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The Sciences

Saints + Sinners: Satellite Crashers, Alien-Hunter Funders


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Saint: The Environmental Protection Agency
In January the EPA launched a public database of power plants, landfills, and other facilities that emit at least 25,000 metric tons of greenhouse gases annually. In addition to providing eye-popping statistics—for example, the dirtiest 3 percent of these large facilities account for 45 percent of their total emissions—the registry should put pressure on companies to cut emissions and to report them accurately.

Sinners: Nuclear LootersOver the last year political turmoil in Egypt has led to looting of shops, restaurants, and museums. Now it has spread to a scarier target: nuclear storage sites. In January, the International Atomic Energy Agency announced that unidentified thieves had stolen “low-level radioactive sources” from a safe at El Dabaa, the planned site of Egypt’s first nuclear power plant.

Saints: SETI Donors After eight months of inactivity, the 42 radio antennas of the Allen Telescope Array in Hat Creek, California, resumed their search for signals from extraterrestrial life last December. The SETI Institute raised enough money from private donors and the Air Force (who will use the scopes to search for space debris) to fund the cash-strapped facility.

Sinner: RussiaIt’s understandable that Russian officials would be frustrated after their $165-
million Mars probe, Phobos-Grunt, malfunctioned and crashed into the Pacific Ocean earlier this year. But there’s no excuse for publicly blaming the United States. Russian officials say U.S. radar could have damaged the probe’s control systems. The head of the country’s space agency went even further, reportedly saying “there are some very powerful countermeasures that can be used against spacecraft whose use we cannot exclude.”

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