By | archive, creative

A brain-computer interface controls her robotic arm. As easily as not thinking, she uses it to drink another shot of tequila.

I feel a tic escape, as my deep brain stimulation implant remodulates its signal. But I’m not dropping my coffee anymore.

The veteran’s brain implant doesn’t control his PTSD symptoms well, plus he has paranoia about mind control experiments by the government.

A technician sends the telerobotic neurosurgeon a brain scan on her phone. A crack in the screen leads to the patient becoming a savant.

An fMRI scanner noisily starts up. An undetected tattoo heats up from metal in the ink. Blood oxygen flow is scanned as the patient yelps.

The team designs a new robot to give homeless people showers, but get no takers until they offer free opioid electrostimulation with a wash.

The neuroethicist testifies at the murder trial of a man with schizophrenia. An experimental medication worsened psychosis during the crime.

An earworm is silenced by white noise through her cochlear implant. Always handy to have a fan in the room.

The deep brain stimulation implant short circuits and his neuron firing patterns change. He starts trembling and craving a youthful sexbot.

A boy with autism uses a robot to talk to his parents, while he casts his eyes down. They agree to give him a raise in his allowance.

His defence lawyer tries to introduce a neurologist to say he wasn’t responsible. The judge won’t allow it for a parking ticket case.

The amputee’s exoskeleton is controlled by a brain computer interface, and she thinks happy thoughts as she walks along the beach.

Signals from a strip mall trigger augmented reality in my artificial eye. it displays a spam message. I delete it, with an annoyed blink.

My boss’s roboenchantment fills the boardroom with telepresence robots, so neuroscientists meet remotely. Half of us are pantsless.

Police use an EEG lie detector on the suspect, but he knows how to fool it. He returns to his college dorm, planning another bank hit.

Modulating my brain implant with a switch in my neck, I treat symptoms of hypomania from jet lag with a higher pulse. Soon, I fall asleep.

Analyzing data from an EEG experiment on reaction times and impulse control disorders, the neuroscientist finds a link to Twitter usage.

Biometric cameras track the eye movements of a paralyzed man, allowing him to type. He writes a novel from his bed, ending it with rebirth.

About S. Kay

S. Kay is a systematic @blueberrio, interested in technology, neuroscience, and kale. For modern morsels of microfiction, follow @blueberrio and


By | archive, creative, journal club

I’ve wanted to do this for a while now.

In essence, for the last 5 or so years, Tatooine’s binary star system has come up as a talking point in one of my climate change science classes (yes, I’m a Star Wars fan). Basically, I use it to showcase an over-the-top example of radiative forcing. If you’re not familiar with this term, it’s basically a metric used to calculate net energetics in climate systems (expressed in Watts per square metre). For example, you can use it to measure how our pesky greenhouse gases contribute a positive radiative forcing by keeping heat energy within the Earth’s atmosphere; or how having an extra star would also definitely result in a significant positive RF effect.

Anyway, I guess in the back of my mind, I always thought it would be kind of fun to produce a comprehensive mock Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, with a focus on our favourite desert planet Tatooine. Here, I would essentially use the exact IPCC text, but with some minor changes as well as modifying some of the figures so that they identify better with the Star Wars universe. Add to that, I thought it would be fun to incorporate an analogous anthropogenic emissions narrative: in this case, switch fossil fuel emissions due to our consumption needs and big oil antics, for increases in atmospheric water (also a greenhouse gas) due to unregulated for-profit water mining/extraction, and PUNCH IT CHEWIE, you have a desert planet in climate crisis!

All the more geeky when you consider I’ve specifically added a section on biodiversity effects (essentially, bye bye poor Sarlaccs), and have maintained the general tone of the IPCC which steadfastly avoids any political finger pointing (although, I’m sure it wouldn’t be difficult to come up with an intriguing narrative or two blaming the Hutts or even the Empire).

And why all the effort? Well, firstly, this stands as an admittedly elaborate teaching prop; but secondly, I hope this document entices folks to learn more about the real IPCC report. I get the sense that very few people have even heard of the IPCC, and maybe this even includes yourself. Which is a shame because it’s kind of important. In brief, it’s a document, organized by the United Nations, and prepared by a massive group of academics to try and objectively summarize all available research on climate change and its possible downstream effects. In other words, it’s the summation of decades of work by tens of thousands of very smart people, who are essentially telling you: (1) what the scientific evidence currently looks like; (2) what you might expect to happen in the Earth’s near future; and (3) what should people in influence (i.e. governments) consider doing in order to mitigate or adapt to these projections. Put another way, it’s definitely worth a few moments of your time, even if it is a bit of a sobering read.

All to say that if you think this Tatooine TIPCC document was kind of fun to look over (and note that Figure SPM.6 is probably the geekiest thing here), then I encourage you to take a peek at the real IPCC. There’s even official “easier to read” versions (the Summary for Policymaker files, or SPMs) for the two sections so far released. Do check them out by clicking 1 and 2.

(I should also note that this TIPCC document was put together relatively hastily. Most RF, temperature and emissions calculations were done “back of a napkin” style and obviously are hardly rigorous, if not prone to error (the expected RF variation due to a binary system for instance is something I have no clue about!) For that reason, I’m including links to the word doc, as well as a zipped keynote file used to make or tweak the diagrams. If you want to make the data more “robust,” or even add sections to the document, please do so, and add your name to the authorship section at the beginning).

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(Click on image to download TIPCC pdf)

Drafting Authors:
R1-G4, R2-D2, IT-O, A4-D, R-3PO, 4-LOM, R2-Q5, R2-R7, R2-Q2, TX-20, FA-4, R4-P17 R4-P44 R4-G9 R4-D5 R5-D4 R5-J2 R7-A7 R7-D4, C-3PO, K-3PO, TC-14, R-3PO, FX-9, David Ng (UBC, Canada)

This Summary for Policymakers should be cited as:

TIPCC AR1, 2014: Summary for Policymakers. Working Group to the First Assessment Report of the Tatooine Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, New Jedi University Press, Coruscant, Coruscant system, Core Worlds, Canada.

