Science

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

New Findings in a 'Living River' says Recently Released Report

Posted By on Wed, Jul 20, 2016 at 10:00 AM

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Living River, a report newly released by Pima County and the Sonoran Institute, reveals that upgrades to water reclamation centers have improved the water quality and surrounding natural environments of the Lower Santa Cruz River. The EPA-funded report has been tracking changing conditions in this part of the river from Oct. 1, 2014 to Sept. 30, 2015.

The Lower Santa Cruz runs year-round through northwest Tucson and Marana and gets much of its water from WRCs Tres Rios and the new Agua Nueva, both of which receive and treat a portion of the over 62 million gallons of sanitary sewage a day seen by Pima County's treatment facilities. The state-of-the-art Agua Nueva, in particular, helps Pima County meet EPA standards of effluent discharges in the Santa Cruz River. This stretch of the river focused on by the report is the largest length of river dominated by effluent (wastewater) in the state. 

Since the improvements to Tres Rios and the establishment of Agua Nueva, the report shows improvements to water quality/clarity and a decrease in odor. The report also states that four species of fish now reside in the river, three more than in previous years. Increased recharge of the aquifer, another positive change, means water pollution no longer flows as far downstream as it used to. Areas that saw a reduction in aquatic habitats as a result of this pollution now "appear to be reverting to a more desert-like environment" according to the release.

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Friday, April 29, 2016

Zona Politics: UA College Dean Joaquin Ruiz Talks Biosphere Anniversary, Amy Silverman Talks About Her New Book & More!

Posted By on Fri, Apr 29, 2016 at 4:57 PM

May 1st, 2016 from Zona Politics with Jim Nintzel on Vimeo.

On this week's episode of Zona Politics with Jim Nintzel: UA College of Science Dean Joaquin Ruiz stops by to talk what's going on at the Biosphere—including the One Young World conference, the Landscape Evolution Observatory and some plans for farming—as the giant terrarium's 25th anniversary approaches. He also fills us in on some of the latest news with the Lunar and Planetary Lab's space program. Then Phoenix New Times managing editor Amy Silverman joins us to discuss her new book, My Heart Can't Even Believe It, about how having a daughter with Down syndrome changed her family's life. And then Valerie Trouet of the UA Tree Ring Lab talks about some of her work, including a new study that used tree rings and shipwrecks to recreate a Caribbean hurricane record that dates back centuries.

You can catch the show at 8 a.m. Sunday mornings on the CW Tucson, Channel 8 on Cox and Comcast and Channel 58 on DirecTV, Dish and broadcast. You can also hear it Sunday afternoons at 5 p.m. on KXCI Community Radio, 91.3 FM. Or you can watch it online here.

Here's a rush transcript of the show:

(Nintzel) Hello, everyone. I'm Tucson Weekly senior writer Jim Nintzel, your host for Zona Politics. Today We're going to detour away from politics to talk about science and books. We begin with our friend, Joaquin Ruiz, the dean of the U of A College of Science. Dean Ruiz, welcome to Zona Politics.

(Ruiz) Always a pleasure to be here.

(Nintzel) So the Biosphere is celebrating its 25th Anniversary. You have a big event coming up there this month One Young World Environmental Summit. What's that all about?

(Ruiz) Well, this organization called One Young World specializes in having meetings around the world, in which 18-to-30-year-old leaders meet and discuss whatever the topic may be. The last one was in Thailand. And now they've decided that they want to focus on the environment, specifically a summit on the environment. They're using the Biosphere as the venue, so it's beautiful. We expect to have at least 300 people, maybe even more. Again, leaders. They're either from Apple or Caterpillar or other companies and people from other countries and it will be a day and a half of meetings, conferences. We have inspirational people that are going to come and talk, and to me, the most important thing about the whole meeting is, one, allowing folks from around the world to come and see the Biosphere, and coming to see Tucson and what the UA has to offer with respect to the environment.

(Nintzel) And you have had the Biosphere, now, in the control of the College of Science for almost ten years, and, how's it going out there?

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Friday, April 22, 2016

Zona Politics: Meteorite Hunting, County Attorney Barbara LaWall & More!

Posted By on Fri, Apr 22, 2016 at 5:30 PM

April 24th, 2016 from Zona Politics with Jim Nintzel on Vimeo.

On this week's episode of Zona Politics with Jim Nintzel: Meteorite hunter Geoff Notkin, the former host of the Discover Channel's Meteorite Men, talks about his longtime fascination with space rocks and his upcoming meteorite-hunting boot camp; County Attorney Barbara LaWall tells us why she wants a sixth term as Pima County's top prosecutor; and Democrat Courtney Frogge explains why she wants to represent Tucson in the Arizona House of Representatives.

