Roads: helpful here, harmful there

Roads: helpful here, harmful there

Roads are the first insult to pristine natural areas — and a key to agricultural productivity in places where farming makes sense. Here’s a proposal to decide where roads make sense, and where they make mayhem. More »

Mock meat: Fit for grilling?

Mock meat: Fit for grilling?

Soy protein: It may look like meat. Could meat be grown, cell by cell, in lab dishes. Could in vitro meat solve health and environmental problems? More »

Calendars: A fix needed?

Calendars: A fix needed?

A “permanent” calendar could finally answer the annual, “Uh, what day is New Year’s eve this year?” question. This calendar would place each date on a specific day every year, and simplify life for schedulers. But would a permanent calendar be accepted? More »

Flying robots

small robotic, red and white plane on surface of water

Compared to regular airplanes, radio-controlled craft are safer, cheaper, and easier to use for observing wildlife and environmental conditions. Where are these robots being used? What are they finding? And as prices continue to fall, what stands in the way of much broader use? More »

Video surveillance: Who is watching you?

surveillance
London pioneered video surveillance in public, but it’s catching on fast. Many major cities have systems, and more are coming. What do these cameras learn? How do they interact with other sources of data? In this culture of disclosure should we even worry about privacy? More »

Fertilizing the ocean

Fertilizing the ocean

As Earth warms, should we try huge geoengineering projects to cool the climate? Would adding iron to fertilize ocean plants withdraw enough carbon dioxide to slow warming — or backfire? More »

Running short of copper, phosphorus, rare elements

Elements rule! Without phosphorus fertilizer, millions starve. Copper = electricity shortage. And U.S. imports more than 95% of “rare-earth” elements needed for LCDs, cell phones, green energy. Risky? More »

Space Travel: Humans vs. Robots

Bush proposes mission to moon and Mars, but how great are the scientific payoffs of this expensive, risky adventure? Would it be smarter – and cheaper – to send robots? More »