Tuesday, February 28, 2006
Unfortunately for my daughter, my wife is sick as a dog now. Alas. :(
Fortunately, my wife has a few days before the big(ger) party which is on sat at the zoo. *crossed fingers*
Monday, February 27, 2006
Lyuda was whacked accidentally by Avrora in the eye. It actually cut Lyuda's eye. We had to run the emergency room on Sat night and then we had a follow up today. She'll be fine, but has to use a topical antibiotic.
I have enough work right now with that I can't get a good entry started. I'll try again tomorrow or maybe later.
Sunday, February 26, 2006
I recently started venturing out into making my own salsas. Partly this is because the locals confuse the the word with 'tomato paste'. The second is that I would like to have some recipes that are specific to my own family. Oh, I have my rather powerful spaghetti, my steak teriyaki, and chicken a la will as well as Lyuda's delicious stuff, but I mostly cook free hand and without repeatable recipes. It's what takes my fancy and I make it...and toy with it...alot.
I have come to love habaneros. Don't get me wrong, there's little in this world that can compare to Hatch Green Chile as far as flavour, but the 'little monsters' as my wife calls them has a wonderful flavour that can be added to meat and such. With that in mind, I decided to take my hand into making my own salsas. At this point, most are 'little monster' based because they're easier to get because they're stocked year round at our favourite store for produce. The first one is what most would call a pico de gallo. It's a basis for several other sauces and the start of my salsa tech tree.
1 yellow onion
3 roma tomatoes
2 steak tomatoes
garlic, sage, ginger, oregano (dried)
1/2 cup boiling hot water.
Mince the habanero into very, very small pieces a couple mm on a side. chop onion. dice tomatoes. Place all in a bowl. add squeezed lime juice. To conservative taste, add minced cilantro (this one's strong, so be careful!). add garlic, sage, oregano, and ginger to taste (yes, sage and ginger, but only a little bit). Mix well. Very well. Add boiling water. Mix extensively. Let sit for own hour and periodicly stir. Then ready to eat.
Upgrade one: After adding hot water, put in blender. Have at it until it's consistant. Place in a sauce pan and lightly boil down to a thicker, but not paste thickness. Think restaurant salsa thickness. Yummy and interestingly with a different flavour than the pico de gallo.
Upgrade two: Take half the first pico de gallo and 4 avocados. Mash avocados with potato masher. Make sure they're mush. Add and stir in pico de gallo. Add diced roma tomatos and lemon juice to taste.
Both of the first two can be used for cooking meat and I frequently do. All three are excellent for chips and salsa.
I also started messing around with a tomatillo salsa and a pineapple-habanero salsa. Those are not ready for public consumption yet. The prototype tomatillo salsa is good especially when scrambled in with eggs. It has s spicy, tangy taste. I have also played around with poblano and serrano chiles. Poblanos, diced and fried, and then added to salads are rather good. However, I think that serrnos are going to be like jalapenos and largely unwelcome in the Baird household. It's a taste thing...*shrugs*
If James Nicoll is reading this, be very, very careful preparing the habaneros. I have gotten some of the oil in an eye. It hurts. A lot. Wash your hands with soap. Multiple times. ok? I'd hate for one of my recipes to be what finally kills you. I'd much rather a surfeit of Baxter would do you in.
Speaking of old Baxter, I'll have to have a rant sometime. I found that very little in Evolution is original to him. In fact, almost all of it, far future to past, is taken from somewhere else. Anything from Walking with Dinosaurs to Dougal Dixon's work (After Man, The New Dinosaurs, and Man After Man). *sighs* At least the prose was originally his.
Oh yeah, back to the point of this post originally, the tech tree will be getting deeper. Be patient.
Friday, February 24, 2006
The most interesting thing about it is something that SF writers ought to take note of:
By the way, as personal stories like this become more common hopefully we'll stop hearing about how everyone in the future will be brown because of admixture. More values at each variable will result in an increase in variance for the distribution, not a decrease.
Put that in your notes for stories, folks.
Thursday, February 23, 2006
The discovery of a furry, beaver-like animal that lived at the time of dinosaurs has overturned more than a century of scientific thinking about Jurassic mammals.
The find shows that the ecological role of mammals in the time of dinosaurs was far greater than previously thought, said Zhe-Xi Luo, curator of vertebrate paleontology at Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh.
The animal is the earliest swimming mammal to have been found and was the most primitive mammal to be preserved with fur, which is important to helping keep a constant body temperature, Luo said in a telephone interview.
For over a century, the stereotype of mammals living in that era has been of tiny, shrew-like creatures scurrying about in the underbrush trying to avoid the giant creatures that dominated the planet, Luo commented.
Now, a research team that included Luo has found that 164 million years ago, the newly discovered mammal with a flat, scaly tail like a beaver, vertebra like an otter and teeth like a seal was swimming in lakes and eating fish.
Read more here.
Not only do we have this beaver, we also had a dog-sized, dinosaur-eating mammal. It seems that the Mesozoic was a complicated place ecologically. Much more so than the Cenozoic. Or alternately, the fossils theya re finding were island fauna. Just a thought there.
Wednesday, February 22, 2006
Soft-tissue dinosaur remains, first reported last year in a discovery that shocked the paleontological community, may not be all that rare, experts say.
A 2005 paper in the journal Science described what appeared to be flexible blood vessels, cells, and collagen-like bone matrix from fossils of a 70-million-year-old Tyrannosaurus rex.
