SciAntics

Sciantics? Really? Sorry folks, couldn't think of a better name! Anyways, this blog is dedicated to science news, articles, and just plain information that needs to be shared for the sake of science, education, and learning! I don't want to divulge into too much about my personal life on this blog, so i'll just say that I'm a biology/ chemistry major. You'll most likely see posts along these lines along with the ocasional physics and astronomy posts.

Disclaimer: This blog, and I have no connection to most of these outside articles, and pictures. All articles, and pictures are sourced accordingly, and if you see a post something sourced to you and wish for it to be removed, please notify me, and it will be removed promptly.

Tiny Tubes Could Absorb More Carbon Dioxide Than Trees

At Scotland’s University of Edinburgh, researchers are developing a minuscule tube that can suck carbon dioxide out of the air. Each tube measures just 1 micrometer long by 1 nanometer in diameter, and a square meter of them could soak up as much carbon as 10 trees.

Eleanor Campbell, the professor leading the research, says the nanotube technology can replicate nature’s work: “In some ways,” she said in a press release, “the unit would work like an artificial tree.” In fact, it has some advantages over trees: Nanotubes don’t die, they don’t require particular soil chemistries, they’re not sensitive to cold snaps, they don’t get confused and start blooming in November if the thermometer rises above 60 degrees. Campbell suggests one “key advantage” of the nanotubes is that they can be used in urban areas, “where tree planting is not possible.”

But trees process carbon dioxide, while nanotubes simply store it. The technology being developed at Edinburgh won’t be commercially available for a few years, but in theory, this is how it would function: After the nanotubes have done their work, they’d be relieved of their carbon dioxide burden. The carbon dioxide would be concentrated, poured into small canisters and stored deep underground. It’s another path to carbon sequestration—one American company is working to develop nanotube membranes for use directly in carbon-spewing smoke stacks.

The nanotube technology is also a kind of geoengineering, which aims to slow climate change by capturing carbon. Planting trees counts as a type of geoengineering, too, because it performs the same carbon-capturing function. It’s tempting to think of afforestation as a more “natural” way to fight climate change, but it too is a project subject to human failings and whims. Scientists are still figuring where and how newly planted trees can best fight climate change. As a rule of thumb, trees in the tropics help, trees in more northern latitudes don’t. In some places, planting trees may actually exacerbate climate change, as the dark trees absorb more heat than the landscape they replace.

Technologies like this one force an uncomfortable question: What if the best way to limit the effects of climate change isn’t natural at all? Opponents of geoengineering tend to believe that humans aren’t clever enough to predict how their actions will affect the planet. But a growing number of advocates are starting to believe there won’t be any other choice.

Article by: Sarah Laskow (Via: Good.is)

Photograph hosted by Flickr (by: Danielle Henry)

Why Some People Say ‘Sorry’ Before Others

Certain character traits influence people’s willingness to apologize

After a fight and before forgiveness often comes an apology. But saying “I’m sorry” comes more easily for some people than it does for others. A new study suggests that specific personality traits offer clues about whether a person is likely to offer a mea culpa.

Psychologist Andrew Howell and his colleagues at Grant MacEwan University in Edmonton devised a questionnaire to measure a person’s willingness to beg someone’s pardon. They asked participants to indicate their level of agreement with a series of statements, such as “My continued anger often gets in the way of me apologizing” or “If I think no one will know what I have done, I am likely not to apologize.” The researchers then used the answers to determine every participant’s “proclivity to apologize,” and they cross-referenced these scores with results from a variety of personality assessments.

From the beginning, Howell was confident that people with high marks for compassion and agreeability would be willing apologizers—and the study results confirmed his hypothesis. But the experiment also turned up some surprising traits of the unrepentant.

People with low self-esteem, for example, were less inclined to apologize, even though they probably feel bad after a conflict. Unlike people who experience guilt about a specific action and feel sorry for the person they have wronged, individuals who experience generalized shame may actually be feeling sorry for themselves.
In contrast, “people who are sure of themselves have the capacity to confess to wrongdoing and address it,” Howell suggests. But just the right amount of self-esteem is key. The study also found that narcissists—people who, in Howell’s words, “are very egocentric, with an overly grand view of themselves”—were reluctant to offer an apology.

The researchers were most surprised to find that a strong sense of justice was negatively correlated with a willingness to apologize, perhaps suggesting that contrition and an “eye for an eye” philosophy are incompatible. Reconciliation may end a conflict, but it cannot always settle a score. 

article by: Lauren F. Friedman

(Via: Scientific American)

Image hosted by Flicker (Via: Josh Bomb)

Did you know, more than half of all the antibiotics manufactured in the US isn’t prescribed to people? They’re given to animals. 

Antibiotics with a side of steak

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has just released a new report outlining the sales data of antibiotics for animal agriculture use in the US. Antibiotic use in food production topped out 13.2 MILLION (!!!) kg of antibiotics last year. This number is up on last years report, the only other report performed by the FDA in this regard despite claims by the industry that less antibiotic is being used per animal. In many ways this reflects the global food demands but it also highlights a very important question, should we be pumping our meat full of antibiotics?

