Interesting Science Stuff

4Q Basket Case

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This is for the board’s wine geeks. No link because it was a conversation I had with a winemaker who was an early Microsoft employee (that’s how he got the money to quit MS and make wine).

We were talking about climate change, how it affects his vineyard, and how he goes about combatting its effects on his wine.

First, a bit of geeky background: The problem with warm temps is that it makes the grapes convert acid to sugar too fast and too much. Means the final wine doesn’t have enough acidity, is kind of flabby, has no structure and has too much alcohol. The acceleration of the ripening process also shortens the time the grapes spend on the vine. That in turn prevents some of the late-developing flavor compounds and tannins from maturing sufficiently. Which can make a bland wine with green flavors — not what you want.

So how do you slow the ripening process to a rate that would take place at cooler temps? You manipulate the leaves on the vine — also called “canopy management.”

For centuries, winemakers have used canopy management for a lot of other purposes. Just a couple are: Let the leaves grow to provide shade for the grapes and prevent them from getting sunburned — heavily used in sunny areas like Mendoza in Argentina. Or thin out the leaves to allow greater airflow to prevent fungal diseases in humid climates — heavily used in Bordeaux, especially on the left bank. That’s just two applications; there are lots of others.

This particular vineyard is in the Willamette Valley in Oregon. That’s important because, being in the rain shadow of the Coastal Mountain Range, is a lot sunnier than you might picture for Oregon.

Think of leaves as solar panels for the grapes. They take in solar radiation and heat, and put out energy for the grapes to ripen. So how do you slow the acceleration of the ripening process caused by a warmer climate? You reduce the number of solar panels / leaves — you cut back the canopy.

Now, in the Willamette Valley, you’re dealing with a lot of sunshine, and you need shade to keep the grapes from getting sunburned. So how do you cut back on the leaves, but keep the grapes shaded?

You let the lower leaves (the ones nearest the grapes) grow and provide shade, but cut back the higher ones that don’t provide much shade anyway.

Problem solved. Or, at least mitigated for a while.

I thought this was a fascinating solution combining some pretty scientific knowledge of how plants work with a low-tech method of making the plant do what you want it to do.
 
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Bamaro

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Nuclear fusion breakthrough with world-first ‘super’ magnet

A UK firm has announced a world-first set of “super” magnets that can be used for testing nuclear fusion power plants.

Tokamak Energy said the Demo4 magnet has a magnetic field strength that is nearly a million times stronger than the Earth’s magnetic field, making it capable of confining and controlling the extremely hot plasma created during the fusion process.

Nuclear fusion has been hailed as the “holy grail” of clean energy, with scientists working on the technology since the 1950s.

The process involves mimicking the natural reactions that occur within the Sun, providing near-limitless energy without requiring fossil fuels and without producing hazardous waste.

Tokamak Energy is aiming to be the first private company to produce commercial fusion energy, with the goal of demonstrating grid-ready fusion in the early 2030s.

“This is a huge, visible moment that we’re really excited about,” said Dr Rod Bateman from Tokamak Energy.

Last year, scientists from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) in California became the first to achieve a net energy gain using nuclear fusion power.
Nuclear fusion breakthrough with world-first ‘super’ magnet (msn.com)
 

UAH

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Prehistoric whale skull discovered in Peruvian desert

Paleontological researcher Aldo Benites-Palomino says the skull of a prehistoric sperm whale found in Peru's Ocucaje desert is the 'best-preserved skull' of its type in the world. The skull is believed to be about seven million years old.

CBC
 

NationalTitles18

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The first report last November targeted dilated cardiomyopathy in a mouse model that was created with homozygous (2 copies) of RNA binding protein 20 (RBM20) mutations, and led to rescue of heart function. Then in January 2023 a second paper targeted the calmodulin-dependent protein kinase (CAMKIIδ) gene, a key driver of heart disease, and demonstrated that editing could prevent heart damage damage in mice subjected to limiting and restoring heart blood supply. This week the same lab published the potential of curing hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is a humanized mouse model. Independently, this week the Seidman lab at Harvard also published the ability to prevent HCM in a mouse model. How has this remarkable and accelerated progress been made possible?

But the bottom line: watch this space. It is taking off much faster and broader than anticipated. What took 10 years to get to this point may be greatly compressed in the next few years. We’ve already seen clinical trials begin with targeting the PCSK9 gene in the liver to achieve very low LDL cholesterol to prevent heart disease, atherosclerosis, and heart attacks. That’s an easier target than going into the heart itself. But we’re on the cusp of being able to do that in the future, no less many other organs and tissues throughout the body. It’s scientifically enthralling and may (likely someday) offer cures for what previously were incurable conditions.
 

NationalTitles18

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oskie

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Thank you @NationalTitles18 for posting this.

I was just introduced to the James Webb Space Telescope about a month or so ago, in a presentation by one of my co-workers, who has a great interest in this and it's correlation to the biblical view of creation. Fascinating to me, to say the least.

My co-workers daughter is in school studying Cosmology and works at the Space Center in Huntsville. Her dad teases her by calling it a Webb Cam.

Up until now, I only knew Jimmy Webb for accusing someone of leaving a cake out in the rain :p
 

Bamaro

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This record-setting, hydrogen-fueled plane promises to change air travel forever: ‘Today will go down in the history books’
n January of this year, the company ZeroAvia announced that its 19-seater jet had completed a flight using nothing but green hydrogen — a fuel that produces no harmful carbon pollution and is made with clean energy.
At that time, the flight was the largest ever for an aircraft powered only by a hydrogen-electric engine. But about a month and a half later, on March 2, the aerospace company Universal Hydrogen completed an even larger test flight.
This record-setting, hydrogen-fueled plane promises to change air travel forever: ‘Today will go down in the history books’ (msn.com)
 

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