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 Post subject: from current journals as of 2014 08 11
PostPosted: Mon Aug 11, 2014 9:28 pm 
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Location: Broomfield, Colorado
Sorry I'm so late in my journal reviews but I got behind while I was in Wyoming and it took a while to catch up)

Archaeology September-October 2014
From the Trenches
Your Face: Punching Bag or Spandrel
A biologist and an ER physician at the University of Utah recently published a paper arguing that the human face looks the way it does because it evolved to take a punch. ER statistics showed that bones are stronger at exactly the places where people usually get hit in fistfights. The paper met with scorn from anthropologists, who argued against an adaptationists explanation, contending instead that the bones in the face evolved to accommodate muscle attachments and brain size increase. According to the article, there have been flame wars over the issue in various anthropology blogs; so far no fistfights have been reported.
America, in the Beginning
(Appended to an earlier thread)

Military History September 2014
News
Pathé Uploads HD Film Archive
British Pathé has uploaded its entire 85000 film collection, from 1896 to 1976. Pathé essentially invented the newsreel, to be shown in theaters between feature films.
German Officials Cut Deal on Looted Art
(Appended to a previous thread).

Sky & Telescope September 2014
Celestial Calendar
On the early evening of September 11, Saturn’s satellite Rhea will occult the 7.8 magnitude star SAO159034 for observers in the eastern US and Canada. The short note observes that there’s no particular scientific value to the occultation, as Rhea’s orbit and dimensions have been worked out by years of Cassini observations. But it will be fun to watch.

Nature 7 August 2014
Editorial
Home-brew tests need regulation
“Home-brew” conjures up mad scientists in a castle somewhere; what the editorial is actually talking about is diagnostic tests developed independently by hospitals or diagnostic laboratories. The particular case that sparked the editorial is such a test for Lyme disease, which the CDC cautioned had not been independently evaluated. I’m not familiar enough with the situation to understand if this regulatory overreaching or a legitimate health concern. Probably both, as Dorothy Parker commented.
Research
Alzheimer’s disease under strain
Alzheimer’s disease is characterized by the formation of “plaque” in the brain, formed from amyloid-β protein. It turns out that the exact proteins are different (have different “strains”, hence the article title) in Alzheimer’s cases associated with heredity vs. “sporadic” cases. The author (Swiss neuropathologist Adriano Aguzzi) notes that the protein plaques might be considered “prions” by regulators, which would kick in various stringent requirements to prevent disease transmission.
Futures
Your Application for Eternal Life Has Been Partially Approved
The “Futures” section of Nature is a one-page science fiction story appearing on the last page. Sometimes these are clever, sometimes they’re funny, sometimes they’re not. In this case the story relates a telephone message to a Mr. Linus Lawson who has a terminal disease and has thus applied for “total fermionic regeneration”. In the recorded message, the regeneration agency notes that Mr. Lawson will have his personality slightly altered during the regeneration process, with 80% his own personality and 20% a “Standard Personality Template”; the “0.8 continuity coefficient” was determined because (1) Mr. Lawson’s profession (astronaut) was considered nonessential (his new personality will nudge him toward more useful professions, such as obesity counseling or motivational performance art); (2) Mr. Lawson had a poor record of properly separating recyclables; his new personality will give him greater civic responsibility; and (3) Mr. Lawson had a disturbing pattern of negativity toward Canadian pop stars in his social media accounts; his new personality will give him less cynicism and better aesthetic judgment. In the FAQ section of the phone message it is noted that the regeneration agency will neither confirm or deny the rumor that the Standard Personality Template” is based on “legendary Canadian pop star Justin Bieber”. Mr. Lawson has three seconds to press 1 on his telephone to accept regeneration or press 2 to live out the remaining six months of his natural life. What would you do? My guess is my own personality would probably eventually overwhelm Justin Bieber, but I’d probably think about it for more than 3 seconds.

