February 2010

I expected Alun Anderson’s After the Ice: Life, Death, and Geopolitics in the New Arctic to mostly contain information I had seen elsewhere. In fact, it is chock full of novel and interesting details on everything from marine food webs to international law to oil field development plans. I read the first 200 pages in […]

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Now that some figures are on their website, it is possible to comment a bit more meaningfully on Bloom Energy (beyond noting that they can attract a lot of heavyweights to their press events). They seem to have deployed 3 megawatts of fuel cells in seven installations. That’s twice as much power as is provided […]

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Despite moderate potential, wave power is one form of renewable energy that hasn’t really gotten off the ground yet. One project in Cornwall is helping to change that. Wave Hub will test four different kinds of equipment for converting wave energy into electricity, producing 20 megawatts of power in the process. The equipment will be […]

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Back in 2007, I put up a post listing my five favourite books of the year. Somehow, I missed 2008. Despite that, I am still happy to assert that the 2007 list includes some of the best books I have ever read. Among the books I read in 2009, these are the five I most […]

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Enceladus, one of Saturn’s moons, has geysers erupting water into space. The Cassini–Huygens spacecraft has taken some neat photos of the whole thing. The Cassini–Huygens spacecraft itself is pretty interesting. It runs on three plutonium-powered radioisotope thermoelectric generators (RTGs). It flew past Venus twice to steal some momentum from the planet. It observed atmospheric circulation […]

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It’s nice to see the initiators of a frivolous or abusive lawsuit get their comeuppance. In this case, I am referring to the failed attempt by MagicJack to silence criticism through a strategic lawsuit against public participation (SLAPP) against BoingBoing and blogger Rob Beschizza. Too often, faced by the high costs of going to court […]

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My friend Antonia sent me a nice article by Jeffrey Sachs, describing what today’s most prominent climate change deniers were doing, before they took up this cause: Today’s campaigners against action on climate change are in many cases backed by the same lobbies, individuals, and organisations that sided with the tobacco industry to discredit the […]

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This may strike some people as abstract, but perhaps it will be of interest to someone. Assume, to start with, that climate change is a major threat to humanity and that concerted global effort is required to deal with it. In that case, I see two possibilities: If all of humanity and all human knowledge […]

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The funniest videos to watch backwards are those in which entropy increases a lot: things like explosions and toppling dominoes, where it is completely obvious that the order of the video frames has been reversed. By contrast, something like a bouncing ball is pretty boring to watch backwards. Tom Stoppard’s play Arcadia features some good […]

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I had no idea that opposition to Medicare was so vociferous in Saskatchewan, when Tommy Douglas and the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF) party introduced it in 1962: “The city’s residents had been whipped into a near-hysteria by the doctors’ anti-medicare campaign,” Margoshes writes, adding, “There were graffiti threats on city walls and calls in the […]

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