Gleanings of the Week Ending February 16, 2019

The items below were ‘the cream’ of the articles and websites I found this past week. Click on the light green text to look at the article.

Top 25 Wild Bird Photographs of the Week: Mountain Birds – National Geographic Society Newsroom – Starting off the gleanings this week with bird pics!

BBC - Future - The perils of short-termism: Civilization’s greatest threat – It is very difficult for individuals and groups of humans to think strategically. And maybe since we are now quite capable of catastrophically destroying civilization (atomic bombs and climate change are the two most probable) – we need to make strategic thinking a higher priority.

Could Spider Silk Become a Natural Replacement for Plastic? – Cool Green Science – It is still very far from the goal – mass production cheaply. But it is hot material science topic.

Report: Americans Are Now More Likely to Die of An Opioid Overdose Than on The Road: NPR – Gives another take on the magnitude of the opioid deaths.

Not One, Not Two, But Three Fungi Present in Lichen | The Scientist Magazine® - For a long time the textbooks used lichen to exemplify symbiosis of a lichen and a fungus. It’s more complicated than that….and it’s a good example of how science is refined over time to improve our understanding.

BBC - Future - Why it pays to declutter your digital life – Getting rid of stuff needs to be about more than the physical junk we accumulate…we now have email and photos…all kinds of digital media stored and rarely – or never – used. It’s clutter. And it might need different strategies to declutter.

Central Texas salamanders, including newly identified species, at risk of extinction -- ScienceDaily – It seems like I’m seeing several stories like this recently – a newly identified species that is already almost gone. Depressing.

Elevated Nitrate Levels Found in Millions of Americans’ Drinking Water - Yale E360 – I don’t like articles like this because they point to a situation that has negative consequences…then doesn’t have anything that individuals can do to reduce the risk. It’s very frustrating.

Flowers Sweeten Up When They Sense Bees Buzzing | Smart News | Smithsonian – Flowers increase sugar content by 12-20% within 3 minutes of hearing a bee’s buzz.

Food is medicine: How US policy is shifting toward nutrition for better health – Glad this idea is getting more attention. We’ve been way to gullible to think that medications can overcome poor day-to-day dietary habits. I hope the 2018 Farm Bill and the “Food is Medicine” working group in the House are good ‘first steps’ to change the way we think about what we eat.  

Gleanings of the Week Ending February 09, 2019

The items below were ‘the cream’ of the articles and websites I found this past week. Click on the light green text to look at the article.

Neandertal slaughters · john hawks weblog – Analysis of 5 sites indicates that Neandertals were excellent tacticians, casual executioners, and discerning diners.

Rare Gemstone Hidden in Ancient Teeth Reveals a Surprising Truth About Medieval Women – Lapis Lazuli found in the remains of a middle aged woman’s teeth and jaw. She was buried in an all-female monastery in Germany sometime around 1000-1200 CE. The researchers concluded that she most likely was painting with the pigment (licking the end of the brush while painting) creating manuscripts.

More solutions needed for campus hunger – A new report states that 9-50% of America’s college students face food insecurity…and that does not include graduate students. There are some programs that could help but often the students are not aware of them…and there may be enough stigma attached to them that students shy away. These are young adults that need adequate nutrition to continue their schooling and growth into adulthood.

Image of the Day: What We've Dumped | The Scientist Magazine® - Yuck! Stuff that washed up on 12 shoreline sites on barrier island along the US Gulf Coast…and it’s all stuff that people put in the water.

Two billion birds migrate over Gulf Coast -- ScienceDaily – Combining eBird observational data helps translate radar data into estimates of bird numbers. The peak time was April 18-May 7. The highest activity is over the west Texas Gulf Coast (Corpus Christi to Brownsville).

US Cancer Death Rate Dropped for 25 Years Starting in 1991 | The Scientist Magazine® - Down 25% over 27 years…a positive trend.  But there are still issues of race and socioeconomic inequality when it comes to prevention and treatment. The trend is not good for obesity related cancers; they are on the rise.

Top 25 Wild Bird Photographs of the Week: December – National Geographic Society Newsroom – I always like bird pictures.

Natural Disasters Caused $160 Billion in Damage in 2018 - Yale E360 – It did seem like there were a lot of disasters last year: fires in California, Hurricanes Michael and Florence…and that’s just the ones in the US.

Medical marketing has skyrocketed in the past two decades, while oversight remains limited -- ScienceDaily – I have been suspicious of medical marketing (particularly ads on television) for some time. The study seems to show that state and federal regulators are overwhelmed.

Image of the Day: Geckos on the Run | The Scientist Magazine® - It must take a lot of energy for the gecko…but it can indeed run across the surface of the water.

Gleanings of the Week Ending February 02, 2019

The items below were ‘the cream’ of the articles and websites I found this past week. Click on the light green text to look at the article.

Top 25 Wild Bird Photographs of the Week: Camouflage – Lots of birds can hide in plain sight! Owls are the ones I think of first in this category.

When 'alien' insects attack Antarctica: Terrestrial ecosystems are vulnerable to single introduced insect species -- ScienceDaily – A threat from a tiny flightless midge

Anak Krakatau: Planet Labs imagery of the aftermath of the landslide - The Landslide Blog - AGU Blogosphere – Imagery of the landslide that caused the deadly tsunami just before last Christmas.

