Searching with The SciSchmooze

Hello again, Friend of science,

Dr. Elizabeth Bik searches for faked images, plagiarized passages, and incorrectly interpreted data in scientific papers. She is amazing in her ability to recognize improperly re-used images even when they are reversed and rotated. She presented a paper on “Misconduct in Scientific Papers: Plagiarism, Fabrication, and Falsification” at the Bay Area Skeptics “SkeptiCal 2019.” Now she has been sued for exposing deficiencies in a study purporting to show the effectiveness of hydroxychloroquine in treating COVID-19. Hopefully, she - and good science - will triumph.

If you wish to search data on COVID-19, the New York Times just published a wealth of interactive charts and maps.

Some scientists search for the most extreme extremophiles - organisms that survive in difficult circumstances, such as hot water and high pressure. Recently, microbes extracted from 100-million-year-old sediment resumed living and reproducing. Apparently, a slow mode of life in ancient sediments is possible because low levels of radioactive decay split water molecules to form metabolically active hydrogen and useful chemicals such as peroxides. Showing that microbes can survive millions of years in rock supports the idea of panspermia - that life can be transported between planets and perhaps between star systems. Indeed, elements from a distant supernova that occurred less than 3 million-years-ago, have (apparently) made their way to Earth.

It now seems a bit more likely that searches by Perseverance, or future expeditions, may find life on Mars - ancient microbes patiently waiting for better conditions.

Zhurong phone home. The Chinese Mars rover, Zhurong, keeps taking pictures and gathering data, but it cannot transmit that information until the single Chinese Mars orbiter, Tianwen-1, passes overhead. The orbiter, in turn, cannot transmit the info back to Earth until it is in the right position. Perseverance, on the other hand, transmits to any of three (or four?) Mars orbiters placed there by NASA and ESA (European Space Agency). Infrastructure.

Ingenuity, the spunky little Martian helicopter, went searching the neighborhood and thankfully recovered from serious flight problems.

The search for a kitchen refrigerator for use on the International Space Station may finally be ending. (Imagine a home that has gone over 20 years without a kitchen refrigerator, although i wonder why they do not have one using a Peltier solid-state heat pump.) There have been refrigeration units for climate control and for experiments, but nothing for milkshakes.

If you are searching for a ride to space, you may be in luck (and out a bundle of cash). Virgin Galactic had another successful excursion into space this week - if you accept NASA’s definition of space being higher than 50 miles. The entire rest of the world is on the Metric System, so international agreements define space as being above 100 kilometers - the Kármán Line - which is 62.137 miles high.

One more bit of space news. The search for a site to launch satellites into polar orbit has settled on a bit of real estate in northern Sweden. If instead you just want to get a satellite into orbit, launching from near the Equator gains you about thousand miles per hour (1,600 kph) due to the Earth’s rotation. That west-to-east velocity is actually a hindrance for getting a satellite into a polar orbit, hence the value of a high-latitude spaceport.

If you are searching for some good live online programs this week, here are my picks:

While searching for good messages to share, i came across this pro-science article from the BBC and the proposal to resurrect FDR’s CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) with the establishment of Biden’s CCC (Civilian Climate Corps). Ever since serving in the Peace Corps, i have been a strong proponent of mandatory public service. There is also good news in efforts to limit CO2 emissions: batteries for electric vehicles continue to improve and the use of a new concrete called concretene.

Allow me to leave you with a mashup of Sixties Flower Children and Protein Synthesis (with apologies to Lewis Carroll for a ruthless slaughtering of the Jabberwocky).

Do a little gamboling and gimbling yourself this week,
Dave Almandsmith, Bay Area Skeptics board member

“One of the greatest joys known to man is to take a flight into ignorance in search of knowledge.”

