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Boris Borcic
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Galaxy's way more messy than Hollywood.
Significant movement in star orbits around our Milky Way galaxy have been found in a study that spanned 4-years and nearly 100,000 stars. "In our modern world, many people move far away from their ...
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Reducing bycatch of skates and rays – stop tickling them!

Bottom-trawl fisheries may supply us with much of the tasty fish we like to enjoy, but it does come with its problems.  Also known as ‘dragging’, bottom trawling essentially involves dragging a large net, held open either with a beam (beam trawling) or large metal/wooden ‘doors’ (otter trawling) along the sea bed, or just above it.  It is used to catch a range of commercial species like cod, shrimp, flounder, and halibut.  One of the problems of trawling is that it is not a very selective form of fishing.  Other species are caught in the process, and this bycatch can include at risk species such as skates, rays and sharks.  As well as ecological implications, bycatch can be bad for fishers, who often end up throwing away bycatch either because it isn’t worth anything, or because they are not allowed to land it.  Bycatch reduction is a win-win for fishers and for the marine life caught.  

Reducing bycatch of sharks, rays, and skates (collectively known as elasmobranchs) in bottom trawls is one of the many fishery-related issues on the mind of scientists at Marine Scotland Science.   As this piece of research from the Marine Scotland Science team shows, one possible solution (though  not perfect) may not be all that tricky to implement.

Focusing on the fishing gear
Once elasmobranchs end up inside a trawl net, they have little chance to escape.  This is particularly the case for skates and rays whose large flat bodies limit escape options from things such as square mesh panels or bycatch grills that are put into the nets to allow smaller fish to escape.  The researchers reason that prevention is better than cure, so looked to how they ended up in the nets in the first place.  They focused on something called a tickler chain.  These optional chains are fitted in front of the mouth of the trawl under the footrope, startling fish in front of the net, causing them to flee from the seabed, eventually ending up in the net.  You can see a short video of one of these chains in action here https://youtu.be/R_8Z1dJPgt4.  Among this fleeing fish is the endangered elasmobranchs.  Remove the ticklers, the researchers hypothesised, and you could reduce skate and ray bycatch.  To test this, the researchers set up their own trawl gear, some with ticklers and some without.  They used underwater observation to see what was going up beneath the waves, sensors that gave information on the net itself, and of course checked the hauls to see the differences in species composition.  They also set up “groundgear bags” behind the net opening where the tickler are set, which would give them a conservative estimate of escape levels underneath the gear.

Tickler removal makes a big difference
The research produced some statistically significant findings.  Use of the tickler increased the catch of skates, rays, and sharks.  3.6 times more skates and rays were caught in the trawl net when the tickler was used than without.  Shark catch rates were not as high, but still significant – 1.6 times higher with ticklers than without.  Mirroring these results, the ground bags which were used to estimate escape levels, suggested that a greater portion of elasmobranchs escape the trawl when ticklers are removed.

What about the fisher’s catch?
The whole point of the tickler is to improve catches on smooth seabeds (the chains are removed for rough ground as they are more likely to snag), so removing them could have an impact on the very fish the fishers are targeting.  Removing the tickler significantly lowered catch of anglerfish, a species with high commercial value.  Catches of other species – haddock and whiting, as well as flatfishes – weren’t compromised.  The researchers reason that this means ticklers could be removed when targeting haddock and whiting without causing hardship on the fisher.  However, when fishers want to catch anglerfish, tickler removal may be a bigger problem for the fisher.  To find a middle ground between conservation and fisheries objectives, they suggest combining information on species distribution and abundance to manage where (and likely when) ticklers should be removed.  Under this scenario, fishers would remove ticklers where elasmobranchs were known to be.  

What happens to the skates and rays that the trawl passes over?
If an animal doesn’t end up in the net and remains on/just under the sea bed surface, then the trawl will pass over it.  The researchers note that there is evidence that common skates at least may survive, but this is an area that needs further exploration.  They do make one very good point…that “overall, the likelihood of survival after being passed-over by a trawl is likely to be higher than when discarded after having been towed, brought to the surface and handled”.  

