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Earth

California's Hot, Dry Winters Tied To Climate Change 279

Posted by samzenpus
from the it's-getting-hot-in-here dept.
mdsolar sends word that hot dry winters may be the norm in the future for California. "Climate change is one of the most prominent public health issues currently on the CDC's radar. The organization's Climate and Health Program attempts to help state and city health departments to prepare for the health impacts of climate change, which can come in the form of things like temperature extremes, air pollution, allergens, and changes in disease patterns; they can also be felt indirectly through issues like food security. Since 2012, California has been in the midst of a record-setting drought, with extremely warm and dry conditions characterizing the last three years in that state. A new paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences concludes that warming caused by humans is responsible for the conditions that have led to this California drought. This study, published by scientists affiliated with the Department of Environmental Earth System Science and the Woods Institute for Environment at Stanford University, used historical statewide data for observed temperature, precipitation, and drought in California. The investigators used the Palmer Hydrological Drought Index (PHDI) and the Palmer Drought Severity Index (PDSI), collected by the National Climatic Data Center, as measures of the severity of wet/dry anomalies. They also used global climate model simulations from the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP) to compare historical predictions for anthropogenic and non-anthropogenic historical climates."
Government

State Employees Say Rules Prevent Open "Climate Change" Discussion In Florida 366

Posted by timothy
from the but-it's-the-sunshine-state dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The Florida Center for Investigative Reporting has an article in the Miami Herald about there being certain words state employees have been ordered to avoid: "We were told not to use the terms 'climate change', 'global warming', or 'sustainability'," said Christopher Byrd, an attorney with the DEP's Office of General Counsel in Tallahassee from 2008 to 2013. "That message was communicated to me and my colleagues by our superiors in the Office of General Counsel."

Comment: Split the difference (Score 1) 277

by juancnuno (#49205893) Attached to: Daylight Saving Time Change On Sunday For N. America

The majority of people feel that DST is a bad idea and want it to stop. If that was done, the main question would then probably be whether to go to Standard time year-round, or "summer" time year-round (more).

Yes, I think it's a bad idea and want it to stop. I personally don't care which time we stick with, but to answer the question, why not split the difference? Spring forward a half hour and then leave the damn clocks alone.

Earth

El Nino Has Finally Arrived, Far Weaker Than Predicted 235

Posted by timothy
from the weather-is-hard dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The periodic warm weather pattern called El Niño has finally arrived in the mid-equatorial Pacific Ocean, more than a year late and far weaker than predicted by scientists. "The announcement comes a year after forecasters first predicted that a major El Niño could be in the works. At the time, NOAA predicted a 50% chance that an El Niño could develop in the latter half of 2014. The agency also said the wind patterns that were driving water east across the Pacific were similar to those that occurred in the months leading up to the epic El Niño of 1997, which caught scientists by surprise and contributed to flooding, droughts and fires across multiple continents.

In the end, last year's forecasts came up short, in part because the winds that were driving the system petered out. Researchers, who have been working to improve their forecasting models since 1997, are trying to figure out precisely what happened last year and why their models failed to capture it."
Science

Is That Dress White and Gold Or Blue and Black? 420

Posted by timothy
from the enoy-your-lovely-ochre-sky dept.
HughPickens.com writes Color scientists already have a word for it: Dressgate. Now the Washington Post reports that a puzzling thing happened on Thursday night consuming millions — perhaps tens of millions — across the planet and trending on Twitter ahead of even Jihadi John's identification. The problem was this: Roughly three-fourths of people swore that this dress was white and gold, according to BuzzFeed polling but everyone else said it's dress was blue. Others said the dress could actually change colors. So what's going on? According to the NYT our eyes are able to assign fixed colors to objects under widely different lighting conditions. This ability is called color constancy. But the photograph doesn't give many clues about the ambient light in the room. Is the background bright and the dress in shadow? Or is the whole room bright and all the colors are washed out? If you think the dress is in shadow, your brain may remove the blue cast and perceive the dress as being white and gold. If you think the dress is being washed out by bright light, your brain may perceive the dress as a darker blue and black.

According to Beau Lotto, the brain is doing something remarkable and that's why people are so fascinated by this dress. "It's entertaining two realities that are mutually exclusive. It's seeing one reality, but knowing there's another reality. So you're becoming an observer of yourself. You're having tremendous insight into what it is to be human. And that's the basis of imagination." As usual xkcd has the final word.
It would make the comments more informatively scannable if you include your perceived color pair in the title of any comments below.
NASA

Ceres' Mystery Bright Dots May Have Volcanic Origin 28

Posted by samzenpus
from the stay-out-of-the-lava dept.
astroengine writes As NASA's Dawn mission slowly spirals in on its dwarf planet target, Ceres' alien landscape is becoming sharper by the day. And, at a distance of only 29,000 miles (46,000 kilometers), the robotic spacecraft has revealed multiple bright patches on the surface, but one of the brightest spots has revealed a dimmer bright patch right next door. "Ceres' bright spot can now be seen to have a companion of lesser brightness, but apparently in the same basin," said Chris Russell, of the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and principal investigator for the Dawn mission. "This may be pointing to a volcano-like origin of the spots, but we will have to wait for better resolution before we can make such geologic interpretations."
Google

