Transnational science

While presidents threaten each other’s countries with nuclear obliteration, or repress and starve and bombard their own citizens, other humans of more constructive character cooperate across borders, national or cultural.  Two of many instances I’ve just read of:

Scientists from Cyprus, Turkey, Egypt, Israel, the Palestinian Authority, Jordan, Bahrain, Iran, and Pakistan jointly operate a laboratory called Sesame (Synchrotron-light for Experimental Science and Applications in the Middle East) which opened this year.  It has been built in Jordan, the only one of these countries that maintains diplomatic relations with all the others.

Water, to drink and wash: millions of people already are in desperate thirst for it, and they will become billions as population and global heating continue to rise, if nothing is done.  Water can be extracted from the air, but existing methods need electrical power and high humidity.  Scientists are working toward ways that would ne usable in poor countries and in any climate.  One technique (Scientific American, 2017 Dec., p. 30, Donna J. Nelson and Jeffrey Carbeck, “Water Made by the Sun”)  uses porous crystals called metal-organic frameworks.  One of these with the weight of a gram and the size of a sugar cube contains such large spaces that its internal surface has an area like that of a football field!  Using only the energy of sunlight, a thousand grams of MOFs can extract, even from desert air, 2.8 liters of water a day.  The crystals were invented by Omar M. Yaghi of the University of California, Berkeley, and their development is a cooperation between his team and one at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology led by Evelyn Wang.

Usamerica, as I like to call the second largest country in the Americas, may not be all good but one of its glories is its network of research, freely involving people whose roots are in other countries.


8 thoughts on “Transnational science”

  1. Thank You ,Guy , For The Uplifting Realities Of the Human Race…
    We Need MORE “Good News” Stories…
    Very Best Of 2018 To You !!!…

    1. Caleuche was unable to enter a comment and emailed it to me, so I’m pasting it in here. –Guy

      I tried to post this as a comment several times, each time WordPress refused for some reason or other (Invalid Security token, invalid blog address, invalid signature, etc) so, I’ll just email you as it does include a direct question too:

      It seems hard to find any source that mentions the date of the closest approach; my calculation now spits out Oct. 14. I would be more confident, of course, if Jean Meeus or Aldo Vitagliano, or Gareth Williams of the Minor Planet Center, were doing the calculating.

      That was my first question, you don’t trust the data in Horizons?

      Close-approach results:
      Date (TDB) Body CA Dist MinDist MaxDist Vrel TCA3Sg Nsigs P_i/p
      ———————- —– ——- ——- ——- —— —— —— ——-
      A.D. 2017 Oct 14.74344 Earth .161638 .161601 .161676 60.219 0.09 14224. .000000

      Doing the computation myself, I get a closest approach time of October 14 at 17:50:29 TDB (barycentric time), with a distance of 0.161624 AU and a relative velocity at that point (to Earth’s center) of 60214.8 meters/second. That’s fairly close to what Horizons gets and within the margins of error. I also get a perihelion time of September 9, 11:44:26 and a barycentric periapsis of 7:19:55 TDB on the same day.

      What methodology do you use to compute close approach distance?

      1. “What methodology do you use to compute close approach distance?”
        To cut a long story short, interpolation; see the chapter on it in Meeus’s “Astronomical Algorithms”.

  2. Govert Schilling’s cover story in the February 2018 _Sky and Telescope_ reports on the discovery of gravitational waves from the merger of two neutron stars on 2018 08 17. The two LIGO detectors here in the United States of America (!) and the Virgo detector in Europe triangulated the location to a small patch of sky near Gamma Hydrae, and the Fermi Gamma Ray Space Telescope detected a simultaneous short gamma ray burst in the same general direction. The hunt was on! Telescopes across the electromagnetic spectrum, on Earth (some very modest, e,g. the 1-meter Henrietta Swope Telescope in Chile was the first to detect an optical signal and thus to locate the merger in the galaxy NGC 4993, about 130 million light years distant) and in space observed the repercussions of this merger. 3600 astronomers and physicists are coauthors of the paper announcing the discovery. That’s about 15% of the worldwide astronomy community.

    This new era of “multi-messenger astronomy” isn’t going to give water to thirsty people, but it does give scientists from around the world a new opportunity to work together to understand the cosmos.

  3. Usamerica. That’s, sadly, a good way to put it. Well, it may change…and probably that’s a good thing. Yes, we humans can combine our knowledge to infinite ingenuity. Or we can bicker and isolate to the point of stagnation. We’re an interesting lot, that’s for sure!

  4. Why are your political posts appearing in the Steiner emails? Please take me off the list if it is to be tied to your blog, Guy.

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