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Over here I post a ton of physics / math / general interesting posts in an attempt to make your brain feel good. My aim is to be as informative as possible, all while posting fascinating things that hopefully enlighten us both a little to the mysteries of our truly wondrous universe(s?). Plus, how would you know if the blog exists or not unless you observe it? Boom, just pulled the Schrödinger’s cat card. Now you have to check it out - trust me, it said so in an equation somewhere.

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Obama and Romney Answer 14 Top Science Questions

jtotheizzoe:

Here’s their side-by-side responses to questions surrounding innovation, climate change, internet freedom, biosecurity, energy, vaccination, space, and food/water access.

These questions are the work of ScienceDebate.org and Scientific American, who asked American scientists what they thought were the most pressing science issues faced by these candidates.

There’s not exactly a lot of surprises here, but if you’re looking for a one-stop science policy shop for this year’s election … this is it.

The Real Difference Between Our Presidential Candidates
This, perhaps more than any other simple, undeniable fact - clearly shows the difference between President Obama and Governor Romney. Seeing who supports each candidate can easily give you a better sense of what, and who, these candidates stand for. While Romney is proudly and substantially backed by banks, financial institutions and investment firms; the President is supported by educational institutions and technologically based, forward-thinking companies. Interpret this as you will. 
As the infographic says, the organizations themselves did not donate, rather the money came from the organizations’ PACs, their individual members or employees or owners, and those individuals’ immediate families. Organization totals include subsidiaries and affiliates.

The Real Difference Between Our Presidential Candidates

This, perhaps more than any other simple, undeniable fact - clearly shows the difference between President Obama and Governor Romney. Seeing who supports each candidate can easily give you a better sense of what, and who, these candidates stand for. While Romney is proudly and substantially backed by banks, financial institutions and investment firms; the President is supported by educational institutions and technologically based, forward-thinking companies. Interpret this as you will. 

As the infographic says, the organizations themselves did not donate, rather the money came from the organizations’ PACs, their individual members or employees or owners, and those individuals’ immediate families. Organization totals include subsidiaries and affiliates.

18 Surprising Facts That Will Motivate You to Stop Wasting Food

With nearly 100 percent certainty I can assure you we won’t be hearing President Barack Obama and GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney, or their respective surrogates, talking about America’s food waste dilemma (or what I and others would describe as a crisis) in the months ahead.  That’s too bad since food waste is creating significant social, economic and environmental consequences  for the US (and the world).

1. Between one quarter and one half of the more than 590 billion pounds of food produced each year in the United States is squandered during the farm-to-table supply chain.  Using this range, food writer and food waste expert Jonathan Bloom estimates  that, every day America wastes enough food to fill the Rose Bowl – the 90,000-seat football stadium in Pasadena, California – and sometimes it’s as much as two stadiums full.

2. Americas’ per capita food waste has increased by 50 percent since 1974 .

3. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, in 2010 discarded food represented the single largest component  of municipal solid waste reaching landfills and incinerators.

4. Food waste represents a significant cost to local governments (and ultimately taxpayers who already paid for it once as consumers), which is why many municipalities like the City of Santa Monica, California  and Charleston County, South Carolina  are adopting food waste collection and composting programs.

5. Food waste is particularly egregious at a time when hunger is a growing problem and an increasing human rights issue.  If we wasted just 5 percent less food, it would be enough to feed 4 million Americans; 20 percent less waste  could feed 25 million Americans annually.

6. Approximately $100 to $160 billion is spent each year on producing food that is ultimately wasted. (This estimate comes from Jonathan Bloom’s American Wasteland .)

7. Crops are sometimes left unharvested  because their appearance does not meet strict quality standards required by many supermarkets and expected by consumers.

8. A large portion of food waste occurs in households.  The average American throws away 20 pounds of food each month  or about two-thirds of a pound per person per day.

9. Fresh products like fish, eggs, milk, fruits and vegetables make up most of household food waste .

10. Much of household food waste is due to spoilage, overcooking, plate waste and over-purchasing.  According to  new research  commissioned by WRAP (an advocacy group established to implement and market recycling in the UK), about two-thirds of annual household waste in the UK is due to food not being used in time, whereas the other one-third is caused by people cooking or serving too much.

11. Restaurants also contribute to the problem  with supersized portions, sprawling menus and inadequate training for food handlers when it comes to minimizing food waste.

12. Some waste happens because people are confused about “use-by” and “best-by” dates  – which are based on manufacturer suggestions for peak quality – and can cause people to throw out food for fear that it is spoiled, when in fact it is still consumable.

13. Most grocery stores discard food products as soon as they are past their “sell-by” dates even though these products still have shelf life left.

