Speaking Up for Science

Image via Spin (http://www.spin.com/2017/01/protest-signs-womens-march)

Article From The Big Think
http://bigthink.com/robby-berman/scientists-plan-a-march-on-dc-to-speak-up-for-science-and-facts

Scientists Plan a March on D.C. to Speak Up for Science and Facts

There are certain things that we accept as facts with no alternatives. The Earth is becoming warmer due to human action. The diversity of life arose by evolution. Politicians who devalue expertise risk making decisions that do not reflect reality and must be held accountable. An American government that ignores science to pursue ideological agendas endangers the world.

These are the words written by the organizers of the upcoming Scientists’ March on Washington. The date for the march is not yet set, but it will likely take place, summoning a sea of smart people with a love for science — like you — and the pursuit of knowledge.

The march grew out of a discussion on Reddit, with a private Facebook group and Twitter account launched on Monday, January 23. In just a couple of days, the group had 300,000 members. Their public Twitter account has 288,000 followers and their public Facebook page has 20,832 followers as of this writing. You can also sign up to receive email updateson the march. The organizers are also looking for help.

The scientific community has been under attack for a while now by Christians who take issue with Darwinian evolution, preferring the Bible’s account. And while nobody wants climate change to be real, it is, though some would rather ignore the supporting evidence and overwhelming consensus of the scientific community to reinforce their own denial. There’s a growing cult of ignorance in which people pride themselves on their lack of scientific knowledge, and it threatens to plunge us all into a new dark age.

Nowhere is this being felt more acutely than in the U.S., where the new Trump administration — along with many Congressional Republicans — is firm in its denial of climate change and in their desire to control the national conversation on a range of scientific issues. Through anti-science appointments, the barring of publications from federal science agencies, and the freeze of all research funding, it all amounts to an unprecedented attack on fact-based knowledge. It’s the chilling — and terrifying — first step of a process in which truth can become whatever a group of politicians say it is.

To protect their findings, and the truth, scientists began frantically grabbing and preserving climate change data before the administration came into office. Since the inauguration, employees of muzzled departments have started rogue Twitter accounts as an uncensored outlet for information — unfortunately, many of these have now been handed over to others as employees fear for their jobs.

Caroline Weinberg, one of the march’s organizers, says, “This is not a partisan issue. People from all parts of the political spectrum should be alarmed by these efforts to deny scientific progress. Scientific research moves us forward and we should not allow asinine policies to thwart it.” She adds that science lovers are as welcome as scientists to participate in the march.

It’s not the first time scientists have tried to act as a conscience of a wayward federal government. For example, scientists were key players in the 310,000-person 2014 People’s Climate March. And Harvard science historian Naomi Oreskes, speaking to KQED, reminds us, “It is the scientists who mobilized against the arms race in the late 1950s and 1960s. So that tells you how scientists feel now. This is an existential threat.”

 

Floating Farms of the Future


This is an excerpt from an article appearing in the August 20, 2016, Science News with the headline, “Quenching society’s thirst: Desalination may soon turn a corner, from rare to routine.” 

Coastal crops

When Khaled Moustafa looks at a beach, he doesn’t just see a place for sunning and surfing. The biologist at the National Conservatory of Arts and Crafts in Paris sees the future of farming.

In the April issue of Trends in Biotechnology, Moustafa proposed that desalination could supply irrigation water to colossal floating farms. Self-sufficient floating farms could bring agriculture to arid coastal regions previously inhospitable to crops. The idea, while radical, isn’t too farfetched, given recent technological advancements, Moustafa says.

Floating farms would lay anchor along coastlines and suck up seawater, he proposes. A solar panel–powered water desalination system would provide freshwater to rows of cucumbers, tomatoes or strawberries stacked like a big city high-rise inside a “blue house” (that is, a floating greenhouse).

