Tag Archives: sciences

Fog Bow

RunningInMist

Running at daybreak on August 11, I had the occasion to observe a strange meteorological phenomenon.

I was running on a small side road, making 3 km circuits. The morning mist floated above the hay fields, a large open space. Then the sun rose, and I had the wonderful surprise!  Continue reading

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Political Musings : What Do I Want to Conserve?

Thinking about our values, and which ones do we want to conserve?

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Personal musings at the end of a long election  campaign.

What do I want to conserve?

Our environment, because without an hospitable planet, there’s no viable economy!

Social diversity as much as biological, guaranteeing humanity’s long-term survival.

Sciences and education, because we will need all the available heads to solve issues born from the past, to face the challenges ahead. (No, there are no piranhas in the St. Lawrence River, but other exotic creepers such as Asian carp threaten these places.)

Public support for the artists, magazines and cultural organizations, for without creativity, without imagination, where are we going?

I need a cultural diffuser as CBC-RadioCanada because no eventual “official organ of the Party” will replace it  A mari usque ad mare. (As a Franco-Ontarian, the CBC is our own French language buoy! )

I am a staunch conservative for human dignity, honesty, and the liberty for women to choose their own path in life.

I want to get back to what is, for me, the original meaning of the word “religion“, reli-connected + ion-all, “to connect all”: building bridges between people, multiplying loaves of bread instead of fences.

Dwarf Planet, Big Flaming Ice Heart!

PLuto surprised everyone with this heart-shaped geological  feature

(Pluto photographied by LORRI and Ralph instruments on the New Horizons, spacecraft)

Pluto is technically a  dwarf planet since 2006, but it changes nothing to the sense of wonder. Pluto surprised everyone with this heart-shaped geological feature!

Colors are boosted since only a small fraction of our sunlight reaches the Pluto system. The dwarf planet has known activity periods, and this 2000 km wide flaming heart maybe composed of nitrogen ice.

New satellites (Hydra, Nix since 2004,  Kerberos and Styx) added themselves to the larger Charon).

The sense of wonder of those pictures should not make us forget the long years of preparation by NASA astronomers and other teams, the nine-year voyage of the New Horizons craft, travelling more than 5 billions km in spirals to take advantage of the Jupiter sling-shot effect to boost acceleration.

Science, unlike movies where everything goes fast (problem detection,  hypothesis, analysis, solution finding), needs time. Reality is years of painstaking preparation for a few second of scintillating results.  Followed by more months and years of analysis, that may help us to learn more about the solar system origins. The freshly transmitted pictures show impressive mountains and canyons…

Fun at the Signing Table – The 2015 Leap Second !

This Minute Has 61 Seconds - the 2015 leap second To learn more about the 2015 Leap Second:

The International Earth Rotation Service and Reference Systems and the Paris observatory! Yes, it does have a nice SF-ish ring to its name!

The Leap Second home page.

More about Universal and  coordinated universal  time. International second

And for the “bug”, the network time protocol for clock synchronization between computer systems.

And to look up the time anywhere, (one of the atomic time websites!) and to look up in Eastern Time.

Happy July! 

Fun at the Signing Table – A Glass of Water

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A Glass of Water - how to explain the glooal climate change with a glass of water.

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The relation between our recent cold weather spells and global warming involves complex phenomena, the Gulf Stream current among them. For the more eager :

To better understand our irrealists expectations regarding science, conditioned by our “I-want-it-now!” culture: The Problem with Science: from Action Movies to the Real World!

For a innovative use of our fossil resources to mitigate the climate change, see une solution au casse-tête arctique.

To read about the projected effects of a Shutdown of thermohaline circulation, and here is a map of the thermohaline circulation.

For a more higher level paper, about the Gulf Stream, see this abstract of a paper published in 2015 by Jaime B. Palter, from the Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences of McGill University: The Role of the Gulf Stream in European Climate (Annual Review of Marine Science Vol. 7: 113-137) 

The real demonstration will be given by the planet, as soon as the last ice and land glaciers will have melted.

Ignorants No More! About the ELA closing

Advance euthophication of a lake - photo by ELA

When you feel a dull pain in the chest, you go see your doctor, then you heed his or her advice. You don’t protest, saying: Balance my diet? Exercise? Well my fortune-teller says I can do as I please, so don’t bother me with your “facts”!

But what if a whole government chooses to follow the fortune-teller’s advice?  And if it closed  all the medicine faculties of Canada, listening to  the singsong voice of the fortune-teller… or the fortune makers?

The federal government has decided without consulting any scientific authority, to close the ELA, among other government-supported research programs in Canada.

The Experimental Lakes Area (map here), is a unique  whole-ecosystem research facility in northern Ontario. It is the fruit of forty years of research, and capital and human investment.

Like a tree, it has grown into a world -renowned scientific facility on freshwater ecology. It has served diligently to protect the public and the environment, putting in  light the role of phosphorus in the eutrophication of lakes (to know more about the subject, read The Algal Bowl, by Vallentyne and Schindler, 2008, or my account, here). 

Lac 226 : the flagrant demonstration of the phosphorus effect on freshwaters!

A few of the subjects tackled by research teams:

nutrient pollution and noxious algae (the photo here)
impacts of “acid rain” on lakes
recovery of lakes from acidification
impacts of reservoir flooding
sources of toxic mercury in fish
impacts of “climate change” on lakes
removal of nearshore vegetation
impacts of hormonal mimics
impacts of cage aquaculture

As I explained in an older post, the work of scientifics faces a huge perception challenge by the “I want simple answers NOW crowd.  Scientists toil endlessly to collect data, to accept errors, pursuing the course regardless of the difficulties. They strive to understand the natural processes and the impact of humans activities on our freshwaters and their myriad of lifes. 

Our blue resource - endangered by ignorance and willful blindness

The ELA is a collective book that must stay open for all to consult.

To build this 58-bead necklace of knowledge took years. The Experimental Lakes Area, nurtured by students, teachers, citizens, embodies the strong human desire to learn. 

We should create a movement called  Ignorant no More.

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— A few links

The Experimental Lakes Research Area website

A  sound reflection on government science, part one and part two

A witty article explaining some scientific expressions 

Fight to save Experimental Lakes Area runs its course (http://www.kenoradailyminerandnews.com/2013/01/02/fight-to-save-experimental-lakes-area-runs-its-course) Cet article suit les démarches de 

Attention Bryan Hayes: This water issue hasn’t gone away (https://www.sootoday.com/content/news/details.asp?c=51916)

List of federal MPS – find your own MP!

Save ELA: http://saveela.org/what-can-you-do-to-help/

Facebook group for ELA. https://www.facebook.com/groups/saveela/