What is the most commonly found ocean litter? – Yuck! Another reason that cigarettes are a bad thing.

A series of posts from NOAA’s 2018 Arctic Report Card: Visual highlights , Multi-year stretch of record and near-record warmth unlike any period on record, Reindeer and caribou populations continue to decline, Less than 1 percent of Arctic ice has survived four or more summers, Red tides and other toxic species expanding across the Arctic, increasing risks to marine mammals and humans – Quantifying the changes occurring in the arctic

Image of the Day: In Sync | The Scientist Magazine® - Infants playing with their parents…syncing of brain activity

New Ultima Thule discoveries from NASA's New Horizons -- ScienceDaily – A space mission to something we’ve never seen before….the aptly named ‘New Horizons’

Why are biology classes ignoring insects? · john hawks weblog – When I was in high school, insects were a big deal for biology classes; many students created an insect collect the summer prior to the biology year. I don’t remember too much about insects in my first courses as an undergraduate in biology I the 1970s…but there was probably more coverage than in the more recent textbooks.

Keeping fit: how to do the right exercise for your age – A good summary…although the key message is to keep moving…sustained exercise is the best strategy.

Our bodies may cure themselves of diabetes in the future -- ScienceDaily – It’s at the basic research level…but could be an approach to ‘diseases’ caused by cell death in the future (diabetes, Alzheimer’s and cells damaged by heart attacks, etc.)

Gleanings of the Week Ending January 26, 2019

The items below were ‘the cream’ of the articles and websites I found this past week. Click on the light green text to look at the article.

Learning Rule: Quantity, then Quality | Scott H Young – Quantity as an initial strategy is probably what I do most of the time….but I throw in a healthy dash of variety of mediums as I go after quantity. And I push myself to actively apply while I am learning all along the way.

Serious loneliness spans the adult lifespan but there is a silver lining: Feeling alone linked to psychological and physical ills, but wisdom may be a protective factor -- ScienceDaily – Most of the time we hear only about the negative impacts of loneliness (the emotion….not necessarily the physical situation). But there are many people physically alone but who don’t feel lonely. This study had a broad age rage of participants and looked at loneliness from multiple perspectives.

Aerial photos of U.S. national parks from space – National treasures…hope that the damage during the government shutdown is not widespread. Joshua Tree has been in the news….very sad.

Nutrients in blood linked to better brain connectivity, cognition in older adults -- ScienceDaily – Reinforcement that we need to eat foods with omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, carotenoids, lycopene, riboflavin, folate, vitamin B12 and vitamin D. The fatty acids and carotenoids are particularly linked to better functional brain network efficiency.

The Biggest Science News of 2018 | The Scientist Magazine®  - Just catching up on some end-of-2018 interesting posts. I had heard about some of these during the year – but missed some too.

The immune system's fountain of youth: Helping the immune system clear away old cells in aging mice helped restore youthful characteristics -- ScienceDaily -Early days…a lot more research needed. But an interesting idea…helping the body clear out old cells.

There’s a huge and hidden migration in North America — of dragonflies - The Washington Post – It appears that dragonflies migrate. The Monarch is the ‘poster insect’ for migration but it seems like there are more and more articles coming out about other insects that migrate too.

Meeting the Challenge of Feeding 10 Billion People Sustainably in 2050 - News | Planetizen – Land and water to grow food for an expanding population. It’s going to be challenging.

I Dug a Green Grave and Learned the Truth About the Dirty Death Industry – There is a Green Death Movement…and an example is in the Adirondacks called Spirit Sanctuary. In this case the goal is to return bodies to the Earth and preserve a landscape. Interesting…and far more sustainable that the more common burial practices (that include preservatives and waterproof vaults, sealed caskets) and cremation.

The Surprising Evolution of 'The Great Wave of Kanagawa' by Hokusai – A little art history.

Gleanings of the Week Ending January 19, 2019

The items below were ‘the cream’ of the articles and websites I found this past week. Click on the light green text to look at the article.

After More Than 4,000 Years, Vibrant Egyptian Tomb Sees the Light of Day: NPR – Hopefully they will take steps to keep the colors vibrant now that the tomb is open to people and light.

The Bizarre and Disturbing Life of Sea Cucumbers – Cool Green Science – Way more complicated than they appear at first glance.

Norway's Energy-Positive Movement to Fight Climate Change - The Atlantic – Norway has some buildings that generate more energy than they use.

Life Deep Underground Is Twice the Volume of the Oceans: Study | The Scientist Magazine® - That’s a massive among of carbon in life that we know very little about….so many unexpected and unusual organisms.

Foods that lower blood pressure | Berkeley Wellness – And the list even includes dark chocolate!

Rising Waters Are Drowning Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor – This article includes time phased projections from 2018 to 2100…lots of track is going to need to be moved – or some other flood mitigation will need to be built.

Google Virtual Tour Preserves Collections Destroyed in Brazil Museum Fire | Smart News | Smithsonian – Some heartening recovery from the tragedy of the fire…Google’s virtual tour work, 1,500 pieces recovered from the debris, and a growing collection of photographs and video clips of the museum the way it was.

