Earth and Energy - New Discoveries, Research, Studies And Breakthroughs

Curious to find out about recent discoveries and breakthroughs related to the earth, our atmosphere, the oceans and our universe?   Interested in the latest research findings on the development and conservation of energy and our natural resources?  Take a look here for the latest news and updates on our earth, the environment and all of its resources.

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Quantum Dots Will Turn Your Windows Into A Power Supply

Imagine installing an air conditioner that won’t send your summertime power bills skyrocketing. That’s the promise of new quantum dot infused windows. These tiny specks of semiconductor will enable windows to capture solar energy and generate clean power while remaining perfectly transparent. Scientists call them a “game-changer” in the future of sustainable cities.


Oil-Contaminated Soil Finds New Fertility

Oil spills are unfortunately a fact of life in our industrialized world. Until we find a renewable resource that can fulfill our energy demands, the transportation of oil and other petroleum products is a requisite and no method is entirely foolproof. Scientists at Rice University have addressed this problem by developing a new technique that not only rids contaminated soil of oil, but restores its fertility. Salad anyone?

Finally A Practical Way To Harvest Energy From Our Oceans

Deriving power from the movement of the tides has long been considered a target for alternative energy strategists; however, the technology derived so far has been largely impractical to implement in the vast majority of coastal areas. Now a new UK company, in conjunction with Oxford University has approached the challenge in a fresh way and may just have brought tidal energy into the mainstream.

Could Plastic Roads Be A Sustainable Alternative?

While we generally associate plastics with the untenable generation of material waste, this need not necessarily be the case. Dutch consortium VolkerWessels hopes to demonstrate that building plastic roads may in fact be a more environmentally friendly option for our transportation infrastructure.

Plane Flies From Japan To Hawaii Without Carrying Any Fuel

Swiss aviators Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg are flying around the world in a plane using only solar power, and they have just completed the most challenging leg of the journey. The 4,480 mile trip over the Pacific Ocean required 117 hours and 52 minutes of flying time and broke records in both distance and duration of solar-powered flight.

An Unexpected New Source Of Sustainable Energy: Humidity

Scientists at Columbia University have shown that changes in atmospheric humidity can actually be used to generate minor amounts of electricity – enough to power small gadgets like children’s toys or environmental sensors. The system relies on bacterial spores that swell and shrink in response to changes in moisture. Adhering these spores to a polymer sheet produces what amounts to an artificial muscle that expands and contracts, much like animal muscle, as the moisture in its environment is cycled.


How Do You Contain A Material So Hot It Vaporizes Everything It Touches?

That question is one of the major challenges facing proponents of fusion energy. Fusion power generation attempts to mimic the processes occurring in center of stars by heating atoms to incredibly high temperatures and pressures such that they slam together with enough force to fuse, thereby releasing energy. The problem is that the temperature required to achieve such a reaction is on the order of 150 million degrees Celsius, ten times hotter than the center of the sun and a heat level that no material on Earth can withstand.

Superhydrophobic Surfaces Make Cleaning A Task Of The Past

Have you ever seen a drop of water strike a lotus leaf? It immediately beads up and runs off, taking any dirt particles with it. This self-cleaning functionality is known as the Lotus Effect and is a coveted property for many man-made materials as well. Recently, scientists have reported a new manufacturing technique that allows glass surfaces to be easily endowed with this function. Solar panels are just one example of a technology that will greatly benefit from this discovery.

Much Buzz About Timberland, Pharrell Williams and Bee-Inspired Boots

Boot giant, Timberland and music mogul, Pharrell Williams, have collaborated on the creation of boots inspired by bees. These cool boots are comprised of eco-friendly textiles and recycled plastic bottles. Read on to learn more about this amazng innovative footwear.

Geoengineering Might Be The Last Chance For Coral Reefs

We are all aware of many of the myriad effects of climate change – higher temperatures, rising sea levels, more extreme weather events, but coral bleaching has tended to escape notice despite being one of the most acute problems facing our oceans right now. New research resulting from a worldwide collaboration suggests that we have reached a tipping point and a geoengineering technique called Solar Radiation Management may be the only way to save coral reefs from mass bleaching.