What Seinfeld can teach us about science

From micro pigs to the doping dangers of a poppy seed bagel, life may be imitating the US sitcom When Jerry Seinfeld UK 1981 HBO debut, he said of weather forecasts: And then my favourite part, the satellite photo. This is really helpful. A photograph of the Earth from 10,000 miles away. Can you tell if you should take a sweater or not from that shot? His eponymous 90s sitcom is also packed with nuanced references to science, with the storylines of some of the most famous episodes centred on it: George Costanza pretends to be a scientist in The Marine Biologist, while in The Abstinence he becomes a boffin after swearing off sex. In The Non-Fat Yogurt, Kramer has …

New Designs Could Boost Solar Cells Beyond Their Limits

The sun blankets the Earth with enough photons every hour to meet the entire world’s energy needs for a year. The question is how to efficiently convert them into electricity. Even under small-scale laboratory conditions, the world’s best single-junction solar cells—the kind found in most solar panels—still max out at capturing 29 percent of the sun’s energy. That puts them just shy of the hard limit of about one third that solar researchers calculated half a century ago. But scientists studying photovoltaics—the process by which sunlight is converted into electricity—have also long suspected that this limit is not as hard as it once seemed. The ceiling on solar cell efficiency, known as the Shockley-Queisser limit, is between 29 and 33 …

24-Year-Old Biochemist Wins Miss Virginia Title After Doing A Science Experiment As Her Talent

24-year-old biochemist Camille Schrier was crowned the new Miss Virginia recently, after showcasing her talents onstage in the form of a science experiment. Virginia beauty pageant contestant Camille Schrier showed a rather unusual talent for these kinds of shows Image credits: “Elephant Toothpaste” reaction. Rick Myers / Miss Virginia Ms. Schrier said that it was the recent overhaul to the competition, which now places greater value on true talents and social impact over appearance, that encouraged her to enter the pageant circuit again. “The evolution of the Miss America competition, which reflects greater inclusiveness, and an opportunity to make a difference and win scholarships inspired me to step forward this year and compete,” she told  Image credits: She won not …

Desalination Is Booming as Cities Run out of Water

This story originally appeared on Yale Environment 360 and is part of the Climate Desk collaboration. Some 30 miles north of San Diego, along the Pacific Coast, sits the Claude “Bud” Lewis Carlsbad Desalination Plant, the largest effort to turn salt water into fresh water in North America. Each day 100 million gallons of seawater are pushed through semi-permeable membranes to create 50 million gallons of water that is piped to municipal users. Carlsbad, which became fully operational in 2015, creates about 10 percent of the fresh water the 3.1 million people in the region use, at about twice the cost of the other main source of water. Expensive, yes, but vital for the fact that it is local and …

Man Found Guilty in a Murder Mystery Cracked By Cousins DNA

The word pierced a momentary hush that had settled over the packed courtroom, where a line of people stretched out into the hall. The word that the families of Jay Cook and Tanya Van Cuylenborg had been waiting for more than three decades to hear: “guilty.” After a day and a half of deliberations, a Snohomish County jury found William Earl Talbott II guilty on two counts of aggravated murder in the first degree for the deaths of the young Canadian couple. They disappeared during an overnight trip to Seattle on November 18, 1987—their bodies recovered in rural western Washington a few days later, each bearing the marks of the violent ends they met. The decision, delivered late Friday morning, …

Hospitals Arent Ready for a Mass Casualty Wildfire

Of all the wildfires that ravaged California in 2018, the Camp Fire was the deadliest. It tore through the mountain town of Paradise and killed at least 85 people, destroying the local Feather River Hospital along the way—so just as emergency services were trying to evacuate and tend to the injured, they also had to transport admitted patients. That moment made real a problem that specialists had been warning about for years. “There were four beds immediately available in the entirety of Northern California for a burn patient. Everyone else was going to have to wing it,” says Tina Palmieri, director of the Firefighters Burn Center at UC Davis, which would receive 10 burn victims from the Camp Fire alone. …

Why Kevin Durant’s Achilles Tendon Was His Achilles’ Heel

You can watch Kevin Durant tear up his Achilles tendon in gif form if you want. It’s all over the internet—the Golden State Warriors’ scoring machine bouncing the ball between his legs in an attempt to get past Serge Ibaka of the Toronto Raptors, pushing off his right leg and pivoting on his left, showing Ibaka his back. Then when Durant puts his weight back down after the turn, something’s wrong. He has felt a pop, like getting hit in the back of the leg. Durant limps off the court. He’d later report on Instagram that, yes, his right Achilles tendon had ruptured, that he had gotten surgery to repair it, and that he wouldn’t be playing basketball for a …

The Midwest’s Farms Face an Intense, Crop-Killing Future

The flooding that devastated the Midwest this spring damaged infrastructure and prevented farmers from getting crops planted on time. Though scientists can’t say if one storm or one wet season is the result of climate change, so far this year’s heavy rains are a perfect illustration of what scientific models of climate change predict for the region. And it’s only going to get more intense. Those models warn that it’s going to get hotter, and that rain will continue to arrive in increasingly intense spring bursts, leaving long dry patches in the summer. “We’re fighting it at both ends in the Midwest right now. Too much too early and not enough late,” says Evan DeLucia, a professor of plant biology …

