IN SCIENCE WE TRUST
From left to right: Galileo Galilei, Marie Curie, J. Robert Oppenheimer, Isaac Newton, Louis Pasteur, Stephen Hawking, Albert Einstein, Carl Sagan, Thomas Edison, Aristoteles, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Richard Dawkins und Charles Darwin
Is this a potluck? I’ll bring cheese and crackers! But I need that plate back, it’s one of my best plates.
Also, this is awesome.
I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this before, but we can trace my family’s lineage back to Isaac Newton.
I’d love to join in on this dinner.
Internal report warns of ecological disaster if new well bursts
BP is making contingency plans to fight the largest oil spill in history, as it prepares to drill more than 4,000 feet down in the Atlantic in wildlife-rich British waters off the Shetland Islands.
Internal company documents seen by The Independent show that the worst-case scenario for a spill from its North Uist exploratory well, to be sunk next year, would involve a leak of 75,000 barrels a day for 140 days – a total of 10.5 million barrels of oil, comfortably the world’s biggest pollution disaster.
This would be more than double the amount of oil spilled from its Deepwater Horizon well in the Gulf of Mexico last year, which had a maximum leak rate of 62,000 barrels a day in an incident lasting 88 days – and triggered a social, economic and environmental catastrophe in the US which brought the giant multinational to the brink of collapse.
The North Uist well, in a seabed block named after the Hebridean island but located 80 miles north-west of Shetland, is part of BP’s ongoing attempts to open up the West of Shetland sea area, sometimes referred to as the “Atlantic Frontier”, as a rich new oil province to replace the dwindling productivity of the North Sea.
The project appeared to have been shelved by the former BP chief executive Tony Hayward last year in the aftermath of Deepwater Horizon and the barrage of criticism directed at the company for its safety record. But it is now going ahead, and the well will be drilled by a drilling ship, the Stena Caron, some time from January onwards, as long as it is given a licence by the Energy Secretary, Chris Huhne.
The company already has three West of Shetland wells producing oil, at depths from 140 to 500 metres (460 to 1,640ft). But North Uist, described by BP as “stepping out, in terms of depth”, will be nearly three times as deep, at 1,290m below the surface, in immensely testing conditions similar to those of its ill-fated Gulf well, which was located 1,500 metres down, and began its unprecedented “gusher” leak in April last year.
The difficulty of capping a gushing well at such depths, vividly illustrated by the three months it took for Deepwater Horizon to be staunched, is greatly concerning British environmentalists who point out that the waters which might be affected by a North Uist spill are among the most wildlife-rich in all the UK.
CIA Rejects Freedom of Information Act Request for Climate Data
Via Secrecy News:
When the Central Intelligence Agency established a Center on Climate Change and National Security in 2009, it drew fierce opposition from congressional Republicans who disputed the need for an intelligence initiative on this topic. But now there is a different, and possibly better, reason to doubt the value of the Center: It has adopted an extreme view of classification policy which holds that everything the Center does is a national security secret.
Last week, the CIA categorically denied (pdf) a request under the Freedom of Information Act for a copy of any Center studies or reports concerning the impacts of global warming.
“We completed a thorough search for records responsive to your request and located material that we determined is currently and properly classified and must be denied in its entirety…,” wrote CIA’s Susan Viscuso to requester Jeffrey Richelson, an intelligence historian affiliated with the National Security Archive.
With some effort, one can imagine records related to climate change that would be properly classified. Such records might, for example, include information that was derived from classified collection methods or sources that could be compromised by their disclosure. Or perhaps such records might present analysis reflecting imminent threats to national security that would be exacerbated rather than corrected by publicizing them.
But that’s not what CIA said. Rather, it said that all of the Center’s work is classified and there is not even a single study, or a single passage in a single study, that could be released without damage to national security. That’s a familiar song, and it became tiresome long ago.
Image: Global Temperature Trends via NOAA Environmental Visualization Laboratory.
