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STEM on Google+ Community
Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Community on Google+
Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Community on Google+

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It's that time again!  Share with & invite your Science circles to the STEM Community!

#STEM   #science   #technology   #community
Share this invitation to the STEM community with your Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Circles!

#science #technology #engineering #mathematics #stem  

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Fighting Microbes with Microbes

Next generation Soil Science is being pursued that will lessen the use of pesticides, fungicides, herbicides, and even synthetic fertilizers.

"While the Human Microbiome Project has discovered that some 10,000 species of microorganisms live in and on the human body, outnumbering our own cells by ten to one, plant scientists have found that any given soil sample contains more than 30,000 taxonomic varieties of microbes. Soil microflora not only provide nutrients for plants, but also suppress disease. In exchange, roots secrete fixed carbon into the soil and feed their bacterial symbionts.

Although the medical community now warns that overprescribing antibiotics kills beneficial organisms and encourages the formation of resistant strains, a similar change in opinion has not occurred in agriculture, where a kill-all approach to plant pathogens has given rise to biocides that indiscriminately wipe out the beneficial along with the pathogenic. “Biocides can nuke the soil, but they never kill everything,” says Mike Cohen, a biologist at Sonoma State University in California. “This creates a biological vacuum that becomes filled by opportunistic survivors and organisms from the surrounding soil.” Biocides create a strong selective pressure: the few pathogens that survive face little competition and proliferate, giving rise to pathogenic communities that can evade standard treatments.

Beneficial soil organisms, however, can protect plants more selectively than biocides do. They displace pathogens and produce toxins that kill pathogenic microbes, and they also trigger plants’ own defense mechanisms. “Native bacteria are the first and most powerful barrier to prevent the establishment of pathogens,” says Jousset. “A diverse community is especially important to keeping pathogens away—this is true in the human gut and in the soil.”

Given the number of known microbes found in soil, and that each plant and each potential pest have their own complex, interconnected relationships, this will take a lot of time & work to make head-way.  But it certainly beats the alternatives of flirting with dependency on dwindling resources, or altering the evolution of ecosystems in trial & error fashion on large scales.

Full article: Image/infographic:  Catherine Delphia

#soilscience   #sciencesunday   #planthealth   #microbes   #agriculture   #sustainability   #evolution  

The STEM Community Active User Circle!

Here's the latest circle of people who are Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fans.  Some post great original material, some are great commenters, and some re-post interesting things from others into the community. 

There are a good number of newer G+ users here, and if you add them they will likely add you back.  Share this circle with people you know like science topics!

While this circle has been selected based on activity and topic, there's no guarantee you will like everyone.  It's advised to add any new circle to a 'temporary name' circle and browse the content for a few weeks.  Add the people/pages that you find interesting to other circles you maintain as you go.  This makes deleting the rest easier in the future!

#STEM   #sciencecircle   #publicsharedcircles   #science   #technology   #engineering   #math   #community   #welcometogplus   #newtogoogleplus   #curatedcircle  

Post has shared content
It's that time again!  Share with & invite your Science circles to the STEM Community!

#STEM   #science   #technology   #community  
Share this invitation to the STEM community with your Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Circles!

#science #technology #engineering #mathematics #stem  

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This week in the STEM Community:

+The Daily Fusion posts about polymer solar cells.

#stem   #science   #technology   #solar  
Project Megawatt intends to make polymer solar cells profitable enough to allow power generation from polymer solar cells to compete on market terms with traditional coal-fired power plants.

Advanced market models and a 1000 m2 (10764 ft2) test facility at DTU Risø Campus at Technical University of Denmark’s Department of Energy Conversion and Storage might lift the curse of spot prices from renewable energy.

Spot pricing is the price of electricity sold on the commercial market via day-ahead and intraday trading, but invented to allow customers to buy the cheapest energy possible, it is a curse on renewable energy.

Read more:

Original research: (1, free) (2, paywall)

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This week in the STEM Community:

+Jessica Kirkpatrick  posts about people working at +NASA Goddard.

#stem   #careersuccess   #astronomy   #astrophysics   #NASA  
Astronomer to Astrophysicist at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

The AAS Committee on the Status of Women in Astronomy and the AAS Employment Committee have compiled dozens of interviews highlighting the diversity of career trajectories available to astronomers. The interviews share advice and lessons learned from individuals on those paths.

Below is our interview with Neil Gehrels , an astronomer turned Chief of NASA Goddard's Astroparticle Physics Laboratory. He loves his job, is very satisfied with his work-life balance, and finds his work environment to be very family friendly. If you have questions, suggestions, advice to share, etc. about this career path, please leave a comments on the blog.

Read more at Women in Astronomy:

Here are the "Movers & Shakers" in the STEM Community!
February--March, 2014!

