Monday, July 4, 2022

Images: Virgo Cluster of Galaxies and Cumulonimbus Montage

Environmental & Science Education, STEM, Earth & Space Science, Cosmology, Earth Systems, Astronomy

Ed Hessler

This entry offers two images of "up there,"out in the deep universe and of a massive storm clouds here on Earth.

The first image is from Astronomy Picture of the Day (APOD) is of the Virgo Cluster of Galaxies, the closest cluster of galaxies to our own Milky Way Galaxy, a neighbor so-to-speak. It is beautiful and scientifically interesting and includes an explanation.

The second image is from Earth Science Picture of the Day (EPOD) and shows the sequential development of a massive anvil cloud thunderhead over Taiwan. The six images were taken about 10 minutes apart. One of them is illuminated by the setting sun in a golden glow. The entry includes a video of anvil cloud development.

Sunday, July 3, 2022

The Hautman Brothers

Environmental & Science Education, STEM, Nature, Wildlife, Biodiversity 

CBS Sunday Morning had a segment on three U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) duck stamp artists. They are siblings, and duck hunters and certainly many Minnesotan's will recognized their names. They grew up in Minneapolis. Each year one artist is chosen based on their submissions to the annual duck stamp contest. Here they are.

Jim Hautman--a record six times and the 2022 winner

Joe Hautman--five times

Robert Hautman--three time 

They are sometimes referred to as the "Duck Dynasty". And they also paint more than ducks.

Correspondent Conor Knighton reports (5m 19s).  The Wiki entry on the federal duck stamp includes a list of all Federal Duck Stamp artists. The program began in 1934.

Saturday, July 2, 2022

Energy Sources and Land Use

Environmental & Science Education, STEM, Sustainability, Global Change, Pollution, Climate Change, Nature of Science, Maths,

Ed Hessler

The environmental impacts of different energy sources include land, water, natural resources for fuel and manufacturing, etc. Energy sources are different and so are the variety of environmental impacts.

Our World In Data has a chart and a short accompanying article on how much land various sources use. They are based on life-cycle assessments. 

About such assessments, Hannah Rithie writes,"These cover the land use of the plant itself while in operation; the land used to mine the materials for its construction; mining for energy fuels, either used directly (i.e. the coal, oil, gas, or uranium used in supply chains) or indirectly (the energy inputs used to produce the materials); connections to the electricity grid; and land use to manage any waste that is produced." 

Context and the type of material also are influential, sometimes mattering a lot, e.g., whether cadmium-based or silicon-based panels.

Rithie calls attention to an issue in presenting data about wind. It she says "must be considered differently" because some of it is offshore and "land between turbines," can be "used for other activities."

Rithie closes with a discussion of the potential effects of location and "what the alternative uses of that land are."

Charts are sometimes daunting, easily skipped over, but one value is that they condense a wealth of data in one place. As such they become valuable aids to understanding and thinking, the promotion of discussion and the generation of questions.

The article includes the sources for the chart, also very important information, too. 

Friday, July 1, 2022

An APOD Birthday Calendar

Environmental & Science Education, STEM, Earth & Space Science, Solar System, Cosmos

Ed Hessler

I'm back, both systems are up and working: Internet and me. So on a Friday a Thursday post.

Astronomy Picture of the Day (APOD) has a calendar on which you can find the APOT picture of the day for your birthday, from June 1995 - present. 

The years in the chart are entered in vivid DayGlo-like colors, perfect to acknowledge a birthday. And October is a pumpkin Halloween orange.

Another treat for you, on your birthday. Happy Birthday.

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Friday Poem And Annoucement

Environmental & Science Education, Poetry, Art & Environment

Ed Hessler

First, I will be away from the blog for a few days starting today (June 20) perhaps returning Saturday, the reason for this very early Friday poem.

Duckweed by Richard Luftig. 

Information about Luftig is found below the poem.

Hidden Right Under Our Noses: Champagne Physics

Environmental & Science Education, STEM, Nature of Science, History of Science

Ed Hessler

--Champagne should be considered a ‘mini’ laboratory for the physics of fluids.”--Physicist Robert Georges (New Scientist; quoted in NatureBriefing June 6 2022)

Both the original research report on shock waves produced when champagne bottles are uncorked, published in Physics of Fluids and a popular account in New Scientist, are behind paywalls but the press release from the American Institute of Physics (AIP) is available. It includes a "time sequence of photographs showing details of a cork expelled from a champagne bottleneck stored at 20 degrees Celsius" (68 Degrees Fahrenheit) in the first millisecond.

