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Smoke on the water

Smoke on the water

Nobody loves disasters more than movie producers. If threats in real life matched their frequency on screen, we should be in a constant state of panic over the risks of alien invasions, zombie viruses and asteroid impacts. Given the film industry’s appetite for catastrophes, it is no surprise that it has finally focused on the greatest environmental disaster in US history: the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico that began with explosions that killed 11 people and sank the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig.  Read more

Prime numbers, black carbon and nanomaterials win 2014 MacArthur ‘genius grants’

Yitang Zhang, a mathematician who recently emerged from obscurity when he partly solved a long-standing puzzle in number theory, is one of the 2014 fellows of the John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.  Read more

IPCC report calls for climate mitigation action now, not later

The world is heading towards possibly dangerous levels of global warming despite increasing efforts to promote the transition to a low-carbon economy, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warns in its latest report today.  Read more

Updated: White House announces Energy Department nominees

President Barack Obama today nominated Franklin “Lynn” Orr, a chemical engineer at Stanford University in California, as under secretary for science at the Department of Energy. Orr’s nomination was accompanied by that of Marc Kastner, a physicist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, to head the department’s office of science.  Read more