Hi Reddit! I’m Dave Petley, Vice-President (Research and Innovation) at the University of Sheffield in the United Kingdom. I also run the Landslide Blog, which sits on the website of the America Geophysical Union, the World’s largest earth science organisation. I have a strong interest in natural hazards and disasters. For 25 years I have been doing research into landslides, which collectively kill about 14,000 people per year worldwide on average. I’m interested in particular on how landslides occur and on the impacts that landslides have on society. I’ve worked all over the world, including in Europe, the US, Chile, Taiwan, China, Nepal, Pakistan and New Zealand. Landslides are often triggered by a larger event affecting a substantial area, such as a hurricane or an earthquake. As a result I have worked extensively on the anticipation of large disasters and on the management of their impact, as well as coping with the aftermath. For example, I have worked on the impact of typhoons in Taiwan and Hong Kong; on rainfall induced flood disasters in India and Nepal; and on the massive earthquakes in Taiwan in 1999, Pakistan in 2005, China in 2008 and Nepal in 2015. I was the co-author of one of the best-selling textbooks on the management of disasters. I will be back at 12 pm ET to answer you questions, ask me anything!
My name is Nicola Jones and I write for Yale Environment 360 magazine and the journal Nature. With a background in chemistry and oceanography, I cover the physical sciences, from environmental issues to quantum physics. In my work as a freelance journalist, I’ve contributed to Scientific American, Globe and Mail, and New Scientist, and serve as the science journalist in residence at the University of British Columbia. In my recent Yale Environment 360 story, “How the World Passed a Carbon Threshold and Why It Matters” [http://e360.yale.edu/features/how-the-world-passed-a-carbon-threshold-400ppm-and-why-it-matters], scientists Ralph Keeling and Dana Royer join me to understand what Earth’s climate was like in previous eras of high CO2 levels and portray a sobering picture of where we are headed. Last year marked the first time in several million years that atmospheric concentrations of CO2 passed 400 parts per million. Environmental scientists see this threshold as a clear red line into a danger zone of climate change. But, as humans keep digging up carbon out of the ground and burning it for fuel, what will this mean for our future? My name is Ralph Keeling, and I am the Director of the Scripps CO2 Program, Professor of Geochemistry at UC San Diego, and Principal Investigator for the Atmospheric Oxygen Research Group at Scripps Institution of Oceanography. My research interests include measurements of variations in atmospheric oxygen, recent perturbations to the global carbon cycle, air-sea gas exchange, detection of ocean heat storage and transport using atmospheric gases and Paleoclimate theory. I continue to research the “Keeling Curve,” which was developed my father Charles David Keeling in 1958, at Scripps CO2 Program. My name is Dana Royer and I am a Climatologist and Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Wesleyan University. I explore how fossil plants can be used to reconstruct ancient environments (especially CO2, temperature, and climate sensitivity), and the (paleo-) physiological underpinnings behind these plant-environment relationships. Recent and current projects include the reconstruction of paleo-atmospheric carbon dioxide levels from the stomatal distributions in plant leaves, and the development of mechanistically-grounded proxies for climate and leaf ecology from the size and shape of fossil leaves. I also compile ancient carbon dioxide records and investigate the strength of carbon dioxide-temperature coupling over multi-million-year timescales. We will be answering your questions at 1 pm EST – Ask Us Anything! Thank you everyone for tuning into this dynamic discussion on crossing the carbon threshold. We’ve received many questions during this AMA session, and tried our best to answer as many as possible. We apologize if we didn’t have time to get to your submission. But, please continue this conversation! To stay updated on the latest climate change stories, you can visit our website www.e360.yale.edu or follow us on FB & Twitter (@YaleE360). Cheers, Nicole, Ralph, Dana & Yale Environment 360 staff.
Hi Reddit, My name is Joel Wertheim and I am an Assistant Professor of Medicine at the University of California, San Diego. My research focuses on the molecular evolution of RNA viruses, like HIV. In my lab, I am particularly interested in figuring out how to translate insights from HIV evolutionary biology into practical public health action. We recently published a study ‘Social and Genetic Networks of HIV-1 Transmission in New York City’ in PLOS Pathogens. In this study we asked HIV-infected individuals to name their sexual partners and injection drug-using partners. When these partners were also infected with HIV, we investigated whether their viruses were genetically similar enough to support a shared transmission history. Our findings suggest that incorporating HIV genetic sequence data can improve public health activities. I will be answering your questions at 1pm ET – Ask Me Anything!
