Daily Archives: April 21, 2011

Tennessee’s Monkey Bill On Hold

Tennessee’s Senate Bill 893 — nicknamed, along with its counterpart House Bill 368, the “monkey bill” — is on hold, “almost certainly postponing any action until next year,” according to the Knoxville News Sentinel’s Humphrey on the Hill blog (April 21, 2011). Its sponsor, Bo Watson (R-District 11), assigned the bill to the general subcommittee of the Senate Education Committee on April 20, 2011, which was the last scheduled meeting of the committee; he told the blog, “Practically speaking, I probably am not going to be able to run the bill this year,” although it is still possible that the committee might have a further meeting.

Read the rest here.

There is way more CO2 in Martian Polar Cap than previously thought


A newly found, buried deposit of frozen carbon dioxide — dry ice — near the south pole of Mars contains about 30 times more carbon dioxide than previously estimated to be frozen near the pole. This map color-codes thickness estimates of the deposit derived and extrapolated from observations by the Shallow Subsurface Radar (SHARAD) instrument on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. The orbiter does not pass directly over the pole, and the thickness estimates for that area (with smoother transitions from color to color) are extrapolations.

Red corresponds to about 600 meters or yards thick; yellow to about 400; dark blue to less than 100, tapering to zero. The scale bar at lower right is 100 kilometers (62 miles). The background map, in muted colors, represents different geological materials near the south pole.

The estimated total volume of this buried carbon-dioxide deposit is 9,500 to 12,500 cubic kilometers (2,300 to 3,000 cubic miles).

Known variations in the tilt of Mars’ rotation axis can significantly reduce or increase the proportion of the planet’s carbon dioxide that is sequestered into this newly discovered deposit, climate models indicate. The Martian atmosphere is about 95 percent carbon dioxide, and this deposit currently holds up to about 80 percent as much carbon dioxide as the atmosphere does. Several-fold swings in the total mass of the Martian atmosphere can result from growing and shrinking of dry ice deposits on time scales of 100,000 years or less, the models indicate.

(Click the photo to see a larger image)

Story here

Nobel laureates push repeal of La. education law

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — More than 40 Nobel Prize-winning scientists are urging Gov. Bobby Jindal and Louisiana lawmakers to repeal a law that allows public school science teachers to use supplemental materials in their classrooms beyond state-approved textbooks.

In a letter released Thursday, the Nobel laureates say the “Louisiana Science Education Act” of 2008 creates a pathway for creationism and other non-scientific instruction to be taught in science classes.

“Louisiana’s students deserve to be taught proper science rather than religion presented as science,” says the letter representing a list of prominent scientists who over the last four decades have won the Nobel for physics, chemistry, physiology and medicine.

Read more: http://www.stamfordadvocate.com/news/article/Nobel-laureates-push-repeal-of-La-education-law-1347159.php#ixzz1KBoKcMMf

Read the rest here

Do you live in or near Baton Rouge?

Rally at the Capitol to Repeal Louisiana’s Creationism Law

Mark April 28th on your calendars!

We will be holding a rally at the Louisiana State Capitol in support of repealing the misnamed and misguided Louisiana Science Education Act.

The rally will take place at 11 am and the repeal will hold a table in the atrium of the capitol from 9 am to 4 pm.

Please contact repealcreationism@gmail.com if you’re interested in meeting with legislators or in volunteering.

I hope to see you there, and please bring friends. We will show the legislature that Louisiana wants this law repealed!

Facebook group is here.

Japan nuke news 20: Tokyo Electric: “fuel may have melted”

Tokyo Electric officials have noted that they can not rule out the possibility that fuel rods in the Fukushima reactors have melted, at least to some extent. No one else, as far as I can tell, thinks that fuel rods have not melted. A Question that is more important than that of Tokyo Electric’s sudden revelation is, of course, are the fuel rods still melting? The answer is that they may well be.

As of a few hours ago, there is a 20 km offset no-entry zone around the Fukushima Power Plant. The evacuation zone has been reduced from 10 to 8 km. Coagulant continues to be injected into trenches to keep water from entering the sea, and water is being drawn from Unit 2 turbine building to be treated fof site. Water from the turbine building of Unit 6 was previously removed.

Electrical systems are being slow restored or replaced. Fresh wter is still being injeted inot the reactors in unites 1,2 and 3, and spent fuel rods are stll being sprayed in unit 4.

Nitrogen cas continues to be injected inot Unit 1’s containment vessel over concerns about hydrogen gas buildup. Pressure in that unit’s reactor vessel has been increasing, and temperatures are high there. Unit 1 remains “above cold shutdown conditions” and it is a reasonable guess that some fission is happening there. Something similar is probably happening in Units 2 and 3.

Ana’s Feed, Monday PM through last night:

Continue reading Japan nuke news 20: Tokyo Electric: “fuel may have melted”

Bird Song and Parallel Evolution: learning from our feathered friends

“They charm the females by instrumental music of the most varied kinds”

And thus, Charles Darwin adapted the phrase “Instrumental Music,” previously used to mean humans with instruments making music, to name one of the most important “secondary sexual characters … diversified and conspicuous in birds” which, added to “all sorts of combs, wattles, protuberances, horns, air-distended sacs, topknots, naked shafts, plumes and lengthened feathers gracefully springing from all parts of the body” mediate avian sexual selection..

Read my first post at 10,000 Birds …

For reviews of bird guides and other bird related books, click here.

For Nature Blogging on this site click here.

Notes from Up North are here.