"QUESTION: why are so many leading modern scientists so dull and lacking in scientific ambition? ANSWER: because the science selection process ruthlessly weeds-out interesting and imaginative people. At each level in education, training and career progression there is a tendency to exclude smart and creative people by preferring Conscientious and Agreeable people... ...Creativity is probably associated with moderately high levels of Eysenck's personality trait of 'Psychoticism'. Psychoticism combines qualities such as selfishness, independence from group norms, impulsivity and sensation-seeking; with a style of cognition that involves fluent, associative and rapid production of many ideas. But modern science selects for high Conscientiousness and high Agreeableness; therefore it enforces low Psychoticism and low creativity. Yet my counter-proposal to select elite revolutionary scientists on the basis of high IQ and moderately high Psychoticism may sound like a recipe for disaster, since resembles a formula for choosing gifted charlatans and confidence tricksters. A further vital ingredient is therefore necessary: devotion to the transcendental value of Truth. Elite revolutionary science should therefore be a place that welcomes brilliant, impulsive, inspired, antisocial oddballs - so long as they are also dedicated truth-seekers."
Thanks to Elizabeth for today's ROFL!
Farmers and members of the community residing in the Cambantoc watershed of the Mt. Makiling Forest Reserve participated in a training seminar conducted by the UPLB College of Forestry and Natural Resources last June 3-4 in Sta. Cruz, Laguna.According to[...]
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It's not just whales that sing, the Earth does too. A pair of physicists at the University of California figured out that the Earth?s hum is caused not by earthquakes or atmospheric turbulence, but by ocean waves colliding with the seafloor.
About ten years ago researchers discovered infrasonic background noise of 3-7 mHz believed to originate from the solid Earth itself. claim to have the most convincing physical evidence yet. Using data from a wide-spread array of seismic recorders, Peter Bromirski and Peter Gerstoft, have pinpointed the Pacific coast of Central America as the dominate source of background noise, with the western coast of Europe acting as the main secondary source.
Hum beam power observations using the USArray EarthScope transportable array, which monitors seismic activity right across the US and its surrounding waters, combined with infragravity wave observations, show that the dominant source area of the Earth?s hum during winter months is the Pacific coast of North America, with the western coast of Europe a secondary source region.
Within this new view of hum, long-wavelength surface waves - known as ocean swell - act as the mediator between the sky and the sea. As the swell reaches shallower waters, a portion of its energy is then transformed by non-linear processes into infragravity (IG) waves, which have even longer wavelengths than the surface waves. Some of the energy from IG waves affect the Earth, registering as blips at seismic recording stations around the world.
They gathered data using the USArray EarthScope transportable array (image), which monitors seismic activity right across the US and its surrounding waters.
Psted by Casey Kazan.
Cyborgs have been the sci-fi dream of a generation, merging man andmachine in amazing new combinations. Most of which seem to look likemajor action stars. But a team at the University of Copenhagen thinkthat's amateur hour. In fact they find the entirety of life of planetEarth to be distinctly underwhelming, which is why they're working onan upgrade - triple-helixed DNA.
The idea is to add a third Peptide Nucleic Acid (PNA) strand to thetwo Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA) strands we started with. This ultimateartificial additive can regulate the activity of the existing
genes,blocking some or enhancing others, and that's just for starters: thecyber-strand is not limited to the four letter vocabulary of GATC,meaning that extra characters could be added tothat very exclusive club.
Whena team at the Center for Biomolecular Recognition first attempted toinstall a PNA strand into the "Major Groove" of regular DNA (yes, thisconcept is so cool that even the scientific terms involved are
funky),they were excited by a surprising and sophisticated effect. Becauseunintended consequences of far greater complexity than anticipated areexactly what you want to happen in a lab working on
Gene Instead of a single PNA strand joining into the genetic party, twoPNAs would muscle out one of the existing strands and create a regionof two-thirds artificial triple-tagged helix. The displaced DNA wouldhang loose outside this region, forming a "p-loop" which has since beenfound to speed up replication of the structure. Also, the PNA-DNA bondsare stronger than the originals.
To recap: you have artificialcyber-genetics with capabilities beyond those of weak organics, they'restronger, and they can replicate faster. It's clear that this entirebranch of science has escaped from a movie somehow, a conclusionstrengthened by the fact that the PNA has a ridiculous weakness: water.Yes, just like Signs. No, we don't think it's on purpose.
