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Reposted from MarineChemist by Wee Mama

Grey Whale being dissected on Wickaninnish Beach April 23, 2015

The purpose of this diary is to report analyses carried out by the InFORM project on muscle and blubber samples from a grey whale (Eschrichtius robustus), that beached near Tofino, BC on April 20, 2015.  The diary is the most recent in a series that aims to communicate results of scientific research into the impact of the Fukushima disaster on the environment. With the cooperation of the Ucluelet Aquarium the InFORM project was able to obtain samples of the whales muscle and blubber which were analyzed for the presence of gamma emitting radioisotopes in Health Canada's laboratories in Ottawa, ON Canada.  The gamma radiation spectra were dominated by naturally occurring radioisotopes, primarily Potassium-40 (40K half life 1.25 billion years), and after 24 hours of counting no Fukushima derived Cesium-134 (134Cs half life ~ 2 years), a fingerprint of the disaster in the environment could be detected.  The unfortunate demise of the grey whale is very unlikely to have been the result of acute or chronic radiation exposure owing to Fukushima derived radionuclides in seawater and the whales food.

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Reposted from History for Kossacks by Lenny Flank

In 1970, nuclear power was assumed to be the bright future of humanity, providing us with nearly limitless quantities of cheap clean energy for the foreseeable future. Instead, by 1980, nuclear power in the US was dead, and no new plants were being built. Part of the reason was the accident at Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania, which remains the worst nuclear accident in the US and the third-worst in the world.

DIARIST'S NOTE: Since nukes are one of the issues, like guns or GMOs or I/P, that routinely produce flame wars, I must note the following: This is a history diary. Period. If you want to argue for or against nukes, then you are in the wrong place.  Go elsewhere. Thanks.

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Reposted from Meteor Blades by LakeSuperior
Coal power plant
Curbing coal plant emissions would save lots of lives. Not that this matters to EPA haters.
A new study published in the peer-reviewed journal Nature Climate Change concludes that the Environmental Protection Agency's Clean Power Plan proposed rules curbing CO2 emissions at electricity-generating plants will have a powerful side benefit: saving thousands of people from death as a result of respiratory ailments from emissions of soot, sulfur dioxide, oxides of nitrogen and other pollutants. The rules are a major element in the Obama administration's Climate Action Plan to be finalized in mid-summer. They are under serious attack from industry, Republicans and a few Democrats in Congress, and some state governments.

Charles Driscoll, a professor of environmental systems engineering at Syracuse who is the lead author of the study, said: “The bottom line is, the more the standards promote cleaner fuels and energy efficiency, the greater the added health benefits.” Although the number of lives saved varies depending on the scenario, the authors concluded that the strongest version would save 3,500 lives annually. The study also said more than a thousand heart attacks would be prevented. The benefits would be immediate.

David Doniger, a lawyer who is the director of the Natural Resources Defense Council's Climate and Clean Air Program, writes:

We can likely save even more than 3,500 lives if the EPA strengthens the final Clean Power Plan rule, expected out this summer. NRDC's analysis shows that we can economically cut power plants' carbon pollution by 50 percent more than the EPA proposed, and create hundreds of thousands of new jobs. "There's definitely room for additional benefits," says lead researcher Dr. Charles Driscoll, a professor in the department of civil and environmental engineering at Syracuse University. "You can push further."

The lives saved will come from cutting the hundreds of thousands of tons of sulfur dioxide and oxides of nitrogen that pour out of our nation's power-plant smokestacks along with carbon dioxide. These pollutants form dangerous soot and smog as they float downwind and cook in the atmosphere. These pollutants increase our risk of heart attacks, asthma attacks, respiratory diseases like emphysema, and even lung cancer.

The rules' biggest beneficiaries live in states such as Pennsylvania, Texas and Ohio. The latter two are home to some of the loudest foes of the rules. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who represents coal-rich Kentucky, has urged states not to go along with the EPA's call for each of them to come up with its own plans to comply with the rules.

