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The world’s oldest astronomers: Scientists use ancient trees to look back on the history of our local cosmos

The world’s oldest astronomers: Scientists use ancient trees to look back on the history of our local cosmos | Science and Education | Scoop.it
Scientists in Japan use ancient trees to look back on the history of our local cosmos, and discover a mystery.

 

Since the invention of the telescope in the year 1608, mankind has collected information about our local cosmos. As it turns out, we’re not the only ones. Trees have been doing the same for millennia.

 

A group of physicists led by Nagoya University graduate student Fusa Miyake has begun using information stored in ancient Japanese cedars to gain the oldest firsthand accounts of the local universe. They have discovered, hidden within tree rings, clear evidence of some surprisingly high-energy events—possibly supernovae or solar flares—that occurred more than 1200 years ago.

 

On Japan’s Yakushima island, trees regularly live at least a thousand years, thriving under the tree equivalent of a low-carb diet in the form of a low-nutrition granite bedrock that encourages a slower pace of growth. Miyake and her team examined core samples from two trees on this small island. Back at Nagoya University, they studied the number and thickness of the tree’s rings not just to determine the age of the trees but also to gather information about the atmosphere they breathed.

 

When high-energy radiation from space enters Earth’s upper atmosphere, it interacts with naturally occurring atmospheric molecules to produce the isotope carbon-14. As trees are firmly plugged into the earth’s carbon cycle by photosynthesis, the carbon-14 ends up in each tree ring, creating an annual record etched into the flesh of the tree of the average carbon-14 level in Earth’s atmosphere.

 

Miyake and her colleagues had good reason to focus on the rings corresponding to 775 AD. A previous project called IntCal, which uses tree records of carbon-14 levels to calibrate carbon-14 dating, had seen a noticeable rise in carbon-14 levels toward the end of the 8th century.

The signal Miyake’s team found was far above anything seen in recent times, indicating that Earth had been bombarded by an extremely intense burst of radiation. The rings revealed that, over the course of one year, the atmospheric level of carbon-14 rose 1.2 percent: nearly 20 times the normal variation.

 

This massive flash of radiation could have been caused by a supernova; a gamma ray burst from a supremely rare galactic event such as a collision of two neutron stars; or a super solar flare at least 10 times the size of the largest observed flare.

 

Using their knowledge of earth sciences, biology and astronomy, Miyake’s team uncovered a smoking gun in a cosmological whodunit. Now all that remains is to identify who fired that gun.


Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
Abel Farias's insight:

You can find history in any object. Whenever archeologists look for new fossils they are looking for a something that tells them a story. In this article they talk about how tree rings explain how the environment was during the life of the tree. I would use this article in Chemistry class during the Carbon Dating unit. It shows how recent day scientist used carbon dating to make a new discovery

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RSA Animate - The Empathic Civilisation - YouTube

Bestselling author, political adviser and social and ethical prophet Jeremy Rifkin investigates the evolution of empathy and the profound ways that it has sh...
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The research he stated is a bit outdated. He stated research from like 2010. (I can look up the updated research if you guys would like just send me a message or email.) He also compared the Y-chromosomal Gene "Adam" to the bible getting it correct. However, the "Adam" Gene is not linked to one person.  I am not sure if he  was referring literally one person or metaphorically as in we are all linked together in some way, shape, or form. However his idea of empathy is spot on!! It's honestly an awesome way of looking at the world. 

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Can Red Wine Really Heal Cancer And Prolong Your Life?

Can Red Wine Really Heal Cancer And Prolong Your Life? | Science and Education | Scoop.it
Well, how much can you drink? (It better be a lot.)
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Geologizing with Doctor Who | History of Geology, Scientific American Blog Network

Geologizing with Doctor Who | History of Geology, Scientific American Blog Network | Science and Education | Scoop.it
November 23, 1963 the first episode of the British science-fiction television programme
Abel Farias's insight:

This is an interesting article for biology class to talk about the posiblity of new forms of life. This article would not be practical for any unit rather more for fun in a classroom. I think you can still help with the literacy by exposing students to articles like these in a classroom. What I would do is have this as an extra reading. It is fun and many students may have heard about doctor who, which makes it interesting. 

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The History of the Electric Telegraph - Science & Technology - Utne Reader

The History of the Electric Telegraph - Science & Technology - Utne Reader | Science and Education | Scoop.it
Communication as we now know it is a distant reminder of humble beginnings. The history of the electric telegraph is a twisted tale, and this is just the beginning.
Abel Farias's insight:

Communication! Whenever science advances there is also always an advancement of technology. This article is great for showing the advancement of Technology. The best use for this would be in a history class. I would recommend using this article during the unit of warfare advancements. Paul Revere had to run on a horse to communicate that the "british are coming". Today we have assess to communicate with troops that are halfway across the world within one second. 