Pdf download: link (4.4Mb)

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A. Introduction

The Working Group contribution to the TIPCC’s First Assessment Report (AR1) considers cumulative evidence of climate change based on many independent scientific analyses from observations of the climate system, paleoclimate archives, theoretical studies of climate processes and simulations using climate models. It represents a first concerted attempt to address the possible long term effects on the Tatooine geological and biodiversity systems, particularly as it pertains to the current unregulated practice of water mining.

This Summary for Policymakers (SPM) follows the structure of the Working Group report. The narrative is supported by a series of overarching highlighted conclusions which, taken together, provide a concise summary.

The degree of certainty in key findings in this assessment is based on the droid teams’ evaluations of underlying scientific understanding and is expressed as a qualitative level of confidence (from very low to very high) and, when possible, probabilistically with a quantified likelihood (from exceptionally unlikely to virtually certain). Confidence in the validity of a finding is based on the type, amount, quality, and consistency of evidence (e.g., data, mechanistic understanding, theory, models, expert judgment) and the degree of agreement.

Probabilistic estimates of quantified measures of uncertainty in a finding are based on statistical analysis of observations or model results, or both, and expert judgment. Where appropriate, findings are also formulated as statements of fact without using uncertainty qualifiers.

The basis for substantive paragraphs in this Summary for Policymakers can be found in the chapter sections of the underlying report and in the Technical Summary.

A.1 Treatment of Uncertainties in TIPCC AR1

The importance of consistent and transparent treatment of uncertainties is clearly recognized by the TIPCC in preparing its assessments of climate change. To promote consistency in the general treatment of uncertainty across this document as well as future ARs, droids have been asked to follow a brief set of guidance notes on determining and describing uncertainties in the context of an assessment.

The standard terms used to define levels of confidence in this report are as given in the TIPCC Uncertainty Guidance Note, namely:

Very high confidence (at least 9 out of 10 chance),
High confidence (about 8 out of 10 chance),
Medium confidence (about 5 out of 10 chance),
Low confidence (about 2 out of 10 chance), and
Very low confidence (about 1 out of 10 chance).

The standard terms used in this report to define likelihood of an outcome or result where this can be estimated probabilistically are:

Virtually certain (>99%),
Extremely likely (>95%),
Very likely (>90%),
Likely (>66%),
More likely than not (>50%),
About as likely as not (33 to 66%),
Unlikely (<33%),
Very unlikely (<10%)
Extremely unlikely (<5%),
Exceptionally unlikely (<1%)

B. Observed Changes in the Tatooine Climate System

Observations of the climate system are based on direct measurements and remote sensing from satellites and other platforms. Global-scale observations from the instrumental era began in the mid-19th century for temperature and other variables, with more comprehensive and diverse sets of observations available for the period 50BBY onwards. Paleoclimate reconstructions extend some records back hundreds to millions of years. Together, they provide a comprehensive view of the variability and long-term changes in the atmosphere and the land surface.

Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, and since the 50BBY, many of the observed changes are unprecedented over decades to millennia. The atmosphere has warmed, civilization released water vapour has increased significantly contributing to overall increase concentrations of greenhouse gases (see Figures SPM.1, SPM.2, and SPM.3)

B.1 Tatooine Atmosphere

Each of the last three decades has been successively warmer on Tatooine’s surface than any preceding decade since 100BBY (see Figure SPM.1 and SPM.2). In the Northern Hemisphere, 20BBY – 10ABY was likely the warmest 30-year period of the last 1400 years (medium confidence).

- For the longest period when calculation of regional trends is sufficiently complete (100BBY to 50BBY), almost the entire globe has experienced surface warming (see Figure SPM.1).

- The globally averaged combined land and ocean surface temperature data as calculated by a linear trend, show a warming of 0.85 [0.65 to 1.06] °C, over the period 120BBY to 10ABY, when multiple independently produced datasets exist. The total increase between the average of the 150BBY–100BBY period and the 0BBY–10ABY period is 0.78 [0.72 to 0.85] °C, based on the single longest dataset available (see Figure SPM.2).

- It is virtually certain that globally the troposphere has warmed since 50BBY. More complete observations allow greater confidence in estimates of tropospheric temperature changes in the extratropical Northern Hemisphere than elsewhere. There is medium confidence in the rate of warming and its vertical structure in the Northern Hemisphere extra-tropical troposphere and low confidence elsewhere.

- Changes in many extreme weather and climate events have been observed since about 50BBY. It is very likely that the number of cold days and nights has decreased and the number of warm days and nights has increased on the global scale. It is likely that the frequency of heat waves has increased in large parts of Northern Hemisphere. There are likely more land regions where the number of strong wind events has increased than where it has decreased. The frequency or intensity of strong winds has likely increased in 1000km radius around Mos Eisley. In other locations, confidence in changes in strong wind events is at most medium.

Figure SPM.1 (Click to Enlarge) Map of the observed surface temperature change from 100BBY to 10ABY derived from temperature trends determined by linear regression from one dataset (orange line in SPM.2). Trends were calculated where data availability permitted a robust estimate (i.e., all grid boxes had greater than 50% complete records and more than 20% data availability in the first and last 10% of the time period).

Figure SPM.2 (Click to Enlarge) Observed global mean combined atmospheric and land surface temperature anomalies, from 150BBY to 10ABY from three data sets. Top panel: annual mean values. Bottom panel: decadal mean values including the estimate of uncertainty for one dataset (black). Anomalies are relative to the mean of 75BBY – 25BBY.

B.2 Tatooine Water Cycle

The atmospheric concentrations of water, carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide have increased to levels unprecedented in at least the last 100,000 years. Water concentrations have increased by 40% since 50BBY, primarily from deregulation and corporatization of water mining practices.

- The atmospheric concentrations of the greenhouse gas water (H2O) has increased since 150BBY due to civilized activity. In 9ABY the concentrations of this greenhouse gas was 5112 ppm, and exceeded the pre-water mining deregulation levels by about 40%.