Soggy 2018 for the Eastern U.S. – An article from mid-December…showing just how wet we were in 2018. We live between Baltimore and Washington DC….soggy indeed.

New houseplant can clean your home's air -- ScienceDaily – Our houses have become so tightly sealed that concentrations of chemicals that are hard to filter out can accumulate. Maybe ‘engineered’ plants can be a solution.

Periodic graphics: How different light bulbs work – The trend is toward less cost/hour….more hours. Hurray for the LEDs that are not as blue as the compact fluorescents!

Treks to the Landfill

We’ve made two treks to the county landfill/recyling this month – getting a jump on ‘spring cleaning’ while we’ve had some days at home. The county has a drop-off area for both recycling and trash – easy to drive up to the appropriate area and unload. Our focus has been on things that can’t go in the weekly trash or recycling curbside pickup because of size or what they are. Many of them are so irregularly shaped that the car can’t be loaded all that effectively.

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Electronics have been part of both loads: computer monitors and keyboards…an old (not working) television (predated flat screens!). They have big bins for smaller items and pallets for the large ones.

Then there was trash: broken lawn chairs, deteriorating badminton stuff, and broken miniblinds. The drop off area has a long row of Jersey walls with big containers behind them at a lower lever – easy to drop items into the bins.

We also noted that that they have a reusable bicycle drop off – we’ll bring my daughter’s 15-year-old bike on our next trek to the landfill!

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We thought there might be a bin for donations of household goods but there wasn’t. We stopped by Goodwill on the way home and dropped of 6 boxes of stuff.

It’s good to be making progress on our ‘clean up and out’!

Gleanings of the Week Ending January 12, 2019

The items below were ‘the cream’ of the articles and websites I found this past week. Click on the light green text to look at the article.

I have a growing list of gleanings from sites that are not operational because of the partial government shutdown; they’ll come out in the list for the Saturday after the sites are operational again.

Climate, life and the movement of continents: New connections -- ScienceDaily – Sediment, which often includes pieces of dead organisms, may create a lubricating effect between plates, accelerating subduction and increasing plate velocity!

BBC - Future - Six reasons your memory is stranger than you think – Timelines are hard (many times inaccurate) from memory…I’m glad I keep a running list of important family travel and events.

Regenerative Cities: An Urban Concept Whose Time Has Come! | CleanTechnica – Re-thinking what cities of the future could be.

Scientists call for eight steps to increase soil carbon for climate action and food security: International coordination and financing essential -- ScienceDaily – Big benefits…but hard to come by the collective push to obtain them.

Earthquake Damage Detected in Machu Picchu - Archaeology Magazine – Evidence of an AD 1450 earthquake that damaged Machu Picchu is seen in cracks and stone damage of the buildings. The Inca’s modified their construction techniques after the event too.

Shrinking of Utah National Monument May Threaten Bee Biodiversity | Smart News | Smithsonian – Grand Staircase-Escalante is home to 660 bee species, 84 of which live outside of protected land under changes. At a time when we know pollinators are under stress…one more reason why our Federal lands are needed as refuges from human activities that damage the environment.

Scientists Don't Stay for Long in Their Jobs Anymore: Study | The Scientist Magazine® - About half of scientists who enter a scientific discipline drop out after 5 years; in the 1960s, it was 35 years. We are probably training more people in science fields but many don’t stay in academia. This study used publishing records to determine if a person stayed ‘in the discipline.’ I’d prefer to see numbers of people that had careers in a STEM related field rather than just the one they trained in and find another metric than published papers to make the determination. There are a lot more jobs today where people use their science training that do not use ‘publication’ as a measure of success.

BBC - Future - Can we cheat ageing? – Some areas of active research to help us stay healthy longer (may or may not help us live longer).

Corn Domestication May Have Taken Thousands of Years - Archaeology Magazine – It all started 9,000 years ago in southern Mexico. The process continued in Mexico and the southwestern Amazon for several thousand years. It was a slow process.

Ring in the New Year With Dazzling Total Lunar Eclipse of a Supermoon | Smart News | Smithsonian – Hope we have good weather on January 20-21….since it should be visible from our house!

January Composting

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Egg shells, apple cores, popcorn (the kernels that didn’t pop), a potato and collard stems…not a lot to go back to the pile these early weeks of the year. I picked a sunny day earlier this week to take what I had collected from the kitchen. I put on my boots since we’d had enough rain, I expected it still might be muddy in places. As it turned out, it wasn’t that bad, but I tried to stay on the grass as much as possible.

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After dumping the fresh stuff, I used a pitchfork to turn the pile the best I could. There are a lot of pine needles and leaves…no need to add ‘browns’ right now. I can add all the food waste I generate until spring and just turn it under. In the spring, I’ll move the bin to a new place and put the parts that haven’t totally decomposed yet to it while distributing the compost around the yard.

Gleanings of the Week Ending January 5, 2019

The items below were ‘the cream’ of the articles and websites I found this past week. Click on the light green text to look at the article.

Ambitious VR Experience Restores 7,000 Roman Buildings, Monuments to Their Former Glory | Smart News | Smithsonian – Is this the way we’ll experience buildings that are ‘lost’ in the future?

