Science

Friday, January 22, 2016

Zona Politics: How Will Climate Change Affect Us in the Years To Come?

Posted By on Fri, Jan 22, 2016 at 4:28 PM

ZonaPol1-21Final from Zona Politics with Jim Nintzel on Vimeo.


On this week's episode of Zona Politics: UA College of Science Dean Joaquin Ruiz talks about climate change and previews the UA's Spring Lecture Series, Earth Transformed, Then Kacey Ernst, a UA associate professor of public health, joins me to talk about how climate change will impact human health, particularly when it comes to us here in the Southwestern United States.

The Spring Lecture Series kicks off Monday, Sept. 25, at 7 p.m. at UA Centennial Hall, with UA geosciences professor talking about the impact of climate change on the oceans. It's free. Find more details here.

If you don't want to watch online, Zona Politics airs at 8 a.m. Sunday mornings on the CW Tucson, Channel 8 on Cox and Comcast, and Channel 58 on DirecTV, Dish and broadcast. The show also airs at 5 p.m. Sunday on KXCI, 91.3 FM.

Here's a transcript of the show:

(Nintzel) 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 the usual political debates to lay a little science on you. Every year, the UA College of Science presents a spring lecture series and this year, the six lectures will focus on climate change Joining me today to talk about the upcoming lectures is Joaquin Ruiz, the dean of the UA College of Science. Dean Ruiz, welcome to Zona Politics.

(Ruiz) Thank you for having me.

(Nintzel) So, you've been packing people into Centennial Hall lectures for several years, now. This year's theme is climate change. You're calling it "Earth Transformed." It begins on Monday, Jan. 25. Why did you pick this topic?

(Ruiz) We've been doing these lecture series 11 years. Ten years ago we did it on global climate change. So much has happened that we thought it was important to bring it for a tenth anniversary of what we said ten years ago, and bring it and really to show how the earth has really been transformed by us. Ten years ago we were still debating it. Now we know.

(Nintzel) And, bottom line, how badly have we screwed up this planet?

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Grapes in Winter: Have We Sold Our Souls (or The Earth) To the Devil?

Posted By on Fri, Jan 22, 2016 at 2:07 PM

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I hadn't revisited Dr. Faustus by Shakespeare contemporary Christopher Marlowe since I read it as a high school junior, but I often think of it when I walk down the produce aisle in winter and see fresh grapes and berries on display. After my most recent visit to Sprouts, I decided to take my first look at the play in decades to see if my memory was accurate. Turns out it was.

I remember two things from my high school reading of "Dr. Faustus," which retells the old legend of a doctor who sells his soul to the Devil in exchange for power and knowledge. I remember the first lines of a passage I had to memorize, where Dr. Faustus asks Mephistopheles to conjure up Helen of Troy. On seeing her, he says,
Was this the face that launch'd a thousand ships,
And burnt the topless towers of Ilium—
Sweet Helen, make me immortal with a kiss.
And I remember a brief scene where Faustus is showing off, using his devilish powers to perform parlor tricks for a Duke and Duchess. The Duchess asks for a dish of grapes even though it's the dead of winter. No mortal could produce fresh grapes at that time of year, but Mephistopheles leaves and returns a moment later with the fruit, which the Duchess says are "the sweetest grapes that e’er I tasted." When the Duke asks how he did it, Faustus replies, Mephistopheles sped to the far east where it was summer and brought back the grapes.

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Monday, January 18, 2016

Space Oddity: Don't Miss Scott Kelly's Interview with Stephen Colbert

Posted By on Mon, Jan 18, 2016 at 12:45 PM


You know technology has come a long way when astronauts can now appear on the late-night talk shows while still in space. Stephen Colbert and Scott Kelly, who is spending (nearly) a year in space, had a great chat about life in space, the dangers of space madness and much more. Be sure to pay attention to the captions.

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Monday, January 11, 2016

"And the Stars Look Very Different Today": NASA Remembers David Bowie

Posted By on Mon, Jan 11, 2016 at 4:34 PM

NASA has resurrected retired Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield's cover of "Space Oddity" to say farewell to the late David Bowie.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

UA Scientist: Lightsaber Duels Are Very Improbable

Posted By on Wed, Dec 16, 2015 at 12:15 PM

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UA Associate Professor Jason Jones doesn't think light sabers are very practical:
Jones, an associate professor in the University of Arizona's College of Optical Sciences and head of the Jones Research Group, knows a thing or two about lasers. And although he is a "Star Wars" fan who received a toy lightsaber for his birthday, he says laser swords are easier said than done for a couple of reasons — battery power and light physics chief among them.

Curiously, although they emit light, the lightsabers in "Star Wars" aren't made of it. They are said to be made of plasma — a hot, gassy blend of ions — wrapped in a "force containment field," which is probably some kind of electromagnetic field, Jones says. He adds that the lightsaber might be better off if it were made of, well, light.

Light is made of photons, which "don't like to interact with each other," so sword fighting with light would be futile. The physics just aren't there. But, say, cutting off a hand with it? Tricky, but not impossible.
Jones says that battery power would also be a problem:

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Monday, December 7, 2015

Message From Space: Astronauts Aboard the ISS Urge World Leaders To Save the Planet

Posted By on Mon, Dec 7, 2015 at 12:00 PM


Astronaut Scott Kelly and the rest of the crew of the International Space Station have a message for the world leaders gathered in Paris for climate change talks: Save the planet! You can see just how fragile our atmosphere is from way up there.

Meanwhile, international correspondent, UA School of Journalism professor and recently crowned Tucson genius Mort Rosenblum expresses his skepticism that much will come of the Paris talks:

This should be the most important global gathering in history: the 21st session of the Conference of the Parties to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) — COP 21. But, barring surprises, COPOUT 21 is closer to it.

Scientists’ repeated urgings to cap carbon emissions are not even on the table. Proposed action is nowhere near enough, even if implemented. National commitments are voluntary, subject to waffling and political opposition at home.

Last night, amid the blaze of Christmas lights on the Champs-Elysees, I watched a funky little wind turbine crank out a few kilowatts. In a small rink, some people rode bikes rigged to generate a dribble of clean energy.

Then, walking home, I stopped for an eight-car motorcade, with wailing motorcycle outriders, bringing the Korean delegation from the airport in a cloud of exhaust fumes.

For the big picture, too complex to summarize, here are some keywords: Kyoto Protocol, Copenhagen COP 15, Al Gore, George W. Bush, China, India, just about any other country, corporate greed, stupidity, bullshit.

The heart of it is simple: If we do not stop spewing carbon into the air, nothing else matters. Unless those who will suffer – all of us – push governments to real action, the planet we leave behind will be uninhabitable.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

So That's What a Hurricane Looks Like From Space

Posted By on Tue, Dec 1, 2015 at 11:30 AM

More fun from astronaut Scott Kelly's Twitter feed.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving From the International Space Station

Posted By on Wed, Nov 25, 2015 at 3:30 PM

NASA astronauts Scott Kelly and Kjell Lindgren show us what Thanksgiving dinner is like aboard the International Space Station.

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