Friday, January 29, 2016

Friday Poem

Art and Environment
Edward Hessler

By Helgi Halldórsson from Reykjavík, Iceland (Stillness)
[CC BY-SA 2.0
 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Today is nearly the end of January. It is a good reason to read January Song.

This poem was written by Catherine Abbey Hodges, a professor of English at Porterville College in California.

I had planned on posting another of her poems instead but I had considerable trouble finding it. I did find it and will post it next week, provided it doesn't elude me again.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

A Frugal Science Microscope

Environmental & Science Education
Edward Hessler

By Cybulski J, Clements J, Prakash M
[CC BY 4.0 (],
via Wikimedia Commons

In a previous post about Leeuwenhoek's microscopes I mentioned a replica based on Leeuwenhoek's microscope which was part of the ess science kit, Small Things.

The Foldscope Microscope
By Cybulski J, Clements J,
Prakash M
[CC BY 4.0
via Wikimedia Commons

Manu Prakash, a biophysicist in Stanford University's bioengineering department is the inventor of another small microscope. It is known as the Foldscope. Prakash is the subject of an Annals of Science essay by Carolyn Kormann in The New Yorker. Prakash made his first microscope when he was a kid in Mawana, India.

Prakash's microscope consists of a plastic lens and a sheet of paper which can be folded "with a series of origami-style folds," according to Kormann who constructed one from a kit. It can even be attached to a smartphone allowing what is observed to be recorded. It is cheap, even when amped up for more technical applications.

It is an "everyman's" microscope, one to be used by young learners as well as by adults to study the natural world. Prakash makes me think he'd have kids carrying these around the way some of use to carry hand lenses in our pockets to look at what Prakash calls the "microcosmos."

Microscopes make abundance of life abundantly clear
Iridos at the English language Wikipedia
[GFDL ( or
via Wikimedia Commons
In 2009, Elizabeth Blackburn was awarded the Nobel prize for her work on the function of telomeres, structures at the end of chromosomes that protects them.  In an animated Nature video she talks about how her love of the natural world, especially microscopic forms have inspired her curiosity and her work. In this video she notes that the enormous abundance of life is one that "microscopes make abundantly clear."

Her studies focus on Tetrahymena, a ciliated protozoan which Leeuwenhoek likely noticed, too. It is a remarkable sturdy organism.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Friday Poem

Image result for mountain dew

Art and Environment
Edward Hessler

Matthew Olzmann's poetry has appeared here previously.

Here is another Olzmann poem.

Mountain Dew Commercial
Disguised as A Love Poem

Here's what I've got, the reason why our marriage
might work: Because you wear pink but write
about bullets and gravestones. Because you yell
at your keys when you lose them, and laugh,

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Heat in the Year 2015

Environmental & Science Education
Edward Hessler

By Berkeley Earth [Public domain],
via Wikimedia Commons

Jeff Tollefson is the author of a feature piece in Nature (20 January 2016) titled "2015 declared the hottest year on record."

It may be accessed and read here.

Nature is the second most widely read scientific journal in the world.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

The Science of the State of the Union--2016

State of the Union
Environmental & Science Education
Edward Hessler

By Pete Souza
(Executive Office of the President of the United States)
[Public domain],
via Wikimedia Commons
A previous post provides information about the work of the National Academy of Sciences. Each year the National Academy Press provides an annotated text of the President's State of the Union with relevant reports produced by the national academies.

Here is the 2016 report. In President Obama's final State of the Union, he established high goals for the United States for STEM education, cancer research and cures, and climate change.  The National Academies Press uses resources from past scientific advancements and current steps toward achieving President Obama's envisioned future.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Friday Poem

Image result for poetry

Art and Environment
Edward Hessler

Poet C. D. Wright (Carolyn) died in her sleep this week. She was 67 years old.

Ben Lerner writes about her as "an utterly original American artist" in The New Yorker and Craig Morgan Teicher wrote about "her way of seeing" for National Public Radio.

Wright was the recipient of a MacArthur "genius" grant and the recipient of the National Book Critics Circle Award. She had been a professor at Brown University for many years.

