The Last Refuge of Man: 10 Best Doomsday Survival Bunkers

Advanced human civilization has lasted about 3000 years. The industrial age is only about 250 years old.

But I, for one, hope mankind is around for much longer than that. And it turns out, I am not the only one. 

So, when the nuclear zombie apocalypse comes... where you gonna be? Because if your answer is "downtown NYC" - you know you are screwed.

These sites give you a little more protection, and a little more hope that you or (most likely) someone else will at least be around to see the cockroaches, crows, hogs, seagulls and coyotes take over the earth.

Apocalypse 2012
A really bad case of the Mondays


1) The Seed Vault

While most bunkers on this list were built during the cold war when the focus was on building shelters to survive the nuclear holocaust and, most importantly, return fire, today there are those out there who are taking a much longer term approach to keeping the human race going. 

In a remote mountainside on the Norwegian tundra sits the "doomsday vault," a global seedbank that could be used to replant the world (it has 400,000 different types of seeds represented). It is remote, it should survive even without outside power sources, and it is secure: "anyone seeking access to the seeds themselves will have to pass through four locked doors: the heavy steel entrance doors, a second door approximately 115 meters down the tunnel and finally the two keyed air-locked doors, keys are coded to allow access to different levels of the facility. Not all keys unlock all doors."

This is a good thing, because when the time for rebuilding the earth comes, this is one of the most important resources the world has... and it clearly would make a pretty damn good James Bond villain base. 


File:Svalbard vault mountain cutaway.jpg

2) Raven Rock Mountain Complex, or Site R

Raven Rock Mountain Complex (RRMC) is an underground continuity of government facility built by the U.S. government in the early 1950s. It is located about 14 km (8.7 miles) east of Waynesboro, Pennsylvania, and 10 km (6.2 miles) north-northeast of Camp David, Maryland.


People don't know a whole hell of a lot about it, other than the fact it is an "underground Pentagon" and one of the major backup installations of the US govt. Built of course to ensure continuity of government in the case of nuclear war, it should be able to ensconce a small subset of the human population in relative safety.  

What we do know mostly comes from public records:
Site R's "footprint" is nearly 260,000 square feet (24,180 square meters); its total usable floor space is perhaps three times larger. Operated by nearby Fort Detrick, Site R's facilities are designed to handle 3,000 people and include sophisticated computer and communications equipment, a reservoir, medical and dental facilities, dining hall, barber shop, and chapel. Although twenty-four-hour staffing of the site ended in February 1992, by October 1997 more than 500 military and civilian personnel still worked at the facility.5 Construction costs are unknown but likely match or exceed the $1 billion spent on Mount Weather. According to the FYDP, from fiscal 1962 to 1992 (the last year funds were recorded as being expended), maintaining and operating the ANMCC cost more than $1 billion.

Raven-rock-site-r-logo.jpg
Not creepy at all....
 3) High Point Special Facility (SF)/Mount Weather: Berryville, Virginia

The Mount Weather site is an unacknowledged continuity of government (CoG) facility operated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The 200,000-square-foot (18,600-square-meter) facility, with an estimated floor space of three times that amount, also houses FEMA's National Emergency Coordinating Center, which operates twenty-four hours a day, tracking worldwide disasters, both natural and manmade. 


Located on a 434-acre mountain site 48 miles (77 kilometers) (by air) from Washington, D.C., the surface complex includes about a dozen buildings staffed by more than 240 employees. The Bureau of Mines began constructing the facility's tunnels in 1954, which were completed by the Army Corps of Engineers under the code name "Operation High Point." Total construction costs, adjusted for inflation, are estimated to have exceeded $1 billion. Tunnel roofs are shored up with some 21,000 iron bolts driven eight to 10 feet (2.4 to 3 meters) into the overhead rock. The entrance is protected by a guillotine gate and a 34-ton blast door that is 10 feet (3 meters) tall, 20 feet (6 meters) wide, and 5 feet (1.5 meters) thick and reportedly takes 10 to 15 minutes to open or close. In other words, zombie killing sorties will have to be sure they are not followed back to the base.

