Going a long way with the Science Schmooze 1.7.19

by Herb Masters

Happy Continuing Journey around our not so personal star!

What a way to start a new year.  First off before I dive in to all of the amazing science in space that is going on, please consider how much we still continue to learn about our good old home planet.  When you consider that the big news came from 4 billion miles away and 235,000 miles away do you really know your neighbors?  Meet your single-celled neighbours – a microbial tour of a metropolis 

This has been a fun week to see the families of leaders in science and politics celebrating.  Did you see the New Year celebration of the New Horizons incredible flight?  Politics aside, watching that and the swearing in of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, where the children of all of the scientists, engineers, and politicians (yes, both parties) came together at

SciSchmoozing into 2019

by David Almandsmith

Greetings Schmoozer Reader,
The mere fact you are reading the SciSchmooze suggests you are a very well-informed person. Consequently, you know that it is good for society – and life in general – when all of us are better informed. ¿Does this imply you have an obligation to society and yourself to help educate? Well, perhaps not an ‘obligation’ but certainly an ‘incentive.’ However, educating is not so straight-forward as it may first seem (and many of us – I for one – lack the temperament to be a good educator). Blaise Pascal (French mathematician 1623-1662) wrote of his process for ‘changing’ a person’s mind. The Internet is chock-full of similar advice, e.g. this page. Herb Masters in a previous SciSchmooze gave a link to a brilliant

Holiday Schmoozing

by Bob Siederer

Hello again Science Fans.

The Winter Solstice has just passed and from here on the days will be getting longer, bit by bit.  It is a busy time for sky watchers, with meteor showers, a comet, and an upcoming total lunar eclipse all happening now or soon.  King tides are also on tap this month and next.

But 50 years ago tomorrow a most amazing photograph was taken.  The astronauts in Apollo 8 took a picture of Earth from their position orbiting the moon.  Dubbed "Earthrise" by NASA, it has become an iconic picture and changed the way we view ourselves and our position in the cosmos.  It is worth another look. This article gives some perspective to the photo.

As the end of the year approaches you will see many "best of 2018" lists, including this one about

Cargo Cult Science Schmooze 12.17.18

by Herb Masters
Hello Science Fans,
Most of science is, deep down, based on facts.  Some of the most important disagreements we see and hear relate to what we call facts.  Facts can help us understand and learn about many things.  But it seems that there are always those that deny what most of us think are basic facts.  Consider the roundness of the earth.  Most of us can't believe anybody would think it is flat.  (Note to NASA:  I'd be glad to say the earth is flat and the moon landing was faked if you would give me a tour of your facilities to prove me wrong!)  I find myself questioning the "cargo cult science" of some of the folks we share the planet with but generally try to be respectful and understand what is going on.  I'm not always successful in this though.  I came across a podcast that I think really explains a lot and I highly recommend it… 

Think Tidal with the SciSchmooze 12.10.18

by Herb Masters

Greetings Fans of Understanding,

Often it seems as if things slow down around the time of the Winter Solstice.  Various religious holidays lead us to reflecting on the lives of our friends, family, and ourselves.  In years past writing the SciSchmooze, the science news has seemed to be a reduced.  I'm not feeling that this year.  It seems that there is a lot going on in science news both out of this world and well within it. 
Let's start with a bit of seasonal applied science and citizen science to go with it. 

Embedded in all of the discussion about sea level rise, I find the tides to be very intriguing.  King Tides are coming: December 22 and 23, and again on January 20 and 21, 2019.    I think we take them for granted and fail to notice how much variation there is in what they look like.  Consider the tides Sun 12.9 in San Francisco and
by Meenakshi Prabhune

Hello fellow Schmoozers,

Hope you all had a lovely Thanksgiving and are already preparing for Christmas. If you are looking for a scientific gift, let me inform you that Foldscope (the paper microscope) is available on holiday sale. Do consider donating the gift of curiosity to your loved ones or schools.

In the scientific realm, there has been an important news that everyone might have heard in the past two weeks. A researcher in China claims to have edited genes of two babies. I have heard several versions from people last week, so let me clarify the real news for everyone.

“Two beautiful little Chinese girls, Lulu and Nana, came crying into the world as healthy as any other babies a few weeks ago,” He Jiankui, a Chinese scientist, announced in a You tube video last week. He said that he took sperm from an HIV positive father and egg from HIV negative mother, fertilized them in the lab (similar to IVF procedure that couples who cannot have kids naturally undergo). The main difference here was that he edited a gene in the embryos that would make the babies immune to HIV using the CRISPR gene editing technology. He implanted these embryos in

SciSchmoozing from Cyber Monday and Beyond!

by David Almandsmith

Hello again, thoughtful friend of thinking (¿or is it thinking friend of thought?),
Once upon a time (¡spoiler alert: fairy tale follows!) taxonomy neatly divided life into two kingdoms:
Oops. Well dang, these microscopic things don’t have a nucleus so let’s make it three kingdoms:
You probably see where this is going. Today, largely because of genetic studies, there are three recognized domains (Bacteria, Archaea, & Eukaryota), six super-kingdoms of Eukaryota, and oodles of kingdoms. Heck, we animals (Kingdom Animalia) are placed under super-kingdom Opistokonta lumped in with fungi (huh?) ¿Did i say six
by Bob Siederer

Hello again Science fans!

We have a lot to cover today, beginning with the California wildfires.  The Camp fire has been responsible for our unhealthy air quality these past days.  Just how bad it is where you are depends on the wind direction and strength, as well as proximity to the fire.  Many events around the area have been postponed or canceled, including some on our calendar.  This serves to remind you that you should always click through from our calendar to the website of the sponsoring organization for last minute updates before you take off to attend an event.  We often don't receive notification of changes, so always check with the organizers.

Lawrence Berkeley Labs published a useful article on how you can protect yourself and your family from the damaging smoke.  Finding masks at this point is difficult as most stores have been out of them for a while.  When they get them back in stock, buy some so you have them for next time, because there WILL be a next time!

If you think fires are worse

SciSchmoozing Bay Area Science

by Meenakshi Prabhune

Hello Science fans,

Hope you all are safe from the raging Camp Fire, one of the most devastating wildfires that California has ever seen. It is sad to watch the trail of destruction helplessly on news; one can only hope that we will get through this tragedy soon and try to help those affected in whatever way we can. Also, while wildfires are not necessarily caused by climate change, their severity is certainly linked to it. If you are looking for more information around this association, here’s a good article.

Speaking of wildfires, you must have noticed the terrible

SciSchmoozing on Election Week

by David Almandsmith

¿Did we mention voting? If you have a vote-by-mail ballot, be certain to mail it early enough to have a postmark on or before Tuesday or take it to any polling station in your county on election day. Heck, someone else can take it there for you; just write their name on the envelope where there is a space for that.
Speaking of space (huh?), the planet-finding Kepler spacecraft is finally beyond resuscitation. Kepler was designed to last 3.5 years but clever work-arounds for failing components kept it working for 9 years. It detected 2,800 planets and another 2,600 ‘possible planet’ candidates.
Eleven years ago, the Dawn spacecraft left Earth for the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. Four years later it arrived at its primary destination, Vesta, an asteroid over 500 kilometers in diameter. It remained orbiting and studying Vesta 14 months before rocketing off to Ceres, the largest of the asteroids at over 900 km diameter. It reached Ceres in 2015 and has been sending back data ever since – that is until last Thursday when

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