Monday, May 25, 2020

Wildlife Photographs

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

The BBC  has a gallery of winning wildlife photographs which includes comments by the photographers.

My O My!

Pick one. I dare ya'!

I can't.

This competition was the inaugural Nature TTL Photographer of the Year 2020 contest.7000 entries,. 117 different countries.

h/t: WEIT (Why Evolution is True, a website run by Professor Jerry Coyne)

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Big Day Birding in a Snowstorm

Environmental & Science Education
STEM
Biodiversity
Nature
Edward Hessler


Big Day 2020 was not what the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology's birders (aka Team Sapsucker) pictured when they envisioned a day of birding in upstate New York in May."But it was" Team Sapsucker reports, "nothing short of amazing."
For the first time, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Team Sapsucker brought Big Day to our own backyard, in the Finger Lakes region of New York State. Despite average highs typically creeping up above 70 degrees this time of year, Team Sapsucker instead faced a highly unusual May snowstorm! 
In this short video (1 m 22 s) is a recap of Team Sapsucker's day in a decent snowstorm or24 hours of birding in the Finger Lakes Region of New York State--midnight to midnight. 
So did they meet their goal? I'm not saying! 

Here is a list of the species seen/heard and the number sighted.And for informaton about the Lab of Ornithology's Big Day bird count, the press release about it explains all.

Friday, May 22, 2020

Friday Poem

Environmental & Science Education
Poetry
Art and Environment
Edward Hessler

Greetings from St. Paul on day #143 of the 21st week of 2020. About 39 percent of the year is in our rear view mirror and it has been 140 days between our first Friday (January 3) and today (May 20). Twenty-nine days from now will be the Summer Solstice, the first day of the slow slide into fall and eventually winter. Here there will be 15 h 07 m and 18 s of glorious light with the sun rising at 5:36 am and setting at 8:43 pm.

Morgan Alexander Yesnes, a young man whom I didn't know lived his life in very dark shadows cast by ill-health--10 years of his life were described as mostly normal. I liked what he had to say about greeting a new day: Every day you wake up, you live.

Today's poem is another by the late Maxine Kumin.

You may think she is the only poet I know and I hope I've not send more of her poems than you want. But my, what a poet!

Thursday, May 21, 2020

One Thiing is Connected to Another And Another

Environmental & Science Education
STEM
Society
Culture
Edward Hessler

Humans are very good at changing Earth biologically and physically. Many of these changes result in changes to societies and cultures, animals and plants. Some small and others large. Much of what humans do has occurred without thinking of possible consequences or knowing enough at the time or, too often, deferring the change to the future. Not caring plays a large role, too. An example follows of a consequential change although it is not to be judged by what we know today. At the time it seemed like the thing to do.

I finished The Texas Indians by David Levere a few weeks ago. It was a gargantuan self-assignment. Since he is a historian and had to cross several borders to write this book, it is likely that anthropologists and archeologists will find flaws and raise questions about interpretations and the use of evidence. The book, I think, is for general readers like me. What I like is the Indians are center stage throughout. Levere is now retired.

At the dawning of the 16th century--I suppose one could name a date as Levere does: November 6, 1528, the day on which Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca and most of the ship's crew came ashore on the southern coast of Texas. They were starving, their clothing ripped and torn. deVaca and a few others survived thanks to the Indians but Indian life in what is now Texas changed forever. At first gradually and then rapidly.

One of the changes following was the introduction of cattle by the Spanish. Never fenced, they roamed, becoming feral cattle. As they made their way north, "ate mesquite, and in their wake left droppings filled with mesquite beans, which sprouted, took root, and thrived."

The mesquite edged ever north, "essentially turning grasslands into scrub brush, it formed a southern border limiting the range of buffalos. By the early 1700s the buffalo had disappeared south of the San Antonio River making it harder and harder for the people of South and Southwesern Texas to depend on this food source." (quotes from pp. 71 and 72).