Completed in 1958, the underground bunker includes a hospital, crematorium, dining and recreation areas, sleeping quarters, reservoirs of drinking and cooling water, an emergency power plant, and a radio and television studio that is part of the Emergency Broadcasting System. From 1961 to 1970, the site was connected to the Bomb Alarm System, a network of sensors mounted on telephone poles adjacent to ninety-nine cities and military bases which would detect a nuclear detonation by its intense thermal flash and signal this event to Mount Weather and other military command posts, permitting both damage assessment and helping to confirm whether or not an attack had occurred. A large electronic map in a special room would indicate via tiny red light bulbs where explosions had occurred (this system was later replaced by more sophisticated space-based sensors).7 A series of side tunnels accommodates a total of twenty office buildings, some of which are three stories tall. Wth an on-site sewage treatment plant that can process 90,000 gallons (340,650 liters) a day and two 250,000-gallon (946,250-liter) aboveground storage tanks, the facility can support a population of 200 for up to 30 days. Although it is designed to accommodate several thousand people (with sleeping cots for 2,000), only the President, the Cabinet, and Supreme Court are provided private sleeping quarters.

4) The Shanghai Complex

shanghai motorway

Very little is known about this complex, but what is known is significant. In 2006 The Shanghai Morning Post announced the completion of a million square foot bunker capable of housing up to 200,000 people. This is the largest capacity for a bunker we have ever heard. This shelter was designed to withstand blast, nuclear radiation and poisionous gas emissions. So yes, even after the apocalypse, China will have more people than anyone else. 

According to Shanghai Morning Post, 15 tunnels, each of which stretches 4,000 meters, link more than 10 trading centers, office buildings, and residential buildings throughout the city. The complex is equipped with its own power supply, ventilation, and power storage capability, which is able to ensure a daily underground supply for 1–2 weeks. The shelter is also well connected to ground-level railway transportation from southern Xingzhuang region to northern Baoshan, providing flexibility to those seeking refuge from disasters. During non-emergencies, portions of the underground bunker could potentially be used as a commercial garage or storehouse.

Official news stories don’t give any official explanation as to the purpose of this facility, but it seems fairly clear.

5. The Greenbriar Bunker

Greenbrier bunker

The Greenbrier bunker demonstrates the fact that not all bunkers are located in conspicious locations. Back in 1958 the United States government agreed to build the luxury hotel a brand new addition, in exchange they were also allowed to build a 120,000 square foot bunker beneath it.

The Greenbrier in Virginia, a mere 5-6 hour drive from Washington D.C., was a popular vacation destination for Washingtons elite. This location was at one time the destination for members of Congress, the Senate and their respective staff (up to 1100). This would mean that under the Continuity of Government plan, this location would have become the house and the senate. Codenamed “Project Greek Island”, the bunker was filled with survival necessities. It included; 53 rooms, a 7500 square foot kitchen with 2 months of food, 18 dormitories which could sleep 60 people (each with toilets, shower and a small lounge), a 600 square foot medical clinic with 12 beds and an intensive care and operation room and all the radio and communications equipment needed to send messages to “survivors”.

6. The Burlington Bunker

burlington map

100 feet beneath the surface or Corsham, exists a 35 acre cold war city known as the Burlington Bunker. Code named “Burlington”, the British government built this site in 1950 in case of nuclear strike and was intended to be the Emergency Government War Headquarters. The shelter was designed to accommodate 6,000 people for up to 3 months. And with the underground lake and water treatment facility, it is possible that people could live here much longer than that. You will see all the typically bunker equipment here, everything from an underground power station to communications equipment and even the second largest telephone exchange in Britain. The BBC would’ve broadcast emergency messages from this location.
The site was decommissioned in 2005.

7. Iron Mountain
Iron Mountain - Truck
Yes, you have seen their trucks driving around, but Iron Mountain does in fact have an iron mountain. Or iron bunker under a mountain really. 

