Science and Humanity Blog — August 2016 posts

Wednesday, 31 Aug 2016 — Water test kit
Water test kit

Historian: Why do we have an international space station when we have so many problems here on Earth?

Physicist: Solving problems for ISS also solves problems here on Earth.

Water test kit [link]

Tuesday, 30 Aug 2016 — Whence international collaborations?
Flags of participating nations at CERN


Social psychologist: It's actually wonderful that there is international collaboration on scientific projects like the Large Hadron Collider [link] and various space projects. When historically did such collaborations become commonplace, and what was the catalyst for collaboration?

Historian: That is a very good question worthy of a full historical study which I have not done and apparently has not been done.. I point to CERN as the model. I see three roots:

1) After WWII European science was a shambles so a big project was a way forward.

2) An inviting science frontier was sub-atomic physics which required big particle accelerators beyond the means of any one of the recovering European nations.

3) Europeans wanted to do everything possible so that war there never happens again and looked to examples of international cooperation to this end.

Physicist: I agree and will add a supporting observation. Persecution of jews in mainland Europe led to emigration to US which added international flavors here. The governance of CERN embraces differences and thus:

1) greatly reinforces international flavors of science.

2) keeps CERN and science away from petty politics.

 Here in US we failed to keep science away from petty politics — including the petty politics of zenophobia — so now we watch CERN thrive while we falter. This is dangerous in many ways.

CERN web site [link]

Wiki CERN [link]

MONDAY, 29 Aug 2016 — Things scientists do for human rights
Eleanor Roosevelt chaired the United Nations subcommittee of the Commission on Human Rights responsible for drafting the Universal Declaration of Human Rights [link]

Historian: I like our "Grab bag: Embrace difference, human rights, science" entry [link] in our "ALL of us embracing differences" section [link]. Let's add there a list of things scientists do for human rights.

Physicist: Good idea! I'll start with the obvious Sharing the benefits of science is one of the human rights listed in the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights [link]. So scientists do trustworthy science to advance those benefits [link].

Historian: Knowledge is one of the benefits of science. So, scientists help us all share that knowledge. This is not easy and should be rewarded to encourage efforts.

Physicist: Scientists improve tools for tracking what we are doing to Earth [link]. Scientists improve sustainable energy resources. Scientists improve ways to do things using less energy [link].

Historian: Scientists also lead the way in embracing differences in sharing the work [link].

Physicist: About all of the above and much more scientists testify via forums like the AAAS led Human Rights Coalition [link].

[We will add to this list over time. Additions from readers are weccome via the email address at the top of this page]

Sunday, 28 Aug 2016 — Spitzer infrared space telescope continues
Spitzer infrared space telescope continues

Historian: NASA just granted Spitzer a two-and-a-half-year mission extension. Which gives us a good opportunity to organize some key Spitzer links.

Physicist: The "NASA missions Spitzer "Beyond" page" link below and the "Science at NASA missions Spitzer page" link below give nice short stories of the Spitzer odyssey. The image above and quotation below are from the science at NASA page:

- First to detect light coming from a planet outside our solar system.

- Generating a complete census of forming stars in nearby clouds.

- Making a new and improved map of the Milky Way's spiral-arm structure.

- Determining that the Milky Way galaxy has a more substantial bar structure across its core than previously recognized.

- Discovering the largest ring around Saturn.

- Collaborating with the Hubble Space Telescope to discover that the most distant galaxies known are more massive and mature than expected.

- Discovering carbon molecules, known as "buckyballs" in space for the first time.

- Generated the largest, most detailed infra-red portrait of the Milky Way (with >800,000 snapshots stitched together)

Historian: Spitzer is another good example of extraordinary advances in skills sets and in ways of working of teams of teams which could be good examples and tools for work here on Earth.

Physicist: How about a program where guest scientists (from life sciences, for example) work with NASA teams for a while and NASA scientists work with those guest scientists home teams for the while?

NASA missions Spitzer site [link]

NASA missions Spitzer "Beyond" page [link]

Science at NASA missions Spitzer page [link]

Spitzer JPL site [link]

Spitzer beyond video [link]

Saturday, 27 Aug 2016 — Star-wobble planet hunt succeeds
Trustworthy evidence for a planet orbiting Proxima Centauri

Physicist: Trustworthy evidence for a planet — Proxima b — orbiting the red dwarf star Proxima Centauri, our closest star neighbor, is a triumph for observational astronomy. It took a super sensitive spectrometer to see a wobble in the star's spectral lines. It took super care to reliably see this signal amidst plenty of noise. A triumph.

