tagged w/ Science
By John-Paul Ford Rojas
11:59AM GMT 08 Jan 2013
A new scientific model has revised previous figures for the next five years downwards by around a fifth.
The forecast compares how much higher average world temperatures are likely to be than the “long-term average” from 1971-2000.
It had been thought that this would be 0.54C during the period 2012 -2016 but new data puts the figure for the 2013-2017 period at 0.43C.
This figure is little higher than the 0.40C recorded in 1998, the warmest year in the Met Office Hadley Centre’s 160-year record – suggesting global warming will have stalled in the intervening two-decade period.
However, it is thought that factors such as ocean current patterns may be behind the slowdown and scientists say the “variability” in climate change does not alter the long-term trend of rising temperatures.
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The new annual forecast, published on December 24, is the first to make use of the Met Office’s latest climate model, HadGEM3, which it said “includes a comprehensive set of improvements based on the latest scientific understanding”.
It suggests that global average temperature will remain between 0.28C and 0.59C above the long-term average “with values most likely to be about 0.43C higher than average”.
The Met Office said: “This is an extremely challenging area of research not least because long-term comprehensive observations of the ocean do not exist to help us understand how the global oceans behave over decadal and longer timescales.
“As with all areas of science, our knowledge is continually increasing and it is therefore not surprising that our models and predictive skill will continue to improve.
“The fact that the new model predicts less warming, globally, for the coming five years does not necessarily tell us anything about long-term predictions of climate change for the coming century.”
Labour MP Graham Stringer accused the Met Office of “burying bad news” by releasing the data on Christmas Eve and said it should give up climate change forecasts as well as long-term predictions.
He said: “They failed completely with their models to predict the flattening out of global warming. I think that they are just trying to bury bad news that their predictions in the medium and long-term have been pretty poor.”
Figures from last November, showing that 2012 would be cooler than average for the past decade, had already indicated that global warming was slowing down.
Dr Peter Stott, Head of Climate Monitoring and Attribution at the Met Office, said at the time that the past decade had been the warmest on record.
But he pointed out that warming has slowed down since 2000, in comparison to the rapid warming of the world since the 1970s.
“Although the first decade of the 21st century was the warmest on record, warming has not been as rapid since 2000 as over the longer period since the 1970s,” he said. “This variability in global temperatures is not unusual, with several periods lasting a decade or more with little or no warming since the instrumental record began.
“We are investigating why the temperature rise at the surface has slowed in recent years, including how ocean heat content changes and the effects of aerosols from atmospheric pollution may have influenced global climate.”
Dr Stott warned that global warming could speed up again at any time, and insisted that the general pattern of warming was not in doubthttp://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/environment/climatechange/9787662/Global-warming-at-a-... more
Pubic lice, the crab-shaped insects that have dwelled in human groins since the beginning of history, are disappearing. Doctors say bikini waxing may be the reason.
Waning infestations of the bloodsuckers have been linked by doctors to pubic depilation, especially a technique popularized in the 1990s by a Manhattan salon run by seven Brazilian sisters. More than 80 percent of college students in the U.S. remove all or some of their pubic hair -- part of a trend that’s increasing in western countries. In Australia, Sydney’s main sexual health clinic hasn’t seen a woman with pubic lice since 2008 and male cases have fallen 80 percent from about 100 a decade ago.
Growing up on the Brazilian coast, the owners of the J Sisters Salon routinely waxed to accommodate the ever shrinking bikinis worn on the beach. In 1994, they introduced the waxing technique at their New York Salon. Photographer: Dado Galdieri/Bloomberg
“It used to be extremely common; it’s now rarely seen,” said Basil Donovan, head of sexual health at the University of New South Wales’s Kirby Institute and a physician at the Sydney Sexual Health Centre. “Without doubt, it’s better grooming.”
The trend suggests an alternative way of stemming one of the globe’s most contagious sexually transmitted infections. Pubic lice are usually treated with topical insecticides, which once included toxic ones developed before and during World War 2. While they aren’t known to spread disease, itchy skin reactions and subsequent infections make pubic lice a hazardous pest.
