Mountain News 

Thin air a solution?

TELLURIDE, Colo. - Does thin air induce greater clarity of thought? That conclusion could easily be drawn from two separate reports about scientists congregating at both Crested Butte and Telluride.

At the rustic ghost town of Gothic, located near Crested Butte at an elevation of 2,896-metres, scientists have gathered each summer since 1928 to study biological processes and, increasingly, their impact by humans. Among those scientists has been John P. Holdren, the scientific advisor to President Barack Obama.

With a $1.8 million federal grant, the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory is now erecting a solar-powered building where scientists can use precise instruments and techniques to study biological processes at the molecular level, instead of just through observation, reports the Crested Butte News .

At Telluride, elevation 2,667-metres, a vision has been announced of creating a new institute where scientists could meet each summer to collaborate on how to store solar energy - a key challenge if it is to displace fossil fuels to a far greater extent.

Scientists working through the local Telluride Science Research Center recently appealed to potential donors. "We know how to capture sunlight, but the challenge is to store it," said Michael Wasielewski, a chemist and director of the Argonne-Northwestern Solar Energy Research Center.

The 25 to 30 groups of scientists around the world who are working on solving the storage problem for solar energy need to spend face time together, and they need a focal point. That's where a "small but viable lab in Telluride" comes in, Wasielewski told the potential donors.

The Telluride Watch notes that the existing research institute in Telluride was started in 1984, when 18 chemists gathered to consider new research. This summer, the institute hosted nearly 1,000 scientists in 30 workshops.

Aspen also serves as a magnet for scientists, particularly physicists, and it has done so for decades.

Nana Naisbitt, executive director of the Telluride Science Research Center, estimated that $25 million to $30 million is needed for the new campus to further solar energy research. Organizers say the broader Solar Fuels Institute that is being proposed would need a budget of $1 billion over the next decade, with the money coming from philanthropic donations, venture capitalists, and existing industries.


Numbers don't lie

JACKSON, Wyo. - The hard numbers are arriving to put firmness into the anecdotal observations about job decline of the last three years in Teton County.

From 2008 through 2010, the once-boisterous construction and real estate sector shrank dramatically, tourism businesses slimmed just a bit, and the government sector bulked up.


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