 - Robert Staughton Lynd, Sociologist and author (1892 - 1970)

Tuesday, 06/01/2021

Whole Earth Seminars - Livestream - 06/01/2021 03:30 PM
UC Santa Cruz

Speaker: Oscar Branson, University of Cambridge

Zoom information can be found on the EPS advising Google calendar

Thursday, 06/03/2021

Micromitigation: Fighting Air Pollution with Activated Carbon - Livestream - 06/03/2021 07:00 PM
Counter Culture Labs

We would like to invite new members to join Counter Culture Labs' Micromitigation Meetup alternate Thursdays. We will be discussing ways to deploy existing adsorption technology using commodity granulated activated carbon for the mitigation of air pollution. 

We welcome those interested in both the environmental justice and technical engineering aspects of air quality.Please sign up by joining the Counter Culture Labs' Meetup group, then RSVPing for the event. Weblink provided after signup.

After Dark Online: 500 Queer Scientists - 06/03/2021 07:00 PM

Representation matters - in science and everywhere. Founded in 2018 by Dr. Lauren Esposito, 500 Queer Scientists is a visibility campaign for LGBTQ+ people and their allies working in STEM and STEM-supporting jobs - collectively, a powerful force of scientific progress and discovery. 

In this program, Esposito will discuss an exhibit currently in development to tell the first-person stories of LGBTQ+ women and gender minorities STEM professions, centering people of color. This exhibit will be freely available for science and technology museums, underscoring a new chapter in the visibility of LGBTQ+ people in STEM. We’ll also hear from some of the AAAS IF/THEN Ambassadors featured in the exhibit about their cutting-edge research and contributions to STEM fields, as well as how our intersectional identities make us better scientists.

NightSchool: Hi-Res Reefs - Livestream - 06/03/2021 07:00 PM
California Academy of Sciences

From high-res satellite images to detailed 3D reconstructions to remote-controlled underwater microscopes, coral reef research is at the cutting-edge of technology. Learn about several of these exciting projects and meet scientists and engineers finding new ways to look at these critical and complex ecosystems.

Check out a digital reef with Dr. Pim Bongaerts, the Academy’s McCosker Chair of Aquatic Biology. His lab focuses on coral conservation genomics - or "reefscape genomics” - using advanced underwater 3D imaging to study the ecology of coral reef organisms and their ability to deal with changing ocean conditions.  Now you can see reefs from space! Join research scientist Dr. Emma Kennedy as she talks about the advances in satellite imaging and processing power that has finally made the goal of mapping the planet’s coral reefs achievable. Learn how the Allen Coral Atlas is delivering state-of-the-art tools to support coral reef science, monitoring, and conservation.  It’s time for adventures in microscopy with Dr. Jules Jaffe, Research Oceanographer at UCSD’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography. He’ll unveil the lives and styles of coral anatomy and physiology, and demonstrate the use of several microscopes - some in the lab and some underwater - to highlight the micro-world of corals.

Ages 21+

Friday, 06/04/2021

Maria Sibylla Merian, A Passion for Plants and Insects - Livestream - 06/04/2021 11:00 AM
UC Botanical Garden

Join us for this illustrated lecture given by Catherine Watters in honor of our bug-themed month of June. The artist and scientist Maria Sibylla Merian (1647-1717) was born in Frankfurt, Germany, into a middle-class family of publishers and artists. At the age of fifty-two, Merian traveled with her younger daughter to Suriname, a Dutch territory in South America, to paint its exotic insects and their host plants. She was an adventurous woman way ahead of her time, whose amazing career as an artist, writer and teacher revolutionized botany and zoology.

Hematite fault rock microtextures and thermochronometry inform earthquake processes - Livestream - 06/04/2021 12:00 PM
UC Santa Cruz

Hematite is a ubiquitous secondary phase in fault zones. Iron is the 4th most abundant element in Earth’s crust and hematite grows in a range of shallow fault rocks due to the redox potential of diverse Fe-bearing minerals. Hematite in fault rocks exhibits grain morphologies and nano- to microscale textures that preserve evidence for different fault slip rates and deformation conditions. Hematite is also amenable to (U-Th)/He thermochronometry, a powerful tool that, when combined with textural observations, informs the timing and temperatures (and thus rates) of fault slip. In this talk, I share examples of how we fuse textural observations and thermochronometry data patterns from natural and experimental fault surfaces to inform earthquake mechanics on thin slip surfaces.

