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Environmental Scientist

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Justin Bieber put in chokehold, kicked out of Coachella: report

TORONTO — Canadian pop star Justin Bieber was reportedly involved in a fracas Sunday night with security guards at the Coachella music festival.

According to TMZ, Bieber was placed in a chokehold and escorted out of the California festival during a headlining performance by Bieber’s fellow Canadian, rapper Drake.

The website claimed Bieber was barred from entering the artists’ area because it was at capacity. When he persisted, he was forcibly removed.



Republican candidates for president order a burrito from Chipotle (satire)

Rand Paul

It’s crazy to me that Chipotle thinks it can dictate exactly what a natural, law-abiding American citizen can order on a burrito! They give you a menu, with this black-and-white list of ingredients, and just mandate that those ingredients are what you have to select from! Why are we so accepting of this burrito-ordering status quo? Am I in a fast-casual Mexican restaurant, or an Indonesian autocracy? If I want a burrito with French fries, and ketchup, and yak meat, I should be able to get just that! If I want a hamburger wrapped inside a corn tortilla and topped with Taco Bell sauce, Chipotle should serve me that, as a Constitution-loving citizen! That’s my right, as an American!
Now, Chipotle woman: Shut up and make me an ostrich burrito bowl.

Scott Walker

Yes, hi, I’d like a barbacoa burrito with extra sour cream and brown rice.
The Chipotle worker begins to assemble the burrito.
Actually, you’re fired. Everyone is. Get out.

Jeb Bush

Okay, let’s see: What did my brother get? Two carnitas tacos and an iced tea? All right, I don’t want that; I am not my brother. So, I’ll do a burrito…actually, heck, I’m in the mood for tacos, who am I kidding? But unlike my brother, I’ll get three tacos, with beef. Actually, you know, my brother was right, two tacos really is the perfect amount of food: Give me two tacos. And actually? I will do carnitas. That’s certainly the best meat option here, as my brother rightly identified.
I’ll also get an iced tea. I am not my brother. Wait, what did Rubio get?



Women Preferred 2:1 in Academic Science Jobs

The lack of women in science and engineering has long been a sore spot in academia. Even though girls are just as good as boys (if not better) in science and math, men greatly outnumber women in academic science jobs. Why?

This is not an easy question to answer, partially because many people who legitimately try to answer it are branded as "sexists." At least one person actually lost his job trying to answer this question. Lawrence Summers, the former president of Harvard, proposed the possibility of a difference in the standard deviation of IQs for men and women. His idea, based on more than just mere speculation, was that geniuses and idiots were both more likely to be men, which would explain why it is men who tend to be professors or criminals. For that suggestion, he was essentially fired.

There are other more conventional hypotheses. The politically correct one is gender bias and discrimination. This hypothesis was supported in a damning 2012 PNAS study, which showed that science professors preferred male applicants over female ones for a job as laboratory manager. Even worse, the men were believed to be more competent and were offered more money, despite the fact that the applications were identical in every aspect, except for gender, of course.


Now, Professors Williams and Ceci are back with yet another study, this time in PNAS, that will certainly add more gasoline to the fire of public debate.

The authors had 363 faculty members read and rate narratives of prospective job candidates for an assistant professorship. In order to avoid tipping their hand in regard to the purpose of their experiment, they varied details of the candidates' lifestyles, e.g., whether or not they were married or had children. Their results showed that both male and female professors of biology, engineering, psychology and economics preferred women over men who shared the same lifestyle by a margin of roughly two-to-one. Furthermore, the same 2:1 preference existed for all lifestyles. The only exception were male economists, who showed no statistically significant gender preference. (See figure.)


Two mysterious bright spots on dwarf planet Ceres are not alike

The unidentified bright spots on dwarf planet Ceres have become more mysterious. The spots on the surface were first glimpsed close-up just a month ago, and now infrared images reveal that they have different thermal properties.

NASA's Dawn spacecraft is currently in orbit around the dwarf planet, which sits in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. Mission scientists presented the latest results from the spacecraft at the European Geosciences Union General Assembly in Vienna, Austria, today.

