Clay Bennett’s cartoon tops out the Lurie/UN Political Cartoon Awards

December 31, 2011

Clay Bennett of the Chattanooga Times-Free Press took the top prize and $10,000 in the 2011 UNCA and the United Nations Society of Writers and Artists Ranan Lurie Political Cartoon awards.

Clay Bennett, award-winning cartoonist for the Chattanooga Times-Free Press

Clay Bennett, award-winning cartoonist for the Chattanooga Times-Free Press

Bennett earned honorable mentions before in this competition.  His distinctive, almost simple style, and his sharp and incisive wit, make Bennett a great cartoonist, one of my favorites for a long time.

His 2011 Lurie Award winner depicted the breakdown in Palestinian/Israeli peace talks:

Clay Bennett's Lurie/UN Award winning cartoon, Chattanooga Times-Free Press

Clay Bennett's Lurie/UN Award winning cartoon, Chattanooga Times-Free Press; inspired by Escher, perhaps, it shows the difficulty in even getting started any talks on Mideast peace.

I especially like the ambidextrous feature:  The cartoon works upside down, too.

Congratulations, Mr. Bennett, and all the winners in the 2011 Lurie/UN Cartoon Awards.

More:


Annals of global warming: NASA press release, 2010 tied as warmest year on record

December 31, 2011

Certain things need to be on the record, in the annals.  Last January I failed to post this press release from NASA, issued January 11, 2011:

NASA Research Finds 2010 Tied for Warmest Year on Record

01.12.11
WASHINGTON — Global surface temperatures in 2010 tied 2005 as the warmest on record, according to an analysis released Wednesday by researchers at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York.

The two years differed by less than 0.018 degrees Fahrenheit. The difference is smaller than the uncertainty in comparing the temperatures of recent years, putting them into a statistical tie. In the new analysis, the next warmest years are 1998, 2002, 2003, 2006, 2007 and 2009, which are statistically tied for third warmest year. The GISS records begin in 1880.

The analysis found 2010 approximately 1.13 F warmer than the average global surface temperature from 1951 to 1980. To measure climate change, scientists look at long-term trends. The temperature trend, including data from 2010, shows the climate has warmed by approximately 0.36 F per decade since the late 1970s.

“If the warming trend continues, as is expected, if greenhouse gases continue to increase, the 2010 record will not stand for long,” said James Hansen, the director of GISS.

The analysis produced at GISS is compiled from weather data from more than 1000 meteorological stations around the world, satellite observations of sea surface temperature and Antarctic research station measurements. A computer program uses the data to calculate temperature anomalies — the difference between surface temperature in a given month and the average temperature for the same period during 1951 to 1980. This three-decade period acts as a baseline for the analysis.

The resulting temperature record closely matches others independently produced by the Met Office Hadley Centre in the United Kingdom and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Climatic Data Center.

The record temperature in 2010 is particularly noteworthy, because the last half of the year was marked by a transition to strong La Niña conditions, which bring cool sea surface temperatures to the eastern tropical Pacific Ocean.

“Global temperature is rising as fast in the past decade as in the prior two decades, despite year-to-year fluctuations associated with the El Niño-La Niña cycle of tropical ocean temperature,” Hansen and colleagues reported in the Dec. 14, 2010, issue of Reviews of Geophysics.

A chilly spell also struck this winter across northern Europe. The event may have been influenced by the decline of Arctic sea ice and could be linked to warming temperatures at more northern latitudes.

Arctic sea ice acts like a blanket, insulating the atmosphere from the ocean’s heat. Take away that blanket, and the heat can escape into the atmosphere, increasing local surface temperatures. Regions in northeast Canada were more than 18 degrees warmer than normal in December.

The loss of sea ice may also be driving Arctic air into the middle latitudes. Winter weather patterns are notoriously chaotic, and the GISS analysis finds seven of the last 10 European winters warmer than the average from 1951 to 1980. The unusual cold in the past two winters has caused scientists to begin to speculate about a potential connection to sea ice changes.

“One possibility is that the heat source due to open water in Hudson Bay affected Arctic wind patterns, with a seesaw pattern that has Arctic air downstream pouring into Europe,” Hansen said.

For more information about GISS’s surface temperature record, visit:
http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/

A Warming World
http://climate.nasa.gov/warmingworld/

Global Temperatures Animation
http://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/vis/a000000/a003600/a003674/index.html


(Missing) Typewriter of the moment: Albert Einstein

December 30, 2011

Einstein at his office desk, Princeton, New Jersey, circa 1955

Einstein at his office desk, Princeton, New Jersey, circa 1955

He wrote papers, and letters, long-hand.  Sometimes they would be typed up by an assistant, perhaps Helen Dukas.