Science 1 August 2014
News
New energy targets disappoint
The European Commission has proposed cutting energy use 30% by 2030; the previous goal was 20% by 2020. Environmental groups are dismayed, because the proposal is not binding on member states.
Warming may not swamp islands
One of the memes of global warming is island states like the Maldives, Kiribati, and Tuvalu will disappear as rising sea levels submerge them. Kiribati has bought land in Fiji to resettle the expected displaced citizens. Geomorphologists note, however, that while the prediction appeared in almost every publication on climate change nobody had ever examined it. Models developed at the University of Auckland and the University of Sydney found, instead, that the growth rate of coral is easily able to keep up with even the most rapidly predicted rising sea levels. Aerial photos and satellite images from the past 60 years show no discernable effect from sea level rise during that period. The president of Kiribati has drawn attention to submerged islets, washed-away villages and broken sea walls; however, outside observers (and some Kiribati officials) contend these are due to overcrowding and poor shoreline management. The capital, Tarawa, has 50000 people living on 15 square kilometers of land.
Key narcolepsy-influenza findings retracted
A small percentage of children who received the H1N1 swine flu vaccine developed narcolepsy. An influential study by researchers at Stanford had published a study establishing a link between the vaccine and narcolepsy; they have now retracted the paper when they were unable to replicate the findings.
Money woes cripple Venezuela’s health system
Formerly Venezuela led South America in many public health accomplishments. Now several major indicators – malaria cases, dengue fever cases, and maternal mortality – are rapidly rising. The country had the world’s highest inflation rate in 2013, and the shortage of hard currency makes impossible to buy supplies. A system of local clinics set up by the Chavez government – although agreed to be “not a bad idea” by health professionals interviewed for the article – has collapsed; the clinics were not integrated with the rest of the health system, were staffed by imported Cuban doctors wo have since left, and 30% have closed completely.
Decision looms on future of E.U. science advice
Environmental groups have called for the ouster of the incumbent science advisor to the European Commission – Anne Glover – and called for the position to be scrapped. Complainants, such as Greenpeace Europe, said Glover “misrepresented science” when she said that genetically modified plants carried no more risk than conventionally bred plants. “She sounded like a GMO lobbyist” said Jorgo Riss of Greenpeace.
Deadly quake divides experts
Two earthquakes hit the Emilia-Romagna region in Italy in 2012, causing 27 fatalities. An oil company was drilling nearby and the Italian government asked for a report; the study, by six American geologists, exonerated oil drilling as a cause. Not surprisingly, the usual subjects have denounced the study for the usual reasons.

Sky & Telescope August 2014
History of Astronomy
The Forgotten Scientist Who Solved Lunar Craters
It’s rather difficult to believe now, but the impact origin of lunar craters and similar features on Earth was once casually dismissed by geologists; even Meteor Crater in Arizona was believed to be a maar or a collapsed salt dome (the tons of iron meteorites found in the area were dismissed as a coincidence). One objection to the impact theory was the observation that almost all craters are circular; it was expected that if they were caused by impact many would be elliptical, from oblique strikes; it was also expected that if craters were caused by meteor impacts the impacting object would be roughly the same diameter as the crater (leading to a fruitless search for a mile-wide lump of iron below Meteor Crater). Charles Gifford, a New Zealand scientist, drawing on observations of WWI craters, was the first to work out mathematically that the result of the kinetic energy of an impacting meteorite would be much more similar to an artillery shell explosion than to a bullet hole. (In an example of scientific serendipity, Estonian Ernst Opik and American Herbert Ives came to the same conclusion at about the same time). Unfortunately, Gifford’s work was published in the New Zealand Journal of Science and Technology, not exactly a publication with international distribution. The impact origin of lunar and terrestrial craters remained in dispute until the 1960s.

Scientific American August 2014
Advances
A Network That Never Goes Down
LTE Direct will go into effect at the end of this year, allowing cell phones to create their own ad hoc network even if they are not within range of a cell tower. Under the standard, a cell phone will be able to connect with another phone within 500 meters, relaying to other phones until it reaches its destination.
Accidental Genius
Usually getting hit in the head has only bad results. Once and a while, though, something gets shaken loose and the victim develops some sort of “savant” ability. Examples are a 10-year-old boy who was hit by a baseball and developed the ability to remember minute daily events for every day after the accident; a three-year-old whose head injury gave him the ability to make meticulously accurate sculptures of animals seen in pictures; a 40 year old corporate trainer who dived into the shallow end of a pool and acquired the ability to play the piano; and an orthopedic surgeon who was struck by lightning and became able to compose classical music. The authors do not make the obvious caution – “don’t try this at home”.

American Scientist July-August 2014
Briefings
Cause of the Permian Extinction
In yet another candidate for the P-Tr extinction, bacteriologists at MIT present molecular data suggesting that horizontal gene transfer allowed methanogenic archaea to break down acetate to methane about 250 Mya, right at the end of the Permian. The suggestion is that huge amounts of organic acetate had built up in sediment and the sudden ability of archaea to use it led to runaway methane production and various ecosystem unpleasantness, including greenhouse, ocean acidification, and hydrogen sulfide pollution.
Computing Science
Belles lettres meets Big Data
Computer analysis of literature is apparently all the rage in English departments; author Brian Hayes notes that the idea goes back to the 19th century. Thomas Mendenhall, professor at Ohio State, built a special tabulating machine to count word length in 1887 and tackled various literary works, including William Makepeace Thackeray, Charles Dickens, William Shakespeare, and Francis Bacon. A reader called out word lengths as fast as possible and the tabulators pressed the appropriate buttons. Six hundred thousand words later Mendenhall published an article in Popular Science noting that Bacon’s “word length spectrum” was different from Shakespeare’s; Shakespeare used more four and five letter words while Bacon went ahead after seven letters. At about the same time Lucius Adelno Sherman undertook a similar project with sentence length; comparing the works of Edmund Spenser and Thomas Macaulay he noted that Spenser’s sentences averaged 50.65 words while Macaulay camde out at 23.49, suggesting that the English sentence was shortening with time. Wow.
Engines Powered by the Forces Between Atoms
Author Fabrizio Pinto notes that under certain circumstances the Casimir force and the van der Waals force can be harnessed to making nanoscale “engines”. Since both of these, particularly the Casimir force, are favorite hobby horses of “free energy” loons, Pinto notes “Emphatically, this does not mean that an infinite amount of energy can be ‘tapped’…” Pinto’s method works by shining a light on a pair of plates subject to the Casimir forces. The light changes the dielectric function of the plates and they move apart; when the illumination is turned off the Casimir effect pushes the plates together again. Pinto stresses that total energy in the system is conserved since energy must be added from the light source, but a tiny oscillating system might have various applications.

