Hi Reddit, My name is Pedro Afonso, and I am a senior researcher at the Institute of Marine Research and MARE - Marine and Environmental Sciences Centre, both based at the University of the Azores. I recently published a paper in PLOS ONE entitled “Dynamics of Whale Shark Occurrence at Their Fringe Oceanic Habitat”, where we investigated the patterns of occurrence of whale sharks over the mid north Atlantic ridge. Using 16 years of observational data from a pole-and-line fishery across the Azores and GAM models, we investigated the spatial and temporal patterns of whale shark occurrence in relation to oceanographic features. Our study found that whale shark sightings in this oceanic region increased sharply in 2008, and that sea surface temperature helps predict whale shark occurrence in the region. Our research also showed that the Azores are at a thermal boundary for whale sharks, which can help explain the post-2007 increase in sightings and has further implications in the face of climate change. I will be taking questions at 1pm ET – Ask Me Anything!
I’m a cosmologist specializing in the very, very, very early Universe (cosmological inflation), with interests in black holes and gravity, the foundations of quantum mechanics, the arrow of time, and other fun-and-bewildering things. My favorite subjects are those that sound somewhat crazy, but arise from following our current best physical theories where they lead. The inflationary “multiverse” is a good example, and my recent research mostly concerns observable signatures of other bubble “universes” crashing into ours. In 2006, Max Tegmark and I created the Foundational Questions Institute to support research worldwide on the foundations of physics and cosmology where the questions are so risky, or “big” that conventional funding is hard to come by. If you enjoy thinking about the stuff on this thread, there’s lots of good material at the FQXi community site. Last year, I joined Max and several others in founding the Future of Life Institute, which seeks to minimize the risk/reward ratio in world-changing emerging technologies such as AI and Genetic engineering. Like other universes and black holes, when you talk a lot about these technologies they can sound crazy. But they’re coming! Most recently, with astrophysicist Greg Laughlin, I started the Metaculus project, an effort to create high-quality crowdsourced predictions about scientific and technological impact and breakthroughs, to help us understand what science and technology we should keep our eyes on. (Looking for more users – if you like to predict or think about the future, check it out!) Edit: 5 PST, periodically checking in to answer a few more
Hello! I’m Kris Karnauskas, faculty member at the University of Colorado Boulder’s (http://www.colorado.edu) Department of Atmospheric & Oceanic Sciences (http://www.colorado.edu/atoc/) and Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (http://cires.colorado.edu/). I’m also an editor of AGU’s Journal of Geophysical Research-Oceans (http://tinyurl.com/ztaob5k). I lead the Oceans & Climate Lab (http://www.colorado.edu/oclab/), which aims to understand what makes the climate system tick, the role of the ocean in climate, and what are the effects of climate change on marine ecosystems and human society. My team just published a study about some ongoing changes in the Pacific Ocean near the equator (http://tinyurl.com/gohynr9), and what they mean for penguins hanging in the balance. With one of the strongest El Nino events in recorded history peaking just last month, it has been an incredibly exciting year to be an oceanographer and climate scientist! Talk to you soon! I’ll be back at 12 pm EST (9 am PST, 7 pm UTC) to answer your questions, ask me anything!
Hi Reddit! Lithium ion batteries are complex combinations of components that we increasingly depend upon for our phones, our computers, our entertainment, and our vehicles. At Wildcat Discovery Technologies, we apply high throughput/combinatorial research tools and techniques into the discovery and development of materials to improve lithium ion batteries. New active materials can enable lighter, smaller batteries that can provide better range for electric vehicles. Longer lifetime, improved safety, and better wide temperature performance can be achieved through development of new electrolytes. You can read more about our discoveries at www.wildcatdiscovery.com. I have a background in electrochemistry and material science, and having been working on lithium ion battery materials for over 10 years in industrial settings. Tune in to the ACS Webinar on Thursday, 3/10 at 2pm ET to hear more details how your cell phone battery works, and also how it fails. Register for free at http://www.acs.org/content/acs/en/acs-webinars/technology-innovation/batteries.html. I’ll be online from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. PST to answer your questions. Ask me anything! EDIT: Hi - I’m live and look forward to answering your questions! DAS EDIT: I am signing off now. What a wonderful discussion I have had with many of you! Thank you so much for all the good questions and comments. Check out our website at www.wildcatdiscovery.com if you want to learn more about our research. Or reach me at LinkedIn if you want to talk more! DAS
