Posts Tagged ‘Science’

Progress in Science – drought resistance.

February 16, 2009

Sorghum in an important crop in the drier areas of the world. Its genome has now been analyzed and interesting patterns have been found. Rice geneticist Takuju Sasaki, Japan: “ Understanding how major cereal crops can be made to adapt to conditions of high temperature, high light intensity and limited water supply, which can be elucidated from the sorghum genome sequence, will make a great impact on agriculture.” (Science Magazine, 30 Jan 2009, page 573). Well, we need all help we can get for development in this direction..

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News from Science Magazine.

January 7, 2009

 

Surface mail takes its time. My issue of today is dated 19 December. Some news with ties to the subject of this blog:

 

The “Breakthrough of the Year” is Reprogramming Cells. By introducing new genes the cell can be reprogrammed to something else. Or repaired. Defect pancreas cells has been “repaired” to produce insulin and alleviate diabetes. There are applications in many areas for this basic science.

As number 6 on the list is a catalyst to split water into hydrogen and oxygen more efficiently. That could be an important way to store energy and even out variations from wind and solar power.

 

As interesting areas to watch are mentioned plant genomics and the acidification of oceans.

DNA sequences of different plants are rapidly being available and will be very important for the future development of plant breeding.

The acidification of oceans can seriously influence both the life in the seas and the total ecological equilibrium. The reason is emissions of carbon dioxide. But this problem is harder to communicate to the public than melting polar ice.

 

We have double reasons to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

Crises, optimism and about economic science

December 23, 2008

It is the day before Xmas Eve. A popular science programme in TV is advertised as follows:

“Financial crisis, food crisis, climate crisis. 2008 has been a year of crises. But now a change is underway. The Nobel Laureate Paul Krugman is one of the experts expressing hope for the future in this program (Vetenskapsmagasinet). We are able to change behavior if we really want.”

I agree with this in principle. Some concrete facts or views from the programme:

 

Food is a special commodity. It is needed almost every day.

The polar seas seem to emit methane in large amounts. And the content in atmosphere begins to rise.

Largescale solar powerplants are beginning to come on stream.

We need a smallscale agriculture.

We need a multitude of lines of action concerning agriculture and food.

 

I have questionmarks for some of the views above.

 

Not only Krugman, but also other economists expressed optimism about economists now thinking in new lines for future solutions.Well, that is needed. And an article in Science Magazine about the very foundation of much of the economic science came to my mind: maybe the economic man sometimes is altruistic? (Science 20 June 2008 p 1605. Samuel Bowles). According to theory, when all act in selfinterest the most efficient equilibrium in the society is attained. But, according to Bowles, empirical observations and experimental investigations have demonstrated in individuals the existence of prosocial behaviors, such as altruism. This may lead to entirely unexpected outcomes.

 

 

 

Science and development – the way forward.

September 28, 2008

Some topics from Science Magazine July-Aug 2008.

 

4 July

A so called Policy Forum, signed by important scientists/administrators in USA. It is stated that the USA faces more difficult challenges than ever, both economical and environmental. Most important are climate change, altered weather pattern, water availability and reduced biodiversity. A recommendation: Establishment of an “Earth System Science Agency”.

 

18 July

With galloping prices on rice and other cereals and reduced reserves we need a second green revolution to avoid food scarcity (p 330). What is most discussed is rice varieties resistant to temporary drowning during floods.

 

1 Aug

Ice cores from Greenland seems to show that climate change can happen suddenly, in 1-3 years. It looks like some flip mechanism.

 

8 Aug

“Blue revolution brings risks and rewards.” It is about plant breeding for drought resistance. It is now known how different genes guide the development. One is for yield security also in short dry spells, another is for survival in longer dry periods. Two different strategies. Which do we want?

What is most interesting is that it is possible to have that choice.