četrtek, 20. november 2014

Nazorne animacije gibanja izpustov CO2 v atmosferi

NASA je pravkar objavila zelo nazorne računalniške modele gibanja izpustov CO2 za celoten planet.

An ultra-high-resolution NASA computer model has given scientists a stunning new look at how carbon dioxide in the atmosphere travels around the globe. Plumes of carbon dioxide in the simulation swirl and shift as winds disperse the greenhouse gas away from its sources. The simulation also illustrates differences in carbon dioxide levels in the northern and southern hemispheres and distinct swings in global carbon dioxide concentrations as the growth cycle of plants and trees changes with the seasons. ...

“While the presence of carbon dioxide has dramatic global consequences, it’s fascinating to see how local emission sources and weather systems produce gradients of its concentration on a very regional scale,” said Bill Putman, lead scientist on the project from NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. “Simulations like this, combined with data from observations, will help improve our understanding of both human emissions of carbon dioxide and natural fluxes across the globe.” ...

In particular, the visualization is part of a simulation called a “Nature Run.” The Nature Run ingests real data on atmospheric conditions and the emission of greenhouse gases and both natural and man-made particulates. The model is then is left to run on its own and simulate the natural behavior of the Earth’s atmosphere. This Nature Run simulates May 2005 to June 2007. ...

In the spring of 2014, for the first time in modern history, atmospheric carbon dioxide – the key driver of global warming – exceeded 400 parts per million across most of the northern hemisphere. Prior to the Industrial Revolution, carbon dioxide concentrations were about 270 parts per million. Concentrations of the greenhouse gas in the atmosphere continue to increase, driven primarily by the burning of fossil fuels. (Vir: NASA Computer Model Provides a New Portrait of Carbon Dioxide)

petek, 14. november 2014

Anonimka univerzitetnega žvižgača

Pravkar sem po mailu prejel anonimko, ki se mi zdi vredna objave in diskusije na blogu, zato jo navajam v celoti.
Pozdravljeni.

Spodnje sporočilo vam pošiljam, ker mi je mar do tega kaj se dogaja v svetu znanosti in razskovanja. Prosim vzemite si čas da ga preberete in sami preverite dejstva. Anonimno ga pošiljam, ker sem tudi sam del raziskovalnega sveta, pa se ne želim izpostavljati, kot tudi ne posameznikov, saj lahko ima to neprijetne posledice na mojo nadaljnjo kariero in delo. Sporočilo je poslano na več naslovov z upanjem, da neodvisno preverite navedbe in ga preverjenega posredujete javnosti.

Vsi vemo, da v slovenski znanosti že kar dosti časa ni veliko denarja zaradi rezov na veliko področjih. Po drugi strani smo raziskovalci prisiljeni v sistem masovnega produciranja znanstvenih objav z razlogom daljšanja spiska referenc na podlagi katerih se nato izračunavajo raziskovalne točke. Več točk kot imaš več veljaš in posledično imaš na razpisih večje možnosti za pridobitev novih in novih projektov.

Do neke mere je stvar povsem poštena. S trdnim delom si prislužiš nove raziskovalne točke s čimer izkazuješ, da dobro delaš in si s tem zaslužiš tudi nadaljnje financiranje svojega raziskovalnega dela. Lepo in prav, a mlajši raziskovalci, ki svojo raziskovalno pot šele dobro začenjajo na ta način zelo težko pridejo do financiranja. Realno nekaj olajšav za mlajše raziskovalce je, a je stopnička za njih kljub vsemu neprimerno višja kot za ustaljene raziskovalce, ki s svojo ekipo točke nabirajo že več desetletij. To je zelo slabo predvsem, ko si na določenem področju pionir in se tako nimaš možnosti priključiti že uveljavljeni raziskovalni skupini kar posledično pomeni majhne možnosti za pridobitev financiranja.