- Concentrations of H2O now substantially exceed the highest concentrations recorded in sand funnels during the past 500,000 years. The mean rates of increase in atmospheric concentrations over the past century are, with very high confidence, unprecedented in the last 22,000 years.

- Annual H2O escape emissions from water mining were 246 GtH2O yr–1 averaged over 0ABY – 10ABY (high confidence) and were 278 GtH2O yr–1 in 10ABY, 54% above the 30BBY level.

- From 50BBY to 10ABY, H2O escape emissions from water mining have released 12366 GtH2O to the atmosphere.

Figure SPM.3 (Click to Enlarge) Atmospheric concentrations of water (H2O) from Mos Eisley (dark blue), Douz outpost (medium blue), and Wayfar (light blue). Full details of the datasets shown here are provided in the underlying report and the Technical Summary Supplementary Material.

C. Drivers of Tatooine Climate Change

Natural and civilization based activity substances and processes that alter Tatooine’s energy budget are drivers of climate change. Radiative forcing (RF) quantifies the change in energy fluxes caused by changes in these drivers for 10ABY relative to 200BBY, unless otherwise indicated. Positive RF leads to surface warming, negative RF leads to surface cooling. RF is estimated based on in-situ and remote observations, properties of greenhouse gases and binary solar behaviour, and calculations using numerical models representing observed processes.

Total radiative forcing is positive, and has led to an uptake of energy by the climate system. The largest contributions to total radiative forcing is caused by the natural variations in solar energy and the water mining derived increase in the atmospheric concentration of H2O (see Figure SPM.4).

- The total civilization based RF for 10ABY relative to 200BBY is 8.57 W m−2 (see Figure SPM.4), and it has increased more rapidly since 50BBY than during prior decades. The total civilization based RF best estimate for 10ABY is 43% higher than that reported in 0BBY. This is caused by a combination of continued growth in H2O gas concentrations and improved estimates of downstream changes in other greenhouse gas concentrations.

- The RF from emissions of escaped water (H2O) for 10ABY relative to 200BBY is 5.98 [5.12 to 6.93] W m–2 (see Figure SPM.4).

- The total natural RF from solar irradiance changes is substantial and therefore, is carefully taken into account as a significant contribution to the net radiative forcing throughout the last century.

Figure SPM.4 (Click to Enlarge) Radiative forcing estimates in 10ABY relative to 200BBY and aggregated uncertainties for the main drivers of climate change. Values are global average radiative forcing (RF), partitioned according to the emitted compounds or processes that result in a combination of drivers. The best estimates of the net radiative forcing are shown as black circles with corresponding uncertainty intervals, the numerical values are provided on the right of the figure, together with the confidence level in the net forcing (VH – very high, H – high, M – medium, L – low, VL – very low).

D. Understanding the Tatooine Climate System

Understanding recent changes in the Tatooine climate system results from combining observations, studies of feedback processes, and model simulations. Evaluation of the ability of climate models to simulate recent changes requires consideration of the state of all modelled climate system components at the start of the simulation and the natural and civilization based forcing used to drive the models. Compared to previous studies, more detailed and longer observations and improved climate models now enable the attribution of a civilization based contribution to detected changes in more climate system components.

Civilization influence on the climate system is clear. This is evident from the increasing water concentrations in the atmosphere, positive radiative forcing, observed warming, and understanding of the climate system.

D.1 Evaluation of Tatooine Climate Models

Climate models have improved dramatically since previous studies. Models reproduce observed continental scale surface temperature patterns and trends over many decades, including the more rapid warming since 50BBY (very high confidence)

- The long-term climate model simulations show a trend in global-mean surface temperature from 50BBY to 10ABY that agrees with the observed trend (very high confidence). There are, however, differences between simulated and observed trends over periods as short as 10 to 15 years (e.g., 5BBY to 10ABY).

- On regional scales, the confidence in model capability to simulate surface temperature is less than for the larger scales. However, there is high confidence that regional-scale surface temperature is better simulated than at the time of previous studies.

- There has been substantial progress in the assessment of extreme weather and climate events since previous studies. Simulated global-mean trends in the frequency of extreme warm and cold days and nights over the second half of the 20th century are generally consistent with observations.

D.2 Quantification of Tatooine Climate System Responses

Observational and model studies of temperature change, climate feedbacks and changes in Tatooine’s energy budget together provide confidence in the magnitude of global warming in response to past and future forcing.

- The net feedback from the combined effect of changes in water vapour, and differences between atmospheric and surface warming is extremely likely positive and therefore amplifies changes in climate. Uncertainty in the sign and magnitude of possible cloud feedback is due primarily to continuing uncertainty in cloud formation processes.

- The equilibrium climate sensitivity quantifies the response of the climate system to constant radiative forcing on multi-century time scales. It is defined as the change in global mean surface temperature at equilibrium that is caused by a doubling of the atmospheric H2O concentration. Equilibrium climate sensitivity is likely in the range 1.5°C to 4.5°C (high confidence), extremely unlikely less than 1°C (high confidence), and very unlikely greater than 6°C (medium confidence). The lower temperature limit of the assessed likely range is thus less than 2°C, but the upper limit is the same. This assessment reflects improved understanding, the extended temperature record in the atmosphere and land surface, and new estimates of radiative forcing.

- The rate and magnitude of global climate change is determined by radiative forcing, climate feedbacks and the storage of energy by the climate system. Estimates of these quantities for recent decades are consistent with the assessed likely range of the equilibrium climate sensitivity to within assessed uncertainties, providing strong evidence for our understanding of civilization based climate change.

D.3 Detection and Attribution of Tatooine Climate Change

Water mining influence has been detected in the warming of the atmosphere and the land surface, in changes in the global water cycle, and in changes in some climate extremes. This evidence for civilization based influence has grown since 20BBY. It is extremely likely that influence from unregulated water mining has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since 50BBY

- It is extremely likely that more than three quarters of the observed increase in global average surface temperature from 50BBY to 10ABY was caused by the water mining increase in water gas concentrations and other civilization based forcings together. The best estimate of the water mining-induced contribution to warming is similar to the observed warming over this period.

