Solar Is The New Energy “Powerhouse”

Compliments of Wired

This story was originally published by Mother Jonesand is reproduced here as a part of the Climate Deskcollaboration.

We’ve noted here before the many ways in which solar power is blowing up in the United States: Adding tons of jobs, driving progressive policies, and attractingmillions of dollars in investment from major corporations. It’s not slowing down anytime soon: New data from market analysis firm GTM Research finds that 2014 was solar’s biggest year ever, with 30 percent more photovoltaic installations installed than in 2013. Check it out:

solar-1-chart
 GTM

Those numbers are even more impressive when you compare them to other types of energy sources. Even though solar still accounts for a small share of US electricity generation (less than 1 percent), last year it added nearly as many new megawatts to the grid as natural gas, which is quickly catching up on coal as the country’s primary energy source. (Coal, you can see, added almost nothing new in 2014.)

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Bill would end daylight saving time in Oregon

Compliments of Katu

The ritual of springing forward and falling back – and spending days (or longer) catching up on adjusting every clock in the home – is being questioned by lawmakers who would like to see it come to an end.

Some are considering a renewed effort to put the state in line with Hawaii and Arizona, the only two states that have exercised their privilege to stay on standard time all year long.

Daylight saving time was instituted to give people an extra hour of sunlight in the spring and summer evenings – something that was originally thought to save energy.

Some see the change as antiquated, and find that losing the hour isn’t worth the hassle.

Senate Bill 99 would let Oregon voters decide if the state should recognize daylight saving time.

Washington lawmakers saw a similar bill introduced this year, which would put the state on Pacific Standard Time year-round.

“What I’m suggesting is that we save time by simplifying our lives,” state Washington Rep. Elizabeth Scott.

She said the bill to drop daylight saving time would reduce heart attacks, car wrecks and work accidents found to increase with the sleep-schedule disruptions. Farmers she checked with already run their combines at night using aircraft-scale headlights, and dairy cattle care about the sun, not the time on the clock face.

But if only one state or the other decides to ditch daylight saving time, that could make a mess for commuters, and there are thousands of them, that go back and forth between Oregona and Washington everyday.

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Solar-powered plane completes first leg of round-the-world flight

Compliments of CNN

Solar Impulse 2 has landed safely in Oman on the first leg of its quest to be the first plane to fly around the world fueled only by the sun’s rays.

The solar-powered plane took off from Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates early on Monday with pilot Andre Borschberg at the controls for the 400-kilometer (250 mile) flight.

The journey was expected to take about 12 hours, but high winds of up to 11 knots delayed its landing, forcing Borschberg to fly in a holding pattern above Muscat until they dropped to safe levels.

Once safely on the ground, Borschberg said he was “extremely happy” and “looking forward to the rest of [the] adventure.”

Solar Impulse 2’s visit to Oman is a short pit-stop on its marathon 35,000-kilometer, five month journey across the globe, via India, Myanmar, China and the U.S.

The plane is expected to be on the ground for just eight hours before it takes off again — this time with pilot Bertrand Piccard in charge — bound for Ahmedabad in India.

The potentially historic flight had originally been due to take off on March 1 but its departure was postponed because of concerns about the weather after strong dust storms created hazy conditions.

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University of Chicago suffers data breach

Compliments of ZD NET

The University of Chicago has been hacked, exposing the Social Security numbers of students and employees in the Department of Medicine.

As reported by Hack Read, a letter published on February 19 this year from the university’s Biological Sciences department reveals the educational institution became aware of a cyberattack on 22 January. While the duration and breadth of the cyberattack are not known, the university says that a database from the Department of Medicine was compromised in the attack.

According to the university, the data held within the database belongs to students currently enrolled in the Department of Medicine, as well as current and former employees, contractors and students once affiliated with the department. Information stolen includes names, Social Security numbers, employee IDs, username, sex and marital status — as well as some physical addresses and email addresses.

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Abducted S. African teen ‘broken’ after reuniting with parents 17 years later

Compliments of CNN

A South African teen kidnapped as a newborn and reunited with her parents this month is “broken” after her ordeal, her father says.

Zephany Nurse, who is now 17, was seized from a Cape Town hospital in 1997.

Since then, she has been raised by the woman who allegedly abducted her, authorities say.

In a strange twist, she lived in the same city as her biological parents, who admit she’s having a hard time adjusting to her new reality.

“She’s broken, and we’ll fix it,” said her father, Morne Nurse.

The 50-year-old woman accused of kidnapping her was freed on bail Friday after the government agreed she’s not a flight risk. The suspect is not allowed to contact potential witnesses, including the teen.

“We are very concerned with the well-being of the young woman,” Social Services Minister Albert Fritz said. “She’s taking on her last year of schooling. She’s doing very well. She’s a strong, assertive young woman, and it’s clear she was brought up in a good home.”

Fritz said his department is approaching the case with “extreme” sensitivity.

“We are concerned with the well-being of everyone involved, the young woman, her biological parents,” he said, “but also can’t forget about the father who believed she was his daughter.”

