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November 26, 2012

Host: Ted Simons

Lawrence Krauss

  |   Video
  • World-famous physicist Lawrence Krauss of Arizona State University joins Arizona Horizon monthly to talk about the latest science and physics news.
  • Lawrence Krauss
Category: Science   |   Keywords: krauss, innovation, technology, ,

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Ted Simons: Scientists are moving closer to creating a way for objects to become invisible, and the Hubble space telescope may have spotted the most distant object ever. To discuss the science headlines, we welcome renowned physicist and ASU professor Lawrence Krauss, who joins us for his monthly appearance on "Arizona Horizon." Good to see you. Thanks for joining us.
Lawrence Krauss: Great to be back.
Ted Simons: I want to start with the business of an invisibility cloak.
Lawrence Krauss: I do like this. It's being perfected at duke. Don't get too excited.It would be great, you could wear it and be caulking head. It's not a true invisibility cloak. What's being done here, is to manipulate the materials so that lightweights, which are electro-magnetic waves will bend around the material and come back, so they will go around and come back on the other side, so therefore, what you will see is what's behind the material. When you look at light, it will bend around it and come back, and instead of being absorbed or reflected, it will bend around it, and you will see the scene behind it. Now, the point about this, is that it only works, of course, for certain ranges of frequencies of light. And, and, and if you use x-rays or anything else, you could see the object. It makes an object invisible for certain set of frequencies, and that's amazing you can do it. There are simple ways, simpler ways, and there is one in Japan, and I remember many years ago seeing one in California to make you invisible. If I put little, little TV cameras all over your suit, and had our t.v. screens, and cameras on the back side of the suit, and the front side of the suit, would show what the cameras on the back side of the suit were Hoarding, so there is lots of ways of appearing to be invisible. There was a house in California that had that in the front, large TV screens of the ocean behind it, so you would not see the house.
Ted Simons: That's almost subterfuse. I like that idea of going around.
Lawrence Krauss: Going around is relevant because the relevance, we're talking about galaxies. The idea is if you could manipulate light you could do strange and wonderful things, and what I think is the key message here, is that by using new materials, that have exotic properties, that you can design in the laboratory you can do strange things to cause light to go through materials, one of the things that, that we have not talked about, but a few years ago, there are materials that can make light travel at very slow speeds, through the materials, slower than you walk. And, and it's amazing. You can make light, essentially, stand still in materials, and so, manipulating the quantum properties materials, and nano engineering, is a huge field, and this is just one interesting example of what's happening.
Ted Simons: Let's talk about something else. You mentioned galaxies. The Hubble telescope, I'm not sure if this is, happened or not, and I'm starting to get like well, maybe, maybe not. $13 billion light years away? They saw something? What did they see?
Lawrence Krauss: What they saw was what are might be the beginning of a galaxy, it's an object that they estimate to be about 600 light years across, which is tiny compared to our galaxy, which is 100,000 light years across, and maybe less than, than 1% or 1, maybe .001 the mass of the galaxy, but we think galaxies build up by eating, cannibalizing small objects and building up, and this may be the precursor of one of the first galaxies of the universe. It's 400 million years after the big bang. Many predict they should not form until a billion years after the big bang. If we want to learn about the formation, we want to see these things. We're building the telescope that's designed to look at a wide spectrum of the galaxies. What's really neat about this galazy, that we would not have seen it. If we had not used a telescope that space created.
Ted Simons: Yes.
Lawrence Krauss: Because, the way that -- it's too faint to see with any telescope but we Ruse gravitational lensing, which is the fact that space is curved, and light rays will bend around them just like they do here. There is a theme here, but in this case, objects can be magnified, and that's exactly what's happened. Space, itself, has acted like a lens, by looking through a massive cluster of galaxies, we have seen the light of this very faint object, bent around and magnified like my glasses do.
Ted Simons: So how do you know the thing is 13.3 billion light years? You have the bending of this here, and space is expanding, and sun is coming this way, it's a moving target.
Lawrence Krauss: It's not quite a moving target because at these instances, objects are moving away from us very fast through the expansion of the universe, and the light from those gets shifted to the longer wave lengths, the faster they are moving away from us, and the faster they are moving away from us is, is, that's related to the distance from us. So, by measuring the red shift, the, the degree to which all the, the light in that object is stretched, and we see, see objects are made of hydrogen, and they emit the same colors of light you see in the laboratory here, except when they are moving away from us, all those colors get shifted to longer wave lengths, and red is the longest of the invisible spectrum so we call that a red shift, and by the size of that, we know how far away the object is. Because the universe is expanding. And this object is a red shift, which is so great, well, it's the greatest, highest red shift of any compact object.