Historian: It also took teams of teams embracing many differences and sharing the work [link]. The Pale Red Dot Collaboration which did this work included 31 scientists in 8 nations. I suspect that there were many more participants when all personnel are counted. This also is triumph.

Physicist: This result is presented as a step toward learning if there is life elsewhere other than Earth. I am not moved by this question. I would not be surprised if the answer is yes, or if the answer is no. I am moved by the advances in science making this possible.

Historian: I agree. Those advances — advances of sensitivity and reliability and advances of teams of teams embracing differences to wholly share the work — we can use both as examples and as tools to help sustain Earth and help advance all human rights for all of us here on Earth.

ESO report on success of the pale red dot project [link]

Pale red dot project announced [link]

Story in Nature where the result was announced [link]

Story in Science [link]

Friday, 26 Aug 2016 — Juno and New Horizons basic links

Historian: Juno is about to complete its first 53 day orbit of Jupiter. So it is a good time to consolidate some Juno links.

Physicist: Meanwhile New Horizons is out beyond Pluto in the mysterious Kuiper Belt. So it is also a good time to consolidate some New Horizon links.

Basic Juno links
Image from the Galilean moons video [link]

NASA Juno mission site [link]

Science at NASA Juno mission site [link]

Juno wiki page [link]

Juno Southwest Research Institute site [link]

NASA's New Frontiers missions [link]

Basic New Horizons links

NASA New Horizons mission site [link]

Science at NASA New Horizons mission site [link]

Johns Hopkins New Horizons site [link]

NASA's New Frontiers missions [link]

Thursday, 25 Aug 2016 — Science and human rights move by tiny blind steps to a foggy future from a foggy starting point
Science and human rights move by tiny blind steps
to a foggy future from a foggy starting point

Social psychologist: In your piece about new norms [link] you talked about "tiny blind steps." I can imagine many meanings for the "blind" in that phrase. Please tell us more about what you mean.

Physicist: I mean that tiny blind steps are blind because there is no fore-knowledge about where the trip is going. There is uncertain knowledge about the starting point. Causes which bring about steps are, and can only be, independent of this trip to a foggy future from a foggy starting point.

Historian: The accelerator designer in our piece on particle accelerators [link] does not know what the design will look like and does not well understand the starting point. The trip ahead will start with variations of an analog device because no one knows where those variations will lead. Some might lead to a dismal swamp. Some might be worth building on.

Social psychologist: The blind steps need to be guided somehow. Scientists are innovative but this doesn't mean that expectations of reliability and sensitivity and more go out the window.

Physicist: Exactly. In evolution a tiny blind step is a change in a genome, maybe caused by a cosmic ray particle. But, the genome must still be a functioning genome. In science a tiny blind step is publication in a peer reviewed journal with all the expectations about reliability and sensitivity and more which go with that.

Historian: In human rights we have a growing body of international law and international courts. So, a tiny blind step for human rights must be consistent with this body of law. Sovereign nation states can place more limitations on steps for human rights. We are still working on this.

Wednesday, 24 Aug 2016 — Science, bison, human rights
Fermilab bison

Historian: To fill time Monday I reviewed the Fermilab bison video we link to below. It brought to mind mountains of memories of Fermilab and of Bob Wilson, builder of that great science institution. It was his idea to have the bison herd. One of his earliest hires was an artist. The main building purposely recalls the Cathedral of Saint Peter of Beauvais. The lab grounds feature several of Wilson's large sculptures.

Physicist: All of this is about Wilson's deep belief that science is part of our larger culture. At a US Senate committee hearing Senator John O. Pastore of Rhode Island asked Wilson how Fermilab contributed to the nation's security. Wilson's answer deserves to be remembered often:

It only has to do with the respect with which we regard one another, the dignity of men, our love of culture... It has to do with: Are we good painters, good sculptors, great poets? I mean all the things that we really venerate and honor in our country and are patriotic about. In that sense, this new knowledge has all to do with honor and country but it has nothing to do directly with defending our country except to help make it worth defending.

