Friday, December 21, 2012
Wednesday, December 12, 2012
I was goofing around in Google Earth this evening, performing an activity that started out as meaningful and quickly degenerated into a Game of "Ooh what's that", when I came across the following:
Note the very strange shoreline on this lake, with numerous straight line borders. The first time I saw this, I thought I was looking at some dams I didn't know about, but I quickly realized that such an interpretation made no sense.
Instead, what I believe this image is showing is a mosaic from pictures acquired several years apart. One of those years was a wet year, while another must have been after a period of extended drought. As a result, the lake is ~90% full in some of the images, but almost empty in others. And the straight-line lakeshores are just the tile borders, which Google's new color autocorrect makes less obvious.
I have no idea where WoGE is up to these days, but I left the co-ordinates off in case anyone wants to chase up the Reservoir.
Sunday, November 18, 2012
For those not familiar with old Earth geology, the conglomerates of the Jack Hills contain detrital zircons, and the 1% of those zircons which are older than 4 billion years consume 95% of the resources used to study these mineral grains. Clearly, this is the longest-running example of economic inequality on this planet.
Thursday, November 15, 2012
The implication behind this argument is that the uncertainty in these models will overestimate potential changes. What will happen in a future where the models underestimate climate changes in generally unmentioned.
Luckily, we don't need to look to the future to investigate that possibility anymore. The above graph (from Neven's excellent Sea Ice Blog) shows the actual decline in summer arctic sea ice, relative to various computer model predictions. As this graph shows, ice is now melting much faster than any of the models had predicted.
Of course, the most persistent pro-pollution propagandists tell us that this proves that the computer models are useless, which means that climate change can't be real, which means that any effects we see must be caused by the warming fairies instead of exhaust gasses.
What we, as scientists, would really like is this: We would like to be able to predict the effects of pollution on the climate before they happen. That's why we get into science. The whole purpose of the field is to make predictions about the natural world and then test them. So if y'all cook the Earth faster than we can make decent predictions about the warming, then we get very disappointed. Not as disappointed as all the retirees on the Jersey Shore who just lost their houses, but still not real happy. So folks, here is a request.
Could y'all please slow down the warming of the planet just enough so that we, the research community, can actually catch up and figure out who is happening to this atmosphere?We would much rather predict doom and gloom for the future than look at last week's disaster and shrug , "Yeah. We should have thought of that."
Wednesday, November 14, 2012
Thursday, November 01, 2012
How great would it be if all the politicians running for office cancelled any new TV ad buys, and donated the money to hurricane relief instead? With an estimated 6 billion dollar price tag for this year's elections, a the damages inflicted by Frankenstorm Sandy will still need additional funding, but it would certainly make a dent in the enormous damages that stretch across half the eastern seaboard and west through the Appalachians. And putting that money into building new homes, fixing infrastructure and preparing the nation for the next superstorm would be a far better use than 2000 more hours of cheezy attack ads being beamed into space. Sure, some of those ad buys have been paid for already- but visionary candidates, parties, and PACS can choose to run public service ads in that time.
Seriously, folks. If takes just one candidate to tell all his supporters to fund the red cross instead of him, and suddenly his opponent is turned into the Grinch if he buys attack ads instead of charity appeals. So which American leader is going to step up first?
Tuesday, October 16, 2012
Posted by Chuck Magee at 7:53 AM
Tuesday, September 18, 2012
Cleaning out some old filing cabinets here at work, I found some old newspaper clippings of a science article by Science Fiction and popular science writer Isaac Asimov, describing uranium-lead geochronology of zircon.
As it turns out, the article still exists in the on-line archive of the LA times. It can be found here. Although the article is 22 years old, neither the fundamental physics, nor the billion-year-old rocks, have changed much during that time. So it is still a useful reference for anyone wanting to know the basics of uranium-lead geochronology, and early earth history.
Thursday, July 19, 2012
Via Ron Schott:
The American Geophysical Union, the world's leading society of Earth and space science, and Wiley-Blackwell, the scientific, medical, technical and scholarly business of John Wiley & Sons, Inc. (NYSE: JWa and JWb), a global provider of content and content-enabled services in research, professional development, and education, announced today that the AGU has selected Wiley-Blackwell as its publishing partner for its portfolio of journals and books. The new partnership will be effective January 2013, subject to completion of a publishing agreement in accordance with a Memorandum of Understanding signed last week.Full story here: I haven't actually cited (or even read) an AGU journal for a decade (unless EOS counts), but anyone who knows about geophysics is welcome to recommend alternative journals in comments.
