Jonathan Coulton, PopSci's contributing troubadour and longtime friend, has a new DVD/CD set out titled "Best. Concert. Ever." Leave a question or comment below for a chance to win the goods. We'll announce our ten lucky winners on July 17th. Good luck!
Steven Chu, the new U.S. secretary of energy, is a Nobel-winning physicist and an unabashed advocate of fighting climate change. But can he negotiate the political realities of transforming the energy economy?
By Kevin ConleyPosted 06.29.2009 at 1:42 pm 41 Comments
For years, Steven Chu argued that leadership on climate change should be wrested from the politicians and turned over to the scientists. But on Capitol Hill this April, on Earth Day, as Chu testified on the scientific merits of the most ambitious climate-change bill ever to come out of Washington, you might have wondered whether he regretted getting his wish.
As firemen prepare for wildfire season this summer, they will reach for their trusty Pulaski ax, the century-old tool used to hack ditches between flames and the rest of the forest. But they will have some new, high-tech help as well. Mini tree-mounted weather stations and airborne infrared sensors will provide the clearest picture yet of where fires are and where they're headed.
The American electric grid is an engineering marvel, arguably the single largest and most complex machine in the world. It's also 40 years old and so rickety that power interruptions and blackouts cost the economy some $150 billion a year. The idea of building a connected "smart" grid that can route power intelligently is beyond daunting, no matter how much stimulus money gets thrown at it. But if we want to cut carbon, we have no choice. Today's grid simply cannot handle a large-scale rollout of the clean-energy sources outlined in this series.
Overfishing made the grey nurse shark endangered, but it's the animal's bizarre, cannibalistic embryos that are making it difficult for the species to rebound. The gestating shark pups need a "time out," says Nick Otway, a fisheries biologist at Port Stephens Fisheries Institute in Australia. As a last-ditch effort to keep the species from eating itself into extinction, he built an artificial uterus, a souped-up fish tank that will give each unborn baby its own womb.
By Russ JuskalianPosted 06.22.2009 at 5:19 pm 2 Comments
There are a lot more clips out there than what turns up using YouTube's keyword-search function. On sites such as Hulu.com, you can watch free TV shows and movies. And "vertical content" Web sites focus on single subjects, whether bird-watching or extreme sports.
A new treatment could save some of the hundreds of thousands of Americans dying sepsis-related deaths every year
By Allison BondPosted 06.22.2009 at 3:44 pm 8 Comments
If your uncle says he's getting magnetic therapy, you might feel the urge to tell him to save his money instead for that tinfoil hat to keep the CIA from reading his mind. But if he's being hooked up to Don Ingber's magnet machine, it just might save his life.
Odysseus, an autonomous surveillance-plane concept, will fly for years on end, powered by nothing but the sun
By Kara PlatoniPosted 06.22.2009 at 10:55 am 13 Comments
Nine days: That's the longest any airplane has stayed in the air. Burt and Dick Rutan's Voyager set the record in 1986 by flying 24,986 miles around the world without refueling. But nine days of uninterrupted flight won't cut it for Darpa, the Pentagon's advanced-research organization. It's challenged the aviation industry to come up with an unmanned surveillance and communications plane that can circle targets for half a decade — and do so on nothing but solar power.
Last October, Iceland's economy tanked. Its bailout? A two-mile geothermal well drilled into a volcano that could generate an endless supply of clean energy. Or, as Icelanders will calmly explain, it could all blow up in their faces
By Christopher MimsPosted 06.19.2009 at 12:20 pm 7 Comments
The Kuwait of the North
Engineers at the Tyr drilling rig in Krafla's snow-covered caldera hope to use a supercritical-water source two miles underground to produce 10 times as much geothermal electricity as a normal well
Courtesy Sveinbjorn Holmgeirsson/Landsvirkjun Power
It's spring in Iceland, and three feet of snow covers the ground. The sky is gray and the temperature hovers just below freezing, yet Gudmundur Omar Fridleifsson is wearing only a windbreaker. Icelanders say they can spot the tourists because they wear too many clothes, but Fridleifsson seems particularly impervious. He's out here every few days to check on the Tyr geothermal drilling rig, the largest in Iceland. The rig's engines are barely audible over the cold wind, and the sole sign of activity is the slow dance of a crane as it grabs another 30-foot segment of steel pipe, attaches it to the top of the drill shaft, and slides it into the well.
By Lawrence UlrichPosted 06.17.2009 at 4:18 pm 1 Comment
Even the most attentive driver can become distracted, especially in city traffic. Now Volvo has your back with City Safety, a feature on the XC60 crossover SUV that can prevent or mitigate accidents and injuries at around-town speeds. We tested the technology in a dare-you-to-crash demo, steering the XC60 toward a bright-colored inflatable car at 10 mph and resisting the powerful urge to hit the brakes. The system worked like a charm, quickly stopping the 4,200-pound Volvo and avoiding a crunch with a few feet to spare.