You can watch the show Sunday morning on the CW Tucson, Channel 8 on Cox and Comcast and Channel 58 on DirecTV, Dish and broadcast. You can also listen to it at 5 p.m. Sunday on Community Radio KXCI, 91.3 FM. Or you can watch it online by just clicking play above.

Here's a rush transcript of the show:

(Nintzel) Hello, everyone. I'm Tucson Weekly senior writer Jim Nintzel, your host for Zona Politics. Today, we'll be talking with County Attorney Barbara LaWall, as well as Courtney Frogge, a candidate for the Arizona House of Representatives. But we begin with Geoff Notkin, the former co-host of the Discover Channel's Meteorite Men series and one of the world's foremost, and most entertaining, experts on meteorites. Mr. Notkin makes his home here in Tucson, and will be hosting a three-day boot camp to teach you how to hunt for meteorites, May 1 through 3. Geoff, welcome to Zona Politics.

(Notkin) Thank you! What a fantastic intro!

(Nintzel) So, what got you interested in these space rocks.

(Notkin) It's been a Lifelong fascination, Jim, and I became interested as a very little boy in all things scientific, but particularly astronomy, and anything to do with rock-hounding. So as a little boy growing up in Southern England, I was always out in the quarries and the forests looking for rocks and fossils. And then, my dad was an amateur astronomer. He had his head in the stars. He would wake me up in the middle of the night "Geoffrey, look through this telescope. You can see alien worlds!" And I was dazzled by this concept, that a little boy in England could see bodies in outer space. And then when my parents took me to the geological museum in London as a kid, and I saw meteorites for the first time, that's when it all hit me, and I thought, "Well, these are rocks from outer space!" That's science-fiction, and astronomy and rockhounding and everything cool wrapped up into one. So I was bitten very young by the meteorite bug, and it never let go.

(Nintzel) Tell us about this meteorite right here on our table.

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Friday, April 1, 2016

Zona Politics: The Reason for Flowers, Jan. 8 Memorial Efforts and the Supercollider

Posted By on Fri, Apr 1, 2016 at 5:28 PM

April 3rd, 2016 from Zona Politics with Jim Nintzel on Vimeo.

On this week's episode of Zona Politics with Jim Nintzel: We speak with UA professor Stephen Buchmann, the author of The Reason for Flowers; Dot Kret of the January 8 Memorial Foundation about the plans for a memorial to commemorate the mass shooting at Gabby Giffords' Congress on Your Corner; and UA physicists Mike Shupe and Shufang Su, who talk about their work with the Large Hadron Collider.

The show airs at 8 a.m. Sunday on the CW Tucson, Channel 8 on Cox and Comcast and Channel 58 on DirecTV, Dish and broadcast. You can also hear it at 5 p.m. Sunday on community radio KXCI, 91.3 FM. Or watch it online above.

Here's a rush transcript of the show:

(Nintzel) Hello, everyone. I'm Tucson Weekly's senior writer Jim Nintzel and we're here to talk Zona Politics. Today, we're back to talking about books. My first guest is Stephen Buchmann, a U of A professor and author of nearly a dozen books. The most recent, The Reason for Flowers, is just out in paperback. Steve, welcome to Zona Politics.

(Buchmann) Hi, Jim. It's great to be here.

(Nintzel) You know, this book The Reason for Flowers, it's really a celebration of flowers and the role they play in nature. Why do you find flowers so fascinating?

(Buchmann) The bottom line, I think, is, I like to think that if flowers didn't exist, if they hadn't come on the scene over a hundred million years ago, that maybe humans wouldn't be here. So I think of our distant common relatives as seeing flowers as the harbinger of fruits and food that would soon come next, so they noticed I think this has a lot to do with our innate preference for flowers, and the fact that since they do turn into fruits and seeds, they end up feeding the world.

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Friday, March 4, 2016

Zona Politics: A Tucson Festival of Books Preview!

Posted By on Fri, Mar 4, 2016 at 5:30 PM

March 6th, 2016 from Zona Politics with Jim Nintzel on Vimeo.

This week on Zona Politics with Jim Nintzel: We're previewing next weekend's Tucson Festival of Books! Novelists Jennifer Lee Carrell, G. Davies Jandrey and Elizabeth Evans visit the set, along the UA physics professor Elliott Cheu, who gives us the lowdown on the festival's Science City. 