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Report on Re-Opening Pre-K Through 12th Grade

Environmental & Science Education
STEM
Health
Medicine
Children
Education
Early Childhood
Edward Hessler

Yesterday I posted about the opening of Finish early education schools--a visit to one of them to learn how COVID-19 has changed the school day. Today is a long report on opening schools in the United States and some of the important questions. What may be of most interest other than the summary are the tables which show what several other countries are doing in re-opening their schools.

Among the many debates about reopening institutions and business is waged around schools, especially since the current research suggests that children tend to have less sever forms of the COVID-19 infection and that school closures have a blunt impact on the reopening of the economy. Many adults will not be able to return to work if schools are not open this fall.

There is, of course, a devastating impact on children who don't return: learning but this is not the purview of the report. In schools, learning occurs in a variety of grouping situations, e.g., individually, small groups and whole classes. Additionally, a teacher is there to provide nearly on-demand help.

The John Hopkins Center for Health Security has just published a comprehensive guidance document because there are many unanswered questions, e.g., viral transmission to one another as well as to staff and teachers and the effect of the virus on children with underlying medical conditions. There are blanks to be filled in what we know as well as the nature of the risks.

The introduction to the report states that "There is an urgent need to understand the evidence that would support how students could safely return to school. This is an extremely difficult decision, because of the uncertainties relating to risk. While published studies to date indicate that children with COVID-19 are less likely than adults to suffer severe illness, there is only limited scientific evidence, models, and anecdotal accounts attempting to gauge whether children with COVID-19 in school can efficiently transmit the virus to other children, teachers, school staff, and family members. Unanswered questions include: How vulnerable to severe illness are students who have underlying health conditions, such as asthma, diabetes, or severe obesity? How safe is it for adults who themselves have serious underlying health conditions to send their children back to school without fear of those children bringing the virus home and infecting others in the family? How safe is it for teachers, administrators, and other school staff, especially those who are medically vulnerable, to return to school and interact with students who may be asymptomatic but infectious? Are certain school communities at greater risk than others relative to exposure, and should each school community be evaluated independently to determine level of risk?"

It is long (50 pp) and in a PDF format. The focus is on pre-K through 12th grade. It does not include boarding schools, colleges/universities because the challenges there are different, e.g., congregate living arrangements. 

The appendix includes detailed and documented information in the form of easy to read tables on the following countries are dealing with this issue: Australia, Denmark, France, Germany, Iceland, Netherlands, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Opening Primary Schools in Denmark During COVID-19

Environmental & Science Education
STEM
Health
Medicine
Early Childhood
Children
Education
Edward Hessler

Denmark appears to have had early success in limiting the effects of the Corona virus (< 550 deaths so far). It was the first country in Europe to reopen its primary schools.

BBC correspondent Jean Mackenzie recently spent a day in a primary school in Finland and reports what she learned about the reopening in this video (3m 39s).

This report from U. S. News & World Report (May 15, 2020)  provides more information about COVID-19 in Denmark. "Denmark's total number of confirmed cases rose by 78 to 10,791 since Thursday, with the number of hospitalisations falling by 10 to 137. The death toll remained unchanged at 537."

Monday, May 18, 2020

Edittorial: The Lancet--On Politicizing US Public Health

Environmental & Science Education
STEM
Health
Medicine
Society
Edward Hessler

The British medical journal, The Lancet, published an editorial (unsigned) which was scalpel sharp in its criticism of the Trump's administration politicizing of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The editorial calls attention to its long history in discovering new viruses and the development of accurate tests for them and notes its role in helping the World Health Organizaton (WHO) eradicate smallpox. However, it notes that "funding to the CDC for a long time has been subject to conservative politics that have increasingly eroded the agency's ability to mount effective evidence-based public health responses." The current administration has continued this by first cutting back CDC staff in China and then recalling the "last remaining CDC officer in China (July 19)."

The editorial also notes that CDC has made mistakes, "especially in the early stages of the pandemic. The agency was so convinced that it had contained the virus that it retained control of all diagnostic testing for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2, but this was followed by the admission " that it had developed faulty test kits.