Speaker: Alexis Ault, Utah State University

Zoom information can be found on the EPS advising Google calendar

Saturday, 06/05/2021

Virtual Telescope Viewing - Livestream - 06/05/2021 09:00 PM
Chabot Space and Science Center

Join our resident astronomers on Facebook Live every Saturday evening live from Chabot’s Observation deck!

Each week, our astronomers will guide us through spectacular night sky viewing through Nellie, Chabot‘s most powerful telescope. Weather permitting we will be able to view objects live through the telescopes and our astronomers will be available for an open forum for all of your most pressing astronomy questions.

Monday, 06/07/2021

The Extremely Large Telescope: what, why and how? - Livestream - 06/07/2021 11:00 AM
Royal Observatory, Edinburgh

The Extremely Large Telescope is currently under construction high in the Atacama Desert in Chile. This talk will explore the incredible engineering behind the largest optical and infrared telescope in the world, introducing the science instruments we are building for it here at the Royal Observatory Edinburgh.

Speaker: Sandi Wilson

Astronomy on Tap: Los Angeles - Livestream - 06/07/2021 07:30 PM
Astronomy on Tap

We’ll hear from Dr. Britt Lundgren: “Using Gorging Supermassive Black Holes to Illuminate Distant Galaxies” and from Dr. Junhan Kim: “Exploring the Universe from the South Pole”. In addition, we will host interactive, astronomically-themed pub trivia.

See weblink for YouTube connection.

Tuesday, 06/08/2021

The self-assembling brain: how neural networks grow smarter - Livestream - 06/08/2021 11:00 AM
The Royal Institution

Project IceCube: Live from the South Pole - Livestream - 06/08/2021 12:00 PM
Castro Valley High School

Climate and Habitability of Tidally Locked Planets - Livestream - 06/08/2021 03:30 PM
UC Santa Cruz

Wednesday, 06/09/2021

The untold story of recovery following the Deepwater Horizon incident: A worm’s eye view - Livestream - 06/09/2021 11:00 AM
Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute

Social Cost of Carbon - Livestream - 06/09/2021 12:00 PM
UC Berkeley

The Evolutionary Origin of Periodical Cicadas: A Sci-Fi Story - 06/09/2021 04:00 PM
Embassy of Japan

Thursday, 06/10/2021

Enacting Change through Cultivation of Student Activism and Engagement with Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion - Livestream - 06/10/2021 11:00 AM
Gladstone Institutes

Is Dark Matter Real? - Livestream - 06/10/2021 11:00 AM
The Royal Institution

Why Don't Plants Get Sunburns And How Can We Tell When Our Ancestors First Produced Milk? - Livestream - 06/10/2021 05:00 PM
Grounds for Science

NightLife - SOLD OUT - 06/10/2021 06:00 PM
California Academy of Sciences San Francisco

Methods and Practices to Reduce and Prevent Transfusion Transmitted Infections - Livestream - 06/10/2021 06:00 PM
Cafe Scientifique Stanford Blood Center

After Dark Online: Queering the Future - 06/10/2021 07:00 PM

NightSchool: Cave Life - Livestream - 06/10/2021 07:00 PM
California Academy of Sciences

The Truth Behind False Memories - Livestream - 06/10/2021 07:30 PM
Bay Area Skeptics

Wonderfest: The Future of You - Livestream - 06/10/2021 07:30 PM

Friday, 06/11/2021

Wildlife Tracking: Tracking Basics and a story about Badgers - Livestream - 06/11/2021 12:00 PM
Peninsula Open Space Trust

Saturday, 06/12/2021

Virtual Telescope Viewing - Livestream - 06/12/2021 09:00 PM
Chabot Space and Science Center

Monday, 06/14/2021

Structural and biophysical characterization of function and aggregation in the extremely long-lived proteins of the eye lens - Livestream - 06/14/2021 05:00 PM
California Section American Chemical Society

Slugs and Steins: Electric Planes, Trucks, and Automobiles: The Promise and Challenges of Energy Delivery - Liveatream - 06/14/2021 06:30 PM
Slugs and Steins