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cops need warrants to get phone location data

Compliments of Engadget 

A number of states already have laws preventing the police from snooping on your phone’s location history without a warrant, but they just got another big boost from a court ruling. A California-based federal judge has determined that cops need those warrants because you have a reasonable expectation that your position data will remain private, even if it’s vague info like the whereabouts of cell towers you’ve used. Cellphones can follow you anywhere and transmit a lot of information, the judge says. That location data may reveal much more about your life than you’d willingly share, especially at home and other private places where you have plenty of constitutional protections.

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New Toy teaching coding to youth

Compliments of Wired

The kids of Generation Z will be the most naturally tech-literate generation yet, but that won’t happen through osmosis. They’ll still need tools to get them there. Kids older than 10 or so are covered: In the past few years, smart companies like littleBits and Kano have helped pave the way toward make learning about circuitry and motherboards as fun as playing with Legos.

But those products are still a bit sophisticated. Think of them like the grammar and syntax of computer science: great educational tools, so long as you can already grasp a few basic building blocks. To get those building blocks—let’s call it the alphabet—younger kids can now turn to Hackaball, a ball that’s also a computer, that gets programmed via an iPad app.

Creative consultancy MAP designed Hackaball (MAP actually did the industrial and packaging design for Kano, too) with Made by Many, a digital agency that conceived the original idea for Hackaball. It’s a fairly simple toy, but it can do a lot and withstand a lot. Inside the silicone ball, which comes with a specially designed inner ring for shock-proofing, are a small computer, lights, an accelerometer, a sound chip, a microphone, and a vibrator for haptic cues. The programming lesson starts as soon as kids open the box and find a disassembled Hackaball, waiting to be snapped into place. “We really wanted the design to not feel closed, because so many of the things we use, like smartphones—you can’t hack them,” says MAP design director Jon Marshall.

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EDITORS FIGHTING RACISM AND SEXISM ON WIKIPEDIA

Compliments of Wired

The issue has roiled the Wikimedia Foundation for years. It’s studied the problem and set goals for bridging the gap, goals even Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales says the Foundation has “completely failed” to meet. The lack of diversity is so deeply rooted that the National Science Foundation commissioned two studies of why this bias exists.

The problem is, because Wikipedia is run—in theory at least—by and for the people, only the people can correct the imbalance. A growing group of socially minded Wikipedia editors are taking up the cause with a slew of “edit-a-thons” that aim to enhance the coverage of women, minorities, the LGBTQ community, and other underrepresented groups on Wikipedia.

Wikipedia for All

Case in point: on Saturday, to coincide with International Women’s Day, the Museum of Modern Art in New York will host the second annual Art+Feminism edit-a-thon promoting the representation of women in the arts on Wikipedia. Last month, to commemorate Black History Month, the White House held an edit-a-thon to crowd source entries on African Americans in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math). Last summer, the Wiki Loves Pride edit-a-thon convened editors to cover prominent members of the LGBTQ communities. And those are just a few examples.

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McDonald’s Chicken Changes

Compliments of Wall Street Journal 

McDonald’s Corp. plans to curtail antibiotics use in its U.S. chicken, a move that could help kick-start a broader food-industry response to growing public-health alarm around drug-resistant bacteria.

The world’s largest restaurant chain said that over the next two years it would stop selling McNuggets and other chicken products in the U.S. made from birds raised with antibiotics that are important to human health. McDonald’s said it would continue to permit suppliers to use antibiotics that aren’t deemed important for human medicine.

While the shift doesn’t apply to its burgers, McDonald’s is now the biggest company to make such a commitment on drug use in livestock. The change will apply to its more than 14,350 U.S. outlets. McDonald’s is adopting less sweeping changes for its roughly 22,000 overseas restaurants.

McDonald’s said it would work with chicken suppliers includingTyson Foods Inc., the largest U.S. meatpacker—which said it has already taken steps to curb antibiotics in its birds.

“It really is welcome news for public health,” said Gail Hansen, a senior officer at Pew Charitable Trusts, which has long criticized the meat industry’s widespread use of antibiotics. She said McDonald’s heft will require processors to change how chickens are raised, and likely make it easier for other restaurants and food makers to follow suit. “It will have a ripple effect probably throughout the entire food industry,”

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Millennials Find YouTube Content More Entertaining, Relatable Than TV

Compliments of Variety 

Younger audiences watch more hours of video on YouTube and other digital outlets than TV — simply because they find it more enjoyable and relevant to their lives, according to a new study.

Consumers aged 13-24 spend 11.3 hours weekly watching free online video compared with 8.3 hours for regularly scheduled TV, according to a study conducted in the fall of 2014 by Hunter Qualitative Research commissioned by digital-media firmDefy Media.

A major factor driving Internet-video consumption among millennials, per the study: 62% of survey respondents said digital content makes them “feel good” about themselves vs. 40% reported for TV. According to the survey, 67% of millennials said digital delivers content they can relate to vs. 41% for TV, and 66% said they turn to digital content to relax vs. 47% for TV.

Younger viewers connect more strongly with YouTube and other digital-native content because it feels more real than what’s produced for TV, Defy Media president Keith Richman said. “Digital video is not as canned — it makes millennials feel better about who they are,”

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