Short takes on issues
Hidden treasure • Who knew? Nobody except a few scientists believed there might be some boiling water pockets deep beneath Utah's west desert, enough to generate steam that could produce electricity. After drilling nine wells south of Delta in the Black Rock Desert basin, Utah Geological Survey scientists found they were right. "There's definitely something there, and it is big," said UGS Director Rick Allis. Although the geothermal hot spot would require deeper drilling than most such wells, the 100 square miles of west desert could eventually support power plants producing hundreds of megawatts of electricity. The discovery could help improve Utah's standing at seventh among eight Western states in renewable energy development, provide jobs and boost the state's economy without adding tons more carbon emissions to our already dirty air.
Postal promotion • Utah's Monument Valley is getting more than just 15 minutes of fame. The image of a snow-dusted Stagecoach Butte rising out of fog decorates one of 15 stamps on a new sheet that focuses on landscapes, both natural and urban. A U.S. Postal Service press release explained the photos featured on the stamps were taken from high above the Earth either by satellites or photographers in aircraft. Utah is "the most photogenic state of the continental United States," according to the photographer who snapped the Stagecoach Butte shot. Other Utah landmarks on stamps are Delicate Arch, the Great White Throne at Zion National Park, the Wall of Windows and Bryce Amphitheater at Bryce Canyon National Park and Rainbow Bridge.
No driver needed • Road rage may become an evil memory. Poor drivers in Utah and Idaho may become outdated. Those are just two possible consequences if driverless cars get the green light. California, not surprisingly, is taking the lead. The state is setting safety and performance regulations for testing of self-driving cars on state roads. Google has developed the technology, and the company's fleet has logged 300,000 miles of computer-controlled driving without an accident. The cars operate independently, but a person in the car can override the autopilot. California's Department of Motor Vehicles will draft operating regulations by 2015 that allow self-driven cars but require a licensed driver to sit behind the wheel, ready to take over if the need arises. Although the idea seems a tad like science-fiction, automakers say they could be producing autonomous cars within a decade. Holy robots.