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Rules / Guidelines  - 
Why Has My Post Been Removed

We at the Science on G+ community have strict guidelines, and enforce them.  Even though these guidelines are posted in the "About This Community" box and pinned at the beginning of the stream many people do not read them or choose to ignore them. Those posts are removed mostly without comment.   

If your post is removed without comment it is because you did not follow the guidelines.

Please read the guidelines before posting, and read the post pinned at the beginning of the stream.  Here they are again. 

About This Community Box
Welcome to the Science Community on G+ featuring science research, news, and more.  

New Members: Please read the rules category and pinned post and the Community Policy category before posting.

This is not a meme depository. This applies to posts and comments.  *One liners will be deleted!* : Please cite any work you reference or state as facts. Put effort into your posts. We all prefer intelligent, descriptive posts that tell us what to expect in any links and/or videos.  

**Basic Guidelines:**
1. Post about science only. The science should be obvious
2. No links / videos without explanation of the science and links to reputable sites with references, ideally to the original research papers.
3. No spam, flooding or reposts (English only please).  
4. Be civil
5. No plagiarism
6. Please do not self-promote or advertise services
7. No memes or infographics without prior approval from mods.
8. Please do not argue with the moderators. Take the time to make a reasoned discussion (if required) and logic to make your case. Do not remove moderator comments.  
9. Please check comments on your own post, do not disable comments unless instructed to by moderators.
10. Not more than one post in 12 hours. (Anti-flooding guideline)

Announcements Any announcements of events that members of the community are invited to, need to be cleared by moderators.
Questions  We welcome thoughtful questions. We do ask that you have done some work before you ask. If you have a question please read the link below before you ask. This is not a place to do your homework.  

The moderators reserve the right to ban, remove or carry out any action on posts, which in their view is not as per the community focus, maybe be repetitive or uninteresting and /or does not further the case for science or the community.

Community Policy

1. Post about science. Anything non-science related will be deleted and you will be banned.  This includes religion, quackery or pseudoscience, self-promotion or advertisements.

2. No links without explanation. Accompany any link with an explanation of why you think it's share-worthy. Write a paragraph or two (not just a sentence) that summarizes the key scientific content and why you were intrigued.

3. No ads, spam, flooding or reposts. No blatant advertising, self promotion, off-topic community invitations, multiple successive posts (flooding), or reposts of material already posted in the community. All posts must have clear science relevance.  If you're not sure, ask.

4. Play nice.  No ad hominem attacks allowed.  Anti-social or offensive material or behavior will be reported. Science is about debate – so expect your thoughts and ideas to be challenged by others in this community – but above all be civil.

5. Categorize correctly.  If you don't see the right category, contact a moderator. We can help. 

6. No plagiarism. Articles or linked posts that look to be 'spun' (shuffled rewrites) from other sites without attribution will be removed (and possibly ridiculed).  Source your material.


Why Did My Post Get Removed? or How To Write A Good Science Post

This is a huge and fascinating community and the strong guidelines are what we think make it that way.  We heavily moderate this community and you might see your post disappear.  Why?  We want the best science posts possible. 

The number one reason a post will be removed is, it might be what can be called Link Litter or a One Liner.  These are posts that say just one sentence or even just one word describing a link.  "Interesting"  or   "I just found this and wanted to post it"  are not a good lead-in to a post and will usually get the post removed. This is also not a place for memes or infographics, there are many other communities devoted to just memes and jokes.  Please no self promotion.

Composition  - Please,  "No links without explanation. Accompany any link with an explanation of why you think it's share worthy. Write a paragraph or two (not just a sentence) that summarizes the key scientific content and why you were intrigued." We are a science community first and foremost, and we request that your post brings out the science front and center. We do not want the response "Check the link, it has the science", we prefer engagement in the community itself. Links leading to phishing sites do not allow us to click through for many sites.

Sources - Please check your sources; if you can, find the original research paper and post a link so people who are interested can see what it was that you found so stimulating.  You have the largest library in the world, right at your fingertips. If you are attributing a science journal, please provide the link and links to the original research papers will be appreciated. Reputable sites are preferred. Blogs and news articles may not always meet the cut. Please note that posts from IFLS (I Fucking love science) and referencing the website will be removed and the posters banned due to numerous reasons, we do not allow referencing from this website.

Videos - Remember that many people read from a mobile device and might not have the bandwidth to view that video you really like.  So give a good description that will entice those people to come back and have a look later.  Also please give full credit to all videos, someone worked hard to make that science video, and they deserve the acknowledgement. The videos should have commentary like any other post. A video is NOT a source. Youtube videos will not be considered as sources.

Asking Questions see

Posting takes a little work on your part to make your post one that people will read and comment on.  And, check those comments; please, don't post and run.  

Thanks for reading this far.  We, the moderators and owners, know that it is you that make this community what it is.

Thanks for being a part of this community.

This community, it's moderators, owners and other members make no representation towards the ability to maintain, preserve or protect the copyright as we are users here ourselves. Please contact +Google   for terms of use and permissions thereof.
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Malthus John

• Astronomy/Astrophysics ☄  - 
What's your take on what it takes?

I want to incorporate this anniversary into Thanksgiving plans...
Maybe eating until someone tells me to stop?  'Cause that's how Einstein did it!
November 25, 1915 - Einstein writes the General Theory of Relativity - 100 Years Ago Today

A good article, that covers the many years of struggle that it took to complete this idea, and the decades after to iron out the wrinkles, and come to a better understanding of it.

