Category Archives: Sciences

California Throws Education Under the Bus

Written by: BlueDog89

California Gov. Jerry Brown recently proposed to cut more than $1 billion from higher education. Photo courtesy Associated Press.

Student activists and teachers unions in California are organizing statewide protests in opposition to Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposal to cut $1.4 billion from public colleges and universities.

Protesters at a demonstration at Modesto Junior College. Photo courtesy Turlock Journal.

California’s public education system is racked by threats of spending cuts due to the state’s fiscal crises, which include a deficit that has ballooned to more than $25 billion.

The California State University System is facing possible budget cuts of $500 million. The University of California would also face a $500 million cut under Brown’s budget proposal.

Brown has proposed cutting $400 million from the state’s community colleges, and raising tuition by 38 percent.

Modesto Junior College (MJC) administrators recently informed faculty members that jobs may be cut as the college attempts to shed $8 million from its budget.

MJC President Gaither Loewenstein answered questions about the budget cuts in a Q&A forum with students last week. He confirmed that the entire communications department, including majors in journalism, television and radio, would be cut in his budget reduction proposal.

Modesto Junior College President Gaither Loewensteinaddresses concerns over $8 million budget cut proposal. Photo courtesy Turlock Journal.

Other programs to end are culinary arts, communication graphics, architecture, engineering, industrial technology, dental assisting and all foreign languages, except Spanish and sign language.

The MJC West Campus library would close and be used as a learning resource center. Coach stipends would end, but competitive sports would continue.

Additional faculty and management employees would lose their jobs under Loewenstein’s budget proposal. Those layoffs would be effective June 30.
Reductions in salary or benefits for employees are not included in the proposal, which have yet to be negotiated.

Many students fear losing their favorite instructors, like anthropology professor James Todd. According to anthropology major and campus President of the Anthropology Club Priscilla Peralta, the department will be crippled with the layoff of Professor Todd. “Anthropology is a much needed discipline and should continue to be offered to the fullest extent,” said Peralta.

Loewenstein said that the decision to target specific programs rather than split the cuts across the board was intended to leave the college with fewer strong programs instead of making the entire college mediocre.

Californians need to step up, get involved with their schools, and reach out to school administrators and congressional representatives about this issue.

Ms. Peralta urges those who support her cause to send a personal message to Modesto Junior College President Gaither Loewenstein via email at loewensteing@mjc.edu.

In addition to getting personally involved with the schools in your community, education advocates encourage citizens to express their concerns to Gov. Brown. He may be reached via phone at 916.445.2841 or log on to his website to post a comment http://gov.ca.gov/m_contact.php.

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Filed under Anthropology, California, Civil Protest, Economy, Education, Governors, Students, Teachers, Unions, United States

Behind the Scenes Video from the White House Science Fair

Posted by: Audiegrl
Written by Katelyn Sabochik

Last week, President Obama hosted the first ever White House Science Fair, bringing together middle school and high school students from around the country and their award winning science, engineering and technology projects.  The White House Science Fair was a part of the President’s Educate to Innovate initiative to move American students from the middle to the top of the pack in science and math achievement over the next decade.

Check out this behind the scenes video from the White House Science Fair, including Bill Nye the Science Guy and hosts of the show Mythbusters Jamie Hyneman and Adam Savage.

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Filed under Change, Education, Pres. Barack Obama, Sciences, Students, Teachers, Uncategorized

First Lady Michelle Obama Hosts the 20th Annual National Science Bowl

Posted by: Audiegrl
Posted by Secretary Steven Chu

New Faces, New Solutions

First Lady Michelle Obama and Energy Secretary Steven Chu with the winning teams, North Carolina School of Science and Mathmatics, left, and Albuquerque Academy, right, at the 20th Annual National Science Bowl in Washington, D.C. May 3, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Samantha Appleton)

Today, First Lady Michelle Obama and I have the distinct pleasure of lending a hand at the National Science Bowl – an impressive display of the scientific talents of our young people.  Over the past few days, students from sixty-eight high school teams and thirty-seven middle school teams have competed for the championship titles by answering questions in a range of scientific disciplines, including biology, chemistry, earth science, physics and astronomy, and math.

First Lady Michelle Obama and Energy Secretary Steven Chu ask the championship round bonus point questions at the Department’s 20th Annual National Science Bowl in Washington, D.C. May 3, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Samantha Appleton)

I have been going to Science Bowls for many years, and I always come away hopeful for America’s future.  I know the First Lady would agree that the knowledge and dedication of these students is inspiring. Read the First Lady’s remarks here.

