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The time is here once again.  Time to gather around and take a well deserved hiatus from all the politics of the day.  Science talk is here.  New discoveries, new takes on old knowledge, and other bits of news are all available for the perusing in today's information world.  Over the fold are selections from the past week from a few of the many excellent science news sites around the world.  Today's tidbits include the hot atmosphere of Venus may cool the interior of the planet, desert dust can dampen river flow far away, new clues on climate change found in pressed plants, cocaine and ecstasy detected in waters in Valencia, mimicking nature to make a new type of solar cell, and two new species of horned dinosaurs discovered.  Pull up that beach chair and relax.  There is plenty of room for everyone.  Settle in for one more session of Dr. Possum's science education and entertainment.

Featured Stories
In what seems to be a real contradiction scientists theorize the hot atmosphere of Venus may lead to cooling of the interior of the planet.

The carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases that are responsible for the high temperatures were blown into the atmosphere by thousands of volcanoes in the past. The permanent heat – today we measure almost 470 degrees Celsius globally on Venus – might even have been much higher in the past and, in a runaway cycle, led to even more volcanism. But at a certain point this process turned on its head – the high temperatures caused a partial mobilisation of the Venusian crust, leading to an efficient cooling of the mantle, and the volcanism strongly decreased. This resulted in lower surface temperatures, rather comparable to today's temperature on Venus, and the mobilisation of the surface stopped.

Spring winds carry desert dust to the mountain peaks covering the snowpack with a dark layer.

When the winds are right and the desert is dry, dust blows eastward from the semi-arid regions of the U.S. Southwest. In a dust-up, Western style, small dark particles of the dust fall on the mountains' white snowfields, ultimately affecting the entire Colorado River watershed.

While dust has always blown into these mountains, the expansion of grazing and other disturbances in the western U.S. in the mid-to-late 1800s led to a five- to seven-fold increase in dust loading. The snow cover became darker and lasted less long.

Runoff from the Colorado River Basin has decreased by more than 35 billion cubic feet due to airborne dust.

Botanists have for many years collected and pressed plants for preservation and display.  New evaluation of pressed plant collections

first direct proof that pressed plants in herbarium collections can be used to study relationships between phenology and climate change when field-based data are not available, as is almost always the case.

The study opens up important new uses for the 2.5 billion plant and animal specimens held in natural history collections in museums and herbaria. Some specimens date back to the time of Linnaeus (who devised our system of naming plants and animals) 250 years ago.

What goes in must come out so finding drug residue in natural waterways is no real surprise.

Scientists from this university and the Desertification Research Centre (CSIC-UV-GV) analysed the presence of 14 kinds of illegal drugs – including heroin, cocaine and ecstasy – in 16 canals and irrigation channels in the natural park. The study looked for the residue these drugs leave behind in human urine after they have been taken, and which end up in the water.

Improving the function and environmental friendliness of solar cells are projects of ongoing concern.  New research with water-based gel devices shows promise.

The bendable devices are composed of water-based gel infused with light-sensitive molecules – the researchers used plant chlorophyll in one of the experiments – coupled with electrodes coated by carbon materials, such as carbon nanotubes or graphite. The light-sensitive molecules get "excited" by the sun’s rays to produce electricity, similar to plant molecules that get excited to synthesize sugars in order to grow.

As archeologists and palenotologists continue their diggings new species continue to be found.  The latest news is a pair of new horned dinosaur species

The giant plant-eaters were inhabitants of the "lost continent" of Laramidia, formed when a shallow sea flooded the central region of North America, isolating the eastern and western portions of the continent for millions of years during the Late Cretaceous Period.


Other Worthy Stories of the Week
Shark finning puts species on verge of extinction Video
Nano-sized particles could provide mega-sized data storage
Good fences could help clean up watercourses
Environmental impact of organic solar cells assessed
Taking the pulse of coral reefs
Marine scientists unveil the mystery of life on undersea mountains
Nano-antenna concentrates light:  Intensity increases 1,000-fold
Geckos inspire new method to print electronics on complex surfaces
Evidence of a new state of matter found in a simple oxide
Earth's highest coastal mountain on the move
Parting the waters: Computer modeling applies physics to Red Sea escape route
Universal, primordial magnetic fields discovered in deep space
How some early plants learned to live on landRice growers turn to computers for advice, predictions
Titanium foams replace injured bones
New map offers a global view of health-sapping air pollution
Trampling animals can alter muddy Paleolithic sites

For even more science news:
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Coctail Party Physics Physics with a twist.
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Laelaps more vertebrate paleontology
List of Geoscience Blogs
Space Review
Techonology Review
Tetrapod Zoologyvertebrate paleontology
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Scientific Blogging.
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Science RSS Feed: Medworm
The Skeptics Guide to the Universe--a combination of hard science and debunking crap

Daily Kos regular series:
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This Week in Science by DarkSyde
This Week in Space by nellaselim
Overnight News Digest:Science Saturday by Neon Vincent.  OND tech Thursday by rfall.
Weekend Science by AKMask  
All diaries with the DK GreenRoots Tag.
All diaries with the eKos Tag

NASA picture of the day.  For more see the NASA image gallery or the Astronomy Picture of the Day Archive.

Christmas Tree Cluster, NASA, Public Domain

Originally posted to possum on Mon Sep 27, 2010 at 12:35 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Greetings and glad tidings, one and all. (28+ / 0-)

    Thanks for stopping by.

    Don't forget 10-2-10.  We need everyone who can make the trek to DC.

    Education is a better safeguard of liberty than a standing army.--Edward Everett

    by possum on Mon Sep 27, 2010 at 12:35:10 PM PDT

  •  Thanks for the shoutout to OND (6+ / 0-)

    I appreciate it and I'm sure rfall does, too.

