The Australian BBC reports: “Medieval recipes for gunpowder produce nearly the same firepower as today’s manufactured equivalent, according to recent weapons tests, providing clues as to how the British fleet became one of the largest fighting forces in the world.” The full account is can be obtained through www.cronaca.com.
According to an article in the 23 Aug. issue of New Scientist magazine (unfortunately not available online to non-subscribers) scientists have been “absolutely shocked” to find that glaciers in the south pole have been “eroding at a rate of 3 meters per year or more.” According to one scientist “all the visible ice, all the carbon dioxide that we see in the ‘permanent’ ice cap could be eroded in less than a century.”
The scientists agree that the only plausible explanation of what they are seeing is “climate change” but none of them think that humans are to blame. Why not? The scientists are talking about Mars. The article doesn’t make the connection but it seems to me that global warming on Mars raises the plausibility of claims by global warming skeptics that solar activity could be responsible for much climate change on Earth. Here is a picture from Friis-Christensen and Lassen’s 1991 paper on this issue in Science (link to JSTOR, click on the picture to expand).
Fungi under the snow may contribute significantly to CO2 levels, according to this Washington Post article (brief registration required). Here is one bit:
“We’re living in a world where global warming is a constant threat, but in fact we have relatively little knowledge of what the inputs and outputs are for CO2.” said Steven Miller, a mycologist, or fungus specialist, at the University of Wyoming.”
Here is another:
“…global warming models can no longer ignore fungi in snowy regions and seasons as they have, scientists said – especially because about 40 percent of Earth’s landmass is covered with snow for at least part of the year.”
I am not one of those economists who wishes that global warming would go away, and simply assumes that science is on my side, or reads the evidence selectively. And of course items such as this can be cause for either optimism or pessimism, what if fungi under the snow contribute to a crisis rather than easing it? Still, Bush was not crazy to refuse to go along with Kyoto.
I saw my first one today – a Segway, ridden by a student! It went by me quite fast. Will they become the next cool item on spread-out suburban campuses? Maybe, but I predict students will still be late for class.
An article in today’s Washington Post cites recent research on the heritability of IQ. Here is the bottom line:
“Genes do explain the vast majority of IQ differences among children in wealthier families…But environmental factors – not genetic deficits – explain IQ differences among poor minorities.” The IQ heritability quotient is 0.72 for well-to-do families, but only 0.10 for poor families. The key data involves 623 pairs of twins born to poor black mothers. It seems that genes and environment interact to a greater degree than had previously been thought, perhaps good genes help you only significantly only when you have a certain minimum level of educational opportunity.
The piece will be out in the November issue of Psychological Science, here is the home page of the author, Eric Turkheimer.