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Member since: Tue Feb 10, 2004, 12:08 PM
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Environmental Scientist

Journal Archives

Toon- "We'll Kick Out The Dictator…"

Forensic crime lab malpractice surfaces in Oregon

On 18 September, the Oregon State Police (OSP) announced it was investigating a forensic scientist, Nika Larsen, working at its Bend Crime Laboratory. She allegedly altered drug evidence. After Larsen came under suspicion in August, she was placed on administrative leave.

‘The evidence shows that she would take drugs and other items from the samples she was testing and replace them with over-the-counter drugs,’ says John Hummel, the district attorney (DA) for Deschutes County, Oregon.

Larsen analysed evidence in around 1500 criminal cases, 502 of which were in her jurisdiction, Hummel notes. ‘We will pull out the convictions and assess whether her analysis of the evidence impacted the results,’ he states. ‘If we think it did, then we will talk with defence counsel.’

Forensic misdeeds
Larsen has neither been arrested nor charged with a crime, but Hummel says his office has not completed its investigation. ‘We certainly see much evidence there to prove a crime,’ Hummel tells Chemistry World.



Graphene band gap heralds new electronics

Scientists in the US and France have produced graphene with a record high band gap of half an electronvolt (0.5 eV), which they claim is sufficient to produce useful graphene transistors. The band gap owes itself to highly periodic bonding on a silicon carbide substrate.

Graphene, a single layer of carbon atoms arranged in a honeycomb-shaped lattice, exhibits a range of superlative properties. Since it was discovered in 2003, it has been found to have exceptional strength, thermal conductivity and electric conductivity. The last property makes the material ideal for the tiny contacts in electronic circuits, but ideally it would also make up the components – particularly transistors – themselves.

To do so, graphene would need to behave not just as a conductor but as a semiconductor, which is the key to the on–off switching operations performed by electronic components. Semiconductors are defined by their band gap: the energy required to excite an electron stuck in the valence band, where it cannot conduct electricity, to the conduction band, where it can. The band gap needs to be large enough so that there is a clear contrast between a transistor’s on and off states, and so that it can process information without generating errors.

Regular graphene has no band gap – its unusually rippled valence and conduction bands actually meet in places, making it more like a metal. Nonetheless, scientists have tried to tease them apart. By fabricating graphene in odd shapes, such as ribbons, band gaps up to 100 meV have been realised, but these are considered too small for electronics.



Fresh views of Ceres but 'spots' remain mysterious

The Occator Crater, colour-coded to show differences in elevation, and its baffling bright spots

The team behind Nasa's Dawn mission to Ceres has released striking new images, but remains unable to explain the dwarf planet's most intriguing mystery.

Bright spots within a 90km-wide crater have baffled scientists since the probe spotted them on its approach.

Now in orbit around Ceres, Dawn is gathering detailed data about the world's geology and its composition.

Mission researchers described the latest images at the European Planetary Science Congress in Nantes, France.

Currently, their best guess to account for the spots is an expanse of some type of salt - but this is speculation.



This height-coloured map of Ceres has a resolution of 400m per pixel. The bright spots are in the Occator Crater (centre-right)

Tom the Dancing Bug Toon: The Most Dangerous Gang

Wisconsin: a paradise for white kids, hell for black kids

In Madison alone, 1,000 black children were arrested in 2013; only 3,247 black children live in Madison.

Wisconsin is rated one of the best states to raise kids -- if those kids are white. Black kids, on the other hand, face one of the highest juvenile arrest-rates in the country. "Juvenile" doesn't just refer to teenagers (as terrible as that would be): Wisconsin regularly arrests small black children, kids 12 and under, on bullshit charges like "loitering" and "disorderly conduct" (e.g., standing while black).

Sirena Flores, 17, said she was arrested for “blocking traffic” during a peaceful protest. Charles Jargue, 18, said he was ticketed as a 10 year old for “running in the street.” One 15-year-old said she was cited for disorderly conduct for picnicking in a restricted area of a park.

Christen Justice, who is black, 6’6’’ and 240 pounds, says he tries his best to avoid the Madison police, but it isn’t always easy. “Some people find me intimidating, I guess,” Justice said. “I try my best to stay out of everyone’s way, I try not to give the police an excuse to look at me twice or a reason to lock me away.

Nearly 13 percent of African American men in Wisconsin are incarcerated, a rate that’s twice the national average.



Wednesday Toon Roundup 3- The Rest









Wednesday Toon Roundup 2- General Repubs

Wednesday Toon Roundup 1-Speaker of the Damned

Car-Lying: Carly Fiorina Lies Like a Boss

The surging GOP presidential contender’s meaningless specifics are a marketing ploy, not a policy.

The Central Intelligence Agency has some tips for spotting liars. Unfortunately, most of them also sound like stage directions for a GOP primary candidate: “Failing to answer.” “Attacking.” “Denial.” Even, “Bringing up religion.” One particular hint is unusually relevant these days: “Being too specific.”

Carly Fiorina’s continuing distortions about what she saw, or didn’t see, on the Planned Parenthood sting videos would set off alarms all over Quantico on all those counts, but it’s her level of primary-color, pointillist embroidery on the truth—in that and other instances—that truly sets her apart from the rest of the field.

Call it Car-lying. Describing things into reality is a trademark of Fiorina’s, a style of mendacity that sets her apart from career politicians. Indeed, the reason she doesn’t come off as a politician is she’s still in marketing.

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