Sunday, July 31, 2022

Studying A Slow Critter

Environmental & Science Education, STEM, Behavior, Sustainability, Nature, Wildlife, Biodiversity

Ed Hessler

Where I Work, a feature of the science journal Nature, has another quickly read description of a scientist at work.

The short segment is about Dr. Rebecca Cliffe, the founder of the Sloth Conservation Foundation (SloCo) a non-profit working with sloths in Costa Rica. Isn't that a great abbreviation?
She makes two observations, one about about her career and the other about ecological science: "I’m happy I’ve moved away from academia — I can put all my energy into conservation as opposed to bashing out papers. That’s what I feel ecology should focus on — how we can use what we’re learning to give back to other species."
I don't think this should be the focus of ecology; it is an interest and career choice one can make.

Saturday, July 30, 2022

Atlantic Puffins

Environmental & Science Education, STEM, Biodiversity, Nature, Wildlife, Art & Environment.

Ed Hessler

The Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales is one of 46 Wildlife Trusts across the UK. The area covers 9,787 km² (~3778 sq. mi)  in South and West Wales - including around half of Wales’ coastline. The Trusts owns and manages 110 nature reserves covering 2,007 hectares (~4959 acres), 50 of which are designated Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs), 10 are National Nature Reserves and 4 are islands, including Skomer and Skokholm islands.

It is the island Skomer that provides the setting for some lovely photographs of Atlantic puffins which may be seen in Nicola Bryan's BBC article, Wildlife photography:Magic of Skomer's puffins captured." About the puffins she tells us that "more than 38,000 Atlantic puffins begin to late March and will leave towards the end of July."

About their short residency, landscape & wildlife photographer Drew Buckley said "'If it was the same every day then it wouldn't be as special - it's this sort of fleeting glimpse and then you look forward to the next season."'  I've seen puffins once in my life and was first struck by how impeccably dressed they were, seemingly in formal wear but as Buckley notes they appear comical because they are clumsy on their feet "funny characters to watch really."  The island has no predators and the birds are fearlessly nosy, walking "up to your feet...climb over your camera bag,pull your shoe laces."'

Bryan includes more information about Buckley, puffin nesting, mating/parenting  behavior, nesting cycle and their future. They are listed "at risk of extinction."

Included, as usual, are links with more on this story.

Friday, July 29, 2022

Friday Poem

Environment & Science Education, Poetry, Art & Environment

Ed Hessler

Deciduous by Linda Gregerson was published in Canopy (Ecco Press, 2022).

The original e-mail post from Poetry Daily included this comment from Ms. Gregerson  on the poem. It "was written in tribute and gratitude to the extraordinary Greta Thunberg and to all the passionate young activists who are fighting to preserve the beautiful, fragile, terribly endangered planet that is our only home."

The epigraph to the book is Dulce lignum which is translated as "Sweet the wood," from a Gregorian chant with quite a different intent.

Thursday, July 28, 2022

The Guardian Takes on Biological Evolution

Environmental & Science Education, STEM, Evolutionary Biology, Nature of Science, History of Science

Ed Hessler

In late June I noticed an article in The Guardian (UK) titled "Do We Need a New Theory of Evolution?" 

My first thought before reading further was "Clickbait," which was followed by "no." It was, I thought, another example of  Betteridge's law of headlines. This  aphorism states  "Any headline that ends in a question mark can be answered by the word no."  The Wiki link has important details, if it is new to you.

I did read the reporting and thought it was strong evidence supporting Betteridge. I wanted to say something about it, hoping, no depending first that Jerry Coyne at Why Evolution is True and/or others I look to for analysis based on  immersive knowledge and long, highly regarded record of evolutionary biology research to comment. 

Coyne wrote an extensive comment (Short summary: The answer to the headline is no. The longer answer is based on substantial evidence and technical details.). However, I decided not to write anything because I didn't think I could summarize it easily enough. This became even more difficult when The Guardian published some letters (not one from anyone mentioned in the reporting by Stephen Buranyi).  And that is where I left it until now.

However, Professor Coyne recently posted a link to a YouTube video by Jon Perry about the Guardian piece. Coyne was enthusiastic about the video and used the word "demolished" with respect to the reporting. Perry runs the YouTube channel "Genetics & Evolution State Casually." 

I'd never heard of this channel but no longer am I surprised but disappointed about what I don't know what the web offers. I regret not knowing about this channel. It is splendid. Wonderful. Content rich. There, Perry discusses "genetics, evolution, science and the interplay of science with religion within Western culture."