- Escaped water gases contributed a global mean surface warming likely to be in the range of 0.5°C to 1.3°C over the period 50BBY to 10ABY, with the contributions from other anthropogenic forcings, including the cooling effect of aerosols, likely to be in the range of -0.6°C to 0.1°C. The contribution from natural forcings is likely to be in the range of -0.1°C to 0.1°C, and from natural internal variability is likely to be in the range of -0.1°C to 0.1°C. Together these assessed contributions are consistent with the observed warming of approximately 0.6°C to 0.7°C over this period, as calculated with consideration of solar irradiance cycles.

- It is very likely that water mining influence, particularly escaped water greenhouse gases has led to a detectable observed pattern of tropospheric warming since 60BBY.

E. Future Tatooine Climate Change and Effects

Projections of changes in the Tatooine climate system are made using a hierarchy of climate models ranging from simple climate models, to models of intermediate complexity, to comprehensive climate models, and Planetary System Models. These models simulate changes based on a set of scenarios of civilization based radiative forcings. These scenarios, the Representative Concentration Pathways (RCPs), was used for the new climate model simulations carried out under the framework of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 2 (CMIP2) of the Core Worlds Climate Research Programme. In all RCPs, atmospheric H2O concentrations are higher in 100ABY relative to present day as a result of a further increase of cumulative emissions of H2O to the atmosphere during the next century. Projections in this Summary for Policymakers are for the end of 100ABY given relative to 20BBY to 10ABY, unless otherwise stated. To place such projections in historical context, it is necessary to consider observed changes between different periods. Based on the longest global surface temperature dataset available, the observed change between the average of the period 150BBY–100BBY and of the AR1 reference period is 0.61 [0.55 to 0.67] °C.

Continued unregulated/corporatized water mining and consequent emissions of escaped water will cause further warming and changes in all components of the climate system. Limiting climate change will require substantial and sustained reductions of water vapor emissions.

- Note that RCP5.98 represents a stoppage in water mining activities to allow for long term equilibrialization of atmospheric water amounts. RCP12.0 represents likely business as usual (BAU) models extrapolating water mining trends from 50BBY to present day. RCP8.5 and RCP7.0 represent various possible mitigation benchmarks under a BAU model.

E.1 Atmosphere: Temperature

Global surface temperature change for the end of the 100ABY century is likely to exceed 1.5°C relative to 150BBY to 100BBY for the RCP5.98 scenario. It is likely to exceed 4°C for RCP12.0. Warming will continue beyond 100ABY under all RCP scenarios except RCP5.98. Warming will continue to exhibit interannual-to-decadal variability and will not be regionally uniform.

- The global mean surface temperature change for the period 15ABY–30ABY relative to 10BBY-5ABY will likely be in the range of 0.3°C to 0.7°C (medium confidence). This assessment is based on multiple lines of evidence and assumes there will be no major volcanic eruptions or changes in predicted dynamic solar irradiance. Relative to natural internal variability, near-term increases in seasonal mean and annual mean temperatures are expected to be larger in the southern hemisphere than in the northern hemisphere (high confidence).

- Increase of global mean surface temperatures for 80ABY–100ABY relative to 10BBY–5ABY is projected to likely be in the ranges derived from the concentration-driven CMIP1 model simulations, that is, 0.3°C to 1.7°C (RCP5.98), 1.1°C to 2.6°C (RCP7.0), 1.4°C to 3.1°C (RCP8.5), 2.6°C to 4.8°C (RCP12.0).

- Relative to the average from year 1850 to 1900, global surface temperature change by the end of the 21st century is projected to likely exceed 1.5°C for RCP7.0, RCP8.5 and RCP12.0 (high confidence). Warming is likely to exceed 2°C for RCP8.5 and RCP12.0 (high confidence), more likely than not to exceed 2°C for RCP7.0 (high confidence), but unlikely to exceed 2°C for RCP5.98 (medium confidence). Warming is unlikely to exceed 4°C for RCP5.98, RCP7.0 and RCP8.5 (high confidence) and is likely to exceed 4°C for RCP12.0 (medium confidence).

Figure SPM.5 (Click to Enlarge) CMIP5 multi-model simulated time series from 60BBY to 110ABY for change in global annual mean surface temperature relative to 10BBY-5ABY. Time series of projections and a measure of uncertainty (shading) are shown for scenarios RCP5.98 (blue) and RCP12.0 (red). Black (grey shading) is the modelled historical evolution using historical reconstructed forcings. For further technical details see the Technical Summary Supplementary Material.

E.2 Effects on Tatooine Biodiversity

A large fraction of terrestrial species face increased extinction risk under projected climate change during and beyond 100ABY, especially as climate change interacts with other stressors, such as habitat modification, over exploitation, and pollution (high confidence).

- Extinction risk is increased under all RCP scenarios, with risk increasing with both magnitude and rate of climate change. Many species will be unable to track suitable climates under mid- and high-range rates of Tatooine climate change (i.e., RCP7.0, 8.5, and 12.0) during the next century (medium confidence). Lower rates of change (i.e., RCP5.98) will pose fewer problems. See Figure SPM.6. Some species will adapt to new climates. Those that cannot adapt sufficiently fast will decrease in abundance or go extinct in part or all of their ranges. Management actions, such as maintenance of genetic diversity, assisted species migration and dispersal, manipulation of disturbance regimes (e.g., wind storms), and reduction of other stressors, can reduce, but not eliminate, risks of impacts to terrestrial ecosystem due to climate change, as well as increase the inherent capacity of ecosystems and their species to adapt to a changing climate (high confidence).

- Within the next century, magnitudes and rates of climate change associated with medium- to high-emission scenarios (RCP7.0, 8.5, and 12.0) pose high risk of abrupt and irreversible regional-scale change in the composition, structure, and function of terrestrial ecosystems, including low sand areas (medium confidence).