Historian: After reviewing the bison video, I searched a bit to remind myself about Wilson and came upon an oral history interview done at a 1977 symposium in Minneapolis on early twentieth century physics. We were there and had a nice chat with Wilson then. The oral history interview is a precious document.

Physicist: Yes, that interview shows many of Wilson's qualities, especially his straight talk and his profound insights. I spent yesterday reading it and remembering. What better example of basic ties between science and human rights could we have?

Fermilab bison [link]

Robert Rathbun Wilson [link]

Robert Rathbun Wilson oral history interview [link]


Social psychologist: Your remarks on the design of the Fermilab and the deliberate actions taken to include architecture and artistic sentiments in the structure brought up something I've been thinking about for a while.

There definitely appears to be a connection between innovation, creativity and creative arts, and scientific endeavors. There's even neuroscience research that shows that engaging in creative arts changes brain structure, which has implications for learning, problem-solving and other brain functions that are crucial to science.

Historian: I wish we knew more about roots of Wilson's interest in art.

Tuesday, 23 Aug 2016 — Trustworthy resources, etc.

Historian: From the earliest our forebearers wondered about what is beyond us. What is over that hill? What is across that river? What is that stuff above us? We especially wonder about stuff above us because it is so far beyond us, because it must have important meanings for us.

Physicist: Below are some trustworthy resources via which we can inform ourselves about new work in sciences about what is beyond us, showing some progress since Stonehenge.

NASA [link]

NASA science [link]

Hubble space telescope [link]

Public lectures [link]

Space Telescope Science Institute [link]

ESA [link]

ESA space science [link]

ESO [link]

A list of US agencies doing and funding sciences [link]
A list of trustworthy YouTube sites [link]

Monday, 22 Aug 2016 — Old and new uses of particle accelerators
Uses of over 35,000 particle accelerators

Historian: Our featured video below is a very nice discussion of particle accelerators. Our speaker starts by talking about J.J. Thomson speaking at the same spot about his work identifying the electron [link]. Our speaker ends with a quick review of our current particle zoo.

Physicist: It is fair to ask about the value of all the super expensive research which led to our knowledge about that particle zoo. Can it have any value for us? What happens if we stop exploring that frontier? What might we lose if we stop?

Historian: We might imagine that the sciences needed for all the many uses of particle accelerators depicted in the image above might have come about without that particle zoo research. But, sciences generated by building that particle zoo did give us the basis for particle accelerators for those many uses.

Physicist: In between JJ and the zoo is the heart of the talk, which is about designing particle accelerators for various uses. We have a link to our speaker's home accelerator which is used mostly for neutron scattering studies of big molecules [link]. We also have a link to synchrotron light particle accelerators also mostly used for X-ray scattering studies of big molecules [link].

Historian: Our speaker is especially interested in new uses which will require very high intensity rather than very high energy. Interest in very high intensity revives interest in FFAG accelerators invented between 1953 and 1963 by a greatly innovative group called the Midwest Universities Research Association.

Physicist: You and I know MURA very well because we did a major historical study of their scientific and political odyssey. Because very high energy was much more interesting to particle physicists, FFAG work remained fallow until recently and also our research was never published. At least we got to know those very inventive and inspiring physicists.

Historian: We also learned to not worry about sunk cost. Interest in very high intensity particle beams also revives the need to solve accelerator design problems. Because accelerators are cyclical, endless resonances occur and must be understood and overcome. This is a key part of the talk.

Physicist: Which brings up another revival. Once upon a time in the distant past (the 1950's) there were analog computers as well as the emerging digital computers. A "Paul trap" is one way to study resonances. Sitting on the lecture bench is a large blue and yellow mechanical analog of a Paul trap. Our speaker also showed a more sophisticated analog Paul trap being constructed to study resonances.

Old and new uses of particle accelerators: Suzie Sheehy (55 minutes) [link]

Q&A [link]

Sunday, 21 Aug 2016 — New norms in science, human rights, more
Members of an experiment at the CERN LHC

Historian: Until the second half of the twentieth century understandings about science, human rights, and more were tied to membership in some group; for example, citizenship in a sovereign nation state.

Physicist: Advances in science, human rights, and more were thought to be made by great ideas, great persons, great nations.