Read the research for yourself
The paper was published in the ICES Journal of Marine Science.  The authors have paid to make it open access so why not have a read of the research yourself http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/icesjms/fsv037

Image: This image, taken off Baja California, shows bycatch in a shrimp trawl fishery.  Credit:  +Elliott Norse +Marine Conservation Institute/Marine Photobank

#marinescience #sciencesunday #bycatch #rays #skate #fisheries #openaccess
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How far back in time would you imagine the idea that all the living forms belong to a single big family tree, to have possibly occurred to anybody? A big difficulty was to think through how it could be the case. Darwin and Mendel did that - but wondering on the how, and finding an answer to it, presumes a prerequisite conjecture of the what - common descent or tree-of-life as it's called today. If Darwin or Lamarck could speculate on the tree-of-life before having an explanation of the how, so could others.
 
Neat interactive tree of life for Chondrichthyes—cartilaginous fishes such as sharks and rays: http://sharksrays.org/  
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Between the wholly known and the wholly unknown are many shades, and there's no intention but one that's not metaphysics-promoting: allow biologists to feel honest enough if they'd go to claiming for evolution the authority of the text of Genesis via the ToL... if only in the spirit of fighting back Creationists in their own language.
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We don't often think about the infrastructure of getting away with murder. It's one thing for one person to kill with impunity, but if you want to do it regularly and on a large scale, you'll need to build a system to assist you. And there are few groups that need this more often than America's larger police departments, who are on track to kill nearly 1,200 people this year alone. (Beating last year's high of 1,106) 

Contrary to rumors of complete impunity, police officers who kill people – especially in more overt "bad shoots," such as when someone unarmed was running away from them, or when their victim was a small child – frequently do end up facing a day in court, seeing civil charges if not criminal, even despite the legal structures (such as LEOBOR) designed to prevent that. And as with any good infrastructure practice, the solution is defense in depth. That second layer of protection is provided by people like Dr. William J. Lewinski, who provides expert testimony that virtually any shooting was justified. 

Wait, you say that having an infrastructure to guarantee murder with impunity isn't a major social need? Huh. I guess neither he, nor any of the departments who routinely pay him quite well for his testimony, got the message.

But it just goes to show how far you can go in the world if you are unencumbered by things like professionalism or morals. In this case, he is a man who provides "expert" scientific testimony on things like the time it takes someone to fire, the psychology of human perception and memory, and anything else which may prove relevant to the case, despite being roundly castigated by everyone from professional organizations of psychologists to the Justice Department as an outright fraud.

If you ever wondered what someone looks like who has literally made a career out of operating the infrastructure of institutional racism and ethnic violence, take a look.
When police officers shoot people under questionable circumstances, William J. Lewinski often appears as an expert witness who says they had no choice but to fire.
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The number of anti-science decisions the #HarperGovernment has made in recent years is staggering: shutting down the Experimental Lakes Area, preventing scientists speaking about their work at international conferences. There are so many mindboggling instances, in fact, that the non-profit organization Evidence for Democracy has decided to create an interactive website to chronicle them all.

#HarperGovernment #Science #E4D #Canada #Election2015 #cdnpoli


The number of anti-science decisions the federal government has made in recent years is staggering: axing the long-form census, trying to shut down the Experimental Lakes Area, sending media relations personnel to accompany scientists at international conferences.
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+Charles Filipponi No problem loading the page (Firefox 39, Windows 7)
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Boris Borcic

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Physician's work like police work - with more necessity than police work, even - leads to familiarity with death. This proves that lack of concern with people's well-being and life is no necessary companion to the experience. Compare such cops to the health workers who went to squash the Ebola epidemic, they are opposites like North and South poles.
 
Earlier this month, a Lakota woman, was jailed on an alleged bond violation over a driving infraction. Her pleas for help allegedly fell on deaf ears and she died in jail.
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..sadly it was one day news. Poor girl. I think she was with a kid back home and now, who cares. Just sad for 21ct. 
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From special to general relativity there's a shift of POV similar to coming from an understanding of language as static and abstract and contrasting to dynamic speech that locally involves it - to arrive to the idea that language itself evolves in response to speech that uses it.
 
