Gleanings of the Week Ending June 14, 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.

Antibiotics found in some of the world's rivers exceed 'safe' levels, global study finds -- ScienceDaily and Hundreds of world's rivers contain dangerous levels of antibiotics – Same story from different news feeds. Antibiotics we take are not broken down in our bodies and are excreted. Wastewater treatment does not take them out of the water so the rivers are – over time – building up more antibiotics.

Ancient Fingerprints Show Men and Women Both Made Pottery in the American Southwest | Smart News | Smithsonian – The breadth of men’s finger print ridges are 9% wider than those of women…so pots that are made via pinching layers of coiled clay together using the thumb and forefinger (leaving fingerprints) can be analyzed to determine the gender of the person that made them. It turns out at Chaco Canyon that men and women made pottery…unlike the more modern tradition of the skill passing from grandmothers to mothers to younger women.

Route 66 Considered for National Historic Trail in The Park System – On a recent road trip, the Pacific, MO hotel we stayed in (west of St. Louis) was near Route 66. They had a map to continue the journey through Missouri on stretches of the old road. We needed to reach our destination quickly so stayed on I-44…but maybe sometime when we can take our time…we’ll take Route 66 where we can.

CITY SPROUTS: The Budding Movement to Integrate Garden-Based Learning in Public School Education | Children & Nature Network – A laudable goal…but it takes work. With teachers that already have a lot to do….organizing garden-based learning might be a tough addition to their job jar.

Most of the World’s Macadamias May Have Originated from a Single Australian Tree | Smart News | Smithsonian – The majority of macadamias are grown in Hawaii…so the lack of diversity within the trees in Hawaii leaves the crop open to species-level risk. This article talks about the research and search for wild plants in Australia to increase the diversity within the macadamia gene pool.

Seven US Species Invading Other Countries – Cool Green Science – We talk a lot about non-native species invading the US. Here are some that have gone the other way.

A Sea of Sagebrush Disappears, Making Way for Fire-Prone Cheatgrass: NPR – Nearly 75% of the acres burned by wildfires in the west are range lands rather the forest. And what burns is sage and cheatgrass. The problem is that cheatgrass, an invasive grass, grows faster than sage and is taking over land where sage once dominated…and cheatgrass is more flammable. Put that together with climate change and the look of the west is changing.

Megacities Like Paris and London Can Produce Their Own Clouds | Smart News | Smithsonian – The urban heat island phenomenon has been known for a long time. Now studies are looking at cloud cover over cities and it appears they are 10% cloudier than rural areas.

Still snarling after 40,000 years, a giant Pleistocene wolf discovered in Yakutia – Found in Siberia. The discovery was announced as the opening of a Woolly Mammoth exhibition in Tokyo organized by Yakutian and Japanese scientists. The same team also presented a well-preserved cave lion cub.

Six fingers per hand – People with 6 fingers on a hand (a form of polydactyly) can perform movements with one hand where people with 5 fingers would require 2 hands. The brain of polydactyly subjects controls the additional degrees of freedom the additional finger provides without sacrificing any other brain functions.

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!

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 May 19, 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.

Top 25 Arid Birds – National Geographic Blog and Top 25 Woodland Birds – National Geographic Blog and The Best of the Top 25: Part 1 – National Geographic Blog and The Best of the Top 25: Part 2 – National Geographic Blog – Birds and more birds! I’m catching up on a lot of ‘top 25’ posts that have been accumulating.

Millennials Begin To Change The Face Of Camping In National Parks And Beyond  - Positive trends – more people camping…and more diversity. Great vacations…outdoors.

Historic Low Sea Ice in the Bering Sea: Image of the Day – Big changes to the amount of ice.

Algae Blooms in Lakes & Oceans Creating Pollution That Harms People, Pets, & The Planet | CleanTechnica – Who want to do anything in green water. Ugh! Another reason to slow the flow and reduce the extra nutrients that we send into our rivers, streams and lakes (that cause algae blooms).

