California Science News Roundup for Week of September 20

September 21 is California Coastal Cleanup Day. Pitch in and help get trash off the beaches! 

In July, a football field-sized asteroid came five times closer to Earth than the distance to the moon. And we only noticed it 24 hours before. “the blast wave could have created localized devastation to an area roughly 50 miles across.” (BuzzFeed)

Using VR, AR and photogrammetry technologies, California teachers are taking children on virtual field trips to learn about geology. (Nautilus)

In the coming years, massive solar power and lithium-ion batteries in the Mojave Desert will provide six-to-seven percent of LA’s electricity, thanks to a new deal between the city and 8minute Solar Energy. (LA Times)

The study of living things is undergoing a revolution. Biologists collect petabytes of data about the biological world, but it’s impossible to make use of it manually, the way they used to. The challenge has been to find a way to use machine learning and artificial intelligence to make sense of it. Caltech Magazine has got an interesting piece on the rise of computational biology. (Caltech Magazine)

Scientists at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory are managing the overall design and fabrication of the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST), currently under construction in northern Chile. It’s $168 million, 3,200-megapixel digital camera is more than 90 percent complete and due to be finished by early 2021. (LLNL) 

California wildlife officials are restoring Paiute cutthroat trout into mountain streams in the Sierras. It’s being called a major milestone that conservationists hope will lead to a thriving population and removal of its threatened status. (AP News)

5G is going to change our lives, from faster downloads (a movie in just a few seconds) to autonomous cars, and near zero-latency VR (no, VR may not be dead)…and much more. San Diego’s Qualcomm is leading the way. This is a good read on 5G overall. (LA Times)

Some stunning underwater photography and video from the 2019 Monterey Shootout by Wetpixel. (Wetpixel) 

Bay Area startup blood/medicine drone delivery company Zipline just got some big-time celebrity support from U2’s Bono, who just joined the company’s board. (Fast Company)

An anthropologist makes a connection between what’s happening in the Amazon and California’s climate future. To wit: less rain forest likely means drier weather. (SacBee)

Scientists at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego discovered that crabs actually communicate with their stomachs. They make so-called stridulation sounds with their gastric mill, a three-pronged structure used to grind food. 

Bruce Monroe’s Field of Light at Sensorio in Paso Robles, California is comprised of an array of over 58,800 stemmed spheres lit by fiber-optics, and it’s solar-powered. (Sensorio)

Sirloin without a slaughterhouse? The Bay Area is ground zero for the future of cultured meat. KQED Science looks at the future of petri dish protein. (KQED)

Lovely piece from 2017, worth revisiting, in the Washington Post about Caltech scientist Linda Spilker and the end of Cassini. (Washington Post)

Ed Green, a paleogeneticist at the University of California, Santa Cruz known in the scientific community for his work on the Neanderthal genome, has developed a technique that makes it possible to recover and sequence DNA from hair without the root. (NY Times)

A lot of other US cities are now developing “Green New Deal” strategies, but among them, Los Angeles has really taken the lead. Mayor Eric Garcetti revealed the city’s plan last April, calling it a “greenprint” for the future. (Bitterroot)

VIDEO: California banned lead ammunition for hunting wildlife anywhere in the state back on June 1. Here’s a quick video explaining why that was a good idea. (YouTube)

Go California! Seven UC campuses made Sierra magazine’s “Cool Schools” list, the nation’s most eco-friendly colleges.
UC Irvine — No. 2
UC Merced — No. 6
UC Berkeley — No. 16
UC Santa Cruz — No. 21
UC Santa Barbara — No. 43
UC San Diego — No. 58
UC Riverside — No. 106

Using ROVs, scientists at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) have observed nearly 200 individual vampire squid in their natural habitat. Probably more now, since this video was done a few years ago. Amazing animals, and right here in California! (MBARI)

The world’s largest grove of privately owned Sequoia trees –  530-acres worth with more than 500 trees – is being sold. But it will be in the hands of the Save the Redwoods League and preserved. (LA Times)

We’ve noticed how much the production and story-telling quality has gone up recently at La Canada Flintridge-based Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Well, apparently it’s paying off. They won two Emmy’s for interactive media. Nice job, guys! (JPL)

Interesting analysis from the Bill Lane Center for the American West on California’s history of imposing tough standards for vehicle emissions. The state fights this issue for good reasons. (Bill Lane Center for the American West)

Making fractals at the Exploratorium in San Francisco looks like a lot of fun. (Exploratorium)

California’s farms and ranches strive to adapt as the climate warms — it’s a matter of survival. (SF Chronicle) 

Are cat turds killing California’s beloved otters? (Sierra)

P-61, a mountain lion who was struck and killed by a car on the 405 freeway earlier this month, was being chased by another mountain lion, according to National Parks Service officials. (CBS)

The Carlsbad Aquafarm in San Diego County grows oysters in a vast aquaculture facility, but they are dealing with the consequences of climate change. (KPBS)

The UC University system is divesting itself of companies that deal in fossil fuels. They are making their $13.4-billion endowment “fossil-free” as of the end of this month. (LA Times)

Wonderful photo essay in Outside Magazine about urchin diver/hunter River Jordan. Urchins populations have exploded, spelling some doom for California’s treasured kelp beds. (Outside) 

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