Science & Technology

Digital books: greener than real books

Last week brought the unsurprising news that mp3s are more environmentally friendly than physical CDs. I wondered at the time whether the same might be true for digital books: > It’s not clear to me, though, which way the scales tip. Book are not, of course, completely benign. Energy goes into their manufacture, transport, and disposal. Beyond that — and… read more →

McKinsey finds $700 billion lying on the ground

I had hoped to have time by now to actually read the splashy new McKinsey report on the potential for energy efficiency measures to slash the national carbon footprint. But I haven't, so I'm just going to quote from the report's main finding: > Energy efficiency offers a vast, low-cost energy resource for the U.S. economy - but only if… read more →

Automated pizza ovens and horse-drawn hybrids

An Iranian engineer has come up with an unlikely breakthrough in gasoline-free transportation by creating a hybrid automobile that connects an electric drive train -- to a horse. In a design that owes more to the Volt than the Prius, the sporty two-seat Naturmobile uses a pony on a treadmill to recharge a bank of batteries. The only existing prototype… read more →

What does it mean for a car to get 230 miles per gallon?

GM has created a bit of buzz around its claim that the Chevy Volt gets 230 miles to the gallon in city driving. From the internet a great chorus has replied: "This number doesn't make any sense!" And it doesn't. The trouble is, it's not clear what better metric exists for measuring the efficiency of all-electric or plug-in hybrid cars.… read more →

How to have a million-dollar car accident

A wind turbine blade passed me going the other direction on the highway the other day, followed by another one. If you've never seen these things in real life, you're missing out. Hundreds of feet long, the blades are sculpted and architectural and really make you feel like you're looking at The Future. As it turns out, they're also extremely… read more →

Create your own bike lane, for real

This past winter, we (meaning I) wrote about LightLane, a concept design for a lighting system that paints a virtual path around your bike at night to encourage cars to keep a safe distance. The idea caught the internet's imagination, so much so that it's soon going to be a real product: The video is kind of cool, and I… read more →

I drink your milkshake!

Perhaps the thing about climate change that worries me the most are "unknown unknowns" -- those feedback loops and unpredictable shifts in the way the biological and physical worlds function together that could potentially doom an entire ecosystem. The analogy of a plane has been used to describe biodiversity loss, for example, where each species represents a rivet in the… read more →

Desert dust helps lower ocean temps

Sea levels continue to rise, and not just because of melting ice caps, but also because warmer global temperatures cause thermal expansion. The rise in temperature would be even greater if not for dust and aerosols in the atmosphere that deflect some of the sun's heat. Scientists don't have a great understanding of exactly how important this dust effect is.… read more →

Can Twitter help us to save energy at home?

There's a house that tweets all of it's energy usage. And that's really just the beginning of the information it dumps onto Twitter every day. Even the mousetraps are wired into the matrix... Residential energy use accounts for a little over 20% of US energy consumption and therefore represents a great opportunity for savings and efficiency. It's no wonder then… read more →

Efficient incandescent light bulbs: available now

Just a few weeks ago I wrote about the technological advances being made with regular old incandescent light bulbs. What do you know, they're already on the market. Head over to to stock up on Philips Halogena Energy Saver light bulbs in a variety of wattages and configurations. Some caveats: * the bulbs are about 30% more efficient than… read more →
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