California is on its way to using 100% renewable energy by 2045. Since we've demonstrated the practicality of using biofuels and/or electricity for cars, trucks, trains, and motorcycles (i just bought an electric motorcycle), a major remaining reliance on fossil fuels is for air travel. There are a few small airplanes that run on electricity, but their ranges are short. Fortunately, we can create jet fuel from plants and algae. Test flights using bio fuels in commercial jets are entering their 2nd decade. There was a major test last week in India. Although biofuel use puts just as much CO2 into the atmosphere as fossil fuel use, growing the plants and algae removes CO2 from air and water, so it ends up being 'carbon neutral'. If only some folk didn't
Hello again Science fans! How is it that summer is almost over? It seems like it just started. Schools are going back into session, the number of events we list is picking up, and the amount of daylight is getting noticeably shorter. Of course, the upcoming weeks are often the warmest of the year in the Bay Area, as the summer high breaks down, allowing winds from inland to heat us up. Last year, the Friday before Labor Day was the warmest ever on record in San Francisco, with a high of 106.
This week marked the one year anniversary of the Great American Eclipse. How time flies! I was in Las Vegas. Where were you? While the eclipse gave scientists a great opportunity to do research on the sun, work continues to learn more. This year, NASA launched the Parker probe to touch the sun.
As if we don't have enough to worry about, a heart disease-causing parasite is headed our way.
Recent major earthquakes around the "ring of fire" remind us that we live in a seismically active place. But one location not too far away is also subject to significant quakes, and that is
Hi Fans of Evidence-based Science,
I don’t have a lot to say this week because I have been at a conference/birthday party. It was a party like I have never been to! Happy 60th lap Alex! I have been a bit disconnected and delayed in getting to the Schmooze this evening so I’m going to be brief and link heavy. I’m kind of wound up with astronomy stuff this week though the continuing assault on science and resistance to using good science by our elected representatives is making my skin crawl!
Often I look at science as an art form. I think art can be described as our effort to make sense of the world/universe we live in. Here’s two links that demonstrate this: While Darwin Sleeps & The majestic Earth. If you want more coolness, check out the CalAcademy Sketchfab. In case you are trying to decide what to do this week, I have a few suggestions:
Greetings Friends of Science,
I hope that you were or are able to catch some of the Perseid showers. They are quite refreshing as the evening cools off in August. The viewing has been particularly good this year. Be sure to check at the bottom of this page for a nice briefing on them that Alex Filippenko (you must watch that one!) has sent to us.
It has been quite a week in space news. The Parker Solar Probe has begun it’s
Hello Science fans,
Hope you all are having a great summer. If you run out of ideas for things to do in the Bay area, here’s some help. By the way, in case you are finding it hard to keep in touch with science between vacations, I do have some innovative ideas. I am sure you have heard of the Skype a Scientist initiative wherein scientists talk to a classroom of students. Recently, I came across another idea along the same line that connects students with scientists. Both students and scientists can register on this platform called Letters to a Pre-Scientist and write letters to one other. It is almost like individual me
Always something new in science. Scientists studying data from a ground-penetrating radar experiment, put into orbit around Mars by the European Space Agency, announced that a thin (<1 meter) layer of liquid water apparently exists that is 20 kilometers wide and 1.5 kilometers below Mars' surface. If true, the significance is twofold. First, because that aquifer might have never been frozen in the billions of years since it formed, it might harbour living microorganisms that might have evolved during Mars' early history when it had oceans. ("Might" is used thrice in that sentence.) Second significance: the money spent by the European Space Agency might have resulted in a remarkable discovery. ("Might" is used only once in that sentence.)
Water on Mars? Well, actually, water is found almost everywhere on the planet, it just happens to be ice. At the south pole, thousands of square kilometers of water ice are exposed and even more area is coated with "dry ice", frozen carbon dioxide. In places, the polar water ice is over 3 kilometers thick. NASA has created a
As we journey around the sun, our orbit is not a perfect circle. Nor are the orbits of any of the other planets. They are all somewhat elliptical. As a result, depending on where we are in our orbit relative to other planets, sometimes we get closer to them than other times. Now is one of those times.
On July 31, Earth will be closer to Mars than it has been in over a decade, less than 36 million miles. Get a great view of the Red Planet by attending one of the viewing parties being held by many of the local Astronomy Clubs. Events are also planned at Chabot Space and Science Center. While July 31 is THE day, given the distances involved, any day near the end of July will work.
There are eclipses and meteor showers coming up this summer too. The "Great American Eclipse" last August was fantastic, but the one this year will be of much longer. Unfortunately for us it won't be visible in the US.
There are lots of astronomy-related talks and events happening around the area and here are three picks:
I was driving on 580 as Mina Kim hosted KQED’s Forum last Thursday. It was so shocking i had to pull off and park in order to give it my whole and incredulous attention. As Ms. Kim explained to NPR listeners, “We are looking at the surge in popularity of Astrology, Tarot, other practices, focusing on the magical, the inexplicable …”
Excuse us, Ms. Kim, but there ain’t anything magical or inexplicable to focus on. If indeed you know of anything “magical” or “inexplicable” there are scientists and doctors eager to check it out with you.
Later i listened to the entire hour-long podcast at www.kqed.org/forum and heard Mina Kim’s introduction:
In this hour we are going to look at the surge in popularity of astrology, tarot, herbalism and other practices focusing on the supernatural. Why young people seem particularly drawn to them. What’s driving the resurgence now? Companies have taken notice, perhaps you see more rose quartz in your home (indistinct) catalog. But we want hear from you as well. Do you use astrology, herbs, crystals, or tarot in your daily life and how or why?This seems innocent enough, almost. We might expect the hour to include a sociologist, a psychologist, and maybe even a journalist. Well, we did get the journalist, Julie Beck who
(a SkepTalk by Tania Lombrozo, PhD, presented 8 February)
Stephen J. Gould described humans as “the primates who tell stories.” Psychologist Robyn Dawes took it one step further, arguing that we’re “the primates whose cognitive capacity shuts down in the absence of a story.” At BAS’s February SkepTalk, Dr. Tania Lombrozo, Professor of Psychology at UC Berkeley, asked: Why are we so...
motivated to find a good story or explanation? Is this tendency beneficial? And Dr. Lombrozo answered with insights that showed how our “drive to explain” itself explains some of the most remarkable human achievements, but also some of our failings.
¿Want to put your Drupal skills to good use? The Bay Area Skeptics Board wants a zippier web site with sliding banners and such. Leave a 'comment' and we will get back to you.