Perhaps the largest problem is an administration "obsessed with magic bullets--new vaccines, new medicines, or a hope that the virus will simply disappear." However, the emergency will be brought to an end based "on basic public health principles, like test, trace, and isolate." Furthermore, CDC leadership must be assured that s/he can lead "without the thrat of being silenced and who has the technical capacity to lead today's complicated effort."

It ends with this endorsement, unusual I think, foran overseas journal : "Americans must put a president in the White House come January, 2021, who will understand public health should not be guided by partisan politics.

Strong stuff and may be read here (it is short).

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Francois Clemens, AKA Officer Clemens: An Interview

Environmental & Science Education
STEM
Early Childhood
Children
Health
Edward Hessler

Franciois Clemmons, better known to many of us as Officer Clemmons of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, has written a memoir, "Officer Clemmons: A Memoir."

NPR sat down for a wonderful interview with him.

Here is one sample, one I'm sure many who watched this always respectful and intelligent PBS program have wondered about? What would Mr. Rogers do during this pandemic? Mr. Clemmons doesn't disappoint with his answer. It is what you'd expect from this loving, compassionate, wise man.

"A few people have asked me that. I don’t think this is something that Fred should be dealing with. It’s something we need to be dealing with, and asking what he would do is OK, but what it boils down to is you and I are in charge now. Fred’s not in charge anymore. He’s not instructing us the same way. He’s left us in charge. He knows that he did his job, what he imparted to us is so special. Now it’s your turn to show that you are worthy of sitting in that driver’s seat, and that would be an adult. We adults have to talk with each other and decide what’s best."

Fred Rogers would, I think, applaud this answer and also lead in the cheers honoring this wise man.

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Spending Time in Nature Via Documentaries: A Good

Environmental & Science Education
STEM
Nature
Wildlife
Edward Hessler

This short video (2 m 22 s) from BBC Earth on the value of watching nature documentaries.The study was a partnership between BBC Earth and the University of California.

And for further information about this project see BBC Earth's  Real Happiness Project.

Still, get out there, too.

Friday, May 15, 2020

Friday Poem

Environmental & Science Education
STEM
Art and Environment
Edward Hessler

Greetings from St. Paul on this 20th week of the year, its 135th day--230 to go, the 20th Friday of the year,  with 36 days to go before SS on June 20.Today sunrise is at 5:43 am and sunset at 8:35 pm giving us 14h 52m 41s of daylength.

Yesterday, The Writer's Almanac observed the late Hal Borland's birthday. He was a journalist who had a remarkable run as the NYT's nature writer--1750 columns. Pinned to the wall of his office was a New Yorker cartoon with the caption: "Here's another of those crackpot editorials about the voice's of frgos shattering the autumn stillness."

Today's fondly remembered poem is by Martha Zwieg.

Thursday, May 14, 2020

German Society for Nature Photography; 2020 SELECTIONS

Environmental & Science Education
Wildlife
Nature
Art and Environment
Edward Hessler

The German Society for Nature Photography (GDT) has selected its Nature Photographer of the Year.

The Guardian has posted it and a few other entries as well as photographs for categories such as mammals, landscapes, nature's studio, and special category (water). The circumstances of the winning image is described as "part of a series of photographs taken in Dortmand's north by Peter Lindel. Compared with many international nature photography hot spots, this region has little to offer. Lindel spent a lot of time and blood, sweat and tears working on this project on his doorstep. It is a beautiful statement about the long-term exploration of a single species and region."

This is a competition for members of the society.


Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Eternal Body Guard

Environmental & Science Edication
STEM
Arche
Archaeology
Culture
Society
Edward Hessler

Have you heard the story of the frail old man who emerged from a university lavatory with wasp nests in his skull? He couldn't ask who had led him there because someone had stolen his jaw. He wouldn't stand up for himself because he had lost his back bone. He didn't wave for help because part of both of his arms had gone missing. He couldn't even point an accusing finger--those bones were lying against his left foot. If you are waiting for a punch line, don't. I assure you this is not joke. I witnessed this firsthand. In fact, I blame myself for all of it. I was his protector, his bodyguard, on duty for all of eternity.--Frank L. Holt

It is unfair to ask who the protector is without a little more information. Holt introduces an article  about ancient Egypt, known then as the Kemet, which is lavishly illustrated with watercolors from that time.