Figure SPM.6 (Click to Enlarge) Maximum speeds at which species can move across landscapes (based on observations and models; vertical axis on left), compared with speeds at which temperatures are projected to move across landscapes (climate velocities for temperature; vertical axis on right). Civilization based interventions, such as transport or habitat fragmentation, can greatly increase or decrease speeds of movement. White boxes with black bars indicate ranges and medians of maximum movement speeds for various representative Tatooine biodiversity. For RCP5.98, 7.0, 8.5, and 12.0 for 20ABY–100ABY, horizontal lines show climate velocity for the global-land-area average and for large flat regions. Species with maximum speeds below each line are expected to be unable to track warming in the absence of intervention.

E.3 Tatooine Climate Stabilization, Climate Change Commitment and Irreversibility

Cumulative emissions of H2O largely determine global mean surface warming by 0BBY century and beyond. Most aspects of climate change will persist for many centuries even if water mining and subsequent emissions of H2O are stopped. This represents a substantial multi-century climate change commitment created by past, present and future emissions of H2O.

- Cumulative total emissions of H2O and global mean surface temperature response are approximately linearly related. Any given level of warming is associated with a range of cumulative H2O emissions, and therefore, e.g., higher emissions in earlier decades imply lower emissions later.

- Limiting the warming caused by water mining based H2O emissions alone with a probability of >33%, >50%, and >66% to less than 2°C since the period 150BBY – 100BBY, will require cumulative H2O emissions from all anthropogenic sources to stay between 0 and about 40133 GtH2O, 0 and about 33688 GtH2O, and 0 and about 27392 GtH2O since that period, respectively.

- A large fraction of civilization based climate change resulting from H2O emissions is irreversible on a multi-century to millennial time scale, except in the case of a large net removal of H2O from the atmosphere over a sustained period. Surface temperatures will remain approximately constant at elevated levels for many centuries after a complete cessation of net civilization based H2O emissions. Due to the long time scales of heat transfer from the land surface to deep sand, terrain warming will continue for centuries. Depending on the scenario, about 15 to 40% of emitted H2O will remain in the atmosphere longer than 1,000 years.

- Currently, model projections suggest a possibility (low confidence) of a irreversible global mean temperature rise that will continue beyond 100ABY. The few available model results that go beyond 100ABY indicate global mean temperature rise by 200ABY to temperatures reaching beyond all Tatooine biodiversity thresholds (medium confidence).

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With apologies to:

IPCC, 2013: Summary for Policymakers. In: Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Stocker, T.F., D. Qin, G.-K. Plattner, M. Tignor, S.K. Allen, J. Boschung, A. Nauels, Y. Xia, V. Bex and P.M. Midgley (eds.)]. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA

IPCC, 2014: Summary for policymakers. In: Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability. Part A: Global and Sectoral Aspects. Contribution of Working Group II to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Field, C.B., V.R. Barros, D.J. Dokken, K.J. Mach, M.D. Mastrandrea, T.E. Bilir, M. Chatterjee, K.L. Ebi, Y.O. Estrada, R.C. Genova, B. Girma, E.S. Kissel, A.N. Levy, S. MacCracken, P.R. Mastrandrea, and L.L. White (eds.)]. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA, pp. 1-32.

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More on Tatooine science via the below carnival!

About David Ng

David (@ng_dave) is Faculty at the Michael Smith Labs. His writing has appeared in places such as McSweeney's, The Walrus, and also as an occasional blogger at If you're looking for a graphic for your next science talk, he encourages you to check out his blog,


By | archive, humour

I’m fine, I just need a sip of water. Can I do that without sounding the climate-change alarms? There are four seasons, you guys. Summer’s the hot one. Always has been. I’m just a little thirsty. And, like, a teeny bit dizzy.

You can split hairs all you want with statistics about temperatures steadily rising each year, or you can spare me the factual histrionics and start enjoying a little summer fun. I’m having such a good time that my head’s actually pounding with the pulse of summer. Really pounding.

That’s strange, I actually feel kind of cold all of a sudden—might go so far as to say I have the chills. That doesn’t sound much like global “warming,” does it? Try explaining that with one of your scientific facts backed by The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel On Climate Change.

I suppose you’ll figure out a way to link my slurred speech to climate change, too. Sorry if you can’t understand me all of a sudden. Summer relaxes me. All of me, including my lips and tongue.

The colors in the summer sky are so pretty, aren’t they? Blue and orange and polka-dotted. Such a perfect backdrop for all those majestic winged bison. They’re so beautiful, especially that one my mom is riding. Hi Mommy! I see you up there. I see you, Mommy.

Oh here we go, now I’m in for it. I should’ve kept that little hallucination to myself. I’m sure an innocent heat vision is yet another red flag in climate-conspiracy land. I just keep handing you more straws to grasp at.

Go ahead and call 911 if you’re so worried about me lying here on the ground. Fine by me. If my skin’s sooooooo pale and clammy and my body is sooooooo limp, then by all means, let’s continue this global warming charade and head to the hospital. I’ll play along.

I hear the sirens approaching now. I hope all that noise pollution doesn’t hurt your precious “ozone layer.” That stratospheric unicorn you love to yammer on about.

Let me guess, everyone in this ambulance is on the global warming bandwagon, too. I love how theatrically you guys are trying to make your point, yelling “Clear!” and jolting my chest with those little paddles. A little much, don’t you think.

I’ll be a sport, see, look I’m frothing at the mouth now. Uh-oh, I’m starting to shake, here comes a seizure, you guys. No one had heat-induced, mouth-frothing seizures like these 400 years ago, right?

Better strap me down and put something in my mouth so I don’t swallow my tongue. The last thing I want to do is fuel your fire for some new climate-related tongue-swallowing conspiracy theory.

Weird, looks like my vitals are flatlining; the machine’s making that dying sound. Man, if only people stopped using cans of hairspray this wouldn’t be happening.


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This piece was originally published on McSweeney’s Internet Tendency.