Kljub temu, pa se predvsem zadnje čase najde tudi v takšnem sistemu luknja. In prav takšno luknjo nekateri s pridom izkoriščajo. Raziskovalne točke so sestavljene iz treh delov A1, A2 in A3. Prvi dve skupini točk dejansko predstavljata znanstvene dosežke skozi objave, tretja skupina točk A3 pa predstavlja oceno sestavljeno na podlagi pridobljenih sredstev iz pogodb z gospodarstvom, mednarodnih projektov, drugih ministrstev, drugih virov in drugih gospodarskih sredstev.

In prav to zadnjo skupino so začeli nekateri na veliko izkoriščati in to na zelo neprimerne načine. Marsikateri zaposleni raziskovalec (pa naj si bodo to visokošilski učitelji ali svetniki) imajo poleg svojega rednega dela na matični inštituciji tudi lastno podjetje ali pa izredno dobro navezavo s podjetji prijateljev in znancev. Tako se nemalokdaj zgodi, da ta podjetja pri raziskovalni skupini naročijo delo, ki pa sploh ni nujno raziskovalno, ampak je lahko skoraj poljubne narave. Vse to se seveda odraža kot pridobivanje sredstev iz drugih virov, kar se upošteva pri izračunu točk A3, ki predstavljajo do 10 točk pri končni oceni. Prav nič ne bi bilo narobe v kolikor bi bilo to delo res raziskovalno, pa dostikrat ni.

Apetiti posameznikov pa se tukaj ne ustavijo. Kot nagrado za uspešno vpeljane projekte in doprinos dodatnih sredstev na raziskovalne inštitucije si posamezniki izplačujejo zelo lepa darila. Vsa izplačila teh nagrad so do nedavnega potekala preko avtorskih honorarjev, kar je bila zelo tiha in skrita možnost izplačevanja dodatnih sredstev. Zaradi spremembe zakona in posledično dodatne obdavčenosti avtorskih honorarjev ter res velike pohlepnosti pa so posamezniki začeli ustanavljati lastne s.p.-je (samostojni podjetniki) v okviru katerih izdajajo račune inštitucijam kjer so zaposleni. Tega pa se zaradi uvedbe Supervizorja ne da več enostavno prikriti.

Tako lahko zelo hitro ugotovimo kje do takšnih primerov prihaja tako da v Supervizorju pregledamo mesečne odlive raziskovalnih inštitucij. Razvidno je tudi, da so posamezniki za takšno delovanje prav lepo nagrajeni. Naj omenim še dejstvo, da so to večinoma ljudje na višjih položajih, ki poleg svoje osnovne plače, ki ni ravno slaba, dobijo še lepe dodatke.

Nemalo kdaj, se dejansko zgodi tudi to, da podjetje pri inštituciji naroči izvedbo nekega projekta, inštitucija zaposli nove "raziskovalce", ki bodo na tem projektu delali, a se na inštituciji nikoli ne pojavijo, saj svoje delovne obveznosti opravljajo neposredno kar v podjetju, ki je izvedbo projekta naročilo.

Najhujše pri vsem tem pa je zame dejstvo, da z denarjem, ki v osnovi ni bil porabljen za raziskovalno delo, ne le nagradijo sebe, ampak si s tem tudi povečajo možnosti za črpanje denarja namenjenega izključno za raziskovalne namene, kot so razpisi za raziskovalne projekte, hkrati pa si tudi povečajo možnost povečanja svoje ekipe s kandidiranjem za mesta mladih raziskovalcev.

To dejstvo nakazuje, da za to, da si dober raziskovalec, ni ravno nujno raziskovati, če sem ne prištevamo ravno iskanja lukenj v pravilih in postopkih.

Univerzitetni Žvižgač <univerzitetni.zvizgac@gmail.com>

četrtek, 13. november 2014

Juncker pravkar ukinil funkcijo "glavnega znanstvenega svetovalca predsednika komisije"

Kot poroča Guardian je Evropska komisija v trenutku, ko je cel svet proslavljal velik uspeh evropske znanosti, ki ji je uspelo s sondo pristati na kometu (Rosetta), ukinila funkcijo Chief Scientific Advisor to the President of the European Commission.
Za ukinitev so se zavzemali Greenpeace in podobni "zeleni lobisti", ker jim niso bila všeč stališča trenutne svetovalke predsednika Anne Glover glede GSO-jev. Takole so zapisali v pozivu Junkerju:
"To the media, the current CSA presented one-sided, partial opinions in the debate on the use of genetically modified organisms in agriculture, repeatedly claiming that there was a scientific consensus about their safety..." (pismo Junkerju pdf).

