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n2doc

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Home country: USA
Current location: Georgia
Member since: Tue Feb 10, 2004, 12:08 PM
Number of posts: 34,520

About Me

Environmental Scientist

Journal Archives

Video of the Aurora Borealis in Real Time





Most Aurora Borealis videos are time-lapses, because cranking the ISO high enough for bright real-time video would normally result in a noisy mess. That, however, was before cameras like the Sony A7s came along.

As you can see in the video above captured this last weekend in Tromsø, Norway by Vimeo user Anders M, the low-light champ’s impressive ISO capabilities allowed him to capture beautiful, usable, real-time footage of the northern lights dancing over Norway.


http://petapixel.com/2014/10/21/video-aurora-borealis-real-time-shot-sony-a7s-iso-25600-noise-reduction/

The invisible extinction

When Roy Plotnick thinks about species going extinct, he tries to envision how that might look to a scientist millions of years from now. Plotnick, a palaeontologist at the University of Illinois at Chicago, has launched an unusual thought experiment to consider whether animals that vanish today might never be represented in the future fossil record. He calls it the 'invisible extinction'.

Plotnick sat down with Nature this week at a Geological Society of America meeting in Vancouver, Canada, where he put these ideas forward.

What is the invisible extinction?
We’re in the middle of what is called the sixth extinction now. If we were to be looking back from a million years in the future, what would it look like? Would we know if species going extinct now had ever existed, if all we had to go on was fossil remains?

How do you study something like that?
We started with the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List, with the various categories of threatened species, and decided to go with mammals. There are 715 mammal species on the list. We matched the Red List to various data sets that describe modern mammals, to see which species in the list are found in the fossil record.

What did you find?
Of the 715 species that are threatened, only 90 of them are represented in the fossil record. That’s about 13%. The rest of them will be gone without a trace.

more

http://www.nature.com/news/the-invisible-extinction-1.16183

Published for the first time: An Essay on Creativity by Isaac Asimov

ON CREATIVITY

How do people get new ideas?

Presumably, the process of creativity, whatever it is, is essentially the same in all its branches and varieties, so that the evolution of a new art form, a new gadget, a new scientific principle, all involve common factors. We are most interested in the “creation” of a new scientific principle or a new application of an old one, but we can be general here.

One way of investigating the problem is to consider the great ideas of the past and see just how they were generated. Unfortunately, the method of generation is never clear even to the “generators” themselves.

But what if the same earth-shaking idea occurred to two men, simultaneously and independently? Perhaps, the common factors involved would be illuminating. Consider the theory of evolution by natural selection, independently created by Charles Darwin and Alfred Wallace.

There is a great deal in common there. Both traveled to far places, observing strange species of plants and animals and the manner in which they varied from place to place. Both were keenly interested in finding an explanation for this, and both failed until each happened to read Malthus’s “Essay on Population.”

more

http://www.technologyreview.com/view/531911/isaac-asimov-mulls-how-do-people-get-new-ideas/

Published for the first time: An Essay on Creativity by Isaac Asimov


Note from Arthur Obermayer, friend of the author:

In 1959, I worked as a scientist at Allied Research Associates in Boston. The company was an MIT spinoff that originally focused on the effects of nuclear weapons on aircraft structures. The company received a contract with the acronym GLIPAR (Guide Line Identification Program for Antimissile Research) from the Advanced Research Projects Agency to elicit the most creative approaches possible for a ballistic missile defense system. The government recognized that no matter how much was spent on improving and expanding current technology, it would remain inadequate. They wanted us and a few other contractors to think “out of the box.”

When I first became involved in the project, I suggested that Isaac Asimov, who was a good friend of mine, would be an appropriate person to participate. He expressed his willingness and came to a few meetings. He eventually decided not to continue, because he did not want to have access to any secret classified information; it would limit his freedom of expression. Before he left, however, he wrote this essay on creativity as his single formal input. This essay was never published or used beyond our small group. When I recently rediscovered it while cleaning out some old files, I recognized that its contents are as broadly relevant today as when he wrote it. It describes not only the creative process and the nature of creative people but also the kind of environment that promotes creativity.

ON CREATIVITY

How do people get new ideas?

Presumably, the process of creativity, whatever it is, is essentially the same in all its branches and varieties, so that the evolution of a new art form, a new gadget, a new scientific principle, all involve common factors. We are most interested in the “creation” of a new scientific principle or a new application of an old one, but we can be general here.

