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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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.
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.
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.
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