Daily Archives: May 25, 2011

NASA will probe moon

NASA is going to send two probes to the moon, later this summer. They are called “GRAIL” which stands for Gravity Recovery And Interior Laboratory. They will orbit the moon in an effort to determine the structure of its interior. They will be launched by a Delta II rocket some time between early September and mid October, depending on the usual factors.

The plan is to generate a highly accurate gravitatoial map of the moon.

The high-resolution gravitational field, especially when combined with a comparable-resolution topographical field, will enable scientists to deduce the Moon’s interior structure and composition, and to gain insights into its thermal evolution–that is, the history of the Moon’s heating and cooling, which opens the door to understanding its origin and development.

My impression is that if you really compared what we know about the Moon’s origin to what we know about various other cosmic issues, it’s kinda embarrassing. The Moon’s origin is a bit up in the air, as it were.

A unique feature of this mission is that NASA wants the two GRAIL probes to fly in precise formation. This has never been attempted before. Also, the probes will carry a camera that will be operated entirely Middle School students. I’m not sure how many Middle School students they are sending up with the camera.

Details here.

Bird Migration and Global Change

i-53d2477d3792558673d2f033be9ffa65-migrationandglobalchange-thumb-300x476-65215.jpgI’m going to have more to say about this topic and this book at a later time, but I wanted to get a notice of it out for Migration Week. Bird Migration and Global Change by George W. Cox addresses the issue of impact on bird populations under conditions of global warming.

This is an authoritative and scholarly book that is totally accessible to the interested bird-oriented or climate/conservation-oriented audience. After several very important context and theory chapters, the author divides the world’s migratory birds into major categories (such as “Northern Hemisphere Land Birds: Short-distance Migrants” and “Land Birds of the Temperate Souther Hemisphere” etc. etc. and treats each group separately. Each treatment is a review of scholarly work and data, and presents arguments about the way bird populations will be affected that range from concerning to downright alarming. Yet, this is not an alarmist book, simply a fair treatment of the problem.

Each chapter will give you something to think about, some data to play with, and a list of source material in case you need more.

Motivation, IQ, and the great intelligence debate

Congratulations for Almost Diamonds and Quiche Moraine blogger Stephanie Zvan for her brand new Guest Post at Scientific American.

The Politics of the Null Hypothesis

… Nothing about the field of IQ studies is free of political influence. It’s naive to believe that any kind of research on a purported measure of individual merit could be politics-free in a self-proclaimed meritocracy with wide inequalities. …

Read it HERE

Are all these tornadoes being caused by global warming?

People are asking me: Is the recent spate of tornadoes caused by global warming? The usual answer to that question is that you can’t answer the question because a tornado is not caused by climate … it is cause by weather … and global warming (which is real, and which is cause by humans) is climate change.

However, that is not really the best answer to the question. Ultimately, I want to propose an analogy for how to think about this question, but first, a stab at a good answer, which if modified could probably be improved:

Continue reading Are all these tornadoes being caused by global warming?