Historian: Since mid-twentieth century we practice new norms transcending any form of membership, transcending all borders, political, religious, and every other kind of border. In science a model is the great multi-national laboratory CERN. In human rights a model is Médecins Sans Frontières. We are still working on this.

Physicist: Working in science, working for human rights, and more, we understand that we are a tiny part of a much, much, bigger picture. Personal glory, national glory fade as sharing grows, as we embrace differences. We are still working on this.

For example, young engineers helping with clean water in Kenya [link]

Saturday, 20 Aug 2016 — In science, human rights, much more, advances come by tiny steps

Historian: OK, we need to talk about "responsibility" which is a big and scary word. What is my "responsibility" for sustaining Earth? What is my "responsibility" for advancing human rights? What is my "responsibility" for advancing science?

Physicist: Change can start with many tiny blind steps. When a lucky tiny blind step seems to move in a useful direction, then there is a 2nd generation of many tiny blind steps building the first lucky tiny blind step.

Historian: I see where you are going: When a lucky 2nd generation tiny blind step seems to move in a useful direction, then there is a 3rd generation of many tiny blind steps building the 2nd generation lucky tiny blind step. When a lucky . . . on and on until big change results.

Physicist: Correct. Each of many of us can make many tiny blind steps. Each of many of us can suggest that a step, made by us or made by another, seems to move in a useful direction. No one of us is responsible for the outcome. No one of us could be responsible for the outcome.

Historian: If any one of us is thought to be better at suggesting that a step moved in a useful direction, then the next step is likely into a dismal swamp. If we do not include all of us and do not embrace difference, then the next step is likely into a dismal swamp.

Physicist: So, at most, our "responsibility" is extremely limited. We are only "responsible" for tiny blind steps which might and might not move in a useful direction. We are also "responsible" for humility to know we are only part of a picture much, much larger than ourselves. In science, human rights, much more, advances come this way:

Darwin gave us a science so trustworthy that it can be used to solve engineering problems [link]

From a lucky change in a bacterium eons ago, we got here by many tiny blind steps [link]

Many tiny blind steps are preserved in our genome [link]

Cobb & Lane Q&A [link]

Friday, 19 Aug 2016 — Sharing knowledge is about human rights

Historian: Yesterday you alluded to scientists having human rights responsibility. We should say more about this. I think that "responsibility" is too strong, so we should talk about that another time. Now let's take on what scientists can do about human rights.

Physicist: Though doing science can give results which can be used to advance human rights, I was alluding to something different. Sharing of benefits of science is a human right — for example included in the Universal Declaration of Human rights Article 27 [link]. One benefit of science is knowledge. So, helping non-scientists share this knowledge is a tiny step to advance human rights.

Historian: Since we are retired we are not scientists nor non-scientists. But, we can help share this knowledge with non-scientists.

Physicist: We can, so we do.

Thursday, 18 Aug 2016 — Chandra X-ray space observatory connects Rio Olympics with the cosmos

Historian: NASA's Chandra X-ray space observatory has been teaching us wonderhul new things about the cosmos for many years now since launch via the space shuttle 23 July 1999. Chandra is operated by Chandra X-ray Center, operated for NASA by the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.

Physicist: The Chandra home page by the Chandra X-ray Center has many educational offerings which could keep me busy for many hours. This is an advantage when a NASA mission is operated by a branch of an educational institution.

Historian: One fun educational offering is a current series using examples from the Rio Olympics to explain some basic science and connect to cosmic examples. A fine example of science fulfilling human rights responsibilities.

Physicist: Some might find these videos too childish. I found them fun and interesting. Happy I have not lost my childish ability to enjoy simple things.

NASA missions Chandra home page [link]

Science at NASA missions Chandra home page [link]

Chandra home page [link]

Chandra "Astrolympics" home page [link]

Teaser [link]

Introduction [link]

Distance [link]

Time [link]

Speed [link]

Rotation [link]

Mass (property of matter) & Weight (force of gravity) [link]

Pressure [link]

Wednedsay, 17 Aug 2016 — Embrace difference, human rights, climate change
Anthropologist Julie Maldonado

Historian: The image above is from the video featured below. The background starts with quoting from the "About" page of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. AAAS is "the world's largest multidisciplinary scientific society," an "international non-profit organization dedicated to advancing science for the benefit of all people."

