Business Insider: Boeing Just Patented a Jet Engine Powered by Lasers and Nuclear Explosions

Last week, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office approved an application from Boeing's Robert Budica, James Herzberg, and Frank Chandler for a laser- and nuclear-driven airplane engine.

With airplane makers constantly on the lookout for new and more efficient ways to power their products, this laser engine is the latest idea cooked up by the engineers at Boeing.

Forbes: Batteries + Solar Will Lead to Cheap Electricity Within 10 Years, Says Tesla CTO

Energystoragetechnology is key to popularizing solar energy generation, and that point was underscored by the feature speaker at a large solar energy conference in San Francisco Monday: Tesla Motors’ chief technology officer, JB Straubel.

Straubel took the stage at Intersolar’s opening ceremony to extol the energy density and other virtues of the lithium-ion battery for running electric cars and banking renewable energy to make solar and wind available on-demand after sundown or when the wind dies down.

Bloomberg: The Latest Sign That Coal Is Getting Killed

Coal is having a hard time lately. U.S. power plants are switching to natural gas, environmental restrictions are kicking in, and the industry is being derided as the world's No. 1 climate criminal. Prices have crashed, sure, but for a real sense of coal's diminishing prospects, check out what's happening in the bond market.

Bonds are where coal companies turn to raise money for such things as new mines and environmental cleanups. But investors are increasingly reluctant to lend to them. Coal bond prices tumbled 17 percent in the second quarter, according to an analysis by Bloomberg Intelligence.

New York Times: Iran Nuclear Deal ‘Built on Verification,’ Obama Says

Iran and a group of six nations led by the United States said they had reached a historic accord on Tuesday to significantly limit Tehran’s nuclear ability for more than a decade in return for lifting international oil and financial sanctions.

The deal culminates 20 months of negotiations on an agreement that President Obama had long sought as the biggest diplomatic achievement of his presidency. Whether it portends a new relationship between the United States and Iran -- after decades of coups, hostage-taking, terrorism and sanctions -- remains a bigger question.

Slate: No, the Earth Is Not Heading for a “Mini Ice Age”

A new study and related press release from the Royal Astronomical Society is making the rounds in recent days, claiming that a new statistical analysis of sunspot cycles shows “solar activity will fall by 60 percent during the 2030s” to a level that last occurred during the so-called Little Ice Age, which ended 300 years ago.

Since climate-change deniers have a particular fascination with sunspot cycles, this story has predictably been picked up by all manner of conservative news media, with a post in the Telegraph quickly gathering up tens of thousands of shares. The only problem is, it’s a wildly inaccurate reading of the research.