The Sun seems to have given itself a few days off. As noted by the Solar Dynamics Observatory, with reference to data from the Royal Observatory of Belgium's Sunspot Index and Long-term Solar Observations (SILSO) project, last Thursday July 17th saw the Sun produce no sunspots.
That's the first sunspot-free day since 2011. And as the graph below shows, Sol seems to be having a bit of a rest at present.
Before you rush to any conclusions about what this all might mean for the state of the Sun's climate, or Earth's, here's SILSO's longer-term look at sunspot activity.
This graph shows a trend towards a dip, but also that low sunspot activity has recently been observed.
One last set of data, in the form of the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) and American Meteorological Society's (AMS) annual State of the Climate report (PDF) for 2013.
The NOAA says the report shows that “In 2013, the vast majority of worldwide climate indicators — greenhouse gases, sea levels, global temperatures, etc.—continued to reflect trends of a warmer planet”.
I have already discussed my disdain for gluten in previous articles, citing numerous research studies reporting its negative effects on the brain and digestive health. Gluten is a very hard protein found in wheat, barley, and rye products, and most individuals today are sensitive — if not downright intolerant — to its structure. One topic frequently overlooked is the relationship between gluten consumption and thyroid disease. Although the connection between nutrition and thyroid health has been circulating in the medical and nutrition literature for years, it’s only recently that we’re seeing an increasing amount of scrutiny being placed on gluten’s effects on thyroid health.
The Problem with Gluten
Gluten contains gliadin, a protein that is foreign to the human body. The unfamiliarity leads to the initiation of an immune response, an action that is amplified in individuals with Celiac disease. Many people today are sensitive or intolerant to gluten, and an immune response is not just excluded to those with Celiac. Depending on the intensity of the immune response, an individual may notice little effect; for intolerant individuals, profound symptoms may present themselves immediately.
Through the years, wheat has been extensively cultivated and gluten has become much harder to digest. The wheat of our ancestors resemble nothing of what it is today, as evidenced by the ever-increasing cases of Celiac disease in the last 50 years. Individuals merely sensitive to gluten may experience symptoms that seem unrelated to wheat consumption. These symptoms include hormonal imbalance, skin issues, brain fog, fatigue, depression, arthritis, and migraines. Many of these annoying symptoms remain prevalent in the lives of many people today simply because it’s difficult to connect these symptoms to eating gluten-containing products.
Molten rock travels a long road before it spews from volcanoes during deadly eruptions. Mapping out the journey could help scientists better understand how volcanoes work and improve early warnings of oncoming blasts, but tracking down blobs of magma deep within the Earth's crust is no easy task.
Now, at Washington's Mount Rainier and Mount St. Helens, two of the most dangerous volcanoes in the United States, researchers are getting their best look yet at magma's underground path via a pair of new scientific studies.
The first study, published today (July 16) in the journal Nature, clearly illustrates how magma is produced deep beneath Mount Rainier. With the second study, which is just getting underway, researchers hope to generate similarly revealing results for Mount St. Helens.
Birth of the Cascades
Mount Rainier and Mount St. Helens are two of scores of snow-capped volcanoes that march up the West Coast, from Northern California to British Columbia, Canada. If Mount Rainier erupts, its glaciers could melt and trigger lethal mudflows called lahars that would race through the Seattle-Tacoma metropolitan area.
A mystery has also emerged. The team found that active volcanoes accounted for only about 60 percent of Io’s heat. This component mostly emanates from flat-floored volcanic craters called paterae, a common feature on Io. But where is the “missing” 40 percent? “We are investigating the possibility that there are many smaller volcanoes that are hard, but not impossible, to detect,” said Veeder. “We are now puzzling over the observed pattern of heat flow.”There’s also a problem with the amount of heat the “volcanoes” themselves emit. When the space probe Galileo passed by Io, it found the plumes to be so hot that it overloaded the sensors on the spacecraft. The early estimates of heat from the plumes were so high that NASA had to go back and revise their models to make the results match their “theoretical limits.
STICK an electrode in the ground, pump electrons down it, and they will come: living cells that eat electricity. We have known bacteria to survive on a variety of energy sources, but none as weird as this. Think of Frankenstein's monster, brought to life by galvanic energy, except these "electric bacteria" are very real and are popping up all over the place.
Unlike any other living thing on Earth, electric bacteria use energy in its purest form – naked electricity in the shape of electrons harvested from rocks and metals. We already knew about two types, Shewanella and Geobacter. Now, biologists are showing that they can entice many more out of rocks and marine mud by tempting them with a bit of electrical juice. Experiments growing bacteria on battery electrodes demonstrate that these novel, mind-boggling forms of life are essentially eating and excreting electricity.