Water desalination could allow farming to take to the sea. The idea sparked the imagination of a Spanish architecture firm, which mocked up an elaborate floating farm complex (illustration). The triple-decker structure would include solar panels on top, crops at midlevel and fish farming on the lower level.

SMART FLOATING FARMS

Each floating farm would stretch 300 meters long by 100 meters wide, providing about 3 square kilometers of cultivable surface over only three-tenths of a square kilometer of ocean, Moustafa says. The farms could even be mobile, cruising around the ocean to transport crops and escape bad weather.

Such a portable and self-contained farming solution would be most appealing in dry coastal regions that get plenty of sunshine, such as the Arabian Gulf, North Africa and Australia.

“I wouldn’t say it’s a silly idea,” Voutchkov says. “But it’s an idea that can’t get a practical implementation in the short term. In the long term, I do believe it’s a visionary idea.”

Floating farms may come with a large price tag, Moustafa admits. Still, expanding agriculture should “be more of a priority than building costly football stadiums or indoor ski parks in the desert,” he argues.

Whether or not farming will ever take to the seas, new desalination technologies will transform the way society quenches its thirst. More than 300 million people rely on desalination for at least some of their daily water, and that number will only grow as needs rise and new materials and techniques improve the process.

“Desalination can sometimes get a rap for being energy intensive,” Dave says. “But the immediate benefits of having access to water that would not otherwise be there are so large that desalination is a technology that we will be seeing for a long time into the future.”

 

The Hottest Year on Record … 2016

The scorching temperatures mean 2016 is all but certain to be the hottest year ever recorded, beating the previous hottest year in 2015, which itself beat 2014. This run of three record years is also unprecedented and, without climate change, would be a one in a million chance. Scaife says: “Including this year so far, 16 of the 17 warmest years on record have been since 2000 – it’s a shocking statistic.”

Shattered records show climate change is an emergency today, scientists warn

Unprecedented temperature levels mean more heatwaves, flooding, wildfires and hurricanes as experts say global warming is here and affecting us now

Read more about the science and realities of climate change in this article by Damian Carrington of The Guardian.

STEM Scholarships to NAU Still Available!

Do you plan to transfer to Northern Arizona University (NAU) into an approved College of Engineering, Forestry & Natural Sciences major Fall 2016?

Do you have a 3.0 or higher GPA in at least 24 transferable credits?

And $2,500 or more in unmet financial need? (2016 FASFA is required)

Then you may qualify for the Transfer-GEMS (Transfers to Graduates in Engineering, Math and Science) Scholarship!

This scholarship is supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant Number 1260138.

SCHOLARSHIPS ARE STILL AVAILABLE FOR THE 2016-2017 ACADEMIC YEAR!

For more information, please contact jen.johnson@nau.edu.

Learn more or Apply now!

 

 

New Gecko-Inspired Adhesive

From The Scientist:  http://www.the-scientist.com/?articles.view/articleNo/45741/title/New-Gecko-Inspired-Adhesive/

By Jef Akst | April 6, 2016

New Gecko-Inspired Adhesive

Flexible patches of silicone that stick to skin and conduct electricity could serve as the basis for a new, reusable electrode for medical applications.

For years, researchers have recreated the microscopic hair-like pillars on gecko feet that, through atomic forces known as van der Waals’ interactions, allow the animals to scurry up walls and across ceilings. Such gecko-inspired adhesives could have a variety of applications, including medical bandages, but materials scientist Seokwoo Jeon at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) and colleagues wanted to apply these materials to create a novel wearable electrode.

Read more of Jef’s article in The Scientist here:

 

Engineering a New Generation of Tattoos

Flash back one year ago.  Six very happy NYU students won the grand prize of $75,000 in the Entrepreneurs Challenge, held by Stern’s Berkley Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, for Ephemeral, a clever temporary tattoo ink system.

Traditional tattoos last forever because the ink is made of very large molecules. Macrophages, the cells your immune system uses to get rid of stuff like bacteria, just can’t break down the huge dye molecules.

