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Engineering the Earth to Fight Climate Change

by Katie Dagon Imagine if we had an “undo” button for climate change – we could remove all the greenhouse gases from the air or cool the planet’s temperature in an instant. While this might sound like science fiction, the basic idea is not as far off as you might think. Reducing fossil fuel use is really important, but also really difficult. And even if … Continue reading Engineering the Earth to Fight Climate Change

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Solid-oxide Fuel Cells: Using familiar fuel in a new way

by Michael R. Gerhardt Our climate is rapidly changing, and many countries are beginning to take action. In the United States, President Barack Obama has announced the Clean Power Plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from electric power generation, while Chinese president Xi Jinping has announced economic incentives to reduce emissions [1,2]. Even oil companies have publicly acknowledged the challenges we face and have voiced … Continue reading Solid-oxide Fuel Cells: Using familiar fuel in a new way

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The Light of Elendil in Shelob’s Lair

By Andrew Wong, a second year graduate student in the Applied Physics program at Harvard University.       The increase in global energy demand and subsequent carbon dioxide emissions has driven advancements in renewable energy generation technologies such as wind turbines and solar cells. However, these technologies are inherently intermittent, and require robust energy storage devices. Inexpensive, large-scale energy storage systems such as aqueous … Continue reading The Light of Elendil in Shelob’s Lair

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Innovating in a New Market: Challenges for Cleantech

by Greg Silverberg figures by Kaitlyn Choi Cleantech is a troubled sector Scientists know from geological data that carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere have been below 300 parts per million for nearly 1 million years.  However, for about a century, carbon dioxide concentrations have been rising at a rate unprecedented in these data and are now approaching 400 parts per million.  Carbon dioxide acts … Continue reading Innovating in a New Market: Challenges for Cleantech

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Why the blue LED should light up your life (and won a Nobel Prize)

What do you think of when you hear the phrase ‘green technology’? Do solar panels, wind turbines, and electric cars come to mind? What about light-emitting diodes (LEDs)? Unlike many costly green technologies, LEDs are accessible to the majority of Individuals who want to help the environment and save money. Using an LED for 50,000 hours of white-light home lighting (i.e. LED light bulbs for … Continue reading Why the blue LED should light up your life (and won a Nobel Prize)

Cane Toad on Grass. Image from SamFraser-Smith, National Wildlife Federation, www.nwf.org

Removing Threat from Invasive Species with Genetic Engineering?

A recent publication from Harvard scientists outlines the potential of a cutting-edge technology, CRISPR, to improve on an old technology called Gene Drives in order to solve the enormous problems caused by invasive species. However, attempts to control harmful species with this technology may just be another way to introduce potentially destructive foreign elements into an ecosystem. Furthermore, relying on genetic sequences of wild organisms … Continue reading Removing Threat from Invasive Species with Genetic Engineering?

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Engineering a minimal yeast chromosome: a small, but significant step forward

How can we create a fully synthetic organism? One promising way to begin would be to take an existing organism and engineer a new set of chromosomes from that organism’s genome. Scientists at NYU have created a fully synthetic chromosome for Saccharomyces Cerevisiae, the yeast that’s used in bread and beer. By stripping out ‘junk DNA’ and adding in new genes that make future genome … Continue reading Engineering a minimal yeast chromosome: a small, but significant step forward