Need Rain? Save a Forest.

From nature, international weekly journal of science :


Earth & Environmental Sciences

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A large source of low-volatility secondary organic aerosol

Forests emit huge quantities of volatile organic compounds into the atmosphere and their oxidation forms secondary organic aerosols that scatter solar radiation and act as cloud seeds. The mechanism of formation of aerosol particles remains unclear, but this study identifies some of the intermediate compounds that aid aerosol formation. These findings could help improve assessments of biosphere-aerosol-climate feedback mechanisms, and the air quality and climate effects of emissions produced by vegetation.

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Readers Push Back on Ads and Blocking

This week, I’ve followed a couple of threads on ubiquitous internet advertising and why we block ads. Some of us find all ads inherently intrusive, but most of us just reserve the right to decide when ads become obnoxious or outright offensive.
The dilemma is that our free content providers depend on this ad revenue to pay their writers and their bills. “Not our problem,” some say. I disagree; I think it’s a problem that belongs to all of us, and I think we CAN do something constructive about it. From my posted comment to “Destructoid,” a gamer site with an interesting editorial:

I got here via a Slashdot link. Don’t use game sites but I wish you the best solving this dilemma. If a user posts abusive and offensive comments in this window, you’d be entirely justified in editing or deleting it. In fact, you might have an obligation to do so to protect the editorial integrity of your site.

So why do we have a different standard for offensive web ads? It’s time for content providers to push back against advertisers and exercise some plain old content control. You don’t see dating services, nose pickers and and “pictures of horny men” in the National Geo. Does anyone else remember when advertising was actually informative and – gasp – interesting?

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End of Space Shuttle Era

It’s the end of a glamorous and inspiring era, all right. As the last Shuttles are piggybacked to final repose in public museums and display monuments, there’s been much talk-TV hand-wringing from all ends of the political spectrum. Many of us wistfully wish that the Shuttle could have been deployed longer, that a re-usable NASA solution could have been deployed before the old one was retired, and that we hadn’t scrubbed the next BIG frontier – a manned Mars mission.

There will be time for this. Look at how much we’ve accomplished – and discovered – since Apollo 11. The simple truth: we already spent that money. It’s estimated that our total war cost in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan will cap out at over $3.7 trillion. [Reuters]

Click the above image for NASA’s choice of full-size images of this scene.

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Ig Nobel Prize Awards 2011

You can find the announcements almost anywhere. I used Scientific American and Reuters.

Surely you follow the annual Ig Nobel awards? No? According to Wikipedia,

The Ig Nobel Prizes are an American parody of the Nobel Prizes and are given each year in early October for ten unusual or trivial achievements in scientific research. The stated aim of the prizes is to “first make people laugh, and then make them think”. Organized by the scientific humor magazine Annals of Improbable Research (AIR), they are presented by a group that includes Nobel Laureates at a ceremony at Harvard University’s Sanders Theater, and they are followed by a set of public lectures by the winners at MIT.

My personal favorite award for 2011:

— Americans Dorothy Martin who predicted the world would end in 1954; Pat Robertson who predicted the world would end in 1982; Elizabeth Clare Prophet who predicted the world would end in 1990; and Harold Camping who predicted the world would end on September 6, 1994, and on October 21, 2011; Lee Jang Rim of Korea who predicted the world would end in 1992; Shoko Asahara of Japan who predicted the world would end in 1997; Credonia Mwerinde of Uganda who predicted the world would end in 1999 — for teaching the world to be careful when making mathematical assumptions and calculations.

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