General Relativity is the Dynamics of Distance

This is part two in a many-part series on general relativity. Last time, I described how Galileo almost discovered general relativity. In particular, I told you that gravity isn’t a force. In fact, gravity is the same as acceleration. Now, this is a completely crazy idea. After all, we’re all sitting in the gravitational field of the Earth right now, but we don’t feel like we’re moving, let alone accelerating. But let’s take this crazy idea at face value and see where it leads us.

(To read this post in blog form, go here: http://www.thephysicsmill.com/2015/08/03/general-relativity-is-the-dynamics-of-distance/)

(If you haven’t read my previous post on why gravity is acceleration, I recommend you do so now. It is here: http://www.thephysicsmill.com/2015/07/26/galileo-almost-discovered-general-relativity/)

But first, we need to make a brief detour  and discuss the Doppler effect.

The Doppler Effect

The Doppler effect is a bit complicated (especially for light), so I won’t go into too much depth. Instead, I’ll describe it by analogy. (I’ve given the same analogy before, in my article on the expanding universe. So if you remember, you can skip all this. See: http://www.thephysicsmill.com/2013/03/24/receding-horizons-dark-energy-and-the-expanding-universe/)

Imagine that Paul Dirac [1] and Leopold Kronecker [2] are playing catch, as in figure 2. Each second, Kronecker throws a ball to Dirac, who catches it. Thus, the frequency of balls that Dirac catches is 1 Hertz (Hz)—one per second, or one inverse second.

But now imagine that Dirac starts backing away from Kronecker, as shown in figure 3. Kronecker continues to throw at a rate of one ball per second. However, since Dirac is moving away from the balls, each one takes longer to get to him. Thus, he catches the balls at a rate slower than one per second…say, one every 1.5 seconds.

A similar thing happens with both light and sound. (In the case of sound, we call it the acoustic Doppler effect [3].) Light is a wave. It has peaks and troughs which wiggle up and down in time, as shown in figure 4. The number of peaks (or troughs) per meter is called the wave number.  The speed at which it wiggles up and down in time is called the frequency. The two are related by the speed of the light wave, which is always constant (see: http://www.thephysicsmill.com/2012/11/19/the-speed-of-light-is-constan/), so they’re basically interchange-able.

The frequency of a light wave is analogous to the frequency at which Kronecker throws balls at Dirac. Instead of counting the number of times Dirac throws the ball, we count the peaks of the wave. The frequency of a light wave also determines its color; high frequencies are blue, while low frequencies are red.

This means that if Kronecker fires a green laser at Dirac, and Dirac moves away from him, the laser light will appear more reddish to Dirac than it does to Kronecker. This is called a redshift. If Dirac were moving away from from Kronecker at an increasing rate, in other words if Dirac were accelerating, the redshift would be even more pronounced.

Gravitational Redshift

So what does all this have to do with gravity? Well remember, gravity is acceleration. So we should be able to see a Doppler-like effect just by moving from a region with strong gravity into a region with weak gravity, or vice-versa. To see what I mean, imagine that Kronecker and Dirac are up to their old tricks. But this time, imagine that Kronecker is on Earth, and Dirac is in space, as shown in figure 5.

Kronecker fires a green laser up at Dirac. Now, remember: gravity is acceleration. Both Kronecker and Dirac are in a gravitational field, so they’re both accelerating. But Kronecker is in a stronger field, so he’s accelerating more. This means that, from Dirac’s perspective, Kronecker is accelerating away from him. Therefore, by the time the light reaches Dirac, he sees it redshifted because of the Doppler effect.

In the context of general relativity, we call this gravitational redshift, and it’s a real effect. We need to take it into account when we read signals sent to us from gps satellites, for example [4].

Redshift, Distance, Time

The peaks and troughs of light make it an extraordinarily good ruler. If you know the wave number of a wave of light, you can count the number of peaks and in the wave between two places and calculate how far away those two places are from each other. In a very real sense, distance is defined by this procedure [5].

How, then, do we interpret the redshifted light that Dirac sees? If light on Earth is redshifted when it goes into space, that light stretches out. The distance between adjacent peaks in the light wave grows. Does this mean that distance itself grows?

