Thursday, December 27, 2012

Time to Confront Climate Change -

Time to Confront Climate Change -

 "Four years ago, in sharp contrast to the torpor and denial of the George W. Bush years, President Obama described climate change as one of humanity’s most pressing challenges and pledged an all-out effort to pass a cap-and-trade bill limiting greenhouse gas emissions."

'via Blog this'

Essay - The Collider, the Particle and a Theory About Fate -

Essay - The Collider, the Particle and a Theory About Fate -

 "More than a year after an explosion of sparks, soot and frigid helium shut it down, the world’s biggest and most expensive physics experiment, known as the Large Hadron Collider, is poised to start up again. In December, if all goes well, protons will start smashing together in an underground racetrack outside Geneva in a search for forces and particles that reigned during the first trillionth of a second of the Big Bang."

'via Blog this'

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Drought Threatens Shipping on Mississippi River -

Drought Threatens Shipping on Mississippi River -

"The Mississippi River is still open for business — for now. January is another story."

'via Blog this'

West Antarctic Warming Faster Than Thought, Study Finds -

West Antarctic Warming Faster Than Thought, Study Finds -

"New research suggests that West Antarctica has warmed much more than scientists have thought over the last half century, an ominous finding given that the huge ice sheet there may be vulnerable to long-term collapse, with potentially drastic effects on sea level."

'via Blog this'

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Brooklyn's Mayans Pretty Sure World Won't End Friday -

Brooklyn's Mayans Pretty Sure World Won't End Friday -

"If the world is ending Friday, as many earthlings say the ancient Mayans predicted, there were no signs of panic, prophesying or much else out of the ordinary on Thursday on the streets of New York’s most densely Mayan neighborhood, Bath Beach in Brooklyn."

'via Blog this'

Chemistry and Biology: Kuhnian or Galisonian? | The Curious Wavefunction, Scientific American Blog Network

Chemistry and Biology: Kuhnian or Galisonian? | The Curious Wavefunction, Scientific American Blog Network:

"Freeman Dyson has a perspective in this week’s Science magazine in which he provides a summary of a theme he has explored in his book “The Sun, the Genome and the Internet”. Dyson’s central thesis is that scientific revolutions are driven as much or even more by tools than by ideas. This view runs somewhat contrary to the generally accepted belief regarding the dominance of Kuhnian revolutions – described famously by Thomas Kuhn in his seminal book “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions” – which are engineered by ideas and shifting paradigms. In contrast, in reference to Harvard university historian of science Peter Galison, Dyson emphasizes the importance of Galisonian revolutions which are driven mainly by experimental tools."

'via Blog this'

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Monday, December 17, 2012

Probes Crash Into the Moon’s Dark (Not Far) Side -

Probes Crash Into the Moon’s Dark (Not Far) Side -

 "Ebb and Flow are no more. The two spacecraft of NASA’s Grail mission crashed on the Moon at about 5:28 p.m. Eastern time, about 30 seconds apart, one of the few times that cheers and claps have been heard in the control room to celebrate the loss of a spacecraft."

'via Blog this'

Take Aways

My worldview changed a bit after teaching the Astronomy course.

Students were engaged. I was surprised by their interest in fundamental science, of course they chose the course, but in any case, it was a pleasant surprise. Thirteen students did well, and a few dropped the class. I am told pure science classes are not all that popular at the College. I hope this enthusiasm remains in the future.

The main change in my worldview is similar to one presented in "The New Universe and the Human Future", by Abrams & Primack. I believe a new religion is coming. I am promoting it, before going to details, here is a broad description.

Prophets have illuminated us since the beginning of culture. We believe.

Hope comes after fear. Fear helps us face dangers, sometimes even with violence, these are self defense mechanisms coming from the beginning of the senses. If the cell does not defend itself it is not viable, it is not permanent, and time stops for that particular life experiment. We all have fears. Nevertheless after the danger is gone, we need hope. We are going to make it again this time. Whoever, or whatever makes it, gets the good feeling of the fulfilled hope. If not, hope didn't hurt anyway.

Reading the review by Paola Caserelli and Cecilia Ceccarelli on the arXive, gave me hope, and a new religious feeling.

We are the children of the Universe, we are not alien material attacked by it. We were born here, and we are welcome.

We need a Cosmic View, like Abrams and Primack are inviting us to do.

Come join us!

End of Term

Readers to this site should be aware of my current interests. I taught an Introduction to Astronomy at Waubonsee Community College this Fall Semester. I have been posting Relevant Science with an emphasis on Astronomy, and some Mathematics with astronomical connections. Now that the Fall Semester is over, I put here Science for my next assignment. I expect another semester like this, but at this time I have not been informed about it.

Thanks for coming.