Very interesting. Normally it would be easy to jump to the conclusion that this data indicates global warming is a national security threat, but…oh wait, we probably can based on past statements:Interest in climate change as a national security issue developed even later. Although the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) did commission a study to look into the security implications of climate change in the late 1970s, the issue had little resonance until the late 1990s when the Senate Armed Services Committee declared that environmental destruction, including global warming, was “a growing national security threat.” The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was created in 1995 in part to allay fears. And then, in 2003, the rather notorious report commissioned by the Pentagon, “An Abrupt Climate Change Scenario and its Implications for United States National Security,” provided a worst-case scenario, which suggested that climate change might have a catastrophic impact, leading to rioting and nuclear war.
The question then becomes: is the CIA using technology/methodologies that our civilian Climate Scientists don’t have? Doubtful, in my view. More likely that they just want to classify everything possible so nobody knows what’s going on, even when the objects of classification are trivial.
(cartoon by Joel Pett)
The genome of an Aboriginal Australian has been sequenced, and it’s re-writing the theory of human migration out of Africa:
Aboriginals First to Populate the World Outside Africa
Watch interview with Professor Eske Willerslev who headed an international study that has pieced together the human genome from an Aboriginal Australian. The results, now to be published in the international journal Science, reinterpret the prehistory of our species.
Credit: Voice: Sheena Lauersen. Illustration: Science/AAAS, Sofia Olsen. Stills: Mikal Schlosser, Timothy P. Topper. Camera: Kristoffer Aabo, Henrik Prætorius. Production: Henrik Prætorius.
Ten years later, gene therapy still shows promise
For scientists who study cures for genetic diseases, the easiest fix would seem to involve cutting out the faulty gene and inserting a new, functioning one. This approach is called gene therapy, and in principle it sounds very simple. Viruses are a great choice as a vector (carrier for DNA) for gene therapy, since they have evolved to be particularly effective at entering a host cell, inserting the viral genes into the host genome, and then having the host cell express the viral proteins. Though it doesn’t sound so complex, the notion of targeted editing of the human genome is pretty astounding (I was pretty excited when I learned about it in 8th grade).
Unfortunately, gene therapy has proved much more difficult than anticipated. Preliminary trials led to a death and increased risk of cancer, as the viral vectors affected unanticipated sections of the genome. The field essentially went dormant. However, scientists taking a look back at a gene therapy trial from ten years ago have found exciting results.
The trial involved 16 children with SCID, or “bubble boy” syndrome - essentially nonfunctioning immune systems. Without gene therapy, the only treatment for SCID patients is constant bone marrow transplants. The results of the study are pretty exciting: of the 16 children, 13 are now cured. They now attend normal school without the constant fear of infection.
Gene therapy has also shown promise in treating animals with color blindness, and humans with a form of leukemia. Though the studies are by no means definitive, the results indicate that researchers who have hope and excitement for gene therapy need not be disappointed yet.
By playing a game called Foldit, where players (often with no scientific background) try to fold protein structures into their likely structures, players have unlocked a key structure in the fight against HIV.
By simply tweaking a chain of amino acids over and over until they get it to fold into a realistic, stable structure, these gamers were able to deduce the 3-D structure of a key protein in Mason-Pfizer monkey virus, a relative of HIV. Now that we know the structure, drugs may be designed to attack this key protein.
So next time someone tells you to stop playing that game, open up Foldit and tell them you’re doing science!
(via Discover Magazine)
ATHEIST COMPLETELY DESTROYS CREATIONIST ON CNN, we all need to take notes and follow in his example. I love how my followers will reblog the fuck out of a funny a picture when it comes to watching a 5 minute video that will educate you, you’re no where to be found.
Charmaine keeps throwing around the word “theory.” I don’t think it means what she think it means
INTELLIGENT DESIGN DOES NOT MEET THE CRITERIA FOR A SCIENTIFIC THEORY.