Physicist: AAAS does mean that "for the benefit of all people" phrase. Which is why AAAS formed a "Science and Human Rights Coalition" which includes most of the US science professional organizations. The Coalition had a meeting 25-26 July 2016 on how climate change effects human rights. The report of the meeting is informative and has many videos from the meeting and links to resources.

Historian: Among those resources is a 14 Oct 2015 TED talk by Mary Robinson — then the UN Secretary-General's Special Envoy on Climate Change, former president of Ireland, and former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights — on "Why climate change is a threat to human rights" which we link to below.

Physicist: I was moved very deeply that her talk, the AAAS Human Rights Coalition meeting, and anthropologist Julie Maldonado's video were all were super clear that sustaining Earth, and sustaining us, will take ALL of us embracing our differences and working together.

Julie Maldonado on embrace difference, human rights, climate change [link]

AAAS home page [link]

AAAS Science and Human Rights Coalition home page [link]

"AAAS Science and Human Rights Coalition Meeting Climate Change and Human Rights July 25-26, 2016" report [link]

Mary Robinson TED talk "Why climate change is a threat to human rights" [link]

Tuesday, 16 Aug 2016 — Growing and sustaining communities by enabling bioeconomy

Historian: One of the things we are learning with neutron scattering [link] and X-ray scattering [link] is how to convert waste biomass into fuel. The biggest barrier is the political power of super wealthy fossil fuel oligarchs [link] wanting to preserve their fossil fuel economy.

Physicist: Science can only do so much of the work. There are many non-science steps toward a bioeconomy giving the oligarchs many targets to fight. To make progress toward sustaining Earth persons to benifit from bioeconomy (most of us) must over-rule the oligarchs. This is the point of the new video here below along with an earlier companion video.

Enabling bioeconomy [link]

Growing and sustaining communities with bioenergy [link]

Monday, 15 Aug 2016 — Care and feeding of a proton accelerator producing neutron beams for study of matter from macromolecular to sub-atomic
River Isis (aka Thames) in Oxford

Historian: The young river Thames flows through Oxford (we happily walked along it many times) on its way to London and the sea. In Oxford this young river is known as Isis after the ancient Egyptian goddess. This is why the greatly useful proton synchrotron facility in Oxford is called ISIS with no relation to the later gang of thugs.

Physicist: Now that we have that out of the way we can talk about science and human rights. Nearly 60 years ago I was measuring things like specific heat capacity and thermal conductivity of solids to learn about structural properties at the molecular level. The then emerging field of neutron scattering did a better job. ISIS is a place to go to do this much more sensitively and reliably now.

Historian: It takes several teams to keep ISIS running. Many research teams from all sorts of organization use the neutron beams. I counted 23 instruments at target one.

Physicist: My apparatus was constructed by me and was bench-top size. Science changed in our lifetime: Big research facilities like ISIS, teams of teams of workers with different points of view and different skills sets are now typical. Trustworthy results greatly increased because of this.

Historian: We saw this also with our post about a synchrotron X-ray facility [link]. Those facilities, teams of teams, embracing differences, trustworthy results, all together teach us much about materials including the soft matter we are made of, giving us understandings and means to sustain Earth and advance human rights.

Physicist: Let's do it!

Care and feeding of the accelerator video [link]

Very informative Wikipedia page [link]

Sunday, 14 Aug 2016 — Chandra X-ray space observatory and Hanny's Voorwerp
Visible light view of Hanny's Vorwerp

Historian: Best again to quote a bit from the notes included with publication of the video below:

Published on Aug 11, 2016 -- Citizen science projects have done some remarkable things in recent years and those in astronomy are no exception. One of the early success stories of the Galaxy Zoo citizen science project was the discovery of an unusual object in 2007. This object was found by Hanny van Arkel who, at the time, was a school teacher in the Netherlands. Today, the object is known as "Hanny's Voorwerp," which means "Hanny's object" in Dutch.

Physicist: Chandra space X-ray observations give us important views. There is much to learn via these links:

NASA Chandra mission home page [link]

Science at NASA Chandra mission page [link]

Historian: We have mountains of views from long radio waves to super short gamma rays. Citizen scientists crossing all national borders and all sorts of other borders to classify images and discover things are important contributers in this science.