In science as knowledge grows and measuring tools have progressed this phrase captures the change that has occurred: "there is much more that comes out of the pop than meets the senses." Further research is planned on the effects of temperature, volume, bottleneck diameter, the physicochemical processes, e.g., "how supersonic flow is affected by ice particle formations caused by the drastic temperature drop as the fizz ejects from the bottle."

Co-author Gerard Liger-Belair (Universite de Reims Champagne-Ardenne) made this remark, "'Who could have imagined he complex and aesthetic phenomenon hidden behind such a common situation experienced by any one of us?'"

The champagne bottle IS a mini-laboratory. There are likely still many scientific problems that appear common. They can be explored scientifically when you have the know how, training and education, understanding of a field, the equipment that allows you to get beyond the constraints of your sense, AND the curiosity to  notice and then to investigate them.

Here is the AIP press release with more details and insights this research may provide..




Tuesday, June 28, 2022

A Unique Hunting Strategy By A Small Population of Polar Bears

Environmental & Science Education, STEM, Behavior, Nature, Wildlife, Sustainability, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Global Change, Biological Evolution

Ed Hessler

It was good to find a short report about the finding of an isolated polar bear population which has developed a hunting strategy that allows them to survive in an area free of sea ice for part of the year. I'd heard about it and was interested.

The scientific report is a bit of bitter and sweet. The bitter is a reminder of what we have done to  the earth's atmosphere; the sweet, at least for the time being, is a solution found by these magnificent bears, so appropriately bearing the scientific name of Ursus maritimus. The sea bear.

The original paper is behind a subscription paywall in the journal Science.

The story reported by Bianca Nogrady notes that "researcher identified the genetically distinct sub-population in the fjords of southeast Greenland" where "sea-ice coverage last for only around 100day each year." Polar bears require sea ice to hunt. The population of females is small, "consisting of 27 adult females." They hunt "on the ice that has calved off glaciers--called glacial melange."  The "populations has been isolated from other polar bears populations...for at least 200 years."

Here is a short video (53s) of the physics of a glacial ice melange.

Kristin Laidre at the University of Washington in Seattle led the research. She told Nogrady that sometimes, when "the ice platforms got caught in the rapid current that travels down the east coast of Geenlan...'they would actually jump off', swim ashore and walk back home."

For more details see the Nature report where there is also a magnificent picture of a bear from this population.

Monday, June 27, 2022

Red-Bellied Woodpeckers

Environmental & Science Education, STEM, Biodiversity, Nature, Wildlife, Evolutionary Biology

Ed Hessler

Sometimes species are referred to as generalists while others as specialists--a shorthand description of their abilities to survive under different environmental conditions and feeding behavior. However, the overall truth of the matter is that there is a continuum from one to the other although some species fit in one or the other very clearly. This Wiki entry has details on generalist and specialist species.

Jim Williams (The Star Tribune, June 8, 2022) focused on one, red-bellied woodpeckers, birds that have "been pushing northward for the past 70 years." They are generalists as you shall see.

As is well known, two locally common woodpeckers are quite hard to identify, the downy and the hairy woodpecker. And they don't give you many easy or clear glimpses. Red-bellied woodpeckers are easy, thanks to "an arresting black and white-barred back" which leads some to use a more descriptive name: zebra-backed woodpecker. Their bellies appear lightly rouged. Red-bellied woodpeckers are vocal and the descriptions of all three from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology describes their respective appearance and calls. Williams notes that red bellies "churr."

After describing some of their behavior, coloration, spread, his backyard experiences, nesting habits, Williams writes "So, hats off to a misnamed but highly successful tree-clinging bird, who's not fussy about what it eats and where it lives, and is managing to capitalize on our changing natural world." I think you will agree that they are handsome, striking birds. They appear inquistive, at least in my view.

Woodpeckers. One more good reason to do everything we can to slow the change from climate and insults to habitats. 

Another column from one of the best around. Thank you.

Saturday, June 25, 2022

A President and Forest Elephants

Environmental & Science Education, STEM, Biodiversity, Global Change, Wildlife, Sustainability

Ed Hessler

This short video (2m 33s) from the BBC tells the story of how the country of Gabon (now the Gabomese Republic) saved its forest elephants while likely conserving and preserving other biodiversity.

At a meeting, President Omar Bongo turned to minster and asked "Why did nobody ever tell me that we had these wildlife treasures in Gabon." Not many heads of state refer to wildlife as treasures, certainly at the time. President Bongo set a course to change that. 

Bongo was the second president of Gabon, administering the country for 42 years and died while in office. (December 1935 to June 8 2009)-- a long period of peace and stability. He was a short man but one of towering stature. The Wiki entry has the details.

Two remarkable individuals made a difference as shown in this film: President Bongo and wildlife biologist, the Brit, Lee White.

Friday, June 24, 2022