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Sun May 24, 2015 at 04:11 PM PDT

The promise of NewSpace

by DarkSyde

Reposted from Daily Kos by palantir
Ceres as revealed by NASA's Dawn spacecraft on May 4, 2015, from a distance of 8,400 miles (13,600 kilometers). The bright spots may be water ice.
We throw a lot of terms around here on Daily Kos, mostly in politics, sometimes in science. One of the latter is NewSpace, which can mean different things to different people:
NewSpace—formerly; also "new space", and entrepreneurial space—are umbrella terms for a movement and philosophy often affiliated with, but not synonymous with, an emergent private spaceflight industry. Specifically, the terms are used to refer to a community of relatively new aerospace companies working to develop low-cost access to space or spaceflight technologies and advocates of low-cost spaceflight technology and policy.
But NewSapce means more than just space exploration, it also means using resources in space back here on Earth, where we are likely to run low on key elements and other substances in the forseeable future.

It's interesting that one of the people who first glimpsed that looming shortfall half a century ago had nothing to do with space exploration or aerospace technology in general. His bailiwick was the oil business. Follow us below and we'll briefly review the frightening immediate future.

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Sun May 24, 2015 at 10:35 AM PDT

Empirical versus Theoretical

by PriceRip

On page 198 Problems of Empiricism: Volume 2: Philosophical Papers 1985.

          Paul Feyerabend describes a quote attributed to Einstein from a lecture in Prague in 1920:

If the observations of the red shift in the spectra of massive stars don't come out quantitatively in accordance with the principles of general relativity, then my theory will be dust and ashes.
         I suspect this story might be as apocryphal as the one claiming Einstein was not a very promising student in his early years. This purported Einstein quote is not consistent with:
Born to Einstein: "It really looks as if your formula is not quite correct. It looks even worse in the case of the red shift; this is much smaller than the theoretical value towards the centre of the sun's disk, and much larger at the edges. Could this be a hint of non-linearity?"

Einstein to Born: "Freundlich does not move me in the slightest. Even if the deflection of light, the perihelial movement or line shift were unknown, the gravitation equations would still be convincing because they avoid the inertial syststem. It is really strange that human beings are normally deaf to the strongest arguments while they are always inclined to overestimate measuring accuracies."

private correspondence, 1952

         While the above is not precedent for (it is consistent with) my penchant for explaining to students:
The foundation of Physics is in its Theories. While experiments may force us to rework a theory, or develop a new theory, experimentation does not represent the foundation for the creation of new knowledge.
         I emphasize: This observation is true of Chemistry, Biology, and other disciplines of the sort. For more, follow me below the {rhymes with orange squirm-wiggle}.

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Sun May 24, 2015 at 10:32 AM PDT

Sea Star Loss is Mussels Gain

by MarineChemist

Reposted from MarineChemist by palantir

Note that the video above was shot on May 8, 2015, set to Debussy's Clair de Lune, by the YouTube user NorthOlbo who makes wonderful pieces about the British Columbian coast.  Check him out.

The purpose of this more visual diary is to report on a recent trip my students and I took to a local beach and what we saw there.  Botanical Beach is renowned for its tide pools and part of the Juan de Fuca Provincial Park here on the southwest coast of Vancouver Island, British Columbia Canada. Botanical Beach is very near to Port Renfrew, one of the coastal communities where citizen scientists are collecting shoreline seawater samples to help our project Fukushima InFORM monitor for Fukushima derived radionuclides along the coast. There are strange conditions currently in the northeast Pacific from the "blob" of warm water related to anomalous winter mixing in 2013-2014 to the widespread disappearance of sea stars owing to wasting disease after infection by virus.  Some link these changes in the marine ecosystem to the very low levels of Fukushima derived radioisotope contamination present offshore and recently detected at the shoreline although there is little evidence to support such views nor are such impacts very likely.  There is indeed life abundant at Botanical Beach but it is changing.  The sea star is a keystone predator whose removal has consequences.  The most obvious of these on visiting the beach again was the predominance of California mussels to be found.  More about our adventure below the fold.

