Society: Arts and Science – February 12

Today is International Thanksgiving Day. Find a way to celebrate your life today…
Swedish and Norwegian committees bestow Nobel Prizes in recognition of cultural or scientific advances. The 1895 will of Swedish inventor Alfred Nobel established the prizes.
Julian Seymour Schwinger was born on this date in 1918. He was a Nobel Prize winning American theoretical physicist. He is best known for his work on the theory of quantum electrodynamics (QED), in particular for developing a relativistically invariant perturbation theory, and for renormalizing QED to one loop order. Schwinger was a professor in the physics department at UCLA. Schwinger is recognised as one of the greatest physicists of the twentieth century, responsible for much of modern quantum field theory, including a variational approach, and the equations of motion for quantum fields. He developed the first electroweak model and the first example of confinement in 1+1 dimensions. He is responsible for the theory of multiple neutrinos, Schwinger terms, and the theory of the spin 3/2 field.




Society: Arts and Science – February 11

Today is International Thanksgiving Day. Find a way to celebrate your life today…
Swedish and Norwegian committees bestow Nobel Prizes in recognition of cultural or scientific advances. The 1895 will of Swedish inventor Alfred Nobel established the prizes.
Johannes Hans Daniel Jensen died on this date in 1973. He was a German nuclear physicist. During World War II, he worked on the German nuclear energy project, known as the Uranium Club, in which he made contributions to the separation of uranium isotopes. After the war, Jensen was a professor at the University of Heidelberg. He was a visiting professor at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, the Institute for Advanced Study, Indiana University, and the California Institute of Technology. Jensen shared half of the 1963 Nobel Prize for Physics with Maria Goeppert-Mayer for their proposal of the nuclear shell model.





Society: Arts and Science – January 27

Today is International Thanksgiving Day! A day to celebrate your life in a special way…

Swedish and Norwegian committees bestow Nobel Prizes in recognition of cultural or scientific advances. The 1895 will of Swedish inventor Alfred Nobel established the prizes.
Sir John Carew Eccles AC FRS FRACP FRSNZ FAA was born on this date in 1903. He was an Australian neurophysiologist and philosopher who won the 1963 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his work on the synapse. He shared the prize with Andrew Huxley and Alan Lloyd Hodgkin.
Charles Hard Townes died on this date in 2015. He was an American Nobel Prize-winning physicist and inventor of the maser and laser. Townes was known for his work on the theory and application of the maser, on which he got the fundamental patent, and other work in quantum electronics connected with both maser and laser devices. He shared the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1964 with Nikolay Basov and Alexander Prokhorov. Charles was also a key advisor to the United States Government, meeting every US President from Harry Truman (1945) to Bill Clinton (1999). One of the most notable committees he led for the government was the Science and Technology Advisory Committee for the Apollo flights, which were extremely effective at bringing the program to a successful fruition on time and under budget. After joining UC Berkeley in 1967, he began an astrophysical program that produced several important discoveries like the black hole at the centre of the Milky Way Galaxy. Townes was deeply religious and believed that science and religion are converging to provide a fuller understanding of the nature and purpose of this universe.





Society: Arts and Science – January 1

Today is International Thanksgiving Day! A day to celebrate your life in a special way…

Swedish and Norwegian committees bestow Nobel Prizes in recognition of cultural or scientific advances. The 1895 will of Swedish inventor Alfred Nobel established the prizes.
Eugene Paul “E. P.” Wigner died on this date in 1995. He was a Hungarian-American theoretical physicist and mathematician. He received half of the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1963 “for his contributions to the theory of the atomic nucleus and the elementary particles, particularly through the discovery and application of fundamental symmetry principles”. A graduate of the Technical University of Berlin, Wigner worked as an assistant to Karl Weissenberg and Richard Becker at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute in Berlin, and David Hilbert at the University of Göttingen. Wigner and Hermann Weyl were responsible for introducing group theory into physics, particularly the theory of symmetry in physics. Along the way, he performed ground-breaking work in pure mathematics, in which he authored a number of mathematical theorems. In particular, Wigner’s theorem is a cornerstone in the mathematical formulation of quantum mechanics. He is also known for his research into the structure of the atomic nucleus. In 1930, Princeton University recruited Wigner, along with John von Neumann, and he moved to the United States. Wigner participated in a meeting with Leo Szilard and Albert Einstein that resulted in the Einstein-Szilard letter, which prompted President Franklin D. Roosevelt to initiate the Manhattan Project to develop atomic bombs. Wigner was afraid that the German nuclear weapon project would develop an atomic bomb first. During the Manhattan Project, he led a team whose task was to design nuclear reactors to convert uranium into weapons-grade plutonium. At the time, reactors existed only on paper, and no reactor had yet gone critical. Wigner was disappointed that DuPont was given responsibility for the detailed design of the reactors, not just their construction. He became Director of Research and Development at the Clinton Laboratory (now the Oak Ridge National Laboratory) in early 1946, but became frustrated with bureaucratic interference by the Atomic Energy Commission, and returned to Princeton. In the postwar period he served on a number of government bodies, including the National Bureau of Standards from 1947 to 1951, the mathematics panel of the National Research Council from 1951 to 1954, the physics panel of the National Science Foundation, and the influential General Advisory Committee of the Atomic Energy Commission from 1952 to 1957 and again from 1959 to 1964. In later life, he became more philosophical and published The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics in the Natural Sciences, his best-known work outside of technical mathematics and physics.