Physicist: Citizen scientists and professional scientists embrace differences and greatly move forward our knowledge of the universe and of ourselves. A lesson for us all.

Chandra video [link]

Saturday, 13 Aug 2016 — Teams of teams
Spacecraft OSIRIS-REx grabing a sample from asteroid Bennu (the plan)

Historian: Today we add a video about the OSIRIS-REx Laser Altimeter (OLA) which will provide a map of asteroid Bennu so that the spacecraft can grab a sample of the asteroid for return to Earth.

Physicist: OLA is made by a team in Canada. The OSIRIS-REx mission [link] is the work of many teams [link], a team of many teams. Teams of teams are now normal in science. It is a long way from Galileo alone with his telescope to these teams of teams.

Historian: We saw this also with the Juno mission to Jupiter [link] [link] which has a science team, a key instrument made by another team, a team responsible for controlling the spacecraft, and many more teams.

Physicist: This is our new norm. Often these teams of teams cross national boundaries and all sorts of boundaries. Persons not willing to embrace differences have problems being part of this.

The OSIRIS-REx Laser Altimeter (OLA) video [link]

Friday, 12 Aug 2016 — Twenty questions for candidates, "news media," us all

Historian: In this federal election, as in the last two, a volunteer organization called "" submits questions for the candidates. Today we provide a link to the questions and that orginization.

Physicist: The list of questions is signed by an impressive list of science organizations. They put together good questions — good for us all to ponder.

The 20 questions [link]

Thursday, 11 Aug 2016 — Stellar magnetic fields or how science works
Model of star magnetic field

Physicist: August fourth a video about a model of magnetic fields of stars was published by science at NASA. The image above is from that video. Our first link below is to that video. August fifth a video was published by NASA's Chandra X-ray space telescope mission telling about contrary evidence.

Historian: That is how science works. Evidence is published. The next day contrary evidence is published. One might be wrong or strongly limited. Or, both might be good. Or, both might be wrong. There is no end of "or"s. No end of surprises. No end of new things to learn. All of this is the glory.

Magnetic fields in stars video [link]

Some contrary evidence [link]

Some contrary evidence video [link]

Wednesday, 10 Aug 2016 — Who will make the discoveries to sustain Earth and us?

Historian: As you sugested yesterday [link] there are mountains of trustworthy sciences paid for by NASA, NSF, and many more agencies [link]. In those mountains there are to be discovered no ends of applications which can help us all. Who will discover these?

Physicist: We know the answer. We collect many examples of those good discoveries often by young persons. We wrote patent applications for many good discoveries. We tutored many inventors. We have good reasons to hope that we can sustain Earth and us all. Our best hope for all of us is all of us.

Tuesday, 09 Aug 2016 — Omics, personalized health, the International Space Station twins study
NASA's omics video series

Historian: To our talk yesterday about citizen science [link] we should add the comment that citizen science is also about informing ourselves about current work in science.

Physicist: OK. So, today we add links to NASA's series of eight videos about omics. The topics are listed in the image above. They provide a great opportunity to inform ourselves about frontier research headed toward personalized health.

Historian: The whole NASA "Human Research Program" site is a goldmine of useful information about frontier work in health. Information there is easy to understand. Information there meets a high standard for reliability. NASA can not afford science which is not reliable — things must work. In space travell there no ways to correct for mistakes.

Physicist: NASA's "Human Research Program" is a great example of science done for space travell having very high value for us all. I am still browsing the site.

NASA "Human Research Program" home page. Take the "Videos" tab to find all eight omics videos and much more. [link]

Omics conclusion (#8) video [link]

Monday, 08 Aug 2016 — Citizen science — What more could be better
All you need is curiosity

Historian: Question for you my physical friend. While thinking over our post yesterday I wondered: Might citizen science help us embrace difference [link]?

Physicist: Interesting question my historical friend. When I was doing science I especially liked being embraced for what I contributed. Where I came from was not important. In other parts of college and university life it mattered more where I came from than what I contributed.

Historian: In the NSF video on citizen science which we link to below today it is made especially clear that there are no artifical barriers to participation in citizen science. All you need is curiosity. I am surprised though how few people know about citizen science.