That should not come as a complete surprise, says Kenneth Nealson at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles. We know that life, when you boil it right down, is a flow of electrons: "You eat sugars that have excess electrons, and you breathe in oxygen that willingly takes them." Our cells break down the sugars, and the electrons flow through them in a complex set of chemical reactions until they are passed on to electron-hungry oxygen.
In the 19th century, scientists were working under the presumption that the universe was stable and, for practical purposes, infinite in all directions. They believed matter moved through a field that gave it form. They called this field an aether.
Then Einstein came along and discovered a way to calculate relativistic mechanics without the need for an aether. Einstein’s theory was subsequently backed up by experiments that seemed to show there was no aether of the type scientists had once presumed existed.
At the time Einstein first proposed his theories of bending space and relativity without an aether, he did not believe in a “Big Bang” expanding universe. The Big Bang was actually the brain child of a Catholic priest. It wasn’t until Hubble came along and showed that the spectra of distant galaxies seemed to shift toward the red end of the light spectrum in proportion to their brightness that Einstein finally conceded that the universe may actually be the product of a “Big Bang.” However, in the decades that followed, a mountain of contradictory evidence has been accumulating that undermines these assumptions.
Today, we are at a point where scientists are claiming over 90% of the universe is made out of matter and energy that we can’t see and can’t detect. They are claiming that infinitely dense objects exist (something Einstein also disagreed with.) They are claiming that stars the size of asteroids can spin around at near light speed and emit a focused beam of energy that is detectable across galactic distances. They are claiming that stable matter exists in the universe that violates the Island of Stability in nuclear chemistry. In fact, I could go on listing absolutely bizarre and unproven claims until I had enough theory to fill an entire book.
All of these bizarre theories are the result of a few fundamental unproven assumptions.
Talking about Monsanto’s latest attempt to obstruct justice, halt transparency, and prevent people from stopping their seed and herbicide businesses from spreading is starting to seem redundant, but the company just keeps acting in increasingly objectionable ways. Now, the company is refusing to release to the public lab tests conducted in St. Louis, Missouri, which gave them authority to use glyphosate in China.
Just months ago, Chinese food safety volunteers tendered a request to China’s Ministry of Agriculture to release the study that justified issuing the safety certificate for the import into China of Monsanto’s glyphosate-based herbicide RoundUp. Glyphosate was given a safety certificate in 1988 after studies submitted by Monsanto were conducted at Younger Laboratories in St. Louis Missouri.
The test was meant to be an acute exposure toxicity test in which rats were given RoundUp by mouth for several days, and rabbits were exposed to RoundUp by skin. The company claims that the herbicide had no effect on the eyes or the skin, and that no allergies ensued. However, they are refusing to release the lab report to China’s food safety volunteers, stating that it is an ‘industry secret.’
The media are abuzz with news about another villain—the element nickel, with the chemical symbol “Ni.” For example, as USA Today reports, the maker of a wristband—made of plastic material—with a small tech device made of surgical steel was forced to institute a recall with full refund to wearers of such items after a few people complained about skin irritations.
Nobody seems to have looked at the wrist-band, everyone just assumes it must be the nickel content of the actual device.
Let me say it straight out: This is total nonsense!
Elemental nickel is a silvery shiny metal similar to chromium in its appearance and prior to the use chromium for the coating of car bumpers (for us oldy types) many implements were coated with nickel metal instead. For example, we still use a lead-glass (oh my gosh!) salt shaker with a screw-top lid coated with a layer of shiny nickel.
Though this salt shaker has been in regular use for about 80 years, as far as I know, neither I nor my parents suffered from any nickel poisoning or allergic reaction because of it. It also remains as shiny as it ever was. The trick for that is simply to keep it dry.
A revolutionary new study reveals that the core tenet of classical genetics is patently false, and by implication: what we do in this life -- our diet, our mindset, our chemical exposures -- can directly impact the DNA and health of future generations.
A paradigm shifting new study titled, "Soma-to-Germline Transmission of RNA in Mice Xenografted with Human Tumour Cells: Possible Transport by Exosomes," promises to overturn several core tenets of classical genetics, including collapsing the timescale necessary for the transfer of genetic information through the germline of a species (e.g. sperm) from hundreds of thousands of years to what amounts to 'real time' changes in biological systems.
In classical genetics, Mendelian laws specify that the inheritance of traits passed from one generation to the next can only occur through sexual reproduction as information is passed down through the chromosomes of a species' germline cells (egg and sperm), and never through somatic (bodily) cells. Genetic change, according to this deeply entrenched view, can take hundreds, thousands and even millions of generations to manifest.
