In Print: Don’t Delete! Read This If You Want To Get Rich!
Jul17

In Print: Don’t Delete! Read This If You Want To Get Rich!

The Newscripts blog would like to be closer Internet buddies with our glossy print Newscripts column, so here we highlight what went on in last week's issue of C&EN. Didn't have a chance to attend last weekend's get-rich-quick seminar at your local mall? Never fear, Newscripts is here! Just check out last week's column, written by C&EN Senior Editor Alex Scott, for some helpful tips on how to approach future investments. Worried that your stock portfolio invests too heavily in fossil-fuel companies? Well, you should be, according to a new report by Carbon Tracker Initiative and the London School of Economics & Political Science that finds that more than $674 billion is spent annually on the discovery of fossil fuels. Such an investment is misguided, says the report, given that fossil-fuel consumption will inevitably have to be curtailed in order to prevent irreparable climate-change damage. This fact, however, seems to be lost on energy companies, and their investors, who continue to pump money into the discovery of new fossil fuels. So get-rich-quick tip #1? Avoid overinvesting in fossil-fuel companies. "It seems ridiculous to me that investors have not recognized that in the future it may become socially, and politically, unacceptable to burn fossil fuels and that this risk needs to be factored into their company evaluations," Alex says. As just one example of the risks posed by burning fossil fuels, Alex points to a study published earlier this month that found that air pollution in northern China has decreased life expectancy there by five-and-a-half years. Alex, however, is quick to point out that investments in fossil fuels can be beneficial when combined with a commitment to sustainability. For example, plastics makers can use closed-loop manufacturing systems to turn discarded plastic into new material for their supply chains, he says. In the second part of his column, Alex gives get-rich-quick tip #2: Be on the lookout for microwave-driven Internet. As Alex explains, Perseus Telecom, an e-trade information technology firm, is conducting studies regarding the feasibility of using balloons to transmit microwave signals across the Atlantic Ocean. Such signals would be able to transmit data faster than current fiber-optic infrastructure, providing stock traders with a potential advantage in their fast-paced work environments. There is one big problem with this dream, however: Microwave signals would need to be shepherded across the ocean in order to reach their intended destinations. That's where the balloons come in. Perseus is considering lining up a row of balloons across the Atlantic that will relay these signals to their targets. "Frankly, I think floating balloons in a straight line over the Atlantic sounds silly," Alex says. "It’s the equivalent of...

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C&EN Picks for ACS New Orleans #ACSNOLA
Apr02

C&EN Picks for ACS New Orleans #ACSNOLA

How can chemists mitigate the effects of natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina? What are the latest chemistry mobile apps? And how are emulsions making a difference in medical imaging? Sessions at next week’s ACS National Meeting in New Orleans will be covering those timely topics. Watch all of our picks below. If you’ll be in New Orleans, you can also see these videos in the convention...

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Amusing News Aliquots
Jul20

Amusing News Aliquots

Silly samplings from this week's science news, compiled by Bethany Halford and Lauren Wolf. It would take 100 million Yodas to power the world. Done the math, this guy has. [What If?] When you work at CERN, you might be discovering the Higgs Boson or you might be dodging modern dancers who climb the library’s bookshelves. [Guardian] Putting your best face forward: Some folks analyze pictures of academics on their homepages to see “what these pictures reveal about the way academics see themselves.” [PLoSOne via Annals of Improbable Research] Did you know that there's a horse fly named after Beyonce? 10 species named after celebrities. [BBC News] In recent years gold has become all the rage in catalysis. But let’s consider the more important scientific issue: How much of the stuff can you eat? (Also, we’ve never before heard of the $666 “Douche Burger” in which lobster, caviar, truffles, and a beef patty are wrapped in six sheets of gold leaf.) [Slate] Harvard engineers set to spray sulfate aerosols from a balloon to see whether they can reflect the sun, cool down Earth. Hmm, doesn't this sound like a movie experiment that almost inevitably goes awry? [Guardian]  ...