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Ash on the fire: Why do dying stars accumulate iron?

Ash on the fire: Why do dying stars accumulate iron? | Science and Education | Scoop.it

Every now and again a physicist finds themselves in front of a camera and, either through over-enthusiasm or poor editing, is heard to say something that is “less nuanced” than they may have intended.  “Iron kills stars” is one of the classics.

 

Just to be clear, if you chuck a bunch of iron into a star, you’ll end up with a lot of vaporized iron that you’ll never get back.  The star itself will do just fine.  The Earth is about 1/3 iron (effectively all of that is in the core), but even if you tossed the entire Earth into the Sun, the most you’d do is upset Al Gore.

 

Stars are always in a balance between their own massive weight that tries to crush their cores, and the heat generated by fusion reactions in the core that pushes all that weight back out.  The more the core is crushed, the hotter and denser it gets, which increases the rate of fusion reactions (increases the cores rate of “explodingness”), which pushes the bulk of the Star away from the core again.  As long as there’s “fuel” in the core, and attempt to crush it will result in the core pushing back.

 

Young stars burn hydrogen, because hydrogen is the easiest element to fuse and also produces the biggest bang.  But hydrogen is the lightest element, which means that older stars end up with a bunch of heavier stuff, like carbon and oxygen and whatnot, cluttering up their cores.  But even that isn’t terribly bad news for the star.  Those new elements can also fuse and produce enough new energy to keep the core from being crushed.  The problem is, when heavier elements fuse they produce less energy than hydrogen did.  So more fuel is needed.  Generally speaking, the heavier the element, the less bang-for-the-buck.

 

Iron is where that slows to a stop.  Iron collecting in the core is like ash collecting in a fire.  It’s not that it somehow actively stops the process, but at the same time: it doesn’t help.  Throw wood on a fire, you get more fire.  Throw ash on a fire, you get hot ash.

 

So, iron doesn’t kill stars so much as it is a symptom of a star that’s about to be done.  Without fuel, the rest of the star is free to collapse the core without opposition, and generally it does.  When there’s a lot of iron being produced in the core, a star probably only has a few hours or seconds left to live.

 

Of course there are elements heavier than iron, and they can undergo fusion as well.  However, rather than producing energy, these elements require additional energy to be created (throwing liquid nitrogen on a fire, maybe?).  That extra energy (which is a lot) isn’t generally available until the outer layers of the star come crushing down on the core.  The energy of all that falling material drives the fusion rate of the remaining lighter elements way, way, way up (supernovas are super for a reason), and also helps power the creation of the elements that make our lives that much more interesting: gold, silver, uranium, lead, mercury, whatever.

 

There are more than a hundred known elements, and iron is only #26.  Basically, if it’s heavy, it’s from a supernova.  Long story short: iron doesn’t kill stars, but right before a (large) star dies, it is full of buckets of iron.

 


Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
Abel Farias's insight:

Think Astronomy class. Students are always wondering why stars shine or why they are in the sky. This article opens up another can of worms to intrigue students into further thinking. I would recommend this in a chemistry, physics or astronomy class. It provides information that you can piggy back off of what you would like to teach. For chemistry I would use it to explain properties of elements. 

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Phobias may be memories passed down in genes from ancestors - Telegraph

Phobias may be memories passed down in genes from ancestors - Telegraph | Science and Education | Scoop.it
Memories may be passed down through generations in DNA in a process that may be the underlying cause of phobias
Abel Farias's insight:

When we think of History we always look at the past. However, what we neglect to see is that history is always in the making. Take this article for example. There is new evidence that phobias are now geneticallypassed down. This can be used in any classroom however, it would be perfect for biology classrooms. This can be shown to spark attention as a bellringer. The class unit of course being genetics. 

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Battle Brewing Between CPS, Teachers Over ISAT Boycott | Progress Illinois

Battle Brewing Between CPS, Teachers Over ISAT Boycott | Progress Illinois | Science and Education | Scoop.it
The Chicago Public Schools district appears to be intent on disciplining educators that boycott the Illinois Standards Achievement Test (ISAT), which is scheduled to be administered next week.  According to the Chicago Sun-Times, CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett sent a note to principals warning that teachers who fail to administer the test could lose their state education certification, adding that the teachers should be ordered to leave the school building if they do not give t
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Shopping for a Girl? Consider Science and Engineering Toys

Shopping for a Girl? Consider Science and Engineering Toys | Science and Education | Scoop.it
A small group of toymakers and others are trying to break gender stereotypes by making toys to get girls excited about science and engineering.
Abel Farias's insight:

This article is best for history class. When you are teaching about social norms and societial structures you I would use this article to show how companies also follow these social norms to make profit. In this case, toys were specifically made to appeal to a gender role that may or may not have caused women to pursue science. Now companies are making a change. This could be shown in any class as extra reading. It would promote female students into the science field. 