Does this help? It didn't help me (I made the standard guess) and I had the article by Professor Frank Holt in hand. The answer followed.

It is the coffin speaking and Dr. Holt tells us abut that coffin and what it perceives as its failure, its consignment (mummy, known then as a sah), and some details about the preparation of the body for burial and the afterlife. The term mummy is due a misunderstanding of Arabic--"word mumiyah, a kind of bitumen that was used at the time in preparing bodies for burial. Calling my charge "a mummy" is like calling the remains of your uncle "an ointment."

The essay and the watercolor illustrations captured me and I highlight a few details. What follows are direct, paraphrases or rephrasing from the essay.

--Everyone aspired to be a so-called mummy, with the five essential attributes of a living person--a birth name, heart, soul, shadow, personality, and life force.

--The famliar jackal-headed Anubis is the god of embalming.

--The coffin, an elaborate and painstaking construction was made to safeguard the work of the priestly embalmers.

--The brain was not prepared, a nonessential, largely because the priests couldn't find a way to remove it and decomposed too rapidly. Holt describes how the brain was removed, replaced by a perfumed resin.

--At about ten weeks the body was wrapped and adorned. Natron, incense and unguents were used to fight the effects of the relentless heat.

--Insults to me include loss of its ceremonial beard,  tip of nose, smoke and water damage, the stabbings of modern metal tacks, displayed in classrooms, and stuffed with modern newspapers.

--And Ankh-Hap (Apis bull lives), the occupant? Most of his skeleton is missing/displaced/replaced (two false hands with parts of real hands/cloth) and, of course, a head filled with the work of mud wasps) and wooden braces buttressing missing body parts.

--I was subjected to the interrogation of a tribunal, the Houston Mummy Research Program, "its members practice rituals they call research and conservation" (I loved this description.) to learn more about me and Ankh-Hap as well as what happened to us. Was Ankh-Hap attacked by a crocodile, the victim of tomb robbers or more recent by others with profit in mind?

--A CT scan revealed that the wood I was constructed from was felled between 1210 and 890 BCE, long before the burial of Ankh-Hap, estimated at 300 and 30 BCE (based on the design). The bracing was recent, sawn between 1560 and 1840 CE. Ankh-Hap or his replacement, died in late 30s/early 40s, was 163 cm tall and suffered from arthritic degeneration.

--In addition, a mailing label dated May 12, 1914, addressed to Ward's Natural Scientific Establishment and crumpled newspapers, the Rochester Herald (NY) dated between March 25 and May 29, 1914. Henry AugustusWard collected thousands of mummies, including crocodiles for export, sale, even rent. Some of these mummies were finely ground to make a paint known as Mummy Brown and some was used for medicine known as mumiya--a purported cure for what ails you.

--When Ankh-Hap was vandalized cannot be determind, "a secret I choose not yet to share."

--We were sold to a professor at Texas A&M and subjected to many alleged claims, souvenir hunters, and nonsense, in addition to being stored in men's restroom. In 1970, we were moved "to a properly curated home in the Houston Museum of Natural Science. I am now known as ANH-HR-H3CPJ

Frank Holt is at the University of Houston. The artist is Norman MacDonald.

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

On the Hospital Floors

Environmental & Science Education
STEM
Health
Medicine
Edward Hessler

First-hand accounts of health care workers, top-to-bottom, are worth reading and I strongly recommend this essay by Jaclyn O'Halloran, a 10-year veteran of nursing who has spent most of that time in cardiac care until now.

She describes the experience of being assigned "to work in unfamiliar units, with patients who are outside our expertise, without any training. We're lost."

COVID-19 nurses are the most exposed to the disease, going "from one room to the next, medicating, bathing, turning, and comforting their patients without changing their uncomfortable personal protective equipment, since supplies are limited." On the other hand, in her hospital, physicians "have been instructed to enter patients' rooms unless they must as a way to minimize exposure" to themselves and others.

