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Michael Habib
Works at University of Southern California
Attended Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
Lives in Los Angeles
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Michael Habib

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This is made of awesome. Supermassive black holes, wandering stars, and supernovae all in one model.
 
Supernovae found in "Wrong place at wrong time"

Scientists using the +Hubble Space Telescope as well as data from many other observatories have formulated a theory to explain why there have been observations of supernovae occurring billions of years before their predicted detonations. 

Read the full press release below, it's really freaking awesome!

http://hubblesite.org/newscenter/archive/releases/2015/28

#Hubble25   #Supernovae   #Space   #Astronomy   #Galaxy   #ScienceEveryday  
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For all the power of a star, it is purely a victim of environment. 
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The summary on the original post is particularly good - hits all of the major results.
 
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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Call me heartless, humanity has more mouths than needed for what is being accomplished.
Seems rather wasteful to destroy the seas to feed people destroying society. 
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The sticky issue of population growth

Some new Pew Research Center data is out, focusing on conclusions and opinions about major research areas in the sciences (including energy generation, genetics, climate change, and evolutionary biology). One of the interesting sets of data are those comparing conclusions between a random general population and professional scientists. Most of the results are intuitive: scientists, for example, overwhelmingly recognize that humans and other living things have evolved over time, while the randomized population was much more skeptical. Prior survey work has shown that in the United States, questions about evolution tend to be taken as a question about group membership, with those individuals claiming membership to a religious group answering in the negative on what are effectively pure affiliation grounds. 

It is also quite clear that those professionally trained in scientific research are much less concerned about certain issues of toxicity and food safety - the largest gap in the survey is related to the safety of genetically modified foods (the vast majority of the data says genetically modified foods are safe, but only 37% of the general population group accepted that conclusion).

What I find particularly interesting in this survey, however, is the gap regarding population growth. The statement was "Growing world population will be a major problem". 82% of the AAAS members (the professional scientist group) answered in the affirmative, but only 59% of the general group agreed. Assuming these data are representative of the full U.S. population, that means that only a bare majority of individuals are concerned about continued population growth.

There is a discussion of this specific gap here: http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2015/06/08/scientists-more-worried-than-public-about-worlds-growing-population/

As that linked article points out, while 59% may seem rather low, it is a much higher percentage than in the past: "In 1959, three-quarters (75%) of Americans had heard about the “great increase in population” predicted for the world during the coming decades, but just 21% of Americans said they were worried about it."

This is a complex issue, because technological improvements have consistently increased the maximum carrying capacity of much of the world (though improved food production, better housing, larger energy production, and better water transport and filtration). At the same time, this is an variable where there must be a limit. There are finite resources (including space), so increased population growth will eventually hit a ceiling. That ceiling could, however, be quite high if technology can keep up. 

This result might indicate a greater confidence in technology among the general population than among scientists with regards to carrying capacity issues. That's intriguing, because in most other sectors, professional scientists have a higher than average confidence in population growth. At the same time, though, there is the very real chance that this result represents a sort of widespread denial of constraints. As noted above for evolution and food safety, these types of survey questions tend to retrieve overall comfort with a topic, rather than a real sense of perceived accuracy. 

There can be very strong cultural and religious barriers to considering the negative effects of population growth. The pope's recent encyclical on climate change and its connections to poverty is an impressive 150 page essay, but there is a single mention of population growth, and Francis claims that calling out population growth as a problem is “an attempt to legitimise the present model of distribution”: http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2015/jun/19/pope-francis-climate-change-encyclical-population-growth-development-role-women

This is, of course, not terribly surprising, because an institution that fights birth control usage and technology would find itself in a philosophical tight spot if it also accepted a major role for population growth in world poverty and resource limitations. The Catholic Church is not the only major cultural institution that struggles with the issue of population growth. Many of the Protestant organizations in the U.S. also opening promote large families. I expect that over the next decade or two we will see the issue of population growth becoming increasingly polarized along political party and religious affiliation lines.
On evolution, genetically-modified foods, animal research, and global climate change, America’s scientists are almost all going one way—and the general public is going the other.
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A fun new bit of information on what I find to be among the most fascinating snakes...
 
