Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Pigeons

Environmental & Science Education
STEM
Biodiversity
Culture
Society
Edward Hessler

Do you think pigeons are beautiful or not?

Take a look at these photographs from The New York Pigeon: Behind the Feathers by Andrew Gam, Emily Rueb, and Rita McMahon.

The authors are biased in favor of their beauty and with reason, I think.


Monday, July 16, 2018

Dust Analysis for Household Hazardous Contaminants

Environmental & Science Education
STEM
Health
Miscellaneous
Solid Waste
Edward Hessler

If you are interested in an analysis of possible hazardous contaminants found in the dust in your home, then you may be interested in the 360 Dust Analysis Project at IUPUI. The project's main focus is on lead and chromium but will look for a few other contaminants.

This press release explains the details as well as how to participate. It includes a video in which the director of the IUPUI Center for Urban Health Gabriel Filippeli explains. 

The researchers will run an analysis on each sample and send back a report that includes suggestions on how to handle any contaminants found in the dust.

IUPUI = Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

An Origami T. Rex

Environmental & Science Education
STEM
Earth Science
Paleontology
Art and Environment
Edward Hessler

The Natural History Museum, London provides instructions on how to make an origami Tyrannosaurus rex.

"It even has those famous tiny arms."

There are PDFs for the patterned paper used in the original.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Bear Cam

Environmental & Science Education
STEM
Biodiversity
Behavior
Nature
Edward Hessler

I hope you have looked at the Brooks Falls brown bear camera (Katmai National Park, Alaska) this season. There is a short list of facts about the park, the salmon and the bears, e.g., there are about 2000 brown bears in Katmai, 80 to 100 bears in the vicinity of the falls, and on a good day, all 24 hours of it, a bear can catch about 40 salmon (~100 pounds,100,000 calories).

This is the time of the salmon run and the featured fishers are skilled brown bears who use a variety of techniques (and occasionally you will see some humans fishing, too). Young bears practice and also are adept at snarfing up left overs. They also do a fair amount of play wrestling. The site offers several viewing options, including an underwater camera. More than once I have seen the legs and lower body of a paddling bear. The rangers also provide talks about the biology of the bears from time-to-time. These are announced in advance

I've seen a Mama with young charge a male who was way too interested in the cubs and also seen cubs swept over the falls and rescued by their Mother.  They, all three of them, bobbed like corks with one going over the falls backwards. I once watched a sleeping bear who slept for nearly a day.

A couple of weeks ago a male killed one of two cubs (not recorded but heard and witnessed by park visitors. It was near the river cameras). The second cub rushed up a tree as the mother ran off and remained there for about two hours, expressing considerable discomfort throughout, before reuniting with its mother. Cub killing by males has a basis in evolution for it brings the lactating female into breeding condition. If she is impregnated by a male, his genes are forwarded to the next generation.

The death of the cub and the behavior of the mother were the subject of an extensive report on the Brooks Falls blog (very active with many of the commenters who have watched enough to identify individuals) Ranger Mike closed his report by noting,  Brown bears live in a fierce and competitive world, and spring cubs are the most vulnerable of all bears. Through luck, skill, and the guidance of their mothers, cubs can grow into healthy independent bears. It’s a risky and challenging world though, one in which cubs, their mothers, and the river’s most dominant bears all compete to survive within.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Friday Poem

Environmental & Science Education
Poetry
Art and Environment
Edward Hessler

Today's poem, My Standard Response, is by Karenne Wood.

You may learn more about her as well as link to an interview with her here.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Aging


Image result for cat and dog

Environmental & Science Education
STEM
Behavior
Biological Evolution
Edward Hessler

Lifespans vary with smaller critters living shorter lives (on average) and bigger critters living longer (on average). NPR's Robert Krulwich did a nice report more than a decade ago on the matter of size and longevity. A technical account published in 2005 may be found here.

Take domesticated cats and dogs. Cats are generally smaller and dogs generally larger but moggies tend to live longer than doggies. So what's up?

This Science (AAAS) video discusses this difference.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

How to Measure a Foot


Image result for ruler

Environmental & Science Education
STEM
Mathematics Education
History of Science
Edward Hessler

The time when it took a village to measure a foot.

Here is a great book by Rolf Myller on another solution to this problem.

And here is an animation of the story by Rolf Myller.

h/t Aeon

Monday, July 9, 2018

Anatomical Knowledge: A Research Project


Image result for human body

Environmental & Science Education
STEM
Health
Medicine
Literacy
Edward Hessler

What do you know about the location of organs and structures in the human body?

Zooniverse's aim is to undertake the largest project to date to understand the anatomical knowledge of the general public, we have a number of specific questions that we are looking to answer:
  • What is the extent of anatomical knowledge of the global population?
  • Are there any observable differences between the ages and gender of the respondents?
  • Will individuals that work in a health care facility/profession perform well?
  • Will individuals that recently (within a week) went for a consultation with a healthcare professional perform well?
  • Is there geographic/regional differences in performances?
If you would like more information and also participate in this study check it out. This is not a quiz but a request for what humans know about their bodies. There are a couple of reports on the site, information about Zooniverse and a FAQ.

Sunday, July 8, 2018

The Art of Fighting Climate Change: Miami, Florida


Image result for miami murals

Environmental & Science Education
STEM
Climate Change
Sustainability
Edward Hessler

In Miami there is a culture around murals that are found everywhere. 

Linda, an artist in Miami, believes that "climate change requires an injection of empathy and inspiration." So she and other artists make murals, drawings, and augmented-reality piecess to raise awareness of the imminent threat that climate change poses to the habitability of Miami.

This 5 minute video from the New Yorker shows some of the work she and others are doing.


Saturday, July 7, 2018

Women in Science and Engineering


Image result for female scientists

Environmental & Science Education
Women in Science
STEM
Society
Culture
Nature of Science
History of Science
Edward Hessler

A few days ago I received my weekly notice on new publications and news from the National Academies Press. At the top of the list was the report Sexual Harassment of Women: Climate, Culture, and Consequences in Academic Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.

It is a large report and not inexpensive ($59) although certainly in line with the cost of books but like all NAP publications it is available as a PDF. It can be read on-line and also downloaded.

Meredith Wadman wrote a summary for Science and notes that "the report describes persistent and damaging 'gender harassment'--behavior that belittles women and makes them feel they don't belong, including sexist jokes and demeaning jokes." Here are two numbers that made my eyes snap to attention: "Between 17% and 50% of female science and medical students reported this kind of harassment in large surveys conducted by two major university systems across 36 campuses."

You will find a link to the full report in Wadman's column.