[1212.3553] A Photometric Study of the Hot Exoplanet WASP-19b

[1212.3553] A Photometric Study of the Hot Exoplanet WASP-19b:

"Context: When the planet transits its host star, it is possible to measure the planetary radius and (with radial velocity data) the planet mass. For the study of planetary atmospheres, it is essential to obtain transit and occultation measurements at multiple wavelengths.
Aims: We aim to characterize the transiting hot Jupiter WASP-19b by deriving accurate and precise planetary parameters from a dedicated observing campaign of transits and occultations.
Methods: We have obtained a total of 14 transit lightcurves in the r'-Gunn, IC, z'-Gunn and I+z' filters and 10 occultation lightcurves in z'-Gunn using EulerCam on the Euler-Swiss telescope and TRAPPIST. We have also obtained one lightcurve through the narrow-band NB1190 filter of HAWK-I on the VLT measuring an occultation at 1.19 micron. We have performed a global MCMC analysis of all new data together with some archive data in order to refine the planetary parameters and measure the occultation depths in z'-band and at 1.19 micron. "

'via Blog this'

[1212.3387] Effects of H2 coating of grains on depletion of molecular species

[1212.3387] Effects of H2 coating of grains on depletion of molecular species:

 "Physical conditions in dense and cold regions of interstellar clouds favour the formation of ice mantles on the surfaces of interstellar grains. It is predicted that most of the gaseous species heavier than H2 or He will adsorb onto the grains and will disappear from the gas-phase, changing its chemistry, within 10^9/n_H years. Nonetheless, many molecules in molecular clouds are not completely depleted in timescales of 10^5 yr. Several speculative mechanisms have been proposed to explain why molecules stay in the gas phase, but up to now none are fully convincing. At the same time, these mechanisms are not mutually exclusive and we can still explore the effects of other possible processes. We speculate on the consequences of H2 coating of grains on the evaporation rates of adsorbed species. More experiments and simulations are needed to calculate the evaporation rate Eevap(X-H2)."

'via Blog this'

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Come Join Us.

"Everything is written out there, every single rock going around the Sun, has clues of our origins. We are slowly learning how to decipher the message left by “The Constructor”, for us to understand. The Universe is not hostile to life, the Universe made us. As I write this, more sugar is being created, more alcohol, more water. This Universe is made for you and me. This is the biggest puzzle ever made. Come join us!"

Our astrochemical heritage

Sunday, December 09, 2012

Federal Plans for Colorado River Include Pipeline -

Federal Plans for Colorado River Include Pipeline -

 "The federal government has come up with dozens of ways to enhance the diminishing flow of the Colorado River, which has long struggled to keep seven states and roughly 25 million people hydrated."

'via Blog this'

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Solar System Information, Quiz - National Geographic

Solar System Information, Quiz - National Geographic:

'via Blog this'

New Observatories Will Warn Public about "Atmospheric River" Floods: Scientific American

New Observatories Will Warn Public about "Atmospheric River" Floods: Scientific American:

"An $11-million weather sensor network being installed in California will give officials more time to prepare for onslaughts of Pacific storms"

'via Blog this'

North Star Closer to Earth Than Thought

North Star Closer to Earth Than Thought:

 "The North Star has been a guiding light for countless generations of navigators. But a new study reveals that its distance to Earth may have been grossly overestimated."

'via Blog this'

NASA to Launch New Mars Rover in 2020: Scientific American

NASA to Launch New Mars Rover in 2020: Scientific American:

"The new rover may collect Martian soil samples to bring back to Earth for further analysis"

'via Blog this'

Graphene towers promise 'flexi-electronics' : Nature News & Comment

Graphene towers promise 'flexi-electronics' : Nature News & Comment:

 "The 3D ‘monoliths’ — grown between forming ice crystals — add elasticity to the super-strength and conductivity of graphene sheets."

'via Blog this'

Saturday, December 01, 2012

How Much?! Calculating the Cost of Online Education


Is an online education a better bargain financially than a traditional program? There are conflicting reports and old assumptions may not be accurate anymore. For-profit and not-for-profit, four-year and two-year, changes in the economy are affecting all sectors. It's important for you to do the math on your own, comparing the schools and programs you are interested in, and ultimately choose a program that meets your career and education needs, and is within your budget.

New initiatives and federal requirements aim to make the process of comparing costs a little easier. More transparency will hopefully lead to open availability of information that allows you to accurately estimate costs related to a specific school and program before applying. 

New Information on College Costs

The U.S. Department of Education (USDOE), as part of a requirement set forth in the 2008 renewal of the Higher Education Opportunity Act, has published more detailed resources about the cost of higher education. The USDOE's new Information on College Costs site presents three pages to help you identify and compare costs at different schools before you make decisions about your higher education plans.

  • College Affordability and Transparency Center (CATC): This page allows you to search by type of institution (public, private, for-profit, and not-for-profit) and choose reports for highest and lowest tuition and net prices. A separate search feature is provided for career and vocational programs, as well as a link to the College Navigator site for additional resources and search options.
  • State Spending Charts: Select your state from the dropdown menu and then download the spreadsheet that is generated with information about state and local grants and appropriations, and how this funding has changed annually since 2004.
  • 90/10 Information: This page provides a list of for-profit schools that receive more than 90 percent of their income from federal student aid. Ninety percent is the maximum amount allowed; institutions must receive at least 10 percent of their revenue from other sources. This issue has had a lot of attention in recent months as the USDOE and legislators reviewed for-profit practices. Schools that are not able to comply with this rule after a provisional time period could lose eligibility to receive federal student aid. For more information about the 90/10 rule, read this U.S. Government Accountability Office report summary from 2010.