Ted Simons: So basically, what the Hubble telescope saw happened 13.3 billion years ago?
Lawrence Krauss: We're doing cosmic archaeology. The object, as it looked 13.3 billion years ago.
Ted Simons: We were not here.
Lawrence Krauss: Well before the Earth and sun formed. And what's kind of neat is that the intervening massive cluster is billions of light years away so the galaxies, the light, the stars that are performing the task, many of them are dead. Because they were performing the task 5 or six billion years ago, and our sun is 4.5 billion years ago.
Ted Simons: What does it tell us about the universe? What are we learning?
Lawrence Krauss: It's too early to say. What this may do is confirm the notion that galaxies build up by, by this procedure called hierarchical clustering. They cannibalize other objects, and if structure forms that early, it will tell us about dark matter. It will tell, which is the, the dominant stuff in our galaxy and all. We don't know what it's made of, and we think that it's responsible for the formation of galaxies. And as we learn about how they form in the universe, it will put constraints on the nature of that.
Ted Simons: Interesting. And I am also hearing rumors, and I will believe anything whether it comes to science.
Lawrence Krauss: Got to be skeptical. You cannot believe anything.
Ted Simons: Mars' curiosity may have discovered something whiz, bang, big-time stuff here.
Lawrence Krauss: Yes. There is rumors and, and, and you should be very suspicious. NASA likes to, to build anticipation, and a few years ago they did for, for result, they were assuming they were going, they discovered life and it wasn't that, but, there are rumors that that, the curiosity Rover may have evidence that will impact on, on the possibility of existing or, or, well, in this case, potentially existing microbes. There were early reports that they had seen methane, it is produced by light but it does not last long in the atmosphere. So, if you see it, then it suggests that there is something producing it today. And, and there was a very early report that they had seen it, but it turned out to be a contaminant, and maybe they will have, have reports seeing methane, if they see that, that really suggests that there are microbes alive. That would be remarkable. But, you know, it could be something different. But, we're all, all hoping.
Ted Simons: I was going to say, because you never know what they are going to find, but the idea of existing Mike Roan, what does that tell us?
Lawrence Krauss: First, I would be very surprised, I figured we would find evidence of fossilized life on mars when it was hotter and wetter billions of years ago, but if there are existing microbes that, tells us that first, they can exist in this hostile environment. It tells us life, in some sense, are more robust than we thought and the conditions for life, including water, are present right now on the surface of mars, and of course, the big question, and we have talked about this before, the million dollar question is, is that the independent life? Did that develop independently or is it microbes that got polluted from you and me that got shot to mars maybe a million years ago?
Ted Simons: Is there any, any chance that when you find microbes, that they could be the remnants, the last gasp of life when they used to -- like, zillions of years ago they had a civilization up there?
Lawrence Krauss: It might be the, it might be life that goes back to the early hotter, wetter days when mars was a much more pleasant climate. Or, it may be just due to the fact that the material is transported back and forth between the Earth and mars, and so the big question, once again, is are they our cousins, or if they really, first, we don't know this. I want to make that clear. We're speculating but if there is evidence for existing life on Mars, that would be important, and the next step is to find out if it's our cousins. If it's life developed independently on mars, that means there is life everywhere from the universe.
Ted Simons: A minute left. The election over. Did I see a lot of scientists making, heading to Capitol Hill?
Lawrence Krauss: Not a lot. There is one scientist who I supported and, and know who is heading to Capitol Hill and another one from princeton. There are too few scientists, that would make two, I think two or three Ph.D. scientists in 500 people and, and as bill foster said, it would be great if more were in. We can understand what a billion means, for example. It's useful, when you are spending money. And these important issues, which I continue to say, are the most important issues you are going to be dealing with from energy to security to climate change. They need to be dealt with by people who are willing to face reality and not bury their head in the sand.
Ted Simons: Are we doing a good enough job of facing reality right now?
Lawrence Krauss: No. During the election, did you hear climate change, once talked about by either party, it's a, of vital importance, and we'll have a meeting, a public event from the origins project in February on climate change. The great debate so people should come and learn about the science.
Ted Simons: I was going to say, I saw a couple of headlines here recently that every time you see a headline, it's worse than we thought, worse than we thought.
Lawrence Krauss: It is. And the evidence is becoming clearer and clearer and more damning, and no one is doing anything about it.
Ted Simons: We'll see if your scientist buddies will get things done. Good to see you again.
Lawrence Krauss: Let’s hope so.
Ted Simons: Well, it’s good to see you again.
Lawrence Krauss: Great.

