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2000-2010: A Decade of (Climate) Change

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Climate change dominated the environmental discourse this decade. What will explode on the scene from 2010 on? Water and food issues, and Chinas continued economic growth, according to experts.





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See original: National Geographic News 2000-2010: A Decade of (Climate) Change

Our Atmosphere Came From Space Gases, Study Says

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The gases that make up Earth's atmosphere came from a comet swarm, not from bubbling volcanoes as long thought, a new study says.





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Top Ten Videos of 2009: Nat Geo News's Most Watched

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The stars of the most watched videos on National Geographic News were a decidedly deep lot—hopping fish, countertop "sea monsters," underwater eruptions, and more.





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PHOTOS: Ten Environmental Wins of 2009

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From the discovery of new ghostsharks to a potential new technique for mass production of solar panels, 2009 wasn't all bad news for the environment. See what experts list as major wins for the year.





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See original: National Geographic News PHOTOS: Ten Environmental Wins of 2009

Just as deep, but in a different light [Starts With A Bang]

They will see us waving from such great heights

"Come down now," they'll say.

But everything looks perfect from far away

"Come down now," but we'll stay. -Postal Service

We've been over this twice before, but here's a refresher on how you image the farthest galaxies in the Universe. Pick a spot in the sky that's empty. What does empty mean? When you look with your eyes, with binoculars, and even with a reasonable telescope, you find no bright stars, no bright galaxies, no nebulae, no clusters -- in short nothing -- except for the absolute faintest of objects.

You know, something like this substantial region, which has maybe six ultra-dim stars in it. (Which is a tiny, tiny number for a region as big as this.)

Hudf-illustration.jpg

You then take the most powerful "picture-taker" that you have. For astronomy, that means the most light-gathering power (or largest mirror), the least atmospheric distortion (or, ideally, no atmosphere), and the best camera possible. Where do we go for the best combination of all three?

Hst_sts82.jpg

Well, we go to the Hubble Space Telescope! Years ago, with the old Wide-Field-Camera, Hubble took a look at this region, and just left the shutter open on the same region of the sky, taking picture upon picture of the same exact place. They then added the light from all of those images together, and produced an image known as the Hubble Ultra Deep Field (HUDF). It looks like this.

HUDF-ACS_medium.jpg

Fast-forward to the present day. Now, we've got the same light-gathering power, the same lack of atmosphere, but a brand new camera! This time, they used an infrared filter (instead of a visible light composite), and took a picture using the same exact method. First off, here's the result.

hs-2009-31-a-large_web.jpg

I don't want to just leave you these images, I'd like to show you the same exact regions on both of them, zoomed in, so you can really see the similarities and differences; they're really interesting. So, here you have a few of my favorite excerpts.

Old image...

oldHUDF1.jpg

versus new image...

newHUDF1.jpg

and again with the old image (with a star, this time)...

oldHUDF2.jpg

and again with the new image (with the same star)...

newHUDF2.jpg

and once last time with the old, in a long strip,

oldHUDF3.jpg

and finally once more with the new, in the same strip!

newHUDF3.jpg

No words for how magnificent these images are. And -- just as a reminder -- this whole entire Ultra-Deep-Field image only views about one-one hundred thousandth of the sky! I could play with these all day long, but then where would the fun be for you? Download the ultra-high resolution versions of the old image and the new one, and go play yourself!

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See original: ScienceBlogs Select Just as deep, but in a different light [Starts With A Bang]

SpaceWeather.com -- Strange light over Norway - possible failed Russian ICBM launch http://ff.im/cGuyQ

mrgunn: SpaceWeather.com -- Strange light over Norway - possible failed Russian ICBM launch http://ff.im/cGuyQ

See original: Twitter SpaceWeather.com -- Strange light over Norway - possible failed Russian ICBM launch http://ff.im/cGuyQ

COP15 Behind the Scenes: Biggest temporary media set-up ever in Denmark

Watch the COP15 Behind the Scenes film about the temporary media set-up in the Bella Center, Copenhagen
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2009 December 9

2009 December 9



HUDF Infrared: Dawn of the Galaxies G. IllingworthUCO/LickUCSC),
R. BouwensUCO/Lick &
Leiden U.), & the
HUDF09 Team

When did galaxies form?

To help find out, the deepest
near-infrared image of the sky ever has been taken of the
same field
as the optical-light
Hubble Ultra Deep Field (HUDF) in 2004.

The new image was taken this summer by the newly installed
Wide Field Camera 3 on the
refurbished Hubble Space Telescope.

Faint red smudges identified on the
likely surpass
redshift 8 in distance.

These galaxies
therefore likely existed when the
universe was only a few percent of its
present age,
and may well be members of the
first class of galaxies.

Some large modern
galaxies
make a colorful foreground to the distant galaxies.

Analyses by the
HUDF09 team
indicate that at least some of these
early galaxies
had very little interstellar dust.