The study comes on the heels of a report that said the Clean Power Plan would generate up to 273,000 jobs. That is a five times more than the EPA had forecast, writes John H. Cushman Jr., "because the agency had looked only at the direct impact of its proposal while the new analysis calculated the ripple effect across the whole economy." That's also more than five times as many jobs as are expected to be lost in the coal and utility industries because of the rules.

Cleaner environment? Better health? More jobs? Not something the fossil fuelists and their marionettes in Congress have the slightest interest in.

Discuss

Sun May 03, 2015 at 04:54 PM PDT

Do we all live in a giant hologram?

by DarkSyde

Reposted from Daily Kos by palantir
The large scale universe projected onto a two-dimensional boundary
There is an active field of research in cosmology and physics seeking to explain the cosmos in terms of a radical idea: we live in a universe with some of the properties of a hologram:
At first glance, there is not the slightest doubt: to us, the universe looks three dimensional. But one of the most fruitful theories of theoretical physics in the last two decades is challenging this assumption. The "holographic principle" asserts that a mathematical description of the universe actually requires one fewer dimension than it seems. What we perceive as three dimensional may just be the image of two dimensional processes on a huge cosmic horizon.
That's a mind-being principle and the math behind it is a fearsome thing, pulling together rigorous work on everything from event horizons to string theory to the quantum information paradox. It's not easy to describe some of the ramifications that emerge in general terms.

But if you drift below the fold, thanks to no small amount of help from Jennifer Ouellette, one of the best hard-science writers in the world today, we'll at least try. And we'll do that without bringing up hyper-advanced mathematics!

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Reposted from Lefty Coaster by LakeSuperior

Republican shills for Big Carbon are launching a direct assault on NASA funding designed to gut any future enhancements to the Earth Sciences capabilities to monitor changing conditions on our planet from orbit using satellites.  
 

House GOP Wants to Eviscerate NASA Earth Sciences in New Budget

By Phil Plait

A passel of anti-science global warming denying GOP representatives have put together a funding authorization bill for NASA that at best cuts more than $300 million from the agency’s current Earth science budget.

At worst? More than $500 million.

The actual amount of the cut depends on whether some caps enacted in 2011 are removed or not. If they are, then Earth sciences gets $1.45 billion. If not, it gets $1.2 billion. The current FY 2015 budget is $1.773 billion.

Compare that with the White House request for FY ’16 of $1.947 billion for Earth sciences. The bill will be marked up (amended and rewritten) by the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee today.

The authorization bill passed along party lines (19 Republicans to 15 Democrats) and will move to the House floor eventually for a vote. Rep. Edwards put in an amendment to restore the Earth sciences budget but was voted down ... again along party lines. So there you have it. If this authorization is upheld by the House, it will be reconciled with a Senate version, and then negotiated with the White House. But for now, the huge and devastating cuts to NASA's ability to monitor our warming planet will be the baseline.
From the LA Times:
The GOP attack on climate change science takes a big step forward

By Michael Hiltzik

Living down to our worst expectations, the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology voted Thursday to cut deeply into NASA's budget for Earth science, in a clear swipe at the study of climate change.

The committee's markup of the NASA authorization bill for fiscal 2016 and 2017 passed on a party-line vote, Republicans in the majority. The action followed what appears to be a deliberate attempt to keep Democrats out of the loop. According to Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas), the committee's ranking Democrat, her caucus "did not even know [the markup] existed before last Friday. ... After we saw the bill, we understood why."

From the Washington Post:
Cutting NASA’s earth science budget is short-sighted and a threat

By Marshall Shepherd

When I went to bed last night, I had no intention of writing this commentary. However, I literally could not sleep contemplating the reckless cuts to NASA’s earth sciences budget being proposed by some in the U.S. House of Representatives.

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, one of the few people that has actually seen our home planet from the vantage point of space, issued a statement noting that proposed cuts, “gut our Earth science program and threatens to set back generations worth of progress in better understanding our changing climate, and our ability to prepare for and respond to earthquakes, droughts, and storm events…” This statement is measured and appropriate, but I am writing to amplify this statement.

Cuts in the $300-500 million dollar range as proposed literally take NASA’s earth science program from the “enhanced” smart phone era back to the first-generation “flip” phones or maybe the rotary phone. It also fundamentally challenges the Congressional mandate of the 1958 Space Act creating NASA.