About Colin Nissan

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Annals of Praetachoral Mechanics. (2014). Vol 1. pp59-69 pdf download


Wookiees (W. wookiee) are monogamous, sentient mammals that have traditionally produced long and elaborate duet songs. It has been repeatedly proposed that duet mating songs for Wookiees might function to improve the fitness of offspring. In this study we aimed to compare DNA methylation of genes that may influence force-sensitivity in Wookiee pups from singing and non singing parents. Here we report that prenatal exposure to duet song altered the offspring epigenome. We identified 390 differentially methylated genes by genome-wide methylation profiling technology. We found five force-sensitivity genes (UTFL, ASFYL, LSGB, and NTRP) that were differentially methylated in pups from duet singing parents and confirmed that altered methylation of ASFYL and HMOWK affects gene expression. Furthermore, pups from duet singing parents had more midi-chlorians per cell, indicating a greater awareness for the Force. Taken together, our findings demonstrate that Wookiee mating song behaviour during prenatal development has a positive benefit on offspring.

Keywords: Wookiee, song, force sensitivity, epigenetics, DNA methylation


A number of animals in the galaxy are known to produce elaborate mating songs, most notably species of monogamous birds and a few arboreal mammals, mainly Ewoks (E. ewok) and Wookiees (W. wookiee). The functions most frequently proposed for duet songs include territorial advertisement and strengthening pair bonds (Geissmann, 1999; Haimoff, 1981). Prenatal exposure to duet songs is believed to improve the fitness of the developing offspring, but this has not yet been demonstrated in any species. Previous efforts in studying the effect of duet songs have been conducted in Ewok and been largely unsuccessful. This is mainly attributed to fact that Ewok are extremely uncooperative and mischievous subjects. Wookiee on the other hand, are much better subjects due to their renowned intelligence and a propensity for force-sensitivity that is closer to human than most creatures. In fact, there have been several adept Wookiees of the Force, notably Lowbacca. Despite their fearsome appearance, Wookiees have a natural gift for musical song and are surprisingly gentle and sensitive creatures if not provoked. The Wookiee mating call is an old tradition of the Kashyyyk, but sadly knowledge of the culture has been fading over many generations.

Previously, we speculated that the advent of a superior specimen with heightened force-sensitivity is largely determined by epigenetic transmission. Perhaps the most prominent example of this phenomenon is the birth of Luke and Leia from Queen Padmé Naberrie Amidala. Many scholars attribute the differences in their upbringing as to why Luke realized the Force much earlier in life than his twin sister. Hallmark findings in the past have established a direct relationship between the number of midi-chlorians per cell and sensitivity to the Force (Russell and Rocheleau, 2014). Recent findings suggest that epigenetic modifications established in the prenatal environment can have a life-long effect on midi-chlorian content.

Given that Wookiee couples that produce duet songs are believed to produce healthier offspring, we hypothesized that prenatal exposure to duet singing may also enhance force sensitivity. To compare the differences between pups from singing and non singing parents, we conducted a genome-wide methylation analysis to determine differentially methylated genes associated with force-sensitivity. Here we provide compelling evidence that Wookiee pups conceived from parents that produce duet mating songs have a great number of midi-chlorians, and hence are more sensitive to the Force, than pups from parents that have forgotten the ritual.

Materials and Methods

Wookiee pup sample collection.

Blood samples were collected from healthy Wookiee pups at the Rwookrrorro nursery ring by standard phlebotomy techniques after receiving written consent from their parents. Subjects were selected between the ages of 6-11 years and were identified as generally healthy and without a diagnosis or history of any force-deficiency disorders. After venipuncture, EDTA was added as an anticoagulant and samples were stored at −80 °C until use.


DNA extraction and hybridization to Illumina Infinium assay.

Genomic DNA was extracted and purified from whole blood using DNeasy blood and tissue kit (Qiagen, Valencia, CA) according to manufacturer’s protocol. DNA was quantified by NanoDrop 2000 Spectrophotometer (NanoDropTechnologies, Inc.) before transfer to 4°C for short-term storage or -20°C for long-term storage. A bisulphite conversion reaction was performed using 500 ng of genomic DNA according to manufacturer’s instructions for the Zymo EZ DNA Methylation kit (Zymo Research, Irvine, CA). The bisulfite-converted sample was then hybridized to the WookieeMethylation27 BeadChip (Illumina, San Diego, CA) and DNA methylation was evaluated at the Arkanis’ Obi-Wan Genome Sciences Centre (Tatooine, Outer Rim Territories).

Analysis of differentially methylated genes.

Results from the Illumina Infinium array were interpreted with GenomeStudio software. The WookieeMethylation27 BeadChip quantifies methylation levels at 27,578 CpG loci spanning 14,495 genes (Rev. by Gupta et al. 2010). The methylation status of CpG sites are calculated as the ratio of fluorescent signal from one allele relative to the sum of both methylated and unmethylated alleles. The resulting average β-intensity signals range from 0 (unmethylated) to 1 (fully methylated) to represent the percentage of methylation. Differential methylation was defined as a significant difference in percentage of methylation between pups from duet singing vs. non singing parents, where a difference in percentage of methylation was ≥33.3% or ≤-33.3%, combined with an ANOVA P value of <0.05. ANOVA P values were calculated using GraphPad Prism 6 software (GraphPad Software, Inc. La Jolla, CA). To test the potential influence of age, an additional statistical analysis was performed with a mixed model ANCOVA to consider age as a covariate (Partek). Array data have been submitted to the Sentient Genetics Omnibus repository (SGO) and are available under accession number SGO126584.

List of differentially methylated force-sensitivity genes.

A list of genes encoding proteins within the force sensitivity pathway was curated using the JEDI pathway database (episode 6.0). The resulting list was compared against results from the Illumina methylation array to identified genes with altered methylation in pups from duet singing and non singing parents.

Real-time PCR.

Total RNA was isolated from whole blood using the Tempus Spin RNA Isolation Kit according to manufacturer’s instructions (Applied Biosystems, Foster City, CA), followed by quantification by NanoDrop 2000 Spectrophotometer (NanoDropTechnologies, Inc.). First-strand cDNA synthesis was carried out using the TaqMan Reverse Transcription Reagents (Applied Biosystems) with random hexamers according to the manufacturer’s protocol. Triplicate samples for quantitative real-time PCR were run in the Applied Biosystems 7500 real-time PCR System using the Power SYBR Green PCR Mastermix (Applied Biosystems). Each reaction contained 1 μl of cDNA in a total volume of 20 μl. Results were normalized to β–actin transcript levels.

