3-D printers a boon to scientists’ labs pic
With a series of experiments, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory found 3-D printers have become a very important tool.
“The printer is now a crucial piece of our laboratory and used regularly,” said Andrew Zwicker of PPPL and lead author of a paper that reports the results in the current issue of the American Journal of Physics.
Researchers have become interested because the printers can build customized parts for experiments, often at very low cost. And because a 3-D printer can produce parts quickly, the time between when a need is recognized and when a part is ready to be installed can be just a few hours. pppl.gov
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Crocs in the spotlight at museum event
Reptile and Amphibian Day returns to the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences next Saturday, with more than 40 interactive exhibits, activities and presentations featuring both native and exotic species. The 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. event at the museum, at 11 W. Jones St. and 121 W. Jones St. in downtown Raleigh, puts the spotlight this year on crocodilians – crocodiles, alligators, caimans and gharials.
Special presentations in the SECU Daily Planet Theater (Nature Research Center) will be offered by Steve Dinkelacker, of the Sustainable Wildlife Initiative; Thomas Rainwater, of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; and the museum’s Bryan Stuart whose talk, “World of Crocs” explores the biology, behavior and habitats of crocodilians, which includes parts of Eastern North Carolina.
Admission to the museum and Reptile and Amphibian Day is free. Details: www.naturalsciences.org. Staff Reports
Duke study calculates social cost of fuels
When the environmental and human health toll is factored in, a gallon of gasoline costs us about $3.80 more than the pump price, a new Duke University study finds.
The social cost of a gallon of diesel is about $4.80 more than the pump price; the price of natural gas more than doubles; and coal-fired electricity more than quadruples. Solar and wind power, on the other hand, become cheaper than they initially seem.
“We think we know what the prices of fossil fuels are, but their impacts on climate and human health are much larger than previously realized,” said Drew Shindell, professor of climate sciences at Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment. “We’re making decisions based on misleading costs.”
Shindell’s study was published Feb. 26 in the peer-reviewed journal Climatic Change.
Current markets don’t place a price on most atmospheric emissions, so polluters typically pay none of those costs, he noted. Instead, society picks up the tab through increased risks of premature death or illness caused by air pollution, higher health care costs, lower crop yields, missed work and school days, increased insurance damages from floods and other extreme weather events linked to climate change and other social costs.
The comparative framework devised by Shindell to calculate these costs is built upon a widely used methodology introduced in 2010 to help the U.S. government determine the social costs of carbon. duke.edu