NASA chief: House budget may 'set back generations worth of progress' in climate research

These Republican imbeciles and the charlatan "experts" they follow are all bought and paid for by fossil fuel billionaires like the Kochs, and other obscenely wealthy individuals blinded by their own insatiable greed.

We haven't seen such a heavy handed attack on science since 1616 when Pope Urban VIII disturbed by Copernicus' Theory of Sun Centered Universe banned its printing and publication, eventually resulting in the trial of Galileo a few decades later.

                                       
                                                        Pope Urban VIII
                                             Role Model for House Republicans
 

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Reposted from The Inoculation Project by belinda ridgewood
Diary header banner for Daily Kos Inoculation Project diaries.
Solid science education is the best inoculation against ignorance.
The Inoculation Project, founded in 2009 by hyperbolic pants explosion, is a group of Kossacks who gather weekly to combat the anti-science push in conservative America by providing direct funding to science and math projects in red state classrooms. Our conduit is DonorsChoose.org, a fifteen-year-old organization rated highly by both Charity Navigator and the Better Business Bureau. Here's a little introductory video about DonorsChoose. DonorsChoose.org allows you to make direct contributions to specific, vetted projects in public school classrooms, resulting in tremendous and immediate impacts from small dollar donations. Each week, we focus on funding a single small-dollar project at a time, in a traditionally red state classroom and preferably in a high-poverty district.

DNA_Overview2tyson science literacy quotegalaxy system arp 274
Look for us every SUNDAY morning at 10 AM ET/ 7 AM PT.
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Sat May 02, 2015 at 10:04 AM PDT

Michigan Seismic Event -- 4.0

by LakeSuperior

Reposted from LakeSuperior by LakeSuperior

Michigan experienced a 4.0 seismic event ----8 kilometers south of Galesburg, MI --  at 12:23 PM today, Saturday.

It shook my house in East Lansing, was noted by MSU employees and East Lansing Police Department and 2-3 neighbors here on Spartan Avenue.

Here is the USGS site:

http://earthquake.usgs.gov/...{%22feed%22%3A%221day_m25%22%2C%22search%22%3Anull%2C%22listFormat%22%3A%22default%22%2C%22sort%22%3A%22newest%22%2C%22basemap%22%3A%22grayscale%22%2C%22autoUpdate%22%3Atrue%2C%22restrictListToMap%22%3Atrue%2C%22timeZone%22%3A%22utc%22%2C%22mapposition%22%3A[[-8.407168163601076%2C-164.35546875]%2C[66.16051056018838%2C4.39453125]]%2C%22overlays%22%3A{%22plates%22%3Atrue}%2C%22viewModes%22%3A{%22list%22%3Atrue%2C%22map%22%3Atrue%2C%22settings%22%3Afalse%2C%22help%22%3Afalse}}

Galesburg, MI area:

https://www.google.com/...

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Sat May 02, 2015 at 06:45 AM PDT

This week in science: stardrive?

by DarkSyde

Reposted from Daily Kos by palantir

There is great excitement in some corners of the space exploration community this week, as several NASA people opened up a discussion with engineers and others outside the agency over a mysterious, possibly radically new type of engine:  

After consistent reports of thrust measurements from EM Drive experiments in the US, UK, and China – at thrust levels several thousand times in excess of a photon rocket, and now under hard vacuum conditions – the question of where the thrust is coming from deserves serious inquiry.

Applications: The applications of such a propulsion drive are multi-fold, ranging from low Earth orbit (LEO) operations, to transit missions to the Moon, Mars, and the outer solar system, to multi-generation spaceships for interstellar travel.

Under these application considerations, the closest-to-home potential use of EM Drive technology would be for LEO space stations – such as the International Space Station.

Be hopeful, but cautious, and remember cold fusion. It's not at all clear if this thing really works, yet. Even if it pans out in the most ideal way, a lot of hurdles would have to be cleared before a souped up version could be designed.