Net Price Calculators

The Higher Education Opportunity Act also requires all institutions that receive federal financial aid - and enroll full-time, first-time degree or certificate seeking undergraduate students – post a net price calculator on their websites. This requirement begins on October 29, 2011, but many schools are already in compliance. These calculators allow you to estimate the total costs associated with a specific school. Take a look at the examples already posted by the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities and Southeastern Bible College

Net price estimates include tuition and fees, as well as other costs such as textbooks, supplies, and related expenses. If you are interested in a traditional school, you can also add in the costs related to room and board and transportation. The calculators allow you to subtract amounts related to any financial aid you are anticipating in the form of scholarships, loans or grants. Look for these net price calculators on institution web pages related to admissions, financial aid, and information for prospective students.

Questions and Concerns

There are already several concerns about how the new USDOE databases and required net price calculators will work. There are also general caveats about comparing costs across programs and among schools.

  • Accuracy of information: Each school is responsible for entering cost information into its calculator's database. Read the fine print to make sure the estimate you receive is based on current tuition and fee amounts. 
  • Complex forms: To be more accurate, the calculator tools may include a lot of questions, which can be time consuming to complete and a turn-off to students. Take the time required to complete this step in your research.
  • Room and board: Some of the costs stated on school and government sites include room and board expenses, while others in the same list may not. Make sure you are comparing equivalent costs when looking at potential schools side-by-side. 
  • Program delivery: Institutions that offer programs in on-campus and online formats may not charge the same tuition or fees for both versions. In some cases online will be more expensive, while in others online will be less expensive. Check the details of program costs carefully when making your comparisons. 

Do your homework and stay up-to-date on these issues. These tools will likely be continuously reviewed and tweaked as more of them come online.

More Financial Calculators

You'll find a wide range of personal finance and college planning calculators online. I've listed a few of these below, but look for others that might be helpful to you in your search for affordable higher education opportunities.

  • Student Loan Calculator: Use this site to figure out how much your loan repayments will be after you graduate. You'll need to know your loan amounts, any related interest rates, and have an estimate of your starting salary after graduation.
  • College Savings Calculator: Use a tool like this one to help you plan ahead. Enter the annual cost of the institution you would like to attend, the number of years before you plan to enroll, and information about your income and savings potential. This calculator provides advice on how much you should be saving, and how you might adjust your plans, so you will be prepared when you are ready to enter a program.
  • Student Budget Calculator: Students, both online and traditional, can benefit from understanding their own finances and planning a budget. This calculator encourages you to identify costs associated with school (tuition, fees, books, etc.) and living expenses (rent, utilities, child care, etc.). 

More calculators, ranging from simple to complex, can be found at The College Board and

Gather the information you need!

Underestimating the cost of higher education is a common mistake encountered by online students. Use these new tools to thoroughly research the costs related to any of the programs you may be considering – online and traditional. Cost is just one of many considerations you'll want to explore before making your final decisions about applications enrollment. 

Taken From Online College

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Drought Expands, Blankets High Plains -

Drought Expands, Blankets High Plains -

"(Reuters) - Drought is tightening its grip on the central United States as winter weather sets in, threatening to ravage the new wheat crop and spelling more hardship for farmers and ranchers already weary of the costly and ongoing dry conditions."

'via Blog this'

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Climate "Changing before Our Eyes": World Meteorological Organization: Scientific American

Climate "Changing before Our Eyes": World Meteorological Organization: Scientific American:

 "The fact that Arctic sea ice has melted this year to its lowest recorded level shows, along with other weather extremes, that "climate change is taking place before our eyes", the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said on Wednesday."

'via Blog this'

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

[1211.1916] Challenges to the Bohr Wave Particle Complementarity Principle

[1211.1916] Challenges to the Bohr Wave Particle Complementarity Principle:

 "Contrary to the Bohr complementarity principle, in 1995 Rabinowitz proposed that by using entangled particles from the source it would be possible to determine which slit a particle goes through while still preserving the interference pattern in the Young two slit experiment. In 2000, Kim et al used spontaneous parametric down conversion to prepare entangled photons as their source, and almost achieved this. In 2012, Menzel et al. experimentally succeeded in doing this. When the source emits entangled particle pairs, the traversed slit is inferred from measurement of the entangled particle location by using triangulation. The violation of complementarity breaches the prevailing probabilistic interpretation of quantum mechanics, and benefits the Bohm pilot wave theory."

'via Blog this'

Organic Molecules on Mars!

I can see the future.

One of my best students thirty years ago is hosting the Alice collaboration in Puebla, Mexico. I knew he was good, and he has proven it. My brother also excelled, and I knew it. He recently got a prestigious award by the City of Mexico, the Heberto Castillo Prize.

Today the NYT announces that Curiosity found important facts in Mars (below). I have been reading Paola Caselli, and Cecilia Ceccatti's, review on "Our astrochemical heritage", also the book by Jacob Berkowitz, "Stardust Revolution", I know now how common  life ingredients are in space, from water to sugar.

Given that, are there civilizations in the Universe?

If you count ours as one, the answer is yes. Nonetheless I do not expect NASA to announce anytime soon, that kind of a discovery.