Physicist: Yes, that is surprising. Some projects are in the form of popular computer games. All are game-like. Many projects are in life and environmental sciences. There are even projects transcribing old diaries, including artists' diaries. Plenty to choose from. Game-like. No bariers. All you need is curiosity. What more could be better.

NSF citizen science video [link]

Huge catalog of government agency citizen science projects [link]

Sunday, 07 Aug 2016 — Embrace difference

Historian: The strength of your "ALL of us working togrther" finish yesterday [link] tells me that you have much more to say about this.

Physicist: You read my mind. The more to say is about what you and I call "embrace difference." Here's an example: NASA's OSIRIS-REx mission we posted about Friday [link] and NASA's Juno [link] [link] and New Horizions [link] missions which we are following are all part of NASA's "New Frontiers" missions [link].

Historian: I see where you are going. NASA's "New Frontiers" missions explicitly seek innovative proposals from scientists with different points of view and different skills sets — embracing difference. There are no end of episodes in science where embracing difference is a key feature.

Physicist: Exactly! Sometimes this happens within a team when workers with different points of view and different skills sets share the work. Sometimes this happens when workers with different points of view and different skills sets respond to published work. Sometimes they build on the published work. Sometimes they move toward surprising new frontiers.

Historian: Difference is key. Sharing is key. Science works best this way [link]. What can not work best this way? Politicians appealing to tribalism, apealing to fear of difference drag us down and rob us. Embracing difference is uplifting and powerful [link].

Physicist: We have a long way to go before we all know that all persons are valuable to us all because of difference and we all act accordingly. At least in science professions this is understood and work is underway to remove barriers to fully embracing difference.

Saturday, 06 Aug 2016 — Why Mars?

Historian: I was telling a dear friend how the second asteroid mission we posted about Friday [link] was part of work toward a crewed mission to land on Mars. She asked: "Why are we so obsessed with Mars; why do we want to send a crewed mission when we should be working to sustain this planet here?"

Physicist: My grandmother, my mother's mother, gave me books when I was young. I especially remember The Conquest of Everest where the answer to "why?" was "because it is there." It is one reason I studied physics — because it is there, because it is a formidable mountain to climb.

Historian: We are wondering and wandering beasties. We wonder what is beyond. We wander to see what is beyond. We wandered out of Africa, to Asia, to Europe, across oceans to the western hemisphere, to the north pole, to the south pole, to the highest mountains, to the deepest seas, to our Moon. Could we stop wondering and wandering?

Physicist: Sciences, engineering, management, team work, and more perfected by NASA missions can be used to sustain Earth. NASA does use these to watch over Earth. In resources we curate we collect many examples of sciences being used to help sustain Earth.

Historian: Our Apollo missions to our Moon inspired environmental protection. We can hope that a crewed mission to Mars can also inspire us to be better stewards here. We can hope that the team work it takes to do this can inspire us to work together to sustain Earth [link].

Physicist: The key to the conquest of Everest was working together. The key to sustaining Earth is working together — ALL of us working together.

Friday, 05 Aug 2016 — NASA to do two asteroid missions
OSIRIS-REx ready for pre-ship review

Physicist: For the first mission, due to launch soon, I can not do better than quote the description on the NASA mission page and provide three links:

OSIRIS-REx will travel to a near-Earth asteroid called Bennu and bring a small sample back to Earth for study. The mission is scheduled to launch Sept. 8, 2016. As planned, the spacecraft will reach its asteroid target in 2018 and return a sample to Earth in 2023.

NASA missions OSIRIS-REx page. Lots to see here [link]

Science at NASA missions OSIRIS-REx page. Follow the two project pages [link]

Video. You can find many more via the two links above [link]

Historian: For the second mission, still in the concept stage, I also can not do better than quote NASA's description on the NASA asteroid redirect mission page and provide three links:

NASA is developing a first-ever robotic mission to visit a large near-Earth asteroid, collect a multi-ton boulder from its surface, and use it in an enhanced gravity tractor asteroid deflection demonstration.

The spacecraft will then redirect the multi-ton boulder into a stable orbit around the moon, where astronauts will explore it and return with samples in the mid-2020s.

