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Riled Up is a journal of science, the environment, exploration, new technology, and related commentary.  Contributors include scientists, explorers, engineers, and others who provide perspectives and context not typically offered in general news circulation.  For interested readers, additional resources are included.

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Solar autos

Making solar power readily available for car and truck transportation is a big challenge. With an investment from Google Ventures, an important step has been taken by SolarCity, a leading provider of solar energy for homes, businesses and non-profit organizations. Zero emissions is their goal for electric vehicles that will emit no CO2 from the vehicle's tailpipe. Wired Magazine reports that the Company has installed the first solar recharging stations of the thousands that will be ...
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Greenland de-icing

The Peterman Glacier is a river of ice in northern Greenland. In a dramatic pair of satellite images of the glacier from the Byrd Polar Research Center at Ohio State University-- taken two weeks apart last year --shows the creation of a gigantic iceberg and the beginnings of an ice free fjord. [caption id="attachment_6049" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="Peterman Glacier satellite images, July-August, 2010 (source: Byrd Polar Research Center)"][/caption] Equally dramatic is ...
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For much of the 20th Century, energy development often meant dam building projects across wild rivers. From Maine to Tennessee to one to many western rivers, barriers to the natural flow of water, fish, and river life went up. Now at the beginning of the 21st, the reverse process may be underway as their removals take place and watershed restoration resumes. The latest example of dams-coming-down will be the structure build across Elwah River in Olympic National Park in Washington. Its ...
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Landing on Mars is tricky

NASA has produced a video illustrating the launch, landing, and analysis they hope will happen when the Mars Science Laboratory, aka, Curiosity reaches Mars next year. The rover's landing required some pretty cool-- almost SciFi like --engineering ideas. Let's hope everything goes well for the robot laboratory as shown in the animation. WHB
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On civil disobedience

By Reilly Capps This video went up on HuffPo yesterday. There is a great deal to be written about Tim DeChristopher and the future of peaceful civil disobedience in this country. The history of peaceful civil disobedience is been complicated and confusing. There have been acts of peaceful civil disobedience that were profoundly misguided, and ended up doing more damage than good. (Although one struggles to think of pertinent examples. Perhaps that's because peaceful civil disobedience ...
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Climate crimes

Tim DeChristopher-- the climate activist --received a 2 year felony sentence for disrupting a federal auction of oil & gas leases near preserved parklands in southern Utah. He's now in jail. We're not attorneys but other successful bidders in earlier BLM drilling auctions didn't get tried or go to jail for failure to pay. The Huffington Post provided a reasoned perspective on the sentencing and related events here. Whatever the merits or demerits of the trial, we do agree with the ...
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Tim DeChristopher sentenced

It's a great American story. Man sees wrong, man decides to do something, man takes law into his own hands, man fights the establishment through unconventional means, man wins, many important people agree with him. Still, establishment must set an example, so man is arrested, charged, convicted and sentenced to prison It's a classic story, and it's the story of Tim DeChristopher. He was sentenced to two years in prison for sabotaging an attempt by the government to auction off the rights ...
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Curious George, rescued

Most stories emerging from the Congo, Rwanda, and elsewhere in central Africa range from the sad to the dreadful. It is rare to hear of one that shows that compassion in such desperately poor and war torn regions particularly when it includes the animal neighbors that also live in these regions. A group of young mountain gorillas was recused from wildlife poachers who would have sold them as exotic pets or, worse, into the bush meat trade. This short video about their rescue should be ...
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Evolution on islands has produced myriads of wondrous plants and animals. Some of these creations can be rather odd in appearance, however. Think of the dodo, a flightless pigeon discovered in the 16th Century on the island of Mauritius. Without predators, the dodo evolved -- or devolved -- until it lost its wings, grew pudgy, and waddled about with no fear. It is now long gone and has become a poster-child for extinction. The dodo couldn't survive in the face of invasive predators like ...
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Helios rising

