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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: 37,302

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Environmental Scientist

Journal Archives

Epic photos of Chilean Volcano Lightning Storm and Eruption!



These images by Chilean photographer Francisco Negroni of the Cordón Caulle volcano erupting are so jaw-dropping and mind-blowing that we’re finding it hard to come up with appropriate adjectives. Billowing clouds of ash are joined by spiderwebs of Volcanic lightning to create a light show that truly drives home Mother Nature’s terrifying splendor.

This particular volcanic eruption began in June 2011, and Negroni was there with his trusty Nikon D300 to capture the action. Rather than continue to describe something that is much more enjoyable to browse through, we’ll get out of the way and let you feast your eyes on this natural wonder:





more

http://petapixel.com/2014/01/14/jaw-dropping-photos-spectacular-volcanic-eruption-chile/

A U.S. Teacher in Finland: Teaching Less, Collaborating More

By Tim Walker

Teaching is burdensome. Some of its greatest challenges exist beyond the classroom walls. Poverty. Broken families. Domestic violence. The list continues.

Teachers who seek to care for their students need to be cared for, too. Without sufficient support, teachers burn out. Some even leave the profession altogether.

As an American teacher now in a Finnish public school, I'm witnessing and experiencing meaningful professional support. A close look at my current teaching schedule reveals two important sources of preventive care.

Teaching Less

When I received my timetable in early August, I was dumbstruck. As a 5th grade classroom teacher, I would be contracted for 24 hours of teaching each week. What's more is that there would be a built-in break of 15 minutes every lesson. Factor in the breaks and I would only be spending 18 hours in the classroom each week. On average, that's less than four hours of actual teaching time every day. This is a typical teaching load in Finland.

At my previous school in the U.S., I had about 5 ½ hours of instructional time every day. That's a total of 27 ½ hours of time in the classroom each week, which is nearly 10 hours more than I spend teaching in Finland.

more

http://blogs.edweek.org/teachers/teaching_ahead/2013/12/how_does_finland_support_teachers.html

Social experience drives empathetic, pro-social behavior in rats



Empathy-driven behavior has been observed in rats who will free trapped companions from restrainers. This behavior also extends toward strangers, but requires prior, positive social interactions with the type (strain) of the unfamiliar individual, report scientists from the University of Chicago, in the open access journal eLife on Jan. 14

The findings suggest that social experiences, not genetics or kin selection, determine whether an individual will help strangers out of empathy. The importance of social experience extends even to rats of the same strain—a rat fostered and raised with a strain different than itself will not help strangers of its own kind.

"Pro-social behavior appears to be determined only by social experience," said Inbal Bartal, PhD, a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Chicago and lead author of the study "It takes diverse social interactions during development or adulthood to expand helping behavior to more groups of unfamiliar individuals. Even in humans, studies have shown that exposure to diverse environments reduces social bias and increases pro-social behavior."

In 2011, a team led by Bartal and Peggy Mason, PhD, professor of neurobiology at the University of Chicago, discovered that rats exhibit empathy-like helping behavior. They found that rats consistently freed companions that were trapped inside clear restrainers, and this behavior was driven by a rat version of empathy.

more

http://phys.org/news/2014-01-social-empathetic-pro-social-behavior-rats.html

First planet found around solar twin in star cluster

Astronomers have used ESO's HARPS planet hunter in Chile, along with other telescopes around the world, to discover three planets orbiting stars in the cluster Messier 67. Although more than one thousand planets outside the Solar System are now confirmed, only a handful have been found in star clusters. Remarkably one of these new exoplanets is orbiting a star that is a rare solar twin—a star that is almost identical to the Sun in all respects.

Planets orbiting stars outside the Solar System are now known to be very common. These exoplanets have been found orbiting stars of widely varied ages and chemical compositions and are scattered across the sky. But, up to now, very few planets have been found inside star clusters. This is particularly odd as it is known that most stars are born in such clusters. Astronomers have wondered if there might be something different about planet formation in star clusters to explain this strange paucity.

Anna Brucalassi (Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics, Garching, Germany), lead author of the new study, and her team wanted to find out more. "In the Messier 67 star cluster the stars are all about the same age and composition as the Sun. This makes it a perfect laboratory to study how many planets form in such a crowded environment, and whether they form mostly around more massive or less massive stars."

The team used the HARPS planet-finding instrument on ESO's 3.6-metre telescope at the La Silla Observatory. These results were supplemented with observations from several other observatories around the world. They carefully monitored 88 selected stars in Messier 67 over a period of six years to look for the tiny telltale motions of the stars towards and away from Earth that reveal the presence of orbiting planets.

more

http://phys.org/news/2014-01-planet-solar-twin-star-cluster.html

First plastic cell with working organelle

For the first time, chemists have successfully produced an artificial cell containing organelles capable of carrying out the various steps of a chemical reaction. This was done at the Institute for Molecules and Materials (IMM) at Radboud University Nijmegen. The discovery was published in the first 2014 issue of the journal Angewandte Chemie, and was also highlighted by Nature Chemistry.

It is hard for chemists to match the chemistry in living cells in their laboratories. After all, in a cell all kinds of complex reactions are taking place simultaneously in an overfull, small container, in various compartments and incredibly efficiently. This is why chemists attempt to imitate the cell in various ways. In doing so, they also hope to learn more about the origin of life and the transition from chemistry to biology.