One way of investigating the problem is to consider the great ideas of the past and see just how they were generated. Unfortunately, the method of generation is never clear even to the “generators” themselves.

more
http://www.technologyreview.com/view/531911/isaac-asimov-mulls-how-do-people-get-new-ideas/

Twitter is 'source of all evil', top Saudi cleric says

RIYADH: Twitter is nothing more than "a source of lies" and evil, Saudi Arabia's top Muslim cleric said, in comments that sparked lively debate Tuesday on the microblogging site.

"If it were used correctly, it could be of real benefit, but unfortunately it's exploited for trivial matters," Sheikh Abdul Aziz al-Sheikh said on his 'Fatwa' television show broadcast late Monday.

Twitter is "the source of all evil and devastation", the mufti said. "People are rushing to it thinking it's a source of credible information but it's a source of lies and falsehood."

The social media platform is popular among both men and women in ultra-conservative Saudi Arabia, where some supported the mufti's views but many others objected.

more

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/Tech/Social/Twitter-is-source-of-all-evil-top-Saudi-cleric-says/articleshow/44907001.cms

Chewbacca Stops Mr Incredible Vs Batgirl Fight

Chewbacca and Freddy Krueger helped break up a brawl between Mr Incredible and Batgirl as the superheroes traded blows on Hollywood's Walk of Fame.

Wally, from the Where's Wally series of children's books, also joined attempts to separate the pair as the scuffle broke out in front of the TCL Chinese theatre.

As shocked tourists - and Queen Elsa of Arandelle - look on, Freddy Krueger can be seen trying to calm the situation as Chewbacca tries to hold back Mr Incredible.

But Batgirl then scratches Mr Incredible - apparently overcoming his famously heightened resistance to harm - enraging the red-suited character.



more

http://news.sky.com/story/1357920/chewbacca-stops-mr-incredible-vs-batgirl-fight

Kenny G Stirs Controversy With Visit to Hong Kong Protest

BEIJING — It seemed innocuous enough on the surface: The smooth-jazz musician Kenny G paid a surprise visit to a Hong Kong protest site on Wednesday, posing for photos with residents who are demanding the right to free elections.

He tweeted the news that he was at the demonstration, along with a smiling photo showing a protest banner in the background, and wrote, “I wish everyone a peaceful and positive conclusion to this situation.”

But little is that simple here.

Kenny G is an icon in China, and his visit stirred up controversy and conspiracy theories on both sides of the political divide.

In one of the more inexplicable mysteries of Chinese culture, his 1989 saxophone ballad “Going Home” has for decades oozed from speakers across Chinese public spaces at closing time, triggering rapid exits by the masses. The song has no lyrics, yet somehow, when it is played in a mall, Chinese shoppers know what to do. They go home.

Kenny G ✔ @officialkennyg
in Hong Kong at the sight of the demonstration. I wish everyone a peaceful and positive conclusion to this situation

more

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/23/world/asia/kenny-g-stirs-controversy-with-visit-to-hong-kong-protest.html?_r=1

Wednesday TOON Roundup 2: The Rest

War








Politics










GOP







Courts


Detroit




That Woman




Church











Wednesday TOON Roundup 1: Scared










Now congressional Republicans are digging through scientists’ grant proposals

By Tim McDonnell

When scientists across the country need money for research projects, one place they often turn is the National Science Foundation. The NSF is an independent federal agency with an annual budget of about $7 billion, which it doles out to fund about a quarter of all federally supported science research.

Of course, the agency doesn’t just give money away to anyone who asks. Proposals have to survive a rigorous review process that includes close scrutiny by a panel of top scientists in the relevant field. Competition is fierce: Of the 49,000 proposals submitted in 2013, only a fifth were ultimately funded. So as far as most scientists are concerned, an NSF grant is about the highest mark of scientific legitimacy a research project can get.

Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) apparently disagrees. Over the last 18 months, Smith, who chairs the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, has launched an aggressive campaign against what he sees as misguided money management at NSF that fritters funds away on frivolous research. Research on ridiculous things like, you know, climate change.

Smith’s committee is responsible for setting the NSF’s budget. But in the last year, the congressmember has gone to unprecedented lengths to scrutinize the agency’s scientific operations. His staffers are sifting through the archives of NSF grant proposal materials, which are normally kept strictly confidential to preserve scientific objectivity. They’re looking for projects to highlight as evidence that NSF is wasting money on research that, from their view, aren’t in the “national interest.”

more

http://grist.org/climate-energy/now-congressional-republicans-are-digging-through-scientists-grant-proposals/
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