I particularly like this part:  "He was living alone. A friend, Janos Plesch, once said, “He sleeps until he is awakened; he stays awake until he is told to go to bed; he will go hungry until he is given something to eat; and then he eats until he is stopped.”

It's a familiar scene, that appears in countless stories of discovery in the abstract world of ideas.  It's mind over matter, where even normal biological functions are pushed back into the subconscious, so that the required uninterrupted thought process can continue unabated.  It is a state of Flow where all else pales in importance, and the hunt is the only thing.  The fewer delays and sidetracks, the better. 

This can go on for week or even months, given the right conditions.  The odd part is that it is so contrary to normal social conditioning, that it's a wonder that it happens at all, were it not for strange series of coincidences that give credence to the idea of fate.  Would Einstein have completed his same works were it not for the idle time at the patent office, and often being alone except for an understanding companion who offered a minimum level of care while not demanding 'social normalcy'?  I doubt it.

He gave imagination top importance, and the freedom to do that, and the cumulative effect of staying in that world and building on each moment and small discovery is crucial to completing monumental tasks like this.

#science   #physics   #relativity   #einstein   #spacetime   #gravity  
The equation that describes fundamental workings of the universe is as compact and mysterious as a Viking rune.
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Gary Ray R

• Engineering  - 
 University of Glasgow researchers make graphene production breakthrough

"Graphene has been hailed as a wonder material since it was first isolated from graphite in 2004. Graphene is just a single atom thick but it is flexible, stronger than steel, and capable of efficiently conducting heat and electricity."

"However, widespread industrial adoption of graphene has so far been limited by the expense of producing it. Affordable graphene production could lead to a wide range of new technologies reaching the market, including synthetic skin capable of providing sensory feedback to people with limb prostheses".

University Of Glasgow, Press release

From Materials Science 
”Scientists produce graphene 100 times cheaper than ever before”

Since first being synthesized by Andre Geim and Kostya Novoselov at the University of Manchester in 2004, there has been an extensive effort to exploit the extraordinary properties of graphene. However the cost of graphene in comparison to more traditional electronic materials has meant that its uptake in electronic manufacturing has been slow. Now researchers at the University of Glasgow have discovered a way to create large sheets of graphene using the same type of cheap copper used to manufacture lithium-ion batteries.  ⓐ 

To produce high-quality material scaled-up for electronics on large areas, though, graphene has proved more expensive than standard electronic substrates such as silicon.  ⓐ

A large part of this expense is the substrate on which Graphene is generally produced. By using a process of chemical vapor deposition (CVD), graphene has often been grown as a monolayer (a layer one atom thick) by exposing platinum, nickel or titanium carbide to ethylene or benzene at high temperatures. Recent production methods have lowered these costs somewhat by incorporating copper as a substrate, but even this method can still prove expensive.  ⓐ

To help drastically reduce these costs, the researchers came up with the idea of depositing high-quality graphene on the surface of inexpensive copper foils often used to make the ultra-thin cathodes (negative electrodes) in lithium-ion batteries. As it turns out, the surface of the copper proved to be both completely smooth and a superior substrate on which to form the graphene.  ⓐ


University of Glasgow Press Release
University of Glasgow researchers make graphene production breakthrough

Original research.  Open Access
Synthesis of Large Area Graphene for High Performance in Flexible Optoelectronic Devices

Image (Credit: Shutterstock)
Julien Beaudry's profile photoLUIS FERNANDO VELASQUEZ's profile photoRomavic Antony's profile photoMG B's profile photo
Thanks +Narayanan V.
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Chad Haney

• General/Interdisciplinary  - 
What's BaSO4 and what does it have to do with x-rays?
BaSO4, X-ray Contrast
Many of you have probably seen the post by +Mindy Weisberger showing the awesome CT images of various animal's vasculature. The main point of that article is the development of a contrast agent for x-ray computed tomography (CT).

Since I haven't had time to post to my Medical Imaging Collection, I figured I'd take the opportunity to clear up a few things about the technology and stop neglecting my medical imaging collection.

There are two main classes of x-ray contrast agents. Iodine based agents and barium sulfate (BaSO4) based agents. Iodinated agents are typically given intravenously (IV) and sometimes orally. BaSO4 agents are only given orally for live patients/animals. Iodonated agents are soluble in water and often look like water (not very viscous). BaSO4 agents look like thick milk of magnesia (very viscous). There are many reasons why BaSo4 cannot be given IV (viscosity, osmolarity, etc.). BaSO4 agents are routinely used in about 5 million x-ray procedures in the USA. Its use can be traced back to 1910. Iodinated agents are used in around 20 million procedures (Chem. Rev 1999, 99, 2353-2377).

The agent in the article is called BriteVu, developed by Scarlet Imaging. It's a BaSO4 based agent with minerals and silica added. I plan on purchasing some to see what makes it superior to plain BaSO4 or even if it is superior. So the first thing to correct in the article is that this isn't noninvasive in the sense that it can't be used in vivo. It's noninvasive but it's terminal. I think most people assume when you say noninvasive that you also imply survival.

The second misleading issues is that clinical scanners can image fast enough for iodine based agents to work. This is only applicable for animal work where there is only one or two scanners that are as fast as clinical CT scanners. So what does speed have to do with iodinated agents? Unlike BaSO4 agents, they diffuse out of the vasculature very rapidly and are cleared from the body rapidly (relatively speaking). A preclinical scanner does not have a slip-ring like a clinical scanner and therefore is much slower. By the time the x-ray source and detector have traveled around the animal, the agent is already diffusing out. The math used to reconstruct the images would break down because you have an important feature (the vasculature) changing over the time course of the image. See the links below for more information about slip-rings. This is unlike motion artifacts (e.g. breathing) that can be corrected for.

