Will Google Rescue Green Energy?

The financial crisis and energy crisis loom like two grim reapers over 2009. Now these evil twins are feeding off each other. Today The New York Times reported a dearth of loans and capital brought on by the financial meltdown that is hitting the nascent green energy sector hard. Layoffs are up, and solar and wind power installations have dropped 30 to 50 percent in 2009.

Despite the accelerating economic tailspin, 2008 ended with some high notes for renewable energy. Besides Obama's promises to boost the sector, the green energy industry also got a boost in September when Congress extended the renewable energy tax credits set to expire at the end of 2008. Those credits, plus the promising future of renewable energy, had led many banks to invest. But with those banks now in financial ruin, green energy companies are left wondering what to do. And funding isn't their only concern: the price of solar panels and other equipment are on the steep decline, the Times reports.


Nobody said it would be an easy start for the Obama administration, and this is a good example of what happens when multiple crises converge. The industry that could help the US climb out of one hole can't mature because its funders are in another. Newer companies could certainly bring in fresh ideas that the giants won't, but they're also less protected from a financial collapse. Of course, there's always one last funding source: Google.

A dark matter hurricane is crashing into Earth

Giving our solar system a "slap in the face."

Surprising Science
  • A stream of galactic debris is hurtling at us, pulling dark matter along with it
  • It's traveling so quickly it's been described as a hurricane of dark matter
  • Scientists are excited to set their particle detectors at the onslffaught
Keep reading Show less

We are heading for a New Cretaceous, not for a new normal

The climate change we're witnessing is more dramatic than we might think.

Image credit: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center from Greenbelt, MD, USA
Surprising Science

A lazy buzz phrase – 'Is this the new normal?' – has been doing the rounds as extreme climate events have been piling up over the past year. To which the riposte should be: it's worse than that – we're on the road to even more frequent, more extreme events than we saw this year.

Keep reading Show less

New study reveals what time we burn the most calories

Once again, our circadian rhythm points the way.

Photo: Victor Freitas / Unsplash
Surprising Science
  • Seven individuals were locked inside a windowless, internetless room for 37 days.
  • While at rest, they burned 130 more calories at 5 p.m. than at 5 a.m.
  • Morning time again shown not to be the best time to eat.
Keep reading Show less