Most Top Burger Chains Flunk Fast Food Antibiotics Scorecard | NRDC – We don’t often go to burger chains any more. After this report – maybe the best choice would get chicken rather than beef.

Hundreds of Supplements Spiked with Pharmaceuticals | The Scientist Magazine® - Not good at all. The pharmaceuticals are undisclosed and some of the pharmaceuticals are those that have been withdrawn or were never approved. Advice: use single-ingredient supplements…and not buy supplements that are riding a fad.

7 surprising ways your body changes with age | Berkeley Wellness – I’ve noticed my feet are wider based on the way shoes fit. The others might be harder to see since they happen so slowly.

Twenty-Five Useful Thinking Tools | Scott H Young – Describing thinking tools my using professions where they appear to dominate. I hope that all the professions use multiple tools in their day to day work…even if there is one that is used most frequently.

Your guide to enjoying winter birds – It’s been so wet this year that we don’t have birds coming to our heated bird bath like we did last year. I put the bird feeder up a few days ago. Maybe we’ll start seeing more visitors.

Scientists Find Large Amounts of Methane Being Released from Icelandic Glacier - Yale E360 – A previous unknown source of methane…glaciers that are melting and happen to be covering active volcanoes and geothermal systems are probably all releasing methane. The gas is produced by microbial activity. This extra methane is not factored into current climate change models.

The Best of 2018 from the Prairie Ecologist (part 1) (part 2) – Lots of great prairie pictures.

New butterfly named for pioneering 17th-century entomologist Maria Sibylla Merian -- ScienceDaily – I enjoyed here books on Internet Archive in 2018 (find them here).

Why 536 was ‘the worst year to be alive’ – History backed up with ice core data.

Gleanings of the Week Ending December 29, 2018

The items below were ‘the cream’ of the articles and websites I found this past week. Click on the light green text to look at the article.

From High Above, A New Way of Seeing Our Urban Planet - Yale E360 – Cities – growing and growing. It is mind boggling that urban population has grown from 751 million in 1950 to 4,200 million today.

How changing labs revealed a chemical reaction key to cataract formation: Researchers studying eye lens find a new function for a protein previously thought to be inert -- ScienceDaily – Learning more about the chemistry behind cataract formation….not a treatment yet but better understanding can be the path toward slowing or more targeted treatment of cataracts.

Curious Kids: What are some of the challenges to Mars travel? – A series from The Conversation (in Australia) for children…but interesting to adults too. Kids ask the best questions!

A DOZEN WAYS FAMILIES CAN #OPTOUTSIDE EVERY DAY OF THE YEAR | Children & Nature Network – I’m on a role with the child focused gleanings right now…I would add to the list: find easy access natural spaces (near where you work or live) and visit them as often as possible.

VIDEO: We Hope Your Day Is As Great As This Snow-Loving Panda’s: NPR – Pandas are such a visual treat. This is Bei Bei at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo back in November.  My husband and I missed the snow (we were in New Mexico).

Top 25 Wild Bird Photographs of the Week: Owls – National Geographic Blog – 2018 was my first sighting of barn owls in the wild…awesome.

Ragweed Is on The Move – National Geographic Blog – Not such a big change in the south….in Kansas City the season is prolonged by 23 days. For those people allergic to ragweed…that is a miserable trend.

Some health related posts: Blood pressure: Early treatment advised by US guidelines has no survival benefits -- ScienceDaily and Your heart hates air pollution; portable filters could help -- ScienceDaily – At least the second one was actionable; I now have a portable filter in my bedroom and I think it is reducing my cat allergy – maybe more.

Aerial photos of U.S. national parks from space – I love national parks. Everyone I have been to has had something spectacular to offer. It’s sad that they are all mostly closed (if the bathrooms and visitor centers are not open….they are closed) for this week (partial government shutdown).

How do different light bulbs work? – in C&EN | Compound Interest – Light bulbs have changed a lot during my lifetime. Hopefully now we are on track to have bulbs that are closer to the natural sunlight spectrum so that the light does not cause eye or sleep problems.

YE Thinking: Reducing Plastic

It’s impossible to stop using plastic completely – but I am reducing in every way that I can. Plastic on our land or in our water is not a good thing and it is a totally man-made problem that is becoming more apparent every year. Here are my strategies for reducing my plastic footprint at the end of 2018:

Buy products in containers that are not plastic (i.e. milk in cartons rather that plastic jugs, lemon juice in glass jar, peanut butter/preserves in glass jars).

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Always have reusable shopping bags handy. This was probably the first strategy I implemented, and it’s been over 10 years ago now. It was very easy for the weekly grocery shopping. Doing it for the quick trips of one or two items - and to stores other than the grocery store – happened over time. I now carry a small bag in a stuff pocket attached to my purse.

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Put produce in reusable produce bags. The challenge is that the labels spewed out by the scales don’t stick to the fabric…so I have a pad of paper to stick them too and the checker easily scans them when I am checking out.

Avoid single use plastic utensils. Go with plastic that can withstand many passes through the dishwasher or stainless flatware. My husband and I have travel sporks that we use for picnics on road trips.

