The disaster movie “The Day After Tomorrow” was based on long term scientific concerns about global warming’s impact on the North Atlantic Current, also called the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation, - what most people think of as “The Gulf Stream” - although that is a simplification.
The movie was obviously over the top in terms of the projected impacts, but after a decade in which science has downplayed the possibility of such an event, a new paper shows that the circulation is indeed slowing down.
This could signal potential impacts on weather, the food chain, and circulation of oxygen and nutrients throughout the ocean.
I’ve been interviewing key authors of the paper, Lead author Stefan Rahmstorf, as well as paleoclimate expert Mike Mann, and Glaciologist Jason Box.
This is a paper that could have substantial impact, and might very well be distorted or sensationalized, - so bookmark this post as a damper for overhyped speculation, as well as a warning about real impacts.
I’ve been getting swarmed by creationists and right wing science-deniers today on Twitter, so here’s some amazing science to take away that nasty reactionary taste.
The Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) celebrates its 5th anniversary since it launched on February 11, 2010. This time-lapse video captures one frame every 8 hours starting when data became available in June 2010 and finishing February 8, 2015.
The different colors represent the various wavelengths (sometimes blended, sometimes alone) in which SDO observes the sun.
For more about SDO, please visit:
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.
Download HD Video:
I was going to start this post by wishing everyone a Happy Darwin Day (it’s Charles Darwin’s birthday), but unfortunately it’s not a very happy occasion — because this country still has far too many religious fanatics who refuse to accept the fact of evolution through natural selection: On Darwin Day, 5 Facts About the Evolution Debate.
Of all the major religious groups in the U.S., white evangelical Protestants are the most likely to reject evolution. A solid majority (64%) of white evangelicals in a 2013 poll said that humans and other living things have always existed in their present form, while only 27% said that humans evolved. These views are largely mirrored by the positions of large evangelical churches, such as the Southern Baptist Convention and the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, which explicitly reject evolutionary theory as being in conflict with what they see as biblical truth.
Some people will try to tell you this is just a private belief and doesn’t matter; but these people are not only indoctrinating their children with this Dark Ages anti-science rejectionism, they’re continually trying to force their views on everyone else’s children by sneaking creationism into public schools. And since this strategy has been consistently foiled by the courts, they’re now using a new technique to get at the children of America: taxpayer-funded religious schools that teach young Earth creationism and reject evolution entirely.
In an age when science and technology are vitally important skills, another entire generation of kids is having their critical thinking abilities deliberately sabotaged by fanatics.
I’m thinking back to all the climate trolls who used to throw this guy in my face when arguing with them…
Richard Muller founded the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature Project after declaring himself skeptical about climate change. He was funded in part by the Koch Brothers.
He found out what other scientists have known for decades. The Earth is warming, and we’re doing it.
You’ll leave this video with a sense of how unimaginably vast the universe is. This isn’t CGI, and it isn’t animation, it’s the largest photograph of the universe ever taken by the Hubble Space Telescope — and it’s just a small portion of the Andromeda Galaxy, our nearest galactic neighbor.
Watch and be amazed. (1440p and 2160p versions are included.)
First & Last photo by Cory Poole: facebook.com
Super-high resolution image of Andromeda from Hubble (NASA/ESA): spacetelescope.org
Music is ‘Koda - The Last Stand’: soundcloud.com
Space is crazy.
What a great idea — a late night talk/variety show dedicated to science, hosted by Neil deGrasse Tyson. I’ll be eagerly looking forward to this one.
“Cosmos allowed us to share the awesome power of the universe with a global audience in ways that we never thought possible,” said Tyson. “To be able to continue to spread wonder and excitement through Star Talk, which is a true passion project for me, is beyond exciting. And National Geographic Channel is the perfect home as we continue to explore the universe.”
“This is kind of low-risk, I think, for National Geographic,” Tyson told the crowd at the Television Critics Association press tour. “Star Talk exists as a thriving podcast right now.”
Star Talk will indeed follow a similar format to Tyson’s podcast, which marries science and popular culture and feature interviews with celebrities, comedians and scientists. He’s still sorting through all of the elements that he’ll add to the television iteration, but he does intend to give Bill Nye a platform for a minute-long rant in each show, much as Andy Rooney had for many years on CBS’ 60 Minutes.
