Europe Could Go 100% Renewable By 2050
March 30, 2010

Earlier this month, the European Commission reported that the EU was on track to get 20 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020. (Some countries, like Germany and Austria, are flying past their targets; others, like Italy, have lagged behind.) But how much further could Europe go?

The End of Hunger?
January 02, 2010

Famine: A Short History By Cormac Ó Gráda (Princeton University Press, 327 pp., $27.95) The earliest recorded famines, according to Cormac Ó Gráda in his brief but masterful book, are mentioned on Egyptian stelae from the third millennium B.C.E. In that time--and to an extent, even today, above the Aswan dam in Sudan--farmers along the Nile were dependent on the river flooding to irrigate their fields. But one flood out of five, Ó Gráda tells us, was either too high or too low. The result was often starvation.

When Space Weather Attacks (Apocalypse Edition)
March 24, 2009

It's true, this blog hawks a lot of different apocalyptic scenarios. They help us get out of bed in the morning. Some of our doomsday worries are well-founded (rising global temperatures, say), while some are less worth obsessing about hourly (giant asteroids, supervolcanoes). But how should we rank this cataclysm-in-waiting? It is midnight on 22 September 2012 and the skies above Manhattan are filled with a flickering curtain of colourful light. Few New Yorkers have seen the aurora this far south but their fascination is short-lived.

Will Cell Phones Kill You?
April 09, 2008

The Secret History of the War on Cancer by Devra Davis (Basic Books, 505 pp., $27.95) I. In 1775, Percivall Pott, a surgeon at St. Bartholemew's Hospital in London who gave his name to several diseases and conditions, published Chirurgical Observations. Although he had treated such distinguished personages as Samuel Johnson and Thomas Gainsborough, his treatise focused on the lowliest of the low. In so doing, he became the first to hypothesize what is now a widespread notion: that cancer can be caused by environmental exposure.

May 03, 2004

Quack gay marriage science

Drug of Choice
November 26, 1990

In the mid-1980s, as word of the French abortion pill rippled across the world, the new drug was greeted as a thing of awesome powers.