This is how Perry describes the video (see previous link above to view it. 14m 37s): "The Guardian recently wrote an article about evolution. How accurate was it?" *

I also commend to you this post by Professor Coyne on letters that he and others wrote to The Guardian. His, written with two colleagues, was finally published. He also includes a letter that wasn't published (and should have been).
*The introduction by Perry is important because he describes why he decided to focus on this article. It was a response to a question from a high school teacher who has been assigned to teach biology, a task for which she has no training.. She teaches maths. Furthermore, I especially appreciated what he had to say about the nature of introductory texts and courses. Their purpose is never, nor can it be, to help students uncover everything. Their role is exposure and to introduce students to major ideas, concepts, and practices of scientists and engineers.

I was familiar with the two texts shown but have no idea of how widespread their use is now that teachers are working in a standards based environment which requires less delivery and more emphasis on how scientists probe the world. Vocabulary requirements are greatly reduced and the emphasis is on understanding and using concepts, science and engineering practices, and cross-cutting concepts. In addition, the concepts are developed gradually in a progression from grade school. The depth  of the two texts shown would, it seems to me, not be developmentally appropriate for the standard 10th grade biology course. Reading them would be a challenge and in the end a barrier to learning. They made me think of Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate and in Minnesota, Concurrent Enrollment Programs. I have not examined the requirements of these biology courses...
I'm not going to say more but instead point you to the  Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and to the current Minnesota standards for science where you can examine them for biology content. The eye is not among them. The emphasis on evolution is on diversity, variation,  natural selection, etc. The basics.

NGSS. You will see a blue box, "Get to Know The Standards"  Click and go to learning progressions.
Minnesota K-2 Academic Standards in Science. This is a draft approved by the Commissioner of Education. They are going through a state rule making process before their full implementation in 2023-2024.
Minnesota is is a state that adopted NGSS in its entirety or with modifications/additions.  For us, it is the latter. See here for the full list as of 2020 and a brief discussion of each state. However,  Minnesota was represented in the development of the NGSS.

With thanks to Professor Emeritus Jerry A. Coyne, University of Chicago

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

On Retracting A Paper

Environmental & Science Education, STEM, Nature of Science, History of Science

Ed Hessler

In "Sociobiology: So You Want To Be a Biology Professor," a blog about academic life and research, Washington University's (St. Louis), Joan E. Strassmann recounts the experience of retracting a published paper.

She wrote it to explain what happened, how she and her lab dealt with it and to "help normalize honest retractions which should probably be more common." She describes the experiment, where it went awry and then focuses "on the human side." It includes "some reflections from the very honest and brave graduate student who discovered the problem and shared it with us."

The moral to the story, according to Professor Strassmann is "Do your best. Think hard about all the ways you can verify that your experiment does what you think it does. When problems are discovered after publication, retract the paper and do the experiment over if it is a good one. Treasure and support students that show their honesty and conviction when they point out their own mistakes. There should be no shame in an honest retraction, though there will always be regret."

This is a illuminating, powerful example of what it is like to be a scientist with a commitment to the enterprise of doing the best science possible. It is also tough and tender in all the right places.

Dr. Strassmann's web site linked above includes a picture of her lab group, including a lovely dog and the nature of the lab's research (cooperation and "what this means at the extremes of sociality," the research organism and the techniques which include "behavioral, genetic, genomic, microbiological, cell biology, and field techniques," thus emphasizing the use of multiple lines of evidence.

Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Mendel At 200

Environmental & Science Education, STEM, History of Science, Nature of Science

Ed Hessler

On July 22 was celebrated the 200th birthday * of the Augustinian friar, Gregor Mendel, whose careful work with pea plants, described the basic principles of inheritance.

"The true legacy of Gregory Mendel: careful, rigorous and humble science" is the title of an editorial in the British science journal Nature, describing his research. It is short but here are a few points it makes.

--While his notes, interim observations and working methods were burned following his death, recent historical material has made clear that  "that Mendel was a careful scientist; cautious, patient and committed to data. These qualities allowed him to make discoveries that have stood the test of time."

--Mendel's paper "‘Experiments on plant hybrids’,  presented to the Natural History Society of Brno (now in the Czech Republic) in 1865" is described as "a model for research communication. It describes, in accessible language, how Mendel established controls and protected the integrity of his experiments (such as taking steps to reduce the risk of wind-blown or insect pollination). He is generous in crediting others’ work on the subject. The final part of the manuscript includes a discussion of caveats and potential sources of error."

