Would Iranian activist Atena Farghadani be happy if Raif Badawi won the Nobel Peace Prize? She may have her 12 year prison sentence extended for the indecent act of shaking hands with her lawyer.

The numbers of Harvard students without religion is continuing to rise. It might grow even more if they setup their own Atheist Society on campus.

Insanity is sweeping parts of China as people rejoice in praying 24 hours a day to a god that does not exist. What a shame. If only they could see that salvation is a scam.

An open letter to Kim Davis from a Bible scholar. Will she return to work and not do her job, one that her co-workers are doing? Maybe she should quit her job. What does her saga tells us about Republican hypocrisy.

A new species in the Human branch of the Tree of Life has been discovered.

Lawrence Krauss thinks all scientists should be militant atheists.

Egyptian writer Ahmed Ibrahim is interviewed about his book, The Fourth Religion.

A story about peace through the eye of a needle.

The sunniest Climate Change story.

Tesla unveils a battery to power your entire home.

The End of Life Option Act is passed in California. (see second video below).

This week’s Woo: The Organic food industry.

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Ten things we did not know last week. Some photographs taken last week.

Coffee Break videos: Richard Dawkins in conversation with Neil deGrasse Tyson. BJ Miller on what really matters at the end of life.

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Replies to This Discussion

Have a great week everyone!

I am thinking the time is getting close to get in on some solar cells and a Tesla battery. I need to harness that big fusion reactor in the sky.

Thanks for Sunday School Reg!!

I'm shocked at the woo. I'm not sure I buy it yet...

One thing lots of people don't know - The battery for cars like The prius is DEVASTATING for the environment, so the saving on gas is moot. I'm skeptical to get too excited about the Tesla battery until I see the facts on the carbon footprint and cradle to cradle analysis. If it ultimately only adds to our landfill problem and takes Hundreds of thousands of years to biodegrade as it leaks heavy metals into our ground water (that we may drink) then it's another waste. No pun intended.

Any "solar system" for a home (I put that in quotes because I'm an astronomy head and solar system properly means something rather different IMNSHO) is going to involve batteries for those times when the sun isn't shining (which also often are peak demand times), generally (but not always) some form of lead acid battery.  If not, they contain even more exotic and hard-to-get-at metals.  Which puts people who care about all aspects of the matter on the horns of a dilemma...carbon emissions?  extractive pollution?  Gaack!

Regardless of its composition, this battery is irritating to people looking to perhaps include it in their "solar system" because almost all battery rgulating/charging/inverting tech for home users is intended to work at ~48 volts and this thing's output is over three hundred.  So the inverters, chargers etc sold for those solar systems can't connect to this battery.

I power a small workshop/shed with solar/lead acid (batteries will be recycled, of course), but it's self contained. l love it, no city inspector-wankers, permits, etc.

Recycling batteries is also problematic, and there is still end of life disposal to remember. Would we still burn coal to manufacture the batteries?

There's always gonna be some kind of enviro hit with any system, but let's face it Miami Beach and several islands are already slowly dipping into the sea, the ice caps are melting, California crops are drying up, the NW rain belt was on fire and the scientific community has issued dire warnings about the near future and our very survival. Not to mention the ancient US electric grid goes down all the time..almost every storm around here. Batteries seem like reasonable trade-off to me.

Batteries seem like reasonable trade-off to me.

It would seem like it Robert, but remember, those batteries go somewhere. How many homes are in the U.S? Imagine what we do with those batteries when they can no longer be used? Into landfills and thus the methane gas that comes from that....Methane is WORSE than CO2. So it doesn't solve the problem at ALL! In many ways it would make it worse.

Used batteries are worth money. I hope you don't throw batteries away, it's illegal in my state. They are put through a recycle process. They are supposed to last ten years.

You also seem to think a coal plant emits only CO2? No, there are dozens of nasty chemicals, some radioactive. Sulphur Dioxide is not our friend. And what they do scrub still goes somewhere.

Waste created by a typical coal plant includes more than 125,000 tons of ash and 193,000 tons of sludge from the smokestack scrubber each year. Nationally, at least 42 percent of coal combustion waste ponds and landfills are unlined. One study found that one out of every 100 children who drink groundwater contaminated with arsenic from coal power plant wastes were at risk of developing cancer. Ecosystems have also been damaged—sometimes severely or permanently—by the disposal of coal plant waste.


What about digging up all that coal ripping the earth up, fracking that oil, and shipping inefficient fossil fuels in ships and pipes that leak, or trucking coal all over the place. The production of fossil fuels is a huge emitter. Solar/batteries is a no brainer. Even an electric car that typically uses coal fired electricity is better environmentally than a gas car just because of the great efficiency of an electric motor.

If you are going to compare a coal-powered (via electricity) car with an oil fired (by gasoline) car, then you're correct, but some people quote a six times number, thinking they can compare the electrical energy coming out of their charger with the gasoline.  A car burning gasoline wastes about 5/6 of the energy as heat, it's about 1/6th efficient.  An electric car is far more efficient than this BUT...the power plant that created the electricity is only 1/3 efficient, losing two thirds of the energy in the coal to waste heat.  That is still twice as good as the petroleum car, but that's a far cry from six times better.

Yeah, I'm nor a big fan of electric cars. I do like how some electric cars use regenerative braking, cool idea. I wonder how much the noise pollution will come down if all vehicles are electric.

I agree. Unfortunately, it seems even the EPA (at least on the web page you cite) doesn't emphasize or clarify the environmental costs of production of various items. One hopes that those costs will come down someday, but meanwhile they shouldn't be ignored.


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