Iron Mountain  - Entrancecorbis inside mountain

This facility, while not officially recognized as a survival bunker, could easily be viewed as one. Taking up 10,000 square feet of space in a 1,000 acre limestone mine, the Iron Mountain storage facility is massive and rumored to be one of the most secure locations in the world. Records were stored here as early as 1954 but in 1998 a private company called Iron Mountain Incorporated purchased the old mine.

Today everything from social security records to bill gates private collection is stored here. All of the most important records will be stored in the refrigerated archive at a cool -4 degrees. Records stored in this way could be preserved for thousands of years.

There is speculation that this facility would double over as a relocation center for Americas private industry moguls. The mine includes a 5 engine fire department, power generators, de-humidification, refrigeration and air filtration systems, an underground lake with water purification, as well as high tech sprinklers, plumbing and wiring throughout.

8. The Moscow Under-Underground

moscow metro bunker
Unknown to most traveling the subways of Moscow, there is something more down there than just a basic transit system. There is a large subterranean system of secrets trains and bunkers beneath Moscow, most of which was built by Stalin during the Cold war (code named D-6). What we know about this facility is very little, mostly because there are few (if any) first hand accounts of a secret metro’s existence. Interestingly, in 1991 the United States Department of Defense released a report saying this:

“The Soviets have constructed deep-underground both in urban Moscow and outside the city. These facilities are interconnected by a network of deep interconnected subway lines that provide a quick and secure means of evacuation for the leadership. The leadership can move from their peacetime offices through concealed entryways in protective quarters beneath the city. There are important deep-underground command posts in the Moscow area, one located at the Kremlin. Soviet press has noted the presence of an enormous underground leadership bunker adjacent to Moscow State University. These facilities are intended for the national command authority in wartime. They are estimated to be 200-300 meters deep, and can accommodate an estimated 10,000 people. A special subway line runs from some points in Moscow and possibly to the VIP terminal at Vnukovo Airfield(…)”

—Military forces in transition, 1991, p. 40

9) Ohio Class Submarine


Though designed as a way to ensure doomsday rather than survive it, after they launched their nukes the SSBNs would be some of the best places to be. The Ohio has 140 crew and 15 officers. 42ft wide and 560ft long, these beasts weigh 18,000 tons, or about as much as a WWII aircraft carrier. 

But the important thing is this: they run off a nuclear reactor which only needs replacing once every 20 years or so. They produce their own water from desalinization facilities, and generally carry stores to go for a year or more without the need to replenish. Yes, you would need to surface once in a while for fresh air, but there are re-breathers to minimize that need. 

In addition to being safe from just about everything in the world, you would have the advantage of an amazing array of communications platforms and build in technology. On the downside though, women were not allowed to serve on submarines until 2 years ago, and even today there are likely to be only one or two aboard any sub.... so... yeah, humanity will likely not make it very long if this is all we have left. 

10) Google

Google would probably never think of itself as a doomsday bunker, but it is. You see, Google doesn't actually search the internet when it does its searches for you. It searches a downloaded copy of the internet it has on its own servers. This downloaded copy exists all over Google's data centers, and it is perhaps the single most important element in the human race being able to rebuild after doomsday. And the best part is? Google's data centers are often build to be largely off-grid, or at least capable of operating on their own. 

Google has data centers all over the place, and importantly, they have them underground as well. 




And the best part? Google bought a company working on building new, small, efficient nuclear reactors, and will soon be installing some of these mini-nukes around the world to ensure steady power supplies for its data centers. 

So yes, a nuclear powered google will likely emerge as a new powerhouse of knowledge and of course porn after the world collapses. 

11) Niue 

File:Niue on the globe (Polynesia centered).svg

Yes, this is meant to be a top 10 list, but I just had to throw this one in there. Niue is a self-governing rock in the middle of nowhere. It has about 100sq mi of land, and 1,400 or so inhabitants, almost all native Polynesian.