Insidea squishy organic creature isn't a great place for chemicals that don'tlike water, and any PNA in a living organism is rapidly excreted - butnot too rapidly for it to have effects. PNA has already been used tocure muscular dystrophy in lab animals, meaning that even without achemical raincoat (which scientists are already working on) it's apowerful tool for controlling the very code of
Scientists currently researching in the field think waterproofing their workis only a matter of time, meaning that we could be looking attriple-stranded DNA in the future. We still have a long way to go
though - if expository movie computer-graphics can be believed, we need eight to recreate Leloo from the Fifth Element.
It'll be a lot of work, but we're sure you'll agree it's worth it.
Posted by Luke McKinney.
MIT's Kerry Emanuel describes the worst nightmare hurricane that couldever happen -a "hypercane" with winds raging around its center at 500miles an hour. Water vapor; sea spray and storm debris are spewed intothe atmosphere, punching a hole in the stratosphere 20 miles above theEarth's surfa
Could this happen? Possibly. But this hypercane scenario is one ofEmanuels' computer models. A professor at MIT's atmosphere, oceans andclimate program, Emanuel studies the physics of hurricanes,deconstructing their behavior, and digs into their geological past --all to understand what makes these monster storms tick.
No one knows for sure how hurricanes get started. The ingredientsfor cooking one up still remain a mystery. A basic recipe: ocean water80 degrees or warmer, super humid air, and a bunch of storms withthunderheads. Some assembly still require"Hurricanes are accidents ofnature," Emanuel says. Hurricanes don't happen by themselves," hecontinues. "They literally need to be triggered."
To create such a monster storm, parts of the ocean would have towarm up to at least 100 degrees, and only the impact of a largeasteroid hitting the tropical ocean or a massive undersea volcano couldgenerate such intense heating. Emanuel and his colleagues theorizethat asteroid-triggered hypercanes may have contributed to massiveglobal extinctions millions of years ago.
But let's look closer to home and at our strange attitudes towards the potential danger, especially our post-Katrina world.
According to a survey conducted by the Harvard School of PublicHealth Project on the Public and Biological Security, over one third ofthe inhabitants of high-risk hurricane areas said that if governmentofficials issued a mandatory evacuation due to a major hurricane thisseason, they would ignore it and stay.
The survey was conducted in eight states--Alabama, Florida, Georgia,Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Texas--andonly included residents of counties within 20 miles of the coast. Thepoll included a special sample of the New Orleans metropolitan area.
The top reasons for refusing to leave in an emergency revolve aroundissues of safety and security. Three-quarters (75%) say their home iswell-built and they would be safe there. Over half (56%) feel thatroads would be too crowded, and slightly more than one in three (36%)feels that evacuating would be dangerous. One-third (33%) worry thattheir possessions would be stolen or damaged while one in four (27%)say they would not evacuate because they do not want to leave theirpets.
Robert J. Blendon, Professor of Health Policy and Political Analysisat the Harvard School of Public Health said, "Public officials need tobe concerned?officials need to remind people that many homes arevulnerable to major storms. They also need to ensure safe evacuationroutes are available and the public is aware of them."
If residents of high-risk hurricane areas did have to evacuatebecause of a major hurricane, most respondents said they would beconcerned about the conditions of evacuation shelters. The biggestworries people have are that shelters would be unsanitary (68%), therewouldn't be enough clean water to drink (66%), the shelter would be toocrowded (65%), they would be exposed to sick people (62%), and medicalcare would be lacking (58%). Based on the aftermath of HurricaneKatrina?these fears are not unfounded.
The surveys shows that even after Hurricane Katrina, most NewOrleans residents (61%) do not know the locations of evacuation shelterif they needed to go to one.
"It is worrisome that New Orleans, the site of one of the mostsevere hurricanes in U.S. history, has such a large proportion ofpeople who don't know the location of an evacuation center," saidProfessor Blendon. "An important priority for government and voluntaryagencies should be to inform people of the location of shelters wellbefore a storm hits."
Posted by Rebecca Sato with Casey Kazan.
Related Galaxy posts:
U.S. Intelligence Agencies Weigh Climate Change Impact on Global Political Stability
New NASA Satellite Technolgy to Improve Accurate Climate and Weather Predictions
Bio-Earth: Are Planets Living Super-Organisms?
Oceans Sucking Up More Ozone than First Thought
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James Head, planetary geologist, Brown University
The prevailing thinking is that Mars is a planet whose activeclimatehas been confined to the distant past. About 3.5 billion years ago, theRed Planet had extensive flowing water and then fell quiet - deadlyquiet. It didn't seem the climate had changed much since. Now, recentstudies by scientists at Brown University show that Mars' climate hasbeen muchmore dynamic than previously believed.