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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, a fifteen-year-old organization rated highly by both Charity Navigator and the Better Business Bureau. Here's a little introductory video about DonorsChoose. 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.

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Look for us every SUNDAY morning at 10 AM ET/ 7 AM PT.
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In commenting on another poster's misunderstanding of Regression to the Mean, I recalled a question on that subject that I have had before.

My understanding is that Dalton expected that regression to continue towards the mean in later generations. Do modern biologists still teach that?

The reason for regression in the first generation is easy to explain. Assume that you have a herd of cattle of one breed. You separate them into two populations, Population A having shorter legs than the median, and Population B having longer legs than the median. (Those with legs a precisely the median length, you sell off.) Call that generation 0 and the populations A0 and B0. Breed the populations seperately.

Population B1 will have shorter legs than Population B0:
Some of the length results from environmental circumstances which will not be repeated in the next generation.
Some of the length results from dominant alleles in several loci. When bull with Aa and Bb genes covers a cow with Aa and Bb genes, their descendants might have AA and bb genes, which will result in shorter legs.
Some of the length results from recessive alleles which are doubled, and thus expressed. When a bull with CC and dd genes covers a cow with cc and DD genes, all their descendants will have Cc and Dd genes. If c and d lengthen legs, then the descendants will have shorter legs.

It is hard to see why population B2 should have shorter legs than population B1. The percentages of alleles will be the same, and the distribution in B1 is as random as the distribution in B2.

Is there something here I'm not seeing? Has biology moved on from Dalton while I wasn't looking?


Sat May 23, 2015 at 06:54 PM PDT

Faux Pause, appendix

by OutOnALimb

Reposted from OutOnALimb by palantir

This is just a short appendix to my post from yesterday, wherein I described fraud being perpetrated by the likes of Monckton and Watts in convincing low-information types that global warming (aka climate change) has "stopped". (If you haven't read my diary from yesterday, go ahead and do it. I'll wait.)

Below the doohickey, I've got some graphs that will put the fraud into a little more context.

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Reposted from indycam by Lenny Flank

There is a basic misunderstanding being presented as the truth re glyphosates use before roundup ready crops came to market . The claim is that glyphosate was used on crops for 20 years before roundup ready crops came to market . There is a sliver of truth to the claim but it is far from the truth . It is misleading , it presents a false picture of the past and present use and abuse of glyphosates .

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Fri May 22, 2015 at 06:28 PM PDT

Ceres: spots' spectrum similar to ice

by atana

Reposted from atana by Wee Mama

The famous spots, imaged on May 16 from a distance of 7,200 kilometers. Pixels in this image are 700 meters wide.

Christopher Russell, principal investigator for the Dawn Mission, says the reflection spectrum of the spots is "similar to that expected from ice". But it is still unclear how the spots were formed.

Dawn's next mapping orbit will be at an altitude of 4,400 kilometers.

Reposted from Pakalolo by Wee Mama

Scientists have discovered that the ice shelves of South Antarctica, located in the Bellingshausen sea, are in rapid melt. This new study follows reports that the remnants of Larsen B should disintegrate within a few years, that a 17 mile crack has been spotted on Larsen C and that Larsen C is at risk of collapse. The discovery that the southern ice shelves are in rapid melt is new. reports:

Using measurements of the elevation of the Antarctic ice sheet made by a suite of satellites, the researchers found that the Southern Antarctic Peninsula showed no signs of change up to 2009. Around 2009, multiple glaciers along a vast coastal expanse, measuring some 750km in length, suddenly started to shed ice into the ocean at a nearly constant rate of 60 cubic km, or about 55 trillion litres of water, each year.

This makes the region the second largest contributor to sea level rise in Antarctica and the ice loss shows no sign of waning.

The  Christian Science Monitor expands on the story.
As Antarctica’s ice shelves collapse, the glaciers they buttress will contribute to sea level rise. Currently, the glaciers in the study, which lie along 500 miles of the southern Antarctic Peninsula coast, are losing some 56 billion tons of ice a year to the ocean, according to the new study.

The losses began suddenly in 2009 and come in addition to losses from the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, which is shedding 80 billion to 110 billion tons of ice a year, according to the study.