While you might think this would be a little bit like Lost, there would be no polar bears, smoke monsters, "others" or time travel (we assume). And unlike Lost, many of the inhabitants would know what to do with a small tropical island, as subsistence farming and fishing is still a way of life for most of the population. 
File:Niue-cia-world-factbook-map.png
Zombies would have trouble with the coral reef....
Also, all of Alofi and most of the other towns are covered with free wifi - so as long as someone has bothered to download all of wikipedia onto their computer, mankind will be pretty much good to go. Other than being stuck 1,000 miles from anywhere in the middle of the South Pacific.. 

Maybach and Aptera killed off on the same day

Hello Heli Helpers

Marines in Afghanistan Execute the World's First Cargo Resupply with an Unmanned Helicopter - http://pulse.me/s/4b8Kv

Top 10 worst selling vehicles of 2011

These are your top 10 worst-selling vehicles of 2011 - Autoblog - http://pulse.me/s/4I8x6

The Myth of the Flat Earth

Christopher Columbus's efforts to obtain support for his voyages were not hampered by a European belief in a flat Earth. Sailors and navigators of the time knew that the Earth was roughly spherical, but (correctly) disagreed with Columbus's estimate of the distance to India, which was approximately one-sixth of the actual distance. If the Americas did not exist, and had Columbus continued to India, he would have run out of supplies before reaching it at the rate he was traveling. Without the ability to determine longitude at sea, he could not have noticed that his estimate was an error in time to return. This longitude problem remained unsolved until the 18th century, when the lunar distance method emerged in parallel with efforts by inventor John Harrison to create the first marine chronometers. The intellectual class had known that the Earth was spherical since the works of the Greek philosophers Plato and Aristotle. Eratosthenes made a very good estimate of the Earth's diameter in approximately 240 BCE. In other words, Eratosthenes would have made a better Christopher Columbus than Christopher Columbus.

The Best Clock Ever Made

Ok, ok, I would say that the clock of the long now, or the new atomic clock in Boulder are probably the real contenders for the best clock in the world.

But this? This is just freaking cool - and you could probably build one yourself.

Amazing Staircases

These are pretty damn cool... I wish I had the slide one when I was a kid..























Bidding for Saab's Remains: No GM Allowed

One of the publicly released bidders for Saab has just pulled back, shooting insults at GM for making the deal impossible.

Essentially what is going on is this: Saab is completely bankrupt, but licenses a lot of its technology from GM. And by "a lot of its technology" I mean the entire Saab 9-5 and 9-4X, leaving the company with the rights only to the new 9-3 (with the previous 9-5 and current, my, 9-3 already having been sold to China).

Now, the new 9-3 concept is cool, but the production car doesn't even exist yet.

The old 9-5 lives on, with funky headlights
And my 9-3 lives on, pretty much unchanged

But the reality is this: one car does not a brand make. Here is the full story:


"Nearly three months on the Saab story is the same: company makes a bid, General Motors knocks it back. But this time, the latest round of corporate "He said/She said" puts Turkey's Brightwell Holdings on the other side of the table instead of a Chinese company. Brightwell was the other publicly identified bidder for Saab that pledged to make a bid, along with Chinese concern Youngman.

Brightwell blames GM "intransigence," a familiar epithet by now, has scuppered the possibility of a deal. GM says that's not the case, rather that a deal for Saab can't include any of the technology licensed from GM. Brightwell believed that that condition only applied to Chinese buyers, since GM's position that it didn't want to compete with another company using its intellectual property was always taken in reference to interest from companies like Youngman and Hawtei.

If GM's position is that it won't license its technology to anyone anywhere, that could alter the landscape for the six to 14 bidders rreported to be hovering over Saab's remains. Based on Youngman's last statements, it should still be in the mix, though: it pledged to make a bid for Saab that avoids GM-developed vehicles like the 9-5 and 9-4X and restarts the brand with the new 9-3 on Saab's Phoenix architecture.

Brightman hasn't ruled itself out completely yet. Having spent "millions of euros" on its bid, a firm partner said that if GM is open to discussions then he "will jump on a plane and visit them in Detroit.""