In two of the images below of a mouse, Kiessling et al show that an iodinated agent can be use in vivo with a live mouse. Their prototype slip-ring preclinical scanner is probably over $1million. Nevertheless, it is possible to image fast enough to use iodine in vivo in an animal. You will see that they image the mouse with an iodinated agent, iomeprol 400, on the right side and BaSO4 on the left side for comparison. Keep in mind, the left side image is only possible as a terminal experiment. The other mouse figure shows a 3D rendering to demonstrate how you can visualize the vasculature of a tumor on a mouse. The other five images are from Scarlet Imaging.

Mindy's post:

More information about CT and slip-rings.
Medical Imaging 101 pt 2: CT

Fast CT from GE Healthcare

Image sources:
Scarlet Imaging

Volumetric computed tomography (VCT): a new technology for noninvasive, high-resolution monitoring of tumor angiogenesis
Kiessling et al Nature Medicine 10, 1133 - 1138 (2004)
7 September 2004; | doi:10.1038/nm1101

Duke University has an experimental microCT that can be used to image mouse hearts, which beat up to 600 bpm.
Chad Haney's profile photoThomas Pinault's profile photoRomavic Antony's profile photoMG B's profile photo
You are welcome +Gary Ray R and +Brigitte W..
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EMBL researchers have identified a particular group of cells which are crucial for tissue in a fruit fly embryo to fold inwards to form the animal’s gut. They also showed for the first time that the shape in which cells are arranged determines the direction in which they contract. Published in Developmental Cell (, the findings were obtained thanks to a new technique which employs a laser as a remote control:
New optogenetic method: using lasers to prevent individual cells from contracting
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Able Lawrence

• Biology  - 
Safeguarding the Gene Drive 
Revolutionary genome editing technology based on the bacterial Crispr/Cas sustem has given us the Gene Drive where beneficial mutations can be applied to whole populations of organisms. But this has led to cries of caution, and scary scenarios of experimental bugs getting out of the lab. The safeguards range from genetically isolating the components of the system to an "undo" function incorporated into its design. 
Safeguarding Crispr Cas9 system in the yeast
The mutagenic chain reaction: A method for converting heterozygous to homozygous mutations
Tweak reduces chance of a mutation escaping into the wild, and can help to undo a mutation after it has spread.
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Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL)

• General/Interdisciplinary  - 
Scientists have strived to explore the state of complex matter and its changes over time using nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy but have been limited to evaluating samples at lower pressures and temperatures. The ability to analyze samples at the atom- or molecule-level under conditions that mimic deep underground, the deep ocean or in chemical reactors would enable a new range of studies, including gaining new insights to industrial and natural processes. Now, a new tool – developed by PNNL scientists – allows research in these conditions. Learn more at

* * *

Obtaining structural information about a sample on an atomistic or molecular level under conditions that mimic natural conditions underground, in the deep ocean, and in chemical reactors is now possible, thanks to an innovative sample-holding rotor developed by scientists at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. The rotor operates as a reactor vessel like those used for organic syntheses in industry. When partnered with magic angle spinning (MAS) nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR), the rotor enables researchers to study samples under the conditions employed in chemical processes. The results of their studies were highlighted in Chemical Communications, the journal of the Royal Society of Chemistry.

"We designed a perfectly sealed all-zirconia rotor that spins samples at high speeds inside a strong magnetic field and performs at extremes of pressure and temperature," said Dr. Jian Zhi Hu, PNNL scientist and team lead.

The PNNL team first developed the rotor to further studies in carbon sequestration. They knew that by spinning a sample at an angle of 54.74° with respect to NMR's main magnetic field (the magic angle), a rotor could support analysis of solids, liquids, gasses, supercritical fluids, and mixtures. But metal and polymer plastic rotors had failed in the past under extreme conditions, so another material was needed.

The scientists manufactured a rotor out of a sturdy ceramic called zirconia which is known for its high mechanical strength. They also ensured it had only four parts-the rotor cylinder, the sealing screw, an O-ring holding the two together, and a spin tip. To ensure the rotor met the rigorous requirements of scientific analyses, they used it in experiments ranging from molecular crystallization to a dehydration reaction under both high temperature and high pressure.

Even more challenging, they used the rotor to study the metabolism of biological tissues under the low temperatures necessary to keep such tissues intact, the first time NMR has been used successfully for such analyses. These low temperatures would normally hinder the operations of other rotors.

Why is this important? One of the most powerful diagnostic and analytical tools in chemistry and materials science, MAS NMR spectroscopy provides high spectral resolution and detailed structural information about a sample on an atomistic or molecular level and allows scientists to follow changes over time regardless of whether the sample is a solid or a liquid or a mixture of solid, liquid, and gas phases. Scientists have strived to explore the state of complex matter and its changes over time using NMR spectroscopy but have been limited to lower pressures and temperatures. Being able to analyze samples in such conditions enables a whole new range of studies, such as characterizing  materials for carbon sequestration, developing solid catalysts and their action to produce biofuels, optimizing food industry processes, and studying how a disease progresses using intact biological tissues.

"Limitations in vessels to probe solids and chemical reactions by NMR spectroscopy under more extreme conditions left  a large territory of scientific problems related to catalytic reactions and material synthesis unexplored," said Dr. Johannes Lercher, director of the Institute for Integrated Catalysis at PNNL. "Designing a perfectly sealed rotor is critical for gaining chemical insights into catalysts and catalysis while chemical reactions occur."