Two spots on the surface, labelled feature one and feature five, show up in visible light images as very bright in comparison to the rest of Ceres's dull grey, leading to speculation that they could be the sites of watery volcanoes on the dwarf planet, also known as cryovolcanoes.

Now Federico Tosi, who works on Dawn's Visible and Infrared Spectrometer, has presented infrared images of the two spots, measuring their thermal properties. "What we have found is that bright spot number one corresponds to a dark spot in the thermal image," he said at a press conference today. In other words, the bright spot is much cooler than its surroundings.


Bloomberg Markets The $5 Billion Race to Build a Better Battery

Professor Donald Sadoway remembers chuckling at an e-mail in August 2009 from a woman claiming to represent Bill Gates. The world’s richest man had taken Sadoway’s Introduction to Solid State Chemistry online, the message explained. Gates wondered if he could meet the guy teaching the popular MIT course the next time the billionaire was in the Boston area, Bloomberg Markets magazine will report in its May issue. “I thought it was a student prank,” says Sadoway, who’s spent more than a decade melting metals in search of a cheap, long-life battery that might wean the world off dirty energy. He’d almost forgotten the note when Gates’s assistant wrote again to plead for a response.

A month later, Gates and Sadoway were swapping ideas on curbing climate change in the chemist’s second-story office on the Massachusetts Institute of Technology campus. They discussed progress on batteries to help solar and wind compete with fossil fuels. Gates said to call when Sadoway was ready to start a company. “He agreed to be an angel investor,” Sadoway says. “It would have been tough without that support.”

Sadoway is ready. He and a handful of scientists with young companies and big backers say they have a shot at solving a vexing problem: how to store and deliver power around the clock so sustainable energies can become viable alternatives to fossil fuels. How these storage projects are allowing utility power customers to defect from the grid is one of the topics for debate this week at the Bloomberg New Energy Finance conference in New York. Today’s nickel-cadmium and lithium-ion offerings aren’t up to the task. They can’t run a home for more than a few hours or most cars for more than 100 miles (160 kilometers). At about $400 per kilowatt-hour, they’re double the price analysts say will unleash widespread green power. “Developing a storage system beyond lithium-ion is critical to unlocking the value of electric vehicles and renewable energy,” says Andrew Chung, a partner at Menlo Park, California–based venture capital firm Khosla Ventures.

The timing for inventors—and investors—may finally be right. Wind turbines accounted for 45 percent of new U.S. power production last year, while solar made up 34 percent of fresh capacity worldwide. Storing this energy when the sun isn’t shining or a breeze isn’t blowing has remained an expensive hurdle. Battery believers say that’s changing. They’ve invested more than $5 billion in the past decade, racing to get technologies to market. They’re betting new batteries can hold enough clean energy to run a car, home, or campus; store power from wind or solar farms; and make dirty electricity grids greener by replacing generators and reducing the need for more fossil fuel plants. This market for storage capacity will increase almost 10-fold in three years to 2,400 megawatts, equal to six natural gas turbines, Navigant Consulting says.



Marijuana Plant Extract Reduces Epileptic Seizures by Half

GW Pharmaceuticals Plc’s cannabidiol, made from the non-psychoactive portion of a marijuana plant, cut by half the seizures suffered by epilepsy patients in an expanded access program that didn’t use a placebo.

The experience of 213 hard-to-treat patients age 2 to 42, including some who were already taking a dozen drugs to fend off seizures, is a promising start for the strawberry-flavored liquid extract, which may be a potent new therapy for the condition, said lead researcher Orrin Devinsky, director of the New York University Langone Comprehensive Epilepsy Center. The findings released Monday are scheduled to be presented at the American Academy of Neurology’s annual meeting on April 22 in Washington.

GW Pharma is seeking regulatory approval for the therapy to treat patients with severe forms of epilepsy and expects to present results from mandated studies by early 2016, said Chief Executive Officer Justin Gover. Epidiolex, as the oil is known, is being compared with a placebo to affirm its safety and effectiveness.

“For this group that has failed multiple medications, the response is quite positive,” Devinsky said. “Over time it’s certainly the hope that this would replace other therapies,” if studies that use comparison groups are successful.

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