I’m Ken Buesseler, an oceanographer who studies marine radioactivity. I’ve looked at radioactive fallout from atmospheric nuclear weapons testing that peaked in the early 1960’s, studied the Black Sea after Chernobyl in 1986, the year of my PhD, and now we are looking at the unprecedented sources of radionuclides from Fukushima Dai-ichi in 2011. I also studying radioactive elements such as thorium that are naturally occurring in the ocean as a technique to study the ocean’s carbon cycle http://cafethorium.whoi.edu Five years ago, images of the devastation in Japan after the March, 11 “Tohoku” earthquake and tsunami were a reminder of nature’s power. Days later, the explosions at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plants, while triggered by nature, were found to be man-made, due to the building of these critical plants on this coast, despite warnings of possible tsunami’s much higher than the 35 foot sea wall built to protect it. More than 80% of the radioactivity ended up in the oceans where I work- more ocean contamination than from Chernobyl. Since June of 2011, we’ve spent many research voyages sampling with Japanese, US and international colleagues trying to piece together the consequences to the ocean. We also launched in in January 2014 “Our Radioactive Ocean”-a campaign using crowd funding and citizen scientist volunteers to sample the N. American west coast and offshore for signs of Fukushima radionuclides that we identify by measuring cesium isotopes. Check out http://OurRadioactiveOcean.org for the participants, results and to learn more. So what do we know after 5 years? This is the reason we are holding this AMA, to explain our results and let you ask the questions. I’ll be back at 1 pm EST (10 am PST, 6 pm UTC) to answer your questions, ask me anything! Thanks to everyone for some great questions today! I’m signing off but will check back tonight. We released some new data today from OurRadioactiveOcean.org Go to that web site to learn more and propose new sites for sampling. We need to continue to monitor our radioactive oceans. Thanks to our moderator today and the many collaborators and supporters we’ve had over these past 5 years, too numerous to list here. More at http://www.whoi.edu/news-release/fukushima-site-still-leaking
Hi Reddit! We are writers for Science News (https://www.sciencenews.org/), a publication of the Society for Science and the Public (https://www.societyforscience.org/). With the recent spread of Zika, there have been concerns about the spread of mosquito-borne diseases. What can be done? What answers can science provide us? Together, we have written extensively on Zika, gene drives, genetically engineered mosquitoes, and general mosquito biology. Ask us anything! I’m Meghan Rosen, and I’m the general assignment reporter at Science News. It’s a grab bag beat that I love because I’m always learning about something new (from disaster robots to lead poisoning to a new form of carbon that glows in the dark). This year I’ve been covering the Zika virus outbreak that emerged in Brazil in 2015, and may be to blame for the country’s recent surge in microcephaly cases. I have a Ph.D. in molecular biology and biochemistry (with an emphasis in biotechnology) from UC Davis, and graduated from UC Santa Cruz’s Science Communication program in 2012. (https://www.sciencenews.org/article/rapid-spread-zika-virus-americas-raises-alarm?mode=pick&context=169&tgt=nr) I’m Tina Saey, the molecular biology writer at Science News. I cover a broad range of topics from viruses to human evolutionary history, with occasional forays into penguin tongues and water bear survival tactics. Basically, if it has DNA I will write about it. But don’t worry, red blood cells and non-DNA-based extraterrestrial life, I’ve got you covered, too. One of the hottest topics on my beat has been the gene-editing tool called CRISPR/Cas9 and its scientific, medical and ethical implications. Pertinent to this discussion is an application of CRISPR called gene drives. Scientists hope to eliminate mosquito-borne diseases and invasive species, but worry about unforeseen consequences (such as causing the extinction of entire species) of the technology. (https://www.sciencenews.org/article/gene-drives-spread-their-wings) I’m Susan Milius, and I write about creatures great and small, and even photosynthetic, for Science News. I’m aghast at the number of years I just slapped mosquitoes without even wondering which of several thousand species, quite diverse in their tastes, I had just smeared on the wall. (Some are blue. Some hate the outdoors as much as any human couch potato. Some don’t even drink blood.) Now those distinctions explain why some major disease-carrying mosquitoes just laugh at our attempts to control them. It took me a bit of exploring other kinds of journalism to realize that after double-majoring in biology and English, I could get a job writing in English about biology. It’s a wonderful life, even with mosquitoes in it. We’ll be back at 2 pm EST (11 am PST, 7 pm UTC) to answer your questions, ask us anything!* EDIT: What great questions! It’s our time to leave, but we’ll be checking in throughout the day to see if there are any more questions. Thanks for having us!