Natural History July-August 2014
Holding up the world
A review article on concrete, which has the largest per capita use of any material in the world after water. Most of the article is general history; however there’s a little note about the bacterium Sporosarcina pasteurii, which can survive embedded in concrete for years, then when exposed to water – through a crack, for example – will grow and excrete calcite. Thus, self-repairing concrete.

Weatherwise July-August 2014
Collaborating Across the Fence
This short note discusses collaboration between meteorologists and scientists in other fields. Of particular interest was a program to outfit large fish – tarpon, tuna, billfish and sharks – with weather stations in addition to tracking beacons. The equipment monitors water depth, temperature, light level and salinity. One result so far is certain shark species try to stay in water that is 79° F.

Nature 31 July 2014
Editorial
Fishy business
A year ago the US FDA issued a draft assessment approving AquaBounty Technologies genetically engineered salmon, which grows faster than normal. The company began raising 6 metric tons of salmon at a facility in Panama anticipating final approval. Unfortunately the salmon now sleep with the fishes; they were culled and destroyed when final approval was not forthcoming; the FDA said it needed more time to process 35000 public comments. AquaBounty has been waiting for approval for 20 years; ironically the technology is now obsolete, since it’s now possible to edit salmon genes to get the same effect without introducing genetic material from another species. Of considerable concern to Nature, and presumably to AquaBounty, is that most of the FDA deliberations were held in private. Nature suggests “FDA should learn from past experience, bring these discussions before the public, and leave political considerations at the door.” I expect that will happen Real Soon Now.
Trend Watch
Climate Change in the Media
Using the New York Times “Chronicle” tool a public-policy professor at the University of Colorado found the Times, starting around 2005, began calling whatever it is that might or might not be happening “climate change” instead of “global warming”. References to “climate change” now outnumber references to “global warming” by more than 2:1.
News in Focus
Project Drills Deep Into Coming Quake
A tem is installing a 1.3 kilometer deep drill hole, to be equipped with numerous sensors, into the shear zone of the Alpine Fault in New Zealand, which ruptures about every 330 years (last time in 1717) producing earthquakes up to M 8. It’s hoped the sensors will return all sorts of geologically useful information when the next quake occurs, as they are being smeared into pseudotachlylite.
Letter
Velocity anti-correlation of diametrically opposite galaxy satellites in the low-redshift Universe
Thee idea here is that both the Milky Way and the Andromeda galaxy have systems of dwarf “satellite” galaxies that are aligned in a plane. “Satellite” is in quotes because it’s an inference that the dwarf galaxies are actually rotating coherently around the main galaxy. As it turns out, they probably are; this study looked at a number of nearby galaxies, found associated dwarf galaxies, looked at their velocities, and found them anti-correlated (i.e., if you found a dwarf galaxy at distance “X” from the center, they found another dwarf also at distance “X’ but on the opposite side of the main galaxy, the chances are (to two nines confidence) that they are moving at the same speed but in opposite directions – a round-about way of saying that the dwarf galaxies tend to revolve around the main galaxy in a plane. The alternative hypothesis was that the dwarves had been expelled from the main galaxy or poached from a neighbor, in which case they were expected to have more or less randomly oriented orbits.
Widespread mixing and burial of Earth’s Hadean crust by asteroid impacts
The authors do a simulation of asteroid impacts on the Hadean age (roughly 4.6-4.0 Gya) and conclude that there should have be enough to completely remix whatever primitive crust developed – several times. Any oceans present would be repeatedly boiled off to steam and whatever crust had formed would be destroyed and remixed.

Science 25 July 2014
News In Depth
Oil sands fight heats up in U.S.
The BLM will be leasing sites in Utah’s Uinta Basin, at the appropriately named Asphalt Ridge. The sandstones are expected to contain 19G barrels in tar sands. The usual people are outraged.