Hi Reddit! My name is Michael Qiu and I’m the Library Relations Manager with ACS Publications. In my current job, I am responsible for developing our marketing, outreach, and engagement programs with librarians across the globe. Before coming to ACS in 2015, I was a Science & Engineering Librarian at the University of Southern California (USC) in Los Angeles, CA. I was the librarian for chemistry, chemical engineering, materials science, and petroleum engineering. Even though I no longer work in a library, I stay actively involved within the library community. I received my Master in Library and Information Science (MLIS) from UCLA (Go Bruins!) and my BS in Chemistry from Iowa State University. I’m a native of Iowa, but have bounced between Los Angeles and Washington, DC, and now have finally settled in Milwaukee. When I was an undergraduate I learned quickly the importance of the library and the librarians that help make everything that much easier. The library is a central hub of information and can be easily overlooked. Without the library and the science librarians at Iowa State, I would not have had someone to teach me how to search, retrieve, and properly use resources or had access to journals, ebooks, and databases like SciFinder. It really was this connection that helped me make the leap from chemistry to library and information science. As a science undergraduate, library school does pose its challenges (there are no lab experiments and lots of writing), but I encourage everyone to not overlook this career path. There is a huge need for librarians with a science background. My time at ACS has also given me a chance to interact with PhD students through our ACS on Campus program and librarianship is an alternative career path many are unaware of. Working as a librarian and in my current job, I have had the opportunity to interact with so many different people and learn so much. I hope this AMA gives you the opportunity to ask me a question that you think I can help answer, or even better, ask a question you don’t know who to turn to, after all, all librarians love a challenge. I’m excited to answer any of your questions. Since I won’t be able to answer everyone’s questions, if I don’t answer have an opportunity to answer your question here, do not hesitate to reach out to me on Twitter @MichaelatACS or on LinkedIn. I’ll be back at 12 noon ET (9am PT, 5pm UTC) to answer your questions. -ACS edit formatting Edit: Good morning (or afternoon) Reddit! It’s just about 11 am here in Milwaukee, so it’s time to get answering questions. I’ll be answering questions for the next hour, so keep the questions and comments coming in. Edit: My hour has come and gone, but it doesn’t mean the questions should stop. I’ve enjoyed this so much that I’ll try and come back this afternoon to answer a few more questions. Otherwise, please do not hesitate to reach out to me via Twitter or Linkedin (see above). Thanks again to everyone!
Along with providing many of the services that support human life and wellbeing, terrestrial ecosystems help us in the fight against climate change by absorbing CO2 from the atmosphere. But our unsustainable use of the Earth’s resources is beginning to threaten the health of those ecosystems, limiting their capacity to store carbon. I study how the world’s trees and soils are changing under the influence of human activity, and the consequences of these changes for on-going climate change. In 2016, we published a paper revealing that atmospheric warming will drive the loss of approximately 55 gigatonnes of carbon from the soil into the atmosphere by 2050, with the potential to accelerate climate change by 17% on top of current expectations. We also showed that there are over 3 trillion trees on Earth which are able to absorb much of this carbon, but their capacity to do so is being hindered by the loss of ~10 billion trees each year caused by deforestation, fire and disease/pests. Understanding and preserving these terrestrial ecosystems at a global scale is absolutely critical in the fight against poverty and climate change. I will back to answer any questions at 1PM EST. Ask me Anything! Edit: Thanks so much for all of the comments and questions! I’m heading off now, but I’ll check in a bit later to go through some more. Cheers, Tom
Hi Reddit, My name is Gene Richardson and I am and infectious disease physician and anthropologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School. I use biosocial approaches to conduct research on infectious disease epidemics in sub-Saharan Africa. I recently published an article titled “Minimally Symptomatic Infection in an Ebola ‘Hotspot’: A Cross-Sectional Serosurvey” in PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases. The study provides further evidence that Ebola, like many other viral infections, presents with a spectrum of clinical manifestations, including minimally symptomatic infection. The findings also suggest that a significant portion of Ebola transmission events may have gone undetected during the recent outbreak in West Africa. I will be answering your questions at 1pm ET – Ask Me Anything!