One of the most amazing videos I’ve seen this year is this absolutely stunning timelapse of the wildest frontier, the surface of our Sun, composed of images taken by the Solar Dynamics Observatory. What you’re looking at is actually a gigantic self-sustaining nuclear fusion reaction. The center of our solar system is not a very peaceful place.
If you’re lucky enough to have a large Retina or other high resolution display, check out the 4K version in full screen mode — the detail is mind-blowing.
(h/t: Randall Gross.)
The surface of the sun from October 14th to 30th, 2014, showing sunspot AR 2192, the largest sunspot of the last two solar cycles (22 years). During this time sunspot AR 2191 produced six X-class and four M-class solar flares. The animation shows the sun in the ultraviolet 304 ångström wavelength, and plays at a rate of 52.5 minutes per second. It is composed of more than 17,000 images, 72 GB of data produced by the solar dynamics observatory (sdo.gsfc.nasa.gov) + (helioviewer.org). This animation has been rendered in 4K, and resized to the Youtube maximum resolution of 3840×2160. The animation has been rotated 180 degrees so that south is “up”. The audio is the ‘heartbeat’ of the sun, processed from SOHO HMI data by Alexander G. Kosovichev. Image data courtesy of NASA/SDO and the AIA, EVE, and HMI science teams.”Image processing and animation by James Tyrwhitt-Drake. To use this video in a commercial player or in broadcasts, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
I’m going to kick off the week by humble-bragging about this off-handed tweet I posted over the weekend that has now gone viral (ironic considering the subject), with more than 7200 retweets as I write this.
I wonder if all the conservatives yelling that Ebola might become airborne realize it means they now believe in evolution?
This really touched a nerve, I guess, and I’ve now received hundreds of replies (possibly over a thousand, I haven’t counted), many of them from creationists.
One common theme in replies from conservatives is that “not all conservatives” are creationists or deny the science of evolution — but while it may be true that not every single conservative is a creationist, for years every poll on the subject has shown that a majority of Republicans not only disbelieve evolution, they’re hard core young Earth creationists.
(And by the way, my tweet didn’t even say that “all conservatives” are creationists, but it sure upset the ones who are.)
Two other common responses from creationists:
- We don't deny micro-evolution, just macro-evolution. If Ebola evolves, it's only micro-evolution.
- If Ebola ever becomes airborne, that won't be evolution -- it will be mutation. That's different.
Both of these talking points are well-worn creationist dodges, and they’re both bogus.
1. While biologists do use the terms “micro-evolution” and “macro-evolution,” they both refer to the same well-understood mechanism of evolution; the only difference is the scale, both in time and in size. Micro-evolution can take place much more quickly, because microorganisms breed much faster and have much shorter life spans.
2. The “mutation isn’t evolution” talking point is another nonsensical dodge, because biologists know that mutations are one of the most important mechanisms through which evolution occurs. If Ebola does ever become airborne (a very remote possibility, according to those who’ve studied the disease), it will most likely be due to a mutation that enables the virus to adapt better to its environment — leading to a general trend of evolution within the virus population, by means of natural selection.
I’ve answered these talking points just for reference, because unfortunately the people who spout them are impervious to logic, and simply don’t care about the truth of these issues. They’re rejecting the science of evolution because of an atavistic fear that it renders their cherished belief systems irrelevant, not out of logic — so they’ll never be convinced by logical arguments.
Also for reference, I highly recommend TalkOrigin’s Index to Creationist Claims, an exhaustive list of the many deceptive, false, and/or misleading talking points creationists use in these kinds of arguments (no matter how many times they’ve been debunked).
Laughter is universal, but we know very little about the reasons we do it. Dr. Robert Provine has been studying the social and neurological roots of laughter for 20 years, and has come to surprising conclusions about how we operate as human beings.
For more on the health benefits of laughter, visit: theatlantic.com
To learn more about Dr. Provine’s research, read his latest book, Curious Behavior: bit.ly
John Oliver beautifully illustrates the disparity between climate change “skeptics” and the scientific community, with help from a special guest.