Nature 24 July 2014
Editorial
The wrong kind of carbon cut
News Focus
Anger as Australia dumps carbon tax
An editorial and an article both discuss the Australian parliament’s decision to scrap the countries carbon tax program. The editorial criticizes the decision, claiming that the program only affected the 350 most polluting companies, and that the effect on Australia consumers was “modest”; the editorial writers admit that while the public is willing to protect the environment they are unwilling to spend an unlimited amount to do so. The article provides numbers rather than editorial platitudes; the tax, $Au24/metric ton of carbon emitted, raised $Au6.6G but increased the cost of living for the average Australian family by $Au550/year. Australia’s carbon emissions decreased by about 0.8%; the intent of the tax was to reduce them by 5% by 2020. I was surprised to find that the bulk of Australia ‘s electric power comes from coal; I suppose I shouldn’t have been – what else do they have? The article notes that while Australia’s overall contribution to world carbon emissions is modest, the per capita rate is high.
News In Focus
China plans super collider
The Institute for High Energy Physics in Beijing has announced plans to build a 53km diameter positron-electron collider, to be followed by a proton-proton collider in the same tunnel. The positron-electron machine will be capable of 240GeV collisons; the proton-proton ring will reach 70TeV (CERN’s Large Hadron Collider can reach 14TeV). The project is to be completed by 2035. This will be followed by an international (but located in China) 80km diameter positron-electron collider, and a proton-proton collider in the same tunnel planned to reach 100TeV.
Fusion upstarts
Two venture capital companies, TriAlpha Energy (based in Irvine, California) and General Fusion(of Burnaby, Canada), have announced plans to build their own fusion power machines. Neither uses the tokamak or laser implosion designs. The General Fusion machine uses a spinning torus of liquid lead that is injected with deuterium/tritium plasma, then rapidly compressed by a “forest” of pistons to initiate fusion; the TriAlpha Energy machine proposes using the proton+B11 reaction (which generates three alpha particles, hence the name); quasi-stable spinning vortices of plasma will be injected at either end of a linear reactor to collide in the middle, where they will supposedly form a stable “plasmoid” that is kept heated and spinning by applied current. The p+B11 reaction has the advantage that it generates no neutrons and thus does not induce radioactivity in the reactor materials.

Science 18 July 2014
News
Organic foods come up rosy
A meta-analysis of studies of organic fruits and vegetables found they are “up to 69% higher” in levels of antioxidants, and also lower than conventionally grown foods in cadmium and pesticide residues. (However, see “Food for Thought” below.
Flying dino had long, feathery tail
Changyuraptor yangi, from Jurassic sediments in China, was the heaviest flying dinosaur of its time (about 4 kg). The animal apparently flew with both fore- and hindlimb wings, and had a very long tail, supposedly used to maneuver for landing.

Nature 17 July 2014
Editorial
Food for Thought
See the review “Organic foods come up rosy” above. The Nature editorial notes “valid criticism of the paper and its statistical analysis methods”. It also notes that the “antioxidants” described in the paper may in fact be phenolic compounds produced by organic crops as natural pesticides. There is a final caution that researchers should not be forced to “pick sides”.
Seven Days
Faked peer review
The publisher SAGE retracted 60 articles from The Journal of Vibration and Control after a 14-month investigation uncovered a “peer review and citation ring” using online fabricated identities.

Science 11 July 2014
News In Brief
The case of the stolen seeds
Prosecutors are charging Mo Yun, head of a Chinese research center, with coordinating a group that wandered around the rural Midwest in rental cars, stealing corn seedlings, ears, and packets of seeds. The patented seeds were then smuggled to China in microwave popcorn boxes. The thefts were discovered when a DuPont Pioneer employee spotted someone park a rental car on the side of a rural road, enter a field, and begin digging up corn seedlings.
News in Depth
RIP for a key Homo species?
Anthropologists are debating is Homo heidelbergensis is a valid human species. The type specimen in a jaw found near Heidelberg in 1907; subsequent fossils assigned to the species came from Arago, France; Petralona, Greece; Broken Hill, Zambia; Yunxian, China; Sima de los Huesos, Spain; and Bodo, Ethiopia, suggesting a wide-ranging successor to H. erectus. However, it’s since been decided that the Spanish fossils are Neandertals and the African fossils are H. rhodesiensis. The catch is none of the other skulls include a jaw, which is what the original description was based on. The alternative are:
  1. H. heidelbergensis is valid
  2. The fossils assigned to H. heidelbergensis are just variants of H. erectus.
  3. Each of the local fossils is a different species

Nature 10 July 2014
Feature News
The Great Mosquito Hunt
The Sahel region experiences a 8-month dry season that evaporates all the open water pools that mosquitoes breed in. However, as soon as the rain start mosquitoes turn up in swarms – much faster than it would take to go through a whole metamorphosis from egg to larva to pupa to adult. Therefore, it’s assumed that adult mosquitoes estivate somewhere during the dry season. If the hideout could be found it would allow another avenue of attack on the mosquito population. Enter Dana, the mosquito-sniffing dog. Dana and her trainer had a difficult time getting through Bamako airport security; Malian dogs are generally small and scruffy, and the guards had never seen a German shepherd before. Eventually things progressed and Dana got on the trail; Malians were amazed to see a dog that would obey commands and thought trainer Sapir Weiss was a witch. Alas, although Dana detected some planted mosquitoes the estivation hideout remains undetected. One problem was it was so hot that Dana couldn’t sniff and pant at the same time. Two Malians came to California to train as dog handlers and the hunt goes on.