Posted by Chuck Magee at 7:48 AM
Monday, July 09, 2012
The following additional information regarding the AGU journal publication process. It is an email from Dr. Chris McEntee, CEO. I would like to than Dr. McEntee and the AGU board for making this information available to the public, and for choosing this blog, instead of their own blog network, for these announcements. This was actually sent to me on Wednesday. However, I have been travelling and not checking the blog email. I apologize for the delay.
From: Chris McEntee Sent: Monday, July 02, 2012 2:33 PM Subject: Board Decision on Journal Publishing Partnership Earlier this afternoon the Board of Directors concluded its meeting during which recommendations from the working group evaluating publisher proposals were presented and discussed. The working group utilized the criteria developed by Council along with financial and operational criteria in arriving at their recommendations. Their deliberations included an evaluation of AGU’s internal journal publication capabilities compared to the publisher proposals. The working group appreciated and recognized the substantial effort that AGU editors and staff have made in improving AGU publications over the past several years and their solid and sustained commitment to journal quality. At the same time, the working group concluded that a partner would bring additional capabilities and expertise in publication strategy, processes, global reach, and ease of use and discovery by authors, editors, and readers that would significantly benefit AGU. The working group recommended that AGU partner on journal production, distribution, sales and marketing, and subscription management They also recommended a publisher with whom to partner. After thorough discussion, a motion to accept both recommendations was passed by the Board. The Board passed a second motion acknowledging and thanking AGU publications staff for their contributions and dedication to the high quality of the journals program over the years. The next step in the process is to draft a letter of agreement with the publisher selected. Once it is signed, we will be able to announce the name of the publisher and discuss why they were selected. We expect the letter will be signed within a week to 10 days. Once the letter is signed, we will begin determining the impacts on staffing. The results will be shared with staff affected as quickly as possible. We will also form a staff transition team to work with the publisher’s transition team. A revised AGU publications staff structure will be established and will include modified editor and author support for submission and peer review. The specifics of this structure will be shared with the AGU staff and editors once it is complete and determinations are made as to which current AGU staff will fulfill these roles. GEMS will remain the submission manuscript system for authors and editors. We know how difficult the past month has been for staff and that hearing the Board’s decision is not easy. as it will result in significant change for all staff at AGU. I am extremely proud of the excellent work of our publications staff. They consistently demonstrate a strong commitment to quality and fulfilling AGU’s mission. This decision is no way reflects upon their work. The reality is this: the global world of science and scholarly publishing today is vastly different than even 10 years ago. AGU simply cannot match the resources required to meet the needs of a 24/7 global science community of authors and readers. A partner publisher will bring these resources, assuring that AGU scholarly and scientific information maintains its high standard of quality and is readily accessible worldwide. Chris _______________________________________________ Chris McEntee Executive Director/CEO Ext: 510 Office: 5-A
Posted by Dr. Lemming at 12:31 PM
The following email, dated 14 June 2012, has been forwarded to the Lounge. It contains several details on the plan for AGU publications:
From: AGU President
To: (recipients' email addresses redacted) CC: AGU-Directors Subject: Update on Publications Partnership Evaluation To: Board, Council, Publications Committee, and Editors Our thanks to all of you who have emailed, commented on the secure web site, and participated in phone-in sessions regarding AGU's exploration of a publishing partnership. We wanted to share with you common themes in several of the concerns raised as well as our responses to them. Before getting into specifics of the issues raised, we'd first like to acknowledge that several people posed questions about roles, responsibilities, transparency, and participation in process. The elected leadership of AGU - Board of Directors and Council - continues to break new ground and chart new territory with the authority matrix and decision tree that were adopted as part of AGU's change in governance. We recognize this new structure is still unfamiliar to many members and that this has led to some confusion about the process. However, the decision to seek a publishing partner and the subsequent solicitation of input to guide criteria for selection are consistent with how our governance structure is intended to function. Many of the comments built upon the criteria noted in the online criteria discussion forum. Overall, there is significant concern surrounding conflicting goals of AGU and any potential partner publisher. This is a key concern of the members of the working group, as well. They will assess this issue thoroughly both through the publishers' responses to the RFP, their presentations, and their personal commitments, as well as through contract language if a partnering approach is chosen. Drilling down one level deeper, following are the major common threads we have seen and heard in the forum, conference calls, and emails received and our responses to them. 1. Cultural Fit: AGU's focus is on collaboratively advancing and communicating science. Publishers may not share these same values and support initiatives such as journal access for scientists in economically challenged nations. Response: Cultural fit, and even the personal relationship fit with key partner staff, is of the utmost importance. Keeping confidentiality agreements in mind, all finalist publishers have mission statements which are very similar to AGU's. Assessing the degree to which each publisher lives that mission is a key responsibility of the working group. Contractually, AGU will have decision rights for key publisher staff interfaces with AGU volunteers and staff. All finalist publishers participate in HINARI and AGORA - initiatives focused on supplying low-cost or free journal content access to scientists in economically challenged nations. 