What we're talking about Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Severe Droughts on the Blue Marble

Populations around the world face many severe water challenges, from scarcity to contamination, from political or violent conflict to economic disruption. As populations and economies grow, peak water pressures on existing renewable water resources also tend to grow up to the point that natural scarcity begins to constrain the options of water planners and managers.…

“We are not learning to view ourselves as an advanced, evolving civilization. That is what we really must learn to do, in due course, if we were to survive. All of that will take place, in due course, and we will be able to explore solar system. We will be able to go beyond it,…

On Significant Figures, Peter Gleick explains that growing populations worldwide have exerted peak pressures on water supplies, leaving entire regions more vulnerable to natural variations in rainfall. In turn, global warming has made these natural variations more extreme. One such variation is El Niño, when "droughts are typically more widespread and severe." Dr. Gleick reports on the challenges faced around the world in 2016, as several historic droughts grow worse. Meanwhile, in honor of Earth Day, Ethan Siegel suggests we count our blessings: "there’s still no planet as friendly to life or hospitable to humans as Earth. It’s the fact that we went beyond the Earth and discovered the Universe that’s allowed us to appreciate just how rare, precious and special our home world is."

Channel Surfing

Life Science

Did you hear the one about how Charles Darwin wasn’t the creator of natural selection? Did you know that other people had had the idea before him? Oh, you did know that? Because anyone who has ever spent five minutes learning about the history of evolutionary thought knows that? Well, tell that to Daniel Engber…

That is one photogenic jellyfish.

A new study published in Frontiers in Zoology examined the developmental process involved in regulating limb regeneration in brittle stars (Amphiura filiformis) following amputation of an arm. Limb regeneration is a multi-stage process involving initial healing and repair of the wounded site, initial growth of the limb followed by development of more complex layers of cells until…

Physical Science

“Actually I think Art lies in both directions – the broad strokes, big picture but on the other hand the minute examination of the apparently mundane. Seeing the whole world in a grain of sand, that kind of thing.” -Peter Hammill When fine-and-coarse-grained sand is carried by the winds across uneven terrain, sand dunes form…

“Science is the only self-correcting human institution, but it also is a process that progresses only by showing itself to be wrong.” -Allan Sandage As April leaves us and May commences here at Starts With A Bang, I’m so pleased to inform you that amazing things are happening! Thanks to the support of everyone on Patreon, we’re over…

“Trying to understand the way nature works involves a most terrible test of human reasoning ability. It involves subtle trickery, beautiful tightropes of logic on which one has to walk in order not to make a mistake in predicting what will happen.” -Richard Feynman If you were to send a space probe to a distant…

Environment

It’s in the graun, so it must be true. However, just for once I’m going to agree with them. So, quick summary: Minnesota has a social cost of carbon, ish, and a Commission to quantify and establish a range of environmental costs associated with each method of electricity generation; and requires utilities to use the…

A new study published in Frontiers in Zoology examined the developmental process involved in regulating limb regeneration in brittle stars (Amphiura filiformis) following amputation of an arm. Limb regeneration is a multi-stage process involving initial healing and repair of the wounded site, initial growth of the limb followed by development of more complex layers of cells until…

DuPont’s Board of Directors were challenged by shareholders to address the firm’s defective worker safety program.

Humanities

Did you hear the one about how Charles Darwin wasn’t the creator of natural selection? Did you know that other people had had the idea before him? Oh, you did know that? Because anyone who has ever spent five minutes learning about the history of evolutionary thought knows that? Well, tell that to Daniel Engber…

As mentioned in passing a little while ago, we spent last week on a Disney cruise in the Caribbean, with the kids and my parents. We had sort of wondered for a while what those trips are like, and since the first reaction of most parents I’ve mentioned it to has been “Oh, we’ve thought…

A new study published in Frontiers in Zoology examined the developmental process involved in regulating limb regeneration in brittle stars (Amphiura filiformis) following amputation of an arm. Limb regeneration is a multi-stage process involving initial healing and repair of the wounded site, initial growth of the limb followed by development of more complex layers of cells until…

Education

A new study published in Frontiers in Zoology examined the developmental process involved in regulating limb regeneration in brittle stars (Amphiura filiformis) following amputation of an arm. Limb regeneration is a multi-stage process involving initial healing and repair of the wounded site, initial growth of the limb followed by development of more complex layers of cells until…

Over the span of the Festival weekend (April 15-17), 365,000 people attended the FREE USA Science & Engineering Festival!  Our mission is to stimulate and sustain the interest of our nation’s youth in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) by producing and presenting the most compelling, exciting, and educational Festival in the world. Once again, the…

When President Obama signed the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act in 2010, he also ushered in the first major nutrition changes in the school meal program in 15 years. Perhaps, not surprisingly, the changes received a good bit of pushback, with many arguing that healthier foods would mean fewer kids buying school lunches and big revenue losses for schools. But a new study shows otherwise.