So... there is some, small, hope. But without the new 9-5 (which I have taken for a test drive, and is a very nice car -- though sadly from my perspective the manual transmission is only available with the base engine, killing the potential) Saab is left looking pretty threadbare, more of a factory, a badge, and a bunch of hungry dealers than a full car company.



Photo of the day: Porsche Carrera GT

mmmmmm



The Collapse of Print Advertising

This is pretty amazing - print media, not doing as well as it was once...

The Government Will Soon Mandate A Camera On Every Car's Ass

This is getting ridiculous.

The government is now going to regulate a backup camera on every car. This also mandates a LCD and complex wiring on every car. The upshot? They estimate it will save 100 lives a year.

Ok, noble cause and all that. But lets think about this for a second.

There are 5.5 million vehicles sold in the US each year. Each of these systems will add, conservatively, $200 to the cost of a new vehicle.

Do the math. That's $1.1 billion dollars. To save 100 people.

In other words, $110 million per life saved.

There is only one just way to put a value on a human life: the value of another human life. For $1.1 billion, you could save orders of magnitudes more lives than 100. And that is the only math which makes sense.

You can't regulate every risk out of existence. This is the real world. You have to chose. Everything that you chose means you didn't choose something else. This is a bad choice.

Clean and Green 'aint gonna do it

Green is dead. Long live Green.

Most clean technology is a complete and utter waste of time.

And now it turns out, a complete and utter waste of money.

Photo: Dan Forbes
Fail. Epic Fail.

In 2005, VC investment in clean tech measured in the hundreds of millions of dollars. The following year, it ballooned to $1.75 billion. By 2008, it had leaped to $4.1 billion. And the federal government followed. Through a mix of loans, subsidies, and tax breaks, our lovely and almost completely misguided government directed roughly $44.5 billion into the sector between late 2009 and late 2011. The bill which allowed the government to do so was ironically designed to funnel money into nuclear, but the nuclear industry just never took off, due to the shortsightedness of mankind.

The investments did result in some real capacity: at the end of 2006, the total capacity of all the wind turbines installed in the US was 11,468 megawatts, enough to power 3.2 million homes. By 2010, it was nearly four times that much.

But... there were issues. And issues which caused issues. Because so many manufacturers had been getting into making solar panels, increased demand had driven the price of processed silicon from around $50 per kilogram in 2004 to well above $300 by 2008. When the higher production costs were factored in, the price of electricity from solar firms was 17 to 23 cents per kilowatt-hour, even after subsidies. That was about twice the average price of conventionally produced electricity at the time.

The ironic part is that the high price of silicone actually drove additional investment. Everyone took the transition from "dirty" to "clean" energy sources as a given. If you believed in that wild assumption law from God, you then jumped to the next conclusion: the high price of silicone meant it was economic to invest in technology which was higher-cost, but also higher-efficiency. So all kinds of VC money and Govt. money was poured into technology which promised higher efficiency than good 'ol silicone.. *cough* *Solyndra* *cough*

The 2008 financial collapse erased a quarter of the gains VC firms had made between 2003 and 2007, and the sudden paucity of capital—combined with the difficulty of taking smaller companies public—hit renewable startups particularly hard. Venture investments in clean tech fell from $4.1 billion in 2008 to $2.5 billion in 2009.

But, the money the federal government delivered dwarfed what VCs had put into clean energy. The loan guarantee program alone provided a little more than $16 billion for 28 projects. The government pumped an additional $12.1 billion into the sector through tax credits. All told, federal subsidies for renewable energy nearly tripled between 2007 and 2010, rising from $5.1 billion to $14.7 billion. The federal largesse also made clean tech look like a safer bet to the VC world, whose investments rebounded after the 2009 dip.

But a long came a savior for America big ugly troll: fracking. Fracking fracking fracking fracked the clean energy industry.

(That line does not make sense unless you watched Battlestar Gallactica, where the word "frack" replaces the word "fuck"... try it out).