Hi Reddit, My name is Alexander Suh and I am a postdoctoral researcher at Uppsala University in Sweden. My research focuses on the evolution of birds and their genomic parasites, such as transposons and viruses. We recently published a study in PLOS Biology titled “The dynamics of incomplete lineage sorting across the ancient adaptive radiation of neoavian birds”. There we analyzed the evolutionary signature of what some call the ‘big bang’ of modern birds, a rapid succession of speciation events following the extinction of dinosaurs. We used ancient retrotransposon insertions from 48 bird genomes to reconstruct evolutionary relationships, showing that most of the bird Tree of Life can be reliably resolved by our study and previous studies. However, we were surprised to find that the very onset of the ‘big bang’ of modern birds harbors extreme degrees of conflict. In fact, the conflicts are so complex that they look more like a network than a tree. Our explanation for this complexity is that bird speciation in the direct aftermath of dinosaur extinction was extremely rapid, potentially too rapid to be resolvable as a single tree. I will be answering your questions at 1 pm EST (10am PST, 7 pm CET). Ask Me About Birds, Transposons, Anything! Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @alexander_suh and visit my website.
Hi Reddit! I am Ray Garant and am the director of public policy at the American Chemical Society. Ask me anything about environmental and regulatory policy, advancing innovation, science education, and/or energy/climate policy. I manage policy development and messaging for the ACS with a portfolio that spans scientific innovation, jobs, education, and science policy, as well as the international, environmental and regulatory arenas. I also oversee the ACS Science & the Congress Project (www.acs.org/scicon), a well-respected program of congressional staff briefings and that improve decision makers’ understandings of the role that science can and should play in public policy. From 1993 - 1994 I was a staffer in the office of (now former) Representative Phil Sharp (D-IN). While on the Hill, I followed environmental, judicial and healthcare issues. I studied chemistry in university, getting a B.S. at U Mass-Dartmouth and an M.S. at Iowa State University; at ISU I managed a project to communicate science to the public. I also did research at the Ames Laboratory of the Department of Energy and at the U.S. Naval Underwater Systems Center. I’ll be back at 11 am EST (8 am PST, 4 pm UTC) to answer your questions, ask me anything!
Hello Reddit! I’m Lee Benaka (Fishery Management Specialist, NOAA Fisheries Office of Science and Technology). While U.S. fisheries are among the world’s most sustainable, bycatch is a complex, global issue that threatens the sustainability and resiliency of our fishing communities, economies, and ocean ecosystems. NOAA Fisheries works hard to minimize bycatch in U.S. fisheries, ensuring our fisheries remain sustainable and protected species are given their best chance to recover. Bycatch occurs when fishermen catch and discard animals that they do not want, cannot sell, or are not allowed to keep. Discarded catch represents loss of opportunity for fishermen and too frequently, loss of marine life, which can impact vulnerable ecosystems and slow the rebuilding process for overfished stocks or place protected species at further risk. NOAA Fisheries works with fishermen, scientists, and managers to mitigate the negative effects of bycatch by developing innovative fishing gear and tracking bycatch through regular data collection. Bycatch is an issue that impacts the overall health of our oceans and the sustainability of our seafood industry. If you want to learn more about bycatch and how it can be reduced, this is your chance. I’ll be back at 10 am EST (7 am PST, 3 pm UTC) to answer your questions, Ask me anything! We are out of time, but I want to thank you for taking the time to join us for this Reddit AMA and asking your questions about bycatch. I was really impressed by the variety of great questions, as well as the respectful and helpful responses from other participants. I certainly learned a lot this morning! If you’re interested in learning more about bycatch and the work NOAA Fisheries and others are doing to reduce bycatch, please visit some of the following sites: Bycatch Portal [http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/sfa/fisheries_eco/bycatch/index.html] Draft National Bycatch Strategy [http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/sfa/fisheries_eco/bycatch/strategy.html] National Bycatch Report First Edition Update 2 [http://www.st.nmfs.noaa.gov/observer-home/first-edition-update-2] 2014 BREP Report to Congress [http://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/sfa/publications/feature_stories/2016/brep-2014-rtc.html] 2016 BREP Funding Opportunity [http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/sfa/fisheries_eco/bycatch/brep.html] Bycatch video [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xz8q6uHSdmg] Leadership Message [http://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/aboutus/leadership/feb_2016_leadership_message_tackling_bycatch.html] Bycatch 101 [http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/sfa/fisheries_eco/bycatch/bycatch-101.html] Bycatch Bites [http://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/stories/2016/02/bycatch_bites.html] AMA Landing Page [http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/stories/2016/02/reddit_ama_bycatch.html] Inspiring Students through Fisheries Bycatch Research [http://www.fpir.noaa.gov/stories/021182016_fisheries_bycatch_research.html]