It is interesting that a Christian from Texas, started the Origins Project, at NASA. Go figure.

Undisclosed Finding by Mars Rover Fuels Intrigue

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The Mars rover Curiosity has found something — something noteworthy, in a pinch of Martian sand. But what is it?
NASA/JPL-Caltech, via Malin Space Science Systems, via EPA
The Curiosity rover in a self-portrait stitched together from 55 images taken by a camera at the end of one of its arms. Data from the rover’s first soil sample is now being analyzed by scientists.
The scientists working on the mission who know are not saying. Outside of that team, lots of people are guessing.
The intrigue started last week when John P. Grotzinger, the Mars mission’s project scientist, told National Public Radio: “This data is going to be one for the history books. It’s looking really good.”
And then he declined to say anything more.
Fossils? Living microbial Martians? Maybe the carbon-based molecules known as organics, which are the building blocks of life? That so much excitement could be set off by a passing hint reflects the enduring fascination of both scientists and nonscientists with Mars.
“It could be all kinds of things,” said Peter H. Smith, a planetary scientist at the University of Arizona who was the principal investigator for NASA’s earlier Phoenix Mars mission but is not involved with Curiosity. “If it’s historic, I think it’s organics. That would be historic in my book.”
Dr. Grotzinger and other Curiosity scientists will announce their latest findings on Monday in San Francisco at a meeting of the American Geophysical Union.
Do not expect pictures of Martians, though.
Guy Webster, a spokesman for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., which operates Curiosity, said the findings would be “interesting” rather than “earthshaking.”
Mr. Webster noted that “a really big announcement,” if one should occur, would most likely be made at NASA headquarters in Washington and not at an academic conference.
Whatever is revealed will be linked to the work of Curiosity’s sophisticated chemistry laboratory instrument, Sample Analysis at Mars — SAM, for short. The rover’s robotic arm dropped the first bit of sand and dust into the instrument on Nov. 9, and the scientists have been analyzing and contemplating ever since.
One of the main goals of SAM is to identify organic molecules, but it would be a big surprise for organics to show up in a first look at a sand sample selected more as a test exercise than with the expectation of a breakthrough discovery.
Curiosity will be headed toward layers of clays, which could be rich in organics and are believed to have formed during a warm and wet era early in the planet’s history. But Curiosity has months to drive before arriving at those locations.
And the Curiosity scientists have learned through experience that it pays to double-check their results before trumpeting them. An initial test of the Martian atmosphere by the same instrument showed the presence of methane, which would have been a major discovery, possibly indicating the presence of methane-generating microbes living on Mars today. But when the scientists ran the experiment again, the signs of methane disappeared, leading them to conclude that the methane found in the first test had come from air that the spacecraft had carried to Mars from its launching spot in Florida.
Mr. Webster, who was present during the interview with NPR, said Dr. Grotzinger had been talking more generally about the quality of data coming back from Curiosity and was not suggesting that the data contained a breakthrough surprise. “I don’t think he had in mind, ‘Here’s some particular chemical that’s been found,’ ” Mr. Webster said. “That’s not my impression of the conversation.”
On Twitter, Curiosity chimed in: “What did I discover on Mars? That rumors spread fast online. My team considers this whole mission ‘one for the history books.’ ” (The public information staff at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory writes the posts for the rover.)
This would not be the first time that rumors eclipsed the actual findings from Mars.
In 2002, the Mars Odyssey orbiter found evidence of frozen reservoirs of water beneath the surface of Mars, leading to breathless rumors in the British press that the Bush administration was about to announce a commitment to send astronauts there within 20 years. The White House remained quiet.
Dr. Smith, the Phoenix Mars scientist, had a similar experience in 2008 when Aviation Week reported, “The White House has been alerted by NASA about plans to make an announcement soon on major new Phoenix lander discoveries concerning the ‘potential for life’ on Mars.”
“The blogosphere lit up,” Dr. Smith said.
At a hastily arranged news conference, Dr. Smith revealed the actual news: chemicals known as perchlorates had been found in the soil. “The public was not interested in that,” he said.
If Curiosity’s pinch of sand indeed contained organics, it would again revive the possibilities of life on Mars. For now, Curiosity scientists are still analyzing the data.
“I do want to temper expectations,” said Mr. Webster, the spokesman. “But then again, I don’t know exactly what they’re going to say they’ve found.”

Undisclosed Finding by Mars Rover Fuels Intrigue -

Undisclosed Finding by Mars Rover Fuels Intrigue -

"The Mars rover Curiosity has found something — something noteworthy, in a pinch of Martian sand. But what is it?"

'via Blog this'

Monday, November 26, 2012

Studying Cities to Find Global Warming’s Benefits -

Studying Cities to Find Global Warming’s Benefits -

 "Heat, carbon dioxide and air pollution are already having significant effects on trees, plants and crops, and for most plant scientists, the debate over climate change ended long before the arrival of extreme weather like Hurricane Sandy."

'via Blog this'

6 Tips for Being a Successful Scientist

Your career choice should be based on your passion of the subject. If you are passionate about science, then you will do well to invest your time into a field of study regarding such. Although you will learn what you need in order to graduate, science is a category that requires continued education. Don't panic just yet, however. This form of education is much different than the years you are going to spend in a college or university.

