Does geoengineering add up?

If you really want to go down the “technological fix” route with respect to climate change, which proposed schemes for cooling the planet offer the most bang? A new study by Tim Lenton and Naomi Vaughan at the University of East Anglia seeks to answer that question by looking at the various options on offer in terms of pure energy — how many watts per square metre of warming can they counteract?  Read more

Paul Krugman — Nobel prizewinner

Paul Krugman of Princeton University (and the New York Times) has been awarded the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences for his work on trade and geography (pdf of the basis for the decision). Among other interesting things, I think this is the first time that a Nobel (or as near as dammit) has been awarded to an active blogger.

Living in the past

To celebrate its tenth birthday, Google is offering the opportunity to search its earliest archived index (which is from 2001, not 1998), together with links to pages on the Internet Archive. Obvious but worth-noting points; Wikipedia wasn’t in the topslot for pretty much every search, and the ratio of academic to media and corporate sites was a lot higher.

How many astronauts does it take to change a light bulb?

None, because the International Space Station don’t have any spares on board. But they sure could use some. The Mainichi Daily News reports that almost half the fluorescent lamps on Kibo, the Japanese module on the station, have burned out.

As of Friday last week, only one of the four lamps in the storage room and 11 of the 17 in the main experimentation room were working.

Mini-Maunder minimum

Mini-Maunder minimum

Physorg carries a NASA story pointing to an abnormal dearth of sunspots. As of Sept. 27, 2008, the sun had been blank, i.e., had no visible sunspots, on 200 days of the year. To find a year with more blank suns, you have to go back to 1954, three years before the launch of Sputnik, when the sun was blank 241 times. People with a keen interest in possible links between the sun and the climate (which is not entirely a subset of people-who-want-you-not-to-worry-about-fossil-fuels — but it’s close) will be getting excited: the most striking evidence for a sun-climate link  … Read more

The greening of the Fall

Posted on behalf of Anna Petherick And now for something you may not see again for a long time: some cheery financial news. Cash is flowing into spritely clean technology companies like never before, according to a new report by Greentech Media, which has been reported on the outlet’s website and circulated on Businesswire. It claims that venture capitalists backed green firms with $2.8 billion during the third quarter, clobbering the record they set last quarter ($1.3 billion). Three quarters of the way through 2008 the year’s total investment in the sector is 49.7% more than the end of year  … Read more

LHC update

As of Saturday morning, the situation in Geneva is looking a touch grim: according to the CERN press release repairs to the LHC after Friday’s accident will require two months or so of downtime, which given that the machine is expected to shut down in December for a winter break anyway means that proton-proton collisions may be off the menu until 2009.  Read more

“Nature unhinged”

"Nature unhinged"

M. Night Shyamalan’s new film, “The Happening” (movie site | IMDB ), opens this weekend: the reviewers are not being kind. It is apparently an ecological fable in which nature (the concept, not the journal) starts killing people – a bit like the lift in “De Lift”, but, you know, everywhere. Trees are reportedly the ringleaders. In the Guardian, Peter Bradshaw breaks into his panning of the film (“abysmal acting, terrible direction, muddled script … decisively the wrong side of the laugh-with/laugh-at divide.”) to add extra demerits for its use of science.

Bye bye blackbird

Bye bye blackbird

The British press has leapt on a story about a new family tree of birds (Times | BBC | Google )

All sounds very jolly, but this family tree is actually a doomsayer, used to predict the decline of beloved British birds. On the basis of their analysis, published in Proceedings of the Royal Society, researchers from Imperial College say the blackbird may soon be a species under threat (paper | press release).