-- "Mendel’s name was wrongly and irresponsibly appropriated to give weight to eugenics, the scientifically inaccurate idea that humans can be improved through selective breeding. Just a few decades after his death in 1884, his work began to be discussed and cited by scientists advocating theories of racial superiority." 

--Today we know "that genes are not destiny, four words that bear repeating loudly and frequently" (my bold).

--"It is worth pausing for just a moment to celebrate his absolute commitment to careful observation, rigour in analysis and humility in interpreting the results."

If you are interested in a thorough technical review, the science and the history, of Mendel's work, I refer you to  "How Did Mendel Arrive At His Discoveries?" It includes all the scientific and historical details to present.

* The editorial footnote reports on a scholarly debate on Mendel's date of birth, July 22 or July 20. The latter is the date of the official anniversary but his family celebrated it on July 22, the date the editors of Nature editors also chose to mark the occasion.


Monday, July 25, 2022

Long-Term Covid

Environmental & Science Education, STEM, Health, Medicine

Ed Hessler

CBS Sunday Morning's Dr. Jonahan LaPook "talks with doctors looking at ways to diagnose and treat patients with long COVID, and with patients who are striving to get back to their pre-COVID health. 

The introduction calls attention to some striking numbers: "more than two years into the pandemic, researchers still have few answers about why as many as 1-5 adults infected with COVID have experienced a symptom suggestive of long-term effects.." 

For starters this is a reminder that COVID is a potentially serious disease, not to be taken lightly.

Here is the WIKI entry on Dr. LaPook.

Sunday, July 24, 2022


Environmental & Science Education, STEM, Solar System, Earth & Space Science

Ed Hessler

The BepiColombo spacecraft will orbit the planet Mercury in 2025. It is already beginning to prepare for this event.

In opening the brief, typically informative and well-referenced Astronomy Picture of the Day (APOD) asks, "Which part of the moon is this? No part -- because this is the planet Mercury." It would be easy to assume that one is looking at our Moon.

The striking, stark, well-defined image was taken as BepiColombo passes Mercury. 

I learned a lot and am glad for this APOD selection.

Saturday, July 23, 2022

Rangers Wanted

Environmental & Science Education, STEM, Biodiversity, Nature, Wildlfe, Sustainability, Global Change, Invasive Species

Ed Hessler

Citizen scientists are wanted by the Jumping Worms Project, UMN.

Interesting to think that Minnesota ever had earthworms before European settlement. This means that after the glaciers, Minnesota ecosystems developed without them. All of the terrestrial earthworms are non-native, invasive species.

If you are interested in helping document the presence/absence of the latest invasive which represent a profound threat to managed and wild landscapes you can learn more here. And here is a FOX9 news report with a link to the Minnesota DNR's website dedicated to jumping worms which also tells you can help by checking bait and gardening compost. Since plants are frequently given by neighbors after managing their own gardens, check the soil they are in, too.

Friday, July 22, 2022

Friday Poem

Environmental & Science Education, Poetry, Art and Environment

Ed Hessler 

A poem by Stephen Kampa

His home page at Flagler College includes several of his poems if you'd like to read and sample more of his work.


Thursday, July 21, 2022

Bear Fight

Environmental & Science Education, STEM, Nature, Wildlife, Behavior

Ed Hessler 

Earlier this summer the Brooks Falls Low Cam recorded a fight between two brown bears - Bear 856 & Bear 39.

Mike Fitz discusses this fight in a Live Brooks Chat and answered viewers questions. Fitz, a former National Park Service Ranger, spent a good part of his career at Katmai National Park. He is now the resident naturalist for The discussion is 1h 09m 45s) so the event received the discussion it deserved. The slider allows you to advance if you want a quick overview or watch segments over again.

I always looked forward to his weekly discussions and interpretations of events on the bears of the Brooks River which were announced ahead of the event. I was not a regular viewer, so missed some, but there are "regulars" who are quite knowledgeable about the bears  and their comments were interesting to read.. Fitz still provides commentary, sometimes at Katmai and sometimes on video taken their. He is not at Katmai this bear and salmon season..

Fitz's website, Wandering at Large: explorations and thoughts about the natural world includes a description of his book The Bears of Brooks Falls, based on his many years interpreting brown bear behavior on the Brooks River and vicinity.

Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Carbon Dioxide Costs of Transporting Food

Environmental & Science Education, STEM, Sustainability, Global Change. Climate Change, Agriculture, Earth & Space Science. Earth Systems

Ed Hessler 

That we are an enormous expense to planet Earth is not news. We have much to learn about those expenses, including their size, meaning and implications. I suspect that we also don't know all of them.. Have you ever considered the costs of travel in transporting foods and production emissions?

Fortunately, Mengyu Li, a sustainability researcher at the University of Sydney (Australia) and her colleagues have. The research is reported on by Freda Kreier in the Nature News section for July 1, 2022 and is based on a research paper in Nature Food (linked behind a paywall) but you can learn about the team members as well as read the abstract).

"Transporting ingredients and food products accounts for nearly one-fifth of all carbon emissions in the food system," a larger amount than previously thought. And Kreier continues by noting that " Clearing land for farming, raising livestock and moving food to and from shops adds a large amount of greenhouse gas to the atmosphere. The United Nations estimates that growing, processing and packaging food accounts for one-third of all greenhouse-gas emissions."

Kreier reports  that "the complexity of the food system has made it challenging to measure" the greenhouse gas emissions at the system level. "Previously," she observes, "most studies underestimated emissions because they focused on only those generated by moving a single product - such as a chocolate bar - to and from the shop" and researcher Li told Kreier that this misses "the multitude of other trucks, ships and aeroplanes involved in gathering all the ingredients."

The report includes a nifty bar graph for a variety of food and industrial products, both for the domestic and international sides. It will come as no surprise that wealthy nations generate "nearly half of international food-transport emissions, despite accounting or only 12% of the global populations." There are reasons for this which are discussed.

Kreier interviewed Nina Domingo, a sustainability researcher at Yale University (New Haven) who told her that "the results don’t mean that people should try to limit the amount of plants in their diet." Continuing, Kreier writs that "many studies have shown that plant-based diets are better for the environment than consuming large amounts of red meat, because livestock need a lot of land and burp out greenhouse gases. Reducing the consumption of red meat and eating food produced locally could help wealthy countries to lower their climate impacts, researchers say."


Tuesday, July 19, 2022

Letters To Trees

Environmental & Science Education, STEM, Nature, Biodiversity

Ed Hessler

My neighborhood has what I refer to as a "hotline" where people talk,sometimes rant, about neighborhood issues, let others know of free stuff that has been set on curbs, announce events, ask for help, crime news, exchange special tools when needed once or for a short time, advice, recommendations for services, and often those that start with ISO--in search of. It is an incredibly valuable community service and busy with daily traffic.

This is a re-post of a note I published on it July 7, 2022. It has been slightly modified from the original.

Mary Hrovat writes for 3 Quarks Daily. Her column on July 4 was gem-like, deliciously thoughtful, leaving me appropriately misty-eyed. I thought especially about the trees that were in one way or another important to me when I was a K-12 school and following including a very particular neighborhood redbud.

She begins her essay "Love Letters to Trees" with an observation on the prompt for the essay. "When the city of Melbourne (Australia) set up email addresses for trees so that people could report problems, the trees received affectionate fan mail as well as messages about dangling limbs or other hazards. Here are some letters I’d write to trees, if I could." 

Hrovat links to an article in The Guardian about the City of Central Melbourne's trees which features an interactive map on each of its 70,000 trees. (my emphasis) Be sure to take a look for it is a very impressive undertaking.

Here are the headers for the letters Hrovat wrote:.

--To the aspens in Hannagan Meadows
--To the hedge apple tree in a yard long ago
--To the two big gingko trees on the IU Bloomington campus
--To the red maples along the path I used to take to work
--To the hollow beech tree in Winslow Woods

I've never done this but these are five trees to which I'd send a letter. A Scotch pine in our backyard, maples in the fall on the highway leading into town, Sycamore on the flood plain of a creek, Redbuds on the Cornell Campus, Apple trees in abandoned orchards on the hill above my house. I think of them often.

Hrovat's essay Includes photographs by Julian Hook.

Monday, July 18, 2022

Understanding the Forces That Create Volcanic Eruptions

Environmental & Science Education, STEM, Earth & Space Science, Geology, Earth Systems, Nature of Science, History of Science

Ed Hessler

Kayla Iacovino is an experimental petrologist at Jacobs-NASA Johnson Space Center whose interest is understanding "the geochemical forces that lead to" the destructive forces when volcanoes erupt.  She "collects rock samples from around the world to better understand the forces that create them.

This Breakthrough video (10m 25s) shows us how she does this research and is part "of a series from Science Friday and Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) that follows women working at the forefront of their fields."

There are links to a Science Friday interview with Dr. Iacovino and to her website.