What's Next? Scientists have been striving to match experimental conditions to those of nature so as to accurately investigate molecular processes. The rotor brings that goal within reach. PNNL researchers will use it to make measurements and gain understanding never before possible in fields such as synthesis of materials and biomedical studies.
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Hammerstein had it right when, for the title song of the musical ‘Oklahoma,’ he wrote, “Oklahoma where the wind comes sweeping down the plain; and the wavin' wheat can sure smell sweet when the wind comes right behind the rain.”

When climate models underestimate the amount of water carried in by the low-level jet, they are not good precipitation predictors. PNNL researchers pinpointed weaknesses affecting the models’ ability to accurately predict jet frequency – a key piece of information tied to precipitation. So, the finding can help farmers, cowhands, climate researchers and song writers alike. Read more at

* * *

Residents of Oklahoma and other American plains states are wise to the blustery seasonal force gusting nightly during warm springs and summers, carrying the moisture needed for rain. The low-level jet is easy for people to recognize. Still, computer models struggle to capture its complexity. When the models underestimate the amount of water carried in by the jets, they are not good precipitation predictors.

To get more model accuracy, scientists often feed the models specialized datasets called reanalyses that bridge the gaps in measured observations. How well do these sets perform their proxy role? To find out, atmospheric experts at PNNL compared six reanalyses products against observational data from the U.S. Department of Energy's Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) Climate Research Facility in Oklahoma. The research pinpointed weaknesses that affect the models' ability to accurately predict jet frequency—a key piece of information tied to precipitation. The finding can help farmers, cowhands, and climate researchers alike.

The PNNL research team evaluated the features of the Southern Great Plains low-level jet above the ARM Climate Research Facility in Oklahoma using six popular reanalysis products:

* NCEP-Department of Energy Reanalysis 2 (NCEP2)
* NCEP Climate Forecast System Reanalysis (CFSR)
* ECMWF Re-Analysis (ERA)-Interim
* Japanese 25-year Reanalysis (JRA-25)
* Modern-Era Retrospective Analysis for Research and Applications (MERRA)
* North American Regional Reanalysis (NARR).

Next, the team evaluated the data using two sets of radiosonde data (see sidebar): the six-week Midlatitude Continental Convective Clouds Experiment (MC3E), and site data from a ten-year period spanning 2001 through 2010. They compared all five reanalysis products to MC3E observational data, and compared the NARR, MERRA, and CFSR only to the ten-year data.

This study is unique because they combined use of the six different reanalysis products, the MC3E data, and long-term ARM radiosonde data sets to understand the hydrological impact of low-level jets over the Great Plains.

While increasing the vertical and horizontal resolution of the models improved prediction of the low-level jets' frequency, the research zeroed in on some shortcomings: the reanalyses tend to overestimate wind speed between certain pressure levels and they place the "nose" of the jet at a higher-than-observed altitude. These shortcomings affected the models' ability to accurately predict the frequency of the jets.

Why is this important? Low-level jets can quickly ramp up to gale-force levels. And, if the frequency of low-level jets is underestimated, then the amount of moisture they carry will also be miscalculated. This could have implications for farmers watering crops and feeding livestock, or flood control and water resource decisions. The new research provides further insight into how moisture is transported by low-level jets.

For scientists, this research also breaks new ground by evaluating the datasets known as reanalysis products, to find their strengths and weaknesses.

"The various reanalysis products are commonly used to evaluate global simulations, especially when observations are not available," said lead researcher Dr. Larry Berg, PNNL atmospheric scientist. "So we are interested in understanding how closely they mimic observations."

What's Next? Increasing model resolution was a step forward, but the door is open for other factors that may influence frequency. The next steps are to identify the causes of model bias and develop improved reanalysis products that better inform climate models.
Peter Edenist's profile photoGary Ray R's profile photo
+Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) 
I'm a bit of a weather nerd and I just went back and read this thoroughly, thanks I understand this better.  
We appreciate your posts a lot.  
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Long Island Watch

• Astronomy/Astrophysics ☄  - 
If you aren't familiar with the Anthem Veterans Memorial in Arizona, we figured today would be a great day to share it with you. Each year, at precisely 11:11AM on Veteran's Day, the sun's rays pass through the ellipses of the memorial to perfectly illuminate the Great Seal. Links below are to the sources, Space Coast Daily and the official website of the Anthem Community.

#veteransday #science #astronomy  
Occurring exactly once a year, at precisely 11:11AM each Veterans Day (November 11th), the sun’s rays pass through the ellipses of the five Armed Services pillars in Arizona to form a perfect solar spotlight over a mosaic of The Great Seal of the United States.

The chief engineer explains the method behind the memorial: 

Question: Given the earth's rotation and considering variations like leap year, how did you calculate for the sun's rays to pass through the ellipses at 11:11 on every Nov. 11?

Martin: "The answer really relates to the celestial motion of the sun along with time corrections that were internationally adopted in 1972 when International Atomic Time became the world standard for measuring time. International Atomic Time implements leap second corrections to the clock to compensate for pole wandering, slowing of the earth’s rotation and the UT1 correction for seasonal variations. This is the time that we see on our computers and cellphones; it automatically adjusts and is really not observable without very accurate timepiece comparisons.

