All posts filed under: Science

Science

Sea-level rise isn’t just happening; it’s accelerating

Sea-level rise isn’t just happening; it’s accelerating. And some areas of the United States—like Florida—are seeing “hot spots” where the ocean can creep up six times faster than average. Those are the findings of two new studies published yesterday, which have potentially troubling implications for urban planners trying to address sea-level rise. They also help explain why residents of Florida and North Carolina have seen sharp increases in coastal flooding in recent years. Sea levels in the Southeast—between Cape Hatteras, N.C., and Miami—rose dramatically between 2011 and 2015, according to a new study published in Geophysical Research Letters. The spike in sea levels is driven by a combination of natural factors that is exacerbated by human-caused sea-level rise. The “hot spot” of sea-level rise is similar to others observed on the East Coast over the last century, said Andrea Dutton, a geological science professor at the University of Florida and a co-author of the study. It also shows there is more vulnerability on the Atlantic coast, home to many of America’s major cities, than is typically recognized, she …

Theory of Relativity

Einstein’s theory of relativity is a famous theory, but it’s little understood. The theory of relativity refers to two different elements of the same theory: general relativity and special relativity. The theory of special relativity was introduced first and was later considered to be a special case of the more comprehensive theory of general relativity. General relativity is a theory of gravitation that  Albert Einstein  developed by between 1907 and 1915, with contributions from many others after 1915. THEORY OF RELATIVITY CONCEPTS Einstein’s theory of relativity includes the interworking of several different concepts, which include: Einstein’s Theory of Special Relativity – localized behavior of objects in inertial frames of reference, generally only relevant at speeds very near the speed of light Lorentz Transformations – the transformation equations used to calculate the coordinate changes under special relativity Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity – the more comprehensive theory, which treats gravity as a geometric phenomenon of a curved spacetimecoordinate system, which also includes noninertial (i.e. accelerating) frames of reference Fundamental Principles of Relativity WHAT IS RELATIVITY? Classical relativity (defined initially by …

Climate Change and National Security

The United States House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology hosted a series of roundtables tackling issues on climate change. On July 12, 2017 in Washington, D.C., Ambassador John Campbell participated in the “Science and Policy Perspectives: National Security Implications of Climate Change” roundtable, where he discussed climate change and its effect on Nigeria, a close strategic partner. Below is the statement he submitted for the record:  Climate change certainly has direct implications for the security of the United States, which other participants are exploring this afternoon.  But, we Americans must also be concerned about the security of our close diplomatic partners. If our partners’ security is undermined, so too is our own, even if only indirectly. Here, I would like to look at Nigeria as a case study, where climate change is already having a negative impact on the security of a close partner of the United States. Arguably, Nigeria is the African state of greatest strategic importance to the United States. It is home to about 20 percent of the people living in Africa south of the Sahara. …

Circadian Clock and Sleep

The daily rhythm of sleeping and waking is one of the most fundamental cycles in our lives, and we often equate it with our circadian clock. But the reality is more subtle than that. The circadian clock, as biologists have learned in recent decades, is in fact an incredibly precise molecular machine that exists in nearly every cell in the body. Consisting of a number of proteins that come together and fall apart rhythmically, the clock complex controls the transcription of thousands of genes that affect everything from appetite to cell division. There is a season — or rather, a time of day — for each process that takes its timing from the clock. Sleep just happens to be one such process. We’ve seen huge leaps and bounds recently in understanding exactly which proteins are involved in the clock complex and how it works. Yet sleep — our most obviously time-linked activity — is still largely a mystery on the molecular level. Some of the same cast of scientists who helped illuminate the clock are …

Requiem for Maryam Mirzakhani

The meanderings of sadness that news of Maryam Mirzakhani’s death brought compelled me to read every article I could find about her, and when I could not find more articles, I started to read the comments of the readers. Many of them wrote that they saw her as “unrelatable and incomprehensible,” given that they were “math challenged.” However, Maryam was the opposite of unrelatable. She reminded us, in words and actions, that mathematical ideas can be understood if one puts enough persistence into the task.

