Today I am checking on some recent work by sci-comm students at University of California - Santa Cruz:

Donna Hesterman:

Research Highlight: An Imperfect Storm:

Imagine a world with no storms.

School children would never know the joy of a snow day, the S.S. Minnow would never have been lost, and Dorothy would have never journeyed to Oz.

Such is the atmospherically vanilla world portrayed by conventional climate models. In conventional climate model simulations, precipitation only falls in moderate showers, leaving climate scientists to complain that the models rain too weakly, too often. And according to climate scientists, a virtual world with no stormy weather isn’t just boring – it’s unrealistic. In fact, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the synthesis of climate change research that is considered the final word on the state of the science, says that their data should not be used to project global precipitation pattern changes...


Melissae Fellet, at The New Scientist:

Good vibrations return to stiff, scarred vocal cords:

An injection of gel could help a singer like Julie Andrews regain her full voice. The material restores floppiness to vocal cords stiffened by scars.

Singers are not the only ones who can experience vocal cord damage. About 6 per cent of the US population has a vocal disorder, mostly from stiff vocal cords. Singing, smoking or injury can cause scarring, and age stiffens our vocal cords of even the quiet and sensible. Rigid cords cannot vibrate as effectively to make the different tones in our voices...

Archimedean molecule creates brand new compounds :

There are only 13 "Archimidean solids" - a family of symmetrical, 3D polyhedra attributed to the Greek mathematician. Now chemists have made a molecule-scale version of one of these special structures, known as the truncated octahedron (see picture, right).

The tiny, hollow structure acts as a cage, capable of encapsulating a surprising variety of ions and molecules without falling apart. It also aids the creation of substances that won't otherwise form...

Best ever measurement of Earth's radioactivity:

Ghostly subatomic particles streaming from Earth's interior have enabled the most precise measurement yet of our planet's radioactivity.

These particles, called antineutrinos, suggest that about half of Earth's heat comes from the radioactive decay of uranium and thorium – and give clues to the location of geological stashes of these elements...


Jane J. Lee, in San Jose Mercury News:

Yosemite National Park runs on sunlight:

Yosemite National Park's lush flora has run on solar energy for millions of years. Now, the park's human inhabitants are following the vegetative vibes and using the sun's rays to run their facilities.

On Wednesday, the park will dedicate its 672-kilowatt solar panel system in El Portal just outside the park's boundaries. The 8-foot-by-12-foot solar panels are squeezed onto almost every available space on the roofs and sides of buildings, as well as the roofs of carports and parking garages at Yosemite's El Portal Administrative Complex...

One last wild ride into orbit for San Carlos native, astronaut Rex Walheim:

As the International Space Station zipped over California, astronaut Rex Walheim tried to spot his San Carlos hometown -- but the Bay Area was buried under its usual layer of fog.

He could only catch a glimpse of Northern California, "but it was spectacular to see the Central Valley and some of Southern California."

Walheim, speaking from the International Space Station at a news conference early Friday morning, said he was honored to be on the last shuttle mission...


Keith Rozendal, at SETI Radio (also look around the site and listen to the show):

Green fuzz invades the office fridge:

Seth and Molly excavate a serving of ribs gone very, very bad from the recesses of the office fridge in our recent episode, No Expiration Date.

In case you needed proof, or some help imagining the spoilage, we posed the toxic lunch for a glamor shoot before tossing it in the trash (outside)...


Nadia Drake, at Science News:

Going where no Mars rover has gone before:

NASA’s six-wheeled Mars rover Curiosity now has a destination on the Red Planet: Gale Crater, an ancient, 150-kilometer-wide depression with a large mountain in the middle. The car-sized robot will spend at least two years wheeling around the rocky basin, collecting information about martian history and looking for signs of habitable environments.

Dolphin may sense the body electric :

Fleeing fish beware: The Guiana dolphin has a super Spidey sense. But instead of danger, the dolphin detects faint electrical fields generated by such things as contracting muscles, a beating heart and pumping gills — telltale signs of potential prey.