Mary Schweitzer, the North Carolina State University paleontologist who announced the finding, said her team has now repeated that feat with more than a dozen other dinosaur specimens.
To make sense of the surprising discovery, scientists are beginning to rethink a long-standing model of how the fossilization process works.
Schweitzer gave an update of her team's progress unraveling this mystery last Friday at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, held this year in St. Louis, Missouri.
Traditional ideas of how fossils form do not allow for the preservation of soft, perishable organic tissues.
"We propose now that soft-tissue components of bone might persist in a lot more different animals, in a lot more ages and environments, than we once thought," Schweitzer said.
"All we have to do is look."
Read it from here.
Talk about getting rattled.
He just told me to be more careful after quizzing me if this was a professional blog or a personal one. I made that very clear it was my personal blog.
*THAT* was *NOT* what I wanted to do! I have asked for forgiveness and I am planning on either removing the offending posts or adding atrributions as per his preference.
Any of you that get pissy about that, can fscking BITE ME. This is HIS research. I didn't atrribute as well as I should have and he has spent a helluvalota work on this.
I'm awaiting his judgement as I speak.
Sick and wrong irony was this was the researcher I really wanted to talk to about the SC06 and SC07 challenge shots...
Talk about a bad first impression!
Tuesday, February 21, 2006
I guess that living in New Mexico for so long really impacted who I am. After living there for 17 years, you have so say, 'Well duh!' I had thought when I moved from NM five years ago that I wanted a really big change. I'd lived in the desert and in smaller cities or towns for so long that I thought I really wanted to move to the Bay Area and live it up. Well, that's worked out somewhat well. I've had good times ehre, but I hate to say it, but I am not so sure I am that comfortable with so many people crushed together so close. Escaping to West Marin has definitely helped with that.
So this weekend, I took my daughter on her first hike. She enjoyed it, but tired quickly. After all she's only just under one year old. My wife went horseback riding. Not seeing people and being in the forest for a while was very refreshing. I loved it. My wife loved tha horseback ride too.
Anyways, I am getting a little swamped here. Back to work.
Friday, February 17, 2006
"Oh, that's very naughty, Beaker! Now you eat these paper clips this minute."
They want to simplify the CCSM model setup. Interesting. They're having a war over this. The scientists think that you can't really do so. The software guys and managers are frustrated with the lack of use and ease to set up sims. It takes a year to set up a simulation as of now. That's fscking ridiculous.
Permian work is going to be emphasized.
Data sharing is not a solved problem either.
Y'know, these guys are really, really behind the loop on the software tools and such are. I think I see our way in. Time to write an email proposal to the muckety mucks here. I hear the cry of a wide area file system and a data management system crying out to be made.
Anyways...looks like this pretty much wound down.
Cretaceous was 32 - 36 C. The arctic was ice free and warm. There are numerous advances that now make modeling this period a possibility and especially make realistic model reality check possible.
Why was it so warm? No one seems to understand it.
This is another proposal. They are going to use CCSM 3. The biogeochemical models are an important and fundamental change that makes this worth doing. Some changes to be done for the model is a dynamic vegation module and a hydrotypographic module. Three different runs are going to be done. Low, medium, and high greenhouse gas models.
Very lighweight discussion here. The presenter wants to do a workshop about the Cretaceous to see what needs to be done. This is virgin territory apparently.
1. Still a rather different world than ours.
2. Personal suspicion that is has to do with the shallow seas.
It's interesting because CO2 is slightly more than modern. It was substantually warmer. It seems to be a good analog for the near term and coming future. That's interesting because it says the future is not the Oligocene like James thought it might.
They think that the tropic ocean model would be important and match better than simply copying and pasting the modern ocean with different temperature gradients. A map is here.
This seems to be more of a proposal rather than a run done already. Damnit, I'm not hearing crap for some reason.
ew methods of analyzing fossils have scientists arguing more than ever about whether Tyrannosaurus rex was a lumbering scavenger or a swift and agile predator.
A CAT scan study of Tyrannosaurus rex skulls shows it had the inner ear of a much smaller, swifter predator. But a close look inside its thigh bone shows it had the ungainly body of a heavier creature.
"I think what we have to do now is re-model dinosaurs," said Jack Horner of the Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman, Montana.
Lawrence Witmer of Ohio University's College of Osteopathic Medicine and colleagues used computed tomography, a type of X-ray also known as CT or CAT scans, to look at the skulls of more than 100 dinosaur fossils.
"It turns out that inner ear provides some very important clues about behaviors (and) also about their relative movements -- how agile they were or how stately they were," Witmer told a news conference at a meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in St. Louis.
"The hearing part is long and delicate in T. rex, suggesting that it could potentially discriminate sounds effectively and that hearing was important behaviorally."
In comparison, Diplodocus, a large, four-legged herbivore, had a smaller ear canal. "Dinosaurs are famous for their small brains and Diplodocus is a great example of that," Witmer said. "It has an ear that reflects that. It is a very stubby or dumpy-looking ear."
The inner ear also gives clues as to posture and shows that T. rex held its head in an alert, forward-looking position, while Diplodocus looked down, presumably to graze.
And T. rex seems to have an enlarged brain region that is associated with a sense of smell in modern animals, Witmer said.
"This is interesting because T. rex was a gigantic animal. T. rex actually had some very heightened senses," Witmer said. "It also strongly employed relatively rapid turning movements of its eyes and head."
