Friday, May 25, 2018

Friday Poem

Environmental & Science Education
Poetry
Art and Environment
Edward Hessler

This poem is by J. D. McClatchy.

Rabbit-Fox-Eagle

Environmental & Science Education
Behavior
Edward Hessler

This remarkable sequence of events, an interaction between a fox and an eagle in a tug of war over a rabbit the fox had killed, was filmed on San Juan Island, Washington.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Bioinspired Microrobots

Environmental & Science Education
STEM
Technology
Engineering
Edward Hessler

The summary of a March 1, 2018 press release from the University of Manchester published in Science Daily reads, Jumping robot spiders and swarms of robotic bees sounds like the stuff of science fiction, but researchers are already working on such projects.

The research is led by Dr. Mostafa Nabawy, the Microsystems Research Theme Leader at the University of Manchester's School of Mechanical, Aerospace and Civil Engineering. His team includes a member of the royal jumping spiders (Phidippus regius), trained to "jump different distances and heights, recording the spider's every movement in extreme detail through high resolution cameras which can be slowed down" so that all changes in the spider can be recorded and analyzed.

This work is a lead into the future of manufacturing technology that makes use of complex engineering and manufacturing.  It is new territory for scientists and engineers.

According to the BBC's Helen Briggs,  "The scientists recruited a number of female spiders for their work, buying them at a pet shop in Manchester. But only Kim obliged with making the required leaps when presented with a take-off and landing platform they built in the lab."

I hope you have had the opportunity to watch jumping spiders and look them in the eye(s). What observant critters. They appear to study you as much as you study them. They seem to be every bit as interested, too. And then suddenly, they are gone, having jumped to a new place.

As you know there is considerable scientific research on animal minds. The evidence is that many animals have inner lives, many of them, richly so. Briggs quotes Professor Nabawy about this spider's mind at work. She will jump at the optimal angle, which means that she can understand the challenge that she is presented with. And then she can time her jumping performance at take-off to execute a jump that is optimal in terms of energy demand.

Briggs's BBC report includes a film of Kim's jumping and also a photograph of her in color. What a gloriously beautiful animal.












Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Scientists At Work: Photographs

Environmental & Science Education
STEM
Art and Environment
Nature of Science
Edward Hessler

Winners and the runner-ups in Nature's 2018 #ScientistAtWork can be viewed here.

There were 330 entries which ranged from images of researchers at work around the world to depictions of their actual work. The entries were judged by a panel of Nature journalists and art editors.

The editorial introducing the photographs, quotes US photographer Berenice Abbott on the power of photography as a public interpreter of science. "To obtain wide popular support for science, to that end that we may explore this vast subject even further and bring as yet unexplored areas under control, there needs to be a friendly interpreter between science and the layman. I believe that photography can be this spokesman, as no other form of expression can be.”

I recommend you read the Nature editorial which introduces this collection very nicely.




Monday, May 21, 2018

Funky Nests--Funky Places Challenge


File:Bird Nest (3600492937).jpg

Environmental & Science Education
STEM
Behavior
Biodiversity
Edward Hessler

Have you noticed any nests in your neighborhood, nests in odd, novel, or unusual places?

I just learned today of the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology's challenge, Funky Nests in Funky Places 2018 which began on April 15. It is not too late to enter a picture.

The webpage has information on everything you need to know to participate including how to observe nest without disturbing the birds, how to find nests, and myths and FAQs about nests. There are four categories: cutest, funkiest, funniest and most inconvenient. So far there are less than 10 entries in each category.

And there are great prizes, too.

See here for instructions in Spanish.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

World's First Atlas: Google Doodle.


