The industrial revolution of the 18th century and the impending hydrogen economy of the 21st century might share a common trait: using coal for a fuel. More than ever, scientists and politicians alike are touting hydrogen as a future replacement for oil. In his 2003 State of the Union address, President George W. Bush announced $1.2 billion in research funding for hydrogen automobiles. This April, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger laid out his plans for a "hydrogen highway" system in the state by 2010. However, hydrogen is an energy carrier and not a primary source of energy like oil; it must first be made in a process requiring energy. So where will the hydrogen come from?
Anyone who has sat through a boring meeting knows that five minutes can seem like an hour. Yet, time can seem to fly by when you are working hard on a project for a deadline. These two experiences are both related to psychological time measurements, which researchers have studied since the beginning of experimental psychology. Over time, scientists have shown that internal time-keeping is far from absolute.
When most people think of climate change, one word comes to mind: slow. But, abrupt climate change made headlines in February when the Pentagon released a report commissioned by senior official Andrew Marshall, director of the Office of Net Assessment. The report detailed a hypothetical situation in which abrupt climate change wreaks havoc on nations worldwide.
A small fraction of a tiny existence in an ancient universe: that's how long we've actively listened for a very special signal. One type of signal out of perhaps infinite possible signals in a seemingly endless sky: those are the odds that are stacked against us. Is it worth it?
On the night of January 23, 2004, Jay McNeil was in his backyard in Kentucky staring at the stars with his small telescope, as he had each night for years. While he watched, the patch of sky right next to the well-known gas cloud Messier 78 suddenly flared. McNeil, an amateur astronomer, had witnessed the birth of a star, a sight recorded by only two astronomers during the past century.