China's military doctrine has long stressed the importance of taking pre-emptive action to achieve a strategic advantage. Moreover, in such conflicts as the Korean War (1950-1953), the war against India (1962), the seizure of the Paracel Islands in 1974 and the attack on Vietnam in 1979, China has claimed that it was conducting a 'self-defensive counterattack'. The PRC's military history, therefore, leaves open the question of what level of provocation may provoke the need for such an "active defence" in the future.
Didn't China complain about the preemptive defense doctrine of the US? hrm.
Two important changes to the CCSM are needed. Solar forcing needs an upgrade. Please concentrate on UV-ozone model. The UV is damned important and especially on the multiple millenium models and uberimportant to get it fixed for regional impact (next gen) simulations.
The second element that is important: volcanic forcing. They think they might be overestimating the impact (!) right now. When looking at the climate for the last 2k years, the volcanoes seem to have major impacts in the models but it doesn't seem to be working out like that irl. Krakatoa popped its cork in the 1880s and it had really no impact. 1641 and 1808 were contrasting to this and were the same level, yet impacted. 1351 (~) had another big impact. 1258 was 4x times larger and there was a .8 degree change, but that was far less than they expected from the models. They think it has something to do with the aerosols. They think that different particle sizes make the differences. Pinatubo had some particle measurement and still had massive error bars. They have some data from hawaii from 50 years of optical perturbations. El Chichon had some good measurements without the error bars. Interesting! Very Interesting! They have some data based on the moon!!! (O.o) This is based on the aerosols and eclipses. They have a model that predicts the color and brightness of the moon when in eclipse. Their model works fscking good for the last 50 years. Pinotubo has to be much smaller than anticipated because of this. Interestingly, they get from ice cores that Pinotubo that was about 20-30 MTs of material. Interesting. They want to ssee if they can fix the data and model of the past eruptions to make it better.
FWIW, tidbit: he made the offhand comment that the Pacific warmed up during the Little Ice Age(!?). I was typing when I heard that and might have heard something that was a mistake in the model.
The attackers are circling. One is asking why bother with 2k year run? Medieval Warm Period is damned important to study and the ocean drift is fscking important. Longer runs give more solid prep results for global warming studies.
The interglacial is interesting because this is the last time that temperatures during the summer seasons were near what they are now in the late Holocene.
There was open water over north of Alaska and Canada in the summer: one researcher came out just now and stated that there hasn't been any ice identified from Greenland from this period. The Greenland icecap was greatly reduced. The researcher stated that there was some indications that there is ice cores with ice from this time period from Antarctica. It was a lot warmer than today in Antarctica, over 5 C warmer. West Antarctica Ice Sheet was much smaller from sediment research during this time period. Iceland was completely ice free in the last interglacial.
Oh, badbadbad. They didn't mess with the vegation at all. They had it exactly as today. Didn't we cover this one already? Bad researcher! Bad! No CPU cycles for you! Okay, some CPU cycles for you, you stated that this is slated to be changed in the future runs.
A lot of this talk is based on the ice sheets and their height and breadth and some for sea level rise, but not much.
Ok. Looking back at the schedule, it looks like that either they rearranged things or they slipped something else in before the production run discussions so that might be why I was so confused aboutt he first talk.
They're proposing that they upgrade their sim from CCSM 2 to CCSM 3. Good! They really want to look at the water rising and Greenland ice sheet behavior when they have a mutually coupled simulation. The previous one was not coupled both ways, but one way. They want to also observe what happens when the all that fresh water gets dumped into the North Atlantic and the currents there. Related note from the news. She showed some sat data (that I could see right now) about the extent of the Greenland ice sheet in 1992 and 2005. The difference was supposed to be impressive. Or depressive.
They spent most of the time discussing the model instead of the results. They've moved on to the next presentation.
That's odd, they're talking about the last interglacial right now.
9:00am: (video from NCAR) C. Ammann: last two millennia climate (at the CCSM Paleo Climate Working Group meeting)
I'm a little underwhelmed with what I am hearing right now, but that could be just because I came in the middle.
Thursday, February 16, 2006
Mostly speculation here.
damn. This guy has an unfriendly accent for a telecon.
I got another call in the middle.
I missed too much of this.
Something happened in the North Atlantic (circulationwise) and then the South Atlantic responded and started having some problems as well.
Damn. These calls are killing me.
Well, my participation is over for this. damnmdamndamn. I need to run down stairs and do some work.
Permian precipitation is not on the equator. Makes sense actually with the fscking high temperatures there. There is a linear relationship, apparently, for the relationship between the precip and temperature for the Permian.
Ocean chemistry now. Nitrogen fixing apparently sucks for the Permian oceans. Iron deposition for modern times and into the future sucks. This presentation is a little wonky and all over the place.
Sea salt aerosole climate impacts are surprisingly linear for the researcher. Iron deposition in the Permian is unknown and considered important. Mineral aerosoles are not really considered in the CCSM model.
A researcher is thrashing the presenter right now. He's questioning a lot of the assumptions about the Permian. There's a lot of productivity of the semitropical in producing aerosols and he's questioning that. He's suggesting the eastern Panthalassic Ocean in the tropics is far more important.
damn. She just blew through the presentation and it was largely a visual one. shibbit.
I can't see the slides though!