After examining stunninghigh-resolution images taken last year by the ReconnaissanceOrbiter, researchers have documented for the first time that icepacks at least 1 kilometer (0.6 miles) thick and perhaps 2.5 kilometers(1.6 miles) thick existed along Mars' mid-latitude belt as recently as100 million years ago. In addition, the team believes other images tellthem that glaciers flowed in localized areas in the last 10 to 100million years - a blink of the eye in Mars's geologicaltimeline.
This evidence of recent activity means the Martian climate may changeagain and could bolster speculation about whether the Red Planet can,or did, support life.
"We've gone from seeing as a dead planet for three-plus billionyears to one that has been alive in recent times," said Jay Dickson, aresearch analyst in the Department of Geological Sciences at Brown andlead author. "[The finding] has changed ourperspective from a planet that has been dry and dead to one that is icyand active."
In fact, Dickson and his co-authors, James Head,and David Marchant, a associate professor at Boston University, believe the images show that hasgone through multiple Ice Ages - episodes in its recent past in whichthe planet's mid-latitudes were covered by glaciers that disappearedwith changes in the Red Planet's obliquity, which changes the climateby altering the amount of sunlight falling on different areas.
NASA's Global Surveyor and Odyssey missions have providedevidence of a relatively recent ice age on Mars. In contrast to Earth'sice ages, a Martian ice age expands when the poles warm, and watervapor is transported toward lower latitudes. Martian ice ages wane whenthe poles cool and lock water into polar icecaps.
The catalysts of ice ages on appear to be much more extreme thanthe comparable drivers of climate change on Earth. Variations in theplanet's orbit and tilt produce remarkable changes in the distributionof water ice from Polar Regions down to latitudes equivalent to Houstonor Egypt. Researchers, using NASA spacecraft data and analogies toEarth's Antarctic Dry Valleys, reported their findings in the journalNature.
"Of all the solar system planets, has the climatemost like that of Earth. Both are sensitive to small changes in orbitalparameters," said Head. "Now we're seeing that Mars, likeEarth, is in a period between ice ages," he said. This evidence ofrecent activity means the Martian climate maychange again and could bolster speculation about whether the Red Planetcan, or did, support life.
Head and his team examined global patterns of landscape shapes andnear-surface water ice Nasa's orbiters mapped. They concluded a coveringof water ice mixed with dust mantled the surface of to latitudesas low as 30 degrees, and is degrading and retreating. By observing thesmall number of impact craters in those features and by backtrackingthe known patterns of changes in Mars' orbit and tilt, they estimatedthe most recent ice age occurred just 400 thousand to 2.1 million yearsago.
Marchant, a glacial geologist who spent 17 field seasons in theMars-like Antarctic Dry Valleys, said, "These extreme changes on Marsprovide perspective for interpreting what we see on Earth. Landforms onthat appear to be related to climate changes help us calibrate andunderstand similar landforms on Earth. Furthermore, the range ofmicroenvironments in the Antarctic Dry Valleys helps us read the Marsrecord."
According to the researchers, during a Martian ice age,polar warming drives water vapor from polar ice into the atmosphere.The water comes back to ground at lower latitudes as deposits of frostor snow mixed generously with dust. This ice-rich mantle, a few metersthick, smooths the contours of the land. It locally develops a bumpytexture at human scales, resembling the surface of a basketball, andalso seen in some Antarctic icy terrains. When ice at the top of themantling layer sublimes back into the atmosphere, it leaves behinddust, which forms an insulating layer over remaining ice. On Earth, bycontrast, ice ages are periods of polar cooling. The buildup of icesheets draws water from liquid-water oceans, which lacks.
Dickson andthe other researchers focused on an area called Protonilus Mensae-ColoeFossae. The region is located in Mars's mid-latitude and is marked bysplotches of mesas, massifs and steep-walled valleys that separate thelowlands in the north from the highlands in the south.
The team looked in particular at a box canyon set in a low-lyingplain. Images show the canyon has moraines - deposits of rocks thatmark the limits of a glacier's advance or the path of its retreat. Therock deposit lines appear to show a glacier that flowed up the boxcanyon, which "physically cannot happen," Dickson said.
Instead, the team deduced the ice in the surrounding plain grew higherthan the canyon's walls and then flowed downward onto the top of thecanyon, which had become the lowest point on the ice-laden terrain. Theteam calculated the ice pack must have been one kilometer thick by pastmeasurements of height between the plain and the lip of the canyon.Based on the ice flow patterns, the ice pack could have reached 2.5kilometers at peak thickness during a period known as the lateAmazonian, the authors said.
The finding could have implications for the life-on-argument bystrengthening the case for liquid water. Ice can melt two ways: bytemperature or by pressure. As currently understood, the Martianclimate is dominated by sublimation, the process by which solidsubstances are transformed directly to vapor. But ice packs can exertsuch strong pressure at the base to produce liquid water, which makesthe thickness of past glaciers on its surface so intriguing.