But in theory, a drive that can accelerate and decelerate up to say, a middling 50-100 miles per second, within a few weeks, and that doesn't have to carry the fuel on board to do so, would open up our solar system in much the same way advances in wind power and navigation enabled the systematic exploration of the Earth's surface during the Age of Discovery starting about 500 years ago.  

  • Science writer Jennifer Ouellette has a flair for fearlessly tackling some of the most complex topics in physics and cosmology with superb writing and top-notch research. Here she dives into a classic form of analysis on a classic paradox in physics and a related, mind-bending idea, written for the benefit of the layperson, and one that we'll flesh out more tomorrow on Sunday Kos, called the holographic principle.
  • Health care is part science, part policy, a bunch of inside baseball from the insurance industry, and a ton of politics these days. Which is why I never miss a post by Richard Mayhew over at Balloon Juice on those topics. I almost always learn something from him.
  • NASA's Messenger Mercury spacecraft intentionally ended its life this week when it finally ran out of fuel for station keeping and plunged into that dense little planet. Craters on Mercury are named after artists and writers, even Tolkien has one! Messenger left a small, respectable crater behind, who do you think should get the honor?
  • Blue Origins rockets into the private space-race:
    Three weeks after revealing that its liquid hydrogen- and liquid oxygen-fueled rocket engine was ready to fly, Blue Origin, a startup space company owned by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, launched its New Shepard spaceship on its first flight into suborbital space, the company said Thursday.

    Powered by the recently completed BE-3 engine, the rocket blasted off from Blue’s privately owned test site in West Texas on Wednesday (the time was not disclosed) and soared almost to the edge of space 62 miles (100 kilometers) above the planet.

Discuss

Fri May 01, 2015 at 06:00 PM PDT

How To Read A Seismic Hazard Map

by terrypinder

Now that the USGS has preliminary come up with a way to quantify the short term hazard of potentially induced earthquakes it’s important to know what these maps are and mean.

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Reposted from Divide by Zero by palantir

The EmDrive which made made headlines last year is back in the news with the results from a new set of tests by NASA showing that the drive has been successfully tested in a hard vacuum.

The EM drive is controversial in that it appears to violate conventional physics and the law of conservation of momentum; the engine, invented by British scientist Roger Sawyer, converts electric power to thrust without the need for any propellant by bouncing microwaves within a closed container. So, with no expulsion of propellant, there’s nothing to balance the change in the spacecraft’s momentum during acceleration. Hence the skepticism. But as stated by NASA Eagleworks scientist Harold White:
[T]he EM Drive’s thrust was due to the Quantum Vacuum (the quantum state with the lowest possible energy) behaving like propellant ions behave in a MagnetoHydroDynamics drive (a method electrifying propellant and then directing it with magnetic fields to push a spacecraft in the opposite direction) for spacecraft propulsion.
Follow me over the KosPretzel for more
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Wed Apr 29, 2015 at 12:09 PM PDT

The Voyage of the "Trieste"

by Lenny Flank

Reposted from History for Kossacks by Lenny Flank

In January 1960, two ocean explorers named Don Walsh and Jacques Piccard took the manned submersible Trieste to the bottom of the Challenger Deep in the Marianas Trench, the deepest spot in the ocean. It was a feat that would not be duplicated for another half-century.

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Tue Apr 28, 2015 at 06:30 PM PDT

Debunking the pH Claim of GMO Safety

by edg

EdG Note: This article has been retitled and substantially edited since 1st publication. See "Updates" for details.

Those who pay even casual attention to The Great GMO Debate are likely aware that one of the three main scientific claims used to show the safety of genetic engineering is that people aren't bugs. In other words, bug stomach pH and human stomach pH are different, so what harms them is safe for us.  The three claims are:

  1. Humans can't be hurt by GMOs because our pH is different
  2. Safety of sprayed-on Bt proves the safety of GMO Bt
  3. GMOs won't harm us because we don't have certain receptors

While the 3rd claim has a great deal of solid science behind it, the 2nd claim is only partially true, and the 1st claim is, as this diary will show, untrue. Insects and humans are quite different, but remind yourself that we share a portion of our biology with fruit flies if you're starting to feel any tinglings of anthropocentrism.

Follow me past the orange gypsy moth larva for more.

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