Legend has it that Icarus needed to escape capture by the Minoans of Crete so his father-- the master craftsman, Daedalus --built him a set of wings of feathers and wax and Icarus flew away like a god. Sadly, Icarus got cocky, flew to close to the sun, the wax melted, and he fell to his death. Perhaps if Icarus had been able to strap on solar cells for wings, his early attempt at flight might have turned out more successfully. The master craftsmen at NASA have demonstrated that potential ...
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Gale Crater here we come

The space shuttles may be now heading for museum displays but the scientists and engineers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) are close to launching their next generation of Mars roving explorers, Curiosity. They have released a cool video about the rover's destination that was just announced, Gale Crater. If the Mars Science Laboratory successfully lands on the Martian plains-- other Mars landing attempts crashed & burned in the past --we may finally get an answer to the ...
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Remember the heat affects animals too

With a massive and dangerous heat wave affecting people across the country, we should not forget that wildlife are impacted badly as well. This grannie video captured during a severe Australian bush fire illustrates compassion-in-action by first responders in helping one of many stranded animals they encountered. WHB
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Channeling O'Keefe

Georgia O'Keefe famously liked to paint the canyons and deserts of the West. Her early 20th Century images of New Mexico are now considered national treasures. [caption id="attachment_5831" align="aligncenter" width="610" caption="Georgia O'Keefe with desert abstract paining (source: 1918 file photo)"][/caption] Who would have expected the Jet Propulsion Laboratory's (JPL) HiRise robot camera to be able to approximate the painters "eye" while orbiting Mars at the beginning of the ...
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A response to "moon truthers"

Nine years before I was born Americans landed on the moon for the first time. I wish I had seen it. Jay Barbree has an excellent response here to morons who think the moon landing was faked: ... Buzz (Aldrin) set up various instruments.   One was a multi-mirror target for returning laser beams fired from Earth — laser reflectors that have been used worldwide to determine the distance to within an inch between Earth and the moon. Many universities and governments have used the Apollo ...
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Bad grades

Two studies focus attention (again) on the state of primary education in the USA. Both point to serious issues in students knowledge and appreciation of science and geography and their future ability to work in an increasingly interconnected world. The National Assessment of Educational Progress provides a comprehensive perspective on geographic knowledge of grade school kids. In their new 2010 report , geography knowledge scores-- for the lowest performing students --in 1994 were 23 ...
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Are words good?

From Robert Krulwich's blog on whether words help or hurt the world. Here's a description of the effect of words on the way we see the world, from Mark Doty, who wrote The Art of Description: "I said that the more we can name what we're seeing, the more language we have for it, the less likely we are to destroy it. If you look at the field beside the road and you see merely the generic "meadow," you're less likely to care if it's bulldozed for a strip mall than if you know that those tall, ...
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If we drill, we spill

By Conrad Anker On July 1, Montana experienced its own version of the Gulf Oil spill of 2010 when the flood stage Yellowstone River damaged a submerged riverbed pipeline. In the hour that oil flowed, approximately 42,000 gallons of crude oil escaped downstream. Anytime oil mixes with water, be it fresh or saline, there are serious consequences. Due to the high water, the oil moved into 20 to 250 miles of delicate riparian habitat, making the clean-up process that much more difficult. It ...
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Map of Life

One of the general principals of evolution is that "if a niche is empty, something will evolve to fill it". Over and over again since life on Earth appeared nearly 4 billion years ago, filling niches presented by new environments-- islands, mountain tops, canyon walls, geothermal pools, etc. --has constantly occurred. What is less known is a subset of this evolutionary process called: convergent evolution which produces organisms that have structures with similar appearances or ...
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Carmageddon, the update

As Riled Up noted previously, a carmageddon was expected to descend upon poor Los Angeles from July 15-18. However, according to the LA Times, it hasn't been as apocalyptic as predicted for Angelenos. [caption id="attachment_5693" align="aligncenter" width="600" caption="I-495 closure in Los Angeles (photo credit: LA Times)"][/caption] For all the fear and trepidation preceding the closure of 10 miles of the I-405 Freeway, city officials said early Saturday, "Great job Los Angeles," ...


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