Do you have any burning questions about fish, sharks, fishing, or fisheries? Want to ask an expert (or at least an expert-in-training)? Well, today is your lucky day! Starting at 4pm EST, myself and a bunch of other graduate students from the FSU Coastal & Marine Lab will be doing a reddit AMA and will attempt to answer all of your queries. Ask Us Anything!
Want to know what it’s like to
land on Mars be lowered onto the surface of our neighbor planet by a Sky Crane? Well, here you go:
Stories and links of interest from the past week…
Monkeys in Florida? Apparently so, and according to this story in the NYTimes at least one of them has escaped and is currently living large in the suburbs of Tampa. Story goes, back in the 1930’s an enterprising river cruise operator decided to introduce Rhesus monkeys to an island in the Silver River hoping to encourage tourism. Of course, the monkeys escaped from the island and now inhabit the jungle/swamp along the Silver and Ocklawaha rivers, and occasionally wander into nearby towns. Guess I know where our next kayak adventure will be!
I’ve been seeing this very cool video popup quite often lately. It’s from the fine folks at the NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio, and it shows an animated loop of the world’s ocean currents over the span of 2 years!
I know I’ve blogged about the underfunding of NASA before, but recently I came across this editorial about why investing in science is always in our best interest. Whenever the topic of science budgets comes up, NASA is often the target of criticism. Why should we be spending money in space when that money could be put to better use here on earth? Well, astronomer Phil Plait reports on how technology developed by NASA is being used to help fight fires. A technology called cool-wall vortex combustion helps to keep rocket fuel tanks cool during liftoff by spinning the fuel in the tank which creates a vortex that keeps the fuel closer to the center of the tank and the walls of the fuel tank cool. This same system can be added to fire-fighting equipment with some astonishing results: during a test run, a single firefighter was able to control a living room fire in 17.3 seconds using 13.6 gallons of water. Using the standard system, the same fire would require multiple firefighters, over 200 gallons of water and nearly 2 minutes to control! When we invest in science, either through NASA, or NOAA, or even the Department of Defense, we collectively benefit, often in ways that we can’t predict.
Here are two interesting stories about climate change and technology that I stumbled on today. The first story is about a new way to compare modern ocean temperatures to those from 150 years ago. This can be done thanks to the scientists who run an ocean sensing project called Argo which is a massive array of sensing equipment deployed across the world’s oceans. The scientists over at the Argo project went back through the logs of the HMS Challenger which sailed around the globe from 1872 – 1876. Along the way the crew of the Challenger took frequent water temperature recordings and soundings from the bottom of the ocean. It seems that we now have enough data from the Argo project to compare ocean temperatures today to those taken 150 years ago. And what do ya know? The ocean is warmer today, by a little more than half a degree Celsius on average (interestingly, the Atlantic seems to be warmer than the Pacific; the Atlantic is about 1 degree warmer compared to only 0.4 degrees warmer in the larger and deeper Pacific). So what does this mean? Well, water has a higher specific heat (ability to hold warmth) than the atmosphere does by 1000 times! This means that the oceans absorb 80-90% of the heat related to global warming. Knowing how much the oceans have warmed over time is critical to understanding how fast climate change is occurring.
The second story that caught my eye today was about some scientists who are working on building artificial trees that can suck CO2 directly out of the air. They can do this in different ways, by filtering out CO2 particles and storing them in containers, or by installing transparent containers full of algae on the sides of buildings. As the algae photosynthesize, they remove CO2 from the air and release oxygen. The excess carbon captured by these trees could then be sequestered, or stored underground. Best of all, this technology is probably only 10-20 years away. Of course, all of these projects carry with them risks and high costs to implement, but the question is how do those costs compare to the risk we take by doing nothing to address climate change?
Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson on NASA and the travesty of its underfunding situation:Vodpod videos no longer available.
This here video has been on my mind quite often lately. In it, the physicist Dr. Michio Kaku breaks down two possible future scenarios for mankind. The choice, it seems, is up to us, and we need to start making better choices starting now.
“The transition from Type-0 to Type-1 Civilization … Will We Make It?”