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Winds of Discovery: 2004-07-30

| 11 Comments | 5 TrackBacks

Welcome! This is the 3rd edition of "Winds of Discovery", a report by Glenn Halpern of HipperCritical that will take you on a wild ride across the spectrum of science and discovery.

Topics this week include: What is deja vu?; New virus fights cocaine addiction; APOE genes and Parkinsons; Nano-locomotion; Invisibility cloaks and stun guns; Anything into oil; Ancient brewery; Most massive black hole; Biocosm hypothesis; Birth of the moon; Lagrangian points; Alien detection in twenty years; 100 foot waves; Ecocide and de-ecocide; Cloud seeding; Post-Kyoto cooperation; World's oldest mouse; Monkeys yawn, monkey walks; Dogs can do anything; Male nipples

If YOU have a link suggestion send it to discovery, here @windsofchange.net. Regular topics include:

BIOTECH & MEDICAL

  • What is deja vu and when did we know it? I feel like I was just thinking about that the other day. Yeah, that's the ticket. (Hat Tip: Paul Hsieh)
  • A new virus has been engineered in the lab to fight against cocaine addiction. This new method of intervention appears to be much more effective than the current protein delivery methods which struggle to escape the body's self-defense mechanism.
  • UNC-Chapel Hill scientists have concluded that a 'specific form of the gene APOE very slightly increases the risk of Parkinson's disease, even though the same gene is protective in Alzheimer's disease'. Hmmmm, APOE, where have I read about that before? It's that deja vu all over again.
  • Scientists can grow kidneys, and maybe some other organs too, in a dish. The field of organogenesis is the stuff of science fiction, but it's coming to a hospital near you. Simply amazing.
  • Doctors may soon be able to go straight to a stroke site to do their clot-busting, and stroke patients will benefit with improved outcomes.
  • Francis Crick has passed away, but this pioneer who helped discover DNA will forever be remembered in the biotech community.

NANOTECH

  • There's a new dance craze out there. They're doing it in all the disco halls, on the nano level of course. (Hat Tip: Paul Hsieh)

INVENTION & DISCOVERY

  • You can catch a glimpse of past visions of future modes of transportation when you stop by the Transportation Futuristics exhibit in the Bernice Lynn Brown Gallery at UC-Berkeley. All these visions of the future were not to be, but Jamais Cascio lets us know what lessons we can learn for our future.
  • These stories are a bit old, but this technology and that technology are so new. Susumu Tachi may be wandering the streets of your neighborhood, right in front of your very eyes, and you may not even know it. Everybody get their stun guns!
  • Discover provides a mid-term report on the development of an industrial plant which will be able to turn anything into oil.
  • Archaeologists have discovered a 1,000 year old brewery in the mountaintop city of Cerro Baúl, Peru. No word yet on whether the brewery's well-aged chicha passed the taste test.

SPACE

  • Scientists at Stanford have spotted a most massive black hole, measuring more than ten billion times the mass of the sun. This black hole sucks in matter so messily that it has been dubbed Jabba the Hutt. Whatever you do, Stephen Hawking warns, do not try to prove the biocosm hypothesis. If you were to jump into Jabba's mouth, then you'd surely be spit out in "mangled form".
  • Two Princeton professors have developed a compelling theory for the circumstances surrounding the birth of the Earth's moon. More than four billion years ago, a Mars-sized rock was knocked from one of the five Lagrangian points (or relatively stable gravitational spots) that surround the sun, and sent careening towards Earth. The low-speed sideways collision between the two objects then 'turned a chunk of Earth's rock into hot vapor and flung it into space'.
  • Seth Shostack of SETI proclaims that we will come into contact with alien life within the next twenty years. Anything is possible, but then, I know what Drake's Equation is, and I understand the influence of assumptions. They can sometimes be a bit overwhelming. I'm keeping an open mind on everything.
  • In an interview, Dutch astronomer Paul Groot tells about all the lessons we are learning during the 'golden age of astronomy'.

