Thursday, February 20, 2020

Scientific Publishing for the Younger Set

Environmental & Science Education
STEM
Science Fairs
Children
Edward Hessler

Nature Index has an article about a "first of its kind peer-reviewed science journal for young investigators (as young as six years old)."

The Canadian Science Fair Journal "accepts submissions from students aged 18 and younger" and "aims to give greater visibility to their projects while connecting students with young scientists through it mentorship and peer-review program."

An interesting feature is publication help in the form of collaborative peer-review. "When students submit an article, they are paired with an undergraduate or graduate researcher whose area of study matches their article topic. Together, the student and their editor work to get the article ready for publication."

And it comes with the promise that “Every article that is submitted will ultimately get published, if that student is willing to make the effort to learn about how to properly write a science article.”

The link above describes some projects (e.g., better transport boxes for poultry chicks), and links to the journal where you can, learn much more, explore and sign-up for a monthly newsletter. The journal home page includes several publications from the journal. Of course, you will be interested in the staff and biographies/photographs are provided.

So far it is for Canadian students but it appears that they are thinking about expanding this to other countries, too.

Here is the link to the current issue.

A great idea and one I hope that will prove sustainable in future.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Peregrine Falcons

Environmental & Science Education
STEM
Biodiversity
Biological Evolution
Nature
Edward Hessler

In this 4 m 13 s video, KQED present their case: peregrine falcons (Falco peregrinus) are fighter jets, basically.

Convinced?

By what evidence?

There is an accompanying essay on the University of California--Berkeley peregrine falcons and peregrine falcons in California.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Relating to Nature

Environmental & Science Education
STEM
Sustainability
Biodiversity
Behavior
Society
Culture
Nature
Edward Hessler

Can ye no leave the bloody horse alone?--Horse Owner to James Herriott

I've been meaning to post this short clip from The Dodo (category Soulmates) for a while. It is a touching story about a wild fox, a woman and a fable for us. 

The fox and woman have something in common which I can express only in my terms since I'm unable to ask the fox.  Let me call it a condition of regard one for the other.

This is a time when the term "bonding" with nature is frequently used. It often includes disturbing it and in the case of critters invading their space as well as touching/petting them. I think this short video suggests another, more natural way. It is certainly one worth considering.

You may have read books by James Herriott (pen name for James Wight) about his years of veterinary practice in Yorkshire. The epigraph is from a story he told about his first year in Veterinary College when, on the third day, he attended his first class on animal husbandry. It concerned the fine points of a horse. To make it more interesting the professor included some practical points, too. The lecturer used a life-size picture to point out terms such as pastern, stifle, poll, coronet, snip.
While walking home that day Herriott noticed a coal cart and a horse. So he walked around the horse pointing out to himself what he had learned. When it was time to leave he thought he would make a gesture to the horse and patted him on the head. The horse immediately grabbed him by a shoulder (fortunately he was wearing a strong jacket) and lifted him from the ground. No matter his loud pleadings, the horse would not release him. Others tried to help but the horse was having none of that. The coal man returned, yelled and finally dug his thumb deep into the horse's belly and Herriott was dropped.

The owner was very annoyed with Herriott. He also said something else, too, which Herriott heard as he rounded a corner. This could have been used as the epigraph, too. "Dinna meddle wi' things ye ken nuthin' aboot!"

Monday, February 17, 2020

Camouflage!

Environmental & Science Education
STEM
Behavior
Nature
Biodiversity
Biological Evolution
Edward Hessler

Camouflage as practiced by squid in the PBS video (3m 17s)

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Antarctica's Melting

Environmental & Science Education
TIMES
Climate Change
Earth Science
Earth Systems
Geology
Edward Hessler

Justin Rowlatt, the BBC's chief environmental correspondent, writes that "glaciologists have described Thwaites Glacier as the  'most important' glacier in the world, the 'riskiest' glacier, even the 'doomsday' glacier."

Rowlatt reports on his visit to learn about the work of scientists studying glacial change who are members of the International Thwaites Glacier Collaboration (United Kingdom and the United States) in this film (2m 59s)

Saturday, February 15, 2020

State of the Union Address Annotated

Environmental & Science Education
STEM
Society
Edward Hessler

Each year, the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) annotates the State of the Union address, using reports published by the NAS. It is one way to note the relationship between science and society.

Take a scroll.

I'd like to hear/read a SoU that is about the state of this nation, one minus cheers and jeers. None remotely represents what might be considered a "physical" about the health and future health of the US and some reasoned prescriptions and actions to maintain/improve that health. It is long past time to call an end to them.

Friday, February 14, 2020

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

January's Best Science Images Picked by Nature

Environmental & Science Education
STEM
Art and Environment
Edward Hessler


The British science journal Nature picks of this month's (January) best science images.

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Corona Virus: Official Name

Environmental & Science Education
STEM
Health
Medicine
Edward Hessler

The Corona virus has an official name: COVID-19.

The World Health Organization (WHO) replaced its provisional designation, 2019-nCoV (indicating year, that it was new, and that it was a member of the corona family of viruses).  The new name is place and people-free, avoiding stigmatizing.

Whether it will stop online and media inventions, e.g.,. Wuhan virus or Wu Flu, etc., remains to be seen.

Andrew Joseph writes about the name change for STAT
In this Nature Video (3m 49s), reporter Heidi Ledford explains three key areas of research on COVID-19: epidemiology, virology, and biomedical science.

Use of Field Notebooks from more than a Century Ago Provide Data on Salmon Population Change

Environmental & Science Education
STEM
Biodiversity
History of Science
Nature of Science
Climate Change
Edward Hessler

From 1919 to 1948, government employees collected information about sockeye salmon runs in the Skeena River (British Columbia). They recorded weight, length, sex, and catch date for a sample during each day of the runs. In addition, a scale was scraped from the salmon and pasted, using the slimy glue of the salmon's skin, next to the record. The scales include a yearly growth ring, just like a tree and these can be counted.

The original notebooks were boxed, stored and forgotten. Twenty-three years ago, a fisheries biologist who was studying sockeye salmon in the Gulf of Alaska found them. He was in search of more detailed data than the averages from the Skeena logs. It was a question he was always asking other fisheries biologists. While "attending an unrelated meeting...he learned the records were sitting in a closet down the hall."

I can only imagine his surprise and pleasure when he opened the notebooks to find fish scales which he knew "had potentially preserved salmon DNA, which could enable modern molecular biologists to link the long-dead fish to current wild Skeena populations, each genetically distinct because adults breed in a complex of nursery lakes where their offspring grow for at least a year before migrating downstream to the sea." 

This has resulted in a paper in which researchers have...sequenced DNA from the scales of 3400 fish caught between 1913 and 1923) in Conservation Letters and a short article about the research in Science (August 20, 2019) by staff writer Lesley Evans Ogden. Ogden's essay includes two photographs, one of an open notebook held over a bin of  stored notebooks and of a technician counting the age rings of a fish scale.

The Skeena River is home to 13 major sockeye salmon populations and the research team  found that "declines have been more precipitous and widespread than previously understood." The river's sockeye salmon populations have plummeted "by 56% to 99%" over the period studied. Not one population has not been affected.

Now you might expect that the cause is due to habitat destruction, e.g., logging and agriculture. Nope. Overfishing. Climate change "may also be influencing salmon success." There are data to support this. The northern populations "in Alaska are thriving despite heavy fishing pressure."

Please take a look at Ogden's story for more details and quotes by fishery professionals.