Tag Archives: Climate

Sciobeantown At the New England Aquarium

The Aquarium at night, courtesy of my cell phone.

The Aquarium at night, courtesy of my cell phone.

Last night I posed a question to a few sciobeantown folks asking what was their “gateway science” – the topic that got them interested in science in general, the thing that hooked them. It seemed to me that the most common answers were either space or had something to do with animals, whether on land or at sea. This got me thinking about how if animals are the gateway, then zoos and aquariums are really the gatekeepers – the ones with the ability to open up a whole world of science.

This is a fairly fitting observation, since sciobeantown had just left the New England Aquarium when this conversation took place. I quite unabashedly love the aquarium, and its affiliated IMAX theater; it is where I spent my 25th birthday, because I am a grown up. The reason sciobeantown decided to take it to the Aquarium for our October event was because we wanted to give our group a little taste of ScioOceans, a conference going on in Miami geared toward communicating online about, what else, ocean science.

The Aquarium recently reopened several exhibits after being under construction (the penguins are back!) Additionally, they moved their public lectures out of their classroom space and into the IMAX theater – because power points are more acceptable when they are epic IMAX power points. We attended their most popular event of the year the John Carlson Lecture presented by MIT’s Lorenz Center. The topic for this talk was Sea Ice, Climate and Observational Mathematics and was given by John Wettlaufer a professor at Yale and Oxford.

Lectures are so much better in IMAX!

Lectures are so much better in IMAX!

I was fairly impressed by the turn out, it seemed to me that there was a real range of people, from students to retirees who seemed interested and engaged. Like all things, the talk had some positive and negative things. I loved that Wettlaufer took the time to explain what it means to be a scientist, and how science is so many different things all adding their own value. I also loved that he addressed uncertainty and spoke a bit about the perception of science. I felt like he went into a little too much detail about his research itself – by all means, show us what you do, but the screen of equations at a public talk was a little much for me.

Overall I thought it was a great experience, and I’m glad we were able to attend and bring our livetweeting skills. I’ve put together a storify of our tweets in case you’d like to know more about exactly what was covered in the talk. Special thanks to the New England Aquarium for having us, I’m looking forward to coming back to check out the new exhibits! Also, if you are interested you can follow the Aquarium on twitter @neaq and follow along with @ScioOceans #ScioOceans.

This Is Not Polite Dinner Conversation

Francis and I have been having the most ridiculous conversations over dinner. Apparently we both favor talking about the things you aren’t supposed to talk about like religion, abortion, politics, and even global warming. I guess we are just getting a feel for each other and what we think and believe. Although I have a tendency to provide my opinions about these topics freely, which I suppose thats why getting my own voice out of my reporting was a challenge for me when I first started writing.

But on the topic of global warming, she made a fairly decent argument for why she doesn’t believe in global warming specifically (she does believe in climate change) based on the geologic record of cooling and warming trends, but she is a geologist after all. On the opposing side, I think I also made a good argument in favor of global warming and climate change. In the end it was a respectful parting of opinions, which when you share a small apartment is probably best.

This article in the New York Times reminded me of our global warming conversation, because I think it is another scientific finding that provides evidence in favor of global warming. Extreme heat bleaches coral, and threat is seen by Justin Gillis reports on the mass death of coral reefs due to high water temperatures.

According to the article, with the rising temperatures the coral are far more sensitive, so any other slight disturbance in their environment can send them right over the edge, causing them to lose their color killing the organisms that rely of them. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) scientists believe that 2010 will rival 1998 as the hottest year on record, and probably the most damaging to coral. Not that you can just accept everything NOAA says, but I do think that the article presents a concise and logical argument in favor of a warming trend and its negative affects of coral reefs.