With that said, the variation of the sun’s position on any day and time is extremely close – even on a leap year. The leap calendar, along with the other corrections to the Atomic Clock, was a brilliant astronomical feat to allow the ephemeral location of the sun to be so precise relative to time.

This is possibly the coolest memorial ever created!!! :D


#veteransday #science #time #astronomy #atomicclock  
The Anthem Veterans Memorial, located in Anthem Community Park in Anthem, AZ is a most unusual monument dedicated to honor the service and sacrifice of our
Romavic Antony's profile photoThe Veterans Project SA Team's profile photoPoopsie Doo's profile photoMG B's profile photo
Happy Belated Veterans Day +Gary Ray R and yes, we thought that it was really really interesting and is a terrific tribute to honor Veterans.
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Intrepid Science

• Ecology/Nature ✿  - 
Sea bird research on subantarctic Ewing Island (50˚S)

On the Australasian Antarctic Expedition 2013-2014 we were very fortunate to have Kerry-Jayne Wilson join us as the ornithologist for the voyage. Here Kerry-Jayne describes the sea bird work she is doing on Ewing Island as part of a long-term (forty years so far!) research program. 

A huge thanks to Alice Barthel from the University of New South Wales, and Veronica Meduka at Radio New Zealand. The filming and editing was brilliantly done by Mat Lipson. 

If you would like to learn more about the science of the Australasian Antarctic Expedition, please visit

#seabirds  #ewingisland  #aucklandislands  #subantarctics #spiritofmawson  #australasianantarcticexpedition  #aae #ornithology   #sciencecommunication   +UNSW Australia  +UNSW Science 
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+Intrepid Science please see the guidelines of the community, request you to add links and references to the science behind the post. Thanks.
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About this community

Welcome to the Science Community on G+ featuring science research, news, and more. New Members: Please read the rules category and pinned post and the Community Policy category before posting. This is not a meme depository. Please do not post collections. This applies to posts and comments. *One liners will be deleted!* : Please cite any work you reference or state as facts. Put effort into your posts. We all prefer intelligent, descriptive posts that tell us what to expect in any links and/or videos. ***Basic Guidelines:*** 1. Post about science only. The science should be obvious 2. No links / videos without explanation of the science and links to reputable sites with references, ideally to the original research papers. 3. No spam, flooding or reposts (English only please). 4. Be civil 5. No plagiarism 6. Please do not self-promote or advertise services 7. No memes or infographics without prior approval from mods. 8. Please do not argue with the moderators. Take the time to make a reasoned discussion (if required) and logic to make your case. Do not remove moderator comments. 9. Please check comments on your own post, do not disable comments unless instructed to by moderators. 10. Not more than one post in 12 hours. (Anti-flooding guideline) *Announcements* Any announcements of events that members of the community are invited to, need to be cleared by moderators. *Questions* We welcome thoughtful questions. We do ask that you have done some work before you ask. If you have a question please read the link below before you ask. This is not a place to do your homework. The moderators reserve the right to ban, remove or carry out any action on posts, which in their view is not as per the community focus, maybe be repetitive or uninteresting and /or does not further the case for science or the community.
New research published in the journal Science shows that coordinated international reductions of greenhouse gases over time have the potential to reduce the highest levels of global warming. Read more about this study at

* * *

More than 190 countries are meeting in Paris next week to create a durable framework for addressing climate change and to implement a process to reduce greenhouse gases over time. A key part of this agreement would be the pledges made by individual countries to reduce their emissions.

A study published in Science today shows that if implemented and followed by measures of equal or greater ambition, the Paris pledges have the potential to reduce the probability of the highest levels of warming, and increase the probability of limiting global warming to 2 degrees Celsius.

In the lead up to the Paris meetings, countries have announced the contributions that they are willing to make to combat global climate change, based on their own national circumstances. These Intended Nationally Determined Contributions, or INDCs, take many different forms and extend through 2025 or 2030.

Examples of these commitments include the United States' vow to reduce emissions in 2025 by 26-28 percent of 2005 levels and China's pledge to peak emissions by 2030 and increase its share of non-fossil fuels in primary energy consumption to around 20 percent. In the study, the scientists tallied up these INDCs and simulated the range of temperature outcomes the resulting emissions would bring in 2100 under different assumptions about possible emissions reductions beyond 2030.

"We wanted to know how the commitments would play out from a risk management perspective," said economist Allen Fawcett of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the lead author of the study. "We analyzed not only what the commitments would achieve over the next ten to fifteen years, but also how they might lay a foundation for the future."

Although many researchers have focused on the importance of the 2 degree limit, Fawcett and colleagues assessed uncertainty in the climate change system from an overall risk management perspective. They analyzed the full range of temperatures the INDCs might attain, and determined the odds for achieving each of those temperatures. To determine odds, they modeled the future climate hundreds of times to find the range of temperatures these various conditions produce.

"It's not just about 2 degrees," said Gokul Iyer, the study's lead scientist at the Joint Global Change Research Institute, a collaboration between the Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and the University of Maryland. "It is also important to understand what the INDCs imply for the worst levels of climate change."

In the study, the scientists compare the Paris commitments to a world in which countries don't act at all or start reducing greenhouse gas emissions only in 2030.

The team found that if countries do nothing to reduce emissions, the earth has almost no chance of staying under the 2 degree limit, and it is likely that the temperature increase would exceed 4 degrees. They went on to show that the INDCs and the future abatement enabled by Paris introduce a chance of meeting the 2 degree target, and greatly reduce the chance that warming exceeds 4 degrees. The extent to which the odds are improved depends on how much emissions limits are tightened in future pledges after 2030.

