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Tech Giants Unite Against Government Snooping – On Science

December 10, 2013

What’s bringing the likes of Microsoft and Google together?

Have researchers found a fresh source of water?

One cockroach in and one cockroach out.

And the mystery of the mimas is solved…maybe. Coming up today… On Science!

Hello and welcome to On Science. I’m Emerald Robinson.

Tech companies unite! Eight of the U.S.’s largest tech companies have come together to in an anti-NSA coalition. Usually in competition, the big players like Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Twitter and Yahoo have joined forces in the Reform Government Surveillance coalition. The team is seeking to limit the federal government’s authority to collect user information, protect citizens’ privacy, and provide for more accountability for organizations like the NSA. Tech leaders drafted a letter published by several news outlets that asks for more laws in government surveillance. I guess go team?

Water scarcity has been a growing concern, but there’s now an ocean of hope. Australian researchers reported finding evidence of vast freshwater reserves trapped beneath the ocean floor. There is so much of a reserve, researchers say it can sustain future generations from dwindling water sources. They said there are 120,000 miles of low-salinity water buried beneath the seabed on continental shelves off Australia, China, North America and South Africa. Freshwater on Earth has been under increasing stress. Forty percent of the world’s population lives in conditions of water scarcity. They say these newly discovered water reserves could help alleviate a lot of that. Well, isn’t that refreshing!

There’s an invasion occurring in the southwestern U.S. and it is forcing one native out! The Turkestan cockroach is reported to be replacing the oriental cockroach in urban areas in the southwestern U.S. The Turkestan cockroach has been widely available on the Internet and does well in a lab setting, partially because they breed in large numbers. That means they are more likely to succeed over oriental cockroaches since they outbreed. Well, I guess this town ain’t big enough for the both of them.

The mystery of mima mounds has finally been solved. These geological puzzles are circular hillocks that cover a large area of land, sometimes numbering in the millions, but up to now scientists had no idea how they formed. Well they now know there’s a tiny little culprit—and it’s not an alien as some suggested. A researcher from San Jose State University says that he is certain that gophers created the mounds. Researchers used computer programming to analyze how the rodents move soil as they burrow. The simulation perfectly replicated that real-life situation. The next step is to dig in the mounds and find just what kind of critter is living inside them. Silly little critters had us thinking they were extra-terrestrials!

We have talked a lot about the sun’s solar cycle lately, and well, as NASA does so well, they’ve painted a picture for us! A newly-released NASA visualization shows the process of the sun’s magnetic field changing polarity, with the positive and negative poles switching throughout the course of the 22 year magnetic solar cycle. The magenta color is the negative, the green is the positive and the gray is a field of local magnetic variation. This reversal in the sun’s polarity is a big deal says NASA reps. “Changes to the field’s polarity ripple all the way out to the Voyager probes, on the doorstep of interstellar space.” Talk about a large sphere of influence!

And that’s what happening On Science.



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