U.S.-Mexico Colorado River Water Agreement

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  • The United States and Mexico have a new agreement on Colorado River water. The new deal will allow the U.S. to get a one-time increased allotment from the river in exchange for $10 million and helping Mexico to repair canals damaged in a 2010 earthquake. It also lets Mexico store water in Lake Mead, which will boost water levels by 15 feet and could lead to more tourism at the lake.
Category: Environment   |   Keywords: mexico, U.S., colorado river, agreement, ,

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Ted Simons: Good evening and welcome to "Arizona Horizon." I'm Ted Simons. The United States and Mexico have agreed to new rules that govern the sharing of Colorado river water. The five-year agreement, known as minute 319, allows Mexico to continue storing unused water in lake mead that, and other provisions in the agreement will help the central Arizona project manage Arizona's share of Colorado river water. Here to explain all of this is cap General Manager David Modeer. Good to have you here
David Modeer: Glad to be here.
Ted Simons: Before we get started, minute 319 what is that all about?
David Modeer: I’d liken it to you have a set of rules, and now we are going to have referees administer them, and that's how you would look at minute, and it's not really part of the basic treaty between the United States and Mexico over water, but it defines how you are going to operate underneath that treaty so there have been a lot of minutes over the years. Obviously, we're up to 319 now. And they all deal with this specific area of concern between the two countries.
Ted Simons: Let's talk about this particular agreement. It's U.S. deal. Regarding Colorado river allocations, and we helped Mexico with canal repair? Something along those lines?
David Modeer: It's deeper than that. But, the basics of this were the differences between Mexico and the Colorado river basin states over how to implement items like shortage sharing during shortage on the river, was Mexico going to take it or not. The treaty calls for, for them to share in extraordinary doubts but that's never been defined, this is the first time that we've been able to reach a comprehensive agreement about how we would share the resources of the Colorado and how we would all share in deficits. And surpluses along the Colorado. So, it's a historic agreement, and that, in that context, and although there are 319 minutes to the treaty, this is one of the most significant.
Ted Simons: But again, the idea of moving this along, or being part of this particular deal, is the idea of helping Mexico with some damage repair, correct?
David Modeer: That's right. We will provide funding out of the United States to both help them recover from the damage that they experienced in the earthquake, and also to create some conservation projects that will conserve water in Mexico, and that will give us a good basis for understanding how the United States and Mexico can cooperate in water conservation projects on both sides of the border to ensure the long-term sustainability of the flows of the Colorado.
Ted Simons: It's bad damage that they had?
David Modeer: They had significant damage to, to their canals, in particular, where subsidence created by the earthquake, created water flowing in the wrong directions, and the canals, and it's a substantial amount of money, which they don't simply have the resources to, to effect all the repairs.
Ted Simons: Is this one-time increase in water for America and Arizona?
David Modeer: Yes. This is one-time five-year deal, which expires December 31st of 2017. It provides for specific amount of water that will go to, to the three lower basin states. California, Nevada, and Arizona, through the cap and Arizona. And the amount of money that will be provided by the Federal Government and the three states and in funding these pilot projects and repairs in New Mexico.
Ted Simons: Impact to Arizona, how much water are we talking about?
David Modeer: 23,750-acre foot of water. From Mexican's water apportionment left in lake mead, and we have several decades of which we can choose how to use that water.
Ted Simons: When you talk about acre feed, that's, that's -- it sounds like a lot but what does it mean in real term?