Yes. It means exactly that.

In a strong gravitational field, distances are shorter than in a weak gravitational field. Indeed, because the wave number of a wave and the frequency of a wave are interchange-able, this also means that times are longer in duration a strong gravitational field than in a weak gravitational field.

We started with the crazy (but true!) idea that gravity is the same as acceleration. But this has lead us to an even crazier (but still true!) idea: gravity shrinks distance and stretches duration.

This is what people mean when they say that gravity is a warping of space and time (or suggestively, spacetime). The very way that we measure distance is distorted by a gravitational field.

And general relativity is the dynamics of distance.

Next time we’ll talk about how a warped spacetime creates the illusion of a gravitational force.

Further Reading

I took the gravitational redshift argument directly out of the excellent textbook Spacetime and Geometry by +Sean Carroll. If you have a good background in math and you want to learn general relativity, I highly recommend it.  You should also check out his amazing blog: http://preposterousuniverse.com/

Here are some other resources:

1. This is a nice video on the Doppler effect: https://youtu.be/h4OnBYrbCjY

2. The PBS Spacetime Vlog has an excellent series of videos on general relativity. The first two videos cover what I’ve covered so far, but from a different perspective. You can find them here:
https://youtu.be/YycAzdtUIko
https://youtu.be/NblR01hHK6U

References
[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_dirac
[2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kronecker
[3] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acoustic_Doppler_effect
[4] https://www.aapt.org/doorway/tgrutalks/Ashby/AshbyTalk5of6.htm
[5] http://www.bipm.org/utils/common/pdf/si_brochure_8_en.pdf

#Science #Physics #relativity #ScienceEveryDay  
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Thanks, +Boris Borcic​!
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On her Facebook page, Ms. Corgatelli responded to critics by quoting the Bible on hunting: “Genesis 9:3 says, ‘Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. And as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything.’

When she'll have posted proof that she actually ate the giraffe she killed she'll have a minimal amount of legitimacy to refer to that verse. A trophy is no meal.
An Idaho hunter is pushing back against critics over photos she posted on Facebook showing big-game kills she made during a recent hunt in South Africa.
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Genetic engineering reduces methane emissions of rice production by 90%
 
The Greening of Greenhouse Gas

It's a Gas: Driving through the Western Ghat mountains along the continental edge of the Deccan Plateau, I was charmed by this vista of sculpted terraces with verdant blades of rice emerging from submerged paddy fields. Little did I know then that paddy fields generate 50-100 million tonnes of methane each year, a potent greenhouse gas with 25 times the heat trapping potential of carbon dioxide. Although the flooded fields keep weeds at bay, microbes harbored under the warm, waterlogged soil feed on organic matter exuded by roots, releasing methane and accounting for about 20% of human-related production. In China, farmers have begun draining fields mid-season to interrupt methanogenic bacteria. But India is still responsible for nearly a third of the methane emissions. 

It's Barley There: Now, thanks to genetic engineering, a new strain of rice yields more grain and produces less methane. Researchers spliced a gene from barley, encoding a master regulator (transcription factor) into rice. The gene, dubbed SUSIBA2 (acronym for "sugar signaling in barley 2") increases the output of sugar and starch in the seeds, leaves and shoots of the rice plant, leaving less biomass in the root. This strongly decreased the methanogenic bacteria in the rhizosphere, or region around the root. In a 3-year field trial, methane emissions fell by 90%.

Rice, Rice, Baby: The making of starch is under the direction of a set of genes which carry in front of them stretches of DNA sequences (promoters) known as sugar responsive elements or SURE. Aren't you loving the acronyms? When a little bit of sugar is made, SUSIBA2 is activated and it turns on genes that make even more sugar, to create a snowballing effect. The sugar is converted to starch, diverting carbon to the grains and away from the root, starving the methane producing bacteria of food. Now that's a sweet way to cool down our planet!

This work was a collaboration between scientists at Universities and non-profit research Institutes in Sweden, China and the US. The authors have no competing financial interests. 

