Posted at 8:00 AM on July 28, 2010
by Elliot deBruyn
1) On Thursday, Arizona's controversial immigration bill will go into effect, making it legal for police officers to ask people questions regarding their citizenship status based on appearances and circumstances. Many opposed to the law plan to demonstrate; some protests could throw a huge wrench in the state's detention machine and daily life:
Arizona's new immigration law takes effect Thursday, creating a potentially volatile mix of law enforcement, illegal immigrants and thousands of activists, many planning to show up without identification as a show of solidarity.
Along with the adoption of the new laws within Arizona, people all over the country are looking at themselves and how they feel about the law. Despite all of the protest, the majority of people polled by CNN agree with the new legislature.
Fifty-five percent of people questioned in the poll say they favor the measure, with four in 10 saying they oppose the law. Thirty-four percent of white respondents oppose the measure, but among Hispanics, that number jumps to 71 percent.
Rage Against the Machine, however, does not agree:
We will see tomorrow how full the detention centers get, how many people carpooling to work get asked if they are illegal immigrants, and whether state officials can get into their offices. We've got our eye on this one...
(via the New York Times, CNN, and the Pioneer Press)
2) After 100 days of oil spilling out into the Gulf of Mexico following the deadly explosion of the off-shore oil rig, Deepwater Horizon, CNN has put together a great summary segment:
At this fork in the road, after BP has announced Tony Hayward will be replaced by American Robert Dudley and that it has set aside $30 billion for the financial recovery effort, the oil giant needs to start thinking about the future.
(via CNN and the New York Times)
3) A cool idea from Gawker blog Lifehacker if you want a fire pit in your backyard and just so happen to own an old washing machine... just as a quick break from the heavy stuff above.
4) Scientists in Illinois have announced that the list of suspects is narrowing quickly in the search for the God particle, or the Higgs boson.
Although they have technically been looking for the infamous building-block of life for years (and have gone through millions of dollars of repairs on the large hadron collider), this news is extremely exciting because, well, they're closer to finding out what everything is made of.
But the large hadron collider needs to deal with it's long, LONG list of problems before it can compete with the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory.
The first experiments with the collider were delayed by over a year when an explosion vaporized an electrical connection and spewed tons of helium underneath the Swiss-French countryside in the fall of 2008.
Because of the defective joints and some mysteriously underperforming magnets, it will still be three years at least before CERN's collider runs at or near full strength.
Here we go, science!
5) And finally, a video of lots of alligators. Lots.
Posted at 11:30 AM on July 28, 2010
by Eric Ringham
"I am not afraid of quitting. I will tell you my name. I am Dymovsky, Aleksei Aleksandrovich."
A New York Times story recounts the adventures of Aleksei Dymovsky, a Russian police major who blew the whistle on corruption in a big way. The story compares him to Frank Serpico, the corruption-fighting New York police officer who became a household name courtesy of Hollywood, where he was portrayed by Al Pacino. Dymovsky, on the other hand, has become a household name (in Russia) courtesy of YouTube, where he portrayed himself:
Just imagine how compelling his story would be if it were told with the help of a famous actor, as Serpico's was. Come to think of it, a movie treatment already exists. Many of the themes in Dymovsky's story will be familiar to fans of Arkady Renko, the police-major protagonist in the novels of Martin Cruz Smith. One of those novels, "Gorky Park," was made into a movie starring William Hurt. It also features this other guy, who went on to become a famous action figure.
A world without mosquitoes? Nature posits that wiping out the Minnesota state bird might not have horrible consequences for our fragile ecosystem as most biologists would maintain.
...in many cases, scientists acknowledge that the ecological scar left by a missing mosquito would heal quickly as the niche was filled by other organisms. Life would continue as before -- or even better. When it comes to the major disease vectors, "it's difficult to see what the downside would be to removal, except for collateral damage", says insect ecologist Steven Juliano, of Illinois State University in Normal. A world without mosquitoes would be "more secure for us", says medical entomologist Carlos Brisola Marcondes from the Federal University of Santa Catarina in Brazil.
News Cut talked with PZ Myers, a biologist at the University of Minnesota, Morris and proprietor of the science blog Pharyngula, about the Nature article.
Myers: It was a bizarre article because, for one thing, we simply cannot do this. We do not have the capability to eradicate entire species of insects, intentionally at least. And then, mosquitoes have tremendous impact all across the ecological spectrum. Wiping them out would have all kinds of unintended consequences.
@NewsCut: So in what ways are mosquitoes helpful?
Myers: Fishing for one, which I guess is kind of important in Minnesota, right? This is what fish live on, is aquatic insect larvae for the most part. We'd like to keep that going. They transfer materials from terrestrial species to aquatic forms, so they're essentially shuttling protein, chemical compounds, etc., across the ecosystem. In the most unpleasant way possible of course. But it's still a valuable function. In the arctic, caribou are being bled by clouds of mosquitoes sucking up 300 ml of blood from each animal every single day. Which is impressive. The caribou are are suffering but they're also taking their blood and transferring it to these insects and spreading it around to the ecosystem.
@NewsCut: If we were able to make mosquitoes go away, what happens?
Myers: We don't know what the consequences would be. One possibility is that other species would step in and fill the same role. And maybe these species would be better for us because they wouldn't be transferring diseases like malaria. On the other hand we don't know what species it would be, so it could be something genuinely awful. In Minnesota we have something called no-see-ems. What if they or biting black flies stepped in?
@NewsCut: So what can we do, short of wiping out mosquitoes?
Myers: There's been some interesting work in producing mosquitoes that don't carry the malaria parasite, and intentionally going out at replacing disease-spreading mosquitoes with this modified variant that doesn't carry malaria. That sounds a lot more productive to me.
@NewsCut: How much tampering can a species like this tolerate before we get unintended consequences?
Myers: What this may mean is you get mosquitoes that don't don't spread malaria but you get healthier mosquitoes that do more biting. There's nothing we can do that wouldn't have unintended consequences. Biology is a tangled snarl. Everything you do affects everything else.
@NewsCut: As a biologist, when you get attacked by a cloud of mosquitoes, do you think about them differently than the rest of us?
Myers: No. I hate them. They're a real pain in the butt.(2 Comments)