Basically, the price of natural gas peaked at nearly $13 per thousand cubic feet in 2008. It now stands at around $3. A decade ago, shale gas accounted for less than 2 percent of America’s natural gas supply; it is now approaching one-third, and industry officials predict that the total reserves will last a century. Because 24 percent of electricity comes from power plants that run on natural gas, that has helped keep costs down to just 10 cents per kilowatt-hour—and from a source that creates only half the CO2 pollution of coal. Put all that together and you’ve undone some of the financial models that say it makes sense to shift to wind and solar. And in a time of economic uncertainty, the relatively modest carbon footprint of natural gas gets close enough on the environmental front for a lot of people to feel just fine turning up the air-conditioning.

Another blow to the domestic clean-tech industry was a glut of processed silicon that sent prices back down below $30 a kilogram. That price, combined with the technological simplicity of manufacturing conventional solar panels, opened the door to relatively unsophisticated operators. For example, in 2007, a Chinese textile manufacturer approached Arno Harris, CEO of utility developer Recurrent Energy, to see if he’d be interested in buying solar panels that they hoped to begin making.

The "sure thing" was coming apart at the seams.


There was another factor driving down the cost of conventional photovoltaics. In recent years, China has worked aggressively to develop its domestic solar production capacity. National banks have given credit lines that dwarf the federal loans US firms enjoyed; local and provincial governments have provided tax incentives as well as land at below-market rates; and the national government recently established a so-called feed-in tariff, which compels utilities to buy electricity from solar developers at above-market rates to offset their production costs.

Understandably, American firms have struggled to remain competitive. In 1995, more than 40 percent of all silicon-based solar modules worldwide were made in the US; now it’s 6 percent.


Even while all this investment was going on, America's demand was growing, and the clean and green boom was failing to meet rising demand, let alone take over from fossil  fuels. This was even more true in the rest of the world, especially China and India, where massive capital investments in coal dwarfed the current investment in green and clean.




Long story short: solar and wind have a long way to go: and they are not going to make it. A lot of the other alternatives, such as algal bio-fuels, are yet to graduate kindergarten.

Yet again, let me drive home one very important point. The only, and I mean ONLY, logical way for mankind to produce power is with nuclear energy. Yes, the Japanese disaster is worrying, but honestly had a very small impact even though it was a partial or full meltdown of three reactors. And new reactors just keep getting better.

The US isn't just falling behind in nuclear power, we are getting lapped. However, US companies still have a lot of expertise in the field, and we could take advantage of that to build a new generation of clean, cheap, safe nuclear power. But will we? No. We will sink billions and billions of dollars into economic inefficient technology because it looks, sounds and feels greener than nuclear.

In that way, I am inventing a new world. Just as Colbert created "truthiness" - the amount which something gives of the feeling of being true, regardless of fact, I over "greeniness" - the amount which something seems environmentally friendly, regardless of the reality of the situation.

A quick overview, from wired.com:

Power Struggles

For each unique green-tech sector, a unique set of challenges.

Solar

Promise: Enough sunlight hits Earth in one hour to power the world for a year. In 2010, the solar industry predicted that as many as 500,000 people would be directly or indirectly employed in the US solar sector by 2016.
Reality: As we head into 2012, the number is more like 100,000. Prices for conventional solar cells have fallen 40 percent in the past year, due largely to a flood of panels from Chinese manufacturers, which have benefited from plunging silicon prices and government support. The price drop has eviscerated the US solar manufacturing industry.
Outlook: China’s 54 percent share of the global panel-making market will grow, and we’ll remain locked into older technology. But cheap panels mean more of them on rooftops, which is good.

