What we're talking about El Niño from a Distance Friday, April 18, 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

He hates Tiktaalik. He hates it so much he even has a hard time spelling its name correctly. Tikaalik is again being popularized through the new PBS series "Your Inner Fish.” it’s really a desperate con job on the part of evolutionists who can’t defend their evolutionary fictional story. He actually surprises me a little…

Virginia Hughes tells us about techniques to look inside the zebrafish brain. The gang at HHMI are using two photon imaging and clever image analysis to get very clear, sharp images of fluorescent neurons. Oy, that’s pretty. This old codger did some of that stuff, many years ago, but you know what we had to…

Via John Wilkins and John Farrell: A Simple Visualization of How Species Evolve This is basically my dissertation, animated. LOL!! What are you looking at? Every pixel in that square is a genetic sequence. Some of those sequences confer a higher fitness advantage (the red colored peaks) or disadvantage (below the plane). The Blue color…

Physical Science

Big Eyed Beans from Venus – Captain Beefheart and his Magic Band! Cool. Literally Comparable to Mars in effective temperature, bit larger than Earth, probably slightly more massive than Earth (mean density could be lower), atmosphere unknown. Might well have extensive surface regions with persistent liquid water.

As I’ve mentioned here before, I do a lot of work these days in my local Starbucks. This is slightly ironic, as I don’t like coffee– instead, I order tea, which I put in an insulated travel mug. I tend to get the tea, carry the mug back to the table, and let it steep…

One of the most important realizations of climate change research is exemplified in this graphic from Weather Uderground: The point is this. The PETM (Paleocene-Eocene thermal maximum, millions of years ago) was a period of high levels of CO2 in the atmosphere which caused significant warming. It is an example of both relatively rapid and…

Environment

An important Virginia Supreme Court finding came out today, related to the hugely complicated maneno that I feel totally unqualified to explain to you … but Michale Halpern of the Center for Science and Democracy is: The Supreme Court of Virginia today found unanimously in favor of the University of Virginia in its attempt to…

I get the impression that some of my colleagues are concerned about the phrase “War on Carbon” because it is bad messaging. That is wrong. We need to carry out a War on Carbon. We need to keep the Carbon in the ground. You know why. Meanwhile, though, we can have some fun with the…

Sohn Stossel, writing at Real Annoying Clear Politics, (which is not a terrible place except for John Stossel) quotes some guy named Bjorn Lomborg about electric cars, thusly: Do environmentalists even care about measuring costs instead of just assuming benefits? We spend $7 billion to subsidize electric cars. Even if America reached the president’s absurd…

Humanities

The list of Pulitzer Prize winners released earlier this week includes several journalists who addressed public-health issues, from black lung to food stamps.

I’d like to point out a new book that I think is interesting and worth a look. It is called “The Insulted Trilobite: some helpful objections to the God Delusion” and it is by the pseudonymous J. A. Posner, and obviously the intended audience is the Atheist and Skeptics community. Simply put, Poster Fisked Dawkins,…

The Washington Post provides in-depth coverage on issues facing veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan; an unprecedented release of Medicare data gives reporters a lot to work with; and journalists consider how West Virginia’s reliance on a few industries has influenced the state’s response to contaminated water and drug addiction.

Education

You could call them child or teen prodigies – wunderkinds, who at remarkable young ages have already begun making their mark upon science and technology as innovators and visionaries. The USA Science & Engineering Festival not only applauds such young achievers, but is recruiting some of the best of them to serve on its new Youth…

You will recall that last February, Bill Nye, the Science Guy, debated Ken Ham, the Not-So-Science Guy, on the question of creationism as a viable explanation for the Earth’s history. The debate was held in Ham’s home territory, at the infamous Creation Museum in Kentucky. Nye didn’t really debate Ham. He ate him for breakfast.…

Guest Blog By Festival X-STEM Speaker and Expo Performer  Dr. Joe Schwarcz “Hey, aren’t you somebody?” the teenager queried as I got into the elevator. While I was pondering an appropriate answer to this deeply philosophical question, his crony spilled the beans: “Yeah, he’s that guy who talks about chemistry on TV.” This was just…

Politics

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

NIOSH is one of those federal agencies that prefers to lie quietly in the background. But when USDA misconstrued a NIOSH report on poultry worker injuries, the agency took notice and created some waves.

