Nature's Way
In an effort to deliver renewable energy to residential customers, Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) struck a deal with waste-to-energy company BioEnergy Solutions, under which the company will deliver up to 3 billion cubic feet of renewable methane gas - enough to supply electricity to approximately 50,000 PG&E customers in central and northern California.

Manure from 3,000 dairy cows will be flushed into covered lagoons that will trap the methane gas produced as the manure decomposes. The gas will be "scrubbed" to remove carbon dioxide and corrosive materials to meet PG&E's industry environmental standards for power plants then delivered to PG&E through the utility's pipeline. -


Potty Mouth
New Mexico is taking the fight against drunk driving into men's restrooms. The state ordered 500 talking urinal cakes that will deliver a recorded message warning against drunk driving to bar and restaurant patrons who make one last pit stop before getting behind the wheel.

The state spent $21 for each talking urinal cake for the pilot, but will ask bars and restaurants to pay for future orders if the idea catches on. The cakes have enough battery power to last approximately three months. - The Associated Press


Aqua Cops
Dozens of dolphins and sea lions trained to detect and apprehend waterborne attackers could be sent to patrol a military base in Washington state.

Dolphins' astonishing sonar abilities make them excellent at patrolling for swimmers and divers. When a Navy dolphin detects a person in the water, the dolphin drops a beacon, which tells a human interception team where to find the suspicious swimmer. Sea lions can carry special cuffs attached to long ropes in their mouths, which they can use to clamp around a person's leg. The individual can then be reeled in for questioning. -

In the Atmosphere

A team of astronomers, led by Carl Grillmair from the Spitzer Science Center and David Charbonneau from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, measured the first spectrum from the atmosphere of HD 189733b, a planet orbiting a distant sun-like star.

"In a sense, we're getting our first sniffs of air from an alien world," said Charbonneau. "And what we found surprised us. Or more accurately, what we didn't find surprised us."

They expected to see water, methane or carbon dioxide, Grillmair said. "But we didn't see any of those. The spectrum was flat, with no molecular fingerprints that we could detect."

Astronomers speculate that these molecules are present but hidden behind a high layer of silicate clouds. - Spitzer Science Center

Photo credit: David A. Aguilar (CfA)


Clean Energy
Minnesota is requiring utilities to generate a quarter of their power from renewable sources by 2025. Considering where the state stands now - about half the power produced there is from coal, and only 8 percent from renewable sources - the legislation signed by the governor in February is the most aggressive in the country, analysts say.

The Minnesota law pushes for the use of renewable sources - such as wind, water and solar energy - and cleaner burning fuels.

The law comes as states around the country stake out far-off goals for renewable energy. More than 20 states have some type of renewable requirement or good-faith objective. Colorado