The new study, however, has uncovered a novel mechanism through which somatic-to-germline transmission of genetic information is made possible. Mice grafted with human melanoma tumor cells genetically manipulated to express genes for a fluorescent tracer enzyme (EGFP-encoding plasmid) were found to release information-containing molecules containing the EGFP tracer into the animals' blood; since EGFP is a non-human and non-murine expressed tracer, there was little doubt that the observed phenomenon was real.
Every now and then a scholarly journal retracts an article because of errors or outright fraud. In academic circles, and sometimes beyond, each retraction is a big deal.
Now comes word of a journal retracting 60 articles at once.
The reason for the mass retraction is mind-blowing: A “peer review and citation ring” was apparently rigging the review process to get articles published.
You’ve heard of prostitution rings, gambling rings and extortion rings. Now there’s a “peer review ring.”
The publication is the Journal of Vibration and Control (JVC). It publishes papers with names like “Hydraulic engine mounts: a survey” and “Reduction of wheel force variations with magnetorheological devices.”
The field of acoustics covered by the journal is highly technical:
Analytical, computational and experimental studies of vibration phenomena and their control. The scope encompasses all linear and nonlinear vibration phenomena and covers topics such as: vibration and control of structures and machinery, signal analysis, aeroelasticity, neural networks, structural control and acoustics, noise and noise control, waves in solids and fluids and shock waves.
JVC is part of the SAGE group of academic publications.
Here’s how it describes its peer review process:
[The journal] operates under a conventional single-blind reviewing policy in which the reviewer’s name is always concealed from the submitting author.
All manuscripts are reviewed initially by one of the Editors and only those papers that meet the scientific and editorial standards of the journal, and fit within the aims and scope of the journal, will be sent for peer review. Generally, reviews from two independent referees are required.
An announcement from SAGE published July 8 explained what happened, albeit somewhat opaquely.
In 2013, the editor of JVC, Ali H. Nayfeh, became aware of people using “fabricated identities” to manipulate an online system called SAGE Track by which scholars review the work of other scholars prior to publication.
German scientists show that constant alarmist messages about dramatic and dangerously rising sea levels cannot be confirmed by raw tidal measurements. According to expert Klaus-Eckart Puls “measurements are actually showing the opposite.” Only "mysterious" government computer models show rises in sea levels, says the report.
Making the announcement on behalf of the European Institute for Climate and Energy Klaus-Eckart Puls says:
“Worldwide, neither tidal gauge data (200 years) nor satellite data (20 years) show any acceleration of sea level rise. That is in stark contrast to all past and current statements by the IPCC and several climate (research) institutes and climate-models. Moreover, there are indications that the satellite data (showing a higher [double] rate of increase) are significantly “over-corrected.”” [See ref 28 in the report]
‘Mysterious Case’ or Data Rigging?
The European Institute for Climate and Energy expressed their concerns about the reliability of certain official computer models adding, “Instead of adjusting the satellite data to those actually measured on the ground and correcting them downward, the discrepancy between gauge and satellite measurements continue to this date. Somehow, that does not appear to bother anyone. A mysterious case.”
Wilhelmshaven coast scientist, Karl-Ernst Behre from the Lower Saxony Institute for Historical Coastal Research (NIHK ) explains that the best evidence shows sea levels have only been rising naturally “since the end of the last ice age we have good knowledge of the sea level changes on the German North Sea coast.”
The latest German research shows that sea level has risen naturally due to global warming by more than 50 meters in the past 10,000 years, says Behre. It has been nothing to do with humans.
The Galapagos Islands’ Charles Darwin Foundation runs on an annual operating budget of about $3.5 million. With this money, the center conducts conservation research, enacts species-saving interventions, and provides educational resources about the fragile island ecosystems. As a science-based enterprise whose work would benefit greatly from the latest research findings on ecological management, evolution, and invasive species, there’s one glaring hole in the Foundation’s budget: the $800,000 it would cost per year for subscriptions to leading academic journals.
According to Richard Price, founder and CEO of Academia.edu, this episode is symptomatic of a larger problem. “A lot of research centers” – NGOs, academic institutions in the developing world – “are just out in the cold as far as access to top journals is concerned,” says Price. “Research is being commoditized, and it’s just another aspect of the digital divide between the haves and have-nots.”
Academia.edu is a key player in the movement toward open access scientific publishing, with over 11 million participants who have uploaded nearly 3 million scientific papers to the site. It’s easy to understand Price’s frustration with the current model, in which academics donate their time to review articles, pay for the right to publish articles, and pay for access to articles.