Quantification of midi-chlorian DNA copy number.

Midi-chlorians were enriched from whole blood samples using the Midi-chlorian extraction kit (SithTech, Tatooine, Outer Rim Territories) according to manufacturer’s protocol. McDNA was extracted by digestion with Proteinase K (100 μg/ml) in a buffer containing 50 mM KCl, 10 mM Tris-HCl, 2.5mM MgCl2 and 0.5% Tween-20. Samples were incubated overnight at 37˚C then boiled for 5 min. McDNA was linearized by digestion with ChewIII enzyme. McDNA content was measured by a multiplex real-time PCR method as previously described (Andreu et al. 2009). Primers to amplify a single copy mcDNA gene R2D2 and a mcDNA TaqMan probe were used (Applied Biosystems).

R2D2 forward primer: 5’-CAGAATGATATTTGTCCTTCA-3’
R2D2 reverse primer: 5’-GATATGAAAAACCATCGTTG-3’
R2D2 probe: 5’-TGCCAGCCACCGCG-3’

McDNA quantity was corrected by simultaneous measurement of a single copy nuclear gene C3P0 gene using a commercial (Applied Biosystems). Real-time PCR reactions consisted of 1 μL of pre-developed assay regent for C3P0 and 112 nM of each mcDNA primers and mcDNA probe, and 2–10 ng of total genomic DNA extract. Thermocycling was completed out on an Applied Biosystems 7500 real-time PCR System with the following conditions: 2 min at 50 °C and 10 min at 95 °C, followed by 40 cycles of 15 s of denaturation at 95 °C and 60 s of annealing/extension at 60 °C. Calibration curves were generated to quantify mcDNA and nuclear DNA copy numbers, which were based on the linear relationship between the crossing point cycle values and the logarithm of the starting copy number (Phillips, 2014).


Prenatal exposure to Wookiee duet song impacts the DNA methylation profile of hundreds of genes.

Six pups from singing parents and six from non singing parents were recruited from the Rwookrrorro nursery for this study (Table 1). Based on personal communication and interviews with the parents, we were able to formulate a composition of a typical mating duet (Fig. 1A), as well as trace sonograms to describe the distinctive calls produced during a song (Fig. 1B). Overall, the duet mating song is an elaborate custom with a well-defined sequence of howls, barks and intermittent screams.

Figure 1 (Click to Enlarge). Duet mating song produced by adult Wookiee pairs. A: Schematic diagram illustrating the sequential nature of an entire mating duet. B: Sonagram tracings showing the types of call sequences produced during a song.

Using DNA isolated from whole blood samples, we used Illuminia Infinium technology to conduct genome-wide DNA methylation profiling. By a comparative statistical approach, we found that many genes are differentially methylated as a result of prenatal exposure to the duet song. We identified 390 genes showing differential methylation between pups from singing and non-singing parents (Fig. 2A). Of all the differentially methylated genes, 328 were hypomethylated and 62 were hypermethylated. In general, hypomethylation of gene promoters is associated with more robust transcriptional activity. Based on these findings, it appears that numerous genes are more active in pups from parents that sing duets.

Figure 2 (Click to Enlarge). DNA methylation levels in pups from duet singing and non-singing parents. The relative methylation of genes are displayed with heat maps for the 390 genes differentially methylated in pups from singing parents (A). 5 genes detected as differentially methylated in our array, are force-sensitivity genes (B).

Force-sensitivity genes are differentially methylated in pups from duet singing parents.

To focus on genes encoding proteins in the force-sensitivity pathway, we used the JEDI pathway database (episode 6.0) to generate a list of genes to be examined for differences in DNA methylation status. Comparing the list to our methylation array, we identified five genes that were differentially methylated in pups from parents that sing and do not sing (Fig. 2B). Of the differentially methylated force-sensitivity genes, four genes were hypomethylated (UTFL, ASFYL, LSGB, NTRP), and one was hypermethylated (HMOWK; Table. 2).


Methylation of ASFYL and HMOWK promoters affects gene expression.

An additional statistical analysis (ANCOVA) was performed for the selected force-sensitivity genes, where array-based methylation levels in singers were compared against non-singers while adjusting for age as a covariate. UTFL, ASFYL, and NTRP remained statistically significant (P < 0.05); however, the P values for LSGB and HMOWK became non significant and increased to 0.098 and 0.067 respectively. Nevertheless, the difference in methylation in HMOWK between singers and non-singers (Fig. 2B) is still biologically relevant. Among the differentially methylated force-sensitivity genes, two of them, mainly ASFYL and HMOWK are known to play a strong role in the control of force-sensitivity in humans. Previously, these genes have been implicated to be a determinant of longevity in Wookiees. ASFYL encodes a protein that regulates oxidative stress responses, and increased expression of ASFYL is associated with improved removal of reactive oxygen species (ROS) that are detrimental to cells. HMOWK encodes an ubiquitin ligase to the midi-chlorian outer membrane that has been proposed to play a role in the control of midi-chlorian morphology by regulating contacts with the endoplasmic reticulum and essential GTPases. This in turn promotes fusion of midi-chlorians as a mechanism to maintain midi-chlorian numbers in response to intrinsic signals.

We confirmed that DNA hypomethylation of ASFYL and hypermethylation of HMOWK affects gene expression by quantitative real-time PCR. As predicted, hypomethylation of ASFYL was associated with increased expression of ASFYL transcripts in pups from the singing parents group (Fig. 3A). Similarly, hypermethylation of HMOWK was associated with decreased HMOWK transcript levels in pups from the non singing group (Fig. 3B).

