Category Archives: Science

Dr. h. c. AstroAlex

KIT: Ein Blick ins All: Alexander Gerst begeistert am KIT. (YouTube, 1:53h)

“Wie sieht ein Gewitter über den Wolken aus, wie verändert sich der Körper in der Schwerelosigkeit und was kann Forschung an Bord der ISS zur Behandlung irdischer Krankheiten beitragen? Antworten auf Fragen wie diese fand ESA-Astronaut Alexander Gerst bei den beiden Missionen, die ihn 2014 und 2018 auf die Internationale Raumstation ISS führten. Seine wissenschaftlichen Wurzeln liegen auch in Karlsruhe: 2003 erhielt er sein Diplom in Geophysik an der Universität Karlsruhe, dem heutigen Karlsruher Institut für Technologie (KIT). Die KIT-Fakultäten für Physik und für Bauingenieur-, Geo- und Umweltwissenschaften verliehen ihm nun die Ehrendoktorwürde. Die feierliche Übergabe der Urkunde und ein Vortrag im vollbesetzten Audimax führten den deutschen ESA-Astronauten am 12. Juli 2019 wieder an seine frühere Universität.”

“[I]f people want less plastic, they’ll have to pick replacements carefully”

NPR: Plastic Has A Big Carbon Footprint — But That Isn’t The Whole Story.

“Plastic waste gets a lot of attention when photos of dead whales with stomachs full of plastic bags hit the news. Pieces of plastic also litter cities, and tiny plastic particles are even floating in the air.

Largely overlooked is how making plastic in the first place affects the environment, especially global warming. Plastic actually has a big carbon footprint, but so do many of the alternatives to plastic. And that’s what makes replacing plastic a problem without a clear solution.”

The crisis escalates…

The Guardian: Scientists shocked by Arctic permafrost thawing 70 years sooner than predicted. “Ice blocks frozen solid for thousands of years destabilized – ‘The climate is now warmer than at any time in last 5,000 years’.”

“Diving through a lucky break in the clouds, Romanovsky and his colleagues said they were confronted with a landscape that was unrecognisable from the pristine Arctic terrain they had encountered during initial visits a decade or so earlier.

The vista had dissolved into an undulating sea of hummocks – waist-high depressions and ponds known as thermokarst. Vegetation, once sparse, had begun to flourish in the shelter provided from the constant wind.

Torn between professional excitement and foreboding, Romanovsky said the scene had reminded him of the aftermath of a bombardment.

“It’s a canary in the coalmine,” said Louise Farquharson, a postdoctoral researcher and co-author of the study. “It’s very likely that this phenomenon is affecting a much more extensive region and that’s what we’re going to look at next.“”

Link via MetaFilter.

“When, exactly, do abortion opponents think life begins?”

The New York Times – Opinion: Life Begins at Conception (Except When That’s Inconvenient for Republicans). “It’s almost as if abortion bans aren’t actually about “life” at all.” By Molly Jong-Fast.

“But what are we to make of what happened on Feb. 22, when a 24-year-old woman from Honduras went into labor at 27 weeks pregnant and delivered a stillborn baby at an ICE detention center? According to ICE, “for investigative and reporting purposes, a stillbirth is not considered an in-custody death.” Where were the cries of outrage from pro-life corners? Do some lives begin at conception and others don’t? Is an immigrant fetus less of a person than a citizen fetus?

Many pro-choice pundits make the argument that abortion opponents are hypocrites for their lack of concern about maternal health and early-childhood programs, and they are. But these inconsistencies about when “life” begins are far more revealing. The idea that fertility clinics should be allowed to end “life” in the pursuit of resolving infertility is wholly illogical; the notion that an in-custody stillbirth at 27 weeks is not a death, but that an abortion at six or eight weeks is a murder punishable by up to 99 years in prison, requires wild feats of mental jujitsu.

It’s almost as if the Republican Party considers “life” to be a completely arbitrary notion. It’s almost as if this isn’t actually about “life” at all.”

Link via MetaFilter.