1. Ongoing Quality: While the publisher may promise and initially deliver high quality production and support processes including copy editing, once the contract is signed, these services will degrade to the lowest cost model for the publisher in order to maximize profit. Response: The finalist publishers all have decades-long experience producing many of the world's foremost journals including several in Earth and Space science fields - positions earned through high quality, high and growing impact factors, and strong relationships with their editorial teams. Revenue growth, which drives profitability far more than expense reduction, is directly driven by journal quality and impact. So it is fundamentally in the publisher's best interest to continually bring the highest quality science and journals to market. Contractually, publishers will be committed to minimum guaranteed returns to AGU, further reinforcing the need to maintain high quality and resulting revenues. 1. Open Access and Pricing: Dissemination of science is at the core of AGU's mission. Exploration and support for Open Access (OA) models and ensuring fair pricing of the current institutional subscription model must be continued by AGU. Pursuit of these goals would be compromised through a third party publisher relationship. Response: AGU will continue to pursue ways to support OA in a manner that ensures access to the science while balancing the financial aspects of the business model. All finalist publishers have existing programs for OA, publish full OA journals, and provide options for AGU to experiment further with OA through new journal titles and other concepts. At the same time, given the uncertainty over OA government mandates, a third party partnership mitigates the financial risk to AGU. Accessibility can also be impacted by pricing schemes which bundle AGU products into "mega-deals" or dramatically increases the pricing of our publications. In any agreement, AGU publications would remain a stand-alone product suite, with any bundling with other publications strictly optional and subject to AGU approval. Price increases are subject to joint decision making between the partner and AGU and are informed by market data on the institutional and publishing environment. 1. Editorial and Author Support: Significant progress has been made between the partnership of the editorial teams and AGU staff over the last few years including stabilization of staffing support provided, streamlined processes, and system improvements. Changes to third party support for these functions may cause this interface to regress. Response: Any assessment of changes to this area will be focused on a clear demonstration of superior service, support, and technologies by a partner publisher. Ensuring a high level of continuing support for our editors is critical to the success of this venture. 1. Transition / Exit Strategies: If quality, responsiveness, financial results, or technological proficiency decline over the life of the contract, AGU must be protected and able to continue the important work of the journals. Response: We recognize that despite best efforts and planning, sometimes results do not meet expectations, and it is prudent to ensure that clauses exist in the contract to protect AGU under such circumstances. These types of clauses are routine in third party publisher contracts and often have mutual components, which means that AGU has to deliver on its commitments also. Furthermore, all finalist publishers have signed the Transfer Code of Practice adopted by UKSG, a standards group for the scholarly publishing community. This code sets expectations and standards for orderly transfers of scholarly works such as journals from one publisher to another. Please continue to send in any additional thoughts and comments. Our intention with the responses above is to provide recognition that your input is being received, that it impacts the decision making process, and, if we are to move forward with a third party, the input will be woven into the fabric of any agreement. Based on all input received, a criteria matrix is being developed for endorsement by the Council at their upcoming 21 June 2012 call. Thank you again for your comments and for your commitment to the excellence of AGU journals. We will keep you apprised of the evaluation process as the working group completes its evaluation. Best regards, Michael J. McPhaden President Carol Finn President-elect ____________________________________________________________ AGU galvanizes a community of Earth and space scientists that collaboratively advances and communicates science and its power to ensure a sustainable future.
Posted by Dr. Lemming at 12:01 PM
Wednesday, June 06, 2012
Just the same old thing as 1769....
There are lots of good pictures of the current transit of Venus streaming in from people with actual skill in photography, astronomy, or both. The purpose of this post is to point out that with a set of binoculars, you can project the sun (and Venus) onto just about anything. For example, a toy box:
So you really can see it anywhere, as long as the sun is still up where you are right now. The key thing is that you need to hurry! If you don't catch it in the next hour, you'll have to wait another 105 years before you can try again.
