Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Let's Watch This Rare Video of a Jaguar Roaming the Santa Rita Mountains

Posted By on Wed, Feb 3, 2016 at 11:35 AM

The only wild jaguar in the U.S. lives in the Santa Rita Mountains outside Tucson. We've been waiting to see live footage of him, and it's our lucky day today: environmental groups have released a rare video of the jaguar, named El Jefe, roaming the Santa Ritas.

The Center for Biological Diversity and Conservation CATalyst, a former program within the UA, have been collaborating in a video project to monitor the endangered jaguar and ocelot in the southeastern Arizona mountain range. Chris Bugbee, a biologist with Conservation CATalyst, has collected data on the jaguar for the past three years, a Center for Biological Diversity press release says. 

El Jefe has been often photographed by remote sensor cameras in the Santa Ritas over the past few years. But this is the first-ever publicly released video of him.

He is the only verified jaguar in the country, since another, known as Macho B, was euthanized in March 2009. Environmental groups are fighting hard for the species preservation, especially as the Rosemont Copper open-pit mine continues to loom over the Santa Ritas. 
The mile-wide open pit and 800-foot-high piles of toxic mine waste would permanently destroy thousands of acres of occupied, federally protected jaguar habitat where this jaguar lives.
“The Rosemont Mine would destroy El Jefe’s home and severely hamstring recovery of jaguars in the United States,” said a prepared statement from Randy Serraglio, conservation advocate with the Center for Biological Diversity. “At ground zero for the mine is the intersection of three major wildlife corridors that are essential for jaguars moving back into the U.S. to reclaim lost territory. The Santa Rita Mountains are critically important to jaguar recovery in this country, and they must be protected.”

Watch the footage:

Conservation CATalyst and the Center for Biological Diversity released new video today of the only known wild jaguar currently in the United States.Captured on remote sensor cameras in the Santa Rita Mountains just outside of Tucson, the dramatic footage provides a glimpse of the secretive life of one of nature’s most majestic and charismatic creatures. This is the first-ever publicly released video of the #jaguar, recently named 'El Jefe' by Tucson students, and it comes at a critical point in this cat’s conservation. Learn more here:

Posted by Center for Biological Diversity on Wednesday, February 3, 2016

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Monday, February 1, 2016

What's Climate Change Going To Do to the Food Supply?

Posted By on Mon, Feb 1, 2016 at 3:00 PM

The UA College of Science Spring Lecture Series on climate change continues tonight with a talk by David Battisti, the Tamaki Endowed Chair and professor of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Washington. Here's what he's going to be talking about:

By the end of the century, the season averaged growing temperature will very likely exceed the highest temperature ever recorded throughout the tropics and subtropics. By 2050, the increase in temperature alone is projected to cause a 20% reduction in the yield of all of the major grains (maize, wheat, rice and soybeans). The breadbasket countries in the midlatitudes will experience marked increases in year-to-year volatility in crop production. Increasing stresses on the major crops due to climate change, coupled with the increasing demand for food due to increasing population and development, present significant challenges to achieving global food security. This lecture explores the likely impact of climate change and volatility on food production and availability in the foreseeable future.
The lectures draw a full house to Centennial Hall, so get there ahead of the 7 p.m. start time if you want a good seat. More details here.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Astronaut Scott Kelly Talks About Life in Space, Including the Creepy Toilet

Posted By on Tue, Jan 26, 2016 at 9:06 AM

Gizmodo collected highlights
from astronaut Scott Kelly's weekend Ask Me Anything session on Reddit. One, of course, involves the space station's toilet:

When asked what the creepiest thing he’s encountered on the job, Kelly admitted, “Generally it has to do with the toilet.” Considering the previous horror stories we’ve heard of floating messes or broken toilets creating a vacuum seal, we’re not surprised. But he still managed to add something novel and gross to the collection: “Recently I had to clean up a gallon-sized ball of urine mixed with acid.” Why acid? It’s added to the urine to keep it from clogging the system or damaging machinery. Ew.
Read the whole thing here.

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


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


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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