The Pennsylvania town that's been on fire for 50 years

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Centralia, Pennsylvania is Hell on Earth. It's the town where a 12-year old boy once fell into a pit that "suddenly appeared in his grandmother’s backyard. He grabbed onto a tree root, and his cousin pulled him out from the steam-emitting hole in the earth." The pit was caused by an underground coal fire that's been burning for over 50 years "and may burn for several more centuries."

Pricenomics has a good short history of Centralia, which is now mostly abandoned.

[Photo credit: Lyndi and Jason via Flickr]

Why are diamonds clear, but coal black?

Maggie Koerth-Baker throws light on–and through–an opaque chemical mystery

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The legacy of Fukushima

At Time, Bryan Walsh reports on two pieces of news coming out of the aftermath of the Fukushima nuclear disaster. First, the World Health Organization has released estimates of the health effects on the plant's workers, the people who were involved in shutting it down, and the local residents who lived closest to the plant when it went into meltdown. These people will have an increased risk of leukemia, thyroid cancers, and cancer, in general. But the increase isn't as large as you might have feared. Walsh does a very good job of breaking down the statistics, here. The second bit of news is, unfortunately, not so good. In Germany, which decided to phase out nuclear power in the wake of Fukushima, coal power is on the rise. And it's rising faster than the increase in renewable energy.

A hole in the ground: Storing carbon dioxide thousands of feet below Illinois

One blazing hot afternoon in August of 2010, I stood on a mountain top in Alabama, staring at a styrofoam beer cooler upended over the top of a metal pole.

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What Fukushima can teach us about coal pollution

Earlier this week, I told you about a new study tracking radioactive fallout from the nuclear power plant disaster in Fukushima, Japan.

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