Howdy. I'm Allen, also known as GruntDoc. I chose GruntDoc as, when I was getting my first email address I was a doctor for the USMC infantry, who are somewhat affectionately known as grunts. Although I'm no longer on active duty, it still fits, because now I'm an Emergency Medicine doc who just works shifts. I'm a grunt in the doctor world.
Former President Bill Clinton kicked off his three-day Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) in New York City this week with an interview on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. When Jon Stewart remarked that people are "crazy" about the Clinton Global Initiative, Clinton said, "I think they like it because we're actually doing something." In order to attend the meeting, participants had to commit to contributing something in one of four focus areas: global warming, alleviation of poverty, global health, and religious and racial reconciliation. In the interview held on September 19, Clinton alluded to the creation of a fund for biofuels. The clip here contains the entire ~10 minute interview. Two days later, the CGI announced that Sir Richard Branson is pledging an estimated $3 billion to support renewable energy initiatives from the profits of transportation businesses (airlines and trains) owned by the Virgin Group of companies over the next 10 years. The first step by Branson and the Virgin Group is the creation of Virgin Fuels, which will focus on biofuel development with an initial investment of $400 million over three years.
In 1950, an explosion rumbling through city sewers in the New York City neighborhood of Greenpoint, Brooklyn sent manhole covers flying into the air. The source of the explosion was traced vaguely to the site of a number of Greenpoint oil refineries and storage facilities owned by the 'children companies' of Standard Oil, which first set up shop there in the 1860s. More than fifty years since the explosion, new environmental test results released last week by the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) show that the underground plume contains flammable methane gas and cancer-causing benzene. Since 1978, when the Coast Guard discovered an oil leak into Newtown Creek (shown in map above), it has been known that Greenpoint, Brooklyn is the site of the largest oil spill in North America at an estimated 17 million gallons covering 55 acres - more than that released by the Exxon Valdez, which released an estimated 11 million gallons off the coast of Alaska. According to the New York Daily News, this month's release of the test results marked the first acknowledgment by either the state or an oil company that gas from the spill could be a health threat to residents: "In an Aug. 23 letter, an environmental firm hired by ExxonMobil warned FDNY brass, the Office of Emergency Management, Con Edison, Verizon, an airplane fuel provider and local businesses about the gas vapors. 'We have identified an area in the vicinity of the intersection of Bridgewater St. and Norman Ave. where methane and other volatile organic compounds are present... at concentrations that could pose a potential hazard,' the letter warned." The letters, which can be found in the report here, go on to say that no readings indicate "any imminent or hazardous condition." (Why did the NY Daily News leave this part of the letter out?) Despite initial assurances that "combustible conditions" do not exist, the DEC announced this week that it is asking residents in the area to sign up for tests for methane gas in their homes. The DEC fact sheet on the Greenpoint Petroleum Remediation Project can be found here.
NASA released three major news reports this week on new findings that sea ice cover in the Arctic is shrinking at an alarming rate and threatening polar bears in Canada.
Arctic Ice Meltdown Continues With Significantly Reduced Winter Ice Cover [NASA News] - The maximum amount of sea ice in the Arctic winter has fallen by six percent over each of the last two winters, as compared to a loss of merely 1.5 percent per decade on average annually since the earliest satellite monitoring in 1979. This is happening as summer sea ice continues its retreat at an average of ten percent per decade. This movie illustrates the seasonal decline in Arctic ice cover since 1979. The total lost ice cover is shown by golden-brown patches at the ice cap margins in the picture shown here.
NASA Sees Rapid Changes in Arctic Sea Ice [NASA News] - NASA data shows that Arctic perennial sea ice, which normally survives the summer melt season and remains year-round, shrunk abruptly by 14 percent between 2004 and 2005. The overall decrease in winter Arctic perennial sea ice totals 280,000 square miles--an area the size of Texas.
Require HPV Vaccine for School [Amused Muse] - "People are always pointing at scientists and screaming, 'Why don't you find a cure for cancer?' Well, now that scientists finally have, loopy-loo fundies deny the treatment for their daughters!"
ScienceBlogs boots not one, but two of its blogs [FrinkTank] - It's been a while (okay, months) since we checked in with FrinkTank blog. Turns out they were kicked out of ScienceBlogs supposedly for refusing to come out from behind their pseudonyms, which smells fishy since GrrlScientist is still on the ScienceBlogs blogroll. Another quick look at the ScienceBlogs site shows they're down to 48 blogs from 49 this week. Who else disappeared? UPDATE: The latest blog to disappear at ScienceBlogs is Chemblog. Its author seems to have gone AWOL sometime since July.
At FRAMING SCIENCE we track how political strategists, scientists, and the news media selectively define science in ways that shape policy decisions, public opinion, and political culture. We apply framing analysis to understand the social meanings behind technical controversies (and sometimes we will look at other areas of politics.) Frame analysis is an incredibly useful invention of the social sciences, diffusing across a number of academic disciplines. Frames are used on an everyday basis by political operatives, journalists, and average citizens (though they may not realize it.)
I am a Red-State Serbian Jewish atheist liberal PhD student with Thesis-writing block and severe blogorrhea trying to understand the world by making strange connections between science, religion, brain, language and sex. My specialty is chronobiology (circadian rhythms and sleep). I teach introductory biology to adults at a community college.
Changing the world one stupid question at a time, Kat is a 25 year old London Microbiology PhD student who should be in the lab instead of playing on the net. Dotdotdot (formerly Ratlab) is my website aimed at spreading my love of science! There are articles on science discoveries and science news, answers to some of those strange questions you've always wondered about (like why do farts smell- you know you want to know!), experiments you can try at home (try some chromatography on smarties or make beetroot indicators), and profiles of real young scientists (are we really all geeks?).
Where brains are always on the menu! Serving up a heaping portion of the latest neuroscience news, plus a side of social commentary expertly seasoned with action potentials and cognitive functions. Garnished with general thoughts on science, ethics, and evolution. For dessert, enjoy a sickeningly-sweet understanding of human behavior!
Speculations on astronomy, astrophysics, news I find interesting, theoretical issues, science and science policy. In particular: gravitational radiation sources, black holes, planets and astrobiology. I will digress into computational physics, science fiction and general issues and basically whatever I feel like whenever. And, of course, cats. Steinn Sigur�son is an astrophysicist at Penn State.
Car-free, graduate student, working stiff, and pirate librarian belly-dancer bohemian secret agent scribe in training, on a mission to rescue bloggers from the wholesome clutches of the pious girl fridays of the world.
The U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) website has an excellent multimedia report on the new, $153 million Amundson-Scott South Pole Station for scientific research that is scheduled to be completed in January 2007. There are a number of amazing technological features of the new station. As noted on the website, the station will be "a radical departure from the first man-made structure erected at the Earth's southernmost point: the forlorn pyramidal tent erected by Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen almost a century ago to mark the advent of human habitation at the Pole." To withstand a shifting foundation of snow and ice, the station sits on 36 12-foot-tall columns that can extend an additional two stories to keep the station level and above future snow and ice build up. To the delight of visitors, the new station also has windows, which were missing in the prior station designs. Parts for the new facility had to be flown in by a Hercules cargo plane, and it is so cold that the planes cannot shut down their engines or even land in the winter season. The new station is the third research station to be built by the NSF since 1956. Scientists at the Amundsen-Scott station will study climate change, air and ozone, solid earth geophysics, extreme biological systems, and will also conduct tests of technology intended for the study of Martian polar caps and other planets. Antarctic research at the station is coordinated by the U.S. Antarctic Program, which is funded by NSF. Go here for a video tour of the living and working conditions at the South Pole station.