@sciencemag 02018/08/03 highlights

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.


@sciencemag 02018/07/20 highlights

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.

@sciencemag 02018/07/13 highlights

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

@sciencemag 02018/07/06 highlights

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.

@sciencemag 02018/06/29 highlights

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.”

@sciencemag 02018/06/22 highlights

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!

@sciencemag 02018/06/15 highlights

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.


@sciencemag 02018/06/08 highlights

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.

@sciencemag 02018/06/01 highlights

Lots of good stuff in this issue:

Katharine Hayhoe’s (@KHayhoe) has the lead off editorial that “Facts are not enough” – science is necessary, but not sufficient.  Engaging with people and coming together rather than being divisive is needed.

In the news – great news about Mars rover’s drill reviewed.  Bad news about the ABI instrument on GOES-17 having problems with the cooling system and making the daytime IR observations fail.

The Galaxy Builders talks about major improvements in galaxy simulations – cool!  And then at a smaller scale, the update on planetary science about “Dunes across the Solar System” describes the New Horizon observations that “Pluto joins Earth, Mars, Venus, Titan, and perhaps even the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerismenko demonstrating that the mobilization and self-organization of granular material into dunes occur throughout the Solar System.”

From the academic world, policy forum looks at graduate education with “Student-centered, modernized graduate STEM education” describing “central to the success of this plan will be a readjustment of the incentives that drive so many attitudes and behaviors throughout the graduate education system.”  Lots of work remains!

A very sad update on “U.S. budget targets fish and wildlife work” that the cooperative research units (CRUs) are getting removed from the President’s budget request.

The effect of partisanship and political advertising on close family ties” is an interesting look at “politically divided families” and the impact on the length of thanksgiving dinner!

Finally, “Ancient genomes from Iceland reveal the making of a human population” confirms what we heard on our recent visit to Iceland – about 1100 years ago, many Scandinavian men went to Ireland and “found” (“borrowed”?) Irish women (princesses?) for their wives and then went to Iceland.  Interesting genomic study!

Good stuff!!