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« Science: November 2012 | Main | Science: January 2013 »

Science

What Would the Phoenix Five Do?

What does it say about me that i'm reading an article about using technology to manipulate the environment in an attempt to slow climate change, and i compare it to what happened when Cyclops and Co. got the Phoenix Force and started remaking the world?

Carlson says geo-engineering comes with obvious international legal implications because no one country can implement its own geo-engineering plan without causing weather or climate changes in other countries. There's also the law of unintended consequences, because while many geo-engineering concepts have proved hopeful in the lab, nobody knows what will happen when actually put into practice.

Oh, pshaw. Was the Sub-Mariner worried about consequences when he buried Wakanda in a tidal wave?

So, here's my problem with Professor Carlson's idea:

As a model for his oversight body, Carlson suggests the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Like the IMF, his proposed organization would give all countries a place during discussions, but decisions would be made by a relatively small group of directors, each of which has a weighted vote that's based on their country's greenhouse gas production. That is, countries that produce more greenhouse gases will spend more money to combat global climate change, and so will have more votes.

Do you see the conflict of interest here? The countries producing the most greenhouse gases get the most votes and are expected to pay more. But it's more than likely that they would vote against any climate change controlling measures because they wouldn't want to have to foot the bill.

The climate talks in Doha failed and the Kyoto protocol failed because big nations didn't want to put restrictions on their ability to pollute freely. I think those countries who are the most vulnerable to climate change should get the most votes. So, everyone on an island, the Inuits, Greenland, and pretty much all of Africa get to decide what is done since they're the ones who get screwed first when shit starts melting and rain stops falling.


By min | December 20, 2012, 10:58 AM | Comics & Science | Comments (0)| Link



We Should Frack That Shit

There are plumes of methane seeping out of the ocean floor. I bet it would be a totally awesome idea to frack the ocean. I mean, what could go wrong*? We can just let the ocean water fill in the spaces left by the extracted gas. All that potential fuel just being wasted like that, left to oxidize in the water. Tut tut.


*Cereally, though, i hope nobody ever decides to do this. I imagine the ocean erupting in fiery plumes of exploding gas followed by the continents collapsing into the earth's core.

By min | December 20, 2012, 10:40 AM | Science | Comments (0)| Link



Litterers

Oh, good. We're now deliberately dropping our space garbage on the moon.

Engineers commanded the twin spacecraft, Ebb and Flow, to fire their engines and burn their remaining fuel. Ebb plunged first, slamming into a mountain near the moon's north pole. Its twin, Flow, followed about a half minute later and aimed for the same target.

But at least they made sure not to land them on anything "important".

By design, the final resting place was far away from the Apollo landing sites and other historical spots on the moon.

We are assholes. And when the moon ants figure out a way to invade our planet in retaliation for using their home as a dump, we are going to be so fucked.


By min | December 18, 2012, 12:09 PM | Science | Comments (0)| Link



Airborne Ebola - Yay Evolution

Cause regular ebola wasn't scary enough. Link.

Transmission of the virus -- which causes an often fatal hemorrhagic fever in people and primates -- was thought to require direct contact with body fluids from an infected animal or person. But in the new study, published online November 15 in Scientific Reports, piglets infected with Ebola passed the virus to macaques housed in the same room even though the animals never touched.
...
The new study raises questions about whether humans can also transmit Ebola by respiratory routes, says Pierre Formenty, of the World Health Organization's Control of Epidemic Diseases Unit. That is something that will have to be investigated in future outbreaks, he says.
...
Ebola viruses related to the African strains have been found in orangutans in Indonesia, raising the possibility that other unknown Ebola-like viruses could spill over into pigs and then humans, Marsh says. "That's concerning."

I'll say it's concerning. Remember Outbreak? I remember Outbreak. I remember when they were performing an autopsy and cut the person open and their liquefied insides spilled out onto the floor. I don't want my insides to liquefy. I like my insides the way they are. Goddamned ebola.


By min | December 18, 2012, 11:50 AM | Science | Comments (0)| Link



They're Not Just Resistant to Antibiotics - It's a Source of Food

Thanks, commercial farmers, for creating these super microbes.

It's well known how bacteria exposed to antibiotics for long periods will find ways to resist the drugs--by quickly pumping them out of their cells, for instance, or modifying the compounds so they're no longer toxic.

But to Topp's knowledge, this is the first report of a soil microorganism that degrades an antibiotic both to protect itself and get nutrition.

On the other hand, this means that wastewater can be treated for antibiotics now. All the drugs people are taking, the gels full of hormones that people wash off their hands and down their drains - all that's been accumulating in our water supply because the current system wasn't designed to treat for these chemicals. And we've been drinking it, bathing in it, breathing it in. So, a microorganism that can remediate this from our water would be great. You know, as long as it didn't also develop a taste for people.


By min | December 7, 2012, 11:30 AM | Science | Comments (0)| Link



Decorating a Tree Using Math

Holy crap, where was this years ago when i still had a tree for Christmas?

Members of the University's Maths society, called SUMS, have put an end to bare branches, by calculating the amount of baubles, tinsel and lights needed, as well as the size of the essential star on top.

Department store Debenhams set the University the Christmas themed challenge to create the formulas for the perfectly decorated Christmas tree and it is also available below as a calculator.

If you've found your ideal Christmas tree but want to ensure you use the appropriate amount of decorations then the calculator will have the answer.

The formulas - which are being rolled out for use by Debenhams personal shoppers nationwide - are as follows:

They need to make formulas for everything. I'm so happy to see it that i almost want to go get a tree to test it out. And that's completely normal behavior! Shuts up.


By min | December 6, 2012, 11:30 AM | Science | Comments (0)| Link



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