Na obtožbe glede domnevne pristranskosti svetovalke so se z več peticijami odzvale znanstvene inštitucije in strokovnjaki, ki so zavrnili obtožbe:
"As organisations and individuals who share a commitment to improving the evidence available to policy makers, we cannot stress strongly enough our objection to any attempt to undermine the integrity and independence of scientific advice received at the highest level of the European Commission. ...
We note that the nine NGOs are opposing not just this position in general but specifically because they disagree with Professor Glover's advice on genetically modified crops and organisms. Professor Glover’s advice can only be based on the conclusions of leading scientific bodies, which is - in the words of a recent European Commission report, that "GMOs are no more risky than conventional plant breeding technologies". This fundamental conclusion is reiterated by, among others, the scientific academies of Africa, Europe and elsewhere, the World Health Organisation and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. ...
Policy makers or lobbyists who seek to remove scientists because they don’t like their findings or advice do so at the peril of their citizens." (Scientific scrutiny in Europe is essential · Sense about Science)
Tule navajam še nekaj zaključkov pravkar opravljene metaanaliza vpliva GSO-jev v znanstveni reviji PLOS ONE:
Results: On average, GM technology adoption has reduced chemical pesticide use by 37%, increased crop yields by 22%, and increased farmer profits by 68%. Yield gains and pesticide reductions are larger for insect-resistant crops than for herbicide-tolerant crops. Yield and profit gains are higher in developing countries than in developed countries.
Conclusion: The meta-analysis reveals robust evidence of GM crop benefits for farmers in developed and developing countries. Such evidence may help to gradually increase public trust in this technology. (PLOS ONE: A Meta-Analysis of the Impacts of Genetically Modified Crops)
Odzivi: Expert reaction to news about abolition of post of CSA to European Commission | Science Media Centre

ponedeljek, 10. november 2014

Einstein tudi v slovenščini

Kolega Matjaž Ličer je pravkar prevedel knjigo Alberta Einsteina "O posebni in splošni teoriji relativnosti" (Teorija relativnosti | Založba ZRC). V sredo 12. november 2014 ob 19:00 bo v Atriju ZRC, Novi trg 2 predstavitev knjige, ki jo bo spremljalo nekaj zanimivih predavanj.
O Einsteinovem delu, o razvoju teorije relativnosti v 20. stoletju, ter o recepciji teorije relativnosti danes bosta na poljuden način spregovorila profesorja Fakultete za matematiko in fiziko UL prof. dr. Janez Strnad ter prof. dr. Andrej Čadež. Prof. Strnad bo imel predavanje z naslovom K posebni teoriji relativnosti, prof. Čadež pa predavanje z naslovom Teorija gravitacije po sto letih. Prispevkoma bo sledil pogovor z občinstvom. Moderiral bo Matjaž Ličer. (Albert Einstein in teorija relativnosti: 100 let kasneje)

sobota, 08. november 2014

Medzvezdje (Interstellar, 2014)

