Environment

Category archives for Environment

I don’t have anything all that new to say about last night’s Cosmos reboot, and I’m leaving for scenic Madison, WI today to attend DAMOP, so I don’t have a great deal of time. Kate did mention something over dinner last night, though, that’s a good topic for a quick blog post. Kate’s a big…

It’s taken me a disgracefully long time to finish the review copy of Lee Billings’s Five Billion Years of Solitude I was sent back in the fall, mostly because I didn’t read anything not immediately related to the book-in-progress for most of November and all of December. Which is to say, the long delay is…

How Fast Should I Drive?

We spent this past weekend in Florida, visiting Kate’s mom and her husband, who moved down there in October. This was a huge hit with the kids, who were very excited to fly on an airplane (four of them, actually, as we changed planes in Baltimore both ways). They also got a big kick out…

This past weekend, I was at Boskone, where I appeared on a few science-y panels. One of these was on the possibility of beaming power down from space: Energy From Space Beam me down some juice, Scotty? Let’s talk about the possibilities — and practicalities — of really long-distance power transmission. Tom Easton (M), Jordin…

Energy Efficiency Question: Water Heaters

The water heater for Chateau Steelypips is significantly older than the usual useful life for such devices, and it’s really started to show. I’m getting pretty sick of lukewarm showers, so we probably need to replace it. As a good squishy liberal type, I of course want to replace it with something more efficient, and…

Greenhouse Physics and Car Shades

I got a new comment on an old post asking an interesting question about thermodynamics: I have a question that bears somewhat on this issue of keeping cars parked in the sun, cooler. You all know those accordion folded/aluminized shades you can put up inside the windshield and back window. Seems to me putting them…

Back when I reviewed Mann’s pop-archaeology classic 1491, I mentioned that I’d held off reading it for a while for fear that it would be excessively polemical in a “Cortez the Killer” kind of way. Happily, it was not, so when I saw he had a sequel coming out, I didn’t hesitate to pick it…

A physics story makes the front page of the New York Times today. Sadly, it’s with the headline Laser Advances in Nuclear Fuel Stir Terror Fear. Sigh. The key technological development, here, is that General Electric has been playing around with a laser-based isotope separation technique. This is an idea that’s been around for a…

Fracking Liars

Back at the AAAS Meeting, I was really annoyed by a session on fracking, the process by which natural gas is extracted from shale deep underground. As I wrote at the time, regarding the industry shills who spoke: I left before the whole thing had wrapped up, because it was that or start throwing stuff…

Beat the Heat with SCIENCE!

It’s really frickin’ hot in much of the US. Fortunately, we have central air at home, A/C in the car, and convenient local businesses with air conditioning and free wi-fi. The inadequate HVAC systems in the Science and Engineering building on campus aren’t anywhere near being able to cope with this, so I’m working from…