Future power

For UC Davis magazine readers who wish to post predictions and comments on the Future Power article in the current issue, you can find the comment thread here.

UNC’s corpse flower set to bloom

Bella, a Titan Arum corpse flower at the University of North Carolina, is expected to bloom this weekend. UNC does have a webcam up, but since someone posted it on Fark.com it seems to have crashed. You can try their website and see if it’s working again.

A look back at the UC Davis corpse flower, Ted, here.

Long-term impacts on Tahoe

The long term effects of this week’s Angora fire on Lake Tahoe may not be known for years, according to the UC Davis professor who has studied the lake for decades.

“The real impact comes next spring when we get the runoff from that watershed,” said Charles R. Goldman, a professor with the University of California-Davis’ Department of Environmental Science and Policy who has studied Lake Tahoe for almost 50 years.

“It depends a lot on the nature of the run-off . . . more erosion in any event means you get a fair amount of sediment into the lake,” he said.

Survey finds many gays, lesbians victims of hate crimes

A national survey by UC Davis psychologist Gregory Herek finds that about one in five gays, lesbians or bisexuals have been the victims of violence or property crime based on their sexual orientation. About half of the respondents in the survey reported being verbally abused, and 11 percent reported housing or job discrimination.

Gay men were more likely to report being victimized than lesbians or bisexuals. That matches overall crime trends in the population as a whole, were men are more likely to be victims of violence than women.

Tahoe water report

Surprise — no ash in the buckets yet. Brant Allen’s blog dispatch, filed at 2.30 pm this afternoon, says he found no ash in the buckets on buoys near the north shore of the lake (furthest from the Angora fire, of course). Allen was then heading south to check other collecting sites further down the lake.

Craig Venter’s genome transplant

J. Craig Venter and colleagues from his self-named institute have a paper in Science Express today describing the first “genome transplant.” They replaced the entire DNA of one bacteria, Mycoplasma mycoides, with that from another, Mycoplasma capricolum. The transplanted DNA was stripped of most supporting proteins, so it was effectively “naked DNA.”

The experiment is the first step towards Venter’s goal of creating an artificial organism, by making the DNA in the lab and assembling it in a bacterium.

Jonathan Eisen of the UC Davis Genome Center told the Associated Press that this would be much harder to do with a truly synthetic organism, but “it’s a great first step.”

Tahoe photos

University Communications photographer Karin Higgins is following researcher Brant Allen today as he collectsTahoe boat photo samples to look at the effect of the Angora fire on lake Tahoe. We’ll be posting some of the photos here.

Right: UC Davis’ research boat, the RV John Le Conte, pulls up to a buoy monitoring air and water quality.

Below: Allen checks sampling equipment on top of one of the buoys. The tall canister with yellow stripes is a “minivol” air sampler that collects dust and ash from the air and traps it on filters. Next to that is a cut-down bucket containing water, which will collect any ash as if it were falling into the lake. The samples will be analyzed at UC Davis’s Tahoe Environmental Research Center, and with collaborators at Stanford University.

Fireblogging from Tahoe

Brant Allen picUC Davis researcher Brant Allen is collecting samples from Lake Tahoe today, to see what impact the Angora fire is having on the Lake. As he goes through the day he’ll be posting blog entries that will appear on the Sacramento Bee’s website.

Allen boarded UC Davis’s research boat at 5.30 am today and posted his first entry at 8.15 am. Check back on the Bee’s website for updates.

In this 2002 picture, Allen (in the white t-shirt) demonstrates for a group of reporters the use of a Secchi disk (the white round thing at bottom right) to measure water clarity.

Best Symmetry cover yet, with name-that-particle goodness

Symmetry coverI just received the latest issue of the marvellous symmetry magazine from Fermilab and SLAC. This issue has a cover by Roz Chast, whose cartoons have appeared everywhere from the New Yorker to Scientific American.

If you like Chast’s whimsical cover, there’s also a competition to invent your own particle. Send a description in 30 words or less to letters@symmetrymagazine.org.

Elsewhere in the magazine, there’s a feature on upcoming experiments to look for Dark Energy, including the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope project led by Tony Tyson at UC Davis. Andreas Albrecht, a cosmologist at UC Davis, is also quoted:

Angora fire’s impact on Lake Tahoe

The Angora fire that has been burning just south of Lake Tahoe since Sunday is likely to have a significant effect on the lake’s clarity, according to UC Davis researchers.

In the short term, nitrogen and phosphorous in ash falling into the lake will spur growth of algae, but that will peak in a couple of weeks. But those nutrients will cycle through the lake for years to come. There is also the potential impact of ash, charcoal and sediment that could be washed down into the lake later in the year.