14. Given the water and energy intensive nature of growing, processing, packaging, warehousing, transporting and preparing food, it follows that wasted food means wasted energy, water and agricultural resources.  Approximately  2.5 percent of the US energy budget is “thrown away” annually as food waste. This is equivalent to the energy contained in hundreds of millions of barrels of oil. In addition, 25 percent  of all freshwater consumed annually in the US is associated with discarded food – about as much as the volume of Lake Erie .

15. Food waste has significant ecological consequences. Wasted food translates to a significant amount of land conversion from forests, grasslands and wetlands to agriculture which adversely impacts biodiversity and exacerbates pesticide and fertilizer runoff. At the disposal end, nearly all food waste ends up in landfills, allowing it to decompose and release methane , a greenhouse gas that traps 21 times more heat than carbon dioxide.  (Yes, another nexus issue: food waste-climate change.)

16. “With such a hugely inefficient food system comes opportunity,” says  Dana Gunders , Project Scientist with the Natural Resources Defense Council and author of a forthcoming NRDC report about food waste. “Entrepreneurs and innovators who figure out how to tap into the huge reservoir of wasted food will find savings for themselves, their customers, and the planet as a whole.” One opportunity is to reconnect the whole supply chain from farm to table and  table to farm  by composting food waste and using it as fertilizer to grow crops. Another opportunity is to connect home and community gardeners so that their excess harvest can be donated to the needy instead of allowing it to rot. (Check out  what “nutrition revolutionary” Sharon Feuer Gruber and Bread for the City, the largest food pantry in Washington, D.C. are up to.)

17. The solution is a combination of radically reducing food waste at its source while ensuring that what gets wasted becomes a resource rather than trash. Significant reductions in food waste can often be achieved through simple changes in food purchasing, storage and preparation. Using “unavoidable” food waste as a resource involves diverting it from landfills and using it to generate energy or create fertilizer from compost.

18. Improving the efficiency of our food system offers environmental benefits (less pollution and more efficient resource use), social benefits (reducing hunger through food donations) and economic benefits (cost savings to businesses, consumers and municipalities).

Source

Is manned space exploration worth the cost?

The debate about the relative merits of exploring space with humans and robots is as old as the space program itself. Werner Von Braun, a moving force behind the Apollo Program that sent humans to the moon and the architect of the mighty Saturn V rocket, believed passionately in the value of human exploration — especially when it meant beating the hated Soviet Empire. James Van Allen, discoverer of the magnetic fields that bear his name, was equally ardent and vocal about the value of robotic exploration.

There are five arguments that are advanced in any discussion about the utility of space exploration and the roles of humans and robots. Those arguments, in roughly ascending order of advocate support, are the following:

1. Space exploration will eventually allow us to establish a human civilization on another world (e.g., Mars) as a hedge against the type of catastrophe that wiped out the dinosaurs.

2. We explore space and create important new technologies to advance our economy. It is true that, for every dollar we spend on the space program, the U.S. economy receives about $8 of economic benefit. Space exploration can also serve as a stimulus for children to enter the fields of science and engineering.

3. Space exploration in an international context offers a peaceful cooperative venue that is a valuable alternative to nation state hostilities. One can look at the International Space Station and marvel that the former Soviet Union and the U.S. are now active partners. International cooperation is also a way to reduce costs.

4. National prestige requires that the U.S. continue to be a leader in space, and that includes human exploration. History tells us that great civilizations dare not abandon exploration.

5. Exploration of space will provide humanity with an answer to the most fundamental questions: Are we alone? Are there other forms of life beside those on Earth?

It is these last two arguments that are the most compelling to me. It is challenging to make the case that humans are necessary to the type of scientific exploration that may bring evidence of life on another world. There are strong arguments on both sides. Personally, I think humans will be better at unstructured environment exploration than any existing robot for a very long time.

There are those who say that exploration with humans is simply too expensive for the return we receive. However, I cannot imagine any U.S. President announcing that we are abandoning space exploration with humans and leaving it to the Chinese, Russians, Indians, Japanese or any other group. I can imagine the U.S. engaging in much more expansive international cooperation.

Humans will be exploring space. The challenge is to be sure that they accomplish meaningful exploration.

