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17 February 2015

In a 2011 lecture at Iowa State University, Prof. Thomas Sinclair (North Carolina State) concluded from models and projections of yields of maize that maximum US corn yields would be in the neighborhood of 254 bushels per acre, that is, 16 metric tons per hectare.

Between 2009 and 2012 the national average corn yield has been 123 to 165 bushels per acre, about half Sinclair’s maximum of 254. Because Sinclair was speaking of maximum and the US Department of Agriculture reported actual yields for the vast US crop, the excess of Sinclair’s maximum over an actual average is not surprising and shows the opportunity for agronomist scientists is considerable.

Fortunately other reports, these of actual experience, show an even greater opportunity than that between Sinclair’s projected maximum and averages over the entire USA.

For 50 years the National Corn Growers Association has conducted a national contest, and in 2014 the NCGA reported seven participants beat 400 bushels per acre. One participant, Randy Dowdy of Valdosta, Georgia produced 503.

Thus, actual yields of corn show that farmers and suppliers have plenty of room to raise the US average yield from about 150 bushels per acre toward a maximum of 503.

And that performance that professors conclude impossible in theory can happen in practice.

 

Posted 12:02 pm in News

12 February 2015

PHE’s Iddo Wernick was named a Senior Fellow of the Breakthrough Institute for his work on the decoupling resource use from the environment.  This continues our connection with the institute, as PHE was recognized last year with the award of the Breakthrough Paradigm Prize to Jesse for his work on harnessing technology to lighten the human footprint.

Posted 04:02 pm in News

10 February 2015

PHE’s Mark Stoeckle co-authored the first large-scale study of an important urban wildlife denizen, the American cockroach (Periplaneta americana). This work demonstrates that genetically divergent lineages of American cockroach, likely from different parts of the globe, have emigrated to New York City where they now live together and interbreed–a lot like people!  Co-authors include Chris von Beeren and Daniel Kronauer in the Rockefeller Laboratory  of Insect Social Evolution; Joyce Xia, a Rockefeller Summer Program student; and Griffin Burke, a Bard College undergraduate.  The report appeared on February 6, 2015 in Nature’s open access journal Scientific Reports (link to article). This paper is the culmination of PHE’s National Cockroach Project  which enticed 85 citizen scientists to contribute nearly 300 cockroach specimens from mostly from New York City, but also from 16 other U.S. states and 6 countries. Thanks to all contributors!

Posted 10:02 am in News

5 February 2015

Back in 2003, PHE’s Mark Stoeckle and Jesse Ausubel organized a pair of meetings at the Banbury Center  with Paul Hebert, Norton Zinder and others on Taxonomy, DNA, and the Barcode of Life supported by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.  Mark led the writing of a December 2003 meeting report that envisioned “a world in which any  person anywhere anytime can identify any species at little or not cost.  That world is technologically upon us. This report addresses the formative stages of an initiative to bring this to society sooner rather than later.”  In a breakthrough application of DNA barcoding, reported 3 February in the NY Times, “New York Attorney General Targets Supplements at Major Retailers.”

New York’s lead owes much to the work of George Amato at the American Museum of Natural History, Damon Little at the New York Botanical Garden, and Mark here at Rockefeller.  Mark, Damon, and Selena Ahmed together with three terrific NY high school students pioneered use of barcoding for analysis of botanical products in their paper:

MY Stoeckle, CC Gamble, R Kirpekar, G Young, S Ahmed & Damon P. Little. Commercial Teas Highlight Plant DNA Barcode Identification Successes and Obstacles. Nature Scientific Reports 1:42 2011

 

Posted 10:02 am in News

5 February 2015

Co-authors of the new widely reported PNAS paper “Sulfur-cycling fossil bacteria from the 1.8-Ga Duck Creek Formation provide promising evidence of evolution’s null hypothesis” include our close Chilean collaborators, Victor Gallardo and Carola Espinoza, via their work in the International Census of Marine Microbes of the Census of Marine Life.  Bravo to all for a great discovery about evolutionary stasis.

Posted 09:02 am in News

19 January 2015

Jesse Ausubel’s 55-minute talk (plus 30 minutes of Q&A), Nature Rebounds, to the Long Now Foundation on 13 January 2015 at the San Francisco Jazz Center is on-line.  Thanks to Stewart Brand and Co. for the opportunity to meet with the Bay Area community.

Posted 06:01 pm in News

6 January 2015

The executive summary of the new UNEP report on methane hydrates, Frozen Heat, is now available.   The report includes superb visualizations.

PHE alumna Nadejda Victor and Jesse Ausubel contributed to Chapter one of Volume 2:  Beaudoin, Y. C., Dallimore, S. R., and Boswell, R. (eds), 2014. Frozen Heat: UNEP Global Outlook on Methane Gas Hydrates. Volume 2. United Nations Environment Programme, GRID-Arendal.

The earlier part of the report is: Beaudoin, Y. C., Waite, W., Boswell, R. and Dallimore, S. R. (eds), 2014. Frozen Heat: UNEP Global Outlook on Methane Gas Hydrates. Volume 1. United Nations Environment Programme, GRID-Arendal.

For both volumes: ISBN: 978-92-807-3319-8

Volumes 1 & 2 should be available online soon.

Posted 11:01 am in News

2 January 2015

Oceanography magazine published its Supplement covering the 2013 field season of the Exploration Vessel Nautilus in the Caribbean.  Jesse Ausubel participated in the field season and is a co-author of the report on the Impact of Volcanic Eruptions on the Seafloor Around Montserrat, West Indies, pp 36-37 of the issue 27(1), March 2014.

Posted 12:01 pm in News

1 January 2015

We admire everything that Vaclav Smil writes, for both his insights and lively style.   This essay, How Green Is Europe?, exemplifies the bracing cold shower one receives from reading Vaclav’s work.

Posted 06:01 pm in News

15 December 2014

Deep carbon science is rising.  A Press release highlights publication of the Deep Carbon Observatory’s midterm scientific report and participation at the 2014 AGU Fall Meeting, 15-19 December 2014 in San Francisco, USA.   Jesse Ausubel continues to advise the program and marvel at the abundance of methane and hydrogen.

Posted 04:12 pm in News