Posted by Chuck Magee at 1:23 PM
Monday, June 04, 2012
“There continue to be major changes in AGU. For the last few years, publications have been discussed extensively by Council and the transformation of AGU’s publications was identified as a high priority objective in the Strategic Plan. Recently, the AGU board reached a decision to evaluate partnering with a third party publisher for production, sales and marketing aspects of AGU’s publications. This decision followed a third party external review by Rising Tide of AGU’s publications, which involved widespread consultation with Council, editors and the Publications Committee. The decision is based on both scientific and organizational considerations. In order to ensure that the scientific criteria for evaluating potential partners is well developed, the leadership of all sections and focus groups have been invited to share their input and to provide comment on initial criteria as developed by the Board and Publications Committee.”
This decision will herald a new era of progress in AGU publications, as well as bring considerable benefits to AGU in terms of finances and reduction of risk at a time when there are major changes and uncertainties about the future of scientific publishing. AGU will retain ownership of copyrights and content, responsibility for all editorial control and oversight through its journal editors and Publications Committee. The decision also brings many opportunities for innovation. The outsourcing organization will be the platform for production, distribution and marketing, so will only handle the more mechanistic aspects of publication. There will be joint decision-making for journal strategies, including pricing and the business model. AGU and its members will benefit from advanced technologies, worldwide sales and distribution, mitigation of risks in an uncertain publishing environment, reduced capital investments by AGU and improved financial performance of journals through economies of scale.
AGU expects to make a decision on outsourcing and identify the commercial organization in July. Over the next few weeks AGU seeks views of members through Council on the key criteria that should inform the contractual arrangement with an outsourcing organization.
Posted by Chuck Magee at 1:51 PM
Sunday, June 03, 2012
Ok folks. I'm looking for a favour. I am trying to find a pre-Thermo-merger logo for Finnigan Instruments. Google came up empty. If anyone can find one, either on the net or by taking a picture of their old manual, I would greatly appreciate it if you could send it to me.
Posted by Chuck Magee at 10:29 PM
Tuesday, May 29, 2012
Posted by Chuck Magee at 10:11 PM
Wednesday, May 23, 2012
Posted by Chuck Magee at 11:17 PM
Saturday, May 19, 2012
A story here, that I first picked up in the paper version of the Canberra Times, states that a number of farmers are outraged- OUTRAGED!- that their land has had an exploration license taken out on it. One might think that, perhaps, these people are environmentalists who oppose the extraction on non-renewable resources. Except that, just 6 years ago, they were fighting tooth-and-nail to stop wind turbines from being installed.
“Hall district beef producers Phil and Jan Peelgrane, who farm just over the northern border of the ACT, said they would ''lock the gate'' to keep out the mineral explorers, saying they didn't have the energy to mount another campaign against another company. The pair were among those who successfully fought against wind turbines proposed for the area by ActewAGL and later Japanese interests.”
I hope they do lock the gate. Science would provide their comeuppance.
When exploring for gold and copper in a new area, the first step is generally to look for electrically conductive minerals. Chalopyrite (CuFeS2, the main copper ore) and pyrite (FeS2, which is often associated with gold mineralization) are both electrical conductors (if you don’t believe this, take a multi-meter to your nearest museum gift shop or gem&mineral show and check for yourself on any ‘fool’s gold” on offer). While gold is, of course, an even better conductor, there is generally only a few parts-per-million of gold in gold ore, so the gold itself is hard to detect. But the sulfides can be quite abundant- several percent. And there are a variety of electromagnetic techniques that can be used to detect the presence of conductive minerals in the subsurface.
There are two main classes of electromagnetic surveys. Ground-based, and air-based. If these NIMBY farmers “lock the gates”, then instead of driving around in their paddocks and hammering electrodes into the ground, the exploration team will have to use an airborne survey instead.
And this is where karma comes into it. You can’t fly EM surveys through wind turbines (think gigantic propellers vs. helicopter-borne spiderweb-shaped antennae- not to mention the electromagnetic interference). So if the NIMBYs had embraced wind energy 6 years ago, then they would have been able to keep their skies free now. Instead, by locking the gates to this company, all they can guarantee themselves is having parallel 200 meter-spaced lines flown by really large, slow, low-flying helicopters. Not in their backyard, of course. Just a very small distance above it.
Posted by Chuck Magee at 10:40 PM
Wednesday, May 09, 2012
Posted by Chuck Magee at 1:32 PM
I’ve got a new-fangled cavity ringdown spectrometer (CRDS) for analyzing water isotopes, and it is so much cheaper and easier to use than a traditional mass spectrometer. But I’m also limited to a just hydrogen and oxygen in water, unlike the versatility of a mass spec, so that’s a big downside. Do you care to say what you think the future of stable isotope spectrometry will be? Will the CRDS systems displace the old-school mass spec or am I buying into a passing fad?
