How Cold Can It Go?

Here we are in global warming but there are still places that can be outright cold. Antarctica, of course, comes to mind as well as Siberia. The lowest recorded air temperature on Earth was a measurement of −89.2C (-128.6 F) made at Vostok station, Antarctica, at 0245 UT on 21 July 1983. What could have caused it? What sort of freak weather pattern made it so frigid?

Tom’s of Maine: 40 Years of Success and Innovation

With all the talk and shtick over "green" products, it’s easy to forgot that Tom's of Maine has long been a leader in natural consumer products and sustainable business practices. Started in 1970 with a $5000 loan, the company's products now take shelf space at 40,000 retail outlets, including Trader Joe's and Whole Foods. From its beginnings, with its groovy ClearLake Laundry Detergent, Tom's has still shown product innovation, most recently with its new line of toothpaste. Colgate-Palmolive bought 84% of the company in 2006, but one important stipulation of the deal allowed Tom's of Maine to continue its good-for-the-earth business practices without interference from above.

Calm U.S. Gulf weather aids spill fight

Oil spill workers raced against time in the Gulf of Mexico, hoping to seize on at least one more day of calm in their fight to contain a huge and growing slick before winds turn against them. Cleanup crews along the U.S. shore have had a few days' reprieve as the slow-moving slick, from oil spewing from a damaged deep-water well, remained parked in waters that for now are placid. "The winds are helpful to us, but on Thursday they begin to be less helpful," Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal said in New Orleans.

Mount St. Helens’ Aftermath

A volcano erupts and the world seems to end. What happens afterwards? May 18 marks the 30th anniversary of the eruption of Mount St. Helens in Washington state and scientists to this day use what's being learned there to challenge established thinking about how landscapes evolve and rebound.

New EPA Regulations Target Mercury and Other Toxic Emissions from Boilers and Solid Waste Incinerators

The US Environmental Protection Agengy (EPA) is currently issuing a new proposal to cut mercury emissions by more than half as well as other pollutants from boilers, process heaters, and solid waste incinerators. Toxic air emissions have been shown to cause cancer and other serious health problems for affected people. The main purpose of this proposal would be to reduce health and environmental risk in a cost-effective way. The EPA estimates that the new rules would yield more than $5 in health savings for every dollar spent in implementing the rules.

New State-by-State Wind Power Data Helps Build a Green Grid

New wind resource maps and wind potential tables for the lower 48 states were recently released by AWS Truewind in collaboration with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). This new data marks the first state-by-state comprehensive update of wind energy potential since 1993. Accurate information about the wind resources available in each state will help keep the momentum in wind energy development going strong in 2010. If state and federal policies need valid evidence of wind potential to promote this clean energy source, then that data has arrived.

BP fights oil spill with welding torches, cash

BP Plc sought to stem the damage from a giant oil slick in the Gulf of Mexico with technology, welding torches and money on Tuesday as crude kept spewing from an offshore oil well deep in the Gulf of Mexico that ruptured almost two weeks ago. The British oil company, under pressure from Washington to limit the damage, said it will try containing the crude with a massive metal, funnel-like structure. BP said it has offered the Gulf Coast states whose shores could be soiled with oil millions of dollars to move forward with recovery projects. The looming ecological and economic disaster has started to fuel high-level opposition to the Obama administration's push to open more waters to offshore drilling to bolster energy security. The White House has said the spill could force President Barack Obama to rethink plans to open more waters.

MERLEFEST 2010, big success, lots of fun!

While MerleFest 2010, presented by Lowe's, is now officially another one for the history books, initial figures show that aggregate attendance over the festival's four days exceeded 76,000 people, who attended the celebration of "traditional plus" music on the campus of Wilkes Community College from Thursday, April 29 to Sunday, May 2. MerleFest is the primary fund-raiser for the college and funds scholarships, capital projects and other educational needs. A diverse and fully loaded schedule of artists as well as an unusual rain-free four days, encouraged attendance. Thursday’s attendance was the highest in the festival's history, and the remaining days are estimated to be in the top three of festival history. Festival officials are also proud to announce that a goal set at the close of the 2009 event, to reverse the trend of unpaid tickets comprising a greater percentage of total attendance, has been met. "What a weekend this has been!" exclaimed festival director Ted Hagaman. "With over 100 artists playing on 15 stages, representing everything from bluegrass and blues, to gospel, country and Americana, we feel that we succeeded again in giving our festival guests a great value for their entertainment dollars. We deeply appreciate the support of the great folks of Wilkes County, everyone who works here at the college, and of course our volunteers and fans, for making this all possible."

Fishing off the Coast of Louisana

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is restricting fishing for a minimum of ten days in federal waters most affected by the BP oil spill, largely between Louisiana state waters at the mouth of the Mississippi River to waters off Florida’s Pensacola Bay. The closure is effective immediately. The off shore fisheries provide food and a number of jobs. The questions of testing and monitoring seafood quality will be watched carefully by NOAA, local state agencies and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

How the Human Brain Recognizes Language

It is a major part of what separates us from the animals, the ability to verbalize our thoughts and understand the verbalizations of others. However, this evolutionary miracle is not exclusive to human beings – other species like dolphins and birds communicate regularly. Humans, however, have taken communication to such an advanced degree that we can verbalize even the most minute detail, and our brains are wired to understand them. Not only are we capable of multiple languages, we also have the capacity for non-verbal sign language. In fact, a recent study out of the University of Rochester focusing on sign language has reached a new conclusion on how the brain is wired for language.