She thinks that "leadership is failing us" and that in the end, "Nursing, and nursing, are not valued."

Cady Chaplin is an intensive-care nurse at Lenox Hill Hospital, NYC. Co-worker, Karen Cunningham, veered to nursing after a career in photography. She was given permission to photograph Chaplin over two shifts. While they stand alone, they also give one an idea of what O'Halloran describes. David Remnick, editor of The New Yorker, wrote an introduction to this portfolio in which describes the exhaustion of the work, emotionally and professionally.

I found them very powerful, moving and touching. They can be seen in this link, photographs of a COVID-19 shift

Monday, May 11, 2020

A Canner's Life

Environmental & Science Education
STEM
Reduce Reuse Recycle
Sustainability
Waste
Edward Hessler

According to this CNN report it is estimated that 10000 people collect recyclables in New York City. In this short video (5m 30s), CNN tags along with a "'canner' named Chcicgo Crosby through the streets of Brooklyn." It is her hope that a bill will raise the price of cans from a nickel to a dime.

Her zest, resilience, insights and self-reflection as well as her work ethic show what humans can be.

Sunday, May 10, 2020

One Minute Read

Environmental & Science Education
STEM
Nature
Biodiversity
Behavior
Wildlife
Edward Hessler

Javan slow lorises are primates that can't jump and are slow, usually keeping three limbs in contact with the surface they are moving on. Most of them live in habitat that is fragmented, isolating them on islands. If they want to feed on another patch of suitable habitat, ground crossing leaves them vulnerable to predation.

So what to do?  Build a bridge.

Anna Nekaris (Oxford Butler University, UK) and her colleagues built some bridges made of waterline or rubber pipes to see whether the lorises would use them.  They are very cautious animals but eventually they did. It took slow lorises, on average, 13 days to try them and once they did they were using them nightly. Other animals native to the area also used them.

The bridges made of water pipes had an added advantage. They "supplied irrigation to farmers' crops providing additional benefits for local communities.

See the report on the research here. Slow lorises score high on the cuteness index. Unfortunately, photographs of the bridges, if any, are not available to me. Here is the abstract to the paper. Access to the full paper is protected by a firewall.








Saturday, May 9, 2020

April's Best Images Chosen by the Photo Team at the Journal Nature

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

April's best science images chosen by the journal Nature's photo team.

This month, commentary on each photo with scientific information and sometimes links to the published papers.

Friday, May 8, 2020

Friday Poem

Environmental & Science Educatioon
Poetry
Art and Environment
Edward Hessler

Greetings from St. Paul on this 129th day of the year.

The sun rises at 5:51 am and sets at 8:27 pm giving us 14 h 36 m 3 s of sunlight. Two hundred thirty eight days remain in 2020, 34.7% of the year has passed, it is the 17th week of 2020, and there are 43 days until the Summer Solstice.

May is the month when we begin the time of frost-free dates (see map). The Twin Cities lies in the borderland between May 15-21 and May 22-25. Every year the meteorologists and gardening experts warn us that even though the land is greening and there are hints of those soft summery days, not to start flower gardens. Some do and then consequences follow unless we cover them at night. Even then.... The last frost-free date in Minnesota is after June 25--a location near the top of the state. Brrrrr.

It is very important for all Minnesotans (or wherever you live) to do their part...by following social distancing guidelines.--MN Commissioner of Health Jan Malcolm(Star Tribune May 4, 2020)


Today's poem is by Julie Kane.

Thursday, May 7, 2020

Measuring COVID-19 at Two Levels

Environmental & Science Education
STEM
Health
Medicine
Nature of Science
History of Science
Edward Hessler

You may have seen the simulation of how a fake disease spreads in a community. The disease was known as "simulitis" and was published in the COVID-19 series of the Washington Post. The uninfected people were represented by gray dots and the infected people by red dots. When red contacted gray, those healthy persons became sick.