Politics

A study in CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report last week reported that the birth rate for US teens aged 15-19 declined by 41% nationwide from 2006 to 2014. But the persistence of disparities — by geography as well as by race and ethnicity — is still of concern.

Here is the full video.

This is a guest posts by Claire Cohen Cortright. Claire Cohen Cortright is a mother, climate activist, and biology teacher living in upstate New York. She is an active member of Citizens Climate Lobby and moderator at Global Warming Fact of the Day. ______________________________________________ It is time, now, for climate activists to get vocal. As…

Medicine

If there’s one lesson that I like to emphasize while laying down my near-daily dose of Insolence, both Respectful and not-so-Respectful, it’s that practicing medicine and surgery is complicated. Part of the reason that it’s complicated is that for many diseases our understanding is incomplete, meaning that physicians have to apply existing science to their…

A new study published in Frontiers in Zoology examined the developmental process involved in regulating limb regeneration in brittle stars (Amphiura filiformis) following amputation of an arm. Limb regeneration is a multi-stage process involving initial healing and repair of the wounded site, initial growth of the limb followed by development of more complex layers of cells until…

I hate these stories, because they so seldom end well. Unfortunately, this one is more messy than even the usual messiness of the typical story of this type. The type of story I’m referring to, of course, is one that I’ve told from time to time ever since near the first year of this blog’s…

Brain & Behavior

Today was the final day of the meeting. Dr. Joe Thompson (Franklin and Marshall College) spoke about oblique striated muscles, which get their name from the diagonal pattern formed by the location of the Z-lines. This type of muscle is common among cephalopods, nematodes, tunicates, molluscs, etc. Dr. John Whiteman (University of Wyoming) gave a…

This year’s August Krogh Distinguished lecture, the highest award given to an accomplished Comparative Physiologist from the Comparative and Evolutionary Physiology section of the American Physiological Society was awarded to Dr. Jon Harrison, Arizona State University. Dr. Harrison gave an outstanding seminar in which he reviewed some of his major research discoveries. His work has…

Still going strong…here are the highlights from several sessions held on Day 4: John Eme (California State University, San Marcos) presented data testing the effects of varying temperatures mimicking overwintering conditions on embryonic development of Lake whitefish. He found that indeed exposure to variable incubation temperatures between 2-8 deg C resulted in increased mortality. Moreover, the embryos hatched…

Technology

Today was the final day of the meeting. Dr. Joe Thompson (Franklin and Marshall College) spoke about oblique striated muscles, which get their name from the diagonal pattern formed by the location of the Z-lines. This type of muscle is common among cephalopods, nematodes, tunicates, molluscs, etc. Dr. John Whiteman (University of Wyoming) gave a…

I just got my new Semogue 1305 Superior Boar Bristle Shaving Brush. It is the one on the left. I like it. I prefer boar because I don’t want to kill badgers and because the bristles are stiff and it basically works better. I got the old one decades ago, and it was decades old…

For the chess fans, the big candidates tournament begins in Moscow tomorrow. Eight of the top players in the world will be competing for the chance to face Magnus Carlsen in a match for the title. As it happens, the US has two representatives: Fabiano Caruana and Hikaru Nakamura. Going strictly by ratings, they are…

Information Science

And by blame, I mean “blame.” Yesterday the flagship journal of the AAAS, Science, published a series of feature and editorial articles on Sci-Hub, the unauthorized article sharing site. Who’s downloading pirated papers? Everyone The frustrated science student behind Sci-Hub My love-hate of Sci-Hub It’s a Sci-Hub world data set Overall, the articles are pretty…

The math the planet relies on isn’t adding up right now Reframing The Economics Debate Could Lead To More Action To Fight Climate Change Abandon hype in climate models The Future Role of Economics in the IPCC Climate change will wipe $2.5tn off global financial assets: study The Unsexy Climate Solution That’s a Total No-Brainer…

DN Lee used to be a mere human, a biologist and a great person, but still, just a human. But now she is a book! Urban Biologist Danielle Lee (Stem Trailblazer Bios) is part of a series exploring, well, STEM trailblazers. You Probably know of DN Lee from her famous blog now at Scientific American…

Jobs

DuPont’s Board of Directors were challenged by shareholders to address the firm’s defective worker safety program.

If you attended any Worker Memorial Day events this week, The Pump Handle invites you to share with readers some highlights from it.

CDC investigates diacetyl exposure in coffee production facilities; Supreme Court rules in favor of workers’ First Amendment rights; Latino workers still face the greatest fatality risks at work; and a job-seeking experiment finds women bear the brunt of age discrimination in the job market.