Competitions like this one are important because America’s leadership tomorrow depends on how we educate our students today.  We need a bold new generation of scientists and engineers to make America competitive in this century.  Only by having our best and brightest young people pursue careers in science and engineering can America compete for the high-wage, high-tech jobs of the 21st century.  We also face an unprecedented challenge to our very way of life from a changing climate, and we need this generation to help find new solutions to the energy and climate problem. In fact, all of the great challenges we will face in this century will require science and innovation to meet them.

Steven Chu is the Secretary of Energy

Students from Across the Country Prepare
for Regional Science Competitions


Students, coaches and parents takes photos of First Lady Michelle Obama at the National Science in Washington, D.C. May 3, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Samantha Appleton)

Looking for more stories on the First Lady? Check out our brand new section: FLOTUS: All Things Michelle Obama

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Filed under Alternative Energy, Children, Education, First Lady Michelle Obama, Green, Sciences, Students, Teachers, Uncategorized

First Lady Michelle Obama to Host 20th Annual National Science Bowl

Posted by: Audiegrl

Students from Across the Country Prepare
for Regional Science Competitions


First Lady Michelle Obama visits the Department of Energy for the National Science Bowl competition in Washington, D.C., Nov. 5, 2009. (Official White House Photo by Samantha Appleton)

On May 4, 2010 First Lady Michelle Obama will join Energy Secretary Steven Chu for the Department’s 20th Annual National Science Bowl where she will ask the championship round bonus point questions. The First Lady and Secretary Chu will also address the more than 500 high school and middle school students and the 100 teachers and coaches attending the competition. Last November, Mrs. Obama visited the Department and joined Secretary Chu for a practice session for young people competing in the Science Bowl.

In the days prior to the championship, 105 regional high school and middle school championship teams from 42 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands will participate in round robin and double elimination rounds in which they will be quizzed on math and all science disciplines, including biology, chemistry, earth science, physics and astronomy.

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) National Science Bowl® is a nationwide academic competition that tests students’ knowledge in all areas of science. High school and middle school students are quizzed in a fast paced question-and-answer format similar to Jeopardy. Competing teams from diverse backgrounds are comprised of four students, one alternate, and a teacher who serves as an advisor and coach.

The Paul Dorman High School team at 2009 National Science Bowl

A featured event at the National Finals for middle school students, the Hydrogen Fuel Cell Model Car Challenge invites students to design, build, and race model cars. This competition tests the creative engineering skills of many of the brightest math and science students in the nation as they gain hands-on experience in the automotive design process and with hydrogen fuel cell technology.

DOE launched its National Science Bowl competition in 1991 to encourage high school students to excel in science and math and to pursue careers in those fields. “This year we anticipate 6,000 middle school and 15,000 high school students will compete in regional competitions” said Sue Ellen Walbridge, DOE Office of Science program manager for the National Science Bowl®. “From this number, we anticipate 40 middle school and 69 high school teams will participate in the finals held in May.”

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The National Science Bowl is the only science competition in the United States sponsored by a federal agency.

For more information, please visit the DOE National Science Bowl® Press Room

First Lady Michelle Obama listens as Energy Secretary Steven Chu asks questions during the National Science Bowl competition at the Department of Energy in Washington, D.C., Nov. 5, 2009. (Official White House Photo by Samantha Appleton)

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Looking for more stories on the First Lady? Check out our brand new section: FLOTUS: All Things Michelle Obama

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Filed under Children, Education, First Lady Michelle Obama, Green, Sciences, Steven Chu (Sec of Energy), Students, Teachers, Uncategorized

Flip Flopping on Obama: Democrats are Wimps

Posted by: BuellBoy

Written by Dr. Jeff Schweitzer


We fully expect rats to abandon a sinking ship, but even those readily disloyal rodents wait for a leak to spring before contemplating a swim. In contrast, Democrats scramble frantically to jump overboard at the first whiff of a moist towel.

Nowhere was this unpleasant characteristic more glaringly evident than during the health care debate. Because Obama did not deliver the perfect bill instantly, the punditry immediately labeled the president “ineffective” and “passive” and “drifting” and “lost” and horror-of-horrors, “another Jimmy Carter.” Obama was criticized repeatedly because he “leads more from the head than the heart” and “relies more on listening than preaching,” as if those qualities were actually somehow negative. And those were the liberal talking heads. Obama was written off as a loser by his own team simply because he could not change 50 years of social inertia in his first year in office.

George Packer of The New Yorker loudly proclaimed “Obama’s Lost Year.” Robert Parry of The Baltimore Chronicle & Sentinel lamented “How Obama Lost His Way.” Piling on were House Democrats who snidely disparaged the health care bill in February, but who now bask in the glory of its passage. These House members quickly toweled off after a premature dunk then tried to pretend they never panicked.