1. Reading - Once you've graduated from your school of choice, keeping up on latest trends, theories, practices, and technologies will keep the edge you need to succeed. What you learned in school could change drastically in real life, and you need to be prepared for it.

2. Specialize - There may be a number of fields of study you enjoy, but specializing in one will make an impression on someone looking for your talents. That's not saying that a jack-of-all-trades approach couldn't be beneficial, but keeping focus in one subject will make you a master of it.

3. Composure - Not everyone will agree with your analysis in your field. Instead of being argumentative, listen to what they have to say and determine if their argument has validity. If you feel that the conversation is going nowhere, excuse yourself. Grace under fire is what keeps the successful above the rest.

4. Communication - Although you may have a firm grasp of your area of expertise, there could be something important you're missing. Don't be afraid to communicate with colleagues to gain additional perspective. They might know something that could fuel your own theories.

5. Meticulous - A practice you should have begun in your college or university, organization plays an important part in discovery. Documenting every detail could save you the trouble of losing data, time, and quite possibly, a grant.

6. Money - It should never be about the money. While many scientists live fairly well, your drive should be the discovery. A true scientist is in it for the love of the game, not what he or she can buy at the end of it.

Vigilance to better yourself throughout your career will benefit you in more ways than you could imagine. It takes dedication, perseverance, and patience to become a success and continued improvement will secure your place among those who make a difference in the world.
Author Bio:
Paul and his wife Julie both spend quite a bit of time coming up with ideas, blogging, and researching all things related to childcare through “”.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Catching Up With the ‘Planet Hunter’ Geoff Marcy -

Catching Up With the ‘Planet Hunter’ Geoff Marcy -

"Geoff Marcy is a professor of astronomy at the University of California, Berkeley, and renowned “planet hunter.” He and his research team have discovered 300 planets so far, and were the first to discover multiple planets circling a single star, mirroring our solar system."

'via Blog this'

Rising Seas, Vanishing Coastlines -

Rising Seas, Vanishing Coastlines -

"THE oceans have risen and fallen throughout Earth’s history, following the planet’s natural temperature cycles. Twenty thousand years ago, what is now New York City was at the edge of a giant ice sheet, and the sea was roughly 400 feet lower. But as the last ice age thawed, the sea rose to where it is today."

'via Blog this'

Monday, November 19, 2012

Intelligent Design

Astronomer Guillermo Gonzalez (born in Cuba), writes in his book "The Privileged Planet", that it is likely we were put here for a purpose.

Recently a group of astronomers discovered that the Universe is not producing stars as it used to, [link], I think this goes well with Professor Gonzalez's idea. There is a region in the Orion constellation where stars are being born as I write this. What a coincidence, it seems we were put here to figure out how stars are born.

There are three Mexican astronomers who have studied this region extensively. Guillermo Haro, Arcadio Poveda, and Luis Felipe Rodriguez.

That is convenient!

Do we Live in a Middle Aged Universe?

I am teaching an Astronomy course at Waubonsee Community College at Plano, Illinois. Today the NYT reports the findings of D. Sobral et al. I post below the  arXiv  link to an article by Professor David Sobral, earlier, and the paper in question (arXiv).

We live finite lives. Our Sun is middle-aged, and now it turns out, our Universe also. At least as far as making new stars is concerned.

We are talking billions of years here, it is a sobering thought regardless.

We can have thoughts of immortality, but we do not have a single object we can claim is eternal. Our Universe was born, and in its way to a more complex future, we appear. Are we going to reach a Climax? Are we going to go down as a civilization, as a species, as a Universe?

No clue.

Here is the Royal Astronomical Society announcement.

[1202.3436] A large H{\alpha} survey at z=2.23, 1.47, 0.84 & 0.40: the 11 Gyr evolution of star-forming galaxies from HiZELS

[1202.3436] A large H{\alpha} survey at z=2.23, 1.47, 0.84 & 0.40: the 11 Gyr evolution of star-forming galaxies from HiZELS:

This paper presents new deep and wide narrow-band surveys undertaken with UKIRT, Subaru and the VLT; a combined effort to select large, robust samples of H-alpha (Ha) emitters at z=0.40, 0.84, 1.47 and 2.23 (corresponding to look-back times of 4.2, 7.0, 9.2 and 10.6 Gyrs) in a uniform manner over ~2 deg^2 in the COSMOS and UDS fields. The deep Ha surveys reach ~3M_sun/yr out to z=2.2 for the first time, while the wide area and the coverage over two independent fields allow to greatly overcome cosmic variance. A total of 1742, 637, 515 and 807 Ha emitters are homogeneously selected at z=0.40, 0.84, 1.47 and 2.23, respectively, and used to determine the Ha luminosity function and its evolution. The faint-end slope is found to be -1.60+-0.08 over z=0-2.23, showing no evolution. The characteristic luminosity of SF galaxies, L*, evolves significantly as log[L*(z)]=0.45z+log[L*(z=0)]. This is the first time Ha has been used to trace SF activity with a single homogeneous survey at z=0.4-2.23. Overall, the evolution seen in Ha is in good agreement with the evolution seen using inhomogeneous compilations of other tracers of star formation, such as FIR and UV, jointly pointing towards the bulk of the evolution in the last 11 Gyrs being driven by a strong luminosity increase from z~0 to z~2.2. Our uniform analysis reveals an Ha star formation history of the Universe which can be simply parameterised by log(SFRD)=-2.1/(1+z) for z less than 2

