What we're talking about El Niño from a Distance Thursday, April 24, 2014

El Niño from a Distance

So, the bad news is that it is looking increasingly likely that the world will experience a very strong El Nino event this 2014-2015 winter (winter in the N. hemisphere, summer down under).  There is even talk of a super-El Nino, one to rival 1998′s phenomenal event.  Lots of good information on that here at…

The last hurricane season in the Atlantic was anemic, being one of least active periods on record. This was attributed to extra dust blown off the Sahara which inhibits hurricane development. Right now, the various forecasting agencies around the world are agreeing that there is a greater than 50% chance, perhaps a 70% chance of…

As Coby Beck reports on A Few Things Ill-Considered, talk of a "very strong" El Niño this year has forecasters already excited about winter in the northern hemisphere. Coby says "there is even talk of a super-El Niño, one to rival 1998′s phenomenal event." El Niño alternates with La Niña bringing warmer sea surface temperatures across the Pacific to the Americas. In addition to a warm winter, El Niño typically means dry weather for most of the United States. But California could look forward to getting its thirst quenched, if not also its need for fresh powder. Meanwhile Greg Laden says the East Coast can look forward to fewer cyclones if El Niño prevails. If it does, Coby says "there will also undoubtedly be a new, likely very striking, global temperature anomaly record high."

Channel Surfing

Life Science

Recently, Carl Zimmer made a criticism of the computer animations of molecular events (it’s the same criticism I made 8 years ago): they’re beautiful and they’re informative, but they leave out the critical aspect of stochastic behavior that is important in understanding the biochemistry. He’s talking specifically about kinesin, a transport protein which the animators…

You know what is really impressing me about Neil deGrasse Tyson’s Cosmos? That he doesn’t hesitate to draw connections between science and how we live our lives — there is an implicit understanding that science has become fundamental to how we see the universe. Last night’s episode was no exception. What started as an explanation…

Physical Science

“Don’t gain the world and lose your soul; wisdom is better than silver or gold.” -Bob Marley Going back to ancient times, it’s hard to think of a more commonly coveted element than gold. In fact, trying to transmute other elements into it was perhaps the holy grail of the pseudoscience of alchemy, the forerunner…

“It took less than an hour to make the atoms, a few hundred million years to make the stars and planets, but five billion years to make man!” -George Gamow Whenever Earth Day comes around, I see a lot of different reactions from people. Some express their passion for the environment, others express disdain for…

“The line that describes the beautiful is elliptical. It has simplicity and constant change. It cannot be described by a compass, and it changes direction at every one of its points.” -Rudolf Arnheim It’s not every day that a nearby, well-studied galaxy turns your understanding of an entire class of common objects — in this…

Environment

Great interview with Michael Mann on The Lang and O’Leary Exchange, CBC, on climate change, faux pause, denialism, policy, and politics.

This video crossed my field of vision a couple of times but I did not watch it until I saw it posted again at P3, and I am glad I did. It is really very effective in that typically satirical way of distilling the true essence of an issue via humor, but for me it…

I have a little “science by spreadsheet” project for you, concerning the relationship between El Niño and Atlantic hurricanes. The chance of an El Niño event happening this year seems to go up every few days, with most, perhaps all, climate models suggesting that El Niño will form this Summer or Fall. Climate experts tell…

Humanities

Guest Blog by Adora Svitak USA Science & Engineering Festival Youth Advisory Board Member Note: See Adora as part of the Teen Inventors Panel at the Festival on the Lockheed Martin Stage!  When I was little, I hated a lot of things. I refused to practice piano or violin. I didn’t eat my leafy vegetables. But…

Should pregnant women who use drugs be charged as criminals or given help? From a public health perspective the choice is clear: provide treatment to help women quit drugs before their use harms their child. Less than a year ago, Tennessee adopted a progressive policy to provide such treatment, but now is on the brink of taking a big step back.

“DAAAAADDDDDYYYYY!!!!” “What’s the matter, honey?” “I don’t like being alone.” “Well, I’m sorry, honey, but I have work to do, and it’s time for you to go to sleep.” “But when I’m alone I get scared.” “Well, I can put on some music if you like. You can listen to that, and it might give…

Education

Guest Blog by Adora Svitak USA Science & Engineering Festival Youth Advisory Board Member Note: See Adora as part of the Teen Inventors Panel at the Festival on the Lockheed Martin Stage!  When I was little, I hated a lot of things. I refused to practice piano or violin. I didn’t eat my leafy vegetables. But…

“The wonderful thing about Tiggers Is Tiggers are wonderful things…” Tigger was my favourite on the Hundred Acre Campus. “…bouncy, trouncy, flouncy, pouncy Fun, fun, fun, fun, FUN!” Recently I was at a meeting, and a comment was made about how someone was being negative. Not only was this a bit of a bummer, total…

