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Gender: Female
Current location: Portland, Oregon
Member since: Wed Nov 10, 2004, 10:06 AM
Number of posts: 27,279

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Driving has lost its cool for young Americans

Driving has lost its cool for young Americans
by Lisa Hymas
27 Dec 2011 6:21 AM

.Amidst all the hand-wringing over distracted driving, a critical point is getting lost. The problem isn't the texting -- it's the driving.

Clive Thompson made this argument in Wired last year:

When we worry about driving and texting, we assume that the most important thing the person is doing is piloting the car. But what if the most important thing they're doing is texting? How do we free them up so they can text without needing to worry about driving?

The answer, of course, is public transit. In many parts of the world where texting has become ingrained in daily life -- like Japan and Europe -- public transit is so plentiful that there hasn't been a major texting-while-driving crisis. You don't endanger anyone's life while quietly tapping out messages during your train ride to work in Tokyo or Berlin.

... Dramatically increasing public transit would also decrease our carbon footprint, improve local economies, and curtail drunk driving. (Plus, we'd waste less time in spiritually draining bumper-to-bumper traffic.)

Posted by Viva_La_Revolution | Tue Dec 27, 2011, 03:01 PM (1 replies)

The Ingredients for a Lahar

Colima lahar videos
Posted on December 27, 2011 by John A. Stevenson

The Indonesian word, lahar, is the technical term used to describe volcanic mud flows. This post explains the difference between two types of lahars (hyperconcentrated flows and debris flows), using videos that I recorded at Volcán de Colima as examples.


The summer of 2005 was the most active period at Volcán de Colima in nearly 100 years. Hundreds of explosions blasted from the crater; the largest produced pyroclastic density currents that dumped millions of cubic metres of smashed-up volcanic rocks upon the upper slopes and within the ravines (barrancas) on the flanks. Uncemented by clays, the deposits are a loose, rubbly mixture of boulders, cobbles, gravels and sandy and dusty ash.

Fast-forward to summer 2007, and the middle of the rainy season. Sweaty, humid nights dawn into blazing sunlit mornings, but clouds soon form. By 12.00hrs the summit of the volcano is lost and thunder begins to rumble. Mid-afternoon, every day, the tropical rain hammers down. And I mean hammers; rainfall of 100 mm in 3 hours is not uncommon. By contrast, London gets 750 mm in an entire year.

The first video shows what this kind of rain looks like. I had gone with Flo, a volunteer at the Universidad de Colima, to maintain a radar monitoring station on the south flank of the volcano, about 3 km from the crater. (Click here for a Google Earth file that shows the monitoring station and the debris-covered flanks of the volcano). We had barely started our work when the rain arrived, so we had to sit it out in order to finish what we needed to do.

Posted by Viva_La_Revolution | Tue Dec 27, 2011, 12:01 PM (1 replies)

Winter Wonders: The Science of Cold

By Emily Eggleston | December 26, 2011

When it comes to science, temperature matters. And when it comes to Wisconsin, things get really, really cold. When the temperature drops, the world around us changes in a practical and scientific sense. For instance, my car is less likely to work (though that may be a function of age rather than weather), and the percentage of water maintaining a crystalline configuration goes up. There are a lot of things to wonder about how a cold world functions, scientifically. These are some of my questions, and their answers:

1. Will the gasoline in my car’s tank actually ever freeze into a gas-cube?

2. Why is wool so warm?

3. Why do some snowflakes look intricate and lacy, while others seem shapeless?

Posted by Viva_La_Revolution | Tue Dec 27, 2011, 11:55 AM (2 replies)

From neutrinos to stem cells: a round-up of the year in research and science policy.

365 days: 2011 in review

For science — as for politics and economics — 2011 was a year of upheaval, the effects of which will reverberate for decades. The United States lost three venerable symbols of its scientific might: the space-shuttle programme, the Tevatron particle collider and blockbuster profits from the world's best-selling drug all came to an end. But the year also saw stirrings of science's future: hopes that research might blossom following the Arab Spring; cheap vaccines rolling out in Africa; and the first fruits of genome sequencing being used in the clinic. All this was overshadowed by the triple trauma of Japan's devastating earthquake, tsunami and nuclear meltdown, and a continual chipping away at science funding as nations struggled with the financial crisis.

Interactive Timeline at the link
Posted by Viva_La_Revolution | Fri Dec 23, 2011, 12:25 PM (0 replies)

The Right (and Wrong) Way to Die When You Fall Into Lava

By Erik Klemetti

This post is based on a question I was posed in my “Introduction to Rocks and Minerals” class. Now, mind you, it isn’t a serious question, but when I thought about how to answer it, I realized how completely wrong everybody has been about it. The revelation was so clear I half expected the planet to be destroyed to make way for a bypass. So, before that happens, I thought a blog post might be a great way to explain why.

I’ll start with the answer: Everyone is wrong about how people die when they fall into lava.

So, what was the question? This (slightly paraphrased): “In that scene from Return of the King when Gollum falls into the pit of lava, would he have really just sunk into the lava like that?”

At first, it seemed like an easy question. Well, not so much easy as obvious: yes. However, the more I thought about it, the more I though that pretty much every scene I’ve ever noticed where somebody falls into lava and dies has got to be wrong....
Posted by Viva_La_Revolution | Mon Dec 12, 2011, 10:33 AM (18 replies)
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