Sunday, July 17, 2022

Hair Ice

Environmental & Science Education, STEM, Earth & Space Science, Earth Systems, Nature

Ed Hessler

Hair ice. Ice wool. Frost beard.  I've never seen it and received a lovely introduction to it by Tamas Varga (Earthly Mission)

It was interesting to learn that its formation is due to a fungus (Exidioposa effusa), a discovery made in 2015. This link, a Wiki entry, has the complete citation for the full scientific paper and access to a PDF. The mechanism that allows the formation as well as stabilizes it, once formed, is not certain. The ice hairs can be long lived and "can maintain their shaped for hours and sometimes even days."

This particular ice formation is not common and based on observations, it  appears to be a denizen of broadleaf forests "mostly at latitudes between 45 and 55 degrees N." I learned from Varga's reporting that the"ice forms on moist, rotting wood from broadleaf trees when temperatures are slightly under 0 °C (32 °F) and the air is humid. The smooth, silky hairs have a diameter of about 0.02 mm (0.0008 in) and a length of up to 20 cm (8 in). Although individual hairs are brittle, they usually take the shape of curls and waves." 

Another characteristic of their formation which is not yet fully understood is that they "appear to root at the mouth of wood rays (never on the bark), and their thickness is similar to the diameter of the wood ray channels."

Varga includes many take-your-breath away photographs.

At one point, Varga refers to this kind of ice as "white wig." I liked it and I think it is also a great alternative to be included in a list of common names.

Saturday, July 16, 2022

Milky Way Motion In 3D

Environmental & Science Education, STEM, Astronomy, Cosmology, Earth & Space Science, Nature of Science

Ed Hessler 

I'd not only never seen the Milky Way like this; I hadn't even conceived it might look like this image from Astronomy Picture of the Day (APOD). It is "alive" APOD writes, "with the streams of stars."

The image is from the Gaia Mission, " an ambitious mission to chart a three-dimensional map of our Galaxy, the Milky Way, in the process revealing the composition, formation and evolution of the Galaxy. Gaia will provide unprecedented positional and radial velocity measurements with the accuracies need to produce stereoscopic and kinematic census of about one billion stars in our Galaxy and throughout the Local Group. This amounts to about 1 per cent of the Galactic stellar population." The number the remaining 99% bowl me over.(My underline).

It is another image that adds to my delighted wonder - now a little more informed - about the structure of the Milky Way as well as in the engineers, scientists, technicians who made it possible. Thanks, too,  to the policy makers who made the decisions to fund such an ambitious project. 

I was reminded of the symbol for Yin and Yang--in the horizontal.

Friday, July 15, 2022

Friday Poem

Environmental & Science Education, Poetry, Art and Environment

Ed Hessler 

Today's poem, "Interdependence Day" is by John Amen.

And in the news, poet Ada Limon has been named the new U. S. poet laureate. She is the 24th and will assume this position in September. This is the press release from the Library of Congress which includes a description and of the laureateship.

In reporting on NPR by Meghan Collins Sullivan (Senior Editor, Arts & Culture desk), Limon told her, "I think that it's really important to remember that even in this particularly hard moment, divided moment, poetry can really help us reclaim our humanity. I think we need to remember that we possess the full spectrum of human emotions. And I think moving through that grief and trauma, anger, rage — through poetry I think we can actually remember that on the other side of that is also contentment, joy, a little peace now and again, and that those are all a part of the same spectrum. And that without one, we don't have the other."

Here is a sample.  And two more.

Thursday, July 14, 2022

Try Creating A Planetary System

Environmental & Science Education, STEM, Astronomy, Earth & Space Science, Cosmology, Astrophysics, Nature of Science

Ed Hessler

Can you create a planetary system that lasts for 1000 years?

This question is posed by Astronomy Picture of the Day (APOD). And a game, Super Planet Crash, offers you the opportunity to be a planetary system maker--one with up to 10 planets.

Bodies you can add, each increasing in mass, include Earth, Ice Giant, Giant Planet, Brown Dwarf, Dwarf Star. The planets are constrained within a defined circle.

There is information about the game makers, links to what each of the bodies mentioned above are, etc.

The game has an end: 1000 years or when a planet is  expelled, a not unusual event as planets are made.

This game makes the universe, the cosmos, even grander, due to physics.

Wednesday, July 13, 2022

A Researcher Dad's Summer Reading Club

Environmental & Science Education, STEMEarly Childhood, Children, Literacy

Ed Hessler

If you would like some help with young children who are learning to read and/or struggling with reading, this phonics-based program is worth taking a look at. It is designed for parents and early childhood caregivers.