Science 4 July 2014
News
“’Genetically modified sounds Frankensteinish’. ‘Drought resistant’ sounds really [like] something you want”. Hillary Clinton speaking to the Biotechnology Industry Organization meeting.
Feathers that didn’t fly
Modern birds have “pennaceous” wing feathers, with a thick stalk and blades on either side. A new specimen of Archaeopteryx shows pennaceous feathers all over the body, in places where they make no aerodynamic sense. The suggestion is pennaceous feathers evolved for something else – perhaps mating display – first and were coopted for wing feathers.
”Secret Science” bill advances
The House science subcommittee voted along party lines to advance a bill by David Schweikert (R-Az) to forbid the EPA from promulgating a rule or policy unless the data supporting it is publically available and capable of “substantial reproduction”.
In Depth
Injection wells blamed in Oklahoma earthquakes
Oklahoma took over the US record for earthquakes of magnitude 3 and above last year (from California). Studies have blamed the increase in quakes on injection wells to dispose of waste water from oil and gas operations. Geologists note that there is a power relation in earthquake magnitude – for every 10000 M3 quakes, you get 1000 M4, 100 M5, 10 M6 and an M7. So far there have been 150 M3 quakes in Oklahoma this year.

Nature 3 July 2014
Seven Days
GM-study furore
The paper that linked GM-maize with tumors in mice, later retracted by the original publisher, has been republished in a second journal (Environmental Sciences Europe), which conducted no peer-review.
Exoskeleton device
The USDA has approved ReWalk, a motorized exoskeleton allowing people with certain kinds of lower body paralysis to sit, stand and walk.
News in Focus
GM maize splits Mexico
A judge ordered a halt to all commercial and experimental activity involving GM-maize until a final verdict is reached in a class action lawsuit. The article notes this may take months to years. Researchers report “We are very frustrated and there is a general sense of despair”.
Feature News
Hope on the line
In 2004 a California ballot initiative created the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, funded by a $3G bond issue. The Institute has a state-of-the-art facility and has attracted researchers from all over the world; however, it has not produced any results that “matter to the public” – i.e., no cures. The money will be gone in 2017 and the Institute is struggling to find more funding; the biologist who was originally president has been replaced by a businessman, and there is talk of another vote and bond issue. The idea for CIRM can be traced back to real estate developer Robert Klein, who organized the ballot initiative; Klein is now quoted as saying “If we don’t take a position now the next ten years may see a theocratic government at the state and federal level that restricts scientific research in this country for the next 50-100 years”. My personal view is that stem cell research was a handy stick to beat George Bush. Certainly there’s promise in research but no more than many other research directions. We saw similar things with marijuana, in which hemp was promised to be a biofuel, an industrial fabric, and allow everybody to have a free pony. I see no enormous hemp plantations in Washington and Colorado capitalizing on the supposed benefits. Don’t get me wrong; being a libertarian I’m all for drug legalization. But hemp’s uses are minor at best.

