October 07, 2014

12:21 PM | Mother Nature Brought Us Into This World—Now She’s Threatening to Take Us Out
By Susan Cosier Mom is pissed. Mother Nature—who sounds strangely similar to Julia Roberts—is taking humans down a notch (or seven) in a video released this week at SXSW Eco. Through pollution, mining, drilling, deforestation, poaching, and overfishing, we’ve been biting the hand that feeds us. And she … is … fed … up. Sure, we’ve heard Julia give us the business before, but this is different. Way […]
4:00 AM | A Quick Look at Electron-Boson Coupling
Berkeley Lab researchers use ultrafast spectroscopy on many body effects.
4:00 AM | Study Reveals 'Bellhops' in Cell Walls Can Double as Hormones
Using SLAC's Synchrotron, researchers have discovered that some common messenger molecules in human cells double as hormones when bound to a protein that interacts with DNA.
4:00 AM | Fermilab’s 500-mile Neutrino Experiment Up and Running
With construction completed, the NOvA experiment has begun its probe into the mysteries of ghostly particles that may hold the key to understanding the universe.

October 06, 2014

8:37 PM | Meeting Their Match
By Ginger Strand This story is a part of OnEarth's "Invasive Species Week."“We’re like the Sopranos,” Mark Mayer told me. “We kill things.”Most government assassins wouldn’t put it so bluntly. Or maybe they would: I haven’t met too many government assassins. Maybe they like to amuse themselves, as Mayer does, by feeding the hallway crickets to the pet tarantulas they keep in their offices. Maybe they, too, work in […]
6:00 PM | Tastes Great, Less Drilling
By Brian Palmer The Bavarian beer purity law of 1516, known as the Reinheitsgebot, limited brewers to three ingredients: barley, hops, and water. For 498 years, water has trailed distantly behind the other two ingredients in the hearts of beer drinkers. Some people like malty beer. Other people like hoppy beer. No one likes watery beer.When I started brewing my own beer, I, too, focused on barley and hops. I dumped nine kinds of malt and four kinds of hops […]
3:38 PM | High Temps on the High Seas
By John Upton This story originally appeared at Climate Central.The RV Kaharoa motored out of Wellington, New Zealand on Saturday, loaded with more than 100 scientific instruments, each eventually destined for a watery grave. Crewmembers will spend the next two months dropping the 50-pound devices, called Argo floats, into the seas between New Zealand and Mauritius, off the coast of Madagascar. There, the instruments will sink and drift, then […]
12:36 PM | A New Toy for Weather Junkies
By Susan Cosier This image may look like some epic Game of Thrones battle between winter zombies and dragon fire taking place across North America, but it’s really just a fancy new weather map. The colors—ranging from bright yellow (113 degrees Fahrenheit) to white (freezing)—represent the temperatures measured last week when the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration unveiled its High-Resolution Rapid Refresh model. The new […]
4:00 AM | Coding the Cracks
Researchers at Argonne National Laboratory use Mira to study stress-corrosion cracking in silicates.

October 03, 2014

8:53 PM | Don’t Drink the Farm
By Susan Cosier Toxic algae blooms choke Lake Erie almost every year. But this August, that algae made its way into Toledo's drinking water, leaving more than 400,000 people without their taps for two days and making headlines across the country.Now the scientists and public officials who have been warning about Lake Erie's problems for years are determined to finally do something about it. And that means farmers, they're looking at you.Fertilizer […]
4:52 PM | Pennies for the Planet
By Brian Palmer French President Francois Holland pledged nearly $1 billion to the Green Climate Fund at the United Nations climate summit last week, in an effort to help developing countries move away from fossil fuels.Green Climate Fund—qu'est-ce que c'est? The Green Climate Fund is so obscure in the United States that most of the journalists who covered the French pledge didn’t mention the fund by name in their headlines. (And neither did I.) […]
2:38 PM | University of Texas-San Antonio Releases Report on Economic Impact of Eagle Ford Shale
In a report released by the University of Texas-San Antonio (UTSA) entitled “Economic Impact of the Eagle Ford Shale”, researchers from the Center for Community and Business Research at the University’s Institute for Economic Development found that extraction of oil, … Continue reading →
12:17 PM | The Pygmy Owl's Big Day in Court?
By Susan Cosier You wouldn’t think you would need extra protection when you make your home in a cactus. But that’s not the case for the ferruginous pygmy owl. Habitat loss, livestock grazing, wildfires, invasive species, and border disputes are disrupting this bird’s southwestern lifestyle, which consists of eating lizards and peeking adorably out of saguaro cacti. Yes, the owl is 6.5 inches of pure cuteness, but fewer than […]
12:16 PM | 10 ways to improve your data store
When I look at the industry's struggle with the data mess, I see a parallel with science's struggle with open data. I've written lots about that before, but the basic idea is simple: scientists need discoverable, accessible, documented, usable data. Does that sound familiar? I wrote yesterday that I think we have to get away from the idea that we can manage data like we might manage a production line. Instead, we need to think about more organic, flexible strategies that cope with and even […]
4:00 AM | Fast and Rigorous: Finding Surface Reflectivity by Looking Up at Clouds
New method developed at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory efficiently estimates surface reflectivity from incoming sunlight bounced back by clouds.
4:00 AM | President Obama Honors Nation’s Top Scientists and Innovators
President Obama today announced a new class of recipients of the National Medal of Science and National Medal of Technology and Innovation—our Nation’s highest honors for achievement and leadership in advancing the fields of science and technology. Included in this new class of recipients was SLAC Director Emeritus Dr. Burton Richter.
4:00 AM | A Closer Look at the Perfect Fluid
Researchers at Berkeley Lab and their collaborators have honed a way to probe the quark-gluon plasma, the kind of matter that dominated the universe immediately after the big bang.