Figure 1. Isotopes of hydrogen. Note that the heavy isotopes of hydrogen are the only isotopes which regularly use gang affiliations instead of standard chemical notation (“D” and “T”, instead of 2H and 3H)
Figure 2. Isotopes of helium. Helium, being a noble gas, is too prideful for ganster symbols.
Figure 3. Sketch of hydrogen isotopes being separated in a mass spectrometer.
Figure 4. Vibrational frequencies are dependent on isotopes.
Posted by Chuck Magee at 12:26 AM
Sunday, May 06, 2012
So I was blissfully snoozing away in my ex-blogging slumber, when a sudden ruckus on the internet woke me up. Evidently some anti-science thinktank in the US has been putting billboards up featuring pictures of people who refuse to reject reality. I don’t really see why anyone would want to do this, other than perhaps an open invitation to be mocked by the entire internet, but I’m not complaining. After all, it is a free country.
What I don’t understand, however, is the associated backlash. What is is about the following billboard that everyone finds so offensive?
Monday, January 23, 2012
I realize that I quit blogging two week's ago, but with the superbowl set to be a rematch of the game 4 years ago, I thought a repost of my post-game analysis would be appropriate. Let's hope that the Giants once again prove the denialists wrong. And reposting isn't really blogging, so I'm still not here.
I don’t want to call attention to skeptical web sites by actually linking them from this site, but the usual suspects in global warming denialism have homed in on a new target- the Superbowl champions.
The gang of 397.5 is now claiming that the Giants didn’t actually win. And to support this stance, they have trotted out all of their tired old canards:
- By truncating the data at 2 minute warning, a Patriots win is obvious.
- Satellite measurements suggest that the 4th down rush failed to exceed the space-based error margins for a first down.
- Increased, undetectable solar irradiance dazzled Tom Brady, and the Giants’ D had nothing to do with his performance.
- The Giants victory is a conspiracy perpetrated by rent-seeking sports journalists who are selfishly trying to increase interest in the dullest Superbowl of all time in order to justify their hegemony of the sports infotainment industry.
- The Manning brothers score regularly on Mars, Titan, Pluto, and many other planetary bodies, so game winning passes here on Earth must be caused by some mysterious exotic power which should constitute interference with the football game.
- Millions of years ago, football scores were both much higher and much lower than in tonight’s game.
- Common sense demands that a team which makes up less than 0.05% of the population of Hudson County can’t possibly be responsible for upsetting the greatest sports franchise on Earth.
- The consensus view that the team with the most points wins is a self-fulfilling delusion perpetrated by the opaque fraternity of peer review.
- By cherrypicking away all of the Giants’ scoring plays, the game becomes a Patriots shutout.
* I don’t think this word means what they think it means.
Monday, January 09, 2012
I will be halting my blogging activities for the foreseeable future.
There are other more important areas of my life which are suffering from insufficient attention to detail. And until I become more more efficient (I had a book on organization and effectiveness once, but lost it), the best way to improve key activities like staying employed or raising children is to devote more time to them. And let's be honest: I probably only post one or two really worthwhile things here anyway. I don't earn any money from the blog, and it isn't really tied into work at all, and nobody's bought a SHRIMP based on my posts here, so it's a fairly obvious thing to scale back. If I become an efficient, organized, time manager, maybe I'll start it up again, But don't hold your breath.
Tuesday, January 03, 2012
As I mentioned previously, we recently had a 2 kilowatt photovoltaic solar power system installed on the NW-facing roof of our house. Below is plotted the daily household use and solar generation for the first two weeks or so after we turned it on:
I should point out that we have a family of 4 living in a typical Canberra "ex-govvie" house, which has been extended to a still-modest size of ~145 square meters of single story, basement-free living space.
I would also like to point out that in the southern hemisphere, November is late spring, with lots of daylight- all that sunshine that the NH readers don't have right now.
There are a few interesting points here. Firstly, the increase in usage around day 11 for several days is a result of several days of stormy weather, which led us to use the electric dryer instead of the clothes line. Evidently the clothesline is worth about 2-3 kWh of power- a substantial portion of our usage.
Thanksgiving Dinner stands out like a sore thumb, with double the power usage. I was surprized at this, because I have a gas oven. However, the glowplug that keeps the flames lit obviously consumes a lot of power. I will keep my eyes open for a electricity-efficient gas fired oven when the time for replacement comes.
I also noticed that running high temperature dishwasher loads eats a lot of power as well. Does anyone else have any handy power saving tips? I'll use the most obvious one, and go to bed inst3ead of surfing the web. Good night.