Taking Stock of the Environment

by Tom Imerito

Although looking at natural resources in terms of dollars and cents may summon images of greed-mongering capitalists lighting cigars with hundred-dollar bills, in reality a failure to account for the financial value of a nation’s natural resources and environmental services unwittingly promotes the despoilment of the environment and retards the development of poor nations.

According to Kirk Hamilton, Chief Environmental Economist for the World Bank and co-author of the book, Where is the Wealth of Nations, green accounting is known formally as Sustainable Environmental Economic Accounting (SEEA), an extension of the United Nations’ System of National Accounts (SNA), released in 2003. [Continue Reading…]

The Microcrystalline Structure and Performance Behavior of Multiphase Automotive Steels

Of Crystals and Crashes

by Tom Imerito

Since about four decades ago, when Nader’s Raiders, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Arab Oil Embargo converged on the automotive industry, vehicle engineers have been saddled with a set of enigmatic challenges that appear to fly in the face of the basic laws of physics: to build ever lighter vehicles that keep passengers increasingly safe during collisions.

Ron Krupitzer, Vice President, Automotive Applications at the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI), commented on the formidability of the problem: “Quite frankly the challenges associated with building vehicles that are both crashworthy and low mass are daunting.   The automotive industry is calling on every materials industry to see how efficient we can be.” [Continue Reading…]

How Discoveries at Meadowcroft Rock Shelter Changed the Date of the First Human Migration to North America

When Ages Collide

by Tom Imerito

Five decades ago beneath a rock overhang in Washington County, Pennsylvania the Atomic age collided with the Stone Age.  Since then, Meadowcroft Rock Shelter has been a focal point of archeological innovation and discovery as well as scientific controversy and iconoclasm.

The story begins on Nov 12, 1955, when a gentleman farmer and amateur archeologist named Albert Miller noticed some burnt bone and flint flakes among the dirt that a woodchuck had excavated while burrowing in the forest floor beneath a rock overhang on his farm.  His interest being piqued, Miller began digging.  At a depth of thirty inches he discovered a flint knife, which he recognized as an important archeological find.  Fearful of looting, he kept the site a secret for the next fifteen years while he sought professional archeological help. [Continue Reading…]

If it’s NELL, it knows what it “reads” on the web … and then it tweets about it

By Tom Imerito

Can a computer system form beliefs? Carnegie Mellon’s Never Ending Language Learner does. More than half a million beliefs, in fact—and still growing.

Created by Tom Mitchell, head of the Machine Learning Department, and his research team, NELL autonomously and continuously reads the web; compiles words and their relationships to each other into a knowledge base from which it formulates beliefs; and then tweets its thoughts to more than 1,700 Twitter followers. It uses the words, “I think” when it tweets a new belief, whether mundane (“I think “ground cayenne pepper” is a #Condiment”) or profound (“I think “art wedding photography” is form of #VisualArt”). [Continue Reading…]

National Energy Technology Laboratory On Quest to Tame CO2

Putting Carbon In Its Place

by Tom Imerito

Although climate change is a recent problem, the government agency most responsible for addressing it, has roots that go back to 1910 when the United States Bureau of Mines (BOM) came into being.  A hundred years ago the Bureau was born to secure a safe workplace for miners and a reliable supply of fossil energy for a growing nation.  Today, BOM’s successor, the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) functions in similar fashion by ensuring the development of affordable fossil fuel technologies that will meet the nation’s future demand for energy without diminishing our quality of life. [Continue Reading…]