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Make your own body wash with slivers of soap with water in a plastic bottle (I have a bottle from purchased body wash that I like for it’s shape….it will last for several years replenished from time to time with bar soap slivers!)

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Stop buying soft drinks and bottled water. I have been surprised at how easy this is to do for me. My husband is still working at it. It’s a healthy choice too. I carry my travel mug almost all the time – usually with just ice water. Another plus – it can reduce ‘grocery’ costs.

In the end – plastic is unavoidable. I try to choose plastics that are easier to recycle in our community.

  • Our recycling does not take clamshells like salad comes in so I rarely buy salad in that form. I buy the bundled organic full leaves (or plant) and put it in one of my reusable bags….or in a container that I can recycle (like a plastic bag).

  • I buy popcorn in a plastic bag rather than plastic container since I am more confident that the grocery store where I return clean plastic bags gets them recycled than the vendor that processes the multi-stream recycling picked up at our curb.

  • If there is an option to buy something I use frequently in a larger container (both plastic), I buy the larger container. My rationale is that larger containers probably get through the recycling process and into the correct bin (i.e. plastic) to be recycled.

One strategy that has helped me reduce the amount of plastic we are using is to look at what we put in our trash or recycle bins. I am fast approaching the point that I’ve done what I can do until packaging changes and I have more choices – choices that don’t include plastic.

Gleanings of the Week Ending December 22, 2018

The items below were ‘the cream’ of the articles and websites I found this past week. Click on the light green text to look at the article.

2018 National Geographic Photo Contest | National Geographic – Galleries of great photography.

Maps Give Detailed Look at Dramatic Land Use Change Over Two Decades - Yale E360 – Land use changes…widespread environmental degradation…between 1992 and 2015.

Himera: One of the greatest archaeological discoveries of recent decades emerges from oblivion - The Archaeology News Network – More than 12,000 almost untouched burials – many from a battle fought between Greeks and Carthaginians in 480 BC. The Greeks were victorious in the first battle but the second battle in 409 BC was won by the Carthaginians and they razed the city.

We broke down what climate change will do, region by region | Grist – No part of the US will be unscathed.

Top 25 Wild Bird Photographs of the Week: Herons, Egrets and Bitterns – National Geographic Blog – Enjoy some bird pictures. Herons and egrets are my favorites to photograph.

How tree rings tell time and climate history | NOAA Climate.gov – A nice summary of tree ring dating…and an example using Mesa Verde.

Amazing Sands from Around the World – Cool Green Science – I’ve seen the Olivine Sand and Black Sand beaches in Hawai’i (on a very windy day….posted about it here). I’d like to see the star sand in Japan.

Grand Canyon National Park Celebrates Centennial Year at Grand Canyon and Around Arizona – 2019 is a milestone anniversary for the park; lots of events to celebrate this national treasure.

Only 12 percent of American adults are metabolically healthy, study finds: Trends help sound alarm for efforts to lower associated risk of types 2 diabetes, heart disease and other complications -- ScienceDaily – Not a good statistic since the long term risks of diabetes, cardiovascular disease and other serious health issues are higher for those that are not metabolically healthy.

Rethinking Raw Milk, 1918 | The Scientist Magazine® - Alice Evans and the path toward avoiding milk borne diseases. Her work was published in 1918. Draft ordinances for states and localities to implement pasteurization requirements for milk to be consumed by humans were written in 1924. The first federal pasteurization law was passed in 1947…saving lives and millions of dollars in public health costs.

Gleanings of the Week Ending December 15, 2018

The items below were ‘the cream’ of the articles and websites I found this past week. Click on the light green text to look at the article.

Stunning Abstract Aerial Photos of Namibia's Desert Landscape – A part of the earth with almost no vegetation. There are parts of the US that would be just as stark.

Anopheles mosquitoes could spread Mayaro virus in US, other diverse regions -- ScienceDaily – Another mosquito born disease that may increase in North America as the climate warms. There are already mosquitoes capable of transmitting it here – Andopheles species.

Bad molars? The origins of wisdom teeth – I’ve always wondered why so many people must have their wisdom teeth out. All 4 of mine were pulled when I was 19 because they were impacted. It turns out that eating a crunch/chewy diet when we are young may help the jaw grow long enough to accommodate these late molars. Wish I would have known that; I might have fed my daughter a bit differently. Too late now.

Climate Smart Farming CSF Climate Change in Your County and Climate Smart Farming – Cornell Institute for Climate Smart Solutions – The first link is a county by county look at the history of temperature and precipitation in the Northeast. The second it about the research being done to help farmers plan for extreme weather events…that have become more common in recent years.

How tracking people moving together through time creates powerful data – A discussion of how cohort data is helping us understand health and disease. The example used in the article is the Framingham Heart Study.

Air Pollution from California Wildfires 60 Times Above Safe Limit - Yale E360 – Air quality is impacted by fires. In areas where the frequency of fires is increasing, fire may overtake all other kinds of air pollution for a time.

Can Tourism Save the Ocellated Turkey? – Cool Green Science – What an unusual looking bird! It’s a tropical turkey (Mexico, Belize and Guatemala) that behaves like the North American Wild Turkey.

