May 3, 2012 |
Don't look to the heavens for signs of apocalyptic prophecies coming true. But over the next month, the skies will offer several interesting sights, including a solar eclipse and a rare view of Venus crossing the sun. Only one sight, though, will be easy to view here. ( Weather-permitting , of course.) That's Saturday night's so-called "super moon," which will rise shortly before 8 p.m. While it's near the horizon will be the ideal time for viewing, says Franklin Institute astronomer Derrick Pitts.
April 20, 2012 |
Celebrate Earth Day on Sunday at the National Constitution Center and learn how you can go green. From noon to 5 p.m., guests can learn how to become active citizens working for a better environment. You can take the "It Is Easy Being Green" quiz and see how much you know about living an eco-friendly life, and learn about environmental trailblazers such as Lady Bird Johnson. At 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m., guests can do the math by calculating the founding fathers' carbon footprint to see how environmentally friendly Philadelphia was during Revolutionary times.
April 20, 2012 |
FUNNY THING about the lists of "helpful planet-saving tips" that show up as Earth Day (Sunday) approaches: They rarely include, much less spotlight, the daily action that could have the most impact: cutting down your meat and dairy consumption. The United Nations has repeatedly stated that we must drastically change our eating patterns, given that somewhere from 18 percent (if you credit the U.N.'s Food and Agriculture Organization 2006 estimate) to 51 percent (Worldwatch Institute's estimate, 2009)
April 6, 2012 |
Would you live in a house made of dirt? The answer, I'm guessing, is no. As a building material, dirt has an image problem. Mud dwellings are practically synonymous with third-world poverty. At best, an earth structure is something you expect to encounter in an old hippie compound. Yet some of the world's most magnificent structures are made of little more than dirt and water, from New Mexico's pueblos to the great Djinguereber mosque in Timbuktu. Now, thanks to the effort of several committed architects, dirt is making a comeback, this time as the material of choice for modern buildings, including multistory ones.
April 1, 2012 |
SYDNEY - Sydney's iconic Harbor Bridge and Opera House went dark on Saturday as Australians switched off lights around the country for an hour as part of a global effort to shine a spotlight on climate change. Hundreds of landmarks around the world including Washington's National Cathedral, London's Clock Tower, the Great Wall of China, and Berlin's Brandenburg Gate were being dimmed at 8:30 p.m. local time. The central Sydney icons have been taking part in the annual event since Earth Hour began as a Sydney-only event in 2007.
March 23, 2012 |
BEIRUT, Lebanon - As world leaders close ranks against Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad, President Obama summed up the popular wisdom during a recent White House news conference: "Ultimately, this dictator will fall. " That prediction may be premature. Regime forces have retaken the major opposition strongholds, the rebels are low on money and guns, and the United Nations has ruled out any military intervention of the type that tipped the scales against Libya's Moammar Gadhafi.
March 20, 2012 |
AUSTIN, Texas - What's the future of the music business? During the last week at the South by Southwest Music & Media Conference, that question was pondered over bites of barbecue and swigs of Shiner Bock. The answer, the industry types figured, had something to do with the cloud, and online streaming music services like Spotify, and making the right deals to build your band into a brand. And with that question settled (or not), everybody took to the streets to hear some music.
March 19, 2012 |
You didn't need to be a solar physicist to be riveted by the "solar storm" that sent a blast of charged particles our way this month. That particular flare-up fizzled, but in the long term, the sun's temper is worthy of our attention. Our sun changes, and living things adapt or die. Our planet circled a very different star when life first emerged on Earth some four billion years ago. The sun was dimmer and cooler, but more violent, sending deadly blasts of X-rays as well as particles that would have lit up the skies with spectacular auroras.
March 15, 2012
STRANGE THINGS often start happening soon after hydraulic fracturing for natural gas - known as "fracking" - comes to an area. Drinking water become undrinkable (Wyoming, among other places) or erupts into flames (Pennsylvania). And places not known to have earthquakes suddenly start to feel tremors, including Arkansas, Colorado, Oklahoma - and our neighbor, Ohio. Why should we be surprised that forcing great amounts of water and chemicals into the earth - and then disposing of the wastewater by using high pressure to inject it deep into underground wells - might possibly affect the environment?
March 13, 2012
F. Sherwood Rowland, 84, the Nobel Prize-winning chemist who sounded the alarm on the thinning of the Earth's ozone layer and crusaded against the use of man-made chemicals that were harming Earth's atmospheric blanket, has died. He died Saturday at his home in Corona del Mar of complications from Parkinson's disease, the dean of the physical sciences department at the University of California, Irvine, said Sunday. Mr. Rowland was among three scientists awarded the 1995 Nobel Prize for chemistry for explaining how the ozone is formed and decomposed through chemical processes in the atmosphere.