The use of antibiotics in industrial food production was introduced as a preventative measure to avoid animals getting sick, allowing more to grow to weight and be shipped off to market. But this resulted in healthy livestock receiving medication and becoming a breeding ground for antibiotic-resistant strains of many bacterial species including E. coli. Many antibiotics are not actually prescribed and in fact do not legally need to be, which is baffling to say the least as we approach a world with fewer and fewer effective antibiotics.

The effects of antibiotic use can be clearly seen when the US sales data is compared to the European data. In some parts of Europe, the use of antibiotics for “growth promotion” is illegal and in fact the European Parliament recently moved to prevent “prophylactic use” which would eliminate the argument of disease prevention as a cue for antibiotic use. In these parts of Europe the amount of antibiotic sold translates to less than 50mg of antibiotic per kilogram of meat, in the US it is at least six times that according to Dr. Gail Hansen, senior officer and staff veterinarian for Pew Campaign on Human Health and Industrial Farming who referred to the World Health Organisation data reproduced below. Careful breakdown of the FDA report also echoes these concerns about prescription as there was an overall increase in antibiotic sales noted but a decrease in the sales of aminoglycosides and cephalosporins which are only available by prescription suggesting a further shift toward prescription independent antibiotic use.

Routinely antibiotics are delivered via the feed to animals. Because of this they receive inconsistent and generally lower than prescription dosages of antibiotic, the perfect situation for the generation of resistance. Antibiotic resistance develops when an antibiotic is used on a population of bacteria. Most of the population will die but any that do survive due to random mutations that they harbor will pass them onto their descendants producing antibiotic-resistant strains. Standard administered doses can overwhelm even those mutants who contain the saving mutations but extended low dosage provides those capable of surviving with enough of an advantage to survive and repopulate, even in the presence of the antibiotic. Worse than this, the presence of a single antibiotic resistant strain can result in the rise of multiple species exhibiting resistance as many bacterial species have the capacity to share genes with each other.

Read the full article by James Byrne (Via Scientific American)

Image hosted by Flicker (Via Joost J. Bakker)

Occupy rooftops as well? Sounds great! 

For More Solare Energy, Occupy Rooftops

Occupy Wall Street protesters may have been kicked out of Zuccotti Park, but the movement has inspired efforts around the country to fight back against economic injustice. One such effort is planned for this weekend, when communities who want to increase the prevalence of solar power can Occupy Rooftops.

The organization behind Occupy Rooftops, Solar Mosaic, is trying to revolutionize how communities fund solar. The idea of Sunday’s event is to show that “anyone, anywhere can start a community solar project to create jobs and clean energy in their community,” says Lisa Curtis, Solar Mosaic’s communications manager. Solar Mosaic helps communities fund solar projects, which are often unaffordable for organizations on tight budgets, by appealing for crowdsourced investments of $100. For Occupy Rooftops, the group has recruited partners including climate campaigners 350.org, solar provider Sungevity, and environmental powerhouses like the Sierra Club.Participating is easy: First, find a community building—a school, recreation center, nonprofit, or place of worship—whose roof could house solar panels. Gather a group of community members willing to support and fight for the project. Take a picture of the group with the building. Then share it to show politicians across the country how many Americans want solar energy now. (Physically occupying the rooftop is not a requirement, but at least a few people are planning on it.)

Solar Mosaic also has resources available for community groups to take their Occupy projects further. A Community Solar Guide takes groups through the process step-by-step. Sungevity, which normally sticks to residential projects, has agreed to assess community buildings’ solar potential by satellite. Solar Mosaic may reward some groups with $1,000 planning grants for their solar projects.Occupy Rooftops started out as Community Solar Day, which was designed to assist budding solar projects in communities where Solar Mosaic doesn’t have a presence. Organizers started serious planning just as the Occupy movement was growing, and realized that their goals lined up. “It’s no coincidence that the financial industry and the fossil-fuel industry are very intertwined, and together are creating our dependence on fossil fuels,” Curtis says. “What we want to do is use this Occupy momentum and focus on on-the-ground solutions, what we can do right now, without waiting for politicians.”One inspiring aspect of the Occupy Rooftops movement is that its major demand is addressed to communities, rather than individuals in power. If you want solar energy, organizers say, take steps to get it. Rather than asking for what your community needs, make it happen.

(Article from: Good.is)

Image hosted via Flicker (Via: Jonathan Tommy)

Should Scientists Seed the Sky With Chemicals?

Not long ago, geoengineering was a verboten topic. It’s the sort of idea that dips deep enough into the wells of human ambition and hubris that it seems too dangerous to even consider. In the words of a Woodrow Wilson Center report, geoengineering “involves intentional, large-scale interventions in the Earth’s atmosphere, oceans, soils or living systems to influence the planet’s climate”—in other words, a man-made fix to the man-made problem of climate change. In its most extreme forms, geoengineering could mean seeding the sky with chemicals to deflect sunlight away from Earth and change the sky’s color from blue to white. Or it could mean blocking solar energy by sending reflectors into orbit that, in certain configurations, would banish the Milky Way from the night sky. It’s easy to see why such scenarios would make scientists nervous.