Top 25 Wild Bird Photographs of the Week: November – National Geographic Blog – And more birds.

Forage Wild Nuts for Your Holiday Feast – Cool Green Science – Nuts native in our forests. Too bad the American Chestnuts are no longer plentiful…maybe some of the recent hybrids will survive to repopulate our forests.

BBC - Future - A 'samurai' swordsmith is designing a space probe – Creating corers to use for sampling an asteroid using metallurgy learned making samurai swords.

Gleanings of the Week Ending December 8, 2018

The items below were ‘the cream’ of the articles and websites I found this past week. Click on the light green text to look at the article.

Parts of the Ocean Floor Are Disintegrating—And It's Our Fault | Smart News | Smithsonian – Ocean acidification has a downside – already.

Drought Persists in the Southwest – The drought had been long…like the one in the 1950s…but there are a lot more people living in the region now than there were in the 1950s. 7 states have drafted drought contingency plans.

Body clock researchers prevent liver cancer growth in mice -- ScienceDaily – Our circadian clock has a broader role that just the sleep/wake cycle.

Get a New Perspective on Prague With These Spectacular Drone Photos – A city at sunrise. Hopefully the drone didn’t awaken anyone.

Floating Solar Is Best Solution for Colorado Town’s High Electric Bills | CleanTechnica – A small town with limited available land is installing solar panels over its waste water plant.

Which country is best to live in? Our calculations say it's not Norway – Two metrics are compared. Using the UN’s Human Development Index (HDI) – Norway is ‘best.’ But there are issues with that indicator. The Human Life Indicator (HLI) has Hong Kong at the top…with Norway at 9.  The US is 10 on the UN HDI but falls to 32 on the HLI scale largely due to lower longevity and high inequality in ages of death when compared to other countries like Canada (which was 10 on the UN HDI index and 17 on the HLI scale). Maybe these indexes are not that useful for individuals but may be helpful in comparing the broader implications for government actions of all 189 countries analyzed.

Punctuated earthquakes for New Madrid area, Missouri, U.S. -- ScienceDaily – The 1811 and 1812 earthquake is well known…but what about the earlier ones? Recent analysis shows quakes around 1450 AD, 900 AD and 2300 BC.

How do pregnancy tests work? | Compound Interest – They’ve only been around since the 1970s – biotech on a stick!

BBC - Future - Why we are living in the age of the chair – Furniture that has changed lives …relatively recently in human history.

Florida monarch butterfly populations have dropped 80 percent since 2005 -- ScienceDaily – A 37-year study of Florida where the monarchs come up from Mexico to recolonize much of the east coast. No wonder we are not seeing as many in Maryland when the numbers in Florida have dropped by 80%.

Gleanings of the Week Ending December 1, 2018

The items below were ‘the cream’ of the articles and websites I found this past week. Click on the light green text to look at the article.

How to feed a cat: Consensus statement to the veterinary community: Reducing stress-related eating problems -- ScienceDaily – Puzzle feeders and putting food in different places….make meal time more interesting!

Examining Grad Student Mental Health | The Scientist Magazine® - There are a lot of stressors during graduate school….and many students become depressed or develop other mental health issues. Students, faculty and university administrators are noticing that more needs to be done to help grad students through the challenges of this phase of their education.

Why Fall Color Has Been So Meh in Parts of the U.S. This Year | Smart News | Smithsonian – This article came out a few weeks ago….just getting around to putting in the gleanings. The explanation of why our area had such a lack luster fall is interesting and it might become the norm as the area gets wetter and warmer.

BBC - Earth News - Legless frogs mystery solved – Predatory dragonfly nymphs eat legs of tadpoles! This is an article from 2009…but it was news to me. We find dragonfly nymphs in almost all the streams and rivers around where I live…but I haven’t seen any legless frogs.

2 Solar Ovens Reviewed | CleanTechnica – I wonder how many people living in their RV or travel trailer make use of this type of oven to minimize propane and/or electricity usage.

Large-Scale Tar Production May Have Fueled Viking Expansion - Archaeology Magazine – Tar to waterproof ships. I was reminded of the ‘Connections’ series that often showed how a key technologic advance enabled something historically significant.

Yellowstone streams recovering thanks to wolf reintroduction -- ScienceDaily – The willows are growing taller along the banks of streams, making the banks more stable…since the wolfs are back and impacting elk browsing.

Gaudí's El Capricho, an Early Gem Located in North Spain – It’s hard to see it as a place that people would really live!

How invasive earthworm feces is altering US soils -- ScienceDaily – Asian jumping worms are changing the soils of the Midwest and East Coast of the US….and not for the better.

Why did Tutankhamun have a dagger made from a meteorite? – When Tutankhamun died, iron was rarer than gold. The Egyptians did not know how to process iron from ores…but they did know that iron meteorites came from the sky which might have made the material symbolic for them. Objects made from it would have been reserved for high-status people.

Gleanings of the Week Ending November 24, 2018

The items below were ‘the cream’ of the articles and websites I found this past week. Click on the light green text to look at the article.

