A Special Place for Blog Lovers with a Touch of Science!

Enjoy our special posts in the fields of Earth & Planetary Sciences (EPS Blog) and Social Sciences & Arts (SSA Blog)

A Special Place for Blog Lovers with a Touch of Science!

Atmosphere of excitement as Europe’s JWST astronomers study climate on other planets

Credit: Getty images

Where do we come from?

The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) launched on Christmas Day 2021, is already transforming our understanding of planets in our Solar System and far beyond. A versatile satellite observatory, JWST has a clear-eyed view from its orbital position, 1.5m km away from Earth in space. This gives it a major advantage over ground-based telescopes which must peer out to space through Earth's hazy atmosphere.

JWST collects five times as much light as the Hubble Space Telescope (HST), allowing it to detect faint signals from distant worlds using its spectroscopic capabilities.

'Before the James Webb Space Telescope, only a very small number of molecules could be observed, such as water, carbon monoxide and sodium,' said Jérémy Leconte, astrophysicist at the University of Bordeaux in France.

Previous missions and observations from Earth have discovered thousands of exoplanets (those outside our Solar System) and astronomers are already taking advantage of JWST's unique capabilities to study the building blocks of life in the Universe.

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Earth can regulate its own temperature over millennia, a new study finds

Credit: Getty images

Our planet harbors a "stabilizing feedback" mechanism that acts over hundreds of thousands of years

The Earth's climate has undergone big changes, from global volcanism to planet-cooling ice ages and dramatic shifts in solar radiation. And yet life, for the last 3.7 billion years, has kept on beating.

Now, a U.S. National Science Foundation-supported study by MIT researchers in Science Advances confirms that the planet harbors a "stabilizing feedback" mechanism that acts over hundreds of thousands of years to pull the climate back from the brink, keeping global temperatures within a steady, habitable range.

Just how does it accomplish this? A likely mechanism is "silicate weathering" — a geological process by which the slow and steady erosion of silicate rocks involves chemical reactions that ultimately draw carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere and into ocean sediments, where the carbon dioxide is incorporated into sedimentary rocks.

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Xavier Cortada at the TED Countdown

Credit: Gilberto Tadday / TED

Socially engaged art

Artist Xavier Cortada spoke at the TED Countdown event hosted in London, England on Monday, October 3rd, 2022. He talked about using socially engaged art as a tool for engaging, educating, and mobilizing communities around climate action. The TED Talk will likely be published online in December 2022.

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The poetry of Janet MacFadyen - where Science meets Art

photo © by Stephen Schmidt

When Science meets Art

Scientific and artistic activities have had a long and incredibly complicated, we could say "love-hate" relationship throughout human history. From time to time, they were promoting and enhancing each other, whereupon an epoch of mutual criticism and condemnation followed. Nowadays, most people imagine Science and Art somehow separately, as two distinct and incompatible essences of the human mind. As though one is dealing with the objective reality and the other with an amalgam of material world and imagination, hence the former have to be superior in reasoning to the latter. Now, that would be the case if we take the presumption that the physical world is somehow dead or could be taken out of the ceaseless motion of the Universe to be examined as an object. However, Nature is alive and in constant interaction with all of its inhabitants. 

We could speculate that the negligence towards the living character of Nature was indeed one of the main reasons we ended up with a climate crisis. Nevertheless, with the emergence of climate and environmental issues, a new vision appeared, or maybe an ancient one manifests once again. There are tendencies among various scientists and artists, in which both perspectives reconcile and bear new forms of perception towards Nature – more like a dialogue instead of research.

Janet MacFadyen – an American poet and scientific researcher – is one of the many who feels the need to change our attitude towards, and concepts of, natural phenomena. She gracefully expresses that feeling. MacFadyen transforms scientific perception into vivid poetic imagery that invokes deep insights into Nature and our connection with it. Her poems transmogrify hills and rocky formations into cities, stones and crystals into ancient teachers, rivers and brooks into the circulatory system of our living and breathing Mother Earth.

Below you can enjoy and reflect upon Janet MacFadyen's statement and meditative poetry!
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Noam Chomsky: "There is no plan B"

Photo credit: wikipedia.org

The Green New Deal or The Brave New World? It's up to us!

Nowadays, one of the main discourses is concentrated around the urgent measures that we should take towards the world-wide climate crisis, the need to recycle, to become zero waste and fossil fuel-free, to stop using living beings as plain means, to erase racism, and all forms of intolerance. Yes, we're all sure about these questions but what we do eventually is putting the responsibility on the government, on the rich people, or maybe the secret conspiratorial organization ruling the world. The truth is, it all depends on the actions of every single individual and our personal choice and presumptions about society and what is right or wrong, taking into account the future of our children. When Noam Chomsky is talking about the States, he is not discussing the situation in one single country but a world-wide spread model of behavior towards our home planet and the other species – negligence. The Green New Deal is what the prominent thinker and political activist stands for. The GND is a congressional resolution that presents a grand plan for tackling the climate crisis. It was introduced by the Democrats, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, and Senator Edward J. Markey of Massachusetts. The proposal calls on the federal government to wean the United States from fossil fuels and restrain the planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions across the economy. Moreover, the project goal is to guarantee new high-paying jobs in clean energy industries.

Here you can read the essay of Noam Chomsky pondering over the urgent problem:

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SSA Recent Posts

01 February 2023
Social Sciences & Arts (SSA)
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