By PopSci StaffPosted 07.09.2008 at 10:28 am 0 Comments
In this episode of Cocktail Party Science, host Chuck Cage sits down with Michael Moyer and Kalee Thompson--the editor and writer of Carbon Discredit. Learn more about how one of the most elaborate missions to reverse climate change was felled by environmentalists, and how the story took the shape it did.
Listen to tales of archeology on high on this Cocktail Party Science
By PopSci StaffPosted 05.22.2008 at 4:13 pm 1 Comment
On this week's episode of Cocktail Party Science, host Chuck Cage and articles editor Michael Moyer sit down with Mara Hvistendahl, author of "The Space Archaeologists" to find out why archeology has gone high-tech and how the future might save the past.
Can concentrated PV plants beat solar thermal technology?
By Michael MoyerPosted 02.26.2008 at 4:34 pm 2 Comments
The last few years have seen tremendous growth in solar thermal power plants—huge arrays of mirrors that concentrate the sun's energy onto a liquid which then boils and spins a turbine. The process is generally more efficient than using photovoltaic panels, and new solar thermal plants under construction in Spain and Australia will be among the largest capacity solar plants in the world. Old-fashioned PV panels were starting to look archaic, or at least suitable only for small-scale projects like roof instillations. But not all PV panels are created alike.
By Michael MoyerPosted 02.21.2008 at 4:52 pm 8 Comments
Yesterday morning, 5 am: Oh s***. I'm done for. The viral infection so potent it fells healthy 20-somethings for a week at a time, the epidemic so ubiquitous in our New York offices that it's now referred to simply as the PopSci Plague, the flu that crushes your brain and blows it through your digestive tract has finally come for me. It is my time. I can feel it: A sore throat and vague headache that are the opening salvos of a dispiriting scorched-earth campaign. It's too late to fight.
Or is it?
What would you use to keep next-generation nuclear reactors cool? If you said highly reactive molten sodium, take a bow
By Michael MoyerPosted 02.16.2008 at 3:14 pm 15 Comments
It's going to be at least another two decades before any commercial models are built, but researchers are at work designing the Generation IV nuclear reactors. Unlike the generation II and III models now in use that use water to cool and control the fission (preventing runaway reactions, subsequent meltdowns and the environmental apocalypse that would result), the leading contender for cooling material for the Gen IV reactors is molten sodium. Not sodium chloride (plain, unreactive table salt), but sodium metal.
A new report highlights the world's most acute needs
By Michael MoyerPosted 02.15.2008 at 4:50 pm 4 Comments
A panel convened by the National Academy of Engineering announced today a list of the most important projects in the world—at least, what would be, were we to figure out how to build them. The 14 priorities range from economical solar power—we only need to harness 1/10,000th of the sunlight that hits Earth to satisfy the world's energy needs—to reverse-engineering the brain and universal access to clean water (see the full list after the break). They're also introducing a slick new website to solicit public opinion. What do you think is the most important engineering challenge for the century to come?
By Michael MoyerPosted 02.15.2008 at 12:27 pm 1 Comment
Day 1,464 of the Mars rovers' 90-day mission to Mars (for those of you keeping track), and Steve Squires, the head of science operations for the Spirit and Opportunity rovers is getting us up to date on their latest findings. Most important: serendipity in action. The Spirit rover's right front wheel has broken, so engineers turn the rover around, drive it in reverse, and drag the wheel behind the rover. As it slogs across the planet, it carves a trench. And my, what a trench it carves.
Forget corn; we'll get fuel from all the other stuff, says DOE
By Michael MoyerPosted 02.15.2008 at 9:32 am 5 Comments
"Cellulosic ethanol technology is a lot closer to reality than a lot of articles would have you think," said Jacques Beaudry-Losique, manager of the Department of Energy's Biomass Program this morning at the American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting. After some well-publicized studies stated that corn-based biofuels might exacerbate CO2 damage to the environment, focus has shifted to these so-called "second generation" biofuels that use non-food crops such as switchgrass, wood chips or crop residues (e.g. all the parts of the corn plant that are currently wasted after harvest--the stalk, leaves and "cob").