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Bora’s Picks (June 28th, 2013)

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.


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When Running 200 Miles Is Easier on Your Body Than Running 100 by William Herkewitz:

After 200 miles and three straight days of running across the Northern Italian Alps, 50-year-old Gregoire Millet wearily walks across the finish line. The brutal 2012 Tor des Géants is the second ultramarathon he has run, and by pushing his body well beyond what most would consider the brink, he takes the silver medal. He has been racing for nearly 79 hours, much of it in the rain, and has slept for only 6. He has crossed a seemingly endless stretch of rocky crags and endured 15 miles of elevation change. He is exhausted…

Cataloguing the Impact of Lindau Meetings by Kathleen Raven:

Prestigious achievements like the Nobel Prize create powerful networks. Within these networks, scientists share ideas, researchers collaborate with resources and writers cover stories. How can we monitor and measure the impact of the Lindau meetings? This is a question also for gatherings like the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, businesses like Google and institutions like the University of Oxford. Measuring the impact will require two things: first the network needs to stay connected. Second, the method of measuring impact needs to be made uniform. The network infrastructure is already in place. I propose two ideas for cataloging impact from the meeting next week….

Bessemer update: City wants $2 million from developers by Kelly Poe:

The city of Greensboro has asked the developers of the rundown Bessemer Shopping Center on Phillips Avenue to front the $2 million they have promised before giving them a $2 million loan for renovations, said former Guilford County Commissioner Melvin “Skip” Alston, who represents the developers….

VIDEO: Project QueensWay: A neighborhood is divided over proposed park by Katie Hiler and Ben Guarino:

Deep in the heart of Queens is a three mile abandoned stretch of the Long Island Railroad that could soon become the borough’s newest green space – a Highline-style park called The QueesWay. But residents are split on what the new park, if built, will do for the community. While some argue The QueensWay could benefit young families and civic organizations, others worry the park will bring undo negative attention to their sleepy neighborhoods….

Dry ice ice baby by Jon Tennant and Jane Robb:

A new study has proposed evidence of chunks of frozen carbon dioxide sandboarding (like snowboarding, but in your shorts) down dunes on Mars, associated with the sedimentary structures we find in the remains of impact craters. Frozen carbon dioxide forms a compact seasonal layer that waxes and wanes with the temperature, and is strongly dependent on latitude. The team here, a deadly combination of planetary geoscientists and geomorphologists, propose that when the seasons change, and with it the temperature, this dry ice layer sublimates (transforms straight from a solid into a gas), fragments, and due to the sloped boundaries of crater walls, blocks flake off and topple downhill, leaving their traces in the sand before disappearing forever (well, until the next freezing season..)…

Global Crisis: Honeybee Population on the Decline by Samantha Jakuboski:

When I first watched the video to the left, I actually believed that BeABee Inc. was a legitimate corporation, but as I browsed the website and clicked on its links, I was redirected to a page that stated, “BeABee Inc. does not really exist. But if we don’t act now, it could.” The objective of the video and the BeABee website is to gain people’s attention and open up their eyes to the decline in the honeybee population. For years, the honeybee (Apis mellifera L.) population has been decreasing, and although some people may not realize it, this decline poses a major threat to global agriculture and our future. At first, I felt naive and gullible for believing the BeABee video, but after doing my research, I realized that the idea of human/hand pollination did not seem as bizarre and unlikely as it first had, and in fact, in some areas of the world, hand pollination is an everyday, normal task….

The Evolution of Personality by Sarah Jane Alger:

The heart of science lies in existential questions such as “Who am I?” and “Where did I come from?” Yet somehow, these are the very questions that scientists tend to shy away from. It’s as if we’re afraid that by unraveling the mysteries of our world and ourselves, we’ll be left with nothing but a handful of yarn. But many of us see the quest for personal understanding differently – as a journey to gain appreciation for all the complexities and rare events that came together to weave the glorious tapestry that is life. It is in this push and pull of wanting to know more while still wanting to maintain mystery that the study of personality lies. And for this reason (and many others), the science of personality has been woefully understudied and underappreciated….

A Transparent Problem? by Josh Howgego and Victoria Druce:

In late 2010 a chemist needed a piece of glassware that didn’t exist. Stephen Hodge at Imperial College London was working on a new method for dissolving carbon nanotube anions and wanted to study his process using spectroscopy. The experiments required an inert atmosphere and two electrodes, so an ordinary cuvette wouldn’t do the job….

Hubble’s Latest Discovery Could Change Everything We Know About How Planets Grow by Amy Shira Teitel:

Not too long ago, NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope lost a second reaction wheel. It was a crippling setback, leaving the telescope unable to get a clear view of distant stars. People were devastated when the news broke, saying we’d never find another exoplanet. But we have. Quite a few. And they are among the neater exoplanet finds….

Printed solar cells as easy to produce as t-shirts! by Markus Hammonds:

Australia is really taking the initiative in alternative energy production. The latest news is that a consortium of Australian researchers have succeeded in producing printable solar cells, in a process which might just have the potential to revolutionise solar power production across the continent. Perhaps, we can only hope, the world….

Lindau 2013: Videos with a Personality, Flow and Message by Kathleen Raven:

After learning about the Nobel Laureate Meeting in Lindau through an online science video collection, Edson Filho will now be behind the camera making films himself as a video blogger at this year’s meeting. His path to this point — like his research in sport and exercise psychology — can be summed up in a word: unconventional….





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