Sea snakes: Camels of the ocean!
===========================
Like most creatures, sea snakes need to hydrate from time to time, yet they live in a world of mostly undrinkable sea water. What’s a thirsty sea snake to do?
               **
According to researchers at the University of Florida in Gainesville, they find places where it is raining heavily, wait for pools -- the scientists call them “lenses”-- of fresh water to form on the surface, and drink. They have the handy advantage of not needing to do that very often, sometimes going six or seven months without a drink.
Read more ;
Article by Joel Shurkin via http://www.insidescience.org/content/where-do-sea-snakes-go-drink/1596
              **
Yellow-bellied Sea Snake (Pelamis platurus) 
Photo: © William Flaxington
Via USARK - United States Association of Reptile Keepers at www.USARK.org.
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+Christina Talbott-Clark: common ancestor, with mosasaurs likely closest to varanoid lizards (group that includes modern monitor lizards).
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Vanda (Neofinetia) falcata type "Shukou" blooming for the second time this year. I tend to get two blooming seasons a year from my V falcata collection, but the Spring season is usually stronger than the Fall.
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+Michael Habib I've built up a small collection of six Neo's in the past 2 years but most are still a year or so away from blooming. Can't wait.
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I've been up to Mauna Kea to take in a bit of this view. It wasn't clear enough to get the full array shown here, but it's still quite the experience.
 
What if you could stand at the top of a volcano and peer out across the universe? If the timing is right, you might see an amazing panorama like the one featured here.

In this case, the volcano is the Hawaii's Mauna Kea, and the time was a clear night last summer In the foreground of this south-facing panorama lies a rugged landscape dotted with rocks and hardy plants. Slightly above and further out, a white blanket of clouds spreads horizontally to the horizon, seemingly dividing heaven and Earth. City lights illuminate the clouds and sky on the far left, while orange lava in the volcanic caldera of Kilauea lights up the clouds just left of center. The summit of an even more distant Hawaiian volcano, Mauna Loa, is visible in dark silhouette near the central horizon. Green airglow is visible above the clouds, caused by air molecules excited by the Sun during the day. The Moon is the bright orb on the right. A diffuse band of light-colored zodiacal light extends up from the far right. Most distant, the dramatic central band of our Milky Way Galaxy appears to rise vertically from Mauna Loa. The person who witnessed and captured this breathtaking panorama stands before you in the image center.

http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap150511.html
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Can't be afraid of the dark to enjoy the clear view of the universe. 
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Michael Habib

Wild Orchids  - 
 
Orchids in Costa Rica

I just returned from an excursion to Costa Rica (interior, highlands and lowland rainforests). One of the highlights was a population of Phragmipedium longifolium in bloom. I saw at least ten plants with blooms open or opening. Two plants had multiple flowers, but most were opening their flowers serially (with one open at a time). 

These plants were on a volcanic hill, growing in crannies of volcanic rock. I am specifically omitting precise locality information here because Phragmipedium poaching is a serious problem in Central and South America. The geotag information has been removed from the photos, as well. I will say that the elevation was about 350 meters.

Below are three photographs of one the best looking (and largest) plants in the group. There is a wide shot to give an idea of the overall growth habit.
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+Michael Habib​ you lucky devil!
That elevation info was all I needed - I'm on my way right now with a big bag :-) 
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"Water is the driving force of all nature." -- Leonardo da Vinci

Photo by Instagram user mikebroaday.
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Some fun stats on distance and speed for New Horizons as it approaches Pluto.
 
Arrival at Pluto:  New Milestone approaching

Pluto, Here we Come!

For the first time in the History of Humankind, at The Doorsteps of Pluto!

Next exit: Pluto!

New Horizons will be at 1,000,000 Km (3.33 Light Seconds) this Monday evening.

That's only a bit more than 3 times the distance between the Earth and the Moon!

Its closest approach and FlyBy Pluto will be on July 14, 2015.

New Horizons nearing the 1,000,000 km distance from Pluto, that's just about 3.33 light seconds away! It will be crossing that distance this Monday evening, July 13, 2015 at ~15:39 PM UTC! (~11:39 AM EST).