Links to immune system imbalance with chronic fatigue syndrome

After a 5-month road trip across Asia in 2010, 22-year-old college graduate Matthew Lazell-Fairman started feeling constantly tired, his muscles sore and head aching. A doctor recommended getting a gym membership, but after the first training session, Lazell-Fairman’s body crashed: He was so exhausted he couldn’t go to work as a paralegal for the Federal Trade Commission in Washington, D.C., for days. Lazell-Fairman has never fully recovered. He can now do a few hours of light activity—cooking, for example—per day but has to spend the rest of his time lying flat in bed. Lazell-Fairman is among the estimated 17 million people worldwide with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), a disease whose trigger is unknown and for which there are neither standard diagnostic tools nor effective treatments. In the largest study of its kind, researchers have now found that the blood levels of immune molecules that cause flulike symptoms such as fever and fatigue track the severity of symptoms in people who have received a diagnosis of CFS. The results may provide insight into the cause of …

Chinese cracked down on scientific misconduct

A massive peer-review fraud has triggered a tough response from the Chinese government. Officials last week announced that more than 400 researchers listed as authors on some 100 now-retracted papers will face disciplinary action because their misconduct has seriously damaged China’s scientific reputation. Some institutions have barred the scientists linked to the fraud from pursuing their research—at least temporarily. And they have imposed other penalties, including canceling promotions, honors, and grants. Government ministries have also announced new “zero tolerance” policies aimed at stamping out research fraud. “We should eradicate the problem from its roots,” said He Defang, director of the Ministry of Science and Technology’s (MOST’s) regulatory division in Beijing. Although China has previously cracked down on scientific misconduct—a chronic problem—these penalties “are the harshest ever,” says Chen Bikun, an information scientist at the Nanjing University of Science and Technology in China who tracks trends in scientific publishing. MOST’s 27 July announcement marked the culmination of an investigation into the mass retraction this past April of 107 papers by Chinese authors that appeared in a single journal, Tumor …

Dark Energy, What it could be?

One of the shocking revelations of the late 20th Century was that the universe was expanding at an accelerating rate. Before that mysterious “speed-up” was discovered, people thought that the rate must be slowing down as the universe expanded. What’s worse, at the time of discovery, there was no known mechanism to explain how the expansion of the universe could be accelerating. Guess what! There still isn’t a well-explained one. But, at least whatever it is has a name. This mysterious driving force is known as Dark Energy. There are a few possibilities of what it could be. IS DARK ENERGY A PROPERTY OF SPACE-TIME? General relativity is often thought of as a theory of gravity, mostly because this is its greatest application as it explains the dynamics of objects in accelerating reference frames (like a gravitational field). However, general relativity is more than that, and it has far reaching implications into the vary nature of the universe. One of the most amazing consequences of Einstein’s theory is that empty space isn’t really empty. In fact, empty …

Types of Radiations, a brief introduction

In order to completely understand the universe around us, we must look across the entire electromagnetic spectrum, and even at the high-energy particles that are being created by energetic objects. Some objects and processes are actually completely invisible in certain wavelengths (even optical), so it becomes necessary to observe them in many wavelengths. Often, it’s not until we look at an object at many different wavelengths that we can even identify what it is or is doing. Importance to Astronomy Astronomy is the study of objects in the universe that radiate (or reflect) energy from across the electromagnetic spectrum. If you are an astronomer, chances are good you will be studying radiation in some form. Let’s take an in-depth look at the forms of radiation out there. TYPES OF RADIATION Radiation describes elementary particles, nuclei and electromagnetic waves as they propagate through space. Scientists typically reference radiation in two ways: ionizing and non-ionizing. IONIZING RADIATION Ionization is the process by which electrons are removed from an atom. This happens all the time in nature, and it …

‘Matter’ What it is?

MATTER IS ALL AROUND US We seldom stop to think about it as we go about our daily lives, but we are matter.  Everything we detect in the universe is matter. It’s the fundamental building block of everything: you, me and all the life on Earth, the planet we live on, the stars, and galaxies. It’s typically defined as anything that has mass and occupies a volume of space. We’re made up of atoms and molecules, which are also matter. The definition of matter is anything that has mass and takes up space. This includes normal matter as well as dark matter. However, that definition is reall only extended to normal matter. Things change when we get to dark matter. Let’s talk about the matter we CAN see, first. NORMAL MATTER Normal matter is the matter that we see all around us.  It’s often referred to as “baryonic matter” and is made of leptons (electrons for example) and quarks (the building blocks of protons and neutrons), which can be used to build atoms and molecules which, …