Tune into Zona Politics at 8 a.m. Sunday on the CW Tucson, Channel 8 on Cox and Comcast and Channel 58 on DirecTV, Dish and broadcast. Our 5 p.m broadcast on KXCI will be preempted for a special program this Sunday, but you can also watch the show online here.

Here's a transcript of the show:

Hello, everyone. I'm Tucson Weekly senior writer Jim Nintzel, and we're here to talk Zona Politics. Today, we're taking a break from public affairs to talk about the Tucson Festival of Books, which will be taking place next weekend, March 12 and 13 on the UA campus. The festival, now in its eighth year, brings an estimated 130,000 book lovers to meet authors, learn about science and eat some great local food. Joining me to talk about the festival is Jennifer Lee Carrell, an organizer with the festival and an author in her own right of three novels. Jennifer, thanks for joining me here on Zona Politics.

(Carrell) Thanks for having me here.

(Nintzel) The eighth annual festival coming up. How big a deal has the festival become since its launch in 2009.

(Carrell) I think to everybody's surprise, it's now the fourth largest book event in the country. And it's something we're very excited about, and I think all of Tucson can justly be proud of. We have authors who really want to come now. We used to have to, you know, sort of go out and say, "Would you please come?" And now we've got publicists and authors asking to come. And it's just it's a really exciting time.

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Tuesday, March 1, 2016

A Safe Journey to Astronaut Scott Kelly

Posted By on Tue, Mar 1, 2016 at 10:00 AM

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Astronaut Scott Kelly, the twin brother of Tucsonan and retired astronaut Mark Kelly, is headed back to earth tonight from nearly a year in space aboard the International Space Station. 

Apollo 13 Commander James Lovell talks about why Kelly's long trip was important:
Given these risks, why fly in space for a year?

Again, I must recall the words of President Kennedy: We pursue these ambitious goals of space flight “not because they are easy, but because they are hard.”

There is another reason: discovery. Scott has flown so long so we can make huge advancements in our understanding of how long-duration space flight impacts human physiology, something that is essential if we are ever going to travel to more distant destinations, such as Mars.

And because Scott happens to have an identical twin brother — a fellow retired astronaut and my friend, Capt. Mark Kelly — NASA researchers are using Mark as a control subject on Earth while Scott serves as the test subject 250 miles above us to gain even more knowledge about how living in a zero-gravity environment changes us.

One day, an American will walk on Mars. But we will get there only because we chose to do it and because our leaders in Washington decided it was important.

These future missions will show and Scott’s flight has demonstrated the power of American purpose: one person facing the mortal dangers of space for the sake of international cooperation, science and exploration; the resolve to once again test the limits of risk in order to win progress; and a nation marshaling its innovation to realize that victory.

The New York Times rounds up some fun facts about Kelly's trip here.

Meanwhile, National Geographic rounds up 15 of the best photos that Kelly posted on Twitter here.

Monday, February 29, 2016

Creating an Army of Killer Robots Might Not Be Such a Hot Idea

Posted By on Mon, Feb 29, 2016 at 10:15 AM

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Former Pentagon analyst and Army Ranger Paul Scharre has penned a report warning that creating "autonomous weapons"—or, in more common parlance, killer robots—has a lot of downsides, including the "potential for catastrophic accidents."

The New York Times sums it up:

A new report written by a former Pentagon official who helped establish United States policy on autonomous weapons argues that such weapons could be uncontrollable in real-world environments where they are subject to design failure as well as hacking, spoofing and manipulation by adversaries.

In recent years, low-cost sensors and new artificial intelligence technologies have made it increasingly practical to design weapons systems that make killing decisions without human intervention. The specter of so-called killer robots has touched off an international protest movement and a debate within the United Nations about limiting the development and deployment of such systems.
Did we learn nothing from Terminator? Robocop? Avengers: Age of Ultron? On the other hand, new robot overlords might be a better alternative than President Donald J. Trump.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Don't Miss Tonight's Climate Change Talk

Posted By on Mon, Feb 22, 2016 at 2:00 PM


If you want to learn more the health impacts of climate change, head on down to Centennial Hall to see tonight's installment in the UA College of Science spring lecture series, Earth Transformed. Tonight's speaker is Kacey Ernst, associate professor of epidemiology and biostatistics in the UA Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health, who will discussing "Climate Change and Human Health: Impacts and Pathways to Resilience." The free talk is at 7 p.m.

The Weekly has a Q&A with Ernst here. And if you can't make it down there, you can see both Ernst and UA College of Science Dean Joaquin Ruiz talking about the lecture series on Zona Politics in the above video.

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