23 November 2014

Funny, Scary, Fascinating, and Geeky. What You Missed in Science This Week.

Posted by Dan Satterfield

I am going to start doing a weekend post here with links and images from the world of geek that caught my eye this week.

First up is Will Marshall and the TED talk below. Data is the fuel that science runs on, and he has figured out a way to harvest a LOT of it.


Screen Shot 2014-11-22 at 10.45.57 PM

Guess what body of water is the 4th fastest warming on Earth? This is a must read piece on Yale Environment 360.

Screen Shot 2014-11-22 at 8.16.43 PM


Screen Shot 2014-11-22 at 10.45.57 PM

NASA’s Astronomy Picture of the Day (APOD) today is a real WOW, and the pic and NASA’s explanation are below. Imagine how differently beings that could see much more of the electromagnetic spectrum (than we humans can) would view the Universe.

NASA SDO image. Click to get a BIG version.

NASA SDO image. Click to get a BIG version.

Solar active region AR2192 was the largest recorded sunspot group of the last 24 years. Before rotating off the Earth-facing side of the Sun at the end of October, it produced a whopping six energetic X-class flares. Its most intense flare was captured on October 24 in this stunning view from the orbiting Solar Dynamics Observatory. The scene is a color combination of images made at three different wavelengths of extreme ultraviolet light; 193 angstroms shown in blue, 171 angstroms in white, and 304 angstroms in red. The emission, from highly ionized Iron and Helium atoms, traces magnetic field lines looping through the hot plasma of the Sun’s outer chromosphere and corona. Beneath, the cooler solar photosphere appears dark at extreme ultraviolet wavelengths. The exceptionally sharp composite image has been processed with a new mathematical algorithm (NAFE) that adapts to noise and brightness in extreme ultraviolet image data to reliably enhance small details.

Screen Shot 2014-11-22 at 10.45.57 PM

John Smerling (who writes Climate Bytes) posted the great video from John Oliver, that many folks likely never saw when it first aired. It’s well done and is basically a summary of Neil de Grasse Tyson’s epic quote that “The great thing about science is that it’s true whether or not you believe it.” So in case you missed it…

Screen Shot 2014-11-22 at 10.45.57 PM

Need a laugh? Here is my early Christmas present to you.

Need a laugh? Here’s my early Christmas present to you.

To the chagrin of those of us who forecast weather for a living, the chemtrail conspiracy folks have been very active this week. So, this piece in Sci. Am. is just in time. It’s about the psychology behind your Uncle Harry’s belief that the Moon landing was fake, and pro-wrestling is real. I suggest you read it, before you run into Harry at the family Thanksgiving Day get together (Sorry Canada, I know it’s too late for you).  FYI, those of us who forecast the weather for a living call them “CHEMMIES”.

Related: on Thoughts from Kansas, Josh Rosenau of the National Center for Science Education has some interesting points about conspiracy theories and politics. I particularly like his last line about “it’s often worth it to be wrong just to maintain group membership”. Something to think about in regard to yourself and others.

Screen Shot 2014-11-22 at 10.45.57 PM

Have you heard about this campaign? It’s near and dear to the hearts of real science lovers everywhere! Click the image for more info.

Screen Shot 2014-11-22 at 9.30.06 PM

Screen Shot 2014-11-22 at 10.45.57 PM


I keep in mind that most of my readers do not have access to many (if any) peer-reviewed science journals, but here are some abstracts from recent papers that give you a brief summary of the science. Below are some that really caught my eye. Click the image to read the abstract.

Screen Shot 2014-11-22 at 9.38.58 PM










Screen Shot 2014-11-22 at 9.44.00 PM



As the planet gets warmer because of increasing greenhouse gases, the amount of water vapor in the air will go up. The paper below is about measuring it (and the difficulty in doing so) and then comparing observation to theory.

Screen Shot 2014-11-22 at 9.52.19 PM