Can renewables replace nuclear, other energy sources?

On the New York Times Economix blog, Nancy Folbre, an economics professor at the University of Massachusetts, argues that renewable energy sources like wind and solar could replace other energy sources, especially nuclear energy. Folbre draws on a 2009 Scientific American article by UC Davis researcher Mark Delucchi and Mark Jacobson from Stanford University, in which the two Marks argued that renewables could replace both fossil fuels and nuclear power — and still be cost effective.

A shout-out for the LSST from two presidents

President Barack Obama and the President of the Republic of Chile, Sebastián Piñera, gave a shout-out to the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope project on Monday.

A joint statement issued after a working meeting between the two heads of state declared:

Both Heads of State highlighted the effective collaboration in the fields of astronomy and astro-engineering which will allow the operation of the LSST and ALMA telescopes in the northern Chile, involving an investment of 1.5 billion dollars, with a close collaboration between public and private academic and research institutions in both countries.

A fourth branch of life?

The Tree of Life has three great branches: the eukaryotes, including all plants, animals, fungi, and single-celled creatures like malaria parasites and amoebae. There are the prokaryotes, or bacteria. And there are the Archaea, a group of single-celled organisms divergent from both the other groups.

Life on this planet is overwhelmingly single-celled. A cup of sea water or soil teems with thousands of species, many yet to be discovered. But for the most part, microbiologists only know about those organisms that they can grow in the lab.

Mystery of teen brains headlines Brain Awareness Week

Brain Awareness Week kicks off March 12 with a series of activities including visits to local schools by graduate students and researchers, a stall at the Davis Farmer’s Market, and a public lecture on the teenage brain.

Amanda Guyer, assistant professor in human and community development and at the Center for Mind and Brain, will give a free public lecture March 22 on subject that baffles many: “The Emotional Teenage Brain.” Guyer will discuss how what we have learned about brain development helps our understanding of adolescent emotions, including in extreme states such as in anxiety and depression.

Geological record holds clues to modern climate change, experts say

The distant past could hold clues to how the Earth’s future climate would respond in an environment with high levels of atmospheric greenhouse gases, says a new report from the National Research Council. The report, written by a committee chaired by UC Davis geology professor Isabel Montañez, lays out a program for research into the “deep time” climate.

“Ancient rocks and sediments hold the only records of major, and at times rapid, transitions across climate states and offer the potential for a much better understanding of the long-term impact of climate change on atmosphere and ocean circulation, ice sheets, sea-level rise, ocean acidification, and the health of Earth’s ecosystems,” Montañez said.