I didn't spend much time thinking about it but did wonder about the contact--cough, touch, its length and whether the infected people were symptomatic or asymptomatic. The game may suggest that simple--digital--contact is sufficient, at least it appears digital. Then I left left the page.
In a recent issue of The New Yorker, Siddhartha Mukerjee*, now a cancer oncologist, but who as a graduate student was trained in viral immunology, brought a much wider roving curiosity and background to the gray-dot-red-dot game than me. 
He writes, "The doctor and medical researcher in me...wanted to know what was going on within the dots. How much virus was in that red dot? How fast was it replicating in this dot? How was the exposure--the 'touch time'--relate to the chance of transmission? How long did a red dot remain red--that is, how did and individual's infectiousness change over time? And what was the severity of disease in each case?
Most, if not all, of my attention has been to the pandemic as an epidemiological issue--at the level of populations; not at the individual level. There are three questions, Mukerjee says "deserve particular attention." 
--"What can we learn about the 'dose-response curve' for the initial infection," i.e. quantifying risk as the individuals are exposed to higher viral levels?
--"Is there a relationship between that initial 'dose' of virus and the severity of the disease," are people sicker when exposed to higher viral exposure?
--"Are there quantitative measures of how the virus behaves in infected patients (e.g., the peak of your body's viral load, the patterns of its rise and fall) that predict the severity of their illness and how infectious they are to others."
Mukerjee explores these questions in his essay. Some of the experiments are downright ingenious and revealing. He spoke with viral researcher Rik de Swart (Erasmus University, Rotterdam who noted while emphasizing that meales and COVID-19 are two very different diseases, that in "'measles there are several clear indictns that the severity of illness relates to the dose of exposure. And it makes immunological sense, because the interaction between the virus and the immune system is a race in time."
Measurement of viral loads is very difficult, e.g., oral swabs are influenced by how they are taken but work reported by Joshua Schiffer, Fred Hutchinson Center, has reported "that more stringent nasal-swabbing methods (which sounds it might be nauseous) have yielded consistent, reliable viral load-counts, and that these loads have tracked well with disease symptoms and progression"
In clinical oncology, Mukerjee emphasizes "measurement and enumeration are the mainstays of" medical practice: "the size of a tumor, the number of metastases, the exact shrinkage of a malignant mass after chemotherapy and the stratification of response (categorizing patients according to their response to treatment)". These allow Mukerjee "to describe risk, explain how a remission is measured, and carefully devise a clinical plan"--all in about 30 minutes.
COVID-19 is different: it "goes hand in hand with panic." Measurements of the kind Mukerjee describes will in the end help medical professionals make better use of resources"--always scarce--and treat patients better.
So we must be able to detect the path of a virus at the population level as well as "its course within a single patient. The one becomes he many. Count both; both count." 
In his essay, Mukerjee elaborates on these points and also describes the history of inoculations for smallpox in India, noting the progress made along the way. You will be surprised, I think, by the ability of those inoculating others to precisely estimate the proper dose. Please read it. 
*Dr. Mukerjee is the author of several books. One of them was the Pulitzer Priize winning "The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer." 

Amazon lists and briefly describes his books





Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Looking Down on Earth at a New Dawn

Environmental & Science Education
STEM
Earth Systems
Earth Science
Miscellaneous
Art and Environment
Nature
Edward Hessler

This is posted very late on the 6th of May, as in 6:55 pm. I had problems with the computer and a friend helped me solve them. And then I took a long walk this afternoon, as I usually do. So is better late than never? You decide. I hope so.

"For years," reports NPR's Pranav Baskar (accompanying text by Andrew Revkin),"photographer George Steinmetz has flown a contraption, hauling it himself from one country to another, and simply checking in with his disasembled baggage.


Steinmetz launches  "himself over remote swaths of desert, stark Arctic terrains and cheek-by-jowl shorelines," documenting from the skies above, "the way human activity has shaped Earth. The result is The Human Planet: Earth at the Dawn of the Anthropocene, a photographic record of our planet in the anthropocene age — a word that refers to the mark humans have made on the global landscape ("anthropos" is Greek for human)."

Some of these remarkable images may be seen in the report by Baskar/Revkin at NPR.

