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By 2015, it will be illegal for New Yorkers to throw electronics in the trash

If you thought forcing restaurants to post calorie counts on their menus was an intrusion by the nanny state, get ready for the Mary F'in Poppins of regulations: To prepare consumers and businesses for the arrival of a 2015 law that will ban the disposal of electronics in the trash, New York state is forcing all electronics manufacturers to take back and recycle your old electronics. It's all  part of a larger effort, happening concurrently in almost two dozen other states, to bring U.S. law in line with the European standard of "cradle to cradle design." In this philosophy, the …

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Obama to encourage America’s truck companies to do thing they were already planning to do

A group of truck fleet-owning companies that collectively owns 275,000 vehicles is scheduled to get a gold star from the president today, as part of the administration's Clean Fleets Initiative. FedEx, UPS, AT&T, PepsiCo, and Verizon are the charter members of a group that is pledging to reduce its collective petroleum consumption by more than 7 million gallons a year. Through the magic of hybrid vehicles, mostly, these companies will be given backslaps and encouraging words from the federal government for doing the thing they are already required by law to do -- make money and generate shareholder value by, …

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Solar power from the moon is fake, but also real

Solar panels that transform light from the moon into usable quantities of energy: Fake! Solar panels covering the moon that would transmit massive quantities of energy back to earth using lasers and microwaves: Real! Or at least: proposed with a straight face. I think we can all agree that the slide labeled "Master Plan" pretty much sums it up. The company's own description of the technology is almost as awesome: A shift from economical use of limited resources to the unlimited use of clean energy is the ultimate dream of all mankind. The LUNA RING, our lunar solar power generation concept, translates …

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In five years, you could charge your iPod with a snap of your fingers

Yeah, sure, if nanotechnology gets out of control it could lead to a scenario where the entire world turns into gray goo. But if it DOESN’T get out of control, it could lead to a scenario where you can charge your iPod by snapping your fingers -- or even just with your heartbeat. WORTH IT WORTH IT TOTALLY WORTH IT The secret to a iPod powered by finger wiggles -- or other body movements, like walking or breathing or heartbeat -- is nanogenerators, dinky little microchips powered by wires 1/500th the width of a human hair. Five of them would …

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Alexis Madrigal chats about Danish wind power and how to fail well (also, sensors)

This is the fourth in a series from my conversation with Atlantic tech channel editor Alexis Madrigal about themes and stories from his new book, Powering the Dream: The History and Promise of Green Technology. DR: Something that comes up again and again in your book is this seemingly irreducible mystery of wind and how it moves. The wind industry starts with all these windmills on farms, then up to the big turbines, all in the absence of any sophisticated scientific knowledge about how wind works. AM: There's this big debate in the history of technology around the role of …

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Map: Every nuclear reactor on earth, present and future

Where my nuclear reactors at? HUH!?! Climate Central just rolled out a series of interactive maps to help you figure that out. Here's the world shaded according to how many nuclear reactors each country has: USA! USA! We have 104. That's almost twice as many as France. France is much smaller, sure, but also, they were once humiliated by the Germans. Japan is in third place with 55, because this information is slightly outdated. Percentage of total electricity production from nuclear is probably the only contest Lithuania will ever win. Aside from, I dunno, goat tossing? China is planning A …

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Obama to reduce oil imports by a third via magic

Obama's energy speech today promises to be mostly a re-hash of previous administration announcements regarding efforts to make America more energy independent, but at least one bombshell has already been leaked by the White House: Obama wants to reduce America's oil imports by a third in 10 years. It's hard to think of anything -- short of an economic crash bigger than any ever seen in U.S. history, or perhaps an alien race forcing all of us to take to our bicycles -- that could conceivably accomplish such a goal. The U.S. Energy Information Agency projects that we will import …

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Smize! You’re on America’s Next Top Energy Innovator

Sure, we’ve learned to harness the power of the sun and the wind for renewable energy, but have we harnessed the awesome power of reality TV? That may be what Secretary of Energy Steven Chu is going for with “America’s Next Top Energy Innovator.” Okay, you don’t get coaching from Solar Tim Gunn, or critique from Geothermal Simon Cowell. Instead, the Department of Energy is reducing the number of hoops that companies have to jump through in order to license patented clean energy tech. Currently there’s a lot of paperwork and fees to navigate before you can start turning intellectual …

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Artificial solar leaf beats trees at their own game

What's better than trees? I'll tell you: ROBOT TREES. Scientists at MIT have developed "artificial leaves" -- small solar cells, about the size (though not the shape) of an oak leaf, that use a photosynthesis-like process to turn water into electricity. Only they do it ten times more efficiently than natural leaves, and the electricity they produce can be used to power homes in the developing world. Trees: spanked. The leaves are cheap to produce and can operate continuously for 45 hours, which gives them a lot of potential for powering homes in countries where energy infrastructure is prohibitively expensive. …