    "The party of ideas has become the party of Beavis and Butthead." ~ Paul Krugman.

    by Neon Vincent on Mon Sep 27, 2010 at 12:49:52 PM PDT

  •  Thanks (5+ / 0-)

    for another science Monday

    will you be at 10-2-10?
    I'm heading up that way Friday morning

    I'm just an ant in the army of the Amateur Left

    by eeff on Mon Sep 27, 2010 at 12:50:07 PM PDT

  •  Very cool on the pressed flowers! (6+ / 0-)

    There are some important secrets buried in the natural history basements around the world. I've seen some very cool conversations beginning around the usefulness of some stuff that certain scientists might have called "stamp collecting" at one point ;)

    But one of the the coolest flower collections I ever saw was the Glass Flowers at the Harvard Museum. They are an incredibly detailed, anatomically perfect set of glass models that were used before preservation and photography were well developed.

    This is the museum link, but doesn't do the room justice at all. The Wiki link has a few more tidbits.

    They are stunning in person. I thought they'd be cool. I didn't think they'd be amazing.

    "It's not like she's marrying out of her species or anything," Ms. Lynch said.

    by mem from somerville on Mon Sep 27, 2010 at 12:52:35 PM PDT

    •  Incredible stuff. (6+ / 0-)

      Thanks for sharing.

      Preservation techniques have changed over the years but much remains to be learned from dusty storage rooms.  Who knows what is next?  

      The flower studies and the ongoing delving into botanists diaries is important.  Even on our local scene we can see changing flowering times in our own gardens.  And the bird species are not only changing but are changing their arrival and departure times.  Nature is moving right before our very eyes.

      Education is a better safeguard of liberty than a standing army.--Edward Everett

      by possum on Mon Sep 27, 2010 at 12:55:01 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Cool (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Loonesta, possum, Neon Vincent, allep10

    Nothing like a bit of science to remind us that there's hope. With all that tech out there as regards "going green" I hope that someday America will realize that full employment is only a few steps away.

    •  Science may be both the hope and the downfall (4+ / 0-)

      of humankind.  If we learn to use science to benefit all we are in good stead.  The ongoing military uses are terrible.

      And a green economy is a good thing.  We have only to turn the heads of most Americans and convince them the Rethug deniers are wrong.  How long can their lies be sustained?

      Education is a better safeguard of liberty than a standing army.--Edward Everett

      by possum on Mon Sep 27, 2010 at 12:58:55 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  As long (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Loonesta, possum, allep10

        as "ignorami" like Sean Hannity get payed to cackle. The killer is that the most greedy are so stupid they don't see the opportunity. If America started today to sequestrate coal, insulate, re-tool for electric cars (not to mention the quadrillon electric gas stations) etc. everyone would be back to work, mother nature might cool down a bit and the greedy could keep makin their billions.

        •  We are in agreement on every point. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Loonesta, allep10

          But the uneducated continue to band together in their fear driven course of destruction.  Maybe one day we fact flingers will find ways to appeal to emotion better than we do today.  Until then I worry that fear will continue to control the masses.  We shall see...

          Education is a better safeguard of liberty than a standing army.--Edward Everett

          by possum on Mon Sep 27, 2010 at 01:14:36 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Continuing my evolution education (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sberel, trashablanca, Loonesta, possum, allep10
    I came across Dr Carl Werner whose texts are faves of both the homeschooling set and also conservative schoolboards looking for a Creationist tome to counter the Darwinist plot against their children.

    After much searching, (his bio said Werner was a prodigy, earning his MD at age 23. However he began his career in 1977 as a freshman and was not licensed until 1986. He is currently an ER doc and describes himself as FP though it is not certain if he is boarded.

    He is supposedly a 30 year critic of evolution who thinks birds prove that evolution is not possible and doubts that whales were ever land animals    

    •  Interesting how these folks continue to surface. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      trashablanca, Loonesta, allep10

      Ignorance binds them together in their fear of what is fact.  Sad for the kids being raised that way.  The more of these people who find a forum the more I fear for the future of our world.  How will we ever get them suppressed once and for all?  Or at least relegated to the fringes of notice where they belong?  Will the media not come to its senses and stop propagating their nonsense?

      Education is a better safeguard of liberty than a standing army.--Edward Everett

      by possum on Mon Sep 27, 2010 at 02:00:14 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I spent an hour trying to unearth his (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        trashablanca, Loonesta, possum, allep10

        CV but never found it. I finally found my info from blogs by his followers who had spoken with him and querying various professional organizations.
        Kind of odd for such a famous person who is such a prodigy. Also, while I know from around 1972 to 1981, there were innovative medical school programs which substantially reduced the number of years needed, I can find no mention of such a program at his alma mater.
        Just odd to have an MD so insulated from the public as most docs will pull up over a dozen hits or more on Google. At any rate, his followers are precious. One who billed herself as an author, public speaker, psychologist, mother of six and homeschooler, noted that her scarf did not turn into a shirt which shows how things do not change like evolution claims. Also she noted that no rats were born from the sweater disproving spontaneous generation. This from a putative psychologist?    

        •  Oh, boy. (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          trashablanca, Loonesta, allep10

          Sounds like that group of nuts is well suited to one another.  Maybe the psychologist has her own mental issues.

          I did a search as you must have.  Not much out there.  Unusual as you say.  He is either really flying under the professional radar or something is really, really wrong.  Who can tell?

          Education is a better safeguard of liberty than a standing army.--Edward Everett

          by possum on Mon Sep 27, 2010 at 02:19:18 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

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