The desk of Albert Einstein features a refreshing, bracing lack of technology.  No typewriter.  No telephone.  No radio.  No Dictaphone.  No intercom.  Pencils.  Is there even a ballpoint pen?  A chalkboard in back of the desk provided a large sketch pad for new ideas, and new trials of ideas, from the man who gave us nuclear power, gravity as a deformation of space, the speed of light as a firm constant in the universe, and relativity.

Somewhere there may be a typewriter Einstein actually used once or twice.  I’d like to know about it.

More: 

Ralph Morse photo of Einstein's office the day he died, April 18, 1955 -- originally for Life Magazine, not published

Ralph Morse photo of Einstein's office the day he died, April 18, 1955 -- originally for Life Magazine, not published; via AllPosters. Note the antiquated telephone away from the desk, near the wall; Einstein's pipe and a tobacco tin appear the closest things to technology on the desk; is that a bottle of ink for a fountain pen next to the tobacco tin?


December 30: Hubble Day, look to the stars

December 30, 2011

Lift a glass of champagne today in tribute to Edwin Hubble and his great discovery. Not sure what to call it — Hubble Day, Looking Up Day, Endless Possibilities Day — whatever, this is the anniversary of Edwin Hubble’s announcement that he had discovered the universe is much, much larger than anyone had imagined, containing far more stars than anyone had dared guess.

It’s a big universe out there.

Ultraviolet image of the Andromeda Galaxy, first known to be a galaxy by Edwin Hubble on December 30, 1924 - Galaxy Evolution Explorer image courtesy NASA

Ultraviolet image of the Andromeda Galaxy, first known to be a galaxy by Edwin Hubble on December 30, 1924 - Galaxy Evolution Explorer image courtesy NASA

So, today is a good day to celebrate the universe in all it’s glory – December 30.

On December 30, 1924, Edwin Hubble announced he’d discovered other galaxies in distant space. Though it may not have been so clear at the time, it meant that, as a galaxy, we are not alone in the universe (whether we are alone as intelligent life is a separate question). It also meant that the universe is much, much bigger than most people had dared to imagine.

Below, mostly an encore post — I keep trying to get people to celebrate.

In 2008 for Hubble Day, Wired picked up on the story (with a gracious link to 2007’s post here at the Bathtub). Wired includes several links to even more information, a good source of information. See Wired’s 2009 post here.

Hubble was the guy who showed us the universe is not only bigger than we imagined, it’s probably much bigger and much more fantastic than we can imagine. Hubble is the guy who opened our imaginations to the vastness of all creation.

How does one celebrate Hubble Day? Here are some suggestions:

  • Easier than Christmas cards: Send a thank-you note to your junior high school science teacher, or whoever it was who inspired your interest in science. Mrs. Hedburg, Mrs. Andrews, Elizabeth K. Driggs, Herbert Gilbert, Mr. Willis, and Stephen McNeal, thank you.
  • Rearrange your Christmas/Hanukkah/Eid/KWANZAA lights in the shape of the Andromeda Galaxy — or in the shape of any of the great photos from the Hubble Telescope (Andromeda Galaxy pictured above; Hubble images here)

    A few of the images from the Hubble Telescope

    A few of the images from the Hubble Telescope

  • Go visit your local science museum; take your kids along – borrow somebody else’s kids if you have to (take them along, too)
  • Spend two hours in your local library, just looking through the books on astronomy and the universe
  • Write a letter to your senators and congressman; tell them space exploration takes a minuscule portion of our federal budget, but it makes us dream big; tell them we need to dream big, and so they’d better make sure NASA is funded well.  While you’re at it, put in a plug for funding Big Bird and the rest of public broadcasting, too.  Science education in this nation more and more becomes the science shows on NPR and PBS, watched by kids who learned to read and think by watching Big Bird.
  • Anybody got a good recipe for a cocktail called “The Hubble?” “The Andromeda?” Put it in the comments, please.  “The Hubble” should have bubbles in it, don’t you think?  What was it the good monk said?  He was working to make great wine, but goofed somewhere, and charged the wine with another dose of yeast.  When he uncorked the very first bottle of what would come to be called champagne, Benedictine Monk Dom Pierre Perignon said “I am drinking stars!”  Only in French.  In any case, a Hubble cocktail should have bubbles, some of Perignon’s stars.

The encore post, from 2007:

December 30, 1924, Edwin Hubble announced the results of his observations of distant objects in space.

PBS

Edwin Hubble - source: PBS

In 1924, he announced the discovery of a Cepheid, or variable star, in the Andromeda Nebulae. Since the work of Henrietta Leavitt had made it possible to calculate the distance to Cepheids, he calculated that this Cepheid was much further away than anyone had thought and that therefore the nebulae was not a gaseous cloud inside our galaxy, like so many nebulae, but in fact, a galaxy of stars just like the Milky Way. Only much further away. Until now, people believed that the only thing existing outside the Milky Way were the Magellanic Clouds. The Universe was much bigger than had been previously presumed.