The presentation we're on is:
3:00pm: (video from NCAR): N. Mahowald: Dust and sea salt simulations for LGM and Permian at the CCSM Paleo Climate Working Group meeting
First off, blogger looks sick. Not a good day for blogger to get sick. It's not repbulishing indeces....grrr. It also seems to have lost my reply comment to Carlos' reply about the Permian atmospheric chem and photosythenesis. A book that Carlos might want to read is Palaeoecology : Ecosystems, environments and evolution. It looks to be related to the previous book that has spawned so much interest in me recently.
In the mean time, since oh-so-much of the ecosystem got wiped out by the PT Event, it might be like Carlos stated that there was a different photosynthesis involved. That process did survive past the PTE. That's interesting...very interesting. It might even be testable as a hypothesis. Would it secure different isotopes from O2 et al?
As for whether or not the so-called Gaia feedback system has evolved since the Paleozoic we could see if the extinction events other than the current one underway might get less and less of an impact or the recoveries faster. The suggested methodology might be to run stats on the number of species prior and after and plot it against time. If the recoveries are better or the events more mild, we might have an answer. Then again, maybe not. There are problems about relying on the fossil record for a true cross section of critters: it only records those that live in the right areas for fossilization, are lucky enough to ahve it happen, and are present in large enough numbers. so, hrm.
Ok, just had one of the calls happen. One more to go and back to alien planet exploration, ahem, paleoclimatology.
I am missing some stuff right now. Damn those different time zones.
[Update] I am waiting for two phone calls back. #(*$&(*#%(*#$&%($(*%!!!! This sucks.
Modeling the response to changes in tropospheric methane concentration: application to the Permian-Triassic boundary.]
J.-F. Lamarque, J. T. Kiehl, C. A. Shields, B. A. Boville, and D. E.
Most of the work on the Permian has concentrated on the ocean. This is something new and wanted to look at the atmosphere, especially the release of all that methane, and its possible effects on land extinctions. Used was the CCSM 3 Finite Volume CAM variant, but fully coupled with the ocean model variant (non finite volume CAM) didn't produce the exact same results. It's being investigated as to why.
Two studies completed so far. The first is the methane effects on ozone and the same for hydrogen sulfide on the same. The first one has been submitted to a journal and the second is on its way.
The ozone gets thrashed. A huge amount of cloud cover takes place in the poles, btw. Rather interesting so far. UV B radiation massively increased based on the models. This is uberbad for genetic material and there is evidence through pollen that support this based on fossils and experiments with modern pollen samples.
Pangea had a heat index average of 32 C and in the tropics it was 72 C average! (O.o) The atmosphere was full of moisture! This is a bit confusing becauses of the presence of all those interior deserts. Thena gain, if the temperature was 72 C, I think I understand why they were deserts. Holy shibbit!
Damnit, don't use modern data as a source of atmospheric data for past climate sims. This is like Carlos' post on ecologies from the Paleozoic and using modern ecologies to do analyses on the previous ecologies.
First study concludes that a massive injection of methane kills the ozone and then the increase of hydrogen sulfide increases the life time of methane in the atmosphere by wiping out the OH- in the atmosphere.
The Siberian Traps warm the world through the emission of CO2 over 100k's years. The oceans get their anoxic state. This increases the hydrogen sulfide in the ocean and atmosphere. This increases the life time of methane in the atmosphere. The heating then stimulates alot of that methane in the ocean. This jacks up the temperature and wipes out the ozone. This lets the UVB to wipe out the terrestrial ecosystems. The hydrogen sulfide is the difference that makes the CH4 model realistic because it greatly reduces the amount of methane necessary.
[edit: again, I am unsure as to the attribution of this. I believe it was either A. Winguth (Permian carbon cycle simulations) or C. Kelly: (PETM) at the CCSM Paleo Climate Working Group meeting.]
I did get a small chill when one climate scientist couldn't make the meeting because she was snowed in: the meeting is mainly hosted in U Wisconsin, Madison. Some of the other paleoclimate folk suggested that they think more of a 'hot house climate' for the next meeting. People chuckled. Anotehr scientist made the comment that in 50 years it won't be a problem. There were some laughs, but they were strained ones. Not disbelieving ones, but strained all the same.
You need to have a period of cold first to sequester the methane, or so they say.
(Edit: crap, I don't know who said this! I think it was J. Kiehl of NCAR, but I really don't remember. This is at the CCSM Paleo Climate Working Group meeting).
Well, this seems to have been, according to the presenter I am listening to right now, largely caused by methane hydrates released from the ocean. Hopefully, I am not going to screw up this process when transcribing. There was a warming trend in the southern ocean and that provided the kick-off. However, all of this is possible it seems that the methane deposits are actually biogenic in orgin. An excess of carbon put in the oceanic sediments. The oxygen using bacteria and critters chew on them first and use up the oxygen in the mud. The sulfurphiles then run through and use up the sulfur. Then the methane producing bacteria go to work.
Why would there have been an excess amount of organic material in the ocean then? hm. Something to do with the KT Event? Maybe? Not addressed in the concall. However, they are talking isotope tracking and that there were parallels here and with the Permian-Triassic Boundary.
