If you've ever been to a windy beach or a snow-blown landscape, you may have noticed a useless-looking fence with a pile of snow or sand on one side. The fence looks useless because it's full of holes - they're usually about 50% porous - and you might wonder what on earth they could be meant to control. It turns out that in windy conditions such a fence can cause a buildup of snow (or sand) on the downwind side, and that these fences are commonly used to prevent snowdrift across roadways as well as provide a measure of control over where snow or sand might build up.
It's been nearly thirty years since the last application for construction of a nuclear power plant was filed in the United States. Despite the age of the reactors already operating, however, the amount of our power generated using nuclear sources is second only to coal. The energy generated by nuclear plants is also increasing steadily, as delays in refueling shorten and reactors operate for longer periods of time. However, there are still numerous environmental concerns regarding the waste products generated by American nuclear reactors - by 2010, the total amount of dangerous waste will exceed 77,000 tons. Now, researchers have found a way to reprocess that waste using new technology while still generating power.
Half a mile underground is probably the last place you might expect to be able to observe atmospheric phenomena. If you knew about the MINOS experiment, however, you might think otherwise. MINOS, which stands for Main Injector Neutrino Oscillation Search, was built to detect particles originating far away but of terrestrial origin.
Recently, researchers have noticed that the detectors at MINOS occasionally detect particles from the atmosphere, and that these detections correlate with weather patterns in the high atmosphere.