Broadly Focused Podcast Episode 22

This week’s episode of the Broadly Focused Podcast was a rare daytime recording, and went pretty well, we think.  We apologize for not posting a show last week – don’t worry, we slacked pretty hard this week and still used a bunch of content we had, so you’re really not missing much!  We have a segment on advances in imagery of various types and scopes, a couple of regular news articles, and a bunch of follow up.

What we didn’t have was any feedback at all, so feedback to us, dammit! We go through all the trouble of setting up around 47 ways to get in touch with us, just so you lazy bastards can use precisely 0% of them.

Thanks for the Facebook Likes, though, seriously.

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Power Production, Natural Gas and CO2 Emissions

In a surprising turnaround, the amount of carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere in the U.S. has fallen dramatically to its lowest level in 20 years, and government officials say the biggest reason is that cheap and plentiful natural gas has led many power plant operators to switch from dirtier-burning coal.

Many of the world’s leading climate scientists didn’t see the drop coming, in large part because it happened as a result of market forces rather than direct government action against carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas that traps heat in the atmosphere.

Michael Mann, director of the Earth System Science Center at Penn State University, said the shift away from coal is reason for “cautious optimism” about potential ways to deal with climate change. He said it demonstrates that “ultimately people follow their wallets” on global warming.

We get into the impact this may have on our policies moving forward and how this has actually gotten a bunch of normally contentious parties singing the same tune for once.

Original Report

He’s crazy – Don’t defend his politics, because they don’t matter

Shortly after news spread about the Wednesday morning shooting of a security guard at the Family Research Council’s (FRC) headquarters bya gunman , Truth Wins Out, a non-profit organization that fights anti-gay religious extremism, posted the following press release: “This is an awful tragedy and our thoughts and hearts go out to the victim, his family, and his colleagues at the Family Research Council,” said Truth Wins Out Executive Director Wayne Besen. “In America we settle political differences through robust debate in the public square, not with violence. If the shooting is found to be politically motivated, it is a detestable act of cruelty and cowardice and the perpetrator should be punished to the fullest extent of the law. We stand squarely with the Family Research Council today and offer them our full support and prayers.”

 We are adamant on this issue.  When a psycho goes off, his politics and other supposedly rational reasons are out the door.  Don’t politicize them, and don’t try to make excuses if they happen to be nuts on your side of the issue.

Adventures in Science – Amazing Imaging Techniques

We like segments.  We think they are sophisticated and make our show seem more professional.  This episode, we have a little segment (OK, a big segment) on some crazy new imaging techniques from the world of ancient superstition.  Wait, that’s not right.  Science, that’s who did this stuff!
Through three giant images, the GigaGalaxy Zoom project reveals the full sky as it appears with the unaided eye from one of the darkest deserts on Earth, then zooms in on a rich region of the Milky Way using a hobby telescope, and finally uses the power of a professional telescope to reveal the details of an iconic nebula. Most of the photographs comprising the three images were taken from two of ESO’s observing sites in Chile, La Silla and Paranal. The first image … provides a magnificent 800-million pixel panorama of the whole Milky Way. [The]second image of a smaller area of the sky, containing 400 million pixels, [was taken] using a hobby telescope at Paranal. The third … image illustrates the power of professional astronomy. It covers a one-degree field of view and was obtained with the Wide Field Imager attached to the MPG/ESO 2.2-metre telescope at La Silla.

Largest ever 3D map of the sky released by astronomers

The Sloan Digital Sky Survey III (SDSS-III) has released the largest three-dimensional map of massive galaxies and distant black holes ever created. The new map pinpoints the locations and distances of over a million galaxies. It covers a total volume equivalent to that of a cube four billion light-years on a side.

Virtual nanoscopy: Generation of ultra-large high resolution electron microscopy maps

[This] is a view of a massive 281-gigapixel image of a zebrafish embryo, which can be zoomed in on to show sub-cellular levels of detail.The image is the product of a new technique called virtual nanoscopy, which is described in the Journal of Cell Biology. The process involves stitching together nanometer resolution photographs of what’s placed under the microscope, and the result is an image which can be explored a little like a Google Map. To give you some sense of scale, the whole embryo, pictured above, measures 1.5 millimeters in length. At the other end of the scale, the dark dots in the image below are cell nuclei.

Femto Photography

We have built an imaging solution that allows us to visualize propagation of light. The effective exposure time of each frame is two trillionths of a second and the resultant visualization depicts the movement of light at roughly half a trillion frames per second. Direct recording of reflected or scattered light at such a frame rate with sufficient brightness is nearly impossible. We use an indirect ‘stroboscopic’ method that records millions of repeated measurements by careful scanning in time and viewpoints. Then we rearrange the data to create a ‘movie’ of a nanosecond long event.


Broadly Focused Podcast Episode 21

This week’s episode of the Broadly Focused Podcast – OK, yes, I get it.  It’s been a long time.  Where’d you go?  Are you podfading?  No one actually asked these questions, mind you, but we imagine some of you were at least thinking something along the lines… right?  We talk about it.

iTunes is jacked up somehow.  Maybe I did it when I tried to change our category… I don’t know.  The people trying to help are clearly doing their jobs, and they have tried to offer helpful information, but unfortunately, some of it just doesn’t make sense.  I talk about it.

Our show is now on Stitcher!

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News Items:

Broadly Focused Podcast: Still alive?

That’s right, we’re the damn news!  We wanted to address the 800 pound gorilla in the intertube right off the bat – a series of events, some sad, some good times with family, some poor communication and planning…

So, my mom died.  The day before we were scheduled to record Episode 21.  That’s one week.  I’m an only child and my stepfather died in September, so I got to handle all of the arrangements, although with help from family and friends, my wife especially. That’s two weeks.  Then, Brian’s family came in to town and he had no time – there’s your three weeks.  Last week, we just didn’t talk enough, I blew it off on Monday because I thought I was going to have to work overtime that evening and the next morning.  Brian’s Tuesday was already booked, as was my Wednesday and Thursday.  And that’s a month hiatus – unannounced – and with no explanation during.  Sorry about that.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, I have to deal with a whole bunch of estate stuff over the next couple of months, and then I’ll be having a baby.  Well, not me personally, you see, but my wife.  Anyway, the point here is that the show may not be consistent as it was before we disappeared for a month, and because the equipment is up at Brian’s house for the time being, I may not have a chance to record an apology and place holding file for the feed.  I’ll do my best.  Will you shoot us If I have to record on the Rock Band mic? You OG listeners know what I’m talking about!

Chuckleheads and Political Apathy

 A Republican congressman who’s retiring in frustration over political gridlock says he hopes the institution doesn’t have to hit “rock bottom” before people learn to work together.

Ohio’s Steven LaTourette tells MSNBC it’s more difficult for a reasonable person to get re-elected to Congress because “the red districts are turning redder and the blue districts are turning bluer.”

The red-versus-blue theory came to prominence when political analysts began breaking down the electoral map in terms of blue states as Democratic-leaning and red states as Republican. LaTourette says Friday that voters haven’t demanded enough. He says when Congress failed to make a deal on budget cuts, quote, “I didn’t get one phone call. I didn’t get one email.”

He says people should have been saying, “What’s wrong with these chuckleheads?”

OK, so that’s the whole article, by the way.  We generally agree that with our lack of educated and interested electorate, a representational republic may not be the best choice.

Curious about Mars?

So, unless you’ve been living under a rock without even a dial-up connection, you know that we landed a super-big, super-capable science lab on another planet.  We talk about how cool this is, how cool it was to see live, how cool the plan was, how well it worked, and how we need way more funding for stuff like this. Continue reading