Figure 3 (Click to Enlarge). RT-PCR validation of ASFYL and HMWOK expression. A: ASFYL, identified as hypomethylated in whole blood cells from pups, is expressed at significantly higher levels in those born to singing parents compared to non-singing. B: HMWOK, identified as hypermethylated in whole blood cells from pups, is expressed at significantly lower levels in those born to singing parents as compared with non-singing. Each result is normalized to a housekeeping gene (β-actin) to represent relative levels. Data are means ± SE (n = 6 subjects/group); *P < 0.05; **P < 0.005.

Wookiee duet song ritual enhances force-sensitivity in offspring.

A hallmark of Force aptitude is an elevated midi-chlorian level in cells. Hence, we quantified midi-chlorian DNA in blood samples from pups to determine whether prenatal exposure to duet songs can increase force-sensitivity. We used a multiplex pPCR assay as previously described (Phillips, 2014), and compared the midi-chlorian count per cell among the two groups, singing versus non singing parents. Statistical analysis (Wilcoxon signed-rank test) of mcDNA content revealed that pups born from singing parents had a significantly greater (P = 0.036) number of midi-chlorians per cell that those born to non-singing parents (Fig 4). To test the potential influence of age, an additional statistical analysis was performed with ANCOVA and we found that age was not a significant covariate.

Figure 4 (Click to Enlarge). Force sensitivity is enhanced in pups from parents that produce the duet mating song. Force-sensitivity is represented by midi-chlorian count per cell and was determined by multiplex qPCR for the two groups (n = 6 subjects/group); *P <0.05.


Previous attempts in identifying transgenerational effects mating behaviour produces on offspring have been inconclusive. In our study, we found outstanding differences in how genes are regulated epigenetically in pups from singing and non singing parents. The findings from our study can be summarized by four main points: DNA methylation profiles differ depending on whether or not the parents produce the Wookiee mating duet, several force-sensitivity genes are differentially methylated, hypo- and hypermethylation of critical force-sensitivity genes affect the level of gene expression, and pups from singing compared to non singing parents have a greater midi-chlorian content which may be attributed to DNA methylation. Here we provide direct evidence that mating behaviour can produce transgeneration effects on offspring by epigenetic mechanisms.

Our analysis identified five genes involved in the force-sensitivity pathway that are heavily influenced by DNA methylation, UTFL, ASFYL, LSB, NTRP, and HMOWK. This finding supports the notion of a direct link between prenatal care and force-sensitivity of offspring. In particular we found that ASFYL to be hypomethylated and HMOWK to be hypermethylated in pups from singing parents relative to those from non singing parents and that DNA methylation of these genes altered gene expression. Our data demonstrate that differential methylation in response to parental care can regulate gene expression across generations. Our findings also raise new questions such as whether maternal or parental behaviour produce the same effect on offspring, when during development are epigenetic modifications established, and if these changes can be reversed later in life.

It is accepted that midi-chlorians are ancient, symbiotic microbes that have established permanent residency inside the cells of every living form. When midi-chlorians are present in elevated numbers, they confer to the host the ability to detect the Force. A typical human has an average of 2,400 midi-chlorians per cell, while a Wookiee may have anywhere from 1,600-1,800. Our results show that prenatal exposure to Wookiee duet songs can increase the midi-chlorians content, to a level that is comparable to humans. Given that the duet singing custom is rapidly declining in Wookiees, efforts should be made to preserve the culture and to educate Wookiees of its positive benefits to offspring.

Literature Cited

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Carvalho, R. H., Haberle, V., Hou, J., van Gent, T., Thongjuea, S., van IJcken, W., et al. (2012). Genome-wide DNA methylation profiling of non-small cell lung carcinomas. Epigenetics & Chromatin , 1-18.

Geissmann, T. (1999). Duet songs of the Siamang, Hylobates syndactylus: II. Testing the pair-bonding hypothesis during a partner exchange. Behaviour , 1005-1039.

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Haimoff, E. H. (1981). Video Analysis of Siamang (Hylobates syndactylus) songs. Behaviour , 128-151.

Khor, G. H., Froemming, G. R., Zain, R. B., Abraham, M. T., Tan, S. K., Tan, A. C., et al. (2013). DNA Methylation Profiling Revealed Promoter Hypermethylation-induced Silencing of p16, DDAH2 and DUSPI in Primary Oral Squamous Cell Carcinoma. Int J Med Sci , 1727-1739.

Organa, L., Blue, D., & Naberrie, P. (2002). Sentient Genetics Omnibus: STAR gene expression and hybridization array data repository. Nucleic Acids Res , 207-210.

Phillips, N. R., Sprouse, M. L., & Roby, R. K. (2014). Simultaneous quantification of mitochondrial DNA copy number and deletion ratio: A multiplex real-time PCR assay. Scientific Reports , 1-7.

Rager, J. E., Bauer, R. N., Müller, L. L., Smeester, L., Carson, J. L., Brighton, L. E., et al. (2013). DNA methylation in nasal epithelial cells from smokers: identification of ULBP3-related effects. Am J Physiol Lung Cell Mol Physiol , L432-L438.

Russell, G., & Rocheleau, G. (2014). Genetic basis for force-sensitivity in Wookies. Annals of Praetachoral Mechanics , 1, 22-28.

Skywalker, A., Fett, J., Marek, G., Offee, B., & Brood, M. (2046). JEDI: Intergalactical Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes. Nucleic Acids Res , 27-30.

Weaver, I. C., Cervoni, N., Champagne, F. A., D’Alessio, A. C., Sharma, S., Seckl, J. R., et al. (2004). Epigenetic programming by maternal behavior. Nature Neuroscience , 7 (8), 847-854.

About Abhinav Ajay Kumar and Jacky Kieran Leung

Abhinav Ajay Kumar is a UBC Pathology and Laboratory Medicine student working on the relationship between HIV infection, antiretroviral therapy and cellular aging. He loves to spends his weekends playing soccer and cricket. #ManchesterUnited #onceunitedalwaysunited. Jacky Leung is a UBC pathology graduate student at the BC Cancer Agency working on a cure for prostate cancer. He enjoys quiet times with his ill-mannered cat, Betty, and wishes to one day own a food truck.


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