To place this cowardly behavior in context, remember that Republicans stuck stubbornly and loyally to George Bush for eight years in the face of illegal wire taps, disastrous wars, huge deficits, torture, economic collapse, environmental calamity and a terrible butchering of the English language. Democrats did not last eight months before whipping out the chains of self-flagellation because the president did not perform miracles or give us the public option (yet). That easy disloyalty is even more discouraging given that Democrats held the largest majority that either party has held in the Senate since Watergate and a 40-seat majority in the House.

Tackling legislation that has eluded every president for the last five decades is a delicate, tricky, complicated dance of nuance, strategy and hard-ball politics. The best analogy for what Obama has done, and how he achieved victory, is Dwight Eisenhower’s civil rights battle. In fact the recently-passed health care reform bill will likely prove to be similar to early civil rights legislation in many ways — breaking old barriers, creating significant social change, remapping political alliances and creating a better world with legislation that was initially deeply flawed or ineffective. Old Ike fired the first shot of civil rights legislation across the bow of a nation largely hostile to the idea. He faced fierce, nasty and sometimes violent opposition from southern Senators who wielded power far greater than anything we see today.

Consequently the resulting Civil Rights Act of 1957 was weak, flawed and largely impotent but miraculous in its passage nevertheless. The bill became law only after enduring the longest single-senator filibuster in our history. That paragon of racial intolerance, Strom Thurmond, read non-stop for more than 24 hours in a final but ultimately futile attempt to thwart passage. Ironically he read from the Declaration of Independence and Bill of Rights, desecrating both in doing so. As with Obama and health care, what Ike did was important beyond the specific bill that passed; he breached a barrier that seemed impenetrable; he set the stage for progress.

He laid the foundation on which Lyndon Johnson built the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Without Eisenhower’s pioneering legislation, no matter how weak, Johnson would have never passed his landmark bill. Likewise, the public option, which is the end-game of true reform, will eventually become law because of the foundation created with this first attempt at health care reform.

In this light, and with this history, we should be embarrassed by our impatience with Obama as he marshaled health care legislation through a reluctant legislature and a populace confused by a vitriolic misinformation campaign. We lost temporal perspective, focusing on the moment to the exclusion of the future. Obama deserved our support and instead we bickered and told tales of woe because the bill was imperfect and not implemented quickly enough for our taste for the immediate. And the opposition nearly slaughtered us because we were unable to unite.

We argued passionately about the minutiae of specific language while the GOP was plotting a grand strategy of our destruction. Our impatience and immaturity aided and abetted that effort. Many Democrats I know and respect simply gave up on the president because he did not produce fast enough or give them everything they wanted. In the euphoria of electing one of our own, we forgot that ideological purity is not a recipe for pragmatic governance. We once again almost let the perfect become the enemy of the good, and were only saved from ourselves by strong leadership which ignored our plaintive and pathetic cries. Thankfully Obama was playing chess while we were trying to figuring out how to go from one to square to another in checkers.

Well, now that the first health care bill has passed we at least learned our lesson, right? One would think, but one would be wrong. The cycle begins anew with Obama’s announcement that he will allow off-shore oil drilling. Oh the humanity!

As Ronald Reagan once famously said, “There you go again.” And we’re off and running, so predictably. Here is a typical response to Obama’s announcement, this from Frank Tursi from the North Carolina Coastal Federation: “To garner support for a bill that is intended to cut greenhouse gas emissions, the administration is willing to expand the very substance that causes those emissions in the first place. Pandering for votes that rely on a polluting fuel of the past is not the kind of change many of us expected.”

Sound eerily familiar to the dialogue on health care before the bill passed? Once again we fail to see the big picture and instead focus narrowly on our immediate interests and concerns. Passing meaningful climate change legislation will be every bit as difficult as health care reform, and will require the same type of unpleasant and disconcerting compromise. We must again choose between the easy comfort of ideological purity and the pragmatic necessity of governing if we actually want to do something about global warming. Saving the planet is probably the better option, even if less satisfying emotionally.

Obama did not choose drilling in a vacuum; the decision is part of his broader energy strategy. Yes, we must emphasize conservation and efficiency, and we must do everything possible to promote renewable and clean energy sources like solar, wind and geothermal. We must cut greenhouse gas emissions. But as we transition to a green economy, we have to keep the lights on and refrigerator running. That is the reality. The energy must come from somewhere, and even as we promote renewables many conservation groups are opposing wind energy, one of the most viable alternatives. Wind turbines disrupt migratory patterns, kill birds and bats and threaten certain species like the sage grouse. So should we support or oppose wind energy?