David Modeer: 326 gallons of water each acre. So it's enough to serve between two and three families in the Phoenix area.
Ted Simons: And that's over --
David Modeer: On an annual basis.
Ted Simons: A five-year period here. And as far as Mexico is concerned, they get to store unused water at lake mead, correct?
David Modeer: That's correct. We have had a previous agreement which allowed Mexico to store some of their unused water, which is, which has been unused because of the results of the damage from the earthquake. And we've been allowed them to use it on a temporary basis by storing it in lake mead. This will codify that under minute agreement that allows them a certain amount to store on an annual basis. A certain amount that they store, about 250,000 acres, that they can use about 200,000 on an annual basis. And that water stored is subject to the same criteria of the state storing water in lake mead subject to evaporation and the other criteria that go along with that.
Ted Simons: This agreement, is it something unusual? Have we had similar agreements in the past?
David Modeer: We have had similar agreements, but not to this magnitude. We have had agreements related to salinity in the river and how to do some other issues about water flows to Mexico, but none of them, of this significance. It not only provides water to, to us here in Arizona, and to, to California and Nevada. It also provides water to the Mexicans, that they can have pulse flow and see whether flows can go through this system and reach all the way to the gulf of California for the first time in a number of years. Not generated by flooding condition. So, I think that both countries are benefiting significantly out of this arrangement. Provides the framework for the future where we can work together, to begin to find ways to augment the Colorado river for the systemic shortages that are going to happen over the next 50 years or so, and we need each other in this ball game working together.
Ted Simons: Before I get back to the agreement, you mentioned systemic shortages. What do you see and hear as far as the future is concerned? It seems like there is a lot of skepticism that we're going to have enough water?
David Modeer: I think that under any criteria that we have looked at and particularly, in terms of the bureau of reclamation's basin study, which is, which is taking a look at the demands, and water flows in the river over the next 50 years, there's no scenario, that doesn't say that we have a gap in the amount of water that is needed. And the amount of water that will be present in the river. So, there has to be some extraordinary measures taken by the states, and in regards though that, and that includes conservation. It includes reuse of water. It includes augmentation of finding another source to augment the supply of the Colorado, and it's important for both Mexico and the United States to be involved in this process.
Ted Simons: And as far as this deal is concerned, how did it take players, how long of a process was it? We know 319 minutes were involved but this is significant. This had to have taken a long time.
David Modeer: This has been going on for 4.5 years. Constant meetings. Both on the technical side of it, and on the principle side, like the department of waters, resources director. My staff. Myself. Same way in California and all the other states.
Ted Simons: So, it had been a long process, and again, significance, it's hard to overstate this. People don't realize, do they, how important water is?
David Modeer: I think that the water is getting to be understood to be important. I think that the basis of Arizona's economy in the last 15 years, and certainly go forward in the future, is, is largely dependent on the consistency and sustainability of supplies of water. Both out of the central Arizona project, and out of the Salt River Project. It's critical. People don't make long term commitments to, to developing businesses or building homes or whatever it is, if you don't have, a sense that there is going to be sustainable supply of the things that make the quality of life, and water is one of those indispensable commodities, and I think that it's, it's critical to the State of Arizona.
Ted Simons: Thank you very much for joining us, and congratulations on the deal, and we look forward to hearing more about it, thank you very much.
David Modeer: Thank you, glad to be here.