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

SARS-CoV2 Graphical Guide to Vaccine Development

Environmental & Science Education
STEM
Medicine
Health
Nature of Science
Edward Hessler

The development of new vaccines from beginning to wide use is complicated and time consuming. The basic science is demanding and most of us would like to know more about it presented in a fashion we can "get."

To the rescue comes the News Feature of the 28 April issue of the British Journal Nature has a graphical guide to eight ways in which scientistists are pursuing the development a vaccine for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes the disease, COVID-19.

The graphic begins with a primer on how immunity is developed, then reviews an array of vaccine possibilities--virus, viral vector, nucleic acid and protein based, and then explains each of the eight approaches.

The work is appropriately described as a race. It is, on several levels.

I'm glad the journal did this. It was written by Ewen Callaway.


Monday, May 4, 2020

Brief Guide to the Pluses/Minuses of COVID-19 Tests

Environmental & Science Education
STEM
Health
Medicine
Edward Hessler

Currently there are three kinds of COVID-19 tests: the diagnostic or PCR test, the antibody test, and the antigen test.

Importantly, author Ricard Harris emphasizes at the outset that "the first and most urgent focus is on increasing access to tests to diagnose people with current infections."

NPR Health sorts out the pluses and minuses to each.

For each there is a description of what the test does, how it works, its accuracy, and how quick it is.


Sunday, May 3, 2020

A City With Building Materials Containing Diamonds

Environmental & Science Education
STEM
Geology
Earth Systems
Earth Science
Edward Hessler

It has been estimated that the buildings of Nordlingen, Germany contain 72000 tons (65317 metric tons) of diamonds, very small diamonds, that is. specks. The diamonds are the result of the impact when a meteorite hit the planet some 11 million years before present.

Another feature of Nordlingen is that it is a  town with an intact city wall.

The BBC Reel takes us on a tour in a short video (5 m 28 s).

This Wiki entry has information about the crater--a rampart crater, one that is unique to Earth but  common on Mars.




Saturday, May 2, 2020

The Building of a Tall Building: A Tour by the Ironworkers

Environmental & Science Education
STEM
Engineering
Technology
Society
Edward Hessler

This short video (6 m) is a guided tour of the construction of the the famed New York City's Chrysler Building (1929-1930) by the workers.. At the time it was the world's tallest building, surpassed in 1931 by the Empire State Building.

The written introduction notes that "this footage...showcases how these workers were less comfortable delivering canned lines than they were sitting a atop beams hundreds of feet high."

h/t to Aeon.


Friday, May 1, 2020

Friday Poem(s)

Environmental & Science Education
Poetry
Art and Environment
Edward Hessler

Greetings from St. Paul. If we were in England we might be Maypole dancing at Bishopstone Church, East Sussex as well as singing and eating cake celebrating the return of spring.

When I was a kid, hanging Maybaskets--the premier variety were made from wall paper and many involved elaborate weaving of the paper but most were in the form of  ice cream cones and from colored craft paper--on the doorknobs of front porches and stoops. We filled them with as many different kinds of wildflowers, pussywillows, and sprigs of flowering trees/shrubs as we could find. You would knock then run, hoping not to be seen. Once seen you were fair game for a chase..

I had a friend in high school who placed one on a door knob, rang the bell and started running. His chaser, the valedictorian of our class and one heck of a runner chased him down. He was out of breath and she was ready for more. She went on to become a physical education teacher; her father was the high school football coach. Go, purple and white.

Today is the 121st day of the year and its 18th week. There are 50 days between today and the Summer Solstice.  On April 25 we had our first 14 hour day of light and it won't drop below 14 hours a day until June 20.

The current announcement on the sign identifying St. Anthony Park Elementary School: CLOSED! Ran out of toilet paper. 

There are three poems today as explained below.

The Park Bugle is the community newspaper of four Saint Paul neighborhoods: St Anthony Park, Falcon Heights, Lauderdale and Como Park.

For 10 years it has held a poetry contest. This year writers were asked to draw their inspiration from   these words: stress, contentment and/or peace. First, second and third place winners have their poems published in the April issue (National Poetry Month).

You may read them here as well as introductory comments by Bugle reporter Scott Gordon.