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."

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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

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[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).

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Births of Stars Declining Sharply, Astronomers Say -

Births of Stars Declining Sharply, Astronomers Say -

"It’s evening in the universe."

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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."

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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"

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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."

'via Blog this'

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."

'via Blog this'

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."

'via Blog this'

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.)"

'via Blog this'

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."

'via Blog this'

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."

'via Blog this'

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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