Thursday, November 26, 2020

The Man Who Feeds Parakeets Daily (100s of them, 3 Times/Day)

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

Ed Hessler

"Lakshmi Narayan Reddy's home in the southern Indian city of Visakhapatnam has become a popular spot for the city's ring-necked parakeets (aka rose-ringed parakeet).

"Hundreds of the birds – which are a species of parrot – flock to his terrace three time a day, where he sprinkles grains of rice for them to peck.

"It's now become a daily routine and one that he has perfected over the last 14 years - much to the delight of his neighbours who often peek out of their windows and watch as the parrots gather on his terrace every day."

These birds demand a lot of attention to remain somewhat tame (see the Wiki entry above). They are very handsome.

Ah the green world, this time a gift from birds. (BBC video 1m 47s)

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Cosmic Graveyard

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

Ed Hessler 

I don't think I'd ever thought of space, the cosmos, possessing a graveyard. 

It does, of course, as Astronomy Picture of the Day (APOD), shows in a graphic of cosmic collisions detected in 2019. The measurements are in solar masses and you will note that there are some big things out there. LIGO and VIRGO refer to the detectors which allowed scientists to observe these very large events. Those collisons result in gravitational waves.

The cosmic grave yard is widely dispersed!

APOD's illustration is fully explained and linked.

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Whitewater Watershed Lego Model

Environmental & Science Education, STEM, Watersheds, Water

Ed Hessler

This is a lovely and important contribution to our sense of what a watershed is.

The Whitewater Watershed Lego Model is the result of a partnership between Whitewater State Park and Winona State University.  Constructed entirely out of LEGO bricks (more than 26,000 of them) this is a built to-scale topographic model of the Whitewater Watershed. Many friends of the park were involved in its construction.

The permanent home of the model is the Visitor Center at Whitewater State Park but the model will travel around the community to libraries, farmers markets, and fairs to engage folks in water conversations.

Here is the link which includes a video showing its construction in quick-time. There is also a description of the project as well as information about a watershed education program at the Visitor Center.


Monday, November 23, 2020

COVID-19 Deaths: 250,000 Visualized

Environmental & Science Education, STEM, Health, Medicine

Ed Hessler

The Washington Post has a few graphics which may help you visualize this country's Covid-19 deaths, surpassing more than 250,000 victims.

The Post noted that the outbreak has killed:

  • Four times as many Americans as have died in the decade-long Vietnam War.
  • Twice as many Americans as were killed over two years in World War I.
  • Nearly two thirds as many Americans as have died during four years of fighting in World War II.
  • More than one-third of an estimated 675,000 Americans who died in the 1918-19 flu pandemic, which was the worst in modern history.

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Interview with Elizabeth Mrema, XS Convention on Biological Diversity.

Environmental & Science Education
Edward Hessler

"Earlier (this late summer) Elizabeth Mrema was appointed executive secretary of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), making her the first woman from Africa to lead the intergovernmental body.
"The CBD was created by a UN treaty, signed into force by nations in 1992, and helps to set global targets to conserve biodiversity.
"Mrema, a lawyer from Tanzania, now based in Montreal, Canada, takes on her new role after more than a decade in leadership positions at the United Nations Environment Programme — and at a crucial time. She will oversee the creation of a new global biodiversity agreement for the next decade, which is currently being drafted. The accord was expected to be signed at a meeting in Kunming, China, in October, but this has been postponed until next year because of the coronavirus pandemic."
The scientific journal Nature published this interview with her. Reading it will give you an idea of the nature--complexity--of this multifaceted issue, one that has multiple answers. Will speaking in the name of nature bring people together? She is hoping that it will. This is not a problem one nation or even region can solve. International cooperation is required.

Saturday, November 21, 2020

Malaysian Giant Leaf Insect

Environmental & Science Education
Biological Evolution
Edward Hessler

This video from KQED (4m 21s) is about the Malaysian giant leaf insect that, while large, can be very difficult to see when it is in its leafy habitat--guava or mango trees..

This insect makes use of cryptic mimicry and protective resemblance to hide itself. In the accompanying essay Jenny Oh writes "'Cryptic mimicry' might sound like a magic trick. But it’s the ability of animals to conceal themselves. Also known as camouflage, the feature allows the leaf insects to use two different techniques: crypsis and protective resemblance.

"Crypsis refers to an insect’s color and how much it looks like its habitat, while protective resemblance describes insects that resemble a natural object such as a stick, stone or, in this case, a large leaf."

These insects are part of an interactive exhibit at the California Academy of Sciences. Oh's essay describes their maintenance and some of their biology.

Friday, November 20, 2020

Friday Poem

Environmental & Science Education, Art and Environment, Poetry, Chilren, Early Childhood

Ed Hessler

From St. Paul, Good Morning on this 325th day of the year. Of course, the obvious thing to do is say it plain and simple: 10 months and 20 days have passed (88.80%).

Today there will be 9h 20m 57s of daylight with sunrise at 7:17 am and sunset at 4:38 pm. Darkness is beginning to pinch us. Two days ago, the sun set for the last time this year in Utqiagvik, Alaska(formerly Barrow) and will not rise above the horizon until January 23, 2021. It is located 320 miles north of the Arctic Circle.

This date is officially celebrated by the United Nations as World Children's Day.

Today's quote: We speak of owning land, but I believe that the land owns us. We claim it for a few short years, then relinquish it, but the land endures--and so do our memories.--Helen Baker Kjonas (Prairie in Her Heart: Pioneer Women of North Dakota, Barbara Witteman, 2001.

Today's poem is from Ted Kooser's weekly American Life in Poetry, #817. It is by James Crews.

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Amber: An Animated Video

Environmental & Science Education, STEM, Geology, Earth Sciences

Ed Hessler

This short animated video (3m 38s) from The Atlantic is about amber.

"Amber is precious, but its not a gem. It's fossilized tree resin--a substance that forms over millions of years, capturing ancient detail as the sap oozes. Amber specimens have led to a 'mind blowing' number of scientific discoveries, the writer Katharine Gammon says. 'The amount of detail you can get in fossilized specimens inside the amber is eons ahead of other types of fossils.'

"Why, then, has one scientist called for an ethical moratorium on the mining of amber?"

I would have preferred that the comparison with other fossil and fossilizing processes be more simply stated, "eons ahead". It is different and has its limitations, too. Scientists use what nature provides and are  grateful for it. But this is a peevish point. 

There is a link to Gammon's article on amber in The Atlantic.

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Another Exclamation Point to Add to the Value of Science-Based Decision-Making at All Levels of Government

 Environmental & Science Education, STEM, Nature of Science, Health, Medicine

Ed Hessler

In a short statement, Marcia McNutt, the president of the National Academy of Sciences, and Victor J. Dzau, the president of the U S. Academy of Medicine address their alarm about political interference in science amid the pandemic, underscoring "the value of science-based decision-making at all levels of government."

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Corona Virus Vaccine Researchers: What They Do All Day

Environmental & Science Education, STEM, Health, Medicine, Nature of Science, Science & Society

Ed Hessler

What scientists do day-by-day in their laboratories in the development of a COVID-19 vaccine is being documented on TikTok, Twitter and Instagram (hashtag #TeamHalo).

Their aim is to bring the public closer to their work, and answer as many pressing questions as they can.

It's a global effort, with scientists volunteering to post videos that highlight their efforts to curb the pandemic.

Here in a short video (1m 13s) from the BBC is a brief introduction.