Clipping, waxing and shaving the groin destroy the optimal habitat of pubic lice. The practice has helped spur sales of depilatory products for companies such as Procter & Gamble Co. (PG) and Reckitt Benckiser Group Plc. (RB/)
The global market for depilatories was worth $4.69 billion last year, according to London-based Euromonitor International Ltd., which estimates sales increased at a 7.6 percent average annual clip the past decade. Cincinnati-based P&G, Slough, England-based Reckitt Benckiser and Energizer Holdings Inc. (ENR), based in St. Louis, dominate the market, which Euromonitor predicts will reach $5.6 billion by 2016.
A majority of college men and women in the U.S. and Australia remove all or part of their pubic hair, researchers at Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio, reported in a 2011 paper, citing surveys and research by other scholars. In the U.K., 99 percent of women older than 16 years remove some hair, most commonly from the under arms, legs and pubic area, a 2005 study found.
Brazilian waxing took off internationally in the early 2000s, possibly spurred by the attention it was given on television shows such as Sex and the City, said Spring Cooper Robbins, a senior lecturer and sexual health researcher at the University of Sydney.
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-01-13/brazilian-bikini-waxes-make-crab-lice-endangered-species-health.htmlPubic lice, the crab-shaped insects that have dwelled in human groins since the... more
Visit http://science.nasa.gov/ for breaking science news.
Researchers studying thunderstorms have made a surprising discovery: The lightning we see with our eyes has a dark competitor that discharges storm clouds and flings antimatter into space. Astrophysicists and meteorologists are scrambling to understand "dark lightning."Visit http://science.nasa.gov/ for breaking science news. Researchers studying... more
Fifty-nine years after James Watson and Francis Crick deduced the double-helix structure of DNA, a scientist has captured the first direct photograph of the twisted ladder that props up life.
Enzo Di Fabrizio, a physics professor at Magna Graecia University in Catanzaro, Italy, snapped the picture using an electron microscope.
Previously, scientists had only seen DNA’s structure indirectly. The double-corkscrew form was first discovered using a technique called X-ray crystallography, in which a material’s shape is reconstructed based on how X-rays bounce after they collide with it.
But Di Fabrizio and his colleagues developed a plan to bring DNA out of hiding. They built a nanoscopic landscape of extremely water-repellant silicon pillars. When they added a solution that contained strands of DNA into this scene, the water quickly evaporated and left behind cords of bare DNA that stretched like tightropes between the tiny mesas.
They then shone beams of electrons through holes in the silicon bed, and captured high-resolution images of the illuminated molecules.
Di Fabrizio’s images actually show a thread of several interwoven DNA molecules, as opposed to just two coupled strands. This is because the energy of the electrons used would be enough to destroy an isolated double helix, or a single strand from a double helix.
But with the use of more sensitive equipment and lower energy electrons, Di Fabrizio thinks that snapshots of individual double helices will soon be possible, New Scientist reports.
Molecules of DNA, or deoxyribonucleic acid, store the genetic instructions that govern all living organisms’ growth and function....
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/50029929/ns/technology_and_science-science/t/dna-directly-photographed-first-time/#.UL0cnDkmTIUFifty-nine years after James Watson and Francis Crick deduced the double-helix... more
A coherent pathway which starts from no more than rocks, water and carbon dioxide and leads to the emergence of the strange bio-energetic properties of living cells, has been traced for the first time in a major hypothesis paper in Cell this week.
Interesting hypothesis! Let the testing begin!A coherent pathway which starts from no more than rocks, water and carbon dioxide and... more
A massive asteroid feared to be on a collision course with earth in 2040, no longer poses a threat.
http://www.examiner.com/article/asteroid-feared-on-course-with-earth-2040-no-longer-poses-threat-nasa-saysA massive asteroid feared to be on a collision course with earth in 2040, no longer... more
Dec. 24, 2012 — A series of rapid environmental changes in East Africa roughly 2 million years ago may be responsible for driving human evolution, according to researchers at Penn State and Rutgers University.
"The landscape early humans were inhabiting transitioned rapidly back and forth between a closed woodland and an open grassland about five to six times during a period of 200,000 years," said Clayton Magill, graduate student in geosciences at Penn State. "These changes happened very abruptly, with each transition occurring over hundreds to just a few thousand years."
According to Katherine Freeman, professor of geosciences, Penn State, the current leading hypothesis suggests that evolutionary changes among humans during the period the team investigated were related to a long, steady environmental change or even one big change in climate.