'via Blog this'

[1007.2642] The dependence of star formation activity on environment and stellar mass at z~1 from the HiZELS H-alpha survey

[1007.2642] The dependence of star formation activity on environment and stellar mass at z~1 from the HiZELS H-alpha survey:

(Abridged) This paper presents an environment and stellar mass study of a large sample of star-forming (SF) galaxies at z=0.84 from the HiZELS survey, over 1.3 deg^2 in the COSMOS and UKIDSS UDS fields. By taking advantage of a truly panoramic coverage, from the field to a rich cluster, it is shown that both mass and environment play crucial roles in determining the properties of SF galaxies. The median specific SFR declines with mass in all environments, and the fraction of galaxies forming stars declines from ~40%, for M~10^10M_sun to effectively zero at M>10^11.5M_sun, confirming that mass-downsizing is generally in place by z~1. The fraction of SF galaxies also falls as a function of local environmental density from ~40% in the field to approaching zero at rich group/cluster densities. When SF does occur in high density regions, it is merger-dominated and, if only non-merging SF galaxies are considered, then the environment and mass trends are even stronger and largely independent, as in the local Universe. The median SFR of SF galaxies is found to increase with density up to intermediate (group or cluster outskirts) densities; this is clearly seen as a change in the faint-end slope of the H-alpha LF from steep (-1.9), in poor fields, to shallow (-1.1) in groups and clusters. Interestingly, the relation between median SFR and environment is only found for low to moderate-mass galaxies (below ~10^10.6M_sun), and is not seen for massive SF galaxies. Overall, these observations provide a detailed view over a sufficiently large range of mass and environment to reconcile previous observational claims: mass is the primary predictor of SF activity at z~1, but the environment, while enhancing the median SFR of (lower-mass) SF galaxies, is ultimately responsible for suppressing SF activity in all galaxies above surface densities of 10-30 Mpc^-2 (groups and clusters).

'via Blog this'

Births of Stars Declining Sharply, Astronomers Say -

Births of Stars Declining Sharply, Astronomers Say -

"It’s evening in the universe."

'via Blog this'

A Tsunami in Switzerland? Lake Evidence Says Yes -

A Tsunami in Switzerland? Lake Evidence Says Yes -

 "In the sixth century, Gregory of Tours, a chronicler of the Germanic people known as the Franks, told of an extraordinary event in what is now Switzerland, where the Rhone River spills into Lake Geneva."

'via Blog this'

Solar "Tsunami": Giant Double Sun Eruption Caught on Video

Solar "Tsunami": Giant Double Sun Eruption Caught on Video:

 "NASA's space-based Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) recorded the images over a four-hour period. The giant loops, called solar prominences, occurred between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. ET on Friday"

'via Blog this'

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

[hep-th/9802142] Spontaneous Symmetry Breaking in Gauge Theories: a Historical Survey

[hep-th/9802142] Spontaneous Symmetry Breaking in Gauge Theories: a Historical Survey:

"The personal and scientific history of the discovery of spontaneous symmetry breaking in gauge theories is outlined and its scientific content is reviewed"

'via Blog this'

Monday, November 12, 2012

Report Sees U.S. as Top Oil Producer, Overtaking Saudi Arabia, in 5 Years -

Report Sees U.S. as Top Oil Producer, Overtaking Saudi Arabia, in 5 Years -

 "The United States will overtake Saudi Arabia as the world’s leading oil producer by about 2017 and will become a net oil exporter by 2030, according to a new report released on Monday by the International Energy Agency."

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Scientists petition Serbian government to tackle misconduct | Chemistry World

Scientists petition Serbian government to tackle misconduct | Chemistry World:

 "More than 800 scientists have signed a petition started two weeks ago campaigning for an overhaul of research ethics and the assessment process for researchers in Serbia, amid systematic and widely-tolerated academic misconduct. An open letter has also been sent to the science and education ministry."

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Saturday, November 10, 2012

[1210.7177] Chandra View of the Warm-Hot IGM toward 1ES 1553+113: Absorption Line Detections and Identifications (Paper I)

[1210.7177] Chandra View of the Warm-Hot IGM toward 1ES 1553+113: Absorption Line Detections and Identifications (Paper I):