Dickson also looked at a lobe across the valley from the box canyonsite. There, he saw a clear, semi-circular moraine that had spilledfrom an ancient tributary on to the surrounding plain. The lobe issuperimposed on a past ice deposit and appears to be evidence of morerecent glaciation. Although geologists can't date either event, thelandscape appears to show at least two periods in which glaciationoccurred, bolstering their theory that the Martian climate hasundergone past Ice Ages.
Posted by Casey Kazan.
Related Galaxy posts:
Unravelingthe Mysteries of -Clues to Climate Change on Earth?
Movie of NASA's Sites on for Future Landings & Search for Ancient Life
Exploration: Secrets of the Soil
Is There Life on Mars? NASA Goes Underground to Find Out
New Phoenix Mission Technology to Search for Life
Is there an Interplanetary Mars-Earth Microbe Shuttle?
"The Overview Effect": Is Space Travel Next Step in Human Evolution?
Lonely Hearts of the Cosmos Revisited -NASA's Phoenix Probe & the Search for Extraterrestrial Life
Phoenix Lander and the 'Canals' of Mars
It helps to put things in perspective here on our frenetic littleplanet with a look at this extraordinarily powerful and moving video ofthe Hubble Space Telescope mapping of the Universe, whose known size is78 billion light years across.
The video of the images is the equivalent of using a "time machine" tolook into the past to witness the early formation of galaxies, perhapsless than one billion years after the universe's birth in the Big Bang.
The video includes mankind's deepest, most detailed optical view ofthe universe called the Hubble Deep Field (HDF). One of the stunningimages was assembled from 342 separate exposures taken with the WideField and Planetary Camera 2 (WFPC2) for ten consecutive days.
Representing a narrow "keyhole" view stretching to the visiblehorizon of the universe, the HDF image covers a speck of the sky onlyabout the width of a dime located 75 feet away. Though the field is avery small sample of the heavens, it is considered representative ofthe typical distribution of galaxies in space because the universe,statistically, looks largely the same in all directions. Gazing intothis small field, Hubble uncovered a bewildering assortment of at least1,500 galaxies at various stages of evolution.
Most of the galaxies are so faint (nearly 30th magnitude or aboutfour-billion times fainter than can be seen by the human eye) they havenever before been seen by even the largest telescopes. Some fraction ofthe galaxies in this menagerie probably date back to nearly thebeginning of the universe.
"The variety of galaxies we see is amazing. In time these Hubble datacould turn out to be the double helix of galaxy formation. We areclearly seeing some of the galaxies as they were more than ten billionyears ago, in the process of formation," said Robert Williams, Directorof the Space Telescope Science Institute Baltimore, Maryland. "As theimages have come up on our screens, we have not been able to keep fromwondering if we might somehow be seeing our own origins in all of this."
Essentially a narrow, deep "core sample" of sky, the HDF is analogousto a geologic core sample of the Earth's crust. Just as a terrestrialcore sample is a history of events which took place as Earth's surfaceevolved, the HDF image contains information about the universe at manydifferent stages in time. Unlike a geologic sample though, it is notclear what galaxies are nearby and therefore old, and what fraction arevery distant and therefore existed when the universe was newborn. "It'slike looking down a long tube and seeing all the galaxies along thatline of sight. They're all stacked up against one another in thispicture and the challenge now is to disentangle them," said MarkDickinson of the HDF team.
Nearly a year of preparation preceded the observation. The HDF teamselected a piece of sky near the handle of the Big Dipper (part of thenorthern circumpolar constellation Ursa Major, the Great Bear). Thefield is far from the plane of our Galaxy and so is "uncluttered" ofnearby objects, such as foreground stars. The field provides a"peephole" out of the galaxy that allows for a clear view all the wayto the horizon of the universe.
You may have asked, "How can the universe be 78 billion light years across when the age of the universe is only about 13 billion years?"
How can something be larger than then distance travelled at the speed of light? Since light from the beginning of the universe has only had 13 billion years to travel (not 78 billion), then shouldn't the universe be only 13 billion light years across? That's a pretty intuitive thought.
But it doesn't take into account that the entire universe itself is also expanding. When a photon of light leaves it's point of origin, it does so at the speed of light, so in a universe that doesn't expand, a photon traveling for 13 billion years traverses 13 billion light years.
In a universe that does expand, all of the distance covered by the photon gets increased by a scale factor equal to the rate of expansion of the universe.
Selected and posted by the Galaxy editorial team.