October 02, 2014

5:58 PM | The Tar Sands Bubble
By Brian Palmer The Canadian tar sands industry has seen better days. Energy giant Statoil announced last week that it would postpone a major mining project in Alberta for at least three years. It was just the latest in a string of major setbacks for tar sands oil, which has become nearly as bad for corporate profits as it is for the environment.High labor costs and the falling price of crude oil have contributed to the industry’s dark days, but […]
12:26 PM | Where'd the Aral Sea Go? (Seriously, It's Missing)
By Susan Cosier Can you point out the Aral Sea on a map? Yeah, neither can we … because it barely exists anymore. Once the fourth largest lake in the world (it’s actually a lake, not a sea), the Aral has gone dry. The lake reached its lowest level in modern history in August, as shown in these NASA satellite images (see the full transformation here). What happened? Starting in the 1950s, the Soviets began diverting the region's two largest […]
12:23 PM | Data management fairy tales
On Tuesday I read this refreshing post in LinkedIn by Jeffrey Maskell of Westheimer Energy Consultants. It's a pretty damning assessment of the current state of data management in the petroleum industry: The fact is that no major technology advances have been seen in the DM sector for some 20 years. The [data management] gap between acquisition and processing/interpretation is now a void and is impacting the industry across the board... I agree with him. But I don't think he goes far […]
4:00 AM | Martin L. Perl, Winner of 1995 Nobel Prize for Discovery of Tau Lepton, Dead at 87
Martin L. Perl, a professor emeritus of physics at Stanford University and SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and winner of the 1995 Nobel Prize in physics for discovery of the tau lepton, died Sept. 30 at Stanford Hospital in Palo Alto at the age of 87.
4:00 AM | Team Advances Understanding of the Greenland Ice Sheet’s Meltwater Channels
An international research team’s field work is showing that, well, things are more complicated than we thought.

October 01, 2014

9:12 PM | When to Blame the Rain (or Lack Thereof) on Climate Change
By Clara Chaisson According to a bevy of studies released Monday, we can point the finger at climate change for much of last year’s extreme weather. (And there was a lot of it.) In a report published by the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, scientists from 22 research groups looked at 16 separate extreme weather events from 2013 and asked—in their best Steve Urkel voice—“Did climate change do that?”In half of […]
12:24 PM | Behold: Thousands of Stranded Walruses
By Susan Cosier An Alaskan beach is spilling over with an enormous herd of bathing beauties—about 35,000 Pacific walruses. The mammals are coming ashore in record numbers because there is no sea ice left on which they can rest, give birth, and dive from for food—higher temperatures made short work of that this summer. (Arctic ice cover is at its sixth lowest average ever recorded.) The edge of the sea ice has been receding further […]
4:00 AM | Hide & Seek: Sterile Neutrinos Remain Elusive
Daya Bay neutrino experiment publishes a new result on its first search for a "sterile" neutrino.

September 30, 2014

7:29 PM | Soiled Justice
By Susan Cosier Three years ago a court in Ecuador ruled that the oil giant Chevron bore responsibility for four decades of pollution that destroyed the homes and livelihoods of thousands of indigenous farmers. The company was on the hook for $19 billion—the largest court award ever for environmental damages. Unfortunately, the farmers’ struggle for justice didn’t end there. Chevron refuses to pay up, and in his new book Law of the Jungle, […]
4:37 PM | Not picking parameters
I like socks. Bright ones. I've liked bright socks since Grade 6. They were the only visible garment not governed by school uniform, or at least not enforced, and I think that was probably the start of it. The tough boys wore white socks, and I wore odd red and green socks. These days, my favourites are Cole & Parker, and the only problem is: how to choose? Last Tuesday I wrote about choosing parameters for geophysical algorithms — window lengths, velocities, noise levels, and so on. […]
12:19 PM | Greenland Is the New Black
By Susan Cosier Greenland has never been green, but its massive glaciers aren’t white anymore, either. The icy island is turning black with soot (possibly the combination of increased wildfires in the Arctic, dust, microbes, and fewer winter snowstorms to refresh the whiteness). Glaciologist Jason Box took these these photos over the summer during his crowd-funded scientific expedition, Dark Snow. The besmirched ice isn’t just unsightly. […]
4:00 AM | 2015 DOE JGI’s Science Portfolio Delves Deeper into the Earth’s Data Mine
The U.S. Department of Energy Joint Genome Institute (DOE JGI), a DOE Office of Science user facility, has announced that 32 new projects have been selected for the 2015 Community Science Program (CSP).

September 29, 2014

7:46 PM | Not in Anybody’s Backyard
By Brian Palmer The most polluted communities in the country are more likely to be home to people of color. That’s been true for decades, despite many efforts (albeit ineffective ones) to change it. Now the Environmental Protection Agency is trying again, with a proposed rule that would require oil refineries—many of which border poor and largely minority neighborhoods—to measure some forms of pollution along their boundaries and […]
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