When physicist Flavio Noca first saw penguins zooming around underwater, he was blown away by their speed and maneuverability. Now, his team has built a robotic arm that perfectly mimics the flippers in action — and he says the device could someday propel underwater craft.
Emergency and health officials lift their recommendation that people evacuate the area around a fiery train crash. Many of the 2,400 residents of Casselton, N.D., have obeyed evacuation orders, fearing a large cloud of hazardous smoke and fumes.
The big energy story of 2013 was a boom in domestic oil production, especially in North Dakota. NPR's Arun Rath talks with national correspondent Jeff Brady, who saw the boom firsthand during a recent reporting trip to the state.
The U.S. may or may not have achieved energy independence in 2013. There is much debate about what that phrase means and when it might (or already did) happen. But the year just passed will definitely be remembered as a time when oil and natural gas markets started changing quickly and perceptions about America's role in world energy markets changed as well.
As baby boomers retire and drilling increases, energy companies are hiring, adding 23 percent more workers between 2009 and 2012. But the hiring spree has come with a terrible price: Last year, 138 workers were killed on the job, twice as many as in 2009.
North Dakota and western Canada are producing crude oil faster than rail cars and pipelines can take it to refineries. Now, one company wants to ship it by barge across the Great Lakes. That worries environmentalists, who say a 2010 tar sands oil spill near Lake Michigan has yet to be fully cleaned up.
Unless the erratic bursts of energy generated on a windy or sunny day can be stored and later measured out in an even way, these renewable sources of power can't be counted on to stabilize the electrical grid. Several battery-making startups hope to help — and reduce electric bills.
Crude oil from Canada's tar sands is booming business for refineries but residents of a Chicago neighborhood charge a byproduct called petroleum coke, or petcoke, is a nuisance and health hazard. They want towering mounds of the dusty substance moved out of the city. Chicago officials have reached a deal with one company requiring them to do so.
Kurt Mix was convicted for deleting text messages that had information about the worst offshore oil spill in the nation's history. That hindered a grand jury's investigation, prosecutors argued. He had been a drilling engineer with BP.
One former anti-nuke activist says the world can't afford to dismiss nuclear power, if we're to rein in global warming. Nuclear plants provide a more reliable energy supply than wind or solar, he says, and without the high carbon emissions that fossil fuels produce.
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