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Science and Nature Discussion

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Science and Nature Discussion

19 Oct 2017 15:10

I looked for a discussion on general "Science and Nature" but couldn't find one. We can use this thread for general discussion on nature and science.

I'd like to start off with an article that I just read on CNN about a 27-year study that took place in Germany about insect populations declining by 75% over the study period. This study is stunning because it shows that not only are the "pollinators" disappearing at alarming rates (which we all knew was already happening) but all insects are somehow declining at rates that are not sustainable for very much longer.

I'm not an expert on this subject but I'd like to hear what other opinions on this matter have to say.

I can say one thing, the mosquito population on Mount Rainier is not suffering. It's thriving if anything. I'd like to see a long-term study such as the one in Germany done in other places in the world to see if the same results can be seen.

http://www.cnn.com/2017/10/19/europe/insect-decline-germany/index.html
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19 Oct 2017 18:04

Times are bad for many animals. I don't imagine most people will see the decline of insects as a thread, except for the pollinating ones. Their niche is very important in basically every ecosystem though, so it's bad news overall.

Meanwhile, it's been a tragical year for penguins, as the adults had to swim a bunch further to get food for the chicks. Only 2 chicks surveved in a huge colony

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/oct/12/penguin-catastrophe-leads-to-demands-for-protection-in-east-antarctica
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19 Oct 2017 19:41

Well, there is this thread:

viewtopic.php?f=23&t=22368&hilit=Universe+Cosmology

From the OP: "Pretty much everything from Physics to Biology should be discussed here."

Maybe this thread could be merged with it. But keep in mind we might again have to move some potential discussions to the politics thread, e.g., climate change, energy usage, GMO.
Merckx index
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20 Oct 2017 18:26

Rather surprised this got overlooked in favor of the vacuous merits of the celebrity industry


https://www.lrb.co.uk/blog/2017/10/14/mike-davis/el-diablo-in-wine-country/
aphronesis
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Re: Science and Nature Discussion

20 Oct 2017 19:17

Good call, Aphro. I had been considering posting something about the fires in the politics thread, but for what I was going to say, this thread would be better.

One thing not mentioned in the story you linked is the effect of the fires on areas outside of the burning zone. I live in Oakland, a long ways away from the major fires north of the Bay area (though we've had some smaller ones down here), but we've definitely felt the effect on air quality. One day last week I went outside and thought someone in the neighborhood was illegally burning trash, the smell of smoke was so strong. The particulate concentration was in the danger zone for several days or more. I think one estimate was that there was more exposure to particulates in the Bay area in one day than in months of the usual smoggy traffic. Home Depot and other local hardware suppliers were reported to be sold out of protective masks.

Of course this is a global phenomenon now, and about far more than fires. We have to care about China's industry, because air-borne products from there routinely reach the west coast.
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20 Oct 2017 19:35

Sure, the hill fires are pretty much a perennial thing, but this seemed to be moving on a whole other level. I saw a handful of articles this week on bay area air effects: the Gate maybe and elsewhere.

Jinping suggested in his speech that China would pick up some climate slack. I guess current technology makes it possible to leapfrog many 20th century mistakes. Given the will and tighter control of the middle classes.
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08 Apr 2018 14:20

aphronesis
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09 Apr 2018 17:05

how long 'til all large predators are extinct?

progress or disaster?

are those whom cry 'disaster' only doing so 'cos there are no large predators in their own backyard?

Mark L
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09 Apr 2018 20:39

For me personally (because I never wish to speak for anyone else!), science only makes sense once it's applied. The books I had read back in high school and in college had never made any difference to me, but now that I've been doing some gardening, and had been keeping an aquarium for years, I appreciate the importance of chemistry. And once you do some mechanical stuff on the bicycle you'll appreciate some physics - it all comes together somehow.

Btw., we all will be eating some plastic at some point (if not already), whatever you **** out into the water and into the environment will come back to haunt you.
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Re:

09 Apr 2018 21:14

Tricycle Rider wrote:For me personally (because I never wish to speak for anyone else!), science only makes sense once it's applied. The books I had read back in high school and in college had never made any difference to me, but now that I've been doing some gardening, and had been keeping an aquarium for years, I appreciate the importance of chemistry. And once you do some mechanical stuff on the bicycle you'll appreciate some physics - it all comes together somehow.