World’s Largest Victorian Glasshouse Opens Doors After Five-Year Restoration Project | Smart News | Smithsonian – It’s easier to the structure of the building at this point…before the many new plants get very large and block the view. The building was originally opened in 1863…and this was it first restoration.

Alligators on the beach? Killer whales in rivers? Get used to it: Large predators once hunted to near-extinction are showing up in unexpected places -- ScienceDaily – Rebounding populations! They are returning to hunting grounds where they were common before hunting caused their near extinction.

Five Tips to Help Frogs and Toads in Your Yard: The National Wildlife Federation – Good recommendations for frogs…and wild life in general. I may repurpose my daughters old ‘turtle sandbox’ into a vernal pool (but will have to monitor it for mosquito larvae)

Why Teenagers Should Understand Their Own Brains (And Why Their Teachers Should Too!): NPR Ed: NPR – After being around middle school students this week…this article caught my interest. I’m glad we are learning more about the teenage brain and can come up with solutions to the problems caused to their sleep pattern by early school start times.

How Seeds from War-Torn Syria Could Help Save American Wheat - Yale E360 – From a seed bank near Aleppo…saving the seeds from the bank by taking them into Aleppo to Lebanon and now Kansas State and North Dakota State Universities developing wheat that is resistant to Hessian fly which has been an increasing problem with climate change (higher temperatures enough that the flies were not killed by the cold of winter, less water) significant enough that US grain yields were falling. Hurray for a diverse seed stock (and the US should take note to develop diversity rather than destroying via monoculture agriculture).

For how long will the USA remain the Nobel Prize leader? Empirical study on historical development allows a prognosis -- ScienceDaily – The graph is not positive for the US. It looks like the UK is recovering from a trough that developed in the 1990s while the US peaked in the 1980s and has been going down since then (the metric being Nobel prizes per year per 100 million inhabitants).

Gleanings of the Week Ending February 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.

#ColorOurCollections & Europeana Colouring Book | Europeana Blog – I’d rather draw my own Zentangles rather starting with an existing picture. For those who want images already on the page - here is a free downloadable coloring book of historical images.

Top 25: Wild Birds on the Edge – National Geographic Blog – Endangered birds….many factors causing stressing these birds…no quick fix.

Explore Thurston Lava Tube At Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park By Flashlight  and The Nature Conservancy Transfers 222 Acres To Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park  - Reminded how much I enjoyed our trip to the big Island (and the national park there) a few years ago.

11 Chocolate Desserts That Are Totally Healthy – Dark chocolate…it’s wonderful that it is also good for you too – in moderation.

Long-term economic impact of cover crops: 29-year study finds cover crops offer benefits with no-till cotton systems -- ScienceDaily – Decreasing soil erosion….always a good thing.

Artists envisioned the future of work, and the results are pure fantasy - MIT Technology Review – What do you think? Some of these are (somewhat) logical extensions of existing technology and jobs.

Why Are You Seeing Robins in Winter? – Cool Green Science – I didn’t see any robins at my birdbath this winter, but we don’t have trees with berries that might be food for them. I did see some robins at Mt. Pleasant yesterday…a small group…and wondered if the warm weather we had earlier in the week (in the 70s) is bringing them in larger numbers to our area.

Saving a Crown Jewel – National Geographic – We spent some time at Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge last November when we were at the Rio Grand Valley Birding Festival See my post here). The short video is worth watching. The wall that is being built through the refuge (destroying the refuge) is the proof of concept for the wall that some in our country want to build. It’s very sad.

BBC - Future - An effortless way to improve your memory – After reading this, I wondered if creating a Zentangle tile has the effect of a short rest period for me. I’ve noticed that it is easier for me to learn new material if I include breaks to make tiles!

Creative Ways to Boost Creativity – How many of these just come naturally to you?

Gleanings of the Week Ending September 9, 2017

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.