Read Not Guess is described by the author who writes: "Get your child on the path to reading fluently with our free, 30-day reading challenge (July 18 to August 19). Daily emails with short lessons for parents will start July 18th. No time? No problem. Lessons should take 5-10 minutes. See FAQs for more details."

That reading is important in STEM education goes almost without saying but we do need to say it. And learning to read well. establishing positive reading habits from the beginning could not be more important. Of course, following this, the hope is that children will want to read for pleasure as well as for their continued learning. Reading difficulties should not get in the way.

It was developed by Chad Aldeman, a professor at Georgetown University where he is an education researcher. His primary motivation for developing the program resulted from "watching my son (8 yo) struggle with his reading."

Tuesday, July 12, 2022

Reading the Tea Leaves

Environmental & Science Education, STEM, Biodiversity,  , Nature, Nature of Science, Biological Evolution, Climate Change, Global Change

Ed Hessler 

This report from TheScientist on biomonitoring demonstrates its value, especially tracing environmental DNA (eDNA)  left  by animals in various environments. It is a technique of value in noting both evolutionary and ecological responses of biological communities to global environmental change.

The original research is published in Biology Letters (linked in the reporting) which is fully available but technical, not that this should dissuade you from reading it.

Shawna Williams of The Scientist interviewed study coauthor Henrick Krehenwinkel (HK), an ecological geneticist at Germany's Trier University.

What was analyzed was tea and that it is a useful tool for biomonitoring may be a surprise. It was to me. 

And the story has a feature I like for it gets inside the lab. Included here are the use of research collections: questioning, considerations of experimental design,deciding on what to investigate--include/exclude, use of a test experiment then expanding it, and findings, especially population change over time, as well as the inevitable surprises..

Of course, HK had to be asked - the story would be incomplete otherwise - whether he is a tea drinker. His answer includes a bonus about the differences between tea and coffee as an eDNA research material material. 

"'I drink coffee actually. . . . And I fear coffee probably is not well suited for it because coffee is roasted. And what DNA really doesn’t like is being heated up to a very high temperature for a long time . . . . We have not tried it yet, but I fear coffee is probably not the best choice for this kind of experiment."" 

Monday, July 11, 2022

Mastodon Home Range

Environmental & Science Education, STEM, Global Change, Wildlife, Biodiversity, Biological Evolution


Did you ever wonder how mastodons spent their year or even whether scientists could ever find out?  Well scientists have at least learned how one American Mastodon (Mammut americanum), thanks to a tool developed by physical chemists. You might think of this as better science through chemistry: the use of chemical signatures.

There is an article in the New York Times (behind a subscription wall). My guess is that the reporting is in the Science Section for June 21. The science journal Nature has a short article accessible by members only.

The research was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) and is completely accessible as a technical paper. It includes some maps that will help you locate the mating ground section of the home range and the core range what is now Indiana. The distance between the two was 150 Km (~93 miles). The adult was a breeding bull and died at 34 years of age from a wound, likely a skull puncture incurred in a battle for breeding rights.

Included below is the full significance section of the paper, a requirement of some journals that I like and some parts of the abstract that inform the significance section.

From the Significance Section

Fossil remains usually reveal little about lifetime landscape use beyond place of death, but ever-growing tusks of American mastodons (Mammut americanum) record this fundamental aspect of paleobiology. Using oxygen and strontium isotopes from a serially sampled male mastodon tusk, we reconstruct changing patterns of landscape use during his life. We find clear shifts in landscape use during adolescence and following maturation to adulthood, including increased monthly movements and development of a summer-only range and mating ground. The mastodon died in his inferred summer mating ground, far from landscapes used during other seasons. Mastodons had long gestation times, and late Pleistocene populations lived in harsh, rapidly changing environments. Seasonal landscape use and migration were likely critical for maximizing mastodon reproductive success.

Selections from the Abstract.

--The  two serially sampled intervals (5+ adolescent years and 3+ adult years) in a male mastodon tusk (were tested) for changes in landscape use associated with maturation and reproductive phenology.

--The mastodon’s early adolescent home range was geographically restricted, with no evidence of seasonal preferences. Following inferred separation from the matriarchal herd (starting age 12 y), the adolescent male’s mobility increased as landscape use expanded away from his natal home range (likely central Indiana). As an adult, the mastodon’s monthly movements increased further. Landscape use also became seasonally structured, with some areas, including northeast Indiana, used only during the inferred mastodon mating season (spring/summer). 
Here is a less technical entry on radiometric dating from the Simple English Wikipedia.