Later Hubble noted that the universe demonstrates a “red-shift phenomenon.” The universe is expanding. This led to the idea of an initial expansion event, and the theory eventually known as Big Bang.

Hubble’s life offered several surprises, and firsts:

Hubble was a tall, elegant, athletic, man who at age 30 had an undergraduate degree in astronomy and mathematics, a legal degree as a Rhodes scholar, followed by a PhD in astronomy. He was an attorney in Kentucky (joined its bar in 1913), and had served in WWI, rising to the rank of major. He was bored with law and decided to go back to his studies in astronomy.

In 1919 he began to work at Mt. Wilson Observatory in California, where he would work for the rest of his life. . . .
Hubble wanted to classify the galaxies according to their content, distance, shape, and brightness patterns, and in his observations he made another momentous discovery: By observing redshifts in the light wavelengths emitted by the galaxies, he saw that galaxies were moving away from each other at a rate constant to the distance between them (Hubble’s Law). The further away they were, the faster they receded. This led to the calculation of the point where the expansion began, and confirmation of the big bang theory. Hubble calculated it to be about 2 billion years ago, but more recent estimates have revised that to 20 billion years ago.

An active anti-fascist, Hubble wanted to joined the armed forces again during World War II, but was convinced he could contribute more as a scientist on the homefront. When the 200-inch telescope was completed on Mt. Palomar, Hubble was given the honor of first use. He died in 1953.

“Equipped with his five senses, man explores the universe around him and calls the adventure Science.”

That news on December 30, 1924, didn’t make the first page of the New York Times. The Times carried a small note on February 25, 1925, that Hubble won a $1,000 prize from the American Academy for the Advancement of Science.

(Does anyone have a suitable citation for that video? Where did it come from? Who produced it? Is there more somewhere?)

Happy Hubble Day! Look up!

Resources:

Hubble Space Telescope - NASA image

Hubble Space Telescope, working homage to Edwin Hubble - NASA image


Greg Marley’s “Chanterelle Dreams, Amanita Nightmares” in the kitchen

December 29, 2011

Happy to see Mr. Marley has a video to accompany his book of last year, Chanterelle Dreams, Amanita Nightmares.  Marley hasn’t aged much in three decades; think it’s the ‘shrooms?

Greg Marley’s “Chanterelle Dreams, Amanita Nigh…, posted with vodpod

From Chelsea Green TV. Chelsea Green publishes Marley’s work.

Greg Marley, Maine mycologist and author of "Chanterelle Dreams, Amanita Nightmares"

Greg Marley

Marley’s book was a finalist in the culinary history category for the 2011 book awards from the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP) , and won the 2011 Jane Grigson Award from IACP for distinguished scholarship and depth of research in cookbooks.  The award was named in honor of publisher and food author Jane Grigson, who herself published a volume on mushroom cookery.

From the Chelsea Green authors’ bios:

Greg Marley has a passion for mushrooms that dates to 1971, the year he left his native New Mexico and spent the summer in the verdant woods of central New York. Since then, he has become an avid student and teacher of mycology, as well as a mushroom identification consultant to the Northern New England Poison Control Center and owner of Mushrooms for Health, a company that provides education and products made with Maine medicinal mushrooms. Marley is the author of Mushrooms for Health: Medical Secrets of Northeastern Fungi. He lives and mushrooms in Rockland, Maine.

Greg and I met a couple of summers later, in “the verdant woods of central New York.”  We struck it off as two westerners in the usually wet East (though it was very dry that summer).  We worked together four summers, tramping the woods, canoeing the Adirondacks around Saranac Lake, singing (we were half of the barbershop quartet in a production of Meredith Willson’s “The Music Man” and joined around campfires on a hundred sparkling occasions), and sampling wild foods, in our work with the Louis August Jonas Foundation.

Nice to see a kid from the neighborhood doing good, and maybe well.


December 29, 1890: Massacre at Wounded Knee

December 29, 2011

We lose important anniversaries in the holidays between Thanksgiving and Valentine’s Day, especially in that school-less period from a few days before Christmas to a few days after New Year’s Day.

Today is the anniversary of the Massacre at Wounded Knee, December 29, 1890.

I don’t have an appropriate post ready — I just matched the date up last night.  I hoped someone would have a good memorial up today.  But I haven’t seen one, yet.

How can we remember, if we forget even to note the date?

Cemetery at Wounded Knee, South Dakota - Purdue Agriculture Connections

Jennifer Allen (partially obscured) Rabi Mohtar, Liz Hilkert and Gale Ruttanaphon tour Wounded Knee Cemetery, about 15 minutes away from the village. (Matt Beyrouty photo)

Sources: 

Wounded Knee, by Keith Beasley:


Michael Pollan at TEDS: What do potatoes think of us?

December 29, 2011

Pollan asks a provocative question:  Do we force plants to do our bidding when we breed them, or are we being manipulated by them?

Pollan is the author of Botany of Desire, a great book.  There is a PBS production based on the book.


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