Here is a sample of her "hardheaded her "own obstinate terms." The Dust was first published in The Paris Review, Winter, 1988.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

The Messenger

Environmental & Science Education
Edward Hessler

The website of the remarkable documentary film, The Messenger, provides a synopsis of the film:

By Rennett Stowe from
 USA (Turquoise Tanager  Uploaded by russavia)
[CC BY 2.0 (],
via Wikimedia Commons
Su Rynard's wide ranging and contemplative documentary THE MESSENGER explores our deep-seated connection to birds and warns that the uncertain fate of songbirds might mirror our own. Moving from the northern reaches of the Boreal Forest to the base of Mount Ararat in Turkey to the streets of New York, THE MESSENGER brings us face-to-face with a remarkable variety of human-made perils that have devastated thrushes, warblers, orioles, tanagers, grosbeaks and many other airborne music makers.

On one level, THE MESSENGER is an engaging, visually stunning, emotional journey, one that mixes its elegiac message with hopeful notes and unique glances into the influence of songbirds on our own expressions of the soul. On another level, THE MESSENGER is the artful story about the mass depletion of songbirds on multiple continents, and about those who are working to turn the tide.

In ancient times humans looked to the flight and songs of birds to protect the future.  Today, once again, birds have something to tell us. 

How the Birds were Filmed
So, how are songbirds filmed in flight?  It would seem an impossible task. Just one of the issues is that these birds fly at night. Here director Su Rynard describes how all this was done and has produced a short film to show us.

A previous post, provides more information about THE MESSENGER.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Great Science Books Published in 2015

Environmental & Science Education
Edward Hessler

Image from

Symmetry Magazine, published by Fermilab/SLAC, describes 10 popular books on particle physics and astrophysics published in 2015.  It is a big year for Einstein (the occasion of the 100th anniversary of general relativity).

Science Friday also listed their picks for the best science books of 2015.  It includes contributions from Pulitzer Prize journalist, Deborah Blum and Maria Popova who is known for her blog, Brain Pickings.

The annotations on each list may be useful in making a decision about reading a particular book or purchasing it as a gift. The books are the products of practicing scientists and science writers.  Among the scientists in this group is Lisa Randall, a well-known theoretical physicist who is also an effective popularizer of physics.

Good reads!

Friday, January 8, 2016

Friday Poem

Art & Environment
Edward Hessler

By Slowking4 (Own work)
[GFDL 1.2 (],
via Wikimedia Commons

A few days ago, January 5, I read a lovely poem by Matthew Olzmann on , it is where you will also find some notes about the poem by the author.


A short biography of Olzmann may be found here.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Friday Poem

Art and Environment
Edward Hessler

Blood Moon (21804266021)
By George Capalbo (Blood Moon)
[CC BY 2.0 (],
via Wikimedia Commons
On September 27/28 there was a blood moon eclipse and this site has 11 facts about it.  It also includes a clock counting down the total solar eclipse on March 8 2016.

Where I live there were children and adults everywhere outside, in chairs, watching and celebrating this sky magic. And there was also a full moon on December 25 2015, one more reason to get up early just in case the gray faded quite a bit.

Today's poems are Native American moon calendars.
08.Sep.2014, Mid-Autumn Festival. 15. Tag des 8. Mondmonats nach dem traditionellen chinesischen Kalender. Das Mondfest - Mittherbstfest (15159145896)
By Kiefer. from Frankfurt, Germany
[CC BY-SA 2.0 (],
via Wikimedia Commons


goose moon
black bear month
silver salmon month
month before everything hatches
month everything hatches
time of the long days
month when the geese can't fly
month when all kinds of animals prepare their dens
moon child
big moon/formation of ice
month when all creatures go into their dens
ground hog mother's moon


long moon, spirit moon
moon of the suckers
moon of the crust on the snow
moon of the breaking of snowshoes
moon of the flowers & blooms
moon of strawberries
moon of raspberries
moon of whortleberries
moon of gathering of wild rice
moon of the falling of leaves
moon of freezing
little moon of the spirit