Jan van Hest and his PhD candidate Ruud Peters created their organelles by filling tiny spheres with chemicals and placing these inside a water droplet. They then cleverly covered the water droplet with a polymer layer – the cell wall. Using fluorescence, they were able to show that the planned cascade of reactions did in fact take place. This means that they are the first chemists to create a polymer cell with working organelles. Just like in the cells in our bodies, the chemicals are able to enter the cell plasma following the reaction in the organelles, to be processed elsewhere in the cell.



more

http://phys.org/news/2014-01-plastic-cell-organelle.html

Socialising in pubs ‘boosts mens’ mental health’

MEN now have the perfect ­excuse to sneak off for a crafty pint with their mates – ­research has found that going down the pub can be good for their mental health.

The study revealed that men drinking with friends in the pub reported positive effects on their mental wellbeing, allowing them to open up and talk about their emotions – traditionally a masculine ­taboo in Scotland.

Sharing a round of drinks also helped them look out for each other and lift their spirits, according to research in the West of Scotland.

But the study also acknowledged the dangers that buying rounds encouraged men to perhaps drink more, with many of those questioned consuming harmful or hazardous amounts of alcohol.

It is hoped the findings will help inform new approaches to reducing dangerous drinking levels, while understanding the more positive and sociable aspects of alcohol.

more
http://www.scotsman.com/news/health/socialising-in-pubs-boosts-mens-mental-health-1-3265049

What that sticker really says

Why the DEA Let the World's Tech-Savviest Drug Cartel Do As It Pleased for 12 Years

Catapults. "Jalapeños". Dune buggies. $1 million subs. Sophisticated drug tunnels. Firetruck-sized industrial pipeline drills. These are just a few of the ingenious ways that Mexico's Sinaloa cartel, arguably the world's largest, most powerful and technologically advanced organized crime syndicate, has tried to perfect the fine art of smuggling drugs into America. And to think, the US's premier drug enforcement arm gave the Sinaloa a pass to do so largely unhindered during the bloodiest stretch of Mexico's drug war.

That's the thrust of a landmark investigation by El Universal, which found that authorities with the US Drug Enforcement Administration and the broader Department of Justice struck a deal with the Sinaloa, in exchange for intelligence about rival cartels. Citing court documents and extensive interviews with both Mexican and US officials familiar with the matter, El Universal reports that the US-Sinaloa arrangement lasted from 2000 to 2012.

It's unclear what their relationship is today—El Universal reached no conclusion as to whether or not the arrangement still holds.

What we do know, however, based on the investigation's findings, is that DEA agents not only repeatedly met with Sinaloa heads but did so without bringing Mexican authorities to the table and without tipping off the Mexican government, in clear violation of bilateral agreements. From there:

...the agents of the DEA met with members of the cartels in Mexican territory, to obtain information about their rivals and at the same time establish a network of informants of narco-traffickers, who signed cooperation agreements, subject to results, so that they can obtain future benefits, including charges being dropped in the United States.

more

http://motherboard.vice.com/blog/why-the-dea-let-the-worlds-tech-savviest-drug-cartel-do-as-it-pleased-for-12-years

Raising the Minimum Wage Is the “Free Market” Thing to Do

January 14, 2014
by Joshua Holland


America’s unrivaled inequality will be center stage in our political discourse this year, as lawmakers debate raising the minimum wage, extending unemployment benefits for the long-term jobless and the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion leading up to November’s elections.

But in one sense, these debates are more about partisan politics and the interests of the major parties’ constituencies than ideology.

There is, at least in theory, broad agreement across the political spectrum that it is both proper and necessary for the government to intervene in the economy to correct market failures –- assuring that the private sector functions as it is supposed to is the “free market” thing to do. And one would be hard pressed to identify a more destructive market failure than that which keeps one in three Americans –- including tens of millions of full-time workers –- living at or below the poverty line.

According to economic theory, a free market transaction is one between two parties who both have perfect information about the state of the market – what others are paying for the same goods. Operating on a level playing field, free from explicit or implicit coercion, they each pursue their own interests, and in the end agree to a price that’s no higher than what the market will bear.

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http://billmoyers.com/2014/01/14/raising-the-minimum-wage-is-the-“free-market”-thing-to-do/

Administration Is Seen as Retreating on Environment in Talks on Pacific Trade

By CORAL DAVENPORT
JAN. 15, 2014

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration is retreating from previous demands of strong international environmental protections in order to reach agreement on a sweeping Pacific trade deal that is a pillar of President Obama’s strategic shift to Asia, according to documents obtained by WikiLeaks, environmentalists and people close to the contentious trade talks.

The negotiations over the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which would be one of the world’s biggest trade agreements, have exposed deep rifts over environmental policy between the United States and 11 other Pacific Rim nations. As it stands now, the documents, viewed by The New York Times, show that the disputes could undo key global environmental protections.

The environmental chapter of the trade deal has been among the most highly disputed elements of negotiations in the pact. Participants in the talks, which have dragged on for three years, had hoped to complete the deal by the end of 2013.

Environmentalists said that the draft appears to signal that the United States will retreat on a variety of environmental protections — including legally binding pollution control requirements and logging regulations and a ban on harvesting sharks’ fins — to advance a trade deal that is a top priority for Mr. Obama.

more

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/15/us/politics/administration-is-seen-as-retreating-on-environment-in-talks-on-pacific-trade.html?_r=0
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