Geology July 2014
Where have all the craters gone? Earth’s bombardment history and the expected terrestrial cratering record
The authors attempt to model the extraterrestrial bombardment history of the earth, assuming continental crust has been roughly constant and impacts are random. Noting that craters in oceanic crust will be recycled by plate tectonics, there’s only a 30% chance that a crater older than 280 My will still be around. There are 7 craters 85 km or larger on Earth (Chesapeake Bay, Popigai, Chicxulub, Manicougan, Acraman, Sudbury, Vredefort; note that there’s disagreement about the size of some of these); a model with constant impact flux predicts 8±3 surviving out of 49±7 craters of this size over Earth’s history. With decaying impact flux the model predicts 11±3 survivors out of 113±11. Thus the model can’t distinguish between the two theories of impact rates. The authors note traces of now destroyed craters may be recoverable by finding distant ejecta layers.
Mid-Cretaceous to Paleocene North American drainage reorganization from detrital zircons
Zircons are pretty durable; although their source is igneous or metamorphic rocks their tough enough to survive erosion and incorporation as detrital sediment in sedimentary rocks. Zircons can be dated with U-Pb or Pb-Pb methods (the result, of course, is the age of the source rock, not of the sandstone now containing the zircons. By examining zircon ages in fluvial (stream-deposited, rather than beach or lake deposited) sandstone, the authors were able to work out the likely source area and thus drainage patterns in North America from the mid-Cretaceous to the Paleocene. In the Cretaceous, drainage was mostly toward the north (technically, the modern north, although it was more or less north then too) toward the “Boreal Ocean”, with just a relatively narrow strip draining into the Gulf of Mexico; by the Paleocene, about half of North America drained to the Gulf of Mexico with the remainder draining to the Atlantic by way of Hudson Bay.
Paleoarchean ocean crust and mantle excavated by meteor impact: insight into early crustal processes and tectonics
The authors note that large impacts will create an extensive ejecta deposit, representative of both the impactor and whatever it hit. Although the original impact crater may be long gone due to plate tectonic recycling (see paper above), ejecta that happens to fall on a stable craton has a good chance of being preserved. Thus the impact acts as a probe into long-gone crust. The authors analyze an ejecta layer from South Africa and Australia and dated to 3.24 Gya. The trace element concentration of the ejecta is most accurately represented by 15% carbonaceous chrondite, 65% ocean basalt, and 20% depleted MORB mantle (MORB is Mid Ocean Ridge Basalt; “depleted” MORB mantle indicates part of the mantle had differentiated into oceanic and continental crust and was thus “depleted” in crustal material). The authors suggest other Archean and Proterozoic ejecta material could give insight into early Earth processes.

Science 27 June 2014
(The theme for this issue was shale gas development)
Special Section – The Gas Revolution
The Gas Surge
The review article notes that there are abundant shale gas reserves around the world but so far it has had the most impact in the United States. Current process are around $3/MBTU (down from a high of $10/MBTU in 2005); the high estimate for shale gas production could hold this number below $5/MBTU until 2040.
Will fracking put too much fizz in your water?
An antifracking chattering point is methane leaking into water supplies. The article notes nineteen families in Dimock, Pennsylvania blamed fracking for methane leaks into their water wells; the drill company provided a cash settlement and water purification systems but maintained the methane came from natural sources; the issue was never resolved although independent studies suggested the industry position was plausible. The DOE put tracers in six Marcellus Shale wells in Pennsylvania; so far there is no evidence of methane making it anywhere near the surface although the arguments continue. In 2004 a methane leak killed an elderly couple and their grandson in Jefferson County, Pennsylvania; however, this was from a conventional well, not a fracking well. The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection found “construction problems” in 3.4% (219) of the fracking wells inspected; 16 were leaking methane into ground water. A Penn State study reviewing PDEP data noted “From what we can see the frequency of big problems in pretty low”. New York State has banned fracking, probably temporarily; researchers are busy monitoring background water quality, especially in the border region with Pennsylvania (where the geology will be similar to the Pennsylvania experience).

Nature 26 June 2014
Seven Days
Satellites show magnetic field in decline
Various studies have suggested the global magnetic field is slowly declining. The three European SWARM satellites have categorized the decline by region; the global magnetic field is decreasing dramatically over almost the entire Western hemisphere, but increasing over the Indian Ocean and parts of Asia. The short note doesn’t go into further detail; I imagine that some of the apparent increase is due to quadrapole and higher order fields increasing as the dipole field declines.

Science 20 June 2014
News
New Horizons borrows Hubble
(Appended to a previous thread)
Europe still snubs GM crops
The European Union will allow individual countries to opt out of GM crop approval “for national planning or socioeconomic reasons”. According to the way I read this short note, the GM crops can still be marketed in the “opt put” countries, just not cultivated. The European Council of Ministries still must agree on a final text.
In Depth
NIH puts massive U.S. children’s study on hold
(appended to a previous thread)
’Right to Try’ laws bypass FDA for last-ditch treatment
Several states have passed “right to try” laws which allow bypassing FDA regulations on unapproved drugs. The laws are sponsored by the libertarian Goldwater Institute; they require that the patient be terminally ill and the drug to be used must have at least passed first stage clinical trials. Critics say that there are already procedures in place for “expanded access” to unapproved drugs; in 2013 the FDA only denied three expanded access requests out of 1000. The “right to try” advocates counter by saying that the paperwork required for “expanded access” is burdensome and outside the capabilities of individual patients. “Right to try” is on the books in Colorado and Louisiana, is awaiting the governor’s signature in Missouri, and is on the November ballot in Arizona.
Was America ‘discovered’ in medieval Central Asia
The article profiles 10th-century Uzbek polymath Abu Rayhan al-Biruni, who supposedly calculated the Earth’s circumference “with astounding accuracy” (the article does not say what his value was, but notes he calculated it by using numerous directions to Mecca from various places he visited). Al-Biruni noted that most of the Earth was unaccounted for, and thus suggested that there were undiscovered continents. Personally I don’t think this counts as “discovering” America, but it is an interesting accomplishment.