"Long-term temperature outcomes critically hinge on emissions reduction efforts beyond 2030," said Iyer. "If countries implement their INDCs through 2030 and ramp up efforts beyond 2030, we'll have a much better chance of avoiding extreme warming and keeping temperature change below 2 degrees Celsius. It's important to know that the INDCs are a stepping stone to what we can do in the future."

To perform the analysis, the team incorporated the INDCs along with assumptions about future emissions reductions into a global, technologically detailed model of the world called the Global Change Assessment Model or GCAM that includes energy, economy, agriculture and other systems. The GCAM model produced numbers for global greenhouse gas emissions, which the team then fed into a climate model called Model for the Assessment of Greenhouse-gas Induced Climate Change or MAGICC. Running the simulations for each scenario 600 times resulted in a range of temperatures for the year 2100, which the team converted into probabilities.

Iyer said the next thing to look at is the question of the kinds of policies and institutional frameworks that could pave the way for a robust process that enables emissions reduction efforts to progressively increase over time.

This work was supported by the Global Technology Strategy Program, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Department of State, and the Environmental Protection Agency.
Gary Ray R's profile photoSandeep Bajpai's profile photoBonny Higley's profile photo
Thanks for one of your always appreciated science posts, +Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) 
Happy Thanksgiving and Bon Appétit to the entire staff at PNNL! 
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Daniel Montesinos

• Ecology/Nature ✿  - 
Soil chemistry is changed differently by each of seven tree species at a contaminated site

"Trees modify the physico-chemical and biological properties of the soil underneath. Seven tree species had been planted at a site that was contaminated by a mine spill – after which soil was cleaned up and remediated – and later was afforested. We studied the chemical composition (24 elements) in five ecosystem compartments (leaves, forest floor, roots, topsoil and deep soil). The variation in chemical concentration was highest at the level of canopy leaves and lowest at deep soil. The identity of tree species significantly affected the composition of all elements in the canopies but none in the deep soil underneath. Although the observed tree effects on topsoil chemistry were weak, the footprint is expected to be reinforced with age of the plantation, contributing to the phytostabilization of contaminating elements and to the carbon sequestration."
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Deep Look

• Biology  - 
VIDEO: The Sex Lives of Christmas Trees

It’s the time of year when people start inviting pine, fir and spruce trees into their homes, and wreaths and pine cones take center stage. But while pine cones may seem a familiar trapping of the holiday season to most of us, for Bruce Baldwin, they tell an ancient story, millions of years old, of evolution, competition and reproduction.

Baldwin is a professor of plant biology at University of California, Berkeley. He’s also curator of the university’s Jepson Herbarium, a collection of California plants used for research and archival purposes. In addition to the pressed and dried plants, the herbarium’s collections also include a variety of cones from around the state, including some from the Coulter Pine, which boasts the largest cones of any tree in the world.

Pine cones aren’t just for decoration, Baldwin said. They are the reproductive organs of conifers, an ancient group of seed-bearing plants.

“There are two different types of cones,” said Baldwin, “a lot of people don’t realize that. There’s seed cones and pollen cones. The pollen cones are relatively tiny. The seed cone gets to be much larger and takes three years to develop and release seeds so you can often see pine cones of three different stages of development on a single tree.”

What most people recognize as a pine cone is typically the female seed cone. This structure keeps the immature seeds safe, nestled between protective scales.

But early in their development, the scales open slightly for a short time to grant access to wind-borne pollen released from smaller pollen cones. Conifers are mostly wind pollinators, broadcasting huge quantities of male gametes into the air during summer months. The pollen can be seen when it settles on parked cars and windowsills as a fine yellow powder.

After receiving the pollen, the female cones close back up until the seeds are fertilized and mature. Once they are, the scales reopen allowing the wind to disperse the winged seeds. Other species rely on birds or mammals to distribute their next generation.

In some forests, like the closed-cone pine forests of California, mature cones may stay closed for decades. Species like the bishop pine are serotinous, meaning that they only open when exposed to the heat of a forest fire. The trees are able to wait until the fire has reduced the competition for light and provided a much-needed boost in nutrients to the soil before even attempting to send their seeds out to set root.

Conifers are some of the oldest plants in the forest. And they were once much more diverse than they are today. But since the evolution of flowering plants, their diversity has plummeted. Today only about 0.3 percent of all the species of seed plants have cones. Flowering plants have taken over most of the warmer, wetter habitats, pushing out the conifers. But why?

“Flowering plants reproduce much faster. Everything is sped up in their reproduction,” explained Baldwin. “And when you evolve the fruit you evolve a lot of different ways of dispersing the seeds.”

Enlisting the help of animals to carry off their seeds may help give flowering a reproductive advantage, he said. Conifers mostly distribute their seeds by wind.

While they no longer dominate the tropical areas of the globe the way they once did, conifers do cover much of the Northern Hemisphere’s forest ecosystems.

“They’re less successful than they were at one time, but still major players as far as seed plants go” said Baldwin. “They do great at higher latitudes and higher altitudes, though there are a few exceptions. But by-and-large they are more successful in areas that are cooler, dryer and with poorer soils”

Flowering plants are able to out-reproduce conifers in the areas which have more ideal temperatures, and moisture levels. Conifers are thus relegated to areas where flowering plants cannot survive well. Conifers are able to exist in these areas because their anatomy allows them to resist damage caused by freezing, and extreme dryness. Conifers also pack their leaves with terpenoids, which are compounds responsible for the pine smell that allows the trees to resist decay and hungry herbivores.