"There is a view this time in Africa was the 'Great Drying,' when the environment slowly dried out over 3 million years," she said. "But our data show that it was not a grand progression towards dry; the environment was highly variable."
According to Magill, many anthropologists believe that variability of experience can trigger cognitive development.
"Early humans went from having trees available to having only grasses available in just 10 to 100 generations, and their diets would have had to change in response," he said. "Changes in food availability, food type, or the way you get food can trigger evolutionary mechanisms to deal with those changes. The result can be increased brain size and cognition, changes in locomotion and even social changes -- how you interact with others in a group. Our data are consistent with these hypotheses. We show that the environment changed dramatically over a short time, and this variability coincides with an important period in our human evolution when the genus Homo was first established and when there was first evidence of tool use."
The researchers -- including Gail Ashley, professor of earth and planetary sciences, Rutgers University -- examined lake sediments from Olduvai Gorge in northern Tanzania. They removed the organic matter that had either washed or was blown into the lake from the surrounding vegetation, microbes and other organisms 2 million years ago from the sediments. In particular, they looked at biomarkers -- fossil molecules from ancient organisms -- from the waxy coating on plant leaves.
"We looked at leaf waxes because they're tough, they survive well in the sediment," said Freeman.
The team used gas chromatography and mass spectrometry to determine the relative abundances of different leaf waxes and the abundance of carbon isotopes for different leaf waxes. The data enabled them to reconstruct the types of vegetation present in the Olduvai Gorge area at very specific time intervals.
The results showed that the environment transitioned rapidly back and forth between a closed woodland and an open grassland.
To find out what caused this rapid transitioning, the researchers used statistical and mathematical models to correlate the changes they saw in the environment with other things that may have been happening at the time, including changes in the Earth's movement and changes in sea-surface temperatures.
"The orbit of the Earth around the sun slowly changes with time," said Freeman. "These changes were tied to the local climate at Olduvai Gorge through changes in the monsoon system in Africa. Slight changes in the amount of sunshine changed the intensity of atmospheric circulation and the supply of water. The rain patterns that drive the plant patterns follow this monsoon circulation. We found a correlation between changes in the environment and planetary movement."
The team also found a correlation between changes in the environment and sea-surface temperature in the tropics.
"We find complementary forcing mechanisms: one is the way Earth orbits, and the other is variation in ocean temperatures surrounding Africa," Freeman said. The researchers recently published their results in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences along with another paper in the same issue that builds on these findings. The second paper shows that rainfall was greater when there were trees around and less when there was a grassland.
"The research points to the importance of water in an arid landscape like Africa," said Magill. "The plants are so intimately tied to the water that if you have water shortages, they usually lead to food insecurity.
"Together, these two papers shine light on human evolution because we now have an adaptive perspective. We understand, at least to a first approximation, what kinds of conditions were prevalent in that area and we show that changes in food and water were linked to major evolutionary changes."
The National Science Foundation funded this research.Dec. 24, 2012 — A series of rapid environmental changes in East Africa roughly 2... more
This revolving door of corrupt ties between powerful private industry lobby groups and the EU Commission was in full view recently with the ruling of the European Food Safety Administration (EFSA) trying to discredit serious scientific tests about the deadly effects of a variety of Monsanto GMO corn.This revolving door of corrupt ties between powerful private industry lobby groups and... more
Discover Magazine picked the likely discovery of the Higgs Boson particle by CERN as the No. 1 science story of 2012.
The others in the top 10 were:
2) Opportunity's landing on Mars.
3) Mapping microbes in the human gut (possible cures to colitis, Chrones, asthma and cancer)
4) Earth's extreme weather -- record ice melts, flooding, superstorms, etc. (very strange, a number of other climate change stories also made the top 100 stories, but Discover listed them separately, rather than as one issue. I would have made this No. 1 or No. 2 behind the Higgs Boson.
5) Older fathers create more genetic mutations in their children
6) Era of private spaceflight begins
7) Mind-controlled robots.