There’s a climate crisis but Trump’s cabinet continues to backtrack on science | Kate Aronoff

Conservative donors and fossil fuel companies have the most to lose from large-scale decarbonization and they know it In an effort to suppress federal climate research, the Trump administration will direct state agencies to no longer consider worst-case scenarios of global warming. Climate modelers working for federal agencies will only be permitted to forecast to 2040, decades before the as-much-as 8C degrees of global warming that could take place by 2100 if we continue on our current path. William Happer most recently famous for written, with their desperate need to deny the reality of global warming, or belittle its implications, nonetheless understand something that is fundamentally true. To avert climate chaos, we need to challenge the free-market fundamentalism that has …

White House physicist sought aid of rightwing thinktank to challenge climate science

William Happer contacted Heartland Institute, one of the most prominent groups to dispute that fossil fuels cause global heating A member of the climate crisis, a trove of his emails show. Jim Bridenstine, the Nasa administrator, had accepting the science of climate breakdown. In May 2018, an exchange between Happer and Heartlands Wysmuller called Bridenstines change of heart a puzzle and copied in the temperature increases and Nasas deputy administrator, about emissions actually benefit the planet rather than drive harmful climate disruption, once claiming that carbon dioxide has been demonized much like the poor Jews under Hitler. The physicist was previously a leader and co-founder of an advocacy group called the Mercer Family Foundation and the Noaa) and the Environmental …

The Top Secret Cold War Project That Pulled Climate Science From the Ice

In 1961—the year before he became the anchorman for CBS News—Walter Cronkite visited Camp Century, an unusual military compound on the Greenland ice sheet. Carved under the snow and ice, Camp Century had a main street and prefab housing for 250 soldiers and scientists—all powered by a pint-sized nuclear reactor. To get there, Cronkite endured a multiday haul from the edge of the ice sheet by “wanigan”—a heated, insulated trailer hitched to a massive Caterpillar tractor traveling at the speed of a slow-walking human. Cronkite’s televised report was wide-eyed at the base’s scale and audacity—there were mess halls, a church, and even the hair-cutting services of a barber named Jordon. When Cronkite asked Camp Century’s commanding officer, Tom Evans, about …

Monterey Bay Is a Natural WonderPoisoned With Microplastic

California’s Monterey Bay is one of the more pure, more dynamic coastal ecosystems on Earth. Otters—once hunted nearly to extinction—float among towering kelp forests, which themselves have rebounded thanks to the booming otter population’s appetite for kelp-loving sea urchins. Great whites visit from time to time, as do all manner of whales and dolphins. All told, it’s one of the greatest success stories in the history of oceanic conservation. Yet it’s poisoned with a menace no amount of conservation can stop: microplastic. Today in the journal Nature Scientific Reports, researchers present a torrent of horrifying findings about just how bad the plastic problem has become. For one, microplastic is swirling in Monterey Bay’s water column at every depth they sampled, …

Heres What a $52 Million Ticket to the ISS Will Get You

So you have $52 million burning a hole in your pocket and just can’t decide what to do with it. Buy a private island? Too cliché. A new McLaren? You have enough of those. Pay off college administrators? Your kids have already graduated. But have you considered a stay at the International Space Station, the world’s premiere space hotel? This is the proposal put forth last week by billionaire hotelier Robert Bigelow, whose company, Bigelow Space Operations, says it will send up to 16 private astronauts to the ISS in the coming years. Bigelow says $52 million will buy you a seat on a SpaceX rocket and a one- to two-month stay in orbit. This depends, of course, on SpaceX …

Nasa to allow commercial access to the International Space Station

Move will allow private astronauts to spend up to 30 days in low-Earth orbit and businesses to shoot film and adverts in space Nasa will allow unprecedented commercial access to the International Space Station (ISS) for marketing, business and space tourism, the agency announced on Friday. The change paves the way for the wealthy to rocket from Earth and spend time aboard the astronaut home and laboratory in space, through trips planned by private enterprise, and for businesses to develop products or shoot film including adverts in space. The move is part of Nasas effort to put the first woman and another man on the moon by 2024. Until now, the space station has only been used for research and …

Dogs mirror stress levels of owners, researchers find

Scientists find higher cortisol levels in owners matched by raised levels in canine companions If the dead-end job, the pokey flat and the endless failings of the neighbours are getting on your wick, then spare a thought for the dog. In research that confirms what many owners will have worked out for themselves, scientists have found that the household pets are not oblivious to their owners anxieties, but mirror the amount of stress they feel. The finding comes from a study of cortisol, a stress hormone, which circulates in the blood and leaves its mark in strands of hair. Over time, as the hormone is bound into the growing hair, each shaft becomes a biological record of the stress an …