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Climate Change Schizophrenia
Aug30

Climate Change Schizophrenia

That the discussion of global climate change, even among professional scientists, has become utterly schizophrenic was dramatically demonstrated by a symposium—or was it symposia?—at the Denver meeting sponsored by the Division of Small Chemical Business. The Sunday morning session, entitled “Global Climate Change: What Citizens of the World Need to Know,” featured five prominent climate scientists talking about measurements of how the Earth’s climate is changing and how emissions of greenhouse gases is forcing that change. The afternoon session, entitled “A Critical Look at Global Warming Data: An Examination of Driving Factors in the Wickedly Complex System Called Climate,” featured six speakers whose focus is undermining the data and analyses of scientists like the ones who spoke during the morning session. There was almost no overlap in the audiences. Because of a prior commitment, I was able to attend only the first four of the morning session talks. That was unfortunate because I am very interested in ocean acidification resulting from increased atmospheric CO2, the topic of the fifth talk. Nevertheless, the first four talks built solidly on each other to make the case that humans are dramatically disrupting Earth’s climate. Stanley Manahan, an emeritus chemistry professor at the University of Missouri, published the first edition of the textbook “Environmental Chemistry” in 1972; the ninth edition is now out and Manahan is working on the 10th edition. In his talk, Manahan compared the current debate over climate change to the debate over chlorofluorocarbons and Earth’s stratospheric ozone layer 30 years ago. “Rowland and Molina’s findings on CFCs were ridiculed by some,” Manahan said, but the discovery of the ozone hole over Antarctica in the early 1980s vindicated their ideas and resulted in regulations that eventually banned CFC production and use. Ted A. Scambos, the lead scientist at the National Snow & Ice Data Center at the University of Colorado, Boulder, observed that “the past two decades have seen large changes in the Earth’s cryosphere, especially the Arctic Sea ice and the ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctica.” These changes have been greater than those associated with the ends of previous ice ages, Sambos said. There has been a steady decline in Arctic Sea ice, with 2007 a record breaking year; 2011 “is vying to set a new record,” Sambos said. The difference is that there were a number of exceptional factors contributing to the decline in 2007 that are not factors this year. “What was exceptional not long ago is now becoming the norm,” Sambos said. By 2100, there will be at least three months each year where there will be no Arctic Sea ice, Sambos predictted. “It will...

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Twenty Years of Warming
Nov18

Twenty Years of Warming

This post is part of a series by guest bloggers Anthony Tomaine and Leah Block, senior chemistry students attending the COP16 conference in Cancun under the sponsorship of the ACS Committee on Environmental Improvement. Dr. Richard Lindzen, Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Meteorology at MIT, is one of the most recognized names among climate-change skeptics.  I attended his recent lecture at York College on November 11.  Unfortunately, I found his presentation to be lacking in recent scientific data.  No relevant data was presented from the last ten to twenty years.  When confronted with this fact during the question and answer session, he became irritated and said that the data was statistically insignificant. We hope that the discussion on our blog will be about what scientists know and don’t know about climate change based on scientific data.  Since recent climate change data was not presented during Dr. Lindzen’s lecture, I had to obtain this information from outside sources after his lecture.  The years 1998 and 2005 have been documented to be the warmest years on record.  And, even though 2008 was the coldest year of the decade, it has been shown through models and collecting data that each decade is on a continuous warming trend since the 1970s.  2010 is on track to be the warmest year on record.  This data contradicts what Dr. Lindzen responded to the audience member’s question about the last two decades. During the lecture, Dr. Lindzen seemed to deliberately talk over the heads of the audience.  He barely mentioned rising carbon dioxide.  When one audience member questioned him about the missing Keeling curve in his lecture, he did not even allow the person to finish asking a question, interrupting and stating that it is so well known it didn’t need to be presented. The Keeling curve documents the steady rise of atmospheric carbon dioxide since 1958.  Dr. Lindzen made clear that he believes the environment is changing by a degree or two, but that it cannot be linked to people causing this.  At the start of his lecture, he listed three main topics he would discuss. However, the only point he addressed was the “alarm” associated with the current issue. I emailed him to ask for a copy of his power point to ensure that I present the correct information from his lecture; however, he did not respond back to me.  He had stated at the end of his talk that he would be willing to share his power point with anyone who requested it.   He resembled a politician who did not want to directly answer specific questions.  He merely danced around the current...

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