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Tagged with “science” (577)

  1. Priyamvada Natarajan: Solving Dark Matter and Dark Energy - The Long Now

    The darkness of dark matter and dark energy

    All that we know of the universe we get from observing photons, Natarajan pointed out.

    But dark matter, which makes up 90 percent of the total mass in the universe, is called dark because it neither emits nor reflects photons—and because of our ignorance of what it is!

    It is conjectured to be made up of still-unidentified exotic collisionless particles which might weigh about six times more than an electron.

    Though some challenge whether dark matter even exists, Natarajan is persuaded that it does because of her research on “the heaviest objects in the universe“—galaxy clusters of more than 1,000 galaxies.

    First of all, the rotation of stars within galaxies does not look Keplerian—the outermost stars move far too quickly as discovered in the 1970s.

    Their rapid rate of motion only makes sense if there is a vast “halo” of dark matter enclosing each galaxy.

    And galaxy clusters have so much mass (90 percent of it dark) that their gravitation bends light, “lenses” it.

    A galaxy perfectly aligned on the far side of a galaxy cluster appears to us—via the Hubble Space Telescope—as a set of multiple arc-shaped (distorted) galaxy images.

    Studying the precise geometry of those images can reveal some of the nature of dark matter, such as that it appears to be “clumpy.”

    When the next-generation of space telescopes - the James Webb Space Telescope that comes online in 2018 and the WFIRST a few years afterward, much more will be learned.

    There are also instruments on Earth trying to detect dark-matter particles directly, so far without success.

    As for dark energy—the accelerating expansion of the universe—its shocking discovery came from two independent teams in 1998-99.

    Dark energy is now understood to constitute 72 percent of the entire contents of the universe.

    (Of the remainder, dark matter is 23 percent, and atoms—the part that we know—makes up just 4.6 percent.)

    But when the universe was just 380,000 years old (13.7 billion years ago), there was no dark energy.

    But now “the universe is expanding at a pretty fast clip.”

    Natarajan hopes to use galaxy-cluster lensing as a tool “to trace the geometry of space-time which encodes dark energy.”

    These days, she said, data is coming in from the universe faster than theory can keep up with it.

    ”We are in a golden age of cosmology.”

    —Stewart Brand

    http://longnow.org/seminars/02016/apr/11/solving-dark-matter-and-dark-energy/

    —Huffduffed by adactio

  2. Jane Langdale: Radical Ag: C4 Rice and Beyond - The Long Now

    Revolutionary rice

    Feeding the world (and saving nature) in this populous century, Jane Langdale began, depends entirely on agricultural efficiency—the ability to turn a given amount of land and sunlight into ever more food.

    And that depends on three forms of efficiency in each crop plant: 1) interception efficiency (collecting sunlight); 2) conversion efficiency (turning sunlight into sugars and starch); and 3) partitioning efficiency (maximizing the edible part).

    Of these, after centuries of plant breeding, only conversion efficiency is far short of the theoretical maximum.

    Most photosynthesis (called “C3“) is low-grade, poisoning its own process by reacting with oxygen instead of carbon dioxide when environmental conditions are hot and dry.

    But some plants, such as corn and sugar cane, have a brilliant workaround.

    They separate the photosynthetic process into two adjoining cells.

    The outer cell creates a special four-carbon compound (hence “C4“) that is delivered to the oxygen-protected inner cell. In the inner cell, carbon dioxide is released from the C4 compound, enabling drastically more efficient photosynthesis to take place because carbon dioxide is at a much higher concentration than oxygen.

    Rice is a C3 plant—which happens to be the staple food for half the world.

    If it can be converted to C4 photosynthesis, its yield would increase by 50% while using half the water.

    It would also be drought-resistant and need far less fertilizer.

    Langdale noted that C4 plants have evolved naturally 60 times in a variety of plant families, all of which provide models of the transition.

    “How difficult could it be?” she deadpanned. The engineering begins with reverse-engineering.

    For instance, the main leaves in corn are C4, but the husk leaves are C3-like, so the genes that affect the two forms of development can be studied.

    Langdale’s research suggests that the needed structural change in rice can be managed with about 12 engineered genes, and previous research by others indicates that the biochemical changes can be achieved with perhaps 10 genes.

    How much is needed for the eventual fine tuning will emerge later.

    When is later?

    The C4 Rice project began in 2006 at the International Rice Research Institute in the Philippines, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

    The research is on schedule, and engineering should begin in 2019, with the expectation that breeding of delicious, fiercely efficient C4 rice could be complete by 2039.

    It is the kind of thing that highly focussed multi-generation science can accomplish.

    —Stewart Brand

    http://longnow.org/seminars/02016/mar/14/radical-ag-c4-rice-and-beyond/

    —Huffduffed by adactio

  3. Russell Hoban meets the Guardian book club

    The author of Riddley Walker explains to Professor John Mullan how following the ‘hobo journeys’ of his mind led him to his troubling vision of the future.

    Speculating about why readers are drawn to stories as painful as his account of the pinched, raw existence in the wake of a future nuclear catastrophe, Russell Hoban explains to his audience that "people like to read about people in the last extremity of nothing left".

    His own engagement with the material, as he explains, came about rather more accidentally after an unplanned visit to Canterbury Cathedral that set his mind off on "one of its hobo journeys" that mysteriously deliver him his plots.

    Riddley Walker is remarkable for its reimagining of English in the wake of a collapse of civilisation, and similarly Hoban says that this was not how he started out: "I began in straight English and left it behind", discovering a new tongue that "is an active character and fed me things I wouldn’t otherwise have thought of" including the character of Riddley.