Btw., we all will be eating some plastic at some point (if not already), whatever you **** out into the water and into the environment will come back to haunt you.



https://www.counterpunch.org/2018/04/09/plastic-waste-kills-six-ton-whale/
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Re:

22 Oct 2018 20:36

Tricycle Rider wrote:
Btw., we all will be eating some plastic at some point (if not already), whatever you **** out into the water and into the environment will come back to haunt you.


Seems the Gulf of Mexico has more pollution then most of us knew - a 14 year long oil leak.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/a-14-year-long-oil-spill-in-the-gulf-of-mexico-verges-on-becoming-one-of-the-worst-in-us-history/2018/10/20/f9a66fd0-9045-11e8-bcd5-9d911c784c38_story.html
An oil spill that has been quietly leaking millions of barrels into the Gulf of Mexico has gone unplugged for so long that it now verges on becoming one of the worst offshore disasters in U.S. history.

Between 300 and 700 barrels of oil per day have been spewing from a site 12 miles off the Louisiana coast since 2004, when an oil-production platform owned by Taylor Energy sank in a mudslide triggered by Hurricane Ivan. Many of the wells have not been capped, and federal officials estimate that the spill could continue through this century. With no fix in sight, the Taylor offshore spill is threatening to overtake BP’s Deepwater Horizon disaster as the largest ever.
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Re:

23 Oct 2018 01:19

ebandit wrote:how long 'til all large predators are extinct?

progress or disaster?

are those whom cry 'disaster' only doing so 'cos there are no large predators in their own backyard?

Mark L

Disaster. The absence of wolves and their reintroduction gives a small peek into ecological balance.
One example: No wolves, elk eat treelings, no trees, songbirds disappears for decades. Reintroduce wolves, elk move more/can't just stand and graze all day, trees return, songbirds return.

FYI: I grew up in the boonies of North Idaho with big predictors (wolves, bears, cougars...), and they aren't too far away here in Boise either (especially since I play 'outside' a lot).
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23 Oct 2018 03:13

In a place right outside Ensenada..Baja California..@85 miles south of San Diego..there is an explosion in eco-tourism.based on the surrounding wine business...all the ranches and vineyards in and surrounding Valle de Guadalupe..it is beautiful and has ideal weather and terrain for training on the. bike...
I have noticed more and more dead bees..in San Diego the declining hive populations have some "loose" scientific theories about exposure to chemicals and pesticides and after returning to the hive the cross contamination kills lots indirectly..
But out in the country in Baja most farms lean toward organic..it may just be that I am just now noticing...but I see more dead bees than I did before..I am sure that pesticide probably plays a role..
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23 Oct 2018 06:29

Are they honey bees? It’s around now that the workers leave the hive so you will start seeing them. As they’re used to pollinate a lot of crops, it may be an increase in number of hives in the area leads to an increase in the number you see. It’s a confounding factor that needs to be considered.
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10 Dec 2018 14:15

How in good lords name these things are still working is amazing -
https://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/voyager-2-nasa-solar-system-spacecraft-interstellar-space-agency-latest-a8676036.html
Nasa's pioneering Voyager 2 spacecraft has gone interstellar.

The craft – which left Earth in 1977 and has been flying through space ever since – becomes only the second ever man-made object to make it out of our galactic neighbourhood.

It follows Voyager 1 in venturing out into interstellar space, according to Nasa's Ed Stone, who made the announcement at a meeting of the American Geophysical Union.

Voyager 2 takes with it a pioneering instrument that send back observations of this uncharted part of space, beaming them over 11 billion miles to Nasa scientists. Mission operators are still able to communicate with the spacecraft but it takes information – moving at the speed of light – a full 16.5 hours to make the long journey.

Nasa declared the spacecraft had left when the onboard Plasma Science Experiment (PLS) showed that it was no longer detecting the plasma flowing out the sun. That outflow creates a bubble called the heliosphere, which envelopes the planets of the solar system and represents the edge of the solar system.
"Imagine your loved ones conquered by Napoleon and forced to live under French rule. Do you want them to eat that rich food and those heavy sauces? Do you want them to have soufflé every meal and croissant?"
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08 Jan 2019 10:34

https://www.scmp.com/news/china/science/article/2180071/chinas-new-antenna-five-times-size-new-york-city-it-also-cancer
China has built a giant experimental radio antenna on a piece of land almost five times the size of New York City, according to researchers involved in the highly controversial project.