They are making some interesting comparisons with research about the current ocean chemstry. Oy. That doesn't sound good. :S
Anyways, here's the agenda:
Feb. 16: Morning
8:20am: Introduction: Matt and Liu
Session I: Report on paleo CCSM scientific activity: Chair: A. Winguth
Each presentation: 25 minutes for talk, 5 minutes for questions
8:30am: M. Huber: TBA
9:00am: J. You: Miocene simulation
9:30am: A. Winguth: Permian carbon cycle simulations
10:00am: C. Kelly: PETM
10:30am: (video from NCAR) J. Kiehl: Simulations of Latest Permian Atmospheric Chemistry: Implications for Terrestrial Mass Extinction
11:00am: (video from NCAR) C. Shellito: TBA
11:30pm: Lunch Break
1:00pm: S. Vavrus: Testing early human impact hypothesis
1:30pm: Z. Liu: Glacial thermohaline and climate, implication on interhemispheric interaction
2:00pm: B. Briegleb: Transient Holocene simulation
2:30pm: (video from NCAR) C. Ammann: Effect of solar and volcanic forcing on climate in the last millennia
3:00pm: (video from NCAR): N. Mahowald: Dust and sea salt simulations for LGM and Permian
4:00pm: D. Archer: CO2 Stew: potential causes of the glacial / interglacial CO2 cycles
4:30pm: C. Jackson: Using Paleodata to constrain CAM3 parametric uncertainties
5:00pm: (video from Purdue) N. Diffenbaugh: Response of the subtropical gyres in the PMIP2 simulations
5:30pm: (video from Nebraska, needs confirmation?) R. Oglesby: deglaciation
6:00pm: (video from Nebraska, needs confirmation?) C. Rowe: TBA
Note: if the last 2 talks are not confirmed, the time slots will be used for discussions.
Feb. 17: Morning
8:20am: Introduction: Liu and Matt
Session II: Discussions on CSL allocations: Chair: C. Poulson
Each presentation: 15 minutes for talk, 15 minutes for questions
A. Quaternary Production
8:30am: B. Otto-Bliesner: Interglacial run
9:00am: (video from NCAR) C. Ammann: last two millennia climate
B. Pre-Quaternary Production
9:30am: M. Huber: Pliocene climate
10:00am: C. Poulson: Cretaceous climate
10:30am: B. Otto-Bliesner: update on CCSM development
11: 00am: Discussions on current CSL allocations
11:30am: Discussions on the possible future CSL allocations
Interesting stuff. This isn't just a mild interest. I'm considering another challenge shot and I am checking out the science applications. I want something that is cutting edge - partially because I like working with these people and also because I can help them along by providing some CPU cycles. I helped along the hurricane scientist significantly by providing him with charge free cycles in prep for the demo. He stated that a paper ought to be submitted to Nature as a result.
They're fighting over the exact model for the carbon cycle right now. One of the climatologists came out and demanded to know why the Permian simulations are not using the CCSM biogeochemistry working group. The project leader is defending madly by stating that the processes that are important on a yearly to even millenium time scales are different than those on the tens of millenia or millions of years. It's interesting. There's also an argument about the role of muds and how to simulate them in the carbon cycle. also rather interesting. Some feedback is going to be given to the CCSM community.
Wednesday, February 15, 2006
Tuesday, February 14, 2006
Frex, Theo, my brother's son, was born in October of 2005. That makes Vsevolod, Avrora, and Theo all less than a year of difference between them despite their fathers ranging between 31 to 22 when they were born. Also, frex, the eldest of the Baird grandchildren, Marissa and Alloura, were born two weeks apart in October of 1997. Mikayla and Cody were the outliers so far in the family having been born in May and March respectively.
This phenomenon is not restricted to this particular generation: my sister Tessa and our cousin Rachel were born within months of each other. My brother Ted and our cousin James were born within weeks of each other too.
It will be interesting to see if the trend holds true in the future too.
As I said, life has been hectic. Lyuda, Avrora and I went to northern New Mexico on January 20th and were there for a week and change. Upon returning, I had to prep for another work related trip to Austin, Texas. Upon returning, we were prepping for a centerwide shutdown and maintenance. In addition to that, V Day is today and I've been plotting some fun, romantic, and silly things to do to my wife: it's tradition to give her a gag gift along with romantic ones. Furthermore, we have Avrora's first BDay coming up at the end of the month. arrrrrrrrrrrrrrgh!
That said, I will give a quick discussion of somethings that I saw on our trip to New Mexico. it really underlined why I don't go back more frequently to Los Alamos. I love the town. It holds a place in my heart that I cannot explain to others. It was unique and wonderful and fun place to grow up. It was an extremely intellectually stimulating place to be...back then. When was back then? That would be in the late 1980s and early 1990s at the tail end of the Cold War.
Los Alamos was in a bit of an anxious, triumpantal stage then. The whole purpose of Los Alamos had born out, from our POV, and we'd won! Without firing a shot! Peace through superior tech and firepower, huzzah! The Soviet Union melted away like a wax facade and we were left standing largely unscathed - except for Boomer Generational Group Psychoses. Except...then...wtf was Los Alamos supposed to do from then on?
Star Wars was a bust. Bush the Elder began winding everything down and LANL was out of the loop. Nuclear technologies were politically verboten: forget about doing anything even related. However, even so, there was a burst of creativity that pervaded the air in Los Alamos at the time. Participation in the Human Genome Project was on the uptick (some of my HS friends even wrote some HPC code for helping that project out). Astrophysics people were doing some of the very first work on extrasolar planets (which I was lucky enough to have participated in). Supercomputing was looking into new and interesting technologies (for then) back then for unclassified work. The fruit of that time that were ripening looked sweet and delicious.
Then stuff happened, mostly in the latter half of the 1990s, that embarassed LANL, almost destroyed Los Alamos (physically), and even took a huge swipe at the self image of the people there. It impacted and hurt people I knew and loved. All of the events ended up producing one of the most farcical and weird bidding processes and awards for who would run the Lab.
