Christian Science Monitor: Although Hurricane Sandy wreaked havoc last month on many homes and businesses on the US East Coast, particularly in areas of New Jersey and New York, solar and wind energy installations seem to have escaped serious damage. One solar panel manufacturer, SunPower, guarantees its panels to withstand winds up to 110 mph (in New Jersey, the highest wind speeds during the hurricane approached 90 mph). Nevertheless, wind and solar resources still rely on the larger power grid to distribute their energy and so remain just as vulnerable to extreme weather events as traditional systems, writes David Unger for the Christian Science Monitor.
New York Times: Surgeons face a number of difficulties when they carry out gallbladder or prostate surgery. For one thing, the operations require numerous delicate incisions, and the surgeons frequently end up with back problems from leaning over their patients for hours on end. Over the past 10 years, robotic arms that a surgeon can control using a joystick and a television screen have become increasingly popular. Not only do they require smaller incisions, not much larger than a keyhole, but also fewer of them. That could lead to faster recovery, said Michael Hsieh, a Stanford University professor and urologist, to the New York Times. “There’s only one wound to heal with this procedure, rather than three.” But robotic systems cost much more than traditional equipment, and whether the technology is worth the extra money remains to be seen.
NPR: Scientists working on NASA’s Mars Curiosity rover have some exciting new results but aren’t prepared to reveal them. The reason, says principal investigator John Grotzinger to NPR’s Joe Palca, is that they want to make sure their results are truly a groundbreaking discovery—and not a fluke or an error. It’s a bind scientists frequently find themselves in: It is their nature to share results, but no one likes to make a big announcement and then have to retract it later. One of the most infamous errors to date involved the announcement of the discovery of one of the first exoplanets, which was later discredited when it was found that researchers had failed to include Earth’s orbit around the Sun in their observations. Another was the faster-than-light neutrinos announcement, which was eventually attributed to faulty equipment. The new NASA discovery will have to wait several more weeks until the data are rechecked and submitted to a journal for publication.
Washington Post: The World Bank, an international financial institution that provides loans to developing countries, has just released a report warning of the dire consequences that could result if global temperatures continue to rise at the current rate. The report predicts that by 2100 Earth could be 4 °C warmer than in preindustrial times. At that rate, sea levels could rise by a meter or more, coastal cities could flood, severe weather events such as droughts and floods could increase, and food production could be severely impacted. And although all countries will feel the effects, the poorest nations will be the most affected. However, “a 4C-warmer world is not a foregone conclusion,” writes World Bank president Jim Yong Kim in a Guardian op-ed. He views the report as a call to action and as a roadmap to economic opportunity. All countries, both developed and developing, should seize the opportunity to find new technologies and new approaches for mitigating climate change.