Musings on optics, physics, astronomy, technology and life

Posts tagged ‘environment’

Gas leak ‘strongly suspected’ in NYC explosion

Today a building blew up in the Brooklyn borough of New York, resulting in at least one death. Officials strongly suspect that a natural-gas leak was to blame, although of course the investigation is still going on.

For next month’s (November’s) issue of Optics & Photonics News, I’ve written an article about a possible new method for scanning city streets for gas leaks before they go kaboom. The technique doesn’t require entering buildings, and, as you might imagine, it involves a laser or two. Check out next month’s OPN for all the deets; it’s a special issue focusing on optics, energy, and the environment.

Gas mains deteriorate like the rest of our infrastructure. Wouldn’t it be great if we could fix their leaks quickly?


Keeping up with dark-sky issues

A couple of years ago, I said at the end of my OPN article on light pollution that I’d be blogging on that subject here. I’ll admit that I haven’t always done so, but I was heartened to read a couple of articles on the subject of dark skies this week, and I thought I’d pass them along to you.

Physics Central, a website run by the American Physical Society, posted an essay highlighting the push to create dark-sky reserves and to monitor the levels of sky brightness around observatories. The post includes a link to the trailer for the 2011 documentary The City Dark, which is absolutely required viewing if you have any interest at all in the subject (and for sharing at people who need to develop an interest!). The City Dark is now available on Netflix, so you no longer need to wait for a special film festival.

As a cover story in its Sunday magazine, the Washington Post covered the carnage caused by birds flying into brightly lit urban buildings — and the “Lights Out” groups who are trying to do something about it. The City Dark mentioned this as well, but this article brings the issue to people who would never go out of their way to watch a documentary about light pollution.

Let’s hope light pollution and the associated energy savings from proper lighting are finally getting into widespread public consciousness. Clear skies!