Paper (paywalled): http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v523/n7562/full/nature14673.html 

#ScienceSunday  

 
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That at least seems like a positive change.
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People don’t need to be coddled or lied to in order to interest them in science, they need to be engaged in a clear and honest way. Science isn’t perfect, but it is a deeply powerful method for gaining knowledge. The more knowledge we have about the universe, the more readily we can face the challenges ahead. Hyping results and misrepresenting research only serves to strengthen the argument that scientists don’t really know what they’re talking about. That’s why it’s anti-science, and that’s why I called IFLScience out. They can be a voice for good, but when they willfully mislead it is deeply harmful. The same is true for any site that misrepresents scientific research
 
More Lies On IFLScience

You won’t believe what they’ve done this time.

If you’ve read this far, I want to be clear that the headline was linkbait. This post isn’t about some new transgression from IFLScience, but rather about why hype in science reporting is so harmful. For my regular readers I promise never to pull this kind of thing again. For those who have come because of the outrageous headline, hear me out.

A few days ago I wrote a post callout out IFLScience for misrepresenting research on solar cycles. It created a bit of a firestorm, with lots of people defending the site’s use of linkbait headlines:

"Who cares if they grab some attention with their headlines. They’re pulling people away from main stream media which is a good thing."

"These science websites have to bring in the non-science-degreed people."

"I don’t blame IFLscience for having the odd attention grabbing article/headline, anything that gets more people into science and away from celebrity obsession is a good thing."

"Hypothetically, the word “sun spots,” “ice age,” and “science,” were used in a conversation between two adults whose lives probably very rarely revolve around this. They’ve gotten people into the discussion. I don’t care how."

There was also a great deal of accusation that I was being elitist by calling out IFLScience:

"IFLScience isn’t a technical journal, and it’s not pretending to be. It’s trying to make science news accessible to the masses."

"IFLS is not a scientific journal, and as a social media page it should not be held to the standards of a scientific journal, or even a scientific news source such as Scientific American."

"The fact is IFLS isn’t a peer-reviewed scientific journal. It’s a science and entertainment site."

What I find most disheartening about these kinds of comments is how deeply they underestimate people’s intelligence. It reinforces a common misconception that science is only for “smart” people, and it isn’t relevant to most people’s lives. Neither of these are true. People don’t need to be coddled or lied to in order to interest them in science, they need to be engaged in a clear and honest way. Science isn’t perfect, but it is a deeply powerful method for gaining knowledge. The more knowledge we have about the universe, the more readily we can face the challenges ahead. Hyping results and misrepresenting research only serves to strengthen the argument that scientists don’t really know what they’re talking about. That’s why it’s anti-science, and that’s why I called IFLScience out. They can be a voice for good, but when they willfully mislead it is deeply harmful. The same is true for any site that misrepresents scientific research.

The main argument of those defending hyped and misleading headlines is that it starts a conversation. To them I would say use this to start a conversation. Feel free to share this post with your friends, but better yet write your own. We deserve better than hyped headlines to spark a discussion.

Note: The image for this post? It was created by Andy Brunning as seen on (you guessed it) IFLScience.
You won't believe what they've done this time.
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The pic/poster was borrowed from IFLS by +Brian Koberlein because of #1 that's the main in their failures in the contentious case. I shared this because of what Brian said, not the meme.
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hope achieves the square root of the impossible
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Born a twin and somewhat later, first distracted of girls by computers with ram capacity in the kilobytes range; that is, truly parsimonious computers.

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Dark energy is relic pollution from warp drives! Solve two cosmic mysteries - the Fermi Paradox and Dark Energy - by each other. Transpose the AGW issue to the Universe, to defuse the illusion we can turn our back on the problem by moving to exoplanets. Make fun of Dark Energy etc having inspired the possibility of warp drives, by assuming cosmic history has already articulated both together, but in reverse order.

Does God Sexist? - The misogyny of many religious texts and traditions, entangles the matter of affirming God with that of affirming misogyny.

Ambiguities are like microbes: the pathogens steal attention! - most people will equate microbes with the tiny fraction of pathogens, and will ignore in particular the helpful microbes without which we wouldn't even survive. I claim a similar situation applies to ambiguities, even more remote from awareness.
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