Breakthrough in Solar Cell Efficiency

The EETimes is reporting that there has been a major breakthrough in the efficiency of solar cells. Up until now, solar cells have only operated at between 12-18% efficient. Through a grant from the DOE, Boeing-Spectrolab has managed to over double or triple that to 40.7% efficiency. That’s pretty impressive. This means solar cells can be deployed in more and more areas. I know that in WV, solar power doesn’t really work well. Maybe these new cells can change that.

Redrawing the Map of Ancient Earth

I saw this MSNBC article and thought it would be great to highlight for the last day of Geography Awareness Week,since we hadn’t done too much on Physical Geography. Apparently geologists have identified a piece of the Appalachian Mountains in Mexico, in an outcropping of rock known as the Acatlan Complex. The Appalachian chain of mountains runs through the eastern part of the United States, and the new discovery is changing theories about how and when the Appalachians were formed and, more generally, what that means for what the Earth looked like about 420 million years ago.

How do you want your geospatial weather data

The National Weather Service is seeking input on its geospatial data services, and would like you to offer comments here. They recognize that “While most NWS information is geospatial in nature, the NWS does not yet systematically provide that information in GIS-ready formats.” They are looking for input on what types of weather data, geospatial formats, standards, etc.

If you have a few minutes, and you are a regular user of weather data, head over to their website and let them know what you think.

Via GISuser

‘The World’ Video

I know that Dubai’s newest artificial islands ‘The World’ made a round of the blogs including a mention on the podcast a while ago, but I had not seen this GREAT promotional video until tonight. Take a minute to check the ingenuity/insanity that is The World in this WMV video.

The World Video

$3billion For Global Warming

Sir Richard Branson has promised all profits from his travel companies to combat global warming. The anouncement was made at former President Clinton’s Global Initiative. The money is supposed to be used to fund more efficent fuel technologies, which sorta makes sense for travel company profits. That’s a heck of an expensive gauntlet to throw down for global warming. Here’s hoping the “investment” reaps rewards for us all.

Breathing Earth

Breathing Earth is a website which displays near real-time data on birth and death rates around the world on a map interface that also shows carbon emission rates. Their data is taken from UN and World Factbook figures available through Wikipedia, although not necessarily the most recent (the carbon dioxide emission rates were from 2002, for example). You can watch the changing display, or you can mouse over individual countries to see their stats.

It’s a compelling visualization of the way countries impact the earth’s environment, as least in terms of carbon dioxide emissions that contribute to global warming.

Via Tech_Space

Al Gore’s new idea to combat global warming – Tax carbon emissions

In a speech yesterday at the New York University School of Law, Al Gore argued that one way to compel employers to cut greenhouse gas emissions would be to assess a carbon emission tax, instead of collecting payroll taxes. THree-quarters of the votes in the very informal poll on the MSNBC site thought that the idea was brilliant, and I have to say, it’s pretty original. Unfortunately, in the current US political climate, I can’t imagine something like that ever actually being implemented.

Via MSNBC

Japan Gets Nationwide Earthquake Detector

This spring, Japan will launch the first nation wide earthquake detector in the world. The system basically senses pre-major quake waves and gives a warning the big one is coming. As the article states, and I had no idea about, earthquakes are a BIG deal in Japan – they get 20 percent of all the really big quakes in the world. Of course, it isn’t like the Japanese will have days to prepare for a quake, since the sensors and early warning system only give 30 seconds warning. Still, I’d rather have 30 seconds before the walls come down than nothing at all.

Smithsonian offering Advanced Course on Conservation GIS

For those of you interested in using GIS and remote sensing in conservation-related activities, the Smithsonian National Zoological Park’s Conservation and Research Center is offering a week-long advanced GIS and remote sensing course from Sept. 11-15th at their facility in Virginia. They still have some slots left, and this would be a really good chance for people to learn about specific applications and issues related to Conservation GIS. The price is $1300, but does include lodging and breakfast.

Via GISUser

Back to the Future!

Yeah, it’s 80’s movie reference day around here (at least for me). Some scientists down under have decided to see if they can figure out what global warming is really doing… by creating a “climatic time machine“. The idea is to artificially induce years or even decades worth of climate change on a mini-ecosystem, in this case individual plants in the eucalypt forests. While apparently this work is being done in the the Northern Hemisphere, this is the first of its kind in the Southern. Their results should be pretty interesting after they’ve had some time to climate age the subjects.