The Bottleneck Years by H.E. Taylor Chapter 86 Table of Contents Chapter 88 Chapter 87 The Chinese Girlfriend, April 15, 2060 At the end of an Ecology 110 lecture the other day, Carman unobtrusively entered the back of the room and sat down. I was going through the history of DNA reading devices from Sanger…

Medicine

Damn it. After hearing the horrible news that Laura Hymas had died on the same day that I found out that the pro-quackery “health freedom” Alliance for Natural Health (ANH) was supporting a federal “right to try” bill, I thought it would just be a one-off post about Burzynski, his allies, and the human toll…

I’m depressed as I write this, because I have some very sad news to relate to you. It appears that Laura Hymas died on Sunday morning. I learned this on Twitter yesterday from a source I trust, not to mention from mentions on Ben Hymas’s Facebook page, in which friends are commenting on how they…

As part of related research into consumer protection, I recently scanned in a copy of Samuel Hopkins Adams’ seminal articles on the patent medicine industry. These articles, which appeared in Collier’s magazine starting in 1905, helped build the record for the 1906 Pure Food and Drugs Act, and for amendments to that law in 1912.…

Brain & Behavior

An river otter was captured on camera taking on an juvenile alligator…and winning. The battle took place at the Lake Woodruff National Wildlife Refuge in Florida in 2011. More images can be seen on their Facebook page where the images were recently posted, impressive! According to National Geographic, the normal diet of a river otter consists of…

Heat shock protein 90 (HSP90) helps keep proteins in the body folded properly and is thought to compensate for variations that occur in proteins over time. In a study published in Science magazine, Dr. Nicolas Rohner and colleagues showed that stress can affect the ability for HSP90 to do its job thereby unmasking these alternative…

Check out this neat video highlighting how frog-eating bats are using frog mating calls to know where to pick up dinner:

Technology

Sohn Stossel, writing at Real Annoying Clear Politics, (which is not a terrible place except for John Stossel) quotes some guy named Bjorn Lomborg about electric cars, thusly: Do environmentalists even care about measuring costs instead of just assuming benefits? We spend $7 billion to subsidize electric cars. Even if America reached the president’s absurd…

True to its mission of helping to advance STEM education in dynamic ways, the Northrop Grumman Foundation, a major sponsor of the USA Science & Engineering Festival, will take visitors up close and personal this April with one of the most ambitious projects today in space science: NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope. At Festival Expo 2014, get…

The Bottleneck Years by H.E. Taylor Chapter 86 Table of Contents Chapter 88 Chapter 87 The Chinese Girlfriend, April 15, 2060 At the end of an Ecology 110 lecture the other day, Carman unobtrusively entered the back of the room and sat down. I was going through the history of DNA reading devices from Sanger…

Information Science

Up to Here With Trolls? This Is What It’s Like To Be a Woman at a Bitcoin Meet-up An Open Letter to Brogrammers So You’ve Got Yourself a Policy. Now What? Technology’s Man Problem Why the ‘Open’ Internet Is So Closed to Women The Brutal Ageism of Tech Years of experience, plenty of talent, completely…

Henry Markram, a chief editor at Frontiers, the journal that recently retracted (resulting in multiple resignations of editors from that journal), inappropriately, an important paper on climate change denialism, just made the following comment on a post on that journal’s blog. My own personal opinion: The authors of the retracted paper and their followers are…

As part of the celebrations for Canada`s upcomming 150th birthday, the Canadian federal government has released its Digital Canada 150 strategy paper, and while it`s not all bad, at the same time there is not an awful lot to recommend it. Especially considering it was four years in the making. My sense is that its…

Jobs

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

Two recent incidents reminded me of what a worker said about “safety talks.”

A high-road employer and lower-wage workers spoke in the second week of public hearings on OSHA’s proposed rule to protect workers who are exposed to respirable crystalline silica.