Why Smooth Surfaces Make Your City Sizzle in Summer

It's not just you, city-dwellers. Urban areas actually do get noticeably hotter than the rural areas around them, and that's especially problematic in summertime. Why does that happen? Well, a new study says it all has to do with the aerodynamic shape of your city. In other words, the smoother your skyline, the… » 7/10/14 12:40pm 7/10/14 12:40pm

How Space Heat Helps Us Hunt Down Alien Technologies

My colleagues and I have begun the Glimpsing Heat from Alien Technologies (G-HAT) SETI program, which has been written about here on Centauri Dreams and in other places, like in this nice summary article. I describe some of the foundations of the search here on my blog, but I have written up this short primer for … » 2/10/14 2:20pm 2/10/14 2:20pm

Australia Is So Hot They Had to Add New Colors to Their Weather Maps

It's super-hot in Australia right now: there are massive bush fires happening spontaneously and it's 95°F in Sydney at midnight. In fact, the Australian bureau of meteorology has recorded the highest ever known temperature in Australia—and as a result, it's had to add new colors to its weather maps. » 1/09/13 10:00am 1/09/13 10:00am

Half of Earth's Heat Is from Nuclear Fission

Around 20 terrawatts of heat, which is about double what us humans use, originates from decaying radioactive materials such as potassium, uranium and thorium. The energy released from these materials is so powerful that they can move mountains, according to research undertaken in Japan and Italy. [Scientific American] » 7/19/11 9:40am 7/19/11 9:40am