Some types of scientists better at sharing
Some scientists share better than others. While astronomers and geneticists embrace the concept, the culture of ecologists still has a ways to go.
Research by Michigan State University, published in the current issue of Bioscience, explores the paradox that although ecologists share findings via scientific journals, they do not share the data on which the studies are built, said Patricia Soranno, co-author of the paper.
“One reason for not sharing data is the fear of being scooped by another scientist; but if all data are available, then everyone is on the same playing field, there are more people to collaborate with, and you will have a bigger impact on science,” Soranno said. “Think of the advances being made in genomics, for example, due to the human genome project and the free-flowing findings and data. Genomics is advancing at an unprecedented rate, and it’s having an impact on many other fields as well.” msutoday.msu.edu
Meteor shower returns in mid-November
We’re rolling around to Leonid meteor season.
The Leonids are associated with Comet Tempel-Tuttle. As that comet revolves around the sun every 33 years, it gives off gases and dust particles because of the heat of the sun. While the gases eventually disperse throughout space, the dust particles remain as a trail of debris long after the comet has gone on to the cold outer regions of the solar system. Since Earth encounters this debris trail at the same point in space each time our planet makes its annual revolution around the sun, we observe the Leonids on the same date each year: around Nov. 17-18.
According to astronomers at the Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute, in Rosman, in southwest North Carolina, the Leonids are predicted to reach a peak of about 20 meteors per hour at 6 p.m. Nov. 17. The best time to observe this year’s Leonids will be in the predawn hours of Nov. 18. As with all meteor showers, the Leonids are best observed between midnight and dawn from a clear, dark location with a good horizon. The Leonids have been known to produce spectacular showers but no such “meteor storm” has been predicted for 2014. pari.edu
Waste from whisky distilleries retooled into fuel
Celtic Renewables, a startup in Scotland, is working to turn the dregs of whisky-making into fuel using a process based on a century-old fermentation technique. The company is working to commercialize this, according to an article in Chemical & Engineering News, the weekly news magazine of the American Chemical Society.
Ann Thayer, a senior correspondent with C&EN, points out that making whisky requires three ingredients: water, yeast and a grain, primarily barley. But only 10 percent of the output is whisky, and the rest is waste. Each year, the industry produces 500,000 metric tons of residual solids, called draff, and 1.6 billion liters of a yeasty liquid known as pot ale. These byproducts are usually spread on agricultural lands, turned into low-grade animal feed or discharged into the sea.
Rather than inefficiently reusing these materials or letting them go to waste, Celtic Renewables has fine-tuned an old industrial process – developed to turn molasses and other sugars into chemicals – to convert draff and pot ale into acetone, 1-butanol and ethanol. The latter two can be used as fuel. acs.org