Image result for first atlas

Environmental & Science Education
STEM
Culture
Society
History of Science
Edward Hessler
In 1570 was published the world's first atlas. Theatrum Orbis Terrarum, or Theatre of the World. This book of maps was the first in which all the maps were all the same size and organized geographically.
Today's Google Doodle celebrates it's author, cartographer Abraham Ortelius.  In an article about the Doodle and Ordelius CNET's Steven Musil notes that Within one Ortelius' atlas, we see the first suggestion that the world's continents were joined together before drifting to their present positions. Ortelius noted the geometrical similarity between the coasts of America and Europe-Africa and was the first to propose continental drift as the explanation.
The atlas was not intended for navigation but as a work of art and appreciation. It included a dragon or two throughout.
Here is the Wiki entry on Ortelius and here is the Doodle.


Saturday, May 19, 2018

Tom Lehrer at 90




Image result for tom lehrer

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

In early April, Andrew Robinson wrote an essay celebrating the musical life of mathematician Tom Lehrer who recently turned 90 years old.

In 1959, Lehrer was a Ph.D. student in mathematics at Harvard when he performed the first of more than a dozen astringent, cynical and often pointedly political songs, such as 'So Long, Mom, I'm Off to Drop the Bomb (A Song for World War III)'. As The New York Times put it, 'Mr. Lehrer's muse [is] not fettered by such inhibiting factors as taste." The Times was wrong.  I hadn't known that Lehrer entered Harvard at the ripe young age of 14.

Lehrer never did complete his Ph.D. (It was to have been a contribution to the mathematics of statistics.) concluding that he had nothing to say. So in 1962 he headed across the river to MIT where he taught maths for a decade. Then in 1972 he moved to the University of California-Santa Clara where he taught maths (and one course in musical theater) until his retirement in 2001.

Image result for tom lehrerHere is Robinson's tribute which provides many details and also a link to his first and likely most famous song, The Elements. Ninety-two then but as of 2016, 118 of which 94 exist naturally. The remaining are products of often difficult synthesis. A quick search of the web will yield many more of Lehrer's songs. Robinson writes that depending on who is counting, Lehrer wrote 50 songs (or 37 as Lehrer counted). I include Lobachevsky (with lyrics) which he first performed in 1953.

I can't resist another about the "new math," an attempt in the 1960 to bring mathematics education into the new age...beyond what one might call, to borrow a phrase from theoretical physicists, the "Shut up and calculate" school. Or to put it another way to understand rather than as a set of algorithms. I particularly like this version of Lehrer's hilariously funny New Math. It includes the words which may help you follow the song.


Friday, May 18, 2018

Friday Poem


Image result for forest

Environmental & Science Education
Poetry
Art and Environment
Edward Hessler

The Friday poem is by Franz Wright.

You may read more about this Pulitzer Prize awardee at the bottom of the poem.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Watersheds: Hawaii


Image result for hawaii water

Environmental & Science Education
STEM
Water & Watersheds
Sustainability
Edward Hessler

You may or may not know that CGEE's reach includes Hawaii although none of this is directly related to watersheds (yet). Watershed education is a big part of CGEE offerings, if not in the foreground almost always in the background.

For some reason I'd never wondered enough about watershed education in Hawaii to look. Yesterday I did.

The Hawaii Association of Watershed Partnerships included a quote by Ralph S. Hosmer, First Terrestrial Forester, that caught my eye. In Hawaii'i, the most valuable product of the forest is water, not wood. This is an interesting slant on watersheds since it is so explicit.

The website includes information on what a watershed is, why watersheds matter, a gallery of images, and a link which describes forested watersheds and Native Hawaiian cultural resources.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Carbon Footprint of a Sandwich


Image result for blt

Environmental & Science Education
STEM
Sustainability
Climate Change
Edward Hessler

Everything has a carbon footprint.

In this short video from Skunk Bear, NPR reporter Adam Cole tells us about the carbon footprint of a  seemingly uncomplicated item, the sandwich known as the BLT.

Please read some of the comments. They are instructive.

Skunk Bear is NPR's science YouTube.

And for those of you who didn't know, a skunk bear is a fierce critter and powerful predator, the wolverine.

Here is some information about Mr. Cole and also about how the name was chosen. It all becomes clear once you know a little about the wolverine.