Ephemeral uses a different approach. Lam, another of Ephemeral’s co-founders and the company’s Senior R&D Researcher, said that each dye molecule in their ink is small but it’s encased in a special capsule.

“The reason it’s encapsulated is so that it stays in the skin, so the macrophages can’t eat it up,” Lam said.

These capsules protect the ink from your immune system, but they also can easily be dissolved by a removal solution that Ephemeral has developed. If you decided you no longer want an Ephemeral tattoo, an artist would simply retrace the design with a tattoo gun loaded with the removal solution.

The Ephemeral team included Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering students: Jason Candreva (Ph.D.), Brennal Pierre (Ph.D.), Vandan Shah (Ph.D.), Anthony Lam (B.S.), and Seung Shin (B.S.) and Joshua Sakhai (B.S.), a Stern student majoring in Math, Finance, and Computer Science.

ephemeral(Photo: ©Ephemeral)

Read more about the students and their start up Ephemeral here:
http://www.nyunews.com/2016/04/18/nyu-startup-makes-tattoos-ephemeral/
http://engineering.nyu.edu/news/2015/05/18/making-permanent-tattoos-ephemeral
http://www.sciencealert.com/newly-developed-tattoo-ink-is-designed-to-disappear-after-a-year

 

 

 

 

 

Mercury Transit Music Video

A Mercury Transit Music Video from Solar Dynamics Observatory
Video Credit: NASA‘s Goddard Space Flight Center, Genna Duberstein; Music: Encompass by Mark PetrieExplanation: What’s that small black dot moving across the Sun? Mercury. Possibly the clearest view of Mercury crossing in front of the Sun earlier this week was from Earth orbit. The Solar Dynamics Observatory obtained an uninterrupted vista recording it not only in optical light but also in bands of ultraviolet light. Featured here is a composite movie of the crossing set to music. Although the event might prove successful scientifically for better determining components of Mercury’ ultra-thin atmosphere, the event surely proved successful culturally by involving people throughout the world in observing a rare astronomical phenomenon. Many spectacular images of this Mercury transit from around (and above) the globe are being proudly displayed.

 

Imagine Science Films

Imagine Science Films is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization in existence since 2008 committed to promoting a high-level dialogue between scientists and filmmakers.

Their mission is to bridge the gap between art and science through film, thereby transforming the way science is communicated to the public and encouraging collaboration across disciplines.

Together, scientists, who dedicate their lives to studying the world in which we live, and filmmakers, who interpret and expose this knowledge, can make science accessible and stimulating to the broadest possible audience. Imagine Science Films is committed to drawing attention to the sciences, whether it is through art or our community outreach efforts.

Read more about Imagine Science Films here:  http://imaginesciencefilms.org

Were the Japan and Ecuador earthquakes related?

 

They may have happened within days of one another, but the devastating earthquakes in Japan had nothing to do with the strong temblor that struck Ecuador over the weekend, experts say.

Both Japan and Ecuador are located along the so-called Pacific Ring of Fire, which spans the coasts lining the Pacific Ocean. The regions along the Ring of Fire are prone to earthquakes, but it’s extremely rare for an earthquake on one side of the world to trigger earthquakes on the other, said Ross Stein, CEO and co-founder of Temblor.net, a free website and smartphone application that helps people understand locations’ seismic risk.

For one thing, the earthquakes that hit Japan are a completely different type of quake than the one that struck Ecuador, Stein said. On April 14, a magnitude-6.2 earthquake hit southern Japan, and a day later, on April 15, a magnitude-7.0 earthquake struck the same region, according to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). [The 10 Biggest Earthquakes in History]

Both of these earthquakes were strike-slip earthquakes, Stein said, which occur when two parts of the Earth’s crust slide against each other. The best way to imagine this is to place your hands together, with your fingers pointing away from your body, and slide your left hand forward and your right hand backward.