I hope you take a look at this paper. The maps are very useful.This research is fascinating and important ecologically and in the study of biological evolution.

Sunday, July 10, 2022

Octopus, Jellyfish, Sea Horse

Environmental & Science Education, STEM, Biodiversity, Wildlife, Nature, Biological Evolutioin

Ed Hessler 

Life below the ocean tops is hidden to most of us although many of us have seen the three featured below from an NPR Picture Show. The story is by Vanessa Castillo.

National Geographic photographer David Liittschwager "spent 12 years photographing octopuses, seahorses and jelly fish at more than 28 locations" worldwide. His new book "captures more than 135,000 exposures--with essays by three science writers: Elizabeth Kolbert, Jennifer Holland and Olivia Judson. Judson is also an evolutionary biologist by training and educaton.The link allows a look inside Octopus, Seahorse, Jellyfish.

The NPR story provides a preview of these remarkable photographs and creatures. Moments of wonder and great beauty. A full palette of colors that surprise. Endless forms. Details to marvel at. All products of the mechanisms, the constant tinkering, of biological evolution.

Who knew how lovely and diverse they are? A few photographers, scuba divers, and research scientists. Fortunately for us, David Liittschwager has done the heavy lifting (two kinds), made a little less heavy physically by the physics of the ocean during long periods spent below it's surfaces.

Saturday, July 9, 2022

A Garden of Poisons

Environmental & Science Education, STEM, Biodiversity, Nature,

Ed Hessler

We know that some plants  are toxic or narcotic or poisonous but often not know much about them, including their sometimes life-saving properties. This video (6m 25s) from the BBC's REEL takes us to Alnwick Garden, Northumberland, England, which is described in the written introduction.

The Poison Garden at the Alnwick Garden in Northumberland, England is one of the deadliest gardens in the world. It features around 100 toxic, intoxicating, and narcotic plants. Visitors require a safety briefing before entering and gardeners must wear full-body protective clothing.

It may seem alarming, but many of the plants can be found in ordinary gardens, with people completely unaware of their poisonous potential. However, in many cases these deadly plants can also have life-saving qualities too, so truly understanding their potential to both harm and to cure is vitally important.



Friday, July 8, 2022

Friday Poem

Environmental & Science Education, Poetry, Art & Environment

Ed Hessler

Answer July by Emily Dickinson.

Thursday, July 7, 2022

Prairie Coloring Book: Ages 12 and Up

Environmental & Science Education, STEM, Children, Biodiversity, Nature, Wildlife

If you would like a coloring book or know someone who might which features prairies here is a link on how to download the book. 

It is titled Build Your Park Coloring Book for ages 12 and up. It is a project of the American Prairie Reserve from American Prairie.

As much as I love the daydreamy quality of these lines from Emily Dickinson on how to make a prairie it takes a lot more which is one reason for the conservation and preservation of large areas of our native prairies.

“To make a prairie it takes a clover and one bee,
One clover, and a bee,
And revery.
The revery alone will do,
If bees are few.”

Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Human Waste to A Nitrogen Fertilizer Use

Environmental & Science Education, STEM, Pollution, Sustainability, Global Change, Climate Change

Ed Hessler

Below is the introduction to a great video (8m 35s) on waste water and how it, to get specific, urine, can become a recyclable resource, one that is extraordinarily valuable to all of us, worldwide. Liquid gold indeed!

"Each year, farmers must produce a staggering amount of food to meet the demand of a rising global population. Ammonia is a critical ingredient in the fertilizers that enable farmers to grow the enormous amount of food that’s needed to feed the world’s 8 billion people. But the factories that manufacture the ammonia used in fertilizers are a major source of planet-warming carbon dioxide. Will Tarpeh, a chemical engineer at Stanford University, is developing a groundbreaking technology to tap into an unlikely new source of nitrogen for fertilizer: ammonia contained in human waste."

The film focuses on the link between waste water and sanitation, especially in Africa. Looking ahead I can imagine research by scientists and engineers into ammonia recovery here and elsewhere on complex wastewater systems. I especially appreciated Dr. Tarpeh's remarks on growing up curious about how nature works and where it has led. The video also provides another take on scientific and engineering careers.

Tuesday, July 5, 2022

What Annoys You About Science Reporting?