Paramedics Use Google Translate While Delivering Baby 132

Posted by samzenpus
from the quick-thinking dept.
First time accepted submitter myatari writes Irish paramedics transporting a pregnant Congolese woman to a maternity hospital in Cork had to use some quick thinking when the mum-to-be went into labor en-route. The two paramedics (neither of whom speak Swahili) fired up Google Translate to communicate via English-Swahili and successfully delivered baby girl "Brigid" (named after an Irish Saint no less!).
Businesses

Comcast Employees Change Customer Names To 'Dummy' and Other Insults 262

Posted by Soulskill
from the corporations-behaving-badly dept.
An anonymous reader writes: According to customer bills and screenshots submitted to and reported by blogger Chris Elliot at BoardingArea, Comcast employees have repeatedly changed the names of customers to insults like "dummy," "w***e," "a*****e," and "b***h." Elliott notes although reasons and consequences for this behavior are unknown, "one thing is clear: At least one person, and maybe more than one person, really doesn't like Comcast's customers. Enough to put it in writing. Repeatedly." Comcast has apologized and is looking at ways to prevent it from happening in the future.
Medicine

Scientists Float Soap Bubbles As a More Effective Drug Delivery Method 15

Posted by Soulskill
from the bad-news-if-you-enjoy-getting-stabbed-by-sharp-objects dept.
Zothecula writes: As if soap bubbles don't spread enough happiness on their own, scientists have discovered a way of coating them in biomolecules with a view to treating viruses, cancer and other diseases. The technology has been developed at the University of Maryland, where researchers devised a method of tricking the body into mistaking the bubbles for harmful cells, triggering an immune response and opening up new possibilities in the delivery of drugs and vaccines.
Earth

Most Americans Support Government Action On Climate Change 458

Posted by Soulskill
from the politics-of-science dept.
mdsolar points out this report in the NY Times: An overwhelming majority of the American public, including nearly half of Republicans, support government action to curb global warming, according to a poll conducted by The New York Times, Stanford University and the nonpartisan environmental research group Resources for the Future. In a finding that could have implications for the 2016 presidential campaign, the poll also found that two-thirds of Americans say they are more likely to vote for political candidates who campaign on fighting climate change. They are less likely to vote for candidates who question or deny the science of human-caused global warming.

Among Republicans, 48 percent said they are more likely to vote for a candidate who supports fighting climate change, a result that Jon A. Krosnick, a professor of political science at Stanford University and an author of the survey, called "the most powerful finding" in the poll. Many Republican candidates either question the science of climate change or do not publicly address the issue.
Biotech

Scientists Determine New Way To Untangle Proteins By Unboiling an Egg 155

Posted by samzenpus
from the I-would-like-my-eggs-undone-please dept.
An anonymous reader sends word of this biotech breakthrough. "Univ. of California, Irvine (UC Irvine) and Australian chemists have figured out how to unboil egg whites—an innovation that could dramatically reduce costs for cancer treatments, food production and other segments of the $160 billion global biotechnology industry, according to findings published in ChemBioChem. 'Yes, we have invented a way to unboil a hen egg,' said Gregory Weiss, UCI professor of chemistry and molecular biology & biochemistry. 'In our paper, we describe a device for pulling apart tangled proteins and allowing them to refold. We start with egg whites boiled for 20 min at 90 C and return a key protein in the egg to working order.'"
Earth

US Senate Set To Vote On Whether Climate Change Is a Hoax 667

Posted by samzenpus
from the who's-to-blame dept.
sciencehabit writes The U.S. Senate's simmering debate over climate science has come to a full boil today, as lawmakers prepare to vote on measures offered by Democrats that affirm that climate change is real—with one also noting that global warming is not "a hoax." In an effort to highlight their differences with some Republicans on climate policy, several Democrats have filed largely symbolic amendments to a bill that would approve the Keystone XL pipeline. They are designed to put senators on the record on whether climate change is real and human-caused.
Input Devices

Nintendo Power Glove Used To Create 'Robot Chicken' 40

Posted by timothy
from the show-not-animatronic-poultry dept.
dotarray (1747900) writes "Despite its glorious introduction in The Wizard, the Nintendo Power Glove was, from all accounts, a bit of a failure. However, Dillon Markey has given the doomed peripheral a new lease of life — it's a crucial part of making stop-motion animation for Robot Chicken." The linked article doesn't have many more words, but the video it features is worthwhile to see how Markey has modified the glove to make the tedious work of stop-motion a little bit less tedious.
News

Bill Gates Endorses Water From Human Waste 245

Posted by Soulskill
from the bottoms-up dept.
theodp writes: GeekWire reports that Bill gates is certainly leading by example, appearing in a video in which he sips "a glass of delicious drinking water" produced from human waste processed by Janicki Bioenergy's OmniProcessor, which can take sewer sludge and turn it into clean drinking water, electricity and clean ash. So how was it? "The water tasted as good as any I've had out of a bottle," said Bill. "And having studied the engineering behind it, I would happily drink it every day. It's that safe."

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