THE ENVIRONMENT

  • Severe weather has sunk more than 200 supertankers and container ships exceeding 500 feet in length over the last two decades. Rogue waves up to 100 feet tall are believed to be the major cause in many such cases - and a recent study reveals that giant waves are more common than we thought.
  • Japan has stepped up to the plate to donate a large sum of money towards the restoration of the marshlands of Southern Iraq. Chiasm reports on the ecocide and de-ecocide of this historic ancient land which some scholars believe to be the site of the Garden of Eden.
  • Chiasm has another super post on the scientifically unproven, but highly revered method of weather control called cloud seeding. All one's got to do is shoot some special rockets into some thick clouds and...voila. Between this, the stun gun and the invisibility cloak, I feel like we're living in a comic strip.
  • WorldChanging sent me here to read up on the history of the science of global warming. It's an excellent guide and I've still got much more to read, but I'm still not 100% sold on the hockey stick. I know when the thermometer was invented, and I understand the influence of assumptions. I'm keeping an open mind on everything.
  • At Foreign Affairs, John Browne offers a path for post-Kyoto international cooperation on the subject of global warming. The keys to advancement for the US government and the rest of the developed nations are to 'create incentives, improve scientific research, and forge international partnerships'.
  • Meanwhile, it looks like the Bush administration may be reaching for the keys. Well, at least President Bush is agreeing with seven other nations on something, right fellas?
  • I hope this is an example of progress on that second key.

THE ANIMAL KINGDOM

  • Yoda, the world's oldest mouse, tells his life story. It's an epic tale with a teary ending, but such is life. You do not want to miss out.
  • Monkeys are so very close to human beings in the evolutionary context. While a new study shows that yawning is contagious among the chimpanzees (thereby indicating an ability to understand another chimp's state of mind), this macaque is already comporting himself like a human.
  • And finally, why do males have nipples? Scientific American asks an expert.

Please check back soon for another exciting edition of Winds of Discovery!

5 TrackBacks

Tracked: July 30, 2004 6:41 PM
ALIENS IN 20 YEARS? BEAM ME UP, SCOTTY! from DOUBLE TOOTHPICKS - Culture Wars & The Christian Worldview
Excerpt: Shostak prophesies that if (and that's a BIG if) intelligent life exists in our galaxy, SETI scientists will detect it twenty years. ... I will grant Shostak's conclusion IF his premise is true.
Tracked: July 30, 2004 9:07 PM
Better All the Time #17 from The Speculist
Excerpt: After this weeks festivities in Boston, whether you viewed them as a tremendous renewal of hope for our nation, a massive hot-air-athon, or an unwlecome disruption of your summer re-run viewing, what better wrap-up could there be than a...
Tracked: July 30, 2004 10:42 PM
Better All the Time #17 from The Speculist
Excerpt: After this weeks festivities in Boston, whether you viewed them as a tremendous renewal of hope for our nation, a massive hot-air-athon, or an unwlecome disruption of your summer re-run viewing, what better wrap-up could there be than a...
Tracked: August 1, 2004 11:30 PM
AUTO HALLUCIGENIA from chiasm.blog-city.com
Excerpt: Great essay on a href="http://www.worldchanging,com" target="_new">World Changing (via Winds of Discovery! thanx for the linx G-Unit!), "Transportation Futures That Never Were": For those of us who make thinking about how the future could unf
Tracked: August 2, 2004 12:30 AM
AUTO HALLUCIGENIA from chiasm.blog-city.com
Excerpt: Great essay on World Changing (via Winds of Discovery! thanx for the linx G-Unit!), "Transportation Futures That Never Were": For those of us who make thinking about how the future could unfold our profession, exhibitions like "Transportation

11 Comments

Are there any environmentalists out there who want to stick up for the hockey stick? Or maybe you have something to say about the Bush administration's global warming policy? I'd really like to hear from you. Anybody out there?

Is this scare tactics or is this real?

"but I'm still not 100% sold on the hockey stick."

As you should be. The hockey stick has been undergoing some scrutiny as of late and appears to be on the verge of collapse. On the economic front it gets even sillier. Even the most benign scenario from the IPCC appears to be a fantasy.

Re: yawning, in canids (dogs, wolves) it is a social signal designed to lower the intensity of the situation. Dogs will yawn and look down or to the side to defuse conflict. They try it with us too, when we insist on making eye contact or speak with a lot of energy etc., but we're usually not clued in and think they're tired or bored ....

Speaking as a Canadian environmentalist, I will always defend the hockey stick! Trees are a renewable resource, and we've got lots. If a few get made into sticks for the great game of hockey, why, they should honoured to give their lives in so noble a cause.

Don't have much in particular to say about Bush's global warming policy (unless W has a dimmer switch for the sun), but thanks for letting me get that off my chest... :-)

Thanks wiseguy!

The problem here is that a real issue exists, but it is dominated by extreamists on both sides.

Man made global warming exists, it would be absurd to think otherwise. We know that the C02 in the atmaosphere has been increased, and that will obviously tend to push the tempeture up.

Is it much? I seriously doubt anybody knows for ceratin. But we are in an overall cool period, so increasing tempetures may cause problems and changes, but end-of-the-world scenerios are absurd. And the "start an ice-age" BS is just that, it's came from the name "little ice age" given to the 15th-16th century cool spell in Europe (which in my history book wasn't exactly a disaster).