The Wireless Electromagnetic Method (WEM) project took 13 years to build but researchers said that it was finally ready to emit extremely low frequency radio waves, also known as ELF waves. Those waves have been linked to cancer by the World Health Organisation-affiliated International Agency for Research on Cancer.

Although the project has civilian applications – officially it will be used for earthquake and mineral detection and forms part of China’s 11th five-year plan – it could also play a crucial role in military communications.

Scientists said that its transmissions could be picked up by a submarine lurking hundreds of metres under the sea, thus reducing the vessel’s risk of having to resurface to receive transmissions.
...
But the project has caused concern among some academics, who worry about the possible impact on public health.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer, part of the World Health Organisation, has previously warned that ELF waves are “possibly carcinogenic to humans”.

Numerous epidemiological and experimental studies conducted by researchers around the world have linked long-term ELF exposure to an increased risk of childhood leukaemia.

In a 500-page report constantly updated since 2007, the WHO has documented a large number of academic investigations linking ELF radiation to a range of illnesses including delusions, sleep deprivation, stress, depression, breast and brain tumours, miscarriages and suicide.
...
In 1968, the US Navy proposed Project Sanguine, a giant ELF antenna that would have covered two-fifths of the state of Wisconsin to enable undersea communications with submarines.

The project was terminated due to massive protest by residents.
...
According to the WHO, an ELF field can affect human nerve fibres and stimulate synaptic transmissions in neural networks.

It can also affect retina cells, generating a sporadic flash of light in people’s eyes.

Animals can use low frequency signals to detect threats or changes in surrounding environments, an ability critical for survival in nature, according to some biologists, and experiments suggest that ELF radiation could also have an effect on cattle.


Project Sanguine details at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Project_Sanguine

There is an X-files episode called "Drive" that has the ELF transmiter fears.
"Imagine your loved ones conquered by Napoleon and forced to live under French rule. Do you want them to eat that rich food and those heavy sauces? Do you want them to have soufflé every meal and croissant?"
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09 Jan 2019 18:17

I'm not a biologist, but how would radiation of such low frequencies with photon energies in the range of 10^-14 eV be able to cause cancer, i.e. to break up DNA for mutations to form? Considering the emitted power of a few watts I wouldn't be too concerned with health problems, but I would be happy to learn more.
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09 Jan 2019 18:54

I’d have to see the report but as far as I’m aware there has only been a correlation found in a small amount of work, no causative mechanism has been shown and at the moment the general opinion is that it does not cause cancer. Lab studies have not shown a link.

One possible mechanism is suppression of hormones, melatonin in particular. Again, there’s no real evidence for this.
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Re:

09 Jan 2019 20:47

King Boonen wrote:I’d have to see the report but as far as I’m aware there has only been a correlation found in a small amount of work, no causative mechanism has been shown and at the moment the general opinion is that it does not cause cancer. Lab studies have not shown a link.

One possible mechanism is suppression of hormones, melatonin in particular. Again, there’s no real evidence for this.


So the theory is that radiation-induced lower levels of melatonin would increase the risk of cancer? That's interesting. I have never heard of any scientific consensus that would suggest any radiation of longer wavelength than Ultraviolet (~300 nanometers) could cause cancer. There have been plenty of studies looking into this matter for radiation in the microwave- and radio-spectrum as it is used in electronics.
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Re: Re:

10 Jan 2019 09:18

Sestriere wrote:
King Boonen wrote:I’d have to see the report but as far as I’m aware there has only been a correlation found in a small amount of work, no causative mechanism has been shown and at the moment the general opinion is that it does not cause cancer. Lab studies have not shown a link.

One possible mechanism is suppression of hormones, melatonin in particular. Again, there’s no real evidence for this.


So the theory is that radiation-induced lower levels of melatonin would increase the risk of cancer? That's interesting. I have never heard of any scientific consensus that would suggest any radiation of longer wavelength than Ultraviolet (~300 nanometers) could cause cancer. There have been plenty of studies looking into this matter for radiation in the microwave- and radio-spectrum as it is used in electronics.


Pretty much yes. There is some evidence the melatonin can suppress the growth of certain tumours. I've not read much into it so I don't know how strong the evidence is.

Yep, lots of people have looked at it and the current consensus is that EMF/ELF does not cause cancer. Again, it's not something I have much time to look into that often, I'm surprised the WHO is releasing documents with evidence that it does. I'd like to see the work they cite, I may try dig it out if I get chance.
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