8) Universe's dark matter mapped
9) Social media causing sleep disorders
10) Natural gas boom (Growth of "clean coal" is No. 12)
Others in the top 100 (I'm just picking a few here, I'm not going to type all 100)
11) Solar energy boom in Germany
14) Alien planet found around Alpha Centuri
22) Superstorm Sandy
31) Arctic ice melt accelerates
37) Hidden ocean found on Titan
39) Changes made to psychiactric diagnostic manual.
40) Type of brain cancer found to be caused by genes fusing
41) Arsenic based life form found in Mono Lake discredited
44) Experiment showing particles going faster than light shown to be flawed; Einstein's theory of relativity upheld
45) Highest skydive ever at 128,000 feet
47) Wolves removed from Endangered Species List; wolf hunting begins again in the U.S.
56) Voyager I leaves edge of the solar system
57) Mumps and measles rebound.
82) Whooping cough near-epidemic
90) Neil Armstrong, Sally Ride die
91) Ray Bradbury dies (not sure he was a scientist at all)
99) Polio virus nearly extinct, but survives in Afghanisatan, Pakistan and Nigeria
http://discovermagazine.com/galleries/2013/jan-feb/top-10-stories-of-2012#.UNauOnd0hj4Discover Magazine picked the likely discovery of the Higgs Boson particle by CERN as... more
Caracas, 22 Dic. AVN.- Science, Technology and Innovation minister Jorge Arreaza informed Friday that there have been allocated 2,315,719 Canaima laptop computers for free in Venezuela. Such laptops are part of an education program named Canaima Educativo (or educational Canaima), launched during the school year 2009-2010 http://www.makeahistory.com/index.php/your-details/43082-venezuela-gives-over-2-million-canaima-free-laptops-to-school-childrenCaracas, 22 Dic. AVN.- Science, Technology and Innovation minister Jorge Arreaza... more
Paleontologists say extensive research in a Nevada desert has revealed an exciting discovery.
http://www.examiner.com/article/saber-toothed-cat-fossils-discovered-nevada-near-las-vegasPaleontologists say extensive research in a Nevada desert has revealed an exciting... more
a new study out of Israel shows that 35 fathers enhance their social connection to their 5 month old children via nasal sprays of oxytocina new study out of Israel shows that 35 fathers enhance their social connection to... more
Find out what happens when 50lbs of putty drops from the ceiling of the Franklin Institute
http://www.examiner.com/article/the-great-putty-drop-of-2012-resultsFind out what happens when 50lbs of putty drops from the ceiling of the Franklin... more
This hard-hitting video from Mike Adams, the Health Ranger, reveals the dark side of science: Genocide, radiation experiments, human guinea pigs, eugenics, genetic pollution, terminator robots and more.
This video reveals why humanity must STOP out-of-control "science" and honor the precautionary principle. END GMOs, toxic vaccine additives, biological weapons and other threats to humanity.This hard-hitting video from Mike Adams, the Health Ranger, reveals the dark side of... more
The Humanist Institute is pleased to announce the addition of Level Two online courses to the free Continuum of Humanist Education (COHE) website. Level two courses include: Humanist Activism & Organization, Science & Humanism, Psychology & Humanism, Law & Politics, Religion & Spirituality, Ethics and Philosophy & the Humanist Connection.
http://cohe.humanistinstitute.org/The Humanist Institute is pleased to announce the addition of Level Two online courses... more
SAN FRANCISCO — A 200-year-long drought 4,200 years ago may have killed off the ancient Sumerian language, one geologist says.
Because no written accounts explicitly mention drought as the reason for the Sumerian demise, the conclusions rely on indirect clues. But several pieces of archaeological and geological evidence tie the gradual decline of the Sumerian civilization to a drought.
The findings, which were presented Monday (Dec. 3) here at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union, show how vulnerable human society may be to climate change, including human-caused change.
"This was not a single summer or winter, this was 200 to 300 years of drought," said Matt Konfirst, a geologist at the Byrd Polar Research Center.
Beginning about 3500 B.C., the Sumerian culture flourished in ancient Mesopotamia, which was located in present-day Iraq. Ancient Sumerians invented cuneiform writing, built the world's first wheel and arch, and wrote the first epic poem, "Gilgamesh." [Image Gallery: Ancient Middle-Eastern Texts]
But after 200 to 300 years of upheaval, the Sumerian culture disappeared around 4,000 years ago, and the Sumerian language went extinct soon after that.