-G. Scott Hubbard, professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics at Stanford University and former director of the NASA Ames Research Center

What Do Obama and Romney Know about Science? And Why It Matters
Scientific American is partnering with the folks at ScienceDebate.org and more than a dozen leading science and engineering organizations to try to inject more discussion about critical science issues into the U.S. presidential election campaign this year. As part of that effort, we will be asking the two main presidential candidates—Barack Obama and Mitt Romney—to respond to 14 questions (listed below) on some of the biggest scientific and technological challenges facing the U.S. in the near future. 
Why is Scientific American taking this step? If you look beyond the made-up controversies that seem to dominate political discussion these days to the real issues—the real challenges, threats and opportunities that the U.S. faces today, tomorrow and for the rest of the century—you’ll find that most of them require a better grasp of some key scientific question or research field. Sometimes the link is obvious—as with global climate change. Other times it becomes clear only upon reflection—as with creating new avenues of economic innovation (just what do you think has fueled a substantial amount of the growth in the US economy for the past sixty years?)
As a starting point, more than a dozen scientific and engineering organizations—ranging from the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) to the Union of Concerned Scientists—have come up with what they see as the top science questions facing the US in 2012. The questions are now being sent to the presidential campaigns. In addition, Scientific American will contact key leaders in Congress who play major roles in determining how scientific knowledge is translated into policy with a subset of these questions that are most applicable to the legislative branch of government for their response.
1. Innovation and the Economy. Science and technology have been responsible for over half of the growth of the U.S. economy since WWII, when the federal government first prioritized peacetime science mobilization. But several recent reports question America’s continued leadership in these vital areas. What policies will best ensure that America remains a world leader in innovation?
2. Climate Change. The Earth’s climate is changing and there is concern about the potentially adverse effects of these changes on life on the planet. What is your position on cap-and-trade, carbon taxes, and other policies proposed to address global climate change—and what steps can we take to improve our ability to tackle challenges like climate change that cross national boundaries?
3. Research and the Future. Federally funded research has helped to produce America’s major postwar economies and to ensure our national security, but today the UK, Singapore, China, and Korea are making competitive investments in research.  Given that the next Congress will face spending constraints, what priority would you give to investment in research in your upcoming budgets?
4. Pandemics and Biosecurity. Recent experiments show how Avian flu may become transmissible among mammals. In an era of constant and rapid international travel, what steps should the United States take to protect our population from emerging diseases, global pandemics and/or deliberate biological attacks?
5. Education. Increasingly, the global economy is driven by science, technology, engineering and math, but a recent comparison of 15-year-olds in 65 countries found that average science scores among U.S. students ranked 23rd, while average U.S. math scores ranked 31st.  In your view, why have American students fallen behind over the last three decades, and what role should the federal government play to better prepare students of all ages for the science and technology-driven global economy?
6. Energy. Many policymakers and scientists say energy security and sustainability are major problems facing the United States this century. What policies would you support to meet the demand for energy while ensuring an economically and environmentally sustainable future?
7. Food. Thanks to science and technology, the United States has the world’s most productive and diverse agricultural sector, yet many Americans are increasingly concerned about the health and safety of our food.  The use of hormones, antibiotics and pesticides, as well as animal diseases and even terrorism pose risks.  What steps would you take to ensure the health, safety and productivity of America’s food supply?
8. Fresh Water. Less than one percent of the world’s water is liquid fresh water, and scientific studies suggest that a majority of U.S. and global fresh water is now at risk because of increasing consumption, evaporation and pollution.  What steps, if any, should the federal government take to secure clean, abundant fresh water for all Americans?
9. The Internet. The Internet plays a central role in both our economy and our society.  What role, if any, should the federal government play in managing the Internet to ensure its robust social, scientific, and economic role?
10. Ocean Health. Scientists estimate that 75 percent of the world’s fisheries are in serious decline, habitats like coral reefs are threatened, and large areas of ocean and coastlines are polluted. What role should the federal government play domestically and through foreign policy to protect the environmental health and economic vitality of the oceans?
11. Science in Public Policy. We live in an era when science and technology affect every aspect of life and society, and so must be included in well-informed public policy decisions.  How will you ensure that policy and regulatory decisions are fully informed by the best available scientific and technical information, and that the public is able to evaluate the basis of these policy decisions?
12. Space. The United States is currently in a major discussion over our national goals in space.  What should America’s space exploration and utilization goals be in the 21st century and what steps should the government take to help achieve them?
13. Critical Natural Resources. Supply shortages of natural resources affect economic growth, quality of life, and national security; for example, China currently produces 97% of rare earth elements needed for advanced electronics.   What steps should the federal government take to ensure the quality and availability of critical natural resources?
14. Vaccination and Public Health. Vaccination campaigns against preventable diseases such as measles, polio and whooping cough depend on widespread participation to be effective, but in some communities vaccination rates have fallen off sharply. What actions would you support to enforce vaccinations in the interest of public health, and in what circumstances should exemptions be allowed?

What Do Obama and Romney Know about Science? And Why It Matters

Scientific American is partnering with the folks at ScienceDebate.org and more than a dozen leading science and engineering organizations to try to inject more discussion about critical science issues into the U.S. presidential election campaign this year. As part of that effort, we will be asking the two main presidential candidates—Barack Obama and Mitt Romney—to respond to 14 questions (listed below) on some of the biggest scientific and technological challenges facing the U.S. in the near future. 