Journal of Near Eastern Studies April 2014
The Ahmose ‘Tempest Stela’, Thera and Comparative Chronologies
(Given its own entry due to length; note April 2014 is the current issue due to the torpid pace of specialist journal publishing)

Nature 1 May 2014
News Focus
Two plants to put ‘clean coal’ to test
Unit 3 at the Boundary Dam Power Station in Saskatchewan and the Kemper County plant of Mississippi Power will supposedly begin capturing carbon dioxide later this year. Each plant will capture about 90% of its CO₂ emissions and sell the gas for oil recovery.
Feature News
Smallpox watch
Nobody knows exactly how long the smallpox virus can survive; although the virus is supposedly “extinct” in the wild there have been some scares. In 2011 a corpse rolled out of a damaged iron coffin at a foundation excavation in Queens; a medical examiner noted smallpox lesions on the body and sent a time in protective clothing to take samples (there was no trace of active virus in the 160-year-old body). In a similar scare, a letter discovered in the collection of the Virginia Historical Society contained a scab, intended to be used as a vaccination source (the scab didn’t contain any active virus either). A cache of 300-year-old frozen bodies unearthed by a Siberian flood also had no usable DNA; thus far the oldest know sample of viable virus dates to 1939. Still, researchers keep looking, both to avoid an outbreak of disease and to sequence a ancient strain’s DNA.


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 Post subject: Re: from current journals as of 2014 08 11
PostPosted: Mon Aug 11, 2014 10:47 pm 
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I understand that boxers wear gloves to protect their hands, particularly the fourth metacarpals.


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 Post subject: Re: from current journals as of 2014 08 11
PostPosted: Tue Aug 12, 2014 6:52 am 
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Quote:
A Network That Never Goes Down
LTE Direct will go into effect at the end of this year, allowing cell phones to create their own ad hoc network even if they are not within range of a cell tower. Under the standard, a cell phone will be able to connect with another phone within 500 meters, relaying to other phones until it reaches its destination.


I've been following this for some time now. It is a pretty cool concept. Kind of like bittorrent with self-discovery. Okay, maybe not that cool. I keep expecting it to be squashed. [It seems to me] it is not in the interest of the big cellular telecoms to have the standard implemented in hardware. [It seems to me] it induces a responsibility on all providers and takes them in a [less profitable] direction; it becomes less 'their' network.

From a users perspective, it is only useful if you need it, and detrimental if you don't. If you are near a tower, it is not in your [battery's] best interest to have this function running. If you exist on the edge of tower's coverage, your phone essentially becomes an edge router. Since it is instantiated in software (assuming the supporting hardware exists), it can be disabled in software as well. I see apps quickly hitting the market that will turn it off if cell reception is high; tragedy of the commons. The solution is to compensate the user for his routing services. Do you see that happening?

This link provides something of a tutorial on the technology. Check out the explanatory videos at the right.

http://www.qualcomm.com/research/projects/lte-direct

Also at that link is discriminator that refutes my [seems to me].

Quote:
Mobile operators would be the spectrum holders for LTE Direct, and as such will be authorizing and controlling access to the system. Any application seeking to equip itself with LTE Direct must work with the mobile operator. Thus, this is an excellent opportunity for mobile operators However, its important to note that LTE Direct offers value and opportunities to the entire eco-system including app developers, infra-structure providers, OEMs, system integrators and the various verticals that can translate the platform to meaningful utility for the end consumers.


I think it refutes it poorly.

Seriously guys, why don't they call me first? :)


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 Post subject: Re: from current journals as of 2014 08 11
PostPosted: Tue Aug 12, 2014 7:48 am 
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Location: California-prev Texas Montreal Virginia
Nature 1 May 2014
News Focus
"Two plants to put ‘clean coal’ to test
Unit 3 at the Boundary Dam Power Station in Saskatchewan and the Kemper County plant of Mississippi Power will supposedly begin capturing carbon dioxide later this year. Each plant will capture about 90% of its CO₂ emissions and sell the gas for oil recovery."

Some contrarians ars suggesting that it may be about time to start buying cheap coal stocks - clean or dirty


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 Post subject: Re: from current journals as of 2014 08 11
PostPosted: Tue Aug 12, 2014 12:49 pm 
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Decision looms on future of E.U. science advice
Environmental groups have called for the ouster of the incumbent science advisor to the European Commission – Anne Glover – and called for the position to be scrapped. Complainants, such as Greenpeace Europe, said Glover “misrepresented science” when she said that genetically modified plants carried no more risk than conventionally bred plants. “She sounded like a GMO lobbyist” said Jorgo Riss of Greenpeace.

I have been paying attention to this and found her initial response to be the most likely correct answer:
Quote:
“What happens at the moment – whether it’s in Commission, Parliament or Council – is that time and time again, if people don’t like what’s being proposed, what they say is that there is something wrong with the evidence. So everybody blames the evidence and nobody is honest about the fact that in many cases, understanding the evidence is the best possible platform to make the logical extension into policy. But they don’t like it so they say ‘We need more evidence’. And of course scientists can always produce more evidence.”

