Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Undergraduate Opportunities from NASA and NSF

Last Monday was opportunities for high school, and by chance, today, I'll move up to college.  From one of my email lists:

NASA offers paid undergraduate and graduate level internships in a wide variety of disciplines.  Over 200 internships are available.  The deadline is March 1st, but offers may begin going out as early as Feb. 2nd.  Visit http://intern.nasa.gov to apply for up to 15 opportunities with a single application.

NSF offers a wide variety of paid summer research experiences for undergraduates.  To search over 600 programs, please visit:  http://www.pathwaystoscience.org/undergrads.asp

For summer research specifically in ocean sciences:

For summer research specifically in engineering:

For mentoring and professional development support, please take a look at AGEP alliances:

Monday, January 30, 2012

Starting a bestiary of oscillations and cycles

A bestiary originally was originally a book of pictures and descriptions, often with morals attached, of animals.  Well, that was the middle ages.  The version I've got in mind is one describing the more or less regular oscillations or cycles in the earth system, its orbit, and the sun.  For now, I'll describe just the period and its name and invite you to add to the list.  Also, I won't worry about whether the named thing is a proper oscillation (such as tides) or more of an index that may not have any particular period (PNA).  The later rendition will have some discussion of what happens in each and concern about whether the variation is a real thing or just an artefact of how people looked at the data.  For those who'd like to jump straight to discussion of weather cycles directly, I'll suggest William Burroughs' Weather Cycles, Real or Imaginary

As always, you're encouraged to add your own suggestions!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

National Center for Science Education now also defending science on climate change

The National Center for Science Education is now also engaging on teaching good science on climate change.  I've long been a member, because they've been for even longer helping ensure that science is taught in biology classes.  I'm not quick on the announcement, it was originally made on the 16th.  But if you haven't seen the mention yet, it's new to you :-)

I'll add a few thoughts of my own as a long-time member, and one who had suggested some time back to the director, Eugenie C. Scott, that they take this step.  One of the things I like about the NCSE is that their focus is on the science.  They're not the place to go if, say, you want someone to lobby for your idea for solving climate change.  They're a good place for parents, teachers, school boards, to go with questions and concerns about whether the science in your school's textbook is good, or is even science.  NCSE is also a good place to go to find out what is happening in your state regarding attempts to change the science curriculum away from science.  The main page address is http://ncse.com/

It was partly the tracking of attempts to remove teaching evolution in biology classes and other such anti-scientific moves that made me suggest also covering climate change science.  Increasingly, over the last 10 years, bills opposed to teaching good science in biology classrooms have been including directives opposed to teaching good science in earth science classrooms.  Bills to deny that CO2 is a greenhouse gas, or deny that there's a greenhouse effect, or to deny that CO2 is increasing and this is due to human activity, and other versions of denial.

Monday, January 16, 2012

High School Student Science Opportunity in the Arctic

Call for High School Applicants
Joint Science Education Project
Kangerlussuaq, Greenland

The Joint Science Education Project (JSEP) announces a call for applications from high school students interested in participating in field research in Greenland.

A limited number of high school students from the United States will join peers from Denmark and Greenland to spend three weeks during summer 2012 doing field science in and around Kangerlussuaq, Greenland, and visiting a research station on the Greenland ice sheet. Students will work with arctic scientists and with their peers on research projects in a wide variety of fields including biology, geology, climatology, chemistry, and engineering.

The program is sponsored by NSF's Office of Polar Programs in collaboration with the Joint Committee.

Application deadline: Friday, 17 February 2012.

More information, including the application, is available at: http://www.arcus.org/jsep

For questions, please contact:
Shelly Hynes
Email: shynes@nsf.gov

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Parts per million

One of the sillier arguments against climate change, especially human-affected climate change, is to claim that since CO2 is a trace gas, it can't have any significant effect.  It's now about 395 parts per million in the atmosphere.

It happens that I'm taking some medicine at the moment.  100 mg of one, and 10 mg of another.  To make the math easy, let's say I weigh 100 kg.  mg is milligram, so there are 1000 of them per gram.  1000 grams is 1 kg.

That first medication represents 1 part per million.  The second is a mere 0.1 parts per million.  The body is a complex system.  Small amounts of things can be very important.  Climate is also a complex system.

Let's continue a little in this vein.  Daily nutrition requirements, which I'll take from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reference_Daily_Intake , include:
  • 1000 mg Calcium --> 10 ppm
  • 1000 mg Phosphorous --> 10 ppm
  • 60 mg Vitamin C --> 0.6 ppm
  • 15 mg Zinc --> 0.15 ppm
  • 2 mg Manganese --> 0.02 ppm
  • 80 micrograms Vitamin K --> 0.008 ppm
  • 6 micrograms Vitamin B-12 --> 0.0006 ppm
If you'd like to avoid scurvy, rickets, pellagra, and a host of other illnesses, you have to treat concentrations far, far lower than 400 ppm as being important.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Happy New Year

Happy new year folks.  Couple of months there when I was off to other things.  One of which is that my oldest son introduced me to World of Warcraft.  Not a whole lot of science content there, but I don't do science all the time.

It looks like some of the comments you made during my disappearance didn't come up even though I approved them, I thought.  They should be there now. 

During my blog-vacation, I did have a number of ideas for articles, and made some progress on background work for some.  So things will be livening up.