Environmental & Science Education, STEM, Nature of Science

Ed Hessler

Does anything annoy you about the reporting of science news? The click-bait headlines annoy me as well as the lack of discussion of the evidence, how good it is, absence of what it means, some history to put it in context, etc.

In a recent BackReaction column, theoretical physicist Sabine Hossenfelder over which she cleverly and acidly places a red bar in which the word BREAKING is found. The column is titled Science News Sucks. There she discusses her big or top ten bothers. And wonders whether it is only her who is annoyed by science news.

I link as you certainly must know by know to her blog post which has the narrative and the video but if you are not interested in having the transcript handy there is a link to her YouTube video. There the narrative is behind a subscription pay wall.

Hossenfelder makes some some useful comments on what science is and how it works which are always of interest to me. How are we to become literate at the citizen or general interest level if we have no idea of the hallmarks of science?

I just learned that Dr. Hossenfelder has a new book coming out for which see here There you can learn more about the book, read some reviews, learn about the author, her motivation for writing the book, and the content.

Monday, July 4, 2022

Images: Virgo Cluster of Galaxies and Cumulonimbus Montage

Environmental & Science Education, STEM, Earth & Space Science, Cosmology, Earth Systems, Astronomy

Ed Hessler

This entry offers two images of "up there,"out in the deep universe and of a massive storm clouds here on Earth.

The first image is from Astronomy Picture of the Day (APOD) is of the Virgo Cluster of Galaxies, the closest cluster of galaxies to our own Milky Way Galaxy, a neighbor so-to-speak. It is beautiful and scientifically interesting and includes an explanation.

The second image is from Earth Science Picture of the Day (EPOD) and shows the sequential development of a massive anvil cloud thunderhead over Taiwan. The six images were taken about 10 minutes apart. One of them is illuminated by the setting sun in a golden glow. The entry includes a video of anvil cloud development.

Sunday, July 3, 2022

The Hautman Brothers

Environmental & Science Education, STEM, Nature, Wildlife, Biodiversity 

CBS Sunday Morning had a segment on three U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) duck stamp artists. They are siblings, and duck hunters and certainly many Minnesotan's will recognized their names. They grew up in Minneapolis. Each year one artist is chosen based on their submissions to the annual duck stamp contest. Here they are.

Jim Hautman--a record six times and the 2022 winner

Joe Hautman--five times

Robert Hautman--three time 

They are sometimes referred to as the "Duck Dynasty". And they also paint more than ducks.

Correspondent Conor Knighton reports (5m 19s).  The Wiki entry on the federal duck stamp includes a list of all Federal Duck Stamp artists. The program began in 1934.

Saturday, July 2, 2022

Energy Sources and Land Use

Environmental & Science Education, STEM, Sustainability, Global Change, Pollution, Climate Change, Nature of Science, Maths,

Ed Hessler

The environmental impacts of different energy sources include land, water, natural resources for fuel and manufacturing, etc. Energy sources are different and so are the variety of environmental impacts.

Our World In Data has a chart and a short accompanying article on how much land various sources use. They are based on life-cycle assessments. 

About such assessments, Hannah Rithie writes,"These cover the land use of the plant itself while in operation; the land used to mine the materials for its construction; mining for energy fuels, either used directly (i.e. the coal, oil, gas, or uranium used in supply chains) or indirectly (the energy inputs used to produce the materials); connections to the electricity grid; and land use to manage any waste that is produced." 

Context and the type of material also are influential, sometimes mattering a lot, e.g., whether cadmium-based or silicon-based panels.

Rithie calls attention to an issue in presenting data about wind. It she says "must be considered differently" because some of it is offshore and "land between turbines," can be "used for other activities."

Rithie closes with a discussion of the potential effects of location and "what the alternative uses of that land are."

Charts are sometimes daunting, easily skipped over, but one value is that they condense a wealth of data in one place. As such they become valuable aids to understanding and thinking, the promotion of discussion and the generation of questions.

The article includes the sources for the chart, also very important information, too. 

Friday, July 1, 2022

An APOD Birthday Calendar

Environmental & Science Education, STEM, Earth & Space Science, Solar System, Cosmos

Ed Hessler

I'm back, both systems are up and working: Internet and me. So on a Friday a Thursday post.

Astronomy Picture of the Day (APOD) has a calendar on which you can find the APOT picture of the day for your birthday, from June 1995 - present. 

The years in the chart are entered in vivid DayGlo-like colors, perfect to acknowledge a birthday. And October is a pumpkin Halloween orange.

Another treat for you, on your birthday. Happy Birthday.