NASA missions asteroid redirect page [link]

Robotic part of asteroid mission concept video [link]

Crewed part of asteroid mission concept video [link]

Thursday, 04 Aug 2016 — Sustainable farming
Sustainable tree farming

Historian: In our post yesterday [link] Professor Dame Julia Slingo refered to her science policy work at the start of the Q&A session. She was recently added to a high lever European science team. It is super important that public and private policy makers get and follow the best science advice.

Physicist: We studied the atlantic submarine telegraph cable episode years ago. In this episode huge amounts of money were lost when investors trusted a person not understanding the science needed. After it was understood that the best science advice was needed all went well [link].

Historian: The cable greatly succeeded just after our civil war ended. In the 100 years after that our living conditions increased more than any time before or since thanks to engineering based on the best science [link].

Physicist: Yes, but there was also a great whoops! The devices which increased living conditions depended on burning fossil fuels. Already in 1896 good science predicted danger [link].

Historian: Bad luck: good science was trumped by FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt) [link].

Physicist: At least some of us are working to change, to sustain Earth. Today we add two good examples to the "Our best hope is us" part of our curated resources.

Sustainable tree farming [link]

Phytotron: sustainable farming lab [link]

Wednesday, 03 Aug 2016 — Modeling weather and climate

Physicist: Much as we enjoyed teaching physics and history of science [link] we are not teaching physics and history of science here.

Historian: Correct. A few years ago we saw that, via the internet, there are good video and other resources by which we and others can inform ourselves about current work in sciences — to share our basic wonder about what is beyond us. So we started curating those resources [link].

Physicist: Most of those good resources are about what above us, about our Moon, about other planets and stuff in our solar system, about our sun, about our galaxy, about other stars and planets in our galaxy, about the cosmos way beyond us.

Historian: About matter, life, and behavior there are less of those good resources. Current work about what is around us is about fine detail and about applications. We we include good examples of applications which can help us sustain Earth in the "Our best hope is us" part [link] of our curated resources.

Physicist: Exception. Today we add to our "Matter . . ." part a super well presented and super informative account of modeling weather and climate by a great scientist and science policy leader.

"How to Build a Climate Laboratory - with Julia Slingo" (60 minutes) [link]

Q&A (16 minutes) [link]

Professor Dame Julia Slingo

Tuesday, 02 Aug 2016 — Viking Mars missions

Poster for a Viking history talk 19 Jul 2016

Historian: My tribe is having a high time with stories about the Viking Mars missions forty years ago. It was our first time orbiting another planet and first landing on another planet for a closer look.

Physicist: My tribe is also celebrating that great achievement for science and engineering.

Historian: We must not forget the management achievement. Managing a government agency and a big mission such as NASA and the Viking missions which each have very long timelines is very different from other examples of management. Not a place for phonies.

Physicist: Yes, and managing science work is very different from managing government agencies and their big missions. Science feeds on diference — different points of view, different skills sets. Too many people can not embrace difference.

Historian: Exactly! Without your science my stories would have no meat.

Physicist: Without your stories my science would be lifeless. Without the stories NASA achievements would not be uplifting.

NASA Viking missions page [link]

NASA Science Viking missions page [link]

Celebration video [link]

2001 celebration video [link]

Monday, 01 Aug 2016 — Recess

Historian: The five month recess here was for full focus on curating Chicago Citizen Science Group resources [link]. Posts here prior to the recess were incorporated into those resources. New posts here will be added to those resources, for example yesterday's "Mysterious exo-planets" post was added there in the ESO group [link].

Physicist: If you find those resources useful, then you are welcome to call yourself a Chicago Citizen Science Group member, or not.

Sunday, 31 Jul 2016 — Mysterious exo-planets

Historian: The story in Science we read this morning shows us that we have very much to learn about the formation of exo-planets which do not fit our models based on our solar system.

Physicist: I find it inspiring that the great feats of science and engineering by which we explore distant stars and our solar system open so many new puzzles to be solved. Many endless frontiers.

The Science story [link]

Saturday, 30 Jul 2016 — Gravity waves

Historian: We promised to post our links about detection of gravity waves.

Physicist: Promise made — promise kept. Here are the links:

Gravity waves

First LIGO detection and basic links [link]

Second gravity wave detected by LIGO [link]

Barry Barish on gravity waves [link]

Sheila Rowan catching gravity waves [link]

LISA Pathfinder exceeds expectations [link]

Previous posts [link]