Image of the Day: Are We Alone?


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This gorgeous island universe  begs the question: "are we alone?" With an estimated 100 billion galaxies in the Universe, we think not. Well, perhaps in the Milky Way; but, again, we think not. NGC 7331, 50 million light-years distant in the northern constellation Pegasus, is often touted as a twin spiral analog to our Galaxy. NGC 7331 was recognized early on as a spiral nebula and is actually one of the brighter galaxies not included in Charles Messier's famous 18th century catalog. 

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Has Missing Dark Matter of the Universe Finally Been Detected?

Dark-matter_big A scientific system buried deep below the Earth, constructed of ultrapure materials held hovering over absolute zero, has finally stirred.  This isn't an attack by misbegotten monsters but an encouraging clue to the main mystery of the universe: dark matter.

The kind of matter with which we are familiar -- atoms and molecules, and indeed every particle we have ever created in a laboratory known as baryonic-- only makes up about 5% of the universe. Another 25% is dark matter, a kind of particle that is massive and weakly interacting. The remaining 70% is dark energy, which is not even a particle -- it's a smoothly-distributed energy field that remains persistent in density even as the universe expands. The ongoing effort to understand dark matter and dark energy is the most important task of twenty-first century cosmology.

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Hot Flat & Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution & How the U.S. Can Lead It -A Video

168207552_b0ea603d09 The best chapter in New York Times reporter Thomas L. Friedman's new book, Hot, Flat and Crowded, traces the correlation between the price of oil and the pace of freedom in petroleum- producing states between 1975 and 2005. When prices went up, freedom went down in places such as Iran, Russia and Nigeria.

"America's problem," Friedman writes, "is that it has lost its way in recent years,'' he says. Earth's problem is that it's getting ``hot, flat and crowded. That is, global warming, the stunning rise of middle classes all over the world, and rapid population growth have converged in a way that could make our planet dangerously unstable.''

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Electric Cars Driving the Pols at Democratic Convention

Wkec_flye2r_4 The Democratic Convention is showcasing not only our most probable future president, it's also showcasing our most probable future mode of transportation: the electric car. Ten electric vehicles, including the Tesla Roadster, Toyota RAV4 EV, AC Propulsion eBox and a plug-in Toyota Prius will be featured, giving rides to policy makers and the public in order to emphasize the desire of electric cars for the average commuter and show that EVs are a very real solution to the current energy and climate crisis.


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Nano-Solar Power -Will it Be the Next Revolutionary Technology?

Sun7_2Nanotech has fueled the imaginations of science-fictioners for years, with world-changing and ending inventions in equal measure.  But the real strength of this molecular machinery is how it can upgrade existing concepts, and this time it's solar power's turn.  Two trendy technologies and one potentially revolutionary application.

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MIT Scientists Mimic Plants' Energy Storage System -Discovery to Unleash Solar Revolution

Sunlight Sunlight has the greatest potential of any power source to solve the world's energy problems. In one hour, enough sunlight strikes the Earth to provide the entire planet's energy needs for one year.

Daniel Nocera, Henry Dreyfus Professor of Energy at MIT

In a revolutionary discovery that could transform solar power from a marginal, boutique alternative into a mainstream energy source, MIT researchers have overcome a major barrier to large-scale solar power: storing energy for use when the sun doesn't shine.

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"The Challenge of our Lifetime": 100% of Our Electricity from Renewable Energy & Clean Carbon-free Sources in 10 Years

Gore_2 Won't it be great when we finally have a president who can call on our better angels and commit the U.S. to solar, wind and geothermal power? In a speech yesterday in Washington, D.C., Gore called politics the biggest barrier to change and referred to the call for more drilling as a means to lowering gas prices “perverse,” because it will take too long and increased production will never keep up with demand, thus prices are unlikely to go down.

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MIT "Windows" -Scientists Create a Solar Concentrator to Help Power Buildings They are Part Of

1366364791_679161bb79 MIT technologists have invented a new approach to harnessing the sun's energy that could allow windows to provide not only a clear view and illuminate rooms, but also use sunlight to efficiently help power the building they are part of.

The innovation involves the creation of a novel "solar concentrator." "Light is collected over a large area and gathered, or concentrated, at the edges," explains Marc A. Baldo, leader of the work and the Esther and Harold E. Edgerton Career Development Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering.

As a result, rather than covering a roof with expensive solar cells (the semiconductor devices that transform sunlight into electricity), the cells only need to be around the edges of a flat glass panel. In addition, the focused light increases the electrical power obtained from each solar cell "by a factor of over 40," Baldo says.

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