Planes could give tobacco the thumbs up

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Don’t expected to see the “smoking permitted” light to flash the next time you fly.

But Boeing does hope to make tobacco part of regular flights.

The aircraft manufacturer is working on biofuel experiments. A new type of tobacco seeds may provide the jet fuel of the future, Smithsonian Magazine reports.

The plant, which is being grown in South Africa, produces oily, nicotine-less seeds that can be converted into aviation biofuel,  according to SkyNRG, the company that’s working with Boeing and several airlines, including Air Canada, Qantas and KLM.

Read more here and here.

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Birds too close to solar power plant burst into flames

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We’ve seen the dangers of wind turbines for golden eagles and humans, but now it turns out even solar power can pose hazards for birds.

A huge new solar power plant in the Mojave Desert is attracting birds to their doom, reports the Riverside, Calif., Press Enterprise, which obtained a confidential federal report on the problem through the Freedom of Information Act. Continue reading

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Surveillance video: Is nation’s power grid at risk?

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In an effort to catch the shooter, the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office posted on YouTube surveillance video taken at a PG&E substation in Northern California about 1:00 a.m. on April 16, 2013. Bullets hit the fence, causing sparks, which can be seen at minutes: 1:542:072:102:57 and 3:01.

It wasn’t a cyber attack. And it doesn’t appear to be the work of vandals. A congressman fears that it was a “military-style” raid. To the nation’s electric grid regulator, it was nothing less than “domestic terrorism.”

What we know is this: In April last year, several transformers at a power substation in Silicon Valley were targeted. Fiber cables were cut. More than 100 rounds were fired from a high-powered rifle. Who was behind the attack and why the shooter(s) did it remain a mystery.

Seventeen transformers were taken offline, The Wall Street Journal reports, delving into the attack that has stumped experts.  Continue reading

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Meet ‘The Frackers’

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A few “unlikely, ambitious and headstrong wildcatters” made the energy revolution happen, Wall Street Journal reporter Gregory Zuckerman writes in The Frackers, despite naysayers such as Alan Greenspan (who warned that the nation’s gas fields were running dry), Warren Buffet (whose investments presumed a dearth of natural gas) and Vladimir Putin (who predicted a Russian gas monopoly). Continue reading

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