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The Monitor ep. 10 - The Eco-Fabulous Episode [Video]

A haunting visualization of our CO2 emissions; turning those emissions into plastics; deadly nanotech socks and a war of two press releases.

Created, written & designed by John Pavlus / Screencasts produced by Smashcut Media / Music by Jeff Alvarez

Check out previous episodes of The Monitor. Subscribe to this video podcast via iTunes or RSS

Background on this week's stories:

# 1. Animated CO2 map of U.S.
The original video of U.S. CO2 emissions that sparked our interest was posted to Youtube by the researchers themselves, who are members of the Vulcan project.

Andrew Revkin of the New York Times wrote it up on his blog Dot Earth. Alexis Madrigal at Wired wondered if a map like this might be used to convince politicians to reverse their opposition to caps on carbon emissions.

# 2. Turning pollution into DVDs?
Carbon dioxide captured from the smokestacks of power plants could one day provide the raw material for plastics, says our environment correspondent. Jessica Marshall of Discovery News follows up with a few additional details.

Other potential uses for captured carbon dioxide include turning it into fuel, or replacing it all together by transforming plants into plastic.

All of this depends on capturing the carbon from the burning of fossil fuels in the first place, and so far that's a technology that has yet to bear fruit.

# 3. The real "nano" deal
If you're curious about nanotechnology in general, we have an endless bounty of coverage on the subject at our newly-launched topic page on nanotechnology, which even as its own nanotechnology-specific RSS feed.

In this week's story on the subject, the tiny particles of silver embedded in socks to fight bacteria may also be harming wildlife, says a paper outlining how it might be taken up through the gills of rainbow trout. (Here's an American Chemical Society press release on that paper.)

The story was picked up by both Discovery News and io9, the sci-fi and science blog from Gawker media.

The "nanotech" Eddie Bauer pants at 2':22" into the video are an actual product.

# 4. A tale of two solar press releases
A new startup at MIT is working hard to create a kind of printable solar panel that could produce electricity that is cost-competitive with the electricity produced by burning coal. (Scientific American has of course covered thin-film solar before.)

Not so fast, says Harry Gray of the California Institute of Technology: he's predicting at least 10 more years of research and development in order to make solar energy competitive with coal.

Experts on the subject wrote a sweeping feature for Scientific American's December issue, entitled A Solar Grand Plan, which maps out the possibility of converting all of the United States's energy production to solar.

image credit: Bryan Siders

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