Sunday, March 7, 2021

Saving an Endangered Marsupial

Environmental & Science Education, STEM, Biodiversity, Biological Evolution, Nature, Wildlife, Endangered Species

Ed Hessler

I've never heard of a small Australian marsupial, the numbat (Myrmecobius fasciatus), also known as the noombat and walpurti). It is one of the world's most endangered animals.

This BBC News video (2m 25s) notes that it is "unique even to Australia" and that is saying something. The video describes the numbat and reports on efforts to save them by constructing predator-free sanctuaries.

Saturday, March 6, 2021

Another Very Endangered Australian Animal

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

Ed Hessler

Here is another critter unheard of by me, the Kangaroo Island dunnart (genus Sminthopis). It is another in the large group of Australian marsupials. The dunnart is also a cryptic species (two or more distinct species classified as a single species which superficially look the same). 

When the dunnart's habitat was almost completely destroyed by Australia's bushfires of 2021 it was already critically endangered. From bad to worse.

A BBC video (4m 08s) introduces us to the dunnart, an ecologist who has studied them for four years but has never seen one in the wild, how the animals are being studied (observed indirectly) and measures being taken to protect them in their remaining habitat.

Friday, March 5, 2021

Minnesota's Seasons: Updated

Environmental & Science Education, STEM, Earth and Space Sciences, Earth Systems

Ed Hessler

Paul Huttner is Minnesota Public Radio's chief meteorologist. On the Updraft weather notes for March 3 he listed the new Minnesota's seasons. This, on the occasion of what he called "the spring of deception." It has been warmer and much less snowier than the normal. We know that snows of various sizes are still possible but it is unlikely to be so cold.. Huttner referred to them as seasonal memes but this cultural fad had not reached me or me it so I suspect posting them will be yesterday's news. Nevertheless, I liked them. 

And about that 3rd winter...we wait to see what the atmosphere does in the next few weeks.


  • Winter

  • Fool's Spring

  • Second Winter

  • Spring of Deception (You are here!)

  • Third Winter

  • Actual Spring

  • Summer

  • False Fall

  • Second Summer

  • Actual Fall

Friday Poem

Environmental & Science Education, Poetry, Art and Environment

Ed Hessler

From CGEE, Hamline University, welcome to March 5th, the 64th day of the year which places 17.53% of 2021 in the past.

There will be 11 h 23 m 7 s of daylight, the sun rising at 6:42 am and setting at 6:05 pm. On Monday, March 1 we celebrated Spring #1, known as meteorological spring on (based on average temperature); on March 20, Spring #2, known as the Vernal Equinox (based on when the direct rays of the sun are directly on the equator). It arrives at 4:36 am. Here is further explanation.

It is National Cheese Doodle Day and Foodimentary provides 5 things about the Cheese Doodle followed by some highlights in food history.

Potent Quote. Species are like "individual letters which go to make a sentence unintelligible, so the extinction of the numerous forms of life which the progress of cultivation  invariably entails will necessarily render obscure this invaluable record of the past.--Alfred Russel Wallace, 1863. On the Physical Geography of the Malay Archipelago. J. Royal Geographical Society 33: 217-34

Today's poem is by Margaret Atwood.

Thursday, March 4, 2021

Double Up!?

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

Ed Hessler

The Washington Post's January 26, 2021 coronavirus coverage (Ben Guarino with Angela Fritz reporting) included this question from a reader. Scroll down for the question and answer.

I’m getting confused about masks; I see some places say you should ‘double up,’ others where you should wear medical grade, but it looks like most people on the news (including at the inauguration) were wearing cloth masks like I am. Is there a mask standard?

Allyson Chiu, wellness reporter for the Post responded to this question.

--Anthony S. Fauci has said "it just makes common sense that it likely would be more effective."

--Professor Monica Gandhi, an infectious disease expert, University of California-San Francisco suggests "doubling up on face coverings if you are spending time indoors in crowded spaces or in areas where transmission rates are high. People who are medically vulnerable should also consider layering their masks."

Gandhi suggested two options:

One. "Wear a tightly fitted, multiple-layer cloth covering over a surgical mask."  The surgical mask repulses the virus electrostatics at work) repulsion while the cloth mask provides the physical barrier. Never put anything over an N95 mask. It is as good as it gets.

Two."Wear a three-layer mask with tightly woven fabric outer layers sandwiching a middle layer made out of a “'nonwoven high-efficiency filter material' such as a vacuum bag filter....The filter material will act similarly to a surgical mask or other medical-grade covering."

The link to the question and response includes a link if you are interested in learning more. 

The Corona virus reporting from the Washington Post is free and you can sign up--a link is at the top of the page. It is a great service. 

Wear one for starters and don't wear it so its top is at the bottom of your nose!

