Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Robert Owen, Professor of Physics published in Physical Review

A new publication by Robert Owen, professor of physics, as reported in Web of Science:

Zhang F., A. Zimmerman, D. A. Nichols, Y. Chen, G. Lovelace, K. D. Matthews, R. Owen, and K. S. Thorne. 2012. Visualizing spacetime curvature via frame-drag vortexes and tidal tendexes. II. Stationary black holes. Physical Review D 86:084049. [access for subscribers, provided by the library]

Here is just one sentence from the abstract, to draw you into this particular spin: "We also explore how the tendex and vortex lines change as the spin of a black hole is increased, and we find, for example, that as a black hole is spun up through a dimensionless spin a/M=√3/2, the horizon tendicity at its poles changes sign, and an observer hovering or falling inward there switches from being stretched radially to being squeezed."

I would only observe that neither radial stretching nor squeezing sounds particularly desirable, in the context of falling inward to a black hole.  Learn more: Black holes in higher dimensions / edited by Gary T. Horowitz.  Cambridge Univ Press, 2012.

Marine life off the coast of Texas

What began as an in-house project to identify organisms caught in routine sampling by Texas Parks & Wildlife Coastal Fisheries field staff has become an extensive database of photographs, descriptions, definitions and taxonomic information for a widely diverse collection of organisms found off the Texas coast.  Freely available on the internet, the Identification Guide to Marine Organisms of Texas is useful for anyone interested in animals and vegetation of the Gulf Coast.  Visual glossary photos depict the anatomy of common species, and the "fish feature query" is a fun way to discover fish species based on selected characteristics.  The site is an excellent way to help the public appreciate species diversity in the region, while serving the educational and research mission of a state-supported agency.  Thanks to the TPWD and webmaster Brenda Bowling for making it publicly available.

Texas Coral Reefs, by Jesse Cancelmo (Texas A&M University Press, c2008), an ebook accessible through OBIS, is a good place to start for a broader look at the ecology of the Texas coast.  This image is a small portion of a photograph of Geyer Bank, appearing on page 109 of the book.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

It's looking even worse than we feared

Just received (in print):  New Scientist, issue for Nov 17-23, with the cover story "Climate change: five years ago we feared the worst.  But it's looking even worse than that."  Coming on the heals of yesterday's talk by Peter Harper (What Americans don't get about climate change), seven worrisome signs of potential catastrophe should shake-up anyone feeling complacent or uncertain about the reality of climate change.  Writer Michael Le Page outlines why things are looking very grim indeed:

  1. Arctic ice is warming faster than predicted
  2. Extreme weather is getting more extreme
  3. Food production is taking a hit
  4. Sea levels will rise faster than expected
  5. Greenhouse gas levels could keep rising even if our emissions stop
  6. We're emitting more than ever
  7. Heat stress means big trouble
This last point is particularly ominous.  Steven Sherwood, an atmospheric scientist at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia, concludes that "if we full 'develop' all of the world's coal, tar sands, shales and other fossil fuels we run a high risk of ending up in a few generations with a largely unlivable planet."  As Peter Harper so aptly put it, I would like my granddaughter's granddaughter to know that we tenants of the early 21st century did all that was humanly possible to keep Earth a hospitable place.

45 years = 114,801,000 more people in USA

On this date in 1967, just a few minutes after 11am, the U.S. Department of Commerce Census Clock passed 200 million.*  Population growth has slowed worldwide since the peak of the 1970s, but is still galloping along.  Now, exactly 45 years after passing the 200 million mark, the U.S. resident population is nearly 314,801,000.  World population long ago exceeded the 6 billion mark and is projected to surpass 9 billion by 2050.
This is a pivotal moment, according to the authors of a book with that title.  "A difference in fertility of a single child per woman’s lifetime between now and 2050 alters the projection by 3 billion, a difference equal to the entire world population in 1960." [p 29]  A Pivotal Moment : Population, Justice, and the Environmental Challenge is available electronically and in print, in the main library.

*according to the Illustrated Almanac of Science, Technology, and Invention.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Tuesday's Total Solar Eclipse

Unless you've been to northern Australia and back in the last twenty-four hours, you didn't get the chance witness, in person, the total solar eclipse that happened yesterday. You may have, however, been watching online as there were several live-streams available from a number of sources!

Whether or not you took part in this event yesterday, you may be interested in learning more about solar eclipses. The science library has you covered! From their context in mythology to astronomy, solar eclipses are fascinating occurrences, and the following titles can provide you with lots of information (and a few incredible pictures):

Littmann, Totality : eclipses of the sun

Montelle, Chasing shadows : mathematics, astronomy, and the early history of eclipse reckoning

Steel, Eclipse : the celestial phenomenon that changed the course of history

And --although a bit late in this case-- to prepare you for next time (which is a hybrid solar eclipse scheduled for November 2013):

Harrington, Eclipse! : the what, where, when, why, and how guide to watching solar and lunar eclipses

Frog, Pumpkin, Mosquito. What do they have in common?

Answer: They are on the new book shelf. Not an actual frog, pumpkin or mosquito - but intriguing new books about them. The pumpkin book, especially, is quite tempting this time of year. And how can one resist the enthusiasm expressed by the frog on the cover of our newest addition to the Reaktion series on animals?  There are plenty of other things to borrow in the new book area, in physics, chemistry, biochemistry, ecology, neuroscience, plant physiology, geology... the list goes on and on!  Come see. 

Friday, November 09, 2012

Recent Publications: Craig, Page, Simonson and Stalnaker

Articles by Oberlin science faculty published this fall included the following (Oberlin faculty indicated in bold font):
Craig, Norman C., Fuson, H. A., Tian, H., & Blake, T. A. (2012). Analysis of the rotational structure in the high-resolution infrared spectra of trans-hexatriene-1,1-d(2) and -cis-1-d(1). Journal of Molecular Structure,1023, 68-74. 
Cunningham, L. C., Page, F. Zeb, Simonson, Bruce M., Kozdon, R., & Valley, J. W. (2012). Ion microprobe analyses of delta O-18 in early quartz cements from 1.9 ga granular iron formations (GIFs): A pilot study.Precambrian Research, 214, 258-268. 
Demaison, J., Craig, Norman C., Conrad, A. R., Tubergen, M. J., & Rudolph, H. D. (2012). Semiexperimental equilibrium structure of the lower energy conformer of glycidol by the mixed estimation method. Journal of Physical Chemistry a, 116(36), 9116-9122. 
Stalnaker, Jason E., Chen, S. L., Rowan, M. E., Nguyen, K., Pradhananga, T., Palm, C. A., & Kimball, D. F. J. (2012). Velocity-selective direct frequency-comb spectroscopy of atomic vapors. Physical Review a, 86(3), 033832.