Konfirst wanted to see if a drought that spanned about 200 years may have caused the decline. Several geological records point to a long period of drier weather in the Middle East around 4,200 years ago, Konfirst said. The Red Sea and the Dead Sea had increased evaporation; water levels dropped at Lake Van in Turkey, and cores from marine sediments around that period indicate increased dust in the environment.
"As we go into the 4,200-year-ago climate anomaly, we actually see that estimated rainfall decreases substantially in this region and the number of sites that are populated at this time period reduce substantially," he said.
Around the same time, 74 percent of the ancient Mesopotamian settlements were abandoned, according to a 2006 study of an archaeological site called Tell Leilan in Syria. The populated area also shrank by 93 percent, he said.
"People still live in this region. It's not that the collapse of a civilization means that an area is completely abandoned," he said. "But that there's a sharp change in the population."
During the great drought, two waves of marauding nomads descended upon the region, sacking the capital city of Ur. After around 2000 B.C., ancient Sumerian gradually died off as a spoken language in the region. For the next 2,000 years, the tongue lingered on as a dead written language, similar to Latin in the Middle Ages, but has been completely extinct since then, Konfirst said.
The coincidence of the social upheaval, depopulation in the area and the geologic record of drought suggests climate change might have played a role in the loss of the Sumerian language, Konfirst said.
The findings also suggest that modern-day civilizations may be vulnerable to climate change, he said.SAN FRANCISCO — A 200-year-long drought 4,200 years ago may have killed off the... more
"This is a crucial moment, what may be one of the last chances to prevent a future of 'designer babies'.""This is a crucial moment, what may be one of the last chances to prevent a... more
ScienceDaily (Nov. 28, 2012) — Nearly three-quarters of mutations in genes that code for proteins -- the workhorses of the cell -- occurred within the past 5,000 to 10,000 years, fairly recently in evolutionary terms, said a national consortium of genomic and genetic experts, including those at Baylor College of Medicine.
"One of the most interesting points is that Europeans have more new deleterious (potentially disease-causing) mutations than Africans," said Dr. Suzanne Leal, professor of molecular and human genetics at BCM and an author of the report. She is also director of the BCM Center for Statistical Genetics. "Having so many of these new variants can be partially explained by the population explosion in the European population. However, variation that occur in genes that are involved in Mendelian traits and in those that affect genes essential to the proper functioning of the cell tend to be much older." (A Mendelian trait is controlled by a single gene. Mutations in that gene can have devastating effects.)
How events affected genome
The amount variation or mutation identified in protein-coding genes (the exome) in this study is very different from what would have been seen 5,000 years ago, said Leal and her colleagues in the report that appears online in the journal Nature. The report shows that "recent" events have a potent effect on the human genome.
Eighty-six percent of the genetic variation or mutations that are expected to be harmful arose in European-Americans in the last five thousand years, said the researchers.
The researchers used established bioinformatics techniques to calculate the age of more than a million changes in single base pairs (the A-T, C-G of the genetic code) that are part of the exome or protein-coding portion of the genomes (human genetic blueprint) of 6,515 people of both European-American and African-American decent. The research was an offshoot of the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute Exome Sequencing Project.
Human population increase
"The recent dramatic increase in human population size, resulting in a deluge of rare functionally important variation, has important implications for understanding and predicting current and future patterns of human disease and evolution," wrote the authors in their report.
Others institutions that took part in this research include the University of Washington, Seattle; University of Michigan, Ann Arbor; the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard.
Funding for the research came from the GO (Grand Opportunity) Exome Sequencing Project (NHLBI grants RC2 HL-103010 (Heart GO), RC2 HL-102923 (Lung GO) and RC2 HL-102924 (WHISP). The exome sequencing was supported by NHLBI grants RC2HL-102925 (Broad GO) and RC2 HL-102926 (Seattle GO).ScienceDaily (Nov. 28, 2012) — Nearly three-quarters of mutations in genes that... more
Computer technology now moves so fast it's hard to remember life before the internet. But just 19 years ago at the beginning of the nineties, the fledgling world wide web had no search engines,
no social networking sites, and no webcam.
Link: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-20439301Computer technology now moves so fast it's hard to remember life before the... more