Reimaging Neuroscience’s Finest Works of Art – Recreating the work of Santiago Ramon y Cajal’s century old drawings of the nervous system

Top 25 Wild Bird Photographs of the Week #103 –  There is wood duck image near the end of this group….I have never managed a view from the front. This one has the reflection too.

Utilities Grapple with Rooftop Solar and the New Energy Landscape – I’m glad some utilities are adapting in a positive way to renewable energy. If they don’t – I think more people will be motivated to add battery capacity as the technology becomes available and be ‘off grid.’

New Guide: Smart, Sustainable Materials at Home – This is some I’ll take a look at more thoroughly if I am doing any renovations to an outdoor area.

Wind power costs could drop 50%. Solar PV could provide up to 50% of global power – Are solar and wind energy underestimated? They may be getting cheaper and scaling up faster than the most optimistic forecasts of a few years ago. Hurray!

The Smartphone’s Future: It’s All About the Camera – Some tech…just over the horizon but plausible based on what is available already.

Opinion: The Flood Reduction Benefits of Wetlands – There are lots of studies that will come out of the hurricanes that are impacting the US. This one was based on Hurricane Sandy and came out on August 31. It reported that insurance industry models show that during Hurricane Sandy, marshes prevented $625 million in direct flood damage in 12 states….a reduction in property damage by as much as 30% in some states.

Artificial warming trial reveals striking sea-floor changes – When researchers heated up a slice of Antarctic sea bed by 1 degree (Centigrade), changes were visually discernable: some species grew twice as fast in the heated conditions, different animal communities developed…one bryozoan became so dominate on the warmer sea floor that the diversity of species went down. The researchers already have more experiments planned.

Podcast Series Delves into History, Cultures of Mesa Verde – There are three episodes so far (available here) with a plan for additional ones in 2018.

Our Hurricane Risk Models are Dangerously Out of Date – More than half the area flooded by Harvey was ‘outside of any mapped flood zone’! It seems like insurance companies and property owners need a better understanding of risks…and the old models are no longer adequate.

Gleanings of the Week Ending September 2, 2017

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.

Yoga and meditation improve mind-body health and stress resilience – A study that went beyond anecdotal reports of positive effects. They looked at brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and activity in the hypothalamic pituitary adrenal (HPA) and inflammation markers.

20+ Spectacular Photos From the…Solar Eclipse and NASA’s Best Photos of the 2017 Total Solar Eclipse – Photo series from the web of the 8/21/2017 solar eclipse.

Dancing can reverse the signs of aging in the brain – Dancing is more effective than endurance training! Both dancing and endurance training increase the area of the brain that declines with age but dancing improves balance too!

The big idea: 5 ways to be a more thoughtful traveler – The articles ‘5’ are: know some history, think about how you’ll document your trip, read a book set wherever you’re going, learn some of the language, and understand where you come from. Good ideas!

10 Really Weird Animals of the Anthropocene  and Tongue Orchids & Corpseflowers: 7 insanely weird plant species – There is so much to learn about plants and animals…sometimes because they are changing and sometimes because they are hard to find/rare.

Trying to Create Something Different in the Nebraska Sandhills – I couldn’t resist this one…since I just visit Nebraska for the first time recently.

Image of the Day: Flying Blood Bag – The entwined network of blood vessels in a pigeon’s CT scan.

Our brains to change from early to mid-adulthood – The changes observed were so highly correlated to age that the researchers could estimate the ages of an individual simply by looking at the brain scan. 111 scans were analyzed from volunteers 18-55 years old.

On Education in the 21st Century – A paper by Richard Watson (futurist) for the Australia’s Department of Education. It talks about Slow Education (people centric, reflective, and aim to ensure that individual appreciate where the things they consume come from…emphasizes the importance of local difference, craft and quality over standardized production and cheap ingredients).

Interactive Infographic: The Global Business of Dying – The laws governing how terminally ill patients can choose to die vary widely – around the world and in the US (link to the US map is at the bottom of the global post).