Drug pollution concentrates in stream bugs, passes to predators in water and on land: Animals that eat insects in or near streams at risk of being dosed with pharmaceuticals -- ScienceDaily – Wow – the existence of macroinvertebrates in our local rivers is an indicator of water quality (the focus of the field trips with high schooler’s I’ve been doing in recent years) but those same macroinvertebrates are probably getting a healthy dose of pharmaceuticals from the water…the fish that eat them act as concentrators….and some of those fish are eaten by people.  I hope reserarchers in the US are doing similar studies to the one described in this article. It would also be good if pharmaceutical companies would develop drugs that were not excreted in a still active form.

Top 25 Wild Bird Photographs of the Week: Flocks – National Geographic Blog and Top 25 Wild Bird Photographs of the Week: Seed Eating Birds – National Geographic Blog – Two bird photograph collections for this week’s gleanings. Enjoy!

RIP Kepler: NASA’s exoplanet-hunting space telescope is finally dead - MIT Technology Review – The Kepler mission that discovered 2,662 exoplanets in our galaxy finally ran out of fuel. There is already a new satellite picking up the mission and the James Webb Space Telescope will launch in 2021.

Premature Birth Report Cards | March of Dimes – Only one state gets an ‘A’ – and many areas of the country are getting worse when it comes to premature births.

High levels of previously unsuspected pollutant uncovered in homes, environment -- ScienceDaily – An organophosphate that is known to be toxic was a surprise find in household dust…more study needed on its impact on humans that live with it at that level. The chemical is used as a flame retardant or plasticizer in consumer products…and may also form as other chemicals degrade.

Wildlife Populations Have Shrunk by 60 Percent Since 1970 | The Scientist Magazine® - The impact of less and less space for habitat for any species other than those directly related to humans.

BBC - Future - Why the flu of 1918 was so deadly – There have been flu strains that have been just as contagious as the 1918 strain…but none as deadly.

Infographic: What Makes a Brain Smart? | The Scientist Magazine® - There are several models that are being studied.

11 Wildly Colored Moths to Brighten Your Day – Cool Green Science – Most of our moths are in cocoons for the winter. There are several of these that I’ve seen on Maryland…will be looking for them next spring.

Owls help scientists unlock secret of how the brain pays attention -- ScienceDaily – A study using barn owls to figure out how the brain chooses what most deserves attentions.

Gleanings of the Week Ending November 17, 2018

The items below were ‘the cream’ of the articles and websites I found this past week. Click on the light green text to look at the article.

1.8 Million Clean Energy Workers Employed in Top 50 American Metro Areas | CleanTechnica – Jobs that are future leaning rather than in anchor industries like fossil fuels.

USDA Approves Edible Cotton | The Scientist Magazine® - Edible? I wonder if many people will have digestive problems with the seeds even if they are approved for human consumption.

The rise of sponges in Anthropocene reef ecosystems – Coral is impacted by higher temperatures and acidification more than sponges and there are already some ‘reefs’ that are dominated by sponges rather than coral. These reefs function differently and are expected to become more prevalent.

Study explores infant body position and learning -- ScienceDaily – I am always fascinated about studies with babies…observational but trying to be objective.

$31 Billion Hurricane Protection Plan Proposed for Texas - News | Planetizen – A hefty price tag…and who will pay for it? Would it work for very much of the area if they had another Hurricane like Harvey?

A Day in The Park: Hot Springs National Park – I visited this park years ago…before many of the more recent renovations. Maybe it’s time to see visit again.

'Wildlife Photographer of the Year' awards: Here are the best animal photos of 2018 – Great photography…nature…art. My favorite was the last one – the treehopper guarding her family.

Passive Radiative Cooling Moves Out of The Lab & Into the Real World | CleanTechnica – Cooling without consuming massive amounts of electricity….but is it really ‘out of the lab’ yet.

The Armchair Photography Guide to Bryce Canyon National Park – Part 2, Inspiration Point to Rainbow Point – There seem to be several articles in my feeds that are prompting thought of future travel. This is another place I’d like to go. The last time I was in Utah, the Federal government was closed so the national parks were not open!

Infographic: Exercise’s Effects on the Brain – Understanding the molecular mechanisms that connect exercise to cognitive benefits.

Gleanings of the Week Ending November 10, 2018

The items below were ‘the cream’ of the articles and websites I found this past week. Click on the light green text to look at the article.

Uncapped Wells Have Been Leaking Oil into the Gulf of Mexico for 14 Years - Yale E360 – Why can’t the oil companies do a better job of preventing leaks…or, at least, stopping leaks if they occur? Don’t they have the technology to address this issue?

With Shorter Winters, Plants Bloom Early and Die Young – National Geographic – Green springs…but the plants don’t sustain the green through the drier summers. Not good for our yards and our farms…and us.

Photo of the Week – October 19, 2018 – The Prairie Ecologist – Fluffy seeds from the prairie…including common milkweed,

Image of the Day: Clubbing | The Scientist Magazine® - Peacock Mantis Shrimp have a spring-like structure that enables them to beat the life out of their prey.

Beautifully Painted Shrine Emerges from the Ashes of Pompeii | Smart News | Smithsonian – Much of Pompeii that we know from tourist books was excavated before modern methods…and sometimes ‘restored’ in a way that we don’t know exactly what it looked like when originally uncovered. New excavation can provide clues about older excavations as well as the particulars of the newly uncovered walls.