Wind

Promise: The US has the potential to generate enough wind energy to meet the nation’s total consumption 12 times over.
Reality: At $35 a megawatt-hour, wind looked like a good deal back in 2007, when wholesale electric prices ranged between $45 and $85 per megawatt-hour. But the natural gas boom, plus the 2008 recession, drove prices under $30 by 2009, eliminating wind’s financial edge. Also, NIMBY protests have made getting approval for a wind farm in the US as difficult as getting it for a coal-fired plant.
Outlook: Cheaper prices for turbines should result in lower costs for wind power by 2014. Though growth has slowed since 2008, this sector is still expected to cover about a third of any increased energy consumption in the US between now and 2035.

Algae

Promise: Algae is, by some measures, up to 30 times more energy-dense than other biofuel crops. It ought to yield cheaper fuel, saving huge swaths of arable land.
Reality: A recent Department of Energy road map includes a 33-item list of R&D challenges—from assessing environmental risks to creating efficient conversion methods—that must be overcome for algae to be viable. In fact, researchers still aren’t able to cultivate the stuff on a large scale.
Outlook: In 2010, the DOE cautioned that “many years of both basic and applied science and engineering will likely be needed to achieve affordable, scalable, and sustainable algae-based fuels.”

Fuel Cells

Promise: Zero-emission energy for everything from laptops to cars to power stations, all fueled by the most abundant element in the universe, hydrogen.
Reality: To compete with fossil fuels, the electricity from fuel cells needs to sell for around $30 per kilowatt. Right now, that figure is about $49. Also, there are only about 60 hydrogen refueling stations in the country, serving around 200 small vehicles and 15 buses. Industry leader FuelCell Energy lost $56.3 million in 2010 and has never turned a profit.
Outlook: Even if fuel cells become cheaper and more reliable, a workable hydrogen infrastructure is still decades away.

Batteries

Promise: Zero-emission vehicles (assuming that the power for recharging the batteries comes from zero-emission sources).
Reality: The federal government injected $2.4 billion into the battery industry in 2009, under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, with the stated goal of getting more electric cars on the road. But expensive materials means that advanced lithium-ion batteries still cost about $650 per kilowatt-hour of usable energy. At that level, the 24-kWh battery pack for a Nissan Leaf costs more than some cars.
Outlook: Despite a White House call to get battery prices down to $100 per kWh by 2020, the rosiest predictions foresee nothing cheaper than $300 per kWh over the next decade.

Cellulosic Biofuel

Promise: Biodiesel derived from stalks, trunks, stems, and leaves—rather than plant oils or the edible parts of crops—would supply cheap renewable energy without hitting the food supply.
Reality: In 2010, the US produced 88 million gallons of cellulosic biofuel—less than a year’s output from a single corn ethanol plant. Large-scale commercialization is still not viable, because the sugars in biomass are harder to tease out than those in corn. Building a cellulosic ethanol plant costs up to four times as much as building a first-gen biofuel plant.
Outlook: In 2007, the government set a target of 100 million gallons of cellulosic biofuel reaching pumps annually. In 2010, that target was revised down to just 6.6 million gallons.

Smart Meters

Promise: Replace analog meters with digital devices that provide real-time feedback to both customers and utilities, which would help build more efficiency and stability into the grid.
Reality: Smart meters are being widely deployed. But fringe groups have voiced concerns about privacy and health that have slowed or canceled rollouts in several communities. And faulty meters that led to higher bills have caused several local governments to require independent reviews of the systems.
Outlook: Smart meters are the linchpin of the smart grid—computer-based automation of electricity delivery. None of these early glitches are likely to get in the way for long. Analysts predict 250 million smart meters will be installed worldwide by 2015.

Charging Stations

Promise: A network of 240- and 480-volt charging-station kiosks could dot roadsides and parking lots, like ATMs for electric cars.
Reality: The fastest charge for a Nissan Leaf takes about 30 minutes at 480 volts. Unless we could suddenly install enough stations to guarantee no waiting (there are currently only 1,800 nationwide), the time commitment means that recharging on the go just isn’t feasible. For the most part, electric-car owners are limited to as much driving as they can get from a single at-home charge.
Outlook: The cost of kiosks (up to $35,000 each) plus relatively low demand means they’ll be limited to metropolitan areas for years to come.