Society: Arts and Science – November 26

Today is International Thanksgiving Day! A day to celebrate your life in a special way…

Swedish and Norwegian committees bestow Nobel Prizes in recognition of cultural or scientific advances. The 1895 will of Swedish inventor Alfred Nobel established the prizes.
Karl Waldemar Ziegler was born on this date in 1898. He was a German chemist who won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1963, with Giulio Natta, for work on polymers. The Nobel Committee recognised his “excellent work on organometallic compounds [which]…led to new polymerization reactions and … paved the way for new and highly useful industrial processes”. He is also known for his work involving free-radicals, many-membered rings, and organometallic compounds, as well as the development of Ziegler–Natta catalyst. One of many awards Ziegler received was the Werner von Siemens Ring in 1960 jointly with Otto Bayer and Walter Reppe, for expanding the scientific knowledge of and the technical development of new synthetic materials.

Society: Art and Science – October 15

Swedish and Norwegian committees bestow Nobel Prizes in recognition of cultural or scientific advances. The 1895 will of Swedish inventor Alfred Nobel established the prizes.
Konrad Emil Bloch ForMemRS was born on this date in 1912. He was a German-American biochemist. Bloch received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1964 (joint with Feodor Lynen) for discoveries concerning the mechanism and regulation of the cholesterol and fatty acid metabolism.

World Heritage Sites – Laguna San Ignacio

The Laguna San Ignacio is a part of the El Vizcaino UNESCO World Heritage Site and Biosphere Reserve in the Pacific Ocean on the west coast of Baja California. It is located in the Municipality of Mulege of the Mexican province of Baja California Sur. The nearest tourist destination is the town of San Ignacio on Mexican Federal Highway 1 (approximately sixty kilometers away). With about seven hundred permanent residents today, Juan Bautista de Luyando founded the oasis town as a Jesuit mission in 1728. For a slow, daytime only road trip, you can expect to spend a couple of days traveling nine hundred kilometers after heading south across the border at San Diego while following narrow, winding, and mountainous carreteras frequented by livestock and wildlife. The world is familiar with the resort town of Cabo San Lucas on the tip of Baja California and it is about eight hundred and fifty kilometers south of the lagoon. Air flights are the most popular ways to get close to the lagoon although travel by car, bus, and cruises provide other alternatives. Air travel destinations are more convenient and the closest are Guerrero Negro Airport (GUB) to the north and Loreto International Airport (LTO) to the south.

On the landside of the lagoon, the terrain is basaltic desert, indicating the volcanic past of the region. Towards San Ignacio, a lush growth of green date palms takes advantage of the oasis. There are several commercial endeavors underway but the continuing purpose of the town is to serve tourists and scientists as the gateway to the reserve. The lagoon (approximately 26 degrees north and 113 degrees west) is most famous for gray whale watching tours, often providing an opportunity to pet adult whales. Despite the desertification on land away from the salt water, the lagoon provides a rich environment for a wide variety of plants and animals on the shore and in the tropical Pacific Ocean water.

The World Heritage Site includes fifty thousand hectares of the surrounding landmass as a biosphere reserve. The 1994 desalinization factory plans initiated by the Mitsubishi Corporation mobilized activism by local residents and world organizations. National and international interests in keeping large developments from this wilderness have cited lush biological diversity and the uniqueness of the lagoon. For many, the importance of the lagoon for the birthing and early life of gray whale calves is paramount. Experts point to the lagoon as the only place on earth where gray whales (Eschrichtius robustus) are safe to recover as a species. This eastern North Pacific population numbers about 22,000 individuals and ecologists removed this subspecies from the endangered species list in recent decades. Populations in the Atlantic went extinct about three hundred years ago. Whalers still pursue the endangered western North Pacific population and their numbers are less than four hundred individuals.

Inside Mexico, various government bureaucracies protect local and national interests. The desalinization programs offer commercial rewards from the sales of both water and salt. The sunny locale requires industrial level development to control water flow, adding to irrigation efforts, and salt recovery operations. Dredging and staffing are two of the main aspects of the development that have raised concerns. Strict environmental controls implemented by the government include the rare step of involving international scientific interests in the reports used to plan future resource use. This is a continuing effort on all sides to make decisions about the best use of both land and sea in the area.

Because the area is so isolated, the tourist industry is small but growing. In this isolation, the gray whales successfully mate and are able to birth calves. With little ship traffic or noise from land-based industry, the whales seem to thrive. The whales can be very dangerous since they can grow to fifteen meters long and almost forty tonnes. There have been incidents where whales have damaged or destroyed boats but in the lagoon, most reports show the whales are at their most gregarious and friendly. While they still face the danger of fishing equipment entanglement, the more time they spend at the lagoon, the more likely they are to be friendly towards tourists.

Outlawed for decades, many nations ignore the international agreements prohibiting whaling. In their own national waters, meat and oil have commercial demand. In the eastern Pacific Ocean, it appears that whales do not face this danger. Fishing lines and noise are major contraindications to building stronger whale populations on this coast. Based on rare sightings, some scientists believe that the eastern North Pacific population may have established renewed populations of gray whales in the Mediterranean and Africa. So far, the remoteness of the region has ameliorated exploitation by the tourist industry. Some might point out that tourist travel is an environmental issue but that remains a wider concern than can be solved by biosphere reserves.

The El Vizcaino UNESCO World Heritage Site and Biosphere Reserve remains valuable in protecting and developing this region. The requirements of the Mexican government and their attentions to the international community are laudable. Keep your eyes on the important, continuing efforts to protect the wilderness and provide opportunities for human economic growth in the region. The El Vizcaino UNESCO World Heritage Site and Biosphere Reserve is making its contribution to the current situation and the future development of this area of Baja California.