Guest blog by Dr. John Sotos Getting the Science Right in Hollywood Panel Member and Book Fair Author at the USA Science & Engineering Festival  I love medicine.  But maybe not for the reasons you think. Most people go into the field desiring to help others.  Not me, at least not at first. Many people go into medicine…

Politics

This video crossed my field of vision a couple of times but I did not watch it until I saw it posted again at P3, and I am glad I did. It is really very effective in that typically satirical way of distilling the true essence of an issue via humor, but for me it…

It is possible that this is the most important Earth Day. Earth Day is part of the process of broadening environmental awareness and causing positive change in how we treat our planet. We are at a juncture where we must make major changes in what we do or our Grandchildren, to the extent that they…

Three hours after I wrote this “The US Department of Labor has a plan to eliminate coal mine dust lung disease (a.k.a. black lung.) It’s been stuck in White House review for eight months, under the watch of a reg czar who promised timeliness of reviews,” they announced they were issuing the new rules.

Medicine

I don’t recall if I’ve ever mentioned my connection with the Cleveland Clinic Foundation (CCF). I probably have, but just don’t remember it. Longtime readers might recall that I did my general surgery training at Case Western Reserve University at University Hospitals of Cleveland. Indeed, I did my PhD there as well in the Department…

Spoiler to apologize for click-bait title: Yes, the MMR vaccine works just fine. But there is a difference between ‘just fine’ and ‘perfectly’. A few things I would want in a ‘perfect’ vaccine– Only one dose is needed, zero side-effects, 100% protective antibody or CTL mediated immunity for life, inability of the target pathogen to…

I sense a new disturbance in the antivaccine force. I hadn’t planned on blogging about the antivaccine movement again, but I felt that I needed to do a follow up to yesterday’s (hopefully) amusing little takedown of the antivaccine stylings of new member of that group personification of the Dunning-Kruger effect and arrogance of ignorance,…

Brain & Behavior

The FDA has issued a warning that Easter lilies are toxic to cats. According to veterinarian Dr. Melanie McLean at the US Food and Drug Administration ingestion of even a small portion of the leaves, pollen or flowers of the plant are very poisonous to cats. Initial complications include vomiting but then may lead to…

I am very excited about the upcoming Experimental Biology conference that starts next weekend. I just looked through the Spring newsletter for the Comparative and Evolutionary Physiology section of the American Physiological Society. Check out the exciting programming in comparative physiology at this year’s conference: Monday, April 28 10:30 AM – 12:30 PM Featured Topic: Abstract-Driven Trainee Session…

Women aren’t the only ones at risk for depression and in need of screening services when a new baby comes into their lives. Young fathers face significant mental health challenges as well, according to a new study.

Technology

Under the theme of “Start Your Journey,” Caterpillar, as a major Festival sponsor and leader in STEM and skilled trades, is set to wow audiences at the Expo this month with a dynamic array of interactive exhibits and presentations designed to demonstrate the breadth of opportunities that exist at Caterpillar and Cat Dealerships around the country in…

Julia is a nifty new language being developed at MIT I stole this plot from github, it shows Julia’s current performance on some standard benchmarks compared to a number of favourite tools like Python, Java and R. Normalized to optimized C code. And, there, in a single plot, is why Real Programmers still use Fortran…!

UPDATE: Linux Install. Installing Copy on Linux was pretty easy. You go to the web page, download a tarball, upack it, then inside the tarball figure out the folder that matches your OS (i.e., 32 vs 64 bit) and go into that folder. Then run the Agent. That may, if you are good, put a…

Information Science

Julia is a nifty new language being developed at MIT I stole this plot from github, it shows Julia’s current performance on some standard benchmarks compared to a number of favourite tools like Python, Java and R. Normalized to optimized C code. And, there, in a single plot, is why Real Programmers still use Fortran…!

Publishing may be a button, but publishing isn’t all we need The Vacuum Shouts Back: Postpublication Peer Review on Social Media bioRxiv: The preprint server for biology Debt, Pensions and Capitalisation: Funding schol comms innovation How to maximise usage of digital collections Librarian, Heal Thyself: A Scholarly Communication Analysis of LIS Journals How to energize…

The following is a selection of Google search terms that brought people to my sit today that I think would make good song titles, or perhaps, in some cases, a good name for a band. what happens if you eat mold vocal fry fish bigger than a whale with a m witches in europe if…

Jobs

Three hours after I wrote this “The US Department of Labor has a plan to eliminate coal mine dust lung disease (a.k.a. black lung.) It’s been stuck in White House review for eight months, under the watch of a reg czar who promised timeliness of reviews,” they announced they were issuing the new rules.

  Many people know Walmart as the largest corporate retailer in the world, but did you also realize it is a leading innovator and employer in STEM? At Festival Expo 2014, you’ll discover in unforgettable ways this other side of Walmart, which this year is serving as an Americum-level Sponsor of the Festival! Walmart’s imprint on STEM is…

Workers in Houston test the City’s new anti-wage theft ordinance, making a complaint against companies contracted by the City of Houston.