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 Post subject: Re: from current journals as of 2014 08 11
PostPosted: Mon Aug 25, 2014 11:42 pm 
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setnahkt wrote:
The sandstones are expected to contain 19G barrels in tar sands.
Do you recall if that is that total oil-in-place, what is potentially recoverable or what is currently economically recoverable?


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 Post subject: Re: from current journals as of 2014 08 11
PostPosted: Tue Aug 26, 2014 6:46 pm 
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No; don't remember. It was just a short note in the news section; there's probably more info out on the Web somewhere.


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 Post subject: Re: from current journals as of 2014 08 11
PostPosted: Fri Feb 20, 2015 7:51 pm 
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Quote:
Nature 1 May 2014
News Focus
Two plants to put ‘clean coal’ to test
Unit 3 at the Boundary Dam Power Station in Saskatchewan and the Kemper County plant of Mississippi Power will supposedly begin capturing carbon dioxide later this year. Each plant will capture about 90% of its CO₂ emissions and sell the gas for oil recovery.


Science February 13 2015
News in Brief
DOE scraps carbon capture plant
The DOE has dropped out of the FutureGen project, which was supposed to be a commercial scale coal burning power plant, in Mattoon, Illinois, which captured and sequestered all its carbon dioxide emissions. The short note says permitting delays and opposition from environmental groups delayed the project (started in 2003) until there was no longer time to complete it by the scheduled September 2015 date.


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 Post subject: Re: from current journals as of 2014 08 11
PostPosted: Wed Feb 25, 2015 12:17 am 
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setnahkt wrote:
Science 1 August 2014
News
Warming may not swamp islands
One of the memes of global warming is island states like the Maldives, Kiribati, and Tuvalu will disappear as rising sea levels submerge them. Kiribati has bought land in Fiji to resettle the expected displaced citizens. Geomorphologists note, however, that while the prediction appeared in almost every publication on climate change nobody had ever examined it. Models developed at the University of Auckland and the University of Sydney found, instead, that the growth rate of coral is easily able to keep up with even the most rapidly predicted rising sea levels. Aerial photos and satellite images from the past 60 years show no discernable effect from sea level rise during that period. The president of Kiribati has drawn attention to submerged islets, washed-away villages and broken sea walls; however, outside observers (and some Kiribati officials) contend these are due to overcrowding and poor shoreline management. The capital, Tarawa, has 50000 people living on 15 square kilometers of land.


Scientific American March 2015
Fantasy Island
Author Simon Donner elaborates on the above short note, finding that while climate change and sea level rise is real, what Kiribati needs is not "...a breathless rush for a quick fix" but well-thought-out adaptation plans. He found that some of the supposed "smoking guns" for sea level rise actually had different causes; for example, Tebunginako, a "flagship village" for sea level rise, actually flooded because a storm blocked a lagoon channel; that a causeway connecting two islands changed current patterns and therefore sea erosion, and, in perhaps the most ironic situation, salinization of groundwater was not due to encroaching sea water, but new pumps provided by an aid agency. The old pumps ran off the islands' Diesel generator and thus were only turned on when necessary; the new pumps were solar with battery backup and ran continuously, drawing down groundwater. The situation has since been corrected but to Donner it highlights the danger of "...well-meaning foreigners swooping in to rescue people".


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 Post subject: Re: from current journals as of 2014 08 11
PostPosted: Wed Jun 03, 2015 7:11 pm 
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scoob5555 wrote:
Quote:
Decision looms on future of E.U. science advice
Environmental groups have called for the ouster of the incumbent science advisor to the European Commission – Anne Glover – and called for the position to be scrapped. Complainants, such as Greenpeace Europe, said Glover “misrepresented science” when she said that genetically modified plants carried no more risk than conventionally bred plants. “She sounded like a GMO lobbyist” said Jorgo Riss of Greenpeace.

I have been paying attention to this and found her initial response to be the most likely correct answer:
Quote:
“What happens at the moment – whether it’s in Commission, Parliament or Council – is that time and time again, if people don’t like what’s being proposed, what they say is that there is something wrong with the evidence. So everybody blames the evidence and nobody is honest about the fact that in many cases, understanding the evidence is the best possible platform to make the logical extension into policy. But they don’t like it so they say ‘We need more evidence’. And of course scientists can always produce more evidence.”


Science 22 May 2015
News in Depth
E.U. commission promises to listen to scientists
The position of Chief Science Advisor to the European Commission was not renewed after President Jean-Claude Juncker took office. As might be expected from the European Commission, a Science Advice Mechanism was instituted and the CSA will now be replaced by a committee of seven scientists, who will be chosen by a three-member "identification committee". The eventual science committee will have a staff of 25.


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