Hi, everyone! I’m David Pogue—former New York Times tech columnist, current Yahoo tech critic, and—most importantly for today’s conversation—the host of 16 NOVA programs that have aired on PBS! Some of those include the MAKING STUFF and MAKING STUFF 2 series, and the two-hour HUNTING THE ELEMENTS movie: a crash course on the periodic table that over 10 million people have watched so far. Today, we’re embarking on a Kickstarter journey—not only to make a sequel to HUNTING THE ELEMENTS, called BEYOND THE ELEMENTS, but to gain a deeper connection with NOVA’s audience.We think that more engaging science programming can be a key to generating public excitement for science and scientific discovery. I’ve also got Chris Schmidt with me. He’s a Senior Producer at NOVA, with decades of award-winning science television under his belt. (Chris’s IMDB page) He’s done a ton of stuff at PBS, Dreamworks Animation, The Discovery Channel, History Channel, National Geographic, Animal Planet, and others. He’ll be producing and directing BEYOND THE ELEMENTS. Together, we’ve had some wild adventures making documentaries that attempt to engage all levels of science lovers. We’re here to talk about making science television, the importance of science literacy, and the role that media plays in educating the public about science. And about how we think the audience should be part of it all! Ask us anything! Watch our latest doc, SEARCH FOR THE SUPER BATTERY, tomorrow, February 1, at 9/8c on most PBS stations. (Check your local listings to confirm.) And check out our Kickstarter campaign to Make Science for All! #scienceforall 1:36 PM ET: We’re here people! Looking forward to answering your questions. Here’s the proof (for science!): https://youtu.be/T2cu-1jiki0 2:43 PM ET: Answering diligently! Planning on being around for another 90 mins or so! 4:27 PM ET: Thanks for all your questions! We’ll be checking back in over the next 24 hours and following up if you have more for us. In the meantime, lets Make Science for All!
As previously announced, /r/philosophy is hosting an AMA series this Spring semester which will host AMAs by a number of world class academic philosophers working in a variety of different areas of contemporary philosophy. Check out our series announcement post to see blurbs for all the AMAs lined up this semester. You can also check out last semester’s series announcement post to see all the AMAs from Fall 2016. So far this semester we’ve had AMAs by Amie L. Thomasson (Miami) on metaphysics, philosophy of mind and philosophy of art, available here, and Samantha Brennan (Western) on normative and feminist ethics, available here. We continue our Spring 2017 Series this upcoming Tuesday with an AMA by Chris W. Surprenant (UNO). Hear it from him: Chris W. Surprenant I’m Chris W. Surprenant, Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of New Orleans, where I direct the Alexis de Tocqueville Project in Law, Liberty, and Morality. I am the author of Kant and the Cultivation of Virtue (Routledge 2014), editor of Rethinking Punishment in the Era of Mass Incarceration (forthcoming, Routledge 2017), and co-editor of Kant and Education: Interpretations and Commentary (Routledge 2011) and Kant and the Scottish Enlightenment (forthcoming, Routledge 2017). My current projects apply knowledge gained from studying the history of philosophy to contemporary issues in criminal justice reform, including the ethics of punishment. I’m also interested in business ethics and examining the connection between human well-being and entrepreneurship. During my first AMA in fall 2015, I was asked a number of questions on issues in moral philosophy; practical ethics, such as our approach to animals, the poor, or adjuncts in the academy; and how to be a successful graduate student and have a better chance of being a successful academic. I’ve been invited back to answer questions about my current work, our for-credit high school program in philosophy (you probably see me advertise it on here frequently!), the academy generally, and anything else that you want to talk about. AMA Professor Surprenant will join us Tuesday for a live Q&A on Tuesday at 3PM EST. Please feel free to post questions for him here. He will look at this thread before he starts and begin with some questions from here while the initial questions in the new thread come in. Please join me in welcoming Professor Surprenant to our community!
Hi Reddit, My name is Lars Chittka and I am a professor of sensory and behavioural ecology at Queen Mary University of London. My research focuses on the learning processes, the sensory organs and the social behaviour of bees, and their interactions with flowers. I recently published a study titled “Associative Mechanisms Allow for Social Learning and Cultural Transmission of String Pulling in an Insect” in PLOS Biology. In this study, we discovered that bumblebees can solve a string-pulling puzzle, where they had to pull on a thread to retrieve a reward from an artificial flowers that was presented under a glass table, so that bees could see it but not reach without pulling the thread. Moreover, we found that inexperienced bees could learn the technique from experienced ones, so that the skill spread rapidly to a majority of colony members, in a manner similar to the cultural spread of new innovations found in humans. I will be answering your questions at 1pm ET – Ask Me Anything! Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @LChittka!