This early class
of low luminosity galaxies likely contained
energetic stars emitting light that
transformed much of the remaining
normal matter in the universe from a cold gas to a hot
ionized plasma

open space

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See original: Astronomy Picture of the Day 2009 December 9

Stone Age Zodiac

A gallery of ancient cave paintings may depict the zodiac in the sky. Naked Science: Ancient Astronomers : THU DEC 17 10P et/pt : channel.nationalgeographic.com
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Some thoughts on ClimateGate. [Adventures in Ethics and Science]

It's quite likely, if you're reading anything else on the internets besides this blog for the past few weeks, that you've already gotten your fill of ClimateGate. But maybe you've been stuck in your Cave of Grading and missed the news that a bunch of emails from the Climate Research Unit (CRU) webserver at the University of East Anglia were stolen by hackers (or leaked by an insider, depending on who's telling the story) and widely distributed. Or maybe you're still sorting out what you think about the email messages in question and what they mean for their authors, the soundness of scientific consensus on climate change, or the responsible conduct of science more broadly.

Honestly, I'm still sorting out what I think, but here's where I am at the moment:

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See original: ScienceBlogs Select Some thoughts on ClimateGate. [Adventures in Ethics and Science]

Cartagène, science et intérêt public

Le journal Le Devoir reproduisait hier (8 décembre) en Libre opinion mon commentaire suite à deux reportages récents sur le projet Cartagène (éditions du 2 et du 5 décembre). Une journaliste de l’Actualité, Valérie Bode, présentait le 7 décembre une perspective critique intéressante en rappelant l’expérience islandaise de DeCode Genetics. Il y a quelques semaines, dans un recueil de textes d’universitaires Aux sciences citoyens publié par l’Institut du Nouveau monde, l’anthropologue Florence Piron soulevait un certain nombre de questions critiques sur Le cas Cartagène. Il faut se rappeler qu’en 1991, lors de son lancement, le projet s’était attiré des critiques publiques et des mises en garde avaient été formulées ultérieurement entre autres par la Commission de la santé et du bien-être, le Comité d’éthique de la science et de la technologie ainsi que par l’anthropologue Gilles Bibeau. Comment expliquer le scepticisme qui continue de s’exprimer même si le projet est en marche et a reçu jusqu’ici des dizaines de millions en subventions des deux niveaux de gouvernement ? Faut-il s'étonner de l'indifférence, sinon des réticences, dans l'opinion publique alors que Cartagène essaie de nous faire partager ses soucis quant à son financement futur ?

See original: Science! On blogue :: Tous les articles Cartagène, science et intérêt public

Ashkenazi Jews are Middle Eastern & European hybrids [Gene Expression]

According to search engine traffic one of the most popular posts on this weblog has to do with the genetic background of Ashkenazi Jews. That is, those Jews whose ancestors derive from Central & Eastern Europe, and the overwhelming number of Jews in the United States. The genetic origins of this group are fraught with politics naturally. With the rise of biological science the characteristics of Jews were used as a way to differentiate them as a nation apart in more than a cultural and religious sense. After World War II other researchers attempted to show that Jews were not genetically distinct with relatively primitive blood group assays. Rather, they were the descendants of converts.

More recent genetic work has given mixed results. The reasonable inference then is that Jews themselves are a population with a complex history, and that complexity is manifest in their genetics. A new paper explores these issue in more detail, Genomic microsatellites identify shared Jewish ancestry intermediate between Middle Eastern and European populations:

Background
Genetic studies have often produced conflicting results on the question of whether distant Jewish populations in different geographic locations share greater genetic similarity to each other or instead, to nearby non-Jewish populations. We perform a genome-wide population-genetic study of Jewish populations, analyzing 678 autosomal microsatellite loci in 78 individuals from four Jewish groups together with similar data on 321 individuals from 12 non-Jewish Middle Eastern and European populations.

Results
We find that the Jewish populations show a high level of genetic similarity to each other, clustering together in several types of analysis of population structure. Further, Bayesian clustering, neighbor-joining trees, and multidimensional scaling place the Jewish populations as intermediate between the non-Jewish Middle Eastern and European populations.

Conclusion
These results support the view that the Jewish populations largely share a common Middle Eastern ancestry and that over their history they have undergone varying degrees of admixture with non-Jewish populations of European descent.

The general results of the paper are well illustrated by the figures.

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See original: ScienceBlogs Select Ashkenazi Jews are Middle Eastern & European hybrids [Gene Expression]

Jan Pronk on The Earth Charter.wmv

Interview with Jan Pronk, on the Earth Charter. Jan Pronk is former Minister of Housing, Spatial Planning and Environment (1998 2002) and former Minister for Development Co-operation (1989 1994) of The Netherlands. Pronk was also the Chairman 6th Conference of Parties UN Convention on Climate Change (2000-2001) and Special Envoy Secretary General United Nations for the World Summit on Sustainable Development (2001-2003). He chaired the Kyoto Protocol negotiations and he is now a Special ...
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