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The History Behind Texas Coal Power

ANDERSON — Straddling a dammed-up creek 20 miles east of College Station squats the Gibbons Creek Steam Electric Station, a massive coal-fired power plant supplying the city-owned utilities of Denton, Bryan, Garland and Greenville.

In the plant, a boiler is suspended from a steel beam like a glowing bee’s nest hanging from a giant tree limb. A conveyor feeds the boiler finely ground coal, fueling a fireball hotter than flowing lava. . . The control room on top of the plant is aglow with computer screens where workers in overalls press buttons to control feeders, fans and flow rates, and monitor the behavior of the fireball inside the boiler. Good behavior is determined by how much and what form of sulfur, carbon, mercury, nitrogen, particulates and other contaminates the burning coal produces.

“All this is just a giant chemistry experiment,” said Jan Horbaczewski. 

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RUN Author Wins SPJ Mark of Excellence

Jaycen was awarded the Society of Professional Journalists Region 8 Mark of Excellence Non-Fiction Magazine Article category, announced Mar. 30. Her article “Mr. Universe. Lonely Hearts and Einstein in Love: The Personal Side of Science” is a feature-length profile of former New York Times science editor and now self-dubbed “cosmic correspondent” Dennis Overbye.

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Permafrost thaw cracks urban infrastructure, students dig in

[Image: Google satellite image of the city of Norilsk, Russia.]

Students from Russia, U.S., Norway, Germany, Italy, China and U.K. arrived this week in Norilsk, Russia where they will spend two weeks in a field school to assess the effects of permafrost thaw on Russian urban infrastructure.

The student researchers will conduct permafrost research in the field as well as meet with representatives of the Norilsk-Nickel mining company and of local production plants and geological, planning, social and migration services to form a science-based dialogue about problems and solutions.

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Begging to write about science

So I got into grad school, after completing a large chunk of my studies, considering an interdisciplinary degree, and then deciding to choose the Mayborn School of Journalism at the University of North Texas. Here’s the essay that made them decide to let me in and support my goals. It explains a little about why I love writing about science.

Excerpt: “The first project on which I chose to test this skill set was a UNT chemist who created a compound that offered promising results for a team of scientists trying to solve “the incandescent lamp problem,” as they called it. I immersed in their studies and experiments, documenting interchangeably with photographs, audio, and impromptu questions at a series of interviews with various researchers who each performed different parts of this journey toward successful scientific innovation. The process of documenting their work became like a fast-paced puzzle with many layers of components. The experience was a fascinating whirlwind, and it was my first introduction to many of the basic challenges of communicating—as well as understanding— science. I was determined to work until the story shaped into a multi-media piece that conveyed not only the inherent technical information but also the broader impacts of my sources’ work on society, in a format and on a platform that could
reach non-scientists.”

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UNT polymer engineers partner with industry leader to develop advanced coatings technology

Building contractors across the country may owe certain thanks to UNT plastics engineers over the next few years.  Regents Professor of materials science and engineering Dr. Witold Brostow and his team at the Laboratory of Advanced Polymers and Optimized Materials(LAPOM) just completed their first contract with McKinney, TX based Encore Wire Corporation.

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“Custodians of Conscience,” a timeless analysis

The Transfiguration of Objectivity
A review of: Custodians of Conscience by James Ettema & Theodore Glasser

If you’ve ever picked up a book, started reading and found yourself in a whole new world a few days later with what you’re certain is a broader vision – a book that leaves you spinning from the ride and reveling in the valuable morsels of wisdom that now have become yours – you will enjoyCustodians of Conscience. This is especially true for anyone looking for an angle on the very essence of what makes journalism a powerful societal tool and a darn tough job.

James Ettema and Ted Glasser spent a decade compiling interviews with journalists’ journalists – the ones seen not only by their peers but by awards organizations such as the Pulitzer, Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University, and Investigative Reporters and Editors (IRE), as exceptional at their craft. These interviews are coupled with excerpts from the award winning stories of those journalists and a critical look at the methodologies and practices that surrounded the making of those great works of investigative journalism.

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This text is timeless: still strikingly fresh in today’s atmosphere in which reporters of all walks are questioning what they thought they knew about the role of journalism in society and audiences are severely disenchanted with traditional journalism.

The book not only confirmed my hunch that investigative journalism is the most potent form of journalism, but took that premise deep within social philosophy, cultural studies, politics, and historiography to create a picture of this stringent form of journalism that touches base on a number of different planes but never stays long.

Glasser and Ettema address some of the oldest canons of journalism – and reveal them in the work of their subjects – but in the very same breathe as they critically deconstruct those norms in order to give way to an interesting new language about journalistic practice.

Familiar themes that have always run current in journalistic work: verification, truth, value, credibility, irony, objectivity, are here placed in new light by referencing progressive thinkers and notable authors in a variety of disciplines. The authors introduce and educate us on the application of terms like “the irony of irony” and “the transfiguration of objectivity”, moral discourse, public indignation, and solidarity.

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