Our trip out was actually fun. Lyuda spent three days skiing at Taos: one the second day we were there and two mid way through when we stayed a lodge there. She also skied Sipapu. I spent two of those days with my brother and dad with my daughter and two days I hung out with my daughter. We spent a day in the Jemez Mountains and a day in Santa Fe. We also spent time in Los Alamos proper. The remainder of that time we spent with my family.
Some things were really heart breaking about that visit to Los Alamos. One, the recovery from the great fire that nearly consumed Los Alamos hasn't really happened. Oh, the town ahs largely rebuilt, but the forest above town in the Jemez - and many of my favorite hiking spots - have not. There are almost no trees growing there. The formerly lush Jemez of my childhood looks more like the barren Organ Mountains of my college years. There are miles upon miles of trees standing upright and dead, scarred and zombielike, and almost nothing to replace them beyond some scrub. Certainly, it didn't look like trees were there.
The second heart break was that the pinon pines are dying. Some articles I've read online have stated that this is a consequence of gloal warming. Perhaps. Perhaps not. Something like this happens every century. it is climate related, but its not what people think. Every century there is a drought. Some centuries its worse than others. It typically lasts a decade. It really screws with low tech civilizations in the area. It started in 1994 and everyone thought that it had broken in 2005 when there was tons of snow and rain like the wettest years of decades before. Except, this year, the drought seems to have returned full force. Peoplea re quick to blame global warming for the return toe the drought. I'm agnostic there as yet. Some of the droughts in the past have been two decades in length. Because the pinon trees have been so weak from the drought, the bark beetles have run amok and killed what looks like 80% of them. The junipers are just fine. It's just the pinons and some of the lower evalation Ponderosas, but not even half of those. Looking out across some of my favorite childhood hiking areas, it looked like a grave yard, more corpses than libing pinon trees. That too was heart wrenching.
Finally, some of the more heart wrenching bits was there were areas we used to hike in. There were Lab Land or Indian Land, but not off limits to the public if you were respectful of the ruins and things there. That is no longer the case. Deer Trap, frex, was an amazingingly beautiful and fun hike at the bottom of the Los Alamos truck route. It's now closed to the public. For that matter Parajito Road is closed to the public after 9-11 (not without reason, since it went past the plutonium processing plant there) and thus all the hiking areas there were closed as well. *sighs*
As you can tell, I spent a lot of my time in High school and after out hiking. It was hiking, role play gaming (or wargaming), car racing (the truck route was our favorite timed race), swimming, playing my violin, or some such trouble. Or homework. Oy!
LANL was interested in me at SC05 for a job and my wife, while we were touring my old high school (LAHS), asked if we should move to Los Alamos to allow Avrora (and any other kids we have) to go to the schools there (they're excellent), but it's really true, you can never go home. :S
Friday, February 10, 2006
Researchers, including a BYU scientist, believe they have found a new compound that could finally kill the HIV/AIDS virus, not just slow it down as current treatments do.
And, unlike the expensive, drug cocktails 25 years of research have produced for those with the deadly virus, the compound invented by Paul D. Savage of Brigham Young University appears to hunt down and kill HIV.
Although so far limited to early test tube studies, CSA-54, one of a family of compounds called Ceragenins (or CSAs), mimics the disease-fighting characteristics of anti-microbial and anti-viral agents produced naturally by a healthy human immune system.
Under a study sponsored by Ceragenix Pharmaceuticals, Savage and his colleagues developed and synthesized the compound for Vanderbilt University's School of Medicine. In his Nashville, Tenn., laboratories, Derya Unutmaz, an associate professor of Microbiology and Immunology, tested several CSAs for their ability to kill HIV.
While issuing a cautious caveat about his early results, Unutmaz acknowledged Monday that CSAs could be the breakthrough HIV/AIDS researchers have sought for so long.
Read the rest here.
Wow. We'll see if its true. It's very encouraging that they are seeking peer review first rather than hyping it. If there's a cure for it...talk about changes demographically in, oh, say, Africa?
Thursday, February 09, 2006
The one that has me excited is...
The Station-Keeping Solar Sail Challenge
A solar sail pushed through space by the force of the Sun's photons to a target could earn $2.5 million with an equal amount available for keeping a solar sail for 90 days at a fixed point in space.
Ukraine intends to raise the rent for the Black Sea ports and facilities used by the Russian fleet from the current $93 million annually to the market-based figure that could run into $1.8 billion, a senior official said Thursday.
Against the backdrop of a dispute over a lighthouse and other facilities on the Ukrainian Crimean peninsula, Anatoliy Kinakh, the secretary of the National Security and Defense Council, said he had instructed relevant agencies Wednesday to calculate the rent for the Russian Black Sea Fleet according to modern market conditions.
Ukrainian authorities indicated on Wednesday, Feb. 8, that they are ready to denounce a natural gas agreement with Russia that was signed last month amid persistent differences in the way Moscow and Kiev believe the agreement should be implemented.
Prime Minister Yuri Yekhanurov, opening a government meeting on Wednesday, suggested that Russia has been apparently growing unhappy and persistently opposing some parts of the agreement. “We told the Russian side: We are ready to denounce the agreement or certain clauses in the agreement if it doesn’t satisfy the Russian side, and to prepare the new one,” Yekhanurov said, quoted by the UkrainianJournal.com.