While they may no longer be as diverse as they once were, the tallest (coast redwood), most massive (giant sequoia) and oldest living (bristlecone pine) individual organisms is the world are all conifers. While they may not be as flashy as their flowering cousins, cones are still able to hold their own, particularly around Christmas time.

You can check out the conifer collections at the University of California, Berkeley Jepson Herbarium:

Or take a stroll through Tilden Regional Parks Botanic Garden to see a variety of California conifers:

Link to article:
Gary Ray R's profile photoMG B's profile photoHaixiao Sun's profile photoDaniel Montesinos's profile photo
Thanks, timely interesting science with links to references and a good write up.  Just what we like around here.
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Ciro Villa

• Geology/Earth Science  - 
Scientists reveal new findings regarding the mechanism and dynamics ruling the movement of tectonic plates

"A new study suggests that the common belief that the Earth's rigid tectonic plates stay strong when they slide under another plate, known as subduction, may not be universal.

Typically during subduction, plates slide down at a constant rate into the warmer, less-dense mantle at a fairly steep angle. However, in a process called flat-slab subduction, the lower plate moves almost horizontally underneath the upper plate.

The research, published in the journal Nature Geoscience, found that the Earth's largest flat slab, located beneath Peru, where the oceanic Nazca Plate is being subducted under the continental South American Plate, may be relatively weak and deforms easily." 

Read more:

The study: Internal deformation of the subducted Nazca slab inferred from seismic anisotropy,

Image: A 3-D image of the Nazca slab subduction. Credit: University of Southampton

#science   #tectonics   #earthquakes   #geology  
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Vitaliy Kaurov

• Geology/Earth Science  - 
Fossilized tropical forests found in arctic "380 million years ago, the continents were in vastly different places. The solid part of the Earth that we live on is broken into sections called tectonic plates. Over time, these plates move, pushed around by the Earth's mobile interior. Svalbard was near the equator 380 million years ago. Watch this great animation to see where your home was back then."

"Svalbard, Norway is known for it's splendid Arctic scenery, frigid weather and polar bears. But it wasn't always like this. In a study published recently in Geology, researchers announce the discovery of a fossilized tropical forest in Svalbard.
Chris Berry and other researchers from Cardiff University found tropical tree stumps--the remains of an ancient tropical forest--during field work in the frigid latitudes.
380 million years ago, the continents were in vastly different places. The solid part of the Earth that we live on is broken into sections called tectonic plates. Over time, these plates move, pushed around by the Earth's mobile interior. Svalbard was near the equator 380 million years ago. (Watch this great animation to see where your home was back then.)
The fossilized tree stumps found by the researchers were lycopsids, early trees that are related to club moss.

Scientists think that the explosive growth of these trees during this period helped to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
“During the Devonian Period, it is widely believed that there was a huge drop in the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, from 15 times the present amount to something approaching current levels," Berry said in a statement. “The evolution of tree-sized vegetation is the most likely cause of this dramatic drop in carbon dioxide because the plants were absorbing carbon dioxide through photosynthesis to build their tissues, and also through the process of forming soils.”
Today, Svalbard's frigid temperatures have made it very attractive to biologists, who took advantage of the cool climate to refrigerate the Doomsday Seed Vault, a repository of seed samples from around the world. The first withdrawal from the vault was made this year in response to the ongoing conflict in Syria, and surely more will come soon as climate change continues to impact both wild plants and agricultural crops around the world.
“It’s amazing that we’ve uncovered one of the very first forests in the very place that is now being used to preserve the Earth’s plant diversity,” Berry said."



John Zimm's profile photoMG B's profile photoDaniel Montesinos's profile photoRyan Harper's profile photo
Tropical forests at earth poles, fossil age usually don't match with computation considering the rate of ground movement and the distance from earth equator to earth poles. Also considering some land become mountain, crushed and folded, or go under ground.
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ULg Reflexions

• Health ♥  - 
Osteoarthritis affects 15% of the World’s population. Recent results obtained by the BCRU laboratory of the #ULg, which were published in #PLOSOne , show that chitosan, a vegetable compound naturally present in the stems of button mushrooms, is the key to regenerating the synovial fluid that is essential for healthy cartilage. We are perhaps on the cusp of a veritable revolution in terms of the treatment of this #disease.
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Chiara Conti's profile photoLinux Lady05 Winter's profile photoLeuren Wrenn's profile photoMG B's profile photo
Chitosan is made from mushroom chitin it seems, but is not present in the mushroom itself.
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Lacerant Plainer

• Biology  - 
The Elephant Alarm for Humans : African elephants have a signal for humans. And it spells trouble. Studies show that elephants react quickly to human voices, becoming more vigilant and running away from the source of human sounds. But we already knew Elephants had a vocabulary. ....

Study shows how elephants react : Researchers from Oxford University carried out a series of audio experiments in which recordings of the voices of the Samburu, a local tribe from North Kenya, were played to resting elephants. The elephants quickly reacted, becoming more vigilant and running away from the sound whilst emitting a distinctive low rumble. When the team, having recorded this rumble, played it back to a group of elephants they reacted in a similar way to the sound of the Samburu voices; running away and becoming very vigilant, perhaps searching for the potentially lethal threat of human hunters.

Is it language? : Lucy explains: 'Interestingly, the acoustic analysis done by Joseph Soltis at his Disney laboratory showed that the difference between the ''bee alarm rumble'' and the ''human alarm rumble'' is the same as a vowel-change in human language, which can change the meaning of words (think of ''boo'' and ''bee''). Elephants use similar vowel-like changes in their rumbles to differentiate the type of threat they experience, and so give specific warnings to other elephants who can decipher the sounds.'

