Powerful Ideas on
IMAGINE A NEW breed of all-electric
cars that can travel 300 miles or more
before needing a quick rechargealmost three times farther than current
hybrid models that rely on gasoline
as a backup.
Innovative science in the university's
recently launched Energy Frontier
Research Center may lead to such a
vehicle within a decade, says Gary
Rubloff, the Minta Martin Professor of
Engineering and director of the center.
Working with Sang Bok Lee, associate
professor of chemistry and biochemistry,
Rubloff is developing "super
batteries" that can store more energy,
deliver more power and recharge much
faster than existing devices can. The
key, says Rubloff, is exploiting the honeycomb
patterns of nanoscale pores in
aluminum oxide, using arrays of these
nanowires to build compact yet
extremely efficient batteries.
Linking faculty from engineering,
chemical and life sciences and computer
science, the energy research center
was funded with $14 million from the
U.S. Department of Energy as part of a
new program that brings together
groups of leading scientists to address
fundamental energy issues. -TV
Where Have All the Frogs Gone?
Lips's research on exotic frogs was featured in a Nature documentary.
FROGS AND OTHER amphibians are mysteriously disappearing from the
planet, and biologist Karen Lips is racing against time to save them. One-third
of the 6,300 species of amphibians are in decline and 168 have gone
extinct in the last 20 years, with more disappearing each day. The
crisis has required Lips and her colleagues to act as detectives at a
crime scene, investigating sites where they find the bodies of thousands
of dead frogs to unravel what went wrong.
The golden frog used to be common in Panama. Photocredit: Andrew Young
Copyright ©1995 - 2008 Public Broadcasting Service (PBS).
All Rights Reserved
While pollution and other environmental factors are taking their toll
on frogs, Lips and others discovered that it's an unusual fungus, called
, or Bd, that's causing massive frog die-offs
in locations as disparate as Panama, Australia and the National Zoo in
Washington, D.C. Unfortunately, these experts don't know where this fungus
originated and don't know how to stop it. They do know that it likes cool, wet
climates, where frogs also thrive, and that it spreads rapidly.
After Lips documented the disease's rapid and devastating impact on
frogs in Costa Rica and Panama, her colleagues rushed to evacuate frogs
from the forests of Central Panama to save them from the advancing fungus.
Today, their facility shelters 58 species of frogsincluding some of
the rarest on earth.
Lips is also investigating the fungus's impact in the U.S. and whether it has
caused the decline of several species of salamanders in Appalachia, which has
the highest biodiversity of salamanders in the world. In addition, she is documenting
the impact that these extinctions are having on ecosystems.
"Once amphibians are eliminated from an ecosystem, everything else
changes," she explains. "Snakes disappear, algae grows, sediments accumulate
and affect water quality. We don't know yet how many of these
changes are irrevocable." -KB