Traveling at nearly ~50,000 kilometers per hour or ~31,000 miles per hour, after more than nine years in space, on a voyage taking it farther to its primary destination than any mission before it, NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft is almost within 1,000,000 km from Pluto.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pluto
https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/newhorizons/main/
https://en.wikipedia.org/?title=New_Horizons

Follow New Horizons: http://pluto.jhuapl.edu/#

+NASA New Horizons +Johns Hopkins University 

#newhorizons   #PlutoBound #Pluto #PlutoFlyby #NASA #JPL #space
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This is on point...
 
Long enough to be credible, short enough to be legible.
How long should your Thesis be?
Link to Piled Higher and Deeper
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HAPPY WORLD OCEANS DAY! Academy scientists just discovered more than 100 new species in one of them—may we introduce you? calacade.my/1QimFUX
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Nice
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Jaguars appear to be better divers than I expected. Pretty sweet.
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Have him in circles
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Work
Occupation
Assistant Professor, Cell and Neurobiology
Skills
Anatomy, Biomechanics, Paleontology
Employment
  • University of Southern California
    Assistant Professor, Cell and Neurobiology, 2012 - present
    I teach Clinical Human Anatomy (Cadaveric). I research biomechanics, paleontology, robotics and comparative anatomy. Growing interest in astrobiology.
  • Chatham University
    Assistant Professor of Biology, 2009 - 2012
    I taught Clinical Human Anatomy (Cadaveric), Evolution, and Biostatistics. I had a fruitful research program in biomechanics, paleontology, and comparative anatomy.
  • National Aquarium
    Animal Husbandry: Rainforest, 2001 - 2001
    I provided animal care at the National Aquarium for reptiles, birds, and invertebrates. (https://plus.google.com/+nationalaquarium/posts)
Places
Map of the places this user has livedMap of the places this user has livedMap of the places this user has lived
Currently
Los Angeles
Previously
Baltimore - Ellicott City - Charlottesville - Pittsburgh
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Story
Tagline
Paleontologist. Gets to play with flying reptiles, dinosaurs, and swarms for a living. Enjoys tea and Kung Fu off the job.
Introduction
I spend my time teaching human gross anatomy and studying strange creatures from the deep past of Earth's history. I am particularly fond of publishing works on giant flying reptiles. When not contemplating the fossil record I can be found studying Kung Fu and growing orchids.

(Profile photo by Gus Ruelas)

My Curriculum Vitae


Some of my recent papers:

Han G, Chiappe LM, Ji S-A, Habib M, Turner AH, Chinsamy A, Liu X, and Han L. 2014. A New Raptorial Dinosaur with Exceptionally Long Feathering provides Insights into Dromaeosaurid Flight Performance. Nature Communications. 5 (4382)


Chiappe LM, Zhao B, O’Connor JK, Chunling G, Wang X, Habib M, Marugan-Lobon J, Meng Q, Cheng X. 2014. A new specimen of the Early Cretaceous bird Hongshanornis longicresta: insights into the aerodynamics and diet of a basal ornithuromorph. PeerJ 2:e234 


Hone DWE, Habib MB, Lamanna MC. 2013. An annotated and illustrated catalogue of Solnhofen (Upper Jurassic, Germany) pterosaur specimens at Carnegie Museum of Natural History. Annals of Carnegie Musuem 82(2): 149-175.


Habib M. 2013. Constraining the Air Giants: Limits on size in flying animals as an example of constraint-based biomechanical theories of form. Biological Theory: Special Volume doi: 10.1007/s13752-013-0118-y






Habib M. 2010. The structural mechanics and evolution of aquaflying birds. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society. 99(4): 687-698


Habib M.  2008. Comparative evidence for quadrupedal launch in pterosaurs. Pp 161-168 in Buffetaut E, and DWE Hone, eds.  Wellnhofer Pterosaur Meeting: Zitteliana B28

Bragging rights
I was selected as one of the "Brilliant 10" in Popular Science Magazine for 2014. My research was featured as one of the top 100 stories of 2009 by Discover Magazine.
Education
  • Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
    Anatomy (Ph.D.), 2004 - 2011
  • University of Virginia
    Biology (M.S.), 2001 - 2004
  • University of Virginia
    Biology (B.A.), 1998 - 2001
Basic Information
Gender
Male