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.


Matt –

SAVE THE SCIFI! Singularity&Co. is a team of time traveling archivists longing for futures past.

Each month, our subscribers help us choose a vintage, out of print scifi book to rescue, and, with the rightsholders’ permission, ebookify. We’re bringing forgotten 20th century scifi into the 21st.

And you can help.

Brian – RIP Harry Harrison 03/12/25 – 08/15/12

If I were an author, I think he would be my model and aspiration, and I would have loved to have met him. He lived all over the world, wrote amazing stories and most people can still quote Charlton Heston’s screaming revelation of the horrible secret that “Soylent Green is people!,” from the film version of his novel, “Make Room!Make Room!”  A liberal progressive, his fiction often reflected the idea of intellgence, preparation and guile over brute force – and, man, did he dislike the military. But his “Stainless Steel Rat” and “Bil, the Galactic Hero” series were amazing, spanning decades of sales, and I thought that “The Hammer and the Cross,” a story of the Christian incursion into Viking society, as well as its sequels, were excellent. And, oh, yeah, he was a Grand Master of the SF&FWA… which puts him in good company.

Follow Up/Listener Feedback:

From Episode 13’s section on Artemis Starship Bridge Simulator:

Artemis: TSN

Since the Artemis community started growing, players have wanted two things:

1 – A place to connect with other players and organize game sessions
2 – A place to organize and publicize big Artemis events

[A] new website, serves both needs. Artemis players can sign up and register their ships, crews, play sessions, and events! Please sign up at today!

Rumor: First “Leaked” Kinect 2 Image Shows Fingers and Head Patting

Remember the Leap from Episode 14?

An image that allegedly shows off Kinect 2 has hit the internet. It not only shows improved depth perception, but a higher level of detail—such as being able to read people’s fingers and discern clothing. There’s head patting, too. The image comes from Twitter user SuperDaE, who allegedly has a Durango development kit.Kotaku is following up with Microsoft and will update this post should the company comment. Also, there’s an interesting thread [under ‘The Rogue Economist’ reply] regarding how the USB2.0 throttled back the Kinect. Twitter Image

Dutch reality show to offer one-way tickets to Mars

Wow, that was fast! Remember Mars-One from Episode 16?

Water May Not Be So Important for Life After All

From all the way back to the beginning, Episode 1, Brian brings up the Kepler Project:

A team of researchers from the Institute for Structural Biology in Grenoble, France, took myoglobin proteins—which carry oxygen to muscle and give flesh its red color—and swapped out the water that usually coats their surface for a synthetic polymer. Doing so turns the proteins into a syrup-like fluid—and, it was expected, would dramatically change their function. But to the researchers’ surprise, they work just the same as ever: they remain flexible, behave just the same on the inside, and can still bind oxygen as well as in living tissue. Myglobin, at least, couldn’t care less about H20. The results are published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.


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