Science and the Environment

13.7: Cosmos And Culture
8:53 am
Wed September 3, 2014

The Challenge Of Betting On A Scientific Idea

A view of the Large Hadron Collider in its tunnel at CERN in Switzerland.
Martial Trezzini AP

Originally published on Wed September 3, 2014 9:43 am

Given that science is believed to be about certainty, betting on a scientific idea sounds like an oxymoron.

Yet scientists bet on ideas all the time, even if mostly for jest. Of course, this only makes sense before we have any data pointing toward the correctness of the disputed hypothesis.

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Science
4:21 pm
Mon August 18, 2014

How Long Do CDs Last? It Depends, But Definitely Not Forever

Many institutions have their archives stored on CDs — but the discs aren't as stable as once thought. There is no average life span for a CD, says preservationist Michele Youket, "because there is no average disc."
Sarah Tilotta NPR

Originally published on Tue August 19, 2014 7:27 am

Back in the 1990s, historical societies, museums and symphonies across the country began transferring all kinds of information onto what was thought to be a very durable medium: the compact disc.

Now, preservationists are worried that a lot of key information stored on CDs — from sound recordings to public records — is going to disappear. Some of those little silver discs are degrading, and researchers at the Library of Congress are trying to figure out why.

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Water
11:40 am
Wed July 30, 2014

Four Guys and a Boat Tackle a Texas-Sized Water Problem

Workers cut open bags of WaterSavr, an evaporation suppressant, to apply the powder to Lake Arrowhead. WaterSavr's manufacturers claim it will save 30 percent of water that would have otherwise evaporated from the reservoir.
Neena Satija

Originally published on Wed July 30, 2014 8:41 am

As the sun rose on Lake Arrowhead late last week, four guys on a motorboat armed with 5,739 pounds of white powder set out to tackle one of Texas' most vexing water problems — evaporation from surface reservoirs. Last year, evaporation cost the state 2 trillion gallons of water, and it has been eliminating as much as 40 million gallons of water a day from drought-stricken Wichita Falls' supply this summer.

The four men, who work for a company called Flexible Solutions, were applying WaterSavr to Lake Arrowhead. The company claims that its product will save the city hundreds of millions of gallons of water by preventing evaporation. At a cost of $400,000 for the product and labor, the city is hoping the experiment, the first of its size in the nation, will work. And the rest of parched Texas is watching. But there are plenty of skeptics.

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Science and the Environment
5:27 pm
Tue July 29, 2014

4 Ways Texas Could Win Big Under New Climate Change Rules

Under the proposed regulations, coal power plants like this one will become a thing of the past.
Jonathan Warner/Flickr

Originally published on Tue July 29, 2014 3:26 pm

Earlier this year, the earth hit a frightening milestone: carbon dioxide in the atmosphere reached its highest level since humans have inhabited the earth. The last time there was this much carbon on the planet was nearly a million years ago.

As the heat-trapping gas proliferates, the world warms, and the climate effects domino: droughts intensify, floods increase, ice melts and seas rise. The question now isn't whether human activity is changing the global climate; the question is what to do about it.

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Dinosaurs
5:24 pm
Tue July 29, 2014

Scientists: Asteroid Caught Dinosaurs At A Bad Time

flickr.com/mcdlttx/

A team of geologists and paleontologists has agreed on an issue that you might have not realized was still in question: an asteroid, and the fallout from its impact, killed the dinosaurs. Some dinosaur experts were holding out on blaming the asteroid, saying that dinosaurs were already on their way out. The scientists say they're getting a better understanding of the "tempo" of dinosaur extinction.


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