Archive for 2010

Eight hurdles on the track to a green energy future

Publication: MSNBC.com   Date: September 21, 2010   View Article

The green energy future envisions a technological road that leads to an infinite supply of power, independence from potentially hostile nations and an atmosphere cleared of the excess heat-trapping gases that are blamed for warming the planet. The track to this future, however, is full of technological and policy hurdles. Learn how eight of the biggest hurdles might be cleared.

4 lessons from a 97 year old real estate agent

Publication: MSN/SwitchYard Media   Date: September 16, 2010   View Article

Buy a house today if you can, but don’t sell one if you don’t have to, says George W. Johnson, a 97-year-old real-estate agent who has been working the Seattle market since 1936.

Johnson, who is reluctant to call himself America’s oldest real-estate agent — he says he just learned of a 99-year-old broker in Florida — has seen his share of housing booms and busts since he hung his first real-estate shingle 74 years ago.

Ten high-profile players in the commercial space race

Publication: MSNBC.com   Date: September 15, 2010   View Article

When NASA’s space shuttle fleet retires in 2011, the space agency will have to rely on Russian spacecraft and the private sector to taxi cargo and humans to and from the International Space Station, even as it turns its focus to the technologies required to send humans beyond low-Earth orbit.

President Barack Obama views the policy as a boost to the nascent commercial spaceflight industry, where competition is already heating up to supply the taxi services. Some companies are also talking about offering out-of-this-world rides for researchers as well as tourists with deep pockets and a serious case of star lust. Check out 10 of the top players in the race to commercialize space.

Ten hot green-energy trends to watch

Publication: MSNBC.com   Date: September 14, 2010   View Article

From the rollout of sexy new electric vehicles to technologies that convert turkey poop to electricity, green energy is the source of constant hype and buzz. What do green-energy experts have on their radar screen?

To find out, we checked in with Dan Kammen, director of the Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory at the University of California at Berkeley; and Ron Pernick, co-founder and managing director of Clean Edge, a research firm with offices in Oregon and California.

Five Years After Katrina, Big Alien Rodents Return

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: August 26, 2010   View Article

Five years after Hurricane Katrina whacked down the population of the invasive, wetland-munching rodents in Louisiana, nutria have bounced back.

At the same time, some coastal marshes are rebounding too, because of a boom in Louisiana’s nutria trappers.

Seven deep mysteries of history

Publication: MSNBC.com   Date: August 24, 2010   View Article

What happened to Amelia Earhart?

Amelia Earhart raised the spirits of Depression-era America as she soared into the aviation record books with feats of altitude, distance and endurance. The mood took a gloomy turn, however, when she and her navigator Fred Noonan disappeared over the Pacific Ocean on July 2, 1937, during a much-heralded attempt to fly around the world. Their fate remains one of aviation’s greatest unsolved mysteries.

Theories abound: They ran out of fuel and crashed into the Pacific Ocean. They were captured by the Japanese and executed. They survived, and Earhart lived out her life as a housewife in New Jersey.

A prominent theory with tantalizing clues holds that they survived the crash landing and but perished as castaways on Nikumaroro, an uninhabited island in the republic of Kiribati. An expedition to the island in 2010 recovered pieces of a pocket knife and a glass jar that may have belonged to the castaways. If DNA analyses on these and other items match Earhart’s, the mystery may finally be resolved.

Check out six more stories of historical mysteries.

Photos: Honeycomb Clouds “Communicate,” Rain in Unison

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: August 20, 2010   View Article

Wisps of clouds form a honeycomb-like structure (center) over the Peruvian coast.

Such open-cell marine clouds “communicate” with each other so that they constantly oscillate, or rearrange themselves, in a synchronized pattern, according to a new study from the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Inside the thick clouds of the cell walls, water droplets grow, then fall as rain, and the walls dissipate. The raindrops evaporate as they fall, cooling the air, which generates downward air currents.

When the downdrafts hit the ocean surface, they flow outward and collide with each other and “force the air to move upward again” and “form new open cell walls at a different location,” explained study co-author Hailong Wang, a cloud physicist at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, Washington.

© 2008-2010 Collected Writings By John Roach