Something has to give, some compromise must be reached; we live in an imperfect world. Demanding perfection leads to paralysis — and victory for the opposition. Withdrawing support from Obama because he proposes a solution that does not meet our every wish makes little sense, particularly in light of what the other Party has to offer.

By no means do I propose that we blindly accept Obama’s proposed solutions or draft legislation. Debate, modify, argue, disagree: all of that is healthy. But do so knowing that ugly compromise is necessary, and that in a messy democracy no result will be perfectly satisfactory. Democrats need to learn from their Republican colleagues, who seem to know when to argue among themselves and when to coalesce into a unified bloc.

Whenever you feel disappointed or angry at Obama, just close your eyes and think of George W. Bush. Then, rally around, because no matter how imperfect Obama is, he’s better than the alternative.

Dr. Jeff Schweitzer served at the White House during the Clinton Administration as Assistant Director for International Affairs in the Office of Science and Technology Policy. Dr. Schweitzer was responsible for providing scientific and technological policy advice and analysis for Al Gore, President Clinton and President Clinton’s Science Advisor, and to coordinate the U.S. government’s international science and technology cooperation. He worked with the president’s cabinet and 22 U.S. Government technical agencies, and with countries throughout the world, in a broad range of fields including biology, physics, chemistry, geophysics, agriculture, oceanography and marine sciences. He was instrumental in establishing the permanent Global Forum on Science and Technology at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development to promote greater international scientific collaboration.

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Filed under Democrats, Politics, Pres. Barack Obama, Sciences, Uncategorized

Giant Cattle To Be Bred Back From Extinction

Posted by: Audiegrl

Aurochs were immortalized in prehistoric cave paintings and admired for their brute strength and “elephantine” size by Julius Caesar

Aurochs

Aurochs are depicted in ochre and charcoal in paintings found on the walls of cave galleries such as those at Lascaux in France Photo: ALAMY


Telegraph.co.uk/Nick Squires~~But despite their having gone the way of the dodo and the woolly mammoth, there are plans to bring the giant animals back to life.

The huge cattle with sweeping horns which once roamed the forests of Europe have not been seen for nearly 400 years.

Now Italian scientists are hoping to use genetic expertise and selective breeding of modern-day wild cattle to recreate the fearsome beasts which weighed around 2,200lb and stood 6.5 feet at the shoulder.

Breeds of large cattle which most closely resemble Bos primigenius, such as Highland cattle and the white Maremma breed from Italy, are being bred with each other in a technique known as “back-breeding“.

At the same time, scientists say they have for the first time created a map of the auroch’s genome, so that they know precisely what type of animal they are trying to replicate.

We were able to analyse auroch DNA from preserved bone material and create a rough map of its genome that should allow us to breed animals nearly identical to aurochs,” said team leader Donato Matassino, head of the Consortium for Experimental Biotechnology in Benevento, in the southern Campania region.

We’ve already made our first round of crosses between three breeds native to Britain, Spain and Italy. Now we just have to wait and see how the calves turn out.

More @ telegraph.co.uk

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Cleopatra’s Stunner Make-up Cured Eye Disease As Well

Posted by: Audiegrl

Cleopatra's likeness was pieced together from images on ancient artifacts, including a ring dating from Cleopatra’s reign 2,000 years ago, and the remains of her sister Princess Arsinöe found in 2009

Cleopatra's likeness was pieced together from images on ancient artifacts, including a ring dating from Cleopatra’s reign 2,000 years ago, and the remains of her sister Princess Arsinöe found in 2009

AFP~~Ancient Egypt’s stunning eye make-up not only shielded wearers from the dark deeds of the evil eye but also protected them against eye disease, French scientists said Thursday.

Ancient Egyptians some 4,000 years ago produced the make-up used to darken and adorn eyes with lead and lead salts in mixtures that sometimes took a month to concoct, said Philippe Walter, who co-headed a team of scientists from the Louvre Museum and the (CNRS) National Center of Scientific Research.

We knew ancient Greeks and Romans too had noted the make-up had medicinal properties, but wanted to determine exactly how,” he told AFP.

Contrary to widely held belief that lead is harmful, the team, using analytical chemistry, determined that “in very low doses lead does not kill cells.”

Curator Sally-Ann Ashton admires one of the statues of Cleopatra at the British Museum in London.

Curator Sally-Ann Ashton admires one of the statues of Cleopatra at the British Museum in London.

Instead, it produces a molecule — nitric oxide — that activates the immune defense system which beats back bacteria in case of eye infection.

The research was carried out using a tiny electrode, the 10th of the size of a hair, to look at the effect of a lead chloride synthesized by the Egyptians — laurionite — on a single cell.

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