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September 30, 2011

Global Warming Is Killing Chocolate

Global Warming Is Killing Chocolate | ThinkProgress
Global warming is killing the world’s chocolate supply, agricultural researchers find. Cote D’Ivoire and Ghana together provide 53 percent of the world’s chocolate, but warming temperatures and changing precipitation mean rapid declines in growing conditions over the coming decades. The new report from the International Centre for Tropical Agriculture paints a dire picture for the future of the cacao tree in West Africa: Half of the world’s cocoa comes from the West African nations of Ivory Coast and Ghana. An expected temperature rise of more than two degrees Celsius by 2050 will render many of the region’s cocoa-producing areas too hot for the plants that bear the fruit from which chocolate is made, says a new study from the Colombia-based International Centre for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT). “What we are saying is that if we don’t take any action, there won’t be sufficient chocolate around in the future,” said Peter Laderach, the report’s lead author.

September 27, 2011

Dang! The International Space Station is about the size of a city block!

BBC - Dimensions - The International Space Station Here's what...

September 23, 2011

Giant Land Snails invading Florida, eating houses

pandagon.net - it's the eye of the panda, it's the thrill of the bite
In southwest Miami, a small subdivision is being called "ground zero" of an invasion by a destructive, non-native species. "It's us against the snails," Richard Gaskalla, head of plant industry for Florida's Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, tells weekends on All Things Considered host Guy Raz. That's the Giant African Land Snail, to be precise. They can grow to be 10 inches long. They leave a slimy trail of excrement wherever they go. They harbor the microscopic rat-lung worm, which can transmit meningitis to humans. And they will literally eat your house. "They'll attach to the side of the house and eat the stucco off the side of the house," Gaskalla says. The snails are also attracted to garbage and pet food that's been left out.

September 22, 2011

Early CERN results suggest discovery of faster-than-light neutrinos

If the data holds, physics as we know it gets seriously up-ended. Particles Recorded Moving Faster Than Light: CERN | TPM Idea Lab

September 20, 2011

Rare earth metals aren't rare, just incredibly poisonous to mine

The Rare Earths Metal Fact You Need To Know | ThinkProgress
Promethium is genuinely rare, but cerium is extremely common and in general locating deposits is not the issue. Rather, the mines where rare earth metals are produced are extremely polluting so the tendency is for nice countries to not want to dig them up. For a while, China just absolutely did not care about this and drove everyone else out of the market. Now China’s taking baby steps toward pollution consciousness and supply is being curtailed. The real question is whether other producers will want to get back in the game, either because they care less about pollution or because some new less gross extraction methods are developed.

A child's skull showing baby teeth and adult teeth

Child’s Skull Showing Both Baby and Adult Teeth

September 02, 2011

Recreating the double slit experiment in Minecraft. With chickens.

Proving that chickens--like light--behave as both a particle and a wave. Double Slit Experiment in Minecraft

September 01, 2011

Mouse anxiety & gut bacteria

Mind-Altering Bugs - ScienceNOW Takeaway: yet another good reason to...

August 31, 2011

Willpower depends on glucose

How to Learn Self-Control - Print View - The Daily Beast
In 1998, Baumeister co-published a paper suggesting that self-control decisions drew on some limited resource. After resisting cookies and chocolates, he found, subjects had less self-control at a subsequent task. That finding was later extended to show that making other decisions also draws on self-control resources. In Willpower, Baumeister and Tierney convincingly describe another addendum: willpower depends on glucose as an energy source. This last breakthrough, published in 2007, came accidentally, in a tale of academic intrigue involving Mardi Gras and a “joyless drink of glop.” By one theory, Mardi Gras allows for people to indulge their sins before Lent, and Baumeister and his fellow researchers set out to test whether pleasure might increase self-control reserves by having subjects drink ice cream milkshakes between two tasks requiring willpower. As a control, some subjects drank a “large, tasteless concoction of low-fat dairy glop.” But the researchers found, to their initial dismay, that both the ice cream shakes and the joyless glop reversed the effects of depletion. It wasn’t pleasure that rejuvenated willpower, it was the calories, a discovery they confirmed by measuring glucose levels after self-control tasks, and, also, by comparing the effects of lemonade with sugar versus lemonade with Splenda. This finding, as the authors detail, has impressive explanatory power. In one real-world study published earlier this year, researchers found that Israeli judges making parole decisions were likely to grant parole roughly 65 percent of the time after a meal break, but approved parole almost never right before one. Weighing parole decisions appears to consume glucose. . . .