Thanks for your awesome questions, everyone! We’re going to start winding things down now. We had a ton of fun! We’re scientists from Rice University and University of Iowa, and we recently described a new example of parasite manipulation of host phenotype, in which a previously undescribed parasitoid (Euderus set) manipulates the behavior of its cynipid gall wasp host (Bassettia pallida), which is itself a parasite of sand live oaks. The host, B. pallida, induces the formation of a crypt in sand live oaks, and undergoes development in these crypts. Upon becoming an adult, B. pallida excavate an emergence hole and emerge from the crypt. When B. pallida are infected by E. set, they excavate an incomplete emergence hole, block the hole with their head capsule, and then die. While many examples of apparent parasite manipulation of host behavior exist, in only a subset of these systems do we have strong evidence that the host’s infected behavioral phenotype actually increases the fitness of the parasite. We experimentally demonstrated that this modified behavior benefits the parasitoid, as E. set that have to excavate their own emergence hole are about 3 times more likely to die trapped in the crypt relative to parasitoids that only need to emerge through their host’s head capsule. Additionally, this system represents a novel case of hypermanipulation – where a parasite manipulates the phenotype of a host that is itself a parasitic manipulator. The parasitoid is also new to science! The parasitoid fell in the genus Euderus, and we decided to name the species Euderus set, after the Egyptian god Set. Set was the god of evil and chaos, and had control over evil animals like serpents. We thought this was fitting since E. set is the parasite of a parasite (which mirrors an evil being controlling another evil being). Additionally, E. set kills its host in a crypt, consumes the host’s internal organs, and then scatters the exoskeleton of its host around the crypt. The Egyptian God Set trapped Osiris (his brother) in a crypt, and later chopped his body into small pieces. We gave the parasitoid the common name the crypt-keeper wasp. We’re definitely biased, but we think the parasitoid is beautiful! The paper in which we describe the new parasitoid species and the paper where we document the manipulation are both Open Access. Here is artwork from the amazing Boulet that describes the system. We’re happy to answer questions about gall-forming insects, identifying new species, and parasite manipulation of host behavior. We’re excited to talk to you! We’ll be back at 12:30 EST to answer your questions. Ask us anything! Follow us on Twitter: Kelly Weinersmith: @FuSchmu Andrew Forbes: @Lord_Forbington *Edited to include link to our paper, link to Boulet’s artwork, and our twitter account info.
Hi Reddit, My name is Joel Frohlich and I am a neuroscience PhD student at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) in the lab of Dr. Shafali Jeste. My research uses “brain waves” or neural oscillations to identify quantitative, biological markers (biomarkers) of autism and neurodevelopmental disorders. These biomarkers can be used to guide treatment or inform outcomes in patients. Our lab places electrodes on the scalp to measure neural oscillations in children, a technique known as EEG. My name is Charlotte DiStefano and I am a postdoctoral fellow and clinical instructor at UCLA. My research focuses on cognitive and language development in children with neurodevelopment disorders, including autism spectrum disorder and related neurogenetic disorders. We recently published a paper titled “A Quantitative Electrophysiological Biomarker of Duplication 15q11.2-q13.1 Syndrome” in PLOS ONE. Dup15q syndrome is a neurogenetic disorder caused by partial duplications of chromosome 15. It is one of the most common genetic duplications that causes autism spectrum disorder, and it also confers high risk for epilepsy (i.e., seizures) and intellectual disability (ID). We used EEG to measure a particular frequency of neural oscillation called beta in children with Dup15q syndrome and found that beta oscillations distinguish children with the disorder from other children with autism and ID, as well as healthy children. Remarkably, this EEG signature looks just like the EEG signature seen when a person takes benzodiazepine drugs that bind to and modulate inhibitory neurotransmitter receptors called GABA_A receptors. Because several genes that encode these receptors are duplicated in Dup15q syndrome, we think that this EEG signature might be indicative of GABA_A receptor subunit expression. For this reason, the EEG signature we’ve identified might be useful for guiding clinical trials that target these neurotransmitter receptors. My colleagues and I will be answering your questions at 1pm EST (10am PST). We’re looking forward to discussing our work with these awesome kids. Ask Us Anything! Don’t forget to follow Joel Frohlich on Twitter @joel_frohlich.
Hi Reddit! I really do build intelligent systems. I worked as a programmer in the 1980s but got three graduate degrees (in AI & Psychology from Edinburgh and MIT) in the 1990s. I myself mostly use AI to build models for understanding human behavior, but my students use it for building robots and game AI and I’ve done that myself in the past. But while I was doing my PhD I noticed people were way too eager to say that a robot – just because it was shaped like a human – must be owed human obligations. This is basically nuts; people think it’s about the intelligence, but smart phones are smarter than the vast majority of robots and no one thinks they are people. I am now consulting for IEEE, the European Parliament and the OECD about AI and human society, particularly the economy. I’m happy to talk to you about anything to do with the science, (systems) engineering (not the math :-), and especially the ethics of AI. I’m a professor, I like to teach. But even more importantly I need to learn from you want your concerns are and which of my arguments make any sense to you. And of course I love learning anything I don’t already know about AI and society! So let’s talk… I will be back at 3 pm ET to answer your questions, ask me anything!