Yet there is a growing belief in the Washington think-tank world that although geoengineering is not an optimal solution to climate change, it may be a necessary one. In the past couple of months, both the Wilson Center and the Bipartisan Policy Center have released reports that suggest further research into geoengineering. Both organizations emphasize that other fixes to climate change—mitigation through energy innovation and adaptation to harsher conditions—are preferable, but they conclude that geoengineering might be the best option to deal with the extreme threats posed by climate change to human living conditions.

One the first reports on geoengineering, published in 1965, proposed it as a climate solution without imagining that decreasing coal or oil use might be a more reasonable approach. Since that era, though, the magnitude of climate change and the limits of human ingenuity have become clear. The Wilson Center cautions that faith in geoengineering may be misplaced because “we may know too little about the Earth’s geophysical and ecological systems to be confident we can engineer the climate on a planetary scale.”

The Wilson Center favors research into less risky forms of geoengineering, like siphoning carbon out of the atmosphere and storing its elsewhere. A few similar techniques—better soil management and reforestation—double as mitigation strategies already under investigation by climate researchers. The Bipartisan Policy Center, meanwhile, is more gung-ho about the more radical forms of geoengineering, the “solar radiation management” strategies that include seeding the sky with chemicals, though they emphasize that mitigating risk is a priority.

The appeal of geoengineering is obvious: It’d be easy compared to the effort needed to wean the country off coal and oil altogether. That’s one reason a slew of conservative think thanks, from the American Enterprise Institute to the Heartland Institute, have supported it for years. But it should be a last-ditch resort. The scary part is that climate change could get bad enough to warrant such measures. Earlier this month, the International Energy Agency reported that the world has just five years left to avoid catastrophic climate change. It’s still possible to turn away from a future where serious people are advocating for a white-sky world. But there’s not much time left.

View the artile (Via Good.is)

Image hosted by Flicker (By Dave Young)


The Evolution Delusion. (re-Darwin, Dawkins, Hawking). 
(Taken by David Shuttleton)

This is a really disturbing painting. Disturbing to the point where I have almost a sense of rage. I wonder if the rest of you would feel the same way.

The Evolution Delusion. (re-Darwin, Dawkins, Hawking). 

(Taken by David Shuttleton)

This is a really disturbing painting. Disturbing to the point where I have almost a sense of rage. I wonder if the rest of you would feel the same way.

Science, religion and perceptions of reality (By Noel A. Tanner)

New Super-Black Material Absorbs 99% of All Light That Dares to Strike It

Staring at distant, faint objects to study the origins of the universe requires several layers of engineering skill and design trickery. The people at NASA are no strangers to this, having invented all sorts of new materials to improve telescopes and other observational tools. A new design may be one of their best examples yet: A blacker-than-black nanomaterial that absorbs pretty much all of the light that hits it.

The new material is made of carbon nanotubes and can be grown on a variety of space-friendly substrates, from silicon to titanium to stainless steel. This finely tuned fuligin absorbs an average 99 percent of all the ultraviolet, visible, infrared, and far-infrared light that hits it. It’s about 99.5 percent for UV and visible, and 98 percent for the longer bands.

It works by collecting and trapping light inside tiny gaps between the nanotubes, which are arranged in vertical fibrous strands like a tall shag carpet. This light would otherwise reflect off the surface and bounce around, creating noise.

We have seen other nanomaterials and metamaterials that can absorb nearly all light in some wavelengths, like infrared and visible, but these require special fabrication processes to work in whichever wavelength researchers want. This one is special because it absorbs nearly all light in nearly all wavelengths. “Our material is darn near perfect across multiple wavelength bands, from the ultraviolet to the far infrared,” said project leader John Hagopian at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.

This is much more efficient and effective than black paint, according to NASA. Black paint only absorbs about 90 percent of the light that hits it, and it’s even worse in the cold dark of space, where black paint takes on a silvery hue. The best part may be this new material’s ability to dissipate heat — the blacker the material, the more heat it radiates away, so this could be used to remove heat from infrared-sensing instruments on projects like the James Webb Space Telescope. It could also help scientists examine small spots in high-contrast areas, like planets orbiting other stars, and even look at the Earth, where weak light signals of interest to atmospheric scientists are washed out by the atmosphere’s reflectivity.

Goddard scientists presented their work at a recent SPIE Optics and Photonics conference and are now studying how it can be used to calibrate deep-space-observing instruments

(Via. Popsci)
Full Article (Via Physorg

think-progress:

12,000 encircle the White House today to protest the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.

Iodine Crystals (By Paul)

These iodine crystals were grown from the gas phase of iodine. They grew on the inside of the glass cylinder, where the gas cooled down and formed crystals.