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The world’s oldest astronomers: Scientists use ancient trees to look back on the history of our local cosmos

The world’s oldest astronomers: Scientists use ancient trees to look back on the history of our local cosmos | Science and Education | Scoop.it
Scientists in Japan use ancient trees to look back on the history of our local cosmos, and discover a mystery.

 

Since the invention of the telescope in the year 1608, mankind has collected information about our local cosmos. As it turns out, we’re not the only ones. Trees have been doing the same for millennia.

 

A group of physicists led by Nagoya University graduate student Fusa Miyake has begun using information stored in ancient Japanese cedars to gain the oldest firsthand accounts of the local universe. They have discovered, hidden within tree rings, clear evidence of some surprisingly high-energy events—possibly supernovae or solar flares—that occurred more than 1200 years ago.

 

On Japan’s Yakushima island, trees regularly live at least a thousand years, thriving under the tree equivalent of a low-carb diet in the form of a low-nutrition granite bedrock that encourages a slower pace of growth. Miyake and her team examined core samples from two trees on this small island. Back at Nagoya University, they studied the number and thickness of the tree’s rings not just to determine the age of the trees but also to gather information about the atmosphere they breathed.

 

When high-energy radiation from space enters Earth’s upper atmosphere, it interacts with naturally occurring atmospheric molecules to produce the isotope carbon-14. As trees are firmly plugged into the earth’s carbon cycle by photosynthesis, the carbon-14 ends up in each tree ring, creating an annual record etched into the flesh of the tree of the average carbon-14 level in Earth’s atmosphere.

 

Miyake and her colleagues had good reason to focus on the rings corresponding to 775 AD. A previous project called IntCal, which uses tree records of carbon-14 levels to calibrate carbon-14 dating, had seen a noticeable rise in carbon-14 levels toward the end of the 8th century.

The signal Miyake’s team found was far above anything seen in recent times, indicating that Earth had been bombarded by an extremely intense burst of radiation. The rings revealed that, over the course of one year, the atmospheric level of carbon-14 rose 1.2 percent: nearly 20 times the normal variation.

 

This massive flash of radiation could have been caused by a supernova; a gamma ray burst from a supremely rare galactic event such as a collision of two neutron stars; or a super solar flare at least 10 times the size of the largest observed flare.

 

Using their knowledge of earth sciences, biology and astronomy, Miyake’s team uncovered a smoking gun in a cosmological whodunit. Now all that remains is to identify who fired that gun.


Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
Abel Farias's insight:

You can find history in any object. Whenever archeologists look for new fossils they are looking for a something that tells them a story. In this article they talk about how tree rings explain how the environment was during the life of the tree. I would use this article in Chemistry class during the Carbon Dating unit. It shows how recent day scientist used carbon dating to make a new discovery

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Modern Marvels: The Manhattan Project (History Channel) (2005)

At 5:30 a.m., July 16, 1945, scientists and dignitaries awaited the detonation of the first atomic bomb in a desolate area of the New Mexico desert aptly kno...
Abel Farias's insight:

The ultimate overlap of science and history, The Manhattan Project! This can be used in almost every classroom: English, History, all sciences, and even economics. What makes this so intriguing is the fact that students will always know about WWII and the effects of it. Going deeper into this subject is like caramel on an apple. I would use this to explain the effects of science in the world. For example, in the first day of class you can use the Manhattan Project an example of how new research affects the world. 

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Annual Polar Bear Migration Under Way: How It Works and How Climate Change is Altering It

Annual Polar Bear Migration Under Way: How It Works and How Climate Change is Altering It | Science and Education | Scoop.it
Annual migration happening in the "polar bear capital of the world." (Melting sea ice means big changes for the world's 20,000 polar bears: http://t.co/60jcBMf6ph)...
Abel Farias's insight:

Recent articles are always great for grabing the attention of students. This article can be used in a biology classroom when disscussing evolution. The change in climate has caused polar bears to be in danger of losing a significant amount of living space. You can link this to other species that have become extinct. I would use this also to discuss climate change. You can use articles like this one to show how climate change is affecting the world. 

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