Both of these strike-slip earthquakes were shallow — about 6 to 8 miles (10 to 12 kilometers) deep — and both were destructive, killing more than 40 people in total, according to news sources. But the second quake was about 20 times stronger than the first, and released about 400,000 times more energy than the amount unleashed by the atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki in 1945, Stein and Volkan Sevilgen, the other Temblor.net co-founder, wrote in a blog post.

These two earthquakes in Japan were likely related, Stein said. However, it’s unclear whether the magnitude-6.2 earthquake was a foreshock of the magnitude-7.0 earthquake or the magnitude-7.0 earthquake was an aftershock of the magnitude-6.2 earthquake, Stein said.

“So far, the evidence suggests that both are true,” the experts wrote in the blog post. Though it’s rare for an aftershock to be larger than the main shock, it does happen, Stein told Live Science.

Regardless, the first earthquake made the faults near it more likely to rupture, which likely helped to trigger the second, larger earthquake, Stein said.

Ecuador earthquake

On Saturday (April 16), merely a day after the second Japanese earthquake, a massive magnitude-7.8 earthquake rocked Muisne, Ecuador, the USGS reported. [Image Gallery: This Millennium’s Destructive Earthquakes]

Unlike the strike-slip earthquakes in Japan, this one was a so-called megathrust quake, which occurs when one tectonic plate jams under another. In this case, the Nazca Plate is moving under the South American continent at a rate of about 2.2 to 2.4 inches (55 to 61 millimeters) a year, Stein and Sevilgen wrote in another blog post.

More than 400 deaths have been reported from the Ecuador quake so far.

This isn’t Muisne’s first large earthquake. Another magnitude-7.8 earthquake hit almost the exact location in 1942, Stein said. In fact, given that the subduction rate is about 2.3 inches (60 mm) a year, and nearly 75 years have elapsed since the last large earthquake, it makes sense that this is a “repeat earthquake,” Stein said.

Read more at the following site… cbsnews.com

2016 RecycleMania Tournament – Final Results

RMbanner_2016

Thanks to Chaunda Fraulino and all of her hard work in making this happen every year. We have continually gotten better in this competition and I hope you all improve next year too.

Also thanks to all of you for doing your part and recycling, reducing, and reusing. This would not have been possible without an environmentally conscious student body and employees.

2016 RecycleMania Tournament
February 7 – April 2, 2016
 
Final Results
Glendale Community College (GCC) competed with 276 colleges and universities nationwide in the 2016 RecycleMania tournament from February 7 – April 2.  The four Arizona participants included Arizona State University, Glendale Community College, and the University of Arizona. GCC reduced the amount of waste per person from 8.63 lbs. in 2015 to 7.61 lbs. in 2016 earning a 3rd place finish in the 2016 Waste Minimization competition.
The goal of waste minimization is to reduce overall waste (trash plus recyclables) through waste reduction activities such as the Zero Waste Program.  As a direct result of our success in waste minimization, our placement in other categories is higher.  The final results in all categories are listed below.
2016 RecycleMania Final Results
Grand Champion
103 out of 207Per Capita Classic
249 out of 269Gorilla
222 out of 276

Waste Minimization
3 out of 114

Corrugated Cardboard
93 out of 97

Our cumulative GHG (Greenhouse Gas) Reductions during the competition are 58 Metric Tons of CO2 Equivalent, or 11 cars off the road, or the energy consumption of 5 households.
 

Inline image 2


 
About RecycleMania
This is GCC’s 6th year participating in the RecycleMania tournament.  The tournament ran from February 7 – April 2, 2016. RecycleMania is a friendly competition and benchmarking tool for college and university recycling programs to promote waste reduction activities to their campus communities. Over an 8-week period, schools report recycling and trash data which are then ranked according to who collects the largest amount of recyclables per capita, the largest amount of total recyclables, the least amount of trash per capita, or has the highest recycling rate overall.