• Countdown for 12/12/11

    The Countdown for Monday 12/11/11

    4. New global climate deal is a mixed bag but a step in the right direction. The United Nations climate change conference in Durban South Africa concluded on Friday Dec. 10th, reaching a deal that is significant for its inclusiveness (194 countries signed on) but also rather toothless. The agreement extends the Kyoto Protocol for several years, but includes no binding commitments for reductions of greenhouse gasses. Given the current global economic climate it may be the best that could have been achieved. The fact is, we are a global species

  • Farewell to a Brilliant Earth Mother

    Farewell to a Brilliant Earth Mother

    I’m sitting here in a surf café in Cocoa Beach Florida, taking a break from briefings for the impending launch of the Curiosity Mars rover and trying to wrap my head around the news of the sudden death of Lynn Margulis. I wish I had more time to gather these thoughts, but I’m trying to write this before my laptop runs out of juice and goes dark. All around me videos of youthful surfers endlessly riding perfect walls of water are cleverly looped so that they never hit the beach. But though

  • News Flash: Venus is NOT Duller than Dirt!

    A news story showcasing new observations of surprising changes in the upper atmosphere of Venus has been all over the place this week.

    I always like seeing my second favorite planet getting some media love.  The press release was nicely written, putting the new findings in the context of changing historical ideas about the Venusian atmosphere. But the headline (which is all that, oh I don’t know maybe 99 %? of readers ever see) really bugged me.  Widely blasted around the web, it read: “Venus Weather Not Boring After All, NASA/International Study Shows

    Now doesn’t this seem