Some losses from nearby ice shelves have been underway for decades. But the seemingly abrupt onset of significant ice losses along the southern coast of the Antarctic Peninsula is an eye-opener, suggests Dr. Gardner of JPL.

Recent studies have shown that Antarctica's two continental ice sheets are more sensitive to changes in ocean and air temperatures than previously thought, he notes. But as relatively warm water from deep reaches of the Southern Ocean moved onto the continental shelf, the thinning sped up, melting the ice shelves from underneath, the researchers of the new study concluded.

Reposted from OutOnALimb by palantir

The idiot climate denialist website, run by the idiot climate denialist Anthony Watts, is fond of running graphs proclaiming NO GLOBAL WARMING FOR ‘XX’ YEARS ‘X’ MONTHS.  Most of these entries are written by another ignoble denier, Christopher Monckton. The British Daily Mail does similar things.

Below are some recent examples from Watts/Monckton. (I've linked the WUWT articles, if you want to read them.) What Monckton did is to produce identical-looking graphs, month after month, with the time of the "pause" in global warming lengthening, ever lengthening, implying that since the time he started, the world has not warmed one tiny jot.

Below are the graphs from March 2014, November 2014, and April 2015. For each graph, Monckton took a carefully-selected stretch of time and added a linear regression line. Look closely though. Without meaning to, he has revealed his fraud. I'll have one graph above the fold and two below. Notice anything odd? Join me underneath after you've thought about it ...


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Reposted from LakeSuperior by LakeSuperior

The U.S. Department of Energy revises wind energy potential
map for the entire U.S. and which shows the areas of the United States
evaluated with increased (or new) wind energy potential with siting of
a larger/taller generation of wind turbine systems that are now available....compared
to  publication of wind energy potential map areas previously considered practical or
recognized from previous DOE National Renewable Energy Laboratory
findings on wind energy potential:

See map on PDF page 6.

DOE's page for this report has some other pertinent links of interest:

See also article in Power Engineering Magazine:

Note in particular that wind energy potential of the Southeastern quadrant of the United States is now considered to be improved over previous estimates for this U.S. region.

......Sorry for the abbreviated diary, but I've got a garden to get planted today....and this limited diary is better than no diary for purposes of the information getting out.

Reposted from weinenkel by Wee Mama
Hands of a scientist, under a sterile hood, preparing the carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) vaccinia used to try to prevent cancer. The scientist is diluting the concentrated vaccinnia virus into a dose level appropriate for administration to a patient.
Down syndrome and Fragile X syndrome are the most prevalent causes of genetic intellectual disability. Searching for and finding ways to treat the genetic anomalies that cause Down syndrome and Fragile X may very well be the best way to eradicate these diseases. Albeit it early, researchers at the University of Michigan Life Sciences Institute have received some very promising results in this search using FDA-approved cancer drugs.
The researchers' proof-of-concept study using fruit fly models of brain dysfunction was published today in the journal eLife. They show that giving the leukemia drugs nilotinib or bafetinib to fly larvae with the equivalent of Fragile X prevented the wild overgrowth of neuron endings associated with the disorder. Meanwhile, the drugs--both tyrosine-kinase inhibitors--did not adversely affect the development or neuronal growth in healthy flies.

"This study proposes a potential therapeutic approach for treating brain disorders associated with dysregulated expression of the Dscam protein, which is seen in both Down syndrome and Fragile X syndrome," said senior study author Bing Ye, whose lab is in the LSI. Graduate student Gabriella Sterne and postdoctoral fellow Jung Hwan Kim are co-first authors of the paper.

The paper can be found here. This is just one of the first steps towards very promising treatments for these genetic disorders.
"Although there's an amazing amount of similarity between flies and humans, more study is needed before we'll know if this could be a safe and effective treatment for human patients," said Ye, who is also an assistant professor in the Department of Cell and Developmental Biology at the U-M Medical School.

The next step would be to test the approach in mouse models of these brain disorders. Collaborations with oncologists and pharmaceutical companies will also be essential to ensure Abl inhibitors are safe to use in this context, Ye said.

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