Yekhanurov didn’t disclose what the differences were, but the development comes amid deadlock in talks between the two governments as Russia has been apparently refusing to guarantee steady gas prices during the next five years.
This is the first time Ukraine officially mentioned an option of denouncing the agreement, which was signed on Jan. 4 to end a natural gas dispute that had resulted in disruptions of Russian gas supplies to Europe.
Russia's defense minister said Thursday that Ukraine could destabilize its domestic situation by joining NATO.
"Ukraine's possible accession to NATO is a very sensitive issue. Attempts to drastically reorient [itself] towards western values could prove a major destabilization factor, above all for Ukrainian society, since a year of democratic reform has not yielded noticeable results," Sergei Ivanov, who is also a deputy prime minister, told La Stampa newspaper ahead of his visit to Rome where he is expected to take part in a Russia-NATO Council meeting, which will take place on the sidelines of the informal meeting of NATO defense ministers.
This is rather alarming, actually. The Ukrainians are going to renounce the agreement and stop the gas again, point one. They are also going to start charging Russia for the Sebastopol base at a rate that is 20 times what it is now. Then, after the Russians made such an interesting comment before, the Russian Defense Minister goes on the record saying that Ukraine will probably destablize. After Russia's funny little comment I have to wonder if that is a threat to induce seperatism on the model of Georgia's problems. Crimea might be ripe for this or perhaps, but lesser so, the Donbass Region. IDK. I think we're just going to fish out the family and make an end to all this mess.
Scientists say the 160-million-year-old animal, which had simple feathers and an elaborate head crest, is the oldest known tyrannosaur—a group of swift, flesh-eating dinos that culminated in T. rex some 90 million years later.
Two specimens of the previously unknown dinosaur have been found in the fossil-rich badlands of Xinjiang province in northwest China (map).
The primitive tyrannosaurs were discovered together. They appeared to have become fatally trapped in a prehistoric mud pit, according to Xing Xu, professor at the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology in Beijing, China. The carnivores were possibly lured to their deaths by other mud-stricken animals, which also left behind fossil remains.
"This is an unbelievable discovery with tremendous new information on the evolution of the tyrannosaurs," Xu said.
Read more here.
Tuesday, February 07, 2006
Saturday, February 04, 2006
Friday, February 03, 2006
2. Chavin: And the Origins of the Andean Civilization
3. Catastrophes and Lesser Calamities : The Causes of Mass Extinctions
4. Mass Extinctions and Their Aftermath
5. The Little Ice Age: How Climate Made History, 1300-1850
6. The Olmecs: America's First Civilization
7. Mexico: From the Olmecs to the Aztecs
8. Handbook to Life in Ancient Rome
9. Homeward Bound
That last one is just to finish out the whole Lizard saga. Not because I am uberinterested. The first book I blame on Carlos Yu. He got me ubercurious. Four of those books are for the alternate history that I am writing. We'll see how that turns out. I've made progress there, but its not so easy. The introduction has been plotted out and the general arc of the story with the two other interrupting stories, but it's still a work in progress with baby etc.
The Germans and Spanisha re experimenting with an UCAV of their own. They're behind the US quite a bit, but making some obvious progress, Apparently, the UCAV program, called Barrakuda, has been going on for a bit, but with a light shroud of secrecy. They took it out for some taxiing tests recently according to Jane's.
Duckbilled dinosaurs of about 90 million years ago had huge crests with complex nasal passages, and used them to honk sexual and social messages, according to a new study in the journal Paleobiology.
"The crest likely evolved to play a role in behavior of both vocal and visual display -- to call to attract a mate or warn of predators or something like that," said David Evans, a researcher at the University of Toronto.
Read the rest here.
Thursday, February 02, 2006
"The world has never had a good definition of the word 'liberty.' The American people just now, are much in want of one. We all declare for liberty. But in using the same word, we do not all mean the same thing.
"What constitutes the bulwark of our liberty and independence? It is not our frowning battlements, our bristling seacoasts -- these are not our reliance against tyranny. Our reliance is in the love of liberty, which God has planted in our bosom. Our defence is in the preservation of the spirit which prizes liberty as the heritage of all men in all lands, everywhere. Destroy this spirit and you have planted the seeds of despotism around your own door.
"At what point shall we expect the approach of danger? By what means shall we fortify against it? Shall we expect some transatlantic military giant to step the ocean and crush us at a blow?
"All the armies of Europe, Asia and Africa combined, could not, by force, take a drink from the Ohio, or make a track on the Blue Ridge, in a trial of a thousand years. At what point then, is the approach of danger to be expected? I answer that if it ever reach us, it must spring from amongst us; it cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot, we ourselves must be the authors and finishers.
"As a nation of free men, we must live through our times or die by suicide. Let reverence for the law be breathed by every American mother to the lisping babe that prattles on her lap; let it be taught in the schools, in the seminaries and in the colleges; let it be written in primers, in spelling books and almanacs; let it be preached from the pulpit, proclaimed in legislative halls and enforced in courts of justice; and in short, let it become the political religion of the nation. And let the old and the young, the rich and the poor, the grave and the gay, of all sexes and tongues and colors and conditions, sacrifice unceasingly at its altar. And let us strive to deserve, as far as mortals may, the continued care of Divine Providence, trusting that in future national emergencies, He will not fail to provide us the instruments of safety and security.
"Let us not be slandered from our duty by false accusations against us, nor frightened from it by menaces of destruction to the government, nor of dungeons to ourselves.
