August 31, 2018 was a good issue of Science. Starting with the in brief news updates – Sacha Baron Cohen tried to prank Francis Collins (NIH) – Collins realized pretty quickly but continued to engage: “‘I was pretty irritated from having been misled.’ But ever the dutiful public servant, he decided to keep going — and get across whatever public health messages would stick.” – if you are on your game and an expert, this is how you you engage.. The piece of “Can a transgenic chestnut restore a forest icon?” is a good look at work on an engineered American chestnut. Lots of biotech – an interesting piece on using CRISPR to fix a muscular dystrophy in dogs – wow! A really good analytic piece with big energy, climate, and policy implications: Global carbon intensity of crude oil production. Really good work to quantify a critical aspect of energy production. A great piece on a critical issue of geographic (lack of) diversity in S&T investment in the U.S. – Federal research funding aims to ease societal challenges (and fantastic work Kei Koizumi!!!). The review on Emerging applications for DNA writers and molecular recorders was a good overview on key emerging tech in this area. Finally, the comprehensive review of a large number of datasets for the spatial footprint of injections wells in a global compilation of induced earthquake sequences is impressive and good work.
An important look at the dynamics between climate change and population, addressing a number of misconceptions, in Global warming policy: Is population left out in the cold?
An interesting look at Abrupt cloud clearing of marine stratocumulus in the subtropical southeast Atlantic attributed potentially to atmospheric gravity waves (AGW). Interesting if increased atmospheric energy may mean more AGW and a positive feedback climate loop.
A place in the Sun is a perfect update on the state of helioscience and the observatories and probes being used and planned to study the sun. Perfect timing for Parker Solar Probe launch.
A dust-enshrouded tidal disruption event with a resolved radio jet in a galaxy merger is a reminder of the amazing observation black hole astrophysics that we as a species can be proud to be enabling. Amazing!
Ultrastable laser interferometry for earthquake detection with terrestrial and submarine cables reports on some incredible geophysics with applications for monitoring our planet. @raspishake
Although water on Mars is over-reported – this is liquid water! And the cool similarity to geophysical techniques used to identify liquid water beneath Antarctica now being used to find liquid water on Mars is cool. So the report Radar evidence of subglacial liquid water on Mars was a fun read.
Space, still the final frontier is a good editorial by Dan Baker and Amal Chandran – looking at the changing environment in space but the continued challenges.
Hackers easily fool artificial intelligences describes the current state (a big mess!) in adversarial machine learning.
Confronting and unhealthy ecosystem is a book review of The Secret Life of Science looking at the ecosystem of doing science (a bit meta – Scientists looking at how we do science). It raises some important questions about the sustainability (workforce-wise) of how we do science.
Human influence on the seasonal cycle of tropospheric temperature is a great summary of a look to quantify the anthropogenic component of the current climate change. A worthwhile and important challenge.
I always love to see and keep up with subglacial hydrology, so Friction at the bed does not control fast glacier flow is a good read and a look at Greenland.
Iceman’s last meal analyzed – Otzi loved icecream! (or the equivalent 5300 years ago)
Ice reveals a messenger from a blazing galaxy – the IceCube results of neutrino observations (neutrinos from a blazar) is fantastic!
http://science.sciencemag.org/content/361/6398/115 and http://science.sciencemag.org/content/361/6398/eaat1378
Citizen science, public policy – looks at important policy questions – protecting participants and results from citizen science. A challenge for sure. http://science.sciencemag.org/content/361/6398/134
Open source nuclear test monitoring – http://science.sciencemag.org/content/361/6398/166
An interesting cross-species look at behavorial economics and the “sunk cost” falacy
Important quantification of methane emissions http://science.sciencemag.org/content/361/6398/186
Optical interferometers – a new set of telescopes in New Mexico is great to read about.
Atmospheric blocking as a traffic jam in the jet stream is a great look at modeling capability and changes in global circulation driving increased extreme weather events. Great work and important implications.
Biological uptake and reversible scavenging of zinc in the global ocean was a good look at ocean changes.
This article kicks off a new organizing threat “Tomorrow’s Earth” with an optimistic and correct editorial. Pointing out that 50 years ago Hardin published the “Tragedy of the Commons” (in Science), Berg lays out that today’s challenges can be traced back to those identified by Hardin. At that time, Donald Kennedy (then the editor) pointed out that the big question “is whether scientific evidence can successfully overcome social, economic, and political resistance.” That is our challenge! (As an example, the article “Enhanced photovoltage for inverted planar heterojunction perovskite solar cells” … )
Better understanding and communicating the history of our planet is key, and “Learning from past climatic changes” helps with this. The letters section including a big piece on ingenuity, looking at “Education for the future” – my take away was that there are a large number of new demands on the education system, but I don’t see a decrease in many of the “old/traditional” demands. This is a challenge for our schools and universities.
The psychology paper “Prevalence-induced concept change in human judgment” had an interesting conclusion that “social problems may seem intractable in part because reductions in their prevalence lead people to see [notice] more of them.”
The report on “Rising bedrock may delay ice sheet collapse” summarizing the research “Observed rapid bedrock uplift in Amundsen Sea Embayment promotes ice-sheet stability” was really interesting – the role of isostatic rebound of the Earth’s crust is pretty amazing! I learned all about it from Southeast Alaska but it makes sense as an issue in Antarctica.
The progress of the MeerKAT radio array and the implications for progress to the Square Kilmeter Array (SKA) is good to read about in “Observed rapid bedrock uplift in Amundsen Sea Embayment promotes ice-sheet stability“. The SKA is an amazing effort by society for science (radio astronomy in this case).
The cover article on Aztec human sacrifices “Feeding the Gods” was interesting and morbid. It reminded me of our visit to the catacombs in Paris.
The policy forum on “Combating deforestation: From satellite to intervention” was great but struck me as optimistic in this current time of the decline of U.S. scientific input to national policy and international engagement. The piece calls for “on the policy side, institution building, along with related civil-society engagement … to facilitate effective action within complex government frameworks.” I’m afraid we aren’t in a period of “institution building” – but hopefully we’ll survive this “creative destruction” (I’m not sure how creative it is…)
And finally, for some good, hardcore, physics nerding – “A precise extragalactic test of General Relativity.” Always good to confirm GR outside our galaxy on the kiloparsec scale!
This week was a less than typical issue for catching my interest. The news blurb on NASA priorities was good – the Pew Research Center survey and the interview w/ Bridenstine (NASA Administrator). The update on the status of the Baobab trees was sad: Africa’s strange, old baobab trees are dying (a Nature article, highlighted by Science). Update on the potential for the U.S. getting coordinated and funded for quantum research is hopeful. The article and insight on machine learning for imagery was also interesting.
As always, plenty of interesting stuff. What struck my interest in this week’s Science Magazine:
Mars stuff!! Nasa Curiosity rover hits organic pay dirt on Mars (News/summary section), Organic molecules on Mars (insights), Background levels of methane in Mars’ atmosphere show strong seasonal variations (neat, and so tantalizing!), Organic matter preserved in 3-billion-year-old mudstones at Gale crater, Mars.
Bees understand zero!?!? WOW! What a cool experimental design and interesting result! Numerical ordering of zero in honey bees. (“Bees demonstrated an understanding that parallels animals such as the African grey parrot, nonhuman primates, and even preschool children”)
Bonus: I have tracked male/female ratios in obituaries – something I take note of when I’m looking through. I’ve started to write down and share. This weeks obits in Science: 1 male, 0 female.