Tornado Quest Science Week In Review For February 18 – 25, 2016

Greetings to everyone! It’s been quite a mild winter for much of North America. While some locations have had their fair share of snow and cold temperatures, many locations (including my own) have had very warm winter conditions. Many flowering trees are in full bloom, weeds and early spring flowers are showing their presence, and those unfortunate souls who deal with seasonal allergies are quite miserable. Many high temperature records across the USA have been broken, some of which have stood for the good part of a century. Meanwhile, Australians have had a recent heat wave with lethal temperatures in some locations of 110-115F. This week, there are more than enough science/public policy reads to partake of. For the near term, this is going to be the dominant trend among the scientific community. Scientists from all areas of study have traditionally endeavored to remain apolitical. Those days are gone and, with the war on science gathering steam, it’s time we fight fire with fire. On that note, let’s get started…

For your consideration, here are this week’s links…

SCIENCE AND PUBLIC POLICY

A very thought provoking read that well established what many of us already know…science is an international/global endeavor and it’s time for scientists to stand up to all detractors.

The war for science in the USA is more than a minor difference of opinion. It’s become an all out threat to the USA and, eventually, the entire globe.

While the war on science wages, university officials have very legitimate concerns over scientific research funding that may…or may not…disappear. It’s presence may depend on whether or not it fits within the current presidential administrations agenda.

Ensuring scientific integrity during a time with the anti-science sentiment is at an all time high, will be increasingly difficult in spite of any progress.

Former Oklahoma Attorney General and newly sworn-in head of the USA’s Environmental Protection Agency Scott Pruitt’s emails are starting to surface…and they speak for themselves.

The constituents of congressional climate deniers are getting a well-deserved rude awakening at recent town halls. I suppose denying global warming is one way members of Congress are attempting in vain to keep the heat off.

Red states in the USA are giving a small degree of notice to climate change…but only with names that are, at best, watered down euphemisms.

The choice for the current USA’s presidential science advisor is William Happer…and he’s quite interesting to say the least.

SCIENCE COMMUNICATION/EDUCATION

An excellent read by Dr. Marshall Shepherd. “Nine Tips For Communicating Science To People Who Are Not Scientists.”

TECHNOLOGY/SOCIAL MEDIA

This is a very thought provoking read that will have you thinking twice about taking your mobile device aboard an international commercial airline flight. Obviously, in spite of the power behind the USA’s Constitution, there are times where our fourth and fifth amendments rights are null and void.

While on the topic of privacy and security, here’s an excellent read on how to encrypt your online life in short order. “Pro Tip: if you insist on enabling thumbprint identification for convenience’s sake, and are ever arrested, immediately power off your phone. When the authorities turn your phone back on, they won’t be able to unlock it without your password. The fifth amendment (against self-incrimination) allows you to keep your password secret. But a court can compel you to unlock your phone with your thumbprint.”

Now that you’ve done your best to protect your privacy and security, here’s a good read on having grace in social media.

PHYSICS

A fascinating physics read. “Time Crystals – How Scientists Created A New State Of Matter.”

ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE/RENEWABLES

Here’s some excellent wind power news for the USA. Wind briefly powered more than 50 percent of electric demand on 12 February 2017 for the first time on any North American power grid.

Norway is making major headway in switching over to electric-powered vehicles (EV) and could be one hundred percent EV in as little as eight years.

The sight of four million solar panels from space is quite a sight…and one we can hope will spread across the globe.

ATMOSPHERIC SCIENCE

Once upon a time, even Benjamin Franklin, lightning rods, and the UK were locked in political sabre rattling over…lightning rods.

The latest US Drought Monitor shows 13.8% of the contiguous USA in drought conditions with intensification noted in the south, mid-Atlantic, and New England.

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Forecasting winter weather events is one of the most daunting challenges that a meteorologist can face. This message from the Twin Cities, MN National Weather Service does an excellent job of explaining to a largely un-weatherwise public the difficulties of doing their job and dealing with a cantankerous segment of the public.

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THE QUIXOTIC

In the 21st century, people are still taking this kind of pseudoscience seriously. Sad but true.

That’s a wrap for this post! As usual, I’d like to extend a warm welcome to my new followers in social media. I’m glad you’re along for the fun! We’ve got some wild times ahead, so hang on.

Cheers!

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