Why is Scientific American taking this step? If you look beyond the made-up controversies that seem to dominate political discussion these days to the real issues—the real challenges, threats and opportunities that the U.S. faces today, tomorrow and for the rest of the century—you’ll find that most of them require a better grasp of some key scientific question or research field. Sometimes the link is obvious—as with global climate change. Other times it becomes clear only upon reflection—as with creating new avenues of economic innovation (just what do you think has fueled a substantial amount of the growth in the US economy for the past sixty years?)

As a starting point, more than a dozen scientific and engineering organizations—ranging from the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) to the Union of Concerned Scientists—have come up with what they see as the top science questions facing the US in 2012. The questions are now being sent to the presidential campaigns. In addition, Scientific American will contact key leaders in Congress who play major roles in determining how scientific knowledge is translated into policy with a subset of these questions that are most applicable to the legislative branch of government for their response.

1. Innovation and the Economy. Science and technology have been responsible for over half of the growth of the U.S. economy since WWII, when the federal government first prioritized peacetime science mobilization. But several recent reports question America’s continued leadership in these vital areas. What policies will best ensure that America remains a world leader in innovation?

2. Climate Change. The Earth’s climate is changing and there is concern about the potentially adverse effects of these changes on life on the planet. What is your position on cap-and-trade, carbon taxes, and other policies proposed to address global climate change—and what steps can we take to improve our ability to tackle challenges like climate change that cross national boundaries?

3. Research and the Future. Federally funded research has helped to produce America’s major postwar economies and to ensure our national security, but today the UK, Singapore, China, and Korea are making competitive investments in research.  Given that the next Congress will face spending constraints, what priority would you give to investment in research in your upcoming budgets?

4. Pandemics and Biosecurity. Recent experiments show how Avian flu may become transmissible among mammals. In an era of constant and rapid international travel, what steps should the United States take to protect our population from emerging diseases, global pandemics and/or deliberate biological attacks?

5. Education. Increasingly, the global economy is driven by science, technology, engineering and math, but a recent comparison of 15-year-olds in 65 countries found that average science scores among U.S. students ranked 23rd, while average U.S. math scores ranked 31st.  In your view, why have American students fallen behind over the last three decades, and what role should the federal government play to better prepare students of all ages for the science and technology-driven global economy?

6. Energy. Many policymakers and scientists say energy security and sustainability are major problems facing the United States this century. What policies would you support to meet the demand for energy while ensuring an economically and environmentally sustainable future?

7. Food. Thanks to science and technology, the United States has the world’s most productive and diverse agricultural sector, yet many Americans are increasingly concerned about the health and safety of our food.  The use of hormones, antibiotics and pesticides, as well as animal diseases and even terrorism pose risks.  What steps would you take to ensure the health, safety and productivity of America’s food supply?

8. Fresh Water. Less than one percent of the world’s water is liquid fresh water, and scientific studies suggest that a majority of U.S. and global fresh water is now at risk because of increasing consumption, evaporation and pollution.  What steps, if any, should the federal government take to secure clean, abundant fresh water for all Americans?

9. The Internet. The Internet plays a central role in both our economy and our society.  What role, if any, should the federal government play in managing the Internet to ensure its robust social, scientific, and economic role?

10. Ocean Health. Scientists estimate that 75 percent of the world’s fisheries are in serious decline, habitats like coral reefs are threatened, and large areas of ocean and coastlines are polluted. What role should the federal government play domestically and through foreign policy to protect the environmental health and economic vitality of the oceans?

11. Science in Public Policy. We live in an era when science and technology affect every aspect of life and society, and so must be included in well-informed public policy decisions.  How will you ensure that policy and regulatory decisions are fully informed by the best available scientific and technical information, and that the public is able to evaluate the basis of these policy decisions?

12. Space. The United States is currently in a major discussion over our national goals in space.  What should America’s space exploration and utilization goals be in the 21st century and what steps should the government take to help achieve them?

13. Critical Natural Resources. Supply shortages of natural resources affect economic growth, quality of life, and national security; for example, China currently produces 97% of rare earth elements needed for advanced electronics.   What steps should the federal government take to ensure the quality and availability of critical natural resources?

14. Vaccination and Public Health. Vaccination campaigns against preventable diseases such as measles, polio and whooping cough depend on widespread participation to be effective, but in some communities vaccination rates have fallen off sharply. What actions would you support to enforce vaccinations in the interest of public health, and in what circumstances should exemptions be allowed?

(Source: blogs.scientificamerican.com)