About 30-40 percent of the expected number of baryons is still missing in the local Universe (z \lesssim 0.4). They are predicted to be hiding in a web of intergalactic gas at temperatures of about 10^5-10^7 K (the WHIM). Detecting this matter has had limited success so far, because of its low-density and high temperature, which makes it difficult to detect with current far-ultraviolet and X-ray instrumentation. 
Here we present the first results from our pilot 500 ks Chandra-LETG observation of the soft X-ray brightest source in the z > 0.4 sky, the blazar 1ES 1553+113. We identify a total of 11 possible absorption lines, with single-line statistical significances between 2.2-4.1 sigma. Six of these lines are detected at high significance (3.6 < \sigma < 4.1), while the remaining five are regarded as marginal detections in association with either other X-ray lines detected at higher significance and/or FUV signposts. Three of these lines are consistent with metal absorption at z~0. The remaining 8 lines may be imprinted by intervening absorbers and are all consistent with being high-ionization counterparts of FUV HI and/or OVI IGM signposts. In particular, four of these eight absorption lines (4.1\sigma, 4.1\sigma, 3.8\sigma and 2.7\sigma), are identified as CV and CVI absorbers belonging to two WHIM systems at z_X = 0.312 and z_X = 0.133, which also produce broad HI and OVI absorption in the FUV. The true statistical significances of these two X-ray absorption systems, after properly accounting for the number of redshift trials, are 5.8\sigma and 3.8\sigma.
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The Origin of Order

I am teaching an introductory astronomy course at Waubonsee Community College in Plano, Illinois. I am writing a short paper based on "Our astrochemical heritage" by Caselli & Ceccarelli (C&C), (arXiv); at the same time I am following the order constructed in the US and Mexico. These seem like disconnected processes, and of course they are from different disciplines, Astronomy, and Political Science, nevertheless, I try here to bring them a little closer, as an example of Relevant Science.

For most of us, science is only relevant when we see how it affects us. There is a 10% or so, of the members of society, who do not need this relevancy, as long as they can understand the process, it is worth the effort, but the rest, need to see how it affects us.

 Today the Mexican political scientist, Gustavo Gordillo, writes in La Jornada, an analysis of the political situation there. Here I connect these two routes to order, the astrochemical, and the political.

Gordillo ends up his piece with a question:¿Cómo hacerlo si en el actual contexto todo confirma que las elites no entienden la gravedad de la situación?(How is this to be done if in the current context everything points out to the fact that elites do not understand the seriousness of the situation?)

On Tuesday Obama was given another four years to understand, and solve the American situation.

This is my five cent worth of understanding.

On the problem of Earth, I posted the part on water from C&C, here.

We need time, to compare the picture after, with the picture before. Sasha does not look the same in 2008, and 2012.

It is in the difference, that we see order or disorder. It is complex to define order. I believe, that if something stays, is is more ordered. What I mean by this, is that if it fits better to its environment, then it is more ordered. Little Sasha, cannot do what big Sasha can. Of course there will be a maximum, and then both Sasha, and all of us will be gone, but my contention here is that life, Mexico, and the United States will stay, even when Sasha and I are gone.

Persistence of Memory.

From C&C I do see that pure hydrogen is not as complex as DNA.

We have a heritage, there was a definitive path towards order, from hydrogen to us. C&C are trying to fill the many gaps, so we understand better, where are we coming from?, and hopefully find out, where are we going?

Gustavo Gordillo informs us that the Mexican polity went kaput!

I believe the re-election of Obama will make the world better for Sasha!

Friday, November 09, 2012

How to Prepare for a Hurricane When Caring for Kids | Summer Nanny

How to Prepare for a Hurricane When Caring for Kids | Summer Nanny:

"If you live in a coastal area that is prone to tropical storms and hurricanes, it’s imperative that you learn to quickly and efficiently respond when severe weather strikes. When you’re responsible for the health and safety of children, emergency preparedness becomes even more of a priority. In order to ensure that everyone in your household, including the youngest members of the family, are coached on proper hurricane preparation and are protected as much as possible, it’s wise to make sure that you’re familiar with the following concepts."

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Tuesday, November 06, 2012

A Scientist Who Foresaw Sandy Surge Reflects from His Flooded Home -

A Scientist Who Foresaw Sandy Surge Reflects from His Flooded Home -

"Klaus Jacob, a Columbia University earth scientist who pretty precisely projected the flooding a big hurricane surge could cause in New York City long before Hurricane Sandy hit, reflects in this video on the impacts on the region — including on his own storm-flooded home in Piermont, N.Y., a tiny town along the Hudson River a few miles north of the George Washington Bridge. (The video was shot by the university.)"

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Trivial Stakes -

Trivial Stakes -

"No, not the election as a whole — the stakes are huge: whether near-universal health care finally comes to America, whether we get any kind of tightening of financial regulation after the bankers destroyed the world economy. But there are a couple of trivial things I probably shouldn’t care about given the really important stuff, but can’t help thinking about."

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Saturday, November 03, 2012

Astronomers set up telescope timeshare : Nature News & Comment

Astronomers set up telescope timeshare : Nature News & Comment:

"Following a landmark agreement to swap telescope time, Japanese astronomers will gain access to the southern skies, while astronomers with the Gemini consortium will get to use specialized instruments on Japan’s premier telescope."

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Thursday, November 01, 2012

Yoani Sanchez: Cubans Also Need Help to Recover From Hurricane Sandy

Yoani Sanchez: Cubans Also Need Help to Recover From Hurricane Sandy:

"Hurricane Sandy has devastated the city of Santiago de Cuba and caused severe damage in several towns in the east of the country. The images of destruction speak for themselves, but the cameras barely manage to capture a share of the damages. The great tragedy runs on a plane difficult to photograph, or to describe with words. It's impossible to narrate the worst of it. It is a mixture of feelings that shift from sadness to impotence, pain to desperation, dismay to fear. Thousands of people who have seen the wind take a good part of their lives, who woke up one morning in destroyed towns of collapsed streets and missing roofs, and who know that recovering from something like that could take the rest of their existence."