Here's the latest updated edition of people & pages whose posts and comments appeared in the STEM on Google+ Community.  There are both science content creators and science readers here, and they are all active and interested in Science, Technology, Engineering, and/or Math.  Add this circle to your stream!

Click here to enter the community >>  Get involved in science discussions in the STEM community and you'll be in the next circle!

If you received notification for this post, you are included in the circle!  If you do not wish to be notified, or shared in this (or other) circles, please let me know.
~+Malthus John

#sciencecircle   #stemcircle   #publicsharedcircles   #scienceeveryday   #sciencessunday   #stem   #gpluscommunities   #science   #technology   #engineering   #mathematics   #engagement  

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This week in the STEM Community :

+Envision posted about STEM

#STEM   #stemeducation   #science
#scienceeveryday   #students  
We need a nationwide commitment to address the challenge of encouraging more students to go into the STEM fields..... 

How Can We Encourage Students Of All Backgrounds To Go Into STEM?

#stemeducation   #envisionexperience  

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This week in the STEM Community :

A post on the +Giant Magellan Telescope!

#stem   #scienceeveryday   #astronomy  

#giantmagellantelescope   #science  

Once completed, the Giant Magellan Telescope will be made up of seven mirrors: 28-feet in diameter and weighing 12.5 tons each.

Each mirror, like the one shared below, is being constructed at the University of Arizona's Steward Observatory and takes about 42 months, from casting to polishing, to complete.

Copyright Ray Bertram, +The University of Arizona Steward Observatory

#Telescope   #GMTO   #Space   #astronomy   #BigScience  

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This Week in the STEM Community :

+Samantha Andrews'  post on Oceans

via +Prime Numbers

#science     #marinebiology     #oceans     #stem   
What the oceans do for us: One phytoplankton’s waste….

Beautiful image isn’t it.  This is a phytoplankton bloom - basically a truck load of phytoplankton all grouped in one area.  Phytoplankton are the tiniest of the tiny plants.  Consisting of just a single cell, they spend their life drifting around the oceans (and indeed freshwater too).  You may have heard some of the names of the most common kinds of phytoplankton – like diatoms, dinoflagellates, and coccolithophores.  Just like plants on the land, phytoplankton need sunlight, nutrients like nitrates and phosphates, and carbon dioxide.  Just like plants on the land, phytoplankton photosynthesise.

Photosynthesis in the terrestrial environment goes a little something like this.  The leaves of plants are green because they contain chlorophyll.  This chlorophyll is really good at absorbing sunlight.  This energy is combined with carbon dioxide (also absorbed through their leaves) and water (which primarily comes from the roots) which results in a chemical reaction that gives the plant glucose (sugar) and oxygen.  For our phytoplankton the process is remarkably similar, but the phytoplankton don’t have leaves – or roots.  Instead they absorb all the bits they need directly through their cell wall.  The glucose produced by photosynthesis is used up by the phytoplankton, but the oxygen…well that’s what is known as a waste product.  That’s good news for you, me, and life on Earth.  Oxygen may only make up ~21% of the atmosphere but if it were to disappear tomorrow we would be up the proverbial creek, and a paddle wouldn’t help us even if we did have one.  The jury is still out on just how much oxygen these tiny plants contribute to the atmosphere – NASA estimates 50 – 85%.  Even at the lower end of the scale that’s still a hefty amount.  There have been a number of studies looking at the photosynthesis of phytoplankton.  Here’s just a couple of open access papers:

Late Cambrian oxygen
Back in 2011, Matthew Saltzman from Ohio State University and colleagues published a paper looking at some huge changes in atmospheric oxygen content during the Cambrian period.  Apparently at around the time of the mass extinctions, oxygen declined dramatically, but picked up again.  The most likely source of this oxygen?  Yup phytoplankton.  You can read the paper here

Variation is everywhere
The amount of oxygen produced by phytoplankton isn’t constant.  It can change depending on where you are, and what time of year it is.  Dr Sarma from Nagoya University and colleagues studied oxygen production in Sagami Bay in Japan between May and October 2002.  They found that the August was peak oxygen time, whilst October saw the least amount.  This paper can be read here

more carbon dioxide = more oxygen? Not quite
With us lot buys pumping more and more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, you might think that for phytoplankton this isn’t so bad.  After all carbon dioxide is vital for photosynthesis – and we like photosynthesis because it gives us oxygen.  Well its not quite that simple.  In 2013 Dr Kim from Chonnam National University  and colleagues took a look at how predicted future climates might impact coastal phytoplankton’s photosynthesis.  Read their work here

Image:  Taken by the +European Space Agency, ESA Envisat in December 2011.  This phytoplankton bloom is about 600 km off the east coast of the Falkland Islands, which lies in the southern part of the Atlantic Ocean.

#scienceeveryday   #marinescience   #phytoplankton   #oxygen  
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