The solar issue is a red herring. The only study that tended to show an increase showed such a minor increase that it would not explain more than a fraction of a degree. And for thoses who think it's obvious that solar variation is more important than greenhouse effect, Venus is hotter than Mercury, despite recieving about 1/4th the solar ratiation intensity.

What is the cost of reducing emmesions? For some reason, I am very sceptical about the numbers I see published. Too many actions will be benificial. More effieicnt cars, air-conditions certainly will reduce expediture on fosile fuels, and instead spend on developement and capital goods, sounds like a plus for the economy.

Taking reasonable steps now seams like a quite good idea, and I suspect many would agree. But instead we must have this fight between the "The World's Ending" and the "Hey, it's just a sunny day" crowds.

"A new virus has been engineered in the lab to fight against cocaine addiction. This new method of intervention appears to be much more effective than the current protein delivery methods which struggle to escape the body's self-defense mechanism."

I can see the state administering it now to all the "deviants."

DaVek,

"Man made global warming exists, it would be absurd to think otherwise. We know that the C02 in the atmaosphere has been increased, and that will obviously tend to push the tempeture up."

Then demonstrate that it exists. To be frank, your statement is laughable. The atmospheric processes you're talking about here are far more COMPLEX than you realized, and merely pumping some extra CO2 into the atmosphere is no guarantee of increased warming trends.

"But we are in an overall cool period, so increasing tempetures may cause problems and changes, but end-of-the-world scenerios are absurd."

Right now we're in a warming trend, has been since the late 19th century (which a cooling trend that ran from about 1920-1945 - if of CO2 were related to the warming trend in some sort of linear fashion, its hard to explain that drop).

"...given to the 15th-16th century..."

The "little ice ages" run from about 1150 to 1460 and about 1560 to 1850.

"The only study that tended to show an increase showed such a minor increase that it would not explain more than a fraction of a degree."

Actually, numerous studies have been able to explain recent increases exclusively on increased solar activity.

"And for thoses who think it's obvious that solar variation is more important than greenhouse effect, Venus is hotter than Mercury, despite recieving about 1/4th the solar ratiation intensity."

So? We're talking about a 1 degree increase here over the 20th century, which is easily explainable by increased solar activity. Sorry, but your analogy makes little sense in light of the very small overall increase in temperature.

"Man made global warming exists, it would be absurd to think otherwise."

A butterfly in a 50 mph wind has an effect on the wind too, it is a question of magnitude. Lord Kelvin expressed it best.

"When you measure what you are speaking about and express it in numbers, you know something about it, but when you cannot express it in numbers your knowledge about it is of a meager and unsatisfactory kind."

CO2 is a minor greenhouse gas on Earth. Water vapor is the greenhouse gas that produces the hospitable conditions allowing life to thrive. The attempt to use Mercury and Venus as examples is rather silly. Of course your hard going to be hard pressed to explain Mars recent global warming on fossil fuels.

The little ice age, (and the Medieval Warm Period for that matter), were not confined to Europe, it was a world wide climate phenomena. Physical evidence has been found in North America, South America, Ethiopia, China, New Zealand, Alaska, Russia, Australia, Greenland and South Africa (the list is longer but you get the point). There are virtually 100’s of peer reviewed papers published that support this.

And where do you get the idea we are in a cool period? Care to provide some references to support that claim? We are in fact, geologically speaking, in a warm period, an interglacial.

"The only study that tended to show an increase showed such a minor increase that it would not explain more than a fraction of a degree."

I suggest you do a little research as there is a lot more than one study that shows a correlation with the surface temperature and it is “more than a fraction of a degree.” OTOH the correlation of CO2 with temperature is more problematic then the solar connection since half the warming happened before there was a significant increase in CO2. Add to that when CO2 was increasing at a significant rate the temperature was actually going down (1940’s – 1970’s)!

“Speaking as a Canadian environmentalist, I will always defend the hockey stick!”

Joe,
It seems you have some Canucks off the reservation, they are turning your hockey stick into a bathtub.

Mr. Katzman;

Actually, we could build a dimmer switch for the sun by hanging stuff at the Earth-Sun L1 point. It would be expensive, but far less expensive than the Kyoto Treaty while being far more effective.

P.S. Just to nit pick, there are not five Lagrange points that surround the Sun. There are five Lagrange points for every planet with respect to the Sun (Lagrange points are only defined for a primary and and orbiting secondary, not for a single object such as the Sun).

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