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The Hideous Inequality Exposed by Hurricane Sandy - David Rohde - The Atlantic

The Hideous Inequality Exposed by Hurricane Sandy - David Rohde - The Atlantic: "A hotel bellman said he was worried about his mother uptown. A maid said she had been calling her family in Queens. A garage attendant said he hadn't been able to contact his only relative - a sister in New Jersey - since the storm hit. Asked where he weathered the hurricane, his answer was simple."

"I slept in my car," he said.

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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Are Humans to Blame? Science Is Out

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From the darkened living rooms of Lower Manhattan to the wave-battered shores of Lake Michigan, the question is occurring to millions of people at once: Did the enormous scale and damage fromHurricane Sandy have anything to do with climate change?
A blog about energy and the environment.
Lindsay Niegelberg/The Stamford Advocate
A hurricane barrier in Stamford, Conn. Experts say that the storm, whatever its causes, should be seen as a warning. More Photos »
Hesitantly, climate scientists offered an answer this week that is likely to satisfy no one, themselves included. They simply do not know for sure if the storm was caused or made worse by human-induced global warming.
They do know, however, that the resulting storm surge along the Atlantic coast was almost certainly intensified by decades of sea-level rise linked to human emissions of greenhouse gases. And they emphasized that Hurricane Sandy, whatever its causes, should be seen as a foretaste of trouble to come as the seas rise faster, the risks of climate change accumulate and the political system fails to respond.
“We’re changing the environment — it’s very clear,” saidThomas R. Knutson, a research meteorologist with the government’s Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory in Princeton, N.J. “We’re changing global temperature, we’re changing atmospheric moisture, we’re changing a lot of things. Humans are running this experiment, and we’re not quite sure how it’s going to turn out.”
By the time Hurricane Sandy hit the Northeast coast on Monday, upending lives across the Eastern half of the country, it had become a freakish hybrid of a large, late-season hurricane and a winter storm more typical of the middle latitudes. Though by no means unprecedented, that type of hybrid storm is rare enough that scientists have not studied whether it is likely to become more common in a warming climate.
“My profession hasn’t done its homework,” said Kerry A. Emanuel, a climate scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “I think there’s going to be a ton of papers that come out of this, but it’s going to take a couple of years.”
Scientists note that a warmer atmosphere can hold more water vapor, which in principle supplies more energy for storms of all types. The statistics seem to show that certain types of weather extremes, notably heat waves and heavy downpours, are becoming more common.
But how those general principles will influence hurricanes has long been a murky and contentious area of climate science. Most scientists expect that the number of Atlantic hurricanes will actually stay steady or decline in coming decades as the climate warms, but that the proportion of intense, damaging storms is likely to rise.
The experts differ sharply on whether such a rise can already be detected in hurricane statistics. Recent decades seem to show an increase in hurricane strength, but hurricanes tend to rise and fall in a recurring cycle over time, so it is possible that natural variability accounts for the recent trends.
Jeff Masters, a meteorologist and founder of a popular Web site, Weather Underground, suspects some kind of shift is under way. The number of hurricanes and tropical storms over the past three years has been higher than average, with 19 named storms in both 2010 and 2011 and 19 so far this hurricane season, which ends Nov. 30. According to the National Hurricane Center there are, on average, 12 named storms each season.
“The climatology seems to have changed,” Dr. Masters said. “We’re getting these very strange, very large storms with very low central pressures that don’t have that much wind at the surface.”
Hurricanes draw their energy from warm waters in the top layer of the ocean. And several scientists pointed out this week that parts of the western Atlantic were remarkably warm for late October as Hurricane Sandy passed over, as much as 5 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than normal for this time of year.
Kevin E. Trenberth, a scientist with the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo., said that natural variability probably accounted for most of that temperature extreme. But, he added, human-induced global warming has raised the overall temperature of the ocean surface by about one degree Fahrenheit since the 1970s. So global warming probably contributed a notable fraction of the energy on which the storm thrived — maybe as much as 10 percent, he said.
Dr. Trenberth said that many of Sandy’s odd features, including its large scale, derived from its origin as a merger of two weather systems that converged in the western Atlantic.
“My view is that a lot of this is chance,” he said. “A hybrid storm is certainly one which is always in the cards, and it’s one we’ve always worried about.”
Winds knocked out power as far west as Michigan. But the most serious damage, including the flooding of New York’s subway tunnels and the broad destruction along the Jersey Shore, came as the storm pushed roiling ocean waters onto land, a phenomenon known as storm surge. The surge set records in some places, including the Battery in Lower Manhattan.
Globally, the ocean rose about eight inches in the last century, and the rate seems to have accelerated to about a foot a century.
Scientists say most of the rise is a direct consequence of human-induced climate change. Ocean water expands when it warms, accounting for some of the rise, and land ice is melting worldwide, dumping extra water into the ocean. Scientists say they believe the rate will accelerate further, so that the total increase by the end of this century could exceed three feet.

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