 

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

3 Coronavirus FAQs rrom NPR

Environmental & Science Education, STEM, Health, Medicine

Ed Hessler

MPR's Goats and Soda: Stories of Life in a Changing World serves up three independent and important Coronavirus FAQs. Mammograms, vaccine ingredients and sniffers, dogs who sniff masks found on sidewalks and streets.

I pulled out a point for each but remind you that a full explanation is included so please read them.

--What is the sequence: mammogram or vaccine first? The Society of Breast Imaging recommends that it be done before receiving the vaccine or 4-6 weeks following the second injection

--Anti-vaccination groups have a long record of propagating  myths about the safety of vaccines. The only two vaccines licensed for use in the U.S. Pfizer and Moderna have one "active" ingredient and in each of the vaccines it is identical. The other ingredients are used to maintain the vaccine from manufacturer to your upper arm. Each is discussed.

--What is the risk to the sniffers and their owners of doing what dogs do: sniff their way through life? Contracting COVID-19 is "extremely unlikely." With a tip for those wanting to be sure that they are safe after their pooch encounters a discarded mask.

The FAQs were written by Sheila Mulrooney Eldred and Pranav Baskar. Eldred lives in Minneapolis. The FAQs are introduced with a lively and colorful cartoon.

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Not Your Typical Arch

Environmental & Science Education, STEM, Geology, Earth Science, Earth Systems, Engineering

Ed Hessler

When we think of arches we think of an upward curving structure and have learned that there is a great gain in strength from that curve.

In geology there are many different kinds of geological arches, more than I knew. Here is one, unusual in our experience and found in just the right park, Arches National Park. This website has many interesting explorations to be made at the click of a mouse

Monday, March 1, 2021

Paul Crutzen: Nature Notes his Death

Environmental & Science Education, STEM, Earth Science, Earth Systems, Sustainability

Ed Hessler

A giant in atmospheric research, Paul J. Crutzen has died. There is remembrance in the British scientific journal Nature.

Paul J. Crutzen discovered how atmospheric pollutants can destroy stratospheric ozone, which protects Earth from harmful ultraviolet radiation. He shared the 1995 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for this work with F. Sherwood Rowland and Mario J. Molina, who had shown that such pollutants included chlorofluorocarbons. Combining rigorous research with a gift for communicating, Crutzen championed the term ‘Anthropocene’ to describe what he regarded as a new epoch, characterized by human dominance of biological, chemical and geological processes on Earth. He has died, aged 87. 

An incredibly productive and diverse life in science.

 

Of  his important contributions to science, Crutzen placed the concept of the Anthropocene at the top of his list. The essay in Nature notes:

At a conference in Cuernavaca, Mexico, in 2000, Crutzen stood up and proclaimed that we live in the “Anthropocene”. The term immediately caught on and stimulated discussion in many disciplines. The “age of humans” is now considered to have begun in the mid-twentieth century, as the exploitation of the planet’s resources accelerated. Crutzen regarded the concept as his most important contribution. It reflected his deep concerns about climate change and other environmental pressures in a world with a population that could reach ten billion in several decades.


Paul J. Crutzen discovered how atmospheric pollutants can destroy stratospheric ozone, which protects Earth from harmful ultraviolet radiation. He shared the 1995 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for this work with F. Sherwood Rowland and Mario J. Molina, who had shown that such pollutants included chlorofluorocarbons. Combining rigorous research with a gift for communicating, Crutzen championed the term ‘Anthropocene’ to describe what he regarded as a new epoch, characterized by human dominance of biological, chemical and geological processes on Earth1. He has died, aged 87.

At a conference in Cuernavaca, Mexico, in 2000, Crutzen stood up and proclaimed that we live in the “Anthropocene”. The term immediately caught on and stimulated discussion in many disciplines. The “age of humans” is now considered to have begun in the mid-twentieth century, as the exploitation of the planet’s resources accelerated. Crutzen regarded the concept as his most important contribution. It reflected his deep concerns about climate change and other environmental pressures in a world with a population that could reach ten billion in several decades.

Sunday, February 28, 2021

Comments From an MD on A Sense of Wonder

Environmental & Science Education, STEM, Health, Medicine, Childhooe, Early Childhood 

Ed Hessler

CBS's Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Jonathan Lapook made some important comments on Valentine's Day  "on how a child;s sense of wonder can be fostered even when a pandemic may get in the way of the Tooth Fairy." I'm glad this topic occurred to him and aired this Valentine's Day.

Here is the short and wonderful video (3m 12s).

Saturday, February 27, 2021

Perseverance Landing Site

Environmental & Science Education, STEM, Solar System, Earth Science, Earth systems, Astronomy

Ed Hessler

Of course the landing of Perseverance left some trash and once-used materials. What happened to them?

The location of the these materials have been identified and the image showing them is on Astronomy Picture of the Day (APOD). There are four annotated inset boxes.

This photograph is also a technological achievement. 

The things humans can do!