References and Sources


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Interesting study!
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Rhys Taylor

• Astronomy/Astrophysics ☄  - 
EDIT : Original peer-reviewed article here :
"Keenan's Ring" is the name we're giving to a giant starless cloud of hydrogen discovered near the Triangulum galaxy, M33. This is the largest, most massive hydrogen cloud discovered in the region since Wright's Cloud in 1979. In angular size it's about as large as the hydrogen disc of M33 (five times larger than the full Moon) and it's just been sitting there all this time, but it's so faint no-one had noticed it before. Well, not quite, but no-one realised just how large it was or that it was a ring.

Why does this matter ? Well, we don't have a good explanation for this object. The nearby Wright's Cloud is thought to be part of the much larger Magellanic Stream, but there's no obvious reason why there should be two large clouds at the end but offset at right-angles to the stream. Nor is it obvious why this one should be a ring - there's no particular reason to expect the gas to be missing in the centre of the structure. It's not likely to be a dark galaxy either (an object made of dark matter, gas, but without stars), because the velocity width is much smaller than would be expected. On the other hand, it does have a small velocity gradient, suggesting that it is a single coherent structure and not a chance alignment of lots of smaller clouds. It really is a mystery.

The figure shows the 3D data cube obtained with five years of Arecibo observations. The third axis is velocity, not distance (see link for details). Colours are chosen just to highlight different structures : blue for the Milky Way, red for everything else. The data looks noisy at one end but this is just because of how the data was processed. Keenan's Ring can be seen in this noisy red part of the data, but there are better images in the linked post.
Or, Galaxies Behaving Badly... I've been itching to write this post for a while. They say the first one's always the hardest, and that's certainly true of astrophysical papers. Much toil has gone into this over the last yea...
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Fascinating news +Rhys Taylor ! I'm sure +Paul Carr will find this interesting. 
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Deep Look

• Biology  - 
VIDEO: Nature’s Scuba Divers: How Beetles Breathe Underwater

People first crossed the line between land and sea to become scuba divers more than 70 years ago, when Jacques Cousteau pioneered the Aqua-Lung in Nazi-occupied France.

But humans aren’t the only creatures who bring air underwater with them to breathe.

Some species of aquatic insects have been doing it for millions of years.

“Water beetles have been breathing underwater since before the dinosaurs existed,” said Crystal Maier, an entomologist at The Field Museum in Chicago. “It has evolved at least 10 times across the insect tree of life.”

So how do they do it? Air-breathing aquatic bugs and beetles don’t hold their breath the way sea mammals do, nor do they have gills like fish.

The answer lies in their small size. Insect scuba strategies hinge on a property of water that relative giants like us usually overlook: surface tension.

Surface tension is the property of any liquid that describes how its particles stick together. In the case of water, surface tension is especially strong, enough to form a kind of film where it meets the air, whether at the surface or in a bubble.

The film is so strong, in fact, that a paper clip, which should sink because of its density, will float.

If you’re a bug the size of a paperclip, in other words, surface tension makes a difference. Harnessing it, some aquatic beetles carry the oxygen they need underwater in the form of a temporary bubble, sort of like a natural scuba tank. Others encase themselves in a layer of air and draw oxygen from it their whole lives.

Predaceous diving beetles are an aquatic insect family common in lakes, ponds and streams. Streamlined and equipped with legs adapted to swimming, these beetles dive with a breathing bubble trapped beneath their outer wings.

Unlike our scuba tanks, however, the beetle’s bubble can partially replenish itself, drawing oxygen from the water to replace what the beetle consumes. Sometimes scientists call the bubble a “physical gill,” since it works somewhat as gills do in fish.

“The relatively large surface area of the bubble allows it to exchange oxygen with the surrounding water,” Maier said.

The beetles hunt smaller bugs and scavenge for food among the gravel and vegetation at the bottom.

The bubble’s oxygen supply is limited, however. Eventually, consumption outpaces replacement, and the beetle releases the bubble and returns to the surface for a new one.

Another aquatic family, long-toed water beetles, have evolved a more permanent solution. Though these bugs are born on land and breathe air, they enter the water as adults and never go back.

They owe their underwater staying power to something called a plastron, a thin layer of breathable air on their outer shells. Employing surface tension, hairlike structures on the shell keep the layer intact.

Plastrons, which lend long-toed beetles their shimmering appearance, almost like a space suit, are so reliable that they never resurface for air.

“It’s a pretty successful group of insects. They’re on every continent, except Antarctica,” said Cheryl Barr, collection manger emeritus at the Essig Museum of Entomology at UC Berkeley.

Plastron respiration, as scientists call it, has evolved independently in several unrelated groups of insects.

Surface tension is a delicate force, vulnerable to changes temperature, turbulence or the introduction of contaminants, like soap. A sudden drop in surface tension can drown a whole insect community in an instant.

Though it might not seem to affect our world to the same degree, surface tension is active all around us. It allows raindrops to form, trees to bring water to their leaves and ice to float. So in a sense, we too live on a thin boundary, ruled by the same subtle properties of water.

Link to full article:

Field Museum:

Crystal Maier, entomologist at The Field Museum:

Essig Museum of Entomology at UC Berkeley:

Cheryl Barr, collection manger emeritus at the Essig Museum of Entomology at UC Berkeley:
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