Daily Archives: January 25, 2012

Global Warming is Real

‘Round here, people are using phrases like “That’s Crazy Talk” and “Outlandish” and other quaint Aphorisms of the Great Plains. Why? Because the USDA has just released its new Planting Zone Map. It turns out that all the climate zones have moved north permanently. Thus the new map. You can plant stuff never before plantable right here, this year, now. The climate change has happened, and continues; A new and changed map is expected again in a few years.


Click the map to visit the site and start planning your garden!

New Rules in Ice Hockey

I know that she does not want me to help her. Our friendship is based on paying attention to each other, so I know that being helped is not something she likes. If I do what I want to do, she’ll get mad and break both my arms, or at least, look at me very very sternly. So I stay away. I could tell her “I’m not helping you. I’m merely loving you, like the friend I am, and you are kindly letting me do that” but she’d break both my arms anyway. The thing is, it was hard to watch. She had taken the puck from a big scary player on the other team, skillfully moved it around the rink, shot it to a teammate who lost it to the other team’s player, then my friend took it back again, and was busy pushing back towards the goal and doing some very fancy puckwork when things went terrible wrong and she hit the ice hard, sliding about half way across the arena and slamming into the boards behind her own goal. Then there was what looked like convulsions but turned out to be her efforts to put her arm back into its rightful position. Continue reading New Rules in Ice Hockey

Google's New Privacy Policy Unveiled

From Google:

We’re getting rid of over 60 different privacy policies across Google and replacing them with one that’s a lot shorter and easier to read. Our new policy covers multiple products and features, reflecting our desire to create one beautifully simple and intuitive experience across Google.

This stuff matters, so please take a few minutes to read our updated Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service now. These changes will take effect on March 1, 2012.

The privacy policy is here.

The terms of service statement is here.

Here’s a few tidbits from the documents, but you should go look for yourself and report back what you think!

Continue reading Google's New Privacy Policy Unveiled

The Florida Primary: A First Look

The Florida Primary is set for Tuesday, January 31st. Romney, Gingrich, Paul and Santorum are running. For a while there it looked like Gingrich was an easy winner, because his numbers were jumping rapidly in the polls, but things have settled down and it is starting to look more like a Gingrich-Romney horse race. Here are the numbers: Continue reading The Florida Primary: A First Look

#scio12 Reset

Last week, I attended the Science Online 2012 Un-Conference in Raleigh, North Carolina. You’ve probably heard of it. This is a fairly new conference, having run for only the last few years, and was masterfully run and organized by Bora Zivkovic, Anton Zuiker and Karyn Traphagen. Most of the attendees are science journalists, writers, bloggers, and/or actual scientists. The “formal” sessions are, or at least attempt to be, topically-focused group discussions led by one or two individuals. The topics covered at this conference vary from year to year, but generally deal with science communication.
Continue reading #scio12 Reset

There could be H2O ice on Vesta

Vesta is the second biggest asteroid in the famous asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. It has generally been thought that Vesta would get enough sun over its entire surface that water would not survive, but a recent survey of the surface indicates that deeply buried water has a chance of remaining on the asteroid near the poles, or possibly at the bottom of some deep craters.


Vesta Up Close (image by NASA)

This is interesting, in part, because of questions about the role of water in the early formation of the solar system. One of the main objectives of the Dawn spacecraft mission is to examine water (or the lack of water) on Vesta and Ceres (another asteroid).

Dawn is looking for water using the gamma ray and neutron detector (GRaND) spectrometer, which can identify hydrogen-rich deposits that could be associated with water ice. The spacecraft recently entered a low orbit that is well suited to collecting gamma ray and neutron data.

“Our perceptions of Vesta have been transformed in a few months as the Dawn spacecraft has entered orbit and spiraled closer to its surface,” says Lucy McFadden, a planetary scientist at NASA Goddard and a Dawn mission co-investigator. “More importantly, our new views of Vesta tell us about the early processes of solar system formation. If we can detect evidence for water beneath the surface, the next question will be is it very old or very young, and that would be exciting to ponder.”

The modeling done by Stubbs and Wang, for example, relies on information about Vesta’s shape. Before Dawn, the best source of that information was a set of images taken by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope in 1994 and 1996. But now, Dawn and its camera are getting a much closer view of Vesta.

“The Dawn mission gives researchers a rare opportunity to observe Vesta for an extended period of time, the equivalent of about one season on Vesta,” says Stubbs. “Hopefully, we’ll know in the next few months whether the GRaND spectrometer sees evidence for water ice in Vesta’s regolith. This is an important and exciting time in planetary exploration.”

NASA press release

IQ Varies with Context

ResearchBlogging.orgIn a very interesting way.

As a regular reader of this blog, you know that IQ and similar measures are determined by a number of factors, and for most “normal” (modal?) individuals, one’s heritage (genes) is rarely important. Putting it another way, variation across individuals in IQ and other measures have been shown again and again to be determined by things like home environment, diet and nutrition, and even immediate social context. Here’s another finding supporting this:
Continue reading IQ Varies with Context

Climate Change and the State of the Union Address

i-ad9657c4a95ea2c8a4e8bbddd35e291a-President_Barack_Obama_Delivering_State_Of_The_Union_Address_2012-thumb-250x416-72165.jpgI liked Obama’s State of the Union Address, and I liked the fact that a lot of other people seemed to like it. He made strong and positive statements about energy.

Imagine what we could accomplish … A future where we’re in control of our own energy, and our security and prosperity aren’t so tied to unstable parts of the world….

Tonight, I want to speak about how we move forward, and lay out a blueprint for an economy that’s built to last – an economy built on American manufacturing, American energy, skills for American workers, and a renewal of American values….

… and his comments about traditional energy called for greater use of natural gas, which if used correctly, provides some advantages over coal and even oil, as it is shipped (usually) without the use of fossil fuels, is cleaner, and is often otherwise wasted during recovery of oil.

His call for opening up new oil reserves was tempered with a reality check.

I will not walk away from the promise of clean energy…. I will not cede the wind or solar or battery industry to China or Germany because we refuse to make the same commitment here. We have subsidized oil companies for a century. That’s long enough. It’s time to end the taxpayer giveaways to an industry that’s rarely been more profitable, and double-down on a clean energy industry that’s never been more promising. Pass clean energy tax credits and create these jobs.

Continue reading Climate Change and the State of the Union Address