidence this week in Science that they had successfully recovered and identified collagen, a type of protein, from the femur of an 80-million-year-old hadrosaur, a duck-billed dinosaur.

30 Apr 2009

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