    Unusually for a book club guest, Hoban is accompanied by one of his characters, in this case Mr Punch, who features in the novel as "the absolutely lawless force that wants what it wants immediately", but is fortunately on pretty restrained form for the occasion.

    http://www.theguardian.com/books/audio/2010/nov/29/russell-hoban-guardian-book-club

    —Huffduffed by adactio

  4. Extreme Science: NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope - SXSW Interactive 2016

    NASA has always pushed boundaries in big science and big technology. Right now, NASA (partnering with the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency) is building, assembling, and testing the largest telescope to ever be launched into space: the James Webb Space Telescope. As the scientific successor to the beloved Hubble Space Telescope, JWST will explore uncharted territories in the first epoch of galaxy formation—a part of our Universe never seen before. JWST will also have the amazing capability to study exoplanet atmospheres in unprecedented detail. This is possible due to innovative technologies that push the boundaries of what is capable for spacecraft.

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    Original video: https://soundcloud.com/officialsxsw/extreme-science-nasas-james-webb-space-telescope-sxsw-interactive-2016
    Downloaded by http://huffduff-video.snarfed.org/

    —Huffduffed by adactio

  5. Eat This Panel (If You Dare): Food Myths Debunked - SXSW Interactive/Film 2016

    What’s today’s culinary villain du jour? Fat. Cholesterol. Gluten. Toxins. Scary-sounding ingredients: Did you know that practically everything we eat contains dihydrogen monoxide?! What’s the role of real science in a world in which social networks have the ability to transform food myths into food reality? What are the consequences of all this hype and hyperbole? We’ve gathered three experts (with real degrees) to sort through the issue and blaze a path forward. Oh, and that dihydrogen monoxide? It’s also known as H2O.

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    Original video: https://soundcloud.com/officialsxsw/eat-this-panel-if-you-dare-food-myths-debunked-sxsw-interactivefilm-2016
    Downloaded by http://huffduff-video.snarfed.org/

    —Huffduffed by adactio

  6. 291: I Like Complicated Books, Glenn

    "Aurora" and "Luna: New Moon" - Our Book Club returns to read two recent, highly praised science fiction novels. From Kim Stanley Robinson comes “Aurora,” the story of a spaceship sent from Earth to a far-off star in a trip that will take generations. And from Ian McDonald comes “Luna: New Moon,” a sort of “Dallas” (or is it “The Godfather”?) set on and under the surface of the moon. Plus, what else are we reading?

    Host Jason Snell with Scott McNulty, Aleen Simms, Erika Ensign and Glenn Fleishman.

    —Huffduffed by adactio

  7. A science fiction writer from the Soviet Union found the secret to time-travel | Public Radio International

    If you think about what life will be like in say, five to ten years, you can alter the course of history. That’s what Genrich Altshuller may have done.

    http://www.pri.org/stories/2016-03-10/science-fiction-writer-soviet-union-found-secret-time-travel

    —Huffduffed by adactio

  8. The Great Debate: THE STORYTELLING OF SCIENCE (OFFICIAL) - (Part 2/2)

    Link to Part 1 (of 2): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_J4QPz

    Join the Origins Project at ASU for the final night in the Origins Stories weekend, focused on the science of storytelling and the storytelling of science. The Storytelling of Science will feature a panel of esteemed scientists, public intellectuals, and award-winning writers including well-known science educator Bill Nye, astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins, theoretical physicist Brian Greene, Science Friday’s Ira Flatow, popular science fiction writer Neal Stephenson, executive director of the World Science Festival Tracy Day, and Origins Project director Lawrence Krauss as they discuss the stories behind cutting edge science from the origin of the universe to a discussion of exciting technologies that will change our future. They will demonstrate how to convey the excitement of science and the importance helping promote a public understanding of science. The panel discussion is sure to be a provocative and entertaining finale to our Origins Stories events. We look forward to seeing you there!

    VIdeo by Black Chalk Productions.

    Get the most recent updates from the Origins Project by following us on Facebook /ASUOriginsProject and Twitter @asuORIGINS. Contact origins.project@asu.eduwith questions.

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    Original video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=40YIIaF1qiw
    Downloaded by http://huffduff-video.snarfed.org/

    —Huffduffed by adactio

  9. Space, Reaching for the Stars

    What does the future hold for human space exploration? With more countries getting involved and costs falling, ambitious projects are being proposed.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p03dn2m9

    —Huffduffed by adactio

  10. The Great Debate: THE STORYTELLING OF SCIENCE (OFFICIAL) - (Part 1/2)

    Link to Part 2 (of 2): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=40YIIaF1qiw

    The Origins Project at ASU presents the final night in the Origins Stories weekend, focusing on the science of storytelling and the storytelling of science. The Storytelling of Science features a panel of esteemed scientists, public intellectuals, and award-winning writers including well-known science educator Bill Nye, astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins, theoretical physicist Brian Greene, Science Friday’s Ira Flatow, popular science fiction writer Neal Stephenson, executive director of the World Science Festival Tracy Day, and Origins Project director Lawrence Krauss as they discuss the stories behind cutting edge science from the origin of the universe to a discussion of exciting technologies that will change our future. They demonstrate how to convey the excitement of science and the importance helping promote a public understanding of science.

    Video by Black Chalk Productions

    Get the most recent updates from the Origins Project by following us on Facebook /ASUOriginsProject and Twitter @asuORIGINS. Contact origins.project@asu.eduwith questions.

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    Original video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_J4QPz52Sfo
    Downloaded by http://huffduff-video.snarfed.org/

    —Huffduffed by adactio

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