"Let us have faith that right makes might, and in that faith, let us, to the end, dare to do our duty as we understand it."
-- Abraham Lincoln
I lifted that from Ron Moore's Battlestar blog! He lifted it from an old amalgam of various Lincoln quotes that were used by Disney(!!!) for their speech that they stuck in their animatronic Lincoln at Disney land. Even so, that speech, if a bit manufactured, it's actually damned good. IMAAO.
Two objects lurking near Jupiter and once considered rocky asteroids have turned out to be comets made up mostly of ice and dirt.
Using the Keck II Laser Telescope in Hawaii, astronomers found that the two objects, 617 Patroclus and its companion, Menoetius, had a density of only 0.8 grams per cubic centimeters -- only a third that of rock.
Most likely, the researchers say, Patroclus and Menoetius are comets, which are typically composed mainly of water ice and therefore much less dense than asteroids.
The finding could mean that many or most of the asteroid-like objects hovering around Jupiter and known as Trojans are actually comets that originated much farther from the sun and which were captured by the giant gas planet when the solar system was still young.
Read the rest here.
Perhaps that ought to have been expected. The Jovian Trojans are in the right area for comets to collect and not suddenly evaporate. I'll have to check on the energy requirements for a mission to there...seems like a great place to deliver a probe that can go from Trojan to Trojan and study...
Wednesday, February 01, 2006
German astrophysicists have concluded a space body located in the outer reaches of the solar system is 435 miles (700 kilometers) larger than Pluto, the smallest planet.
Their research puts more pressure on the International Astronomical Union (IAU) to classify the object as the 10th planet in our solar system.
"UB313 is decidedly larger than Pluto," said University of Bonn Professor Frank Bertoldi, whose team's findings will be published in Thursday's journal Nature.
The object, tentatively named 2003 UB313, is an icy body that lies beyond the planet Neptune.
2003 UB313 was first photographed in October 2003 by astronomers at the California Institute of Technology's Palomar Observatory, north of San Diego. Astronomers announced last summer that it was large enough to be a planet and was likely much larger than Pluto.
Read the rest here.
About 589 people died from the cold in Ukraine over a 15-day period of record-breaking low temperatures last month, the Health Ministry said Wednesday.
The deaths occurred between January 16 and 31, the ministry said in a statement.
Nearly 7,000 Ukrainians asked for medical help as temperatures dipped to around -25 C (-13 F), but only about half required hospitalization. The ministry said the victims were mostly homeless and intoxicated people. The majority were from the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv.
Meanwhile, President Viktor Yushchenko ordered his government Wednesday to end an 11-day-long heating outage in a Ukrainian city by February 11 and said those responsible for the unprecedented long breakdown must be held responsible.
Some 60,000 people have been shivering in unheated apartments in Alchevsk since January 22, when the eastern city's heating system failed during the cold spell.
Read the rest at CNN.
Right now, my in-laws are not living in their normally cosy home. You see, back in the end of November/beginning of December, we helped them to transition warming their home from coal to natural gas. It's far cheaper, even after the assinine Gas War. The piping was done on a reasonable schedule given it was Ukraine as were the structural changes and installation of the water heater (they use a form of radiant heat for the house). All that remained was to get the certificate (of some sort) from the local government that said everything was a-ok (basically the last inspection). erm. It didn't happen. The cost of the brive to make it happen in a timely manner was prohibitive. I might have even been willing to make it happen despite my personal abhorrence because my nephew, sister-in-law, and mother-in-law were all quite, quite cold. They didn't ask us to help because they were already very embarassed that we'd helped them at all with this. So, it didn't happen before the cold snap that has been killing people...and then all the pipes in the house broke spilling water and sewage everywhere. From what they have told my wife, the house is a complete loss now and there's no home owner's insurance. We're at a loss as to what to do.
The only reason we helped at all in the first place, and we did insist, was because a neighbor who ahd some kind of grudge had been bribing the local utility company to not let my in-laws to put in the gas pipes. We had to pay extra just to get the work done. My in-laws couldn't afford that. There looked like an oppurtunity that they could have avoided all the corruption last summer, but for some reason they didn't exploit it.
So, in the end, their house is a sodden, frozen mess, and everyone is out money. And it's very, very cold. And we feel horrible because we were just off skiing and having fun in New Mexico. We didn't hear about it until we returned and called to talk to Lyuda's sister. :( *sighs*
Ukraine is aiming to join NATO in 2008, a deputy Ukrainian foreign minister said Wednesday. "An extended NATO summit will take place in 2008, which is expected to bring in a wave of new members to the organization. We hope the wave will bring us to NATO too," Volodymyr Khandohiy told journalists.
Read the rest here.
This may be wishful thinking. There are a lot of nontrivial reforms that Ukraine has yet to implement and needs to if they are hoping to join the Alliance. It's not to say that it's impossible, but based on what we are hearing from the eastern part of Ukraine through friends and relatives, the corruption that had been driven, at least temporarily out, has returned with a vengeance. I'll touch on that in the next post. It actually ties in to the cold snap that Ukraine is experiencing right now. Unfortunately.
First, there will be another interruption for next week. I came back and my boss stated I am going on a business trip to Austin, TX for the IBM Quarterly.
Second, there will be baby pictures later tonight. Check back after 6 pm Pacific.
Third, I'll be writing up about the trip, both good and bad tonight and tomorrow.
Until then...I'll try to get some of the news I cover up here again.