Substantial changes in air pollution across China during 2015 to 2017 -- ScienceDaily – Particulates are down but ozone is up….so good and bad trends.

BBC - Future - The flu that transformed the 20th Century – The 1918 flu epidemic…100 years ago this year. There is still research on the virus and what happened…some surprises in the findings.

This Humongous Fungus Is as Massive as Three Blue Whales | Smart News | Smithsonian – 91 acres, 110 tons, and about 1,500 years old. And this is not the biggest one discovered…it was the first that was well documented.

Top 25 Wild Bird Photographs of the Week: Black plumage – National Geographic – I always like to include birds in my gleanings. I was surprised that there were no crows or ravens or starlings in this collection of birds with black plumage.

The Winners of the 2018 Astronomy Photographer of the Year Contest Are Out of This World – Three are some pictures from the 2017 solar eclipse in this collection.

Hiking with 4th Graders at Belmont

Last week I spent a morning hiking with 4th graders at Howard County Conservancy’s Belmont location. The theme for the hike was how the land has changed from it was all a forest 300+ years ago…to the way it is today with emphasis on the impact of our development of farms and factories…streets and homes.

I arrived early to help with set up. I carried a bag with materials for the terrain model to the table mid-way along the hike and then carried the other bag into the forest for the students to compare aerial photos of the Belmont area.  I took some pictures since I knew once the students arrived I wouldn’t have time for more – I am totally focused on the students while we hike. Some areas in the forest have deep leaf litter and would soak up a lot of water before the water would run off…and right now there are some leaves that are still colorful too.

Coming out of the forest I took a picture of the Belmont cemetery and the row of white pines. I took my hiking groups to the side of the cemetery and talked about the ground penetrating radar that was used a few years ago finding graves under the ground within the cemetery even where there are no markers and also where we were standing outside the fence (lot’s of fun to point out on a Halloween hike) but the conversation also included the idea of shifting of sediment and deterioration of grave markers that might have been made of wood. The pine needles that have accumulated over the years under the pines make the ground feel spongy; that surprised some of the students….and that area would soak up a lot of water just as the leaf litter does – like a sponge.

There was a terrain model that we poured blue liquid over to represent the normal river level…then more blue liquid to be a minor flood (houses nearest the river wet)…up to the level representing the 1868 flood which washed away Elkridge Landing and parts of Ellicott City. The mills never recovered, and towns ceased to exist. The students were surprised to learn that the flood experienced by Ellicott City in 2018 was not that much below 1868 and it was higher than the flood caused by Hurricane Agnes (1972) in Ellicott City.

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Overall – it was a great day for a fall hike with 4th graders!

Gleanings of the Week Ending November 3, 2018

The items below were ‘the cream’ of the articles and websites I found this past week. Click on the light green text to look at the article.

Planned intermittent fasting may help reverse type 2 diabetes, suggest doctors: And cut out need for insulin while controlling blood glucose -- ScienceDaily – There needs to be follow up study…but if this works, maybe it should be some everyone with type 2 diabetes tries.

10 States Now Get At Least 20 Percent of Their Electricity from Solar and Wind - Yale E360 – Progress! Hopefully other states will join the club and go beyond 30%. During some months in 2017, Iowa and Kansas, wind accounted for over 50% of in-state electricity generation.

Largest ever genetic study of blood pressure -- ScienceDaily – So much for find a root cause for high blood pressure. There are lots of genes and there is overlap with life-style exposures to things like fruit, water, tea, caffeine, alcohol, and salt. It’s complicated!

Too much vitamin A may increase risk of bone fractures -- ScienceDaily – Another study about the danger of getting ‘too much’ via vitamin supplements.

Top 25 Wild Bird Photographs of the Week: Courtship Displays – National Geographic Blog – The treat of bird photos!

Redrawing the Map: How the World’s Climate Zones Are Shifting - Yale E360 – Interesting summary…hardiness zones on the move, Tornado Alley is shifting, the tropics are getting bigger, the Sahara desert is bigger, the 100th meridian has shifted eastward by 140 miles.

The Enchanting History of Notre Dame Cathedral's Famous Gargoyles and Grotesques – The stone carvings are pitted…but the sculptures are still awesome.

BBC - Future - How a daily 10-minute exercise could boost your happiness – The 10-minute exercise is jot down the answer to 6 questions each day: 1) What experiences, however mundane, gave you pleasure? 2) What praise and feedback did you receive? 3) What were the moments of pure good fortune? 4) What were your achievements, however small? 5) What made you feel grateful? 6) How did you express kindness? It’s a good way to end the day on a positive note!

U.S. Air Pollution Deaths Nearly Halved Over Two Decades - Yale E360 – A good trend but there were still 71,000 deaths in 2010 attributed to air pollution – more than traffic accidents and gun shootings combined. Air pollution remains a public health issue.

The chemistry of Venus flytraps in C&EN – I’ve always been fascinated by carnivorous plants. This infographic describes how it take two hairs to trigger the closing of the trap…that it only takes 0.1 seconds to close…and then up to 5 days to digest the insect.