Photo of the Day: Rocket Across the Northern Lights

Amazing..

Russia Goes all Jurassic Park... on a flower...

Well, it's not quite Jurassic Park, but Russian scientists have brought back to life a long dead species.

The species in question is not quite as bad-ass as a T-Rex drilled out of the amber-entombed body of a bloodsucker. Instead, it is actually a quite pretty flower from the tundra which was buried by a squirrel.

And yes, instead of 65 million years old, this is only 30,000 years old.

But still, pretty cool, seeing as the flower is quite different from its modern descendants (obviously, evolution doesn't exist, God just likes to do lots of tweaking...)

I is alive. w00t w00t
 The flower, a narrow-leafed Campion has since born fruit and reports it is feeling quite well, if a little bit groggy from the long sleep.

The one I feel sorry for though is the squirrel, that guy must be hungry.

Nokia Corners the Market on Megapixels

BREAKING NEWS!

WORLD RUNNING OUT OF MEGAPIXELS!

NOKIA BUYS WORLD SUPPLY!!!

Ok, actually, they just released a phone (phone!!) with a 41MP sensor.

Yes, that's 41 mega pixels.

All your megapixels are belong to Nokia

The true heir to the previous best-camera-phone-on-the-market Nokia N8, this new Nokia N808 is sporting Symbian Belle as an OS (a decent but a little dated OS), a bit of a chunky exterior, an ok screen and 2nd tier but still decent internals.

But the real story of course is the camera. Seriously Nokia, wow, 41MP???? What the hell do you do with that? Already with my 12MP dSLR the only real benefit over my old 6MP dSLR is that you can crop the hell out of the image without loosing resolution. With 41MP, I am not sure what you do, crop a postage stamp picture out of a poster size print?

Regardless, I am damn impressed.


Should Wyoming Build an Aircraft Carrier?



Should Wyoming Build an Aircraft Carrier?
http://motherjones.com/mojo/2012/02/should-wyoming-build-aircraft-carrier

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New clue to Neanderthal wipe-out



New clue to Neanderthal wipe-out
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-17179608

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BoN Statment On America


Americans believe in progress. They believe that the world will continue to improve. This is because in the history of America, it almost always has. For every generation after the greatest generation (my grandparents) it has always been getting better. This fundamental belief has become one of the greatest threats to America. The reason is simple, there is a large percentage of this country which now believes that we have improved so much not because of hard work, not because of American industry, but because it is simply what happens in America. They are not sure exactly why it happens, or how it happens, they have never really thought about it that way. Instead, they focus on what to do with all of this progress we have achieved. They don’t look at where we are today and say “wow, look how far we have come, lets see how much further we can go.” They look at where we are today and say “look where we are, the only fair thing to do is share this with everyone.” On its face, it is an appealing concept, and has taken in a large percentage of the population. But in real
America is the 8th richest country per capita. An amazing achievement even more amazing when you consider it’s the only real economy in the top ten. Number one is Lichtenstein, which is about as large as my bathtub. Number two is Qatar which is practically a floating island on a sea of oil. Number three is Luxembourg, which is Lichtenstein’s fraternal twin but just happens to be squished between two different European powers. Four is Norway, which is the only developed country in the world which could live off its oil assets. Five is Kuwait – oil. Six, Singapore, less than 300sq miles. Seven Brunei, which used to sport the richest man in the world, and does hold the largest private collection of supercars. Nine is Hong Kong, enough said. And ten is Andorra, the third in the triumvirate of tiny European tax havens. Depending on how you count things, Switzerland and Ireland both need to be included, though Ireland is probably a little outdated at this point, and Switzerland is sort of a big version of Lichtenstein – a haven from the EU stuck right in the middle of it.
The important thing to think about here is that America has the highest per-capita GDP of any major country, by a fair margin. And if anything is going to help people, it is a higher per-capita GDP. It does not have the appeal or the ring to it of social security, welfare, medicare or “health care reform,” but it does have the singular advantage of actually working. In 1900, the