Here are some interesting environmental links folks are Digging today:
• The Guardian: "Five mysteries of the universe"
— From dark energy to the inefficiency of sex to the brain's illusion of free will, the Guardian wraps up five of the most perplexing scientific head-scratchers.
• Ars Technica: "US wind power grew by 50% in 2008 as China's doubled"
— Recent news that the United States became the world's top wind producer in 2008 has been overshadowed by the industry's economic free fall in '09, although many hope the looming economic stimulus bill will revive the entire clean-energy sector. But while U.S. wind power overtook Germany with a 50 percent increase last year, China's capacity doubled — for the fourth year in a row. Overall, global wind power grew by nearly 30 percent.
— For nine months, 17 orphaned chimps received daily "mom sessions," in which humans played with them, taught them motor skills and generally treated them like human infants. When the 9-month-old pampered chimps competed in an IQ test against actual human babies of the same age, the chimps scored an average of nearly 10 points higher. The study's authors say it demonstrates the intellectual capacity of nonhuman apes as well as the importance of attentive parenting to all primates.
• The New York Times: "Saving the Suburbs, Part 2"
— NYT design blogger Allison Arieff has written a two-part series on what to do with all those inefficient, far-flung suburbs that are being abandoned, many before construction is even finished. The idea of suburban ghost towns drew interest last March following Christopher Leinberger's article called "The Next Slum?" in Atlantic Monthly, which cited high gas prices and the housing crisis as catalysts driving many Americans back to cities.
• InventorSpot: "Room Light Saves Energy by Adjusting its Own Brightness"
— A new ceiling lamp developed by Panasonic adjusts its brightness to light rooms evenly; a luminance sensor detects ambient light, from other lamps or the sun, and dims or brightens accordingly, which reportedly can reduce power consumption by up to 60 percent.