Novi film bratov Nolan Medzvezdje (Interstellar, 2014) je odličen! Sploh, če ste kdaj prebrali kako knjigo o črnih luknjah in teoriji relativnosti. Takole se sodelovanja pri snemanju spominja znanstveni svetovalec scenarista in režiserja Kip Thorn, strokovnjak za črne in črvje luknje, v intervjuju za revijo Nature (pri Kvarkadabri smo o njegovih teorijah pisali že davnega leta 1999 v sestavku: O črvjih luknjah in časovnih strojih):
"Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway came to me for in-depth discussions — they were trying to wrap their heads around the science. Michael Caine asked to have his photograph taken with me, and my jaw dropped. He told me his character was based on me and he wanted to talk about how a theoretical physicist thinks. Jessica Chastain asked for help with quantum equations." (Q&A: Space-time visionary : Nature)
Daljši tekst o znanosti v filmu so pred nekaj dnevi objavili tudi pri reviji Wired How Building a Black Hole for Interstellar Led to an Amazing Scientific Discovery:
Nolan's story relied on time dilation: time passing at different rates for different characters. To make this scientifically plausible, Thorne told him, he'd need a massive black hole—in the movie it's called Gargantua—spinning at nearly the speed of light. As a filmmaker, Nolan had no idea how to make something like that look realistic. But he had an idea how to make it happen. ...
So he asked Thorne to generate equations that would guide their effects software the way physics governs the real world. They started with wormholes. ... “But ray-tracing software makes the generally reasonable assumption that light is traveling along straight paths,” says Eugénie von Tunzelmann, a CG supervisor at Double Negative. This was a whole other kind of physics. “We had to write a completely new renderer,” she says. ...
Still, no one knew exactly what a black hole would look like until they actually built one. Light, temporarily trapped around the black hole, produced an unexpectedly complex fingerprint pattern near the black hole's shadow. And the glowing accretion disk appeared above the black hole, below the black hole, and in front of it. “I never expected that,” Thorne says. “Eugénie just did the simulations and said, ‘Hey, this is what I got.’ It was just amazing.”
In the end, Nolan got elegant images that advance the story. Thorne got a movie that teaches a mass audience some real, accurate science. But he also got something he didn't expect: a scientific discovery. “This is our observational data,” he says of the movie's visualizations. “That's the way nature behaves. Period.” Thorne says he can get at least two published articles out of it.
Pravkar pa je izšla tudi knjiga The Science of Interstellar, v kateri Kip Thorne podrobno pojasni znanstveno ozadje filma.

torek, 04. november 2014

CERN dobil prvo generalno direktorico

Naslednji generalni direktor CERNa bo Fabiola Gianotti.
Dr Gianotti was leader of the ATLAS experiment collaboration from March 2009 to February 2013, covering the period in which the LHC experiments ATLAS and CMS announced the long-awaited discovery of the so-called Higgs boson, recognised by the award of the Nobel Prize to François Englert and Peter Higgs in 2013. She is a member of many international committees, and has received many prestigious awards. She will be the first woman to hold the position of CERN Director-General.

nedelja, 02. november 2014

Slovenija in EU Teaming

Iz zapisa na ScienceInsider:
A program designed to boost investments in the scientific infrastructure of Europe's lagging regions by pairing them with elite institutes elsewhere on the continent has proved unexpectedly popular. The European Commission has received 169 scientific business plans for the scheme, dubbed Teaming, and may be able to advance only 16% of the proposals to the next round of the competition. The commission will start reviewing the proposals in Brussels next week. 
....Slovenia, for instance, will model the governance of the institutes proposed in its plan on German and other foreign research centers, says Urban Krajcar, the director-general for science at the country's Ministry of Education, Science and Sport. The country has also promised to double any Horizon 2020 Teaming funds with money from the so-called European Structural and Investment Funds for regional development, he says. (The funds—worth some €352 billion between 2014 and 2020—are typically used for other types of infrastructure, such as roads and bridges; the commission's hope is that the Teaming call will shift part of them to scientific infrastructure.) 
Among Slovenia's proposals is a nanoscale sensor research center, a center for vaccine production and biotherapeutic technology, and a plan to upgrade an existing biomedical engineering Center of Excellence. “It would be a great honor for Slovenia to have one” of the winning applications, Krajcar says. 
The commission will announce about 27 first-stage winners in February 2015; the list will be further winnowed down to perhaps six pilot Teaming centers by 2016. Horizon 2020 foresees another Teaming call beginning in 2018, but given the demand for this first round, the authors of the internal document propose adding an extra cycle in 2017 if the commission can find the funds.