Gleanings of the Week Ending September 21, 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.

These Caterpillars Can Detect Color Using Their Skin, Not Their Eyes | Smart News | Smithsonian – A little surprise…but insects probably have a lot of adaptations developed over eons that are challenging to imagine.

Five weird and wonderful ways nature is being harnessed to build a sustainable fashion industry – New dyes from enzymes, ‘leather’ from mushrooms, lacy fabric made from plant roots that grew that way (watch the video), cellulose for fabrics derived from manure!

Aesthetics of skin cancer therapy may vary by treatment type -- ScienceDaily – Hopefully these findings will guide doctors to use the more aesthetic treatments…since they all have about the same recurrence rates a year after treatment.

On the Alabama Coast, the Unluckiest Island in America - Yale E360 – Dauphin Island…when does everyone decide that these places can’t be saved…should not be rebuilt. It’s not something we are dealing with very well as individuals or as a nation.

Deer browsing is not stopping the densification of Eastern US forests -- ScienceDaily – Deer hurt the understory but the canopy is more impacted by the greater density of the big forest trees (because of fire suppression) and that red maples are growing in areas where young oaks, hickories, or pines would have grown previously. But wouldn’t the deer browse young trees? In our area – the forests have also changed quite a lot in the last 20 years with the decline of the hemlocks and now the ashes. This study – done in Pennsylvania – did not comment about those issues.

Top 25 Wild Bird Photographs of the Week: September – These photographs are always worth a look….birds are so beautiful.

North America has lost 3 billion birds – And fresh from looking at the wonder pictures of birds….this sobering news: North America has lost 25% of its bird population and it’s all happened in the last 50 years. More than 90% of the loss is in just a dozen bird families that includes the sparrows, warblers, blackbirds, and finches. Grassland birds have suffered a 53% loss. Potential causes: habitat degradation, urbanization, and the use of toxic pesticides.

Staying at elementary school for longer associated with higher student attainment – My daughter didn’t seem to have a problem transferring from elementary to middle school after 5th grade…but the middle school was next door to the elementary school, and she was doing well in school. The results of this research will have to overcome the school building infrastructure in many areas. Change happens slowly with school systems. So far I haven’t seen a change in start times for high schools even though there are studies that say that early starts are not good for high school students (in our area, they have always started before the elementary and middle schools).

Spotted in Kenya: a baby zebra with polka dots – I hope there is a follow up story on this baby. Will the pattern make it more susceptible to fly bites? Another note from the article: Zebras are accepting of difference…animals with atypical coat patterns fit right into the herd.

Drought Reveals Lost “Spanish Stonehenge” – The Dolmen at Guadalperal has resurfaced from the Valdecanas Reservoir in western Spain due to lower lake levels from dry, hot conditions this year. It has been submerged for 50 years. Hopefully someone will make a good 3D tour of the place.

Bugs 101

I took a lot of Coursera courses between 2015 and 2017….then I got so busy with other things that I didn’t do any in 2018. Now I am back to an occasional course when I have a lull in other activities.


The most recent course was in August – Bug 101: Insect-Human Interactions from University of Alberta.

I enjoyed the course beyond the content too. It was more thought provoking that I thought it would be.

  • It was very evident how much has been learned since my biology undergraduate courses in the 1970s and I found myself thinking more about taking some biology courses again – challenging myself to identify all the deltas between the first time I took them and now.

  • The world has changed too…much caused by what we have done (or were doing prior to 1970 but didn’t quite realize the impact of our actions at the time). We were just beginning to fully understand the impact of DDT on the environment when I was in school.

  • Scanning ScienceDaily in my news feed helps keep me updated at a ‘headline’ level but having a course integrate the topic is something I should pursue for areas I am really interested in.

  • It’s good to know that Integrated Pest Management is pushing toward more sustainable agribusiness.

Gleanings of the Week Ending August 24, 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.

‘Off-the-charts’ heat to affect millions in U.S. in coming decades – How will public health be impacted by warming climate? This article summarizes a county-by-county analysis of likely temperature and humidity over the coming decades.

Waist size is a forgotten factor in defining obesity -- ScienceDaily - Waist size is just as important as BMI in defining obesity-related health risks. The study used data from 156,000 women ages 50-79 from 1993-2017 and confirms a similar study published in 2015 based on a much smaller population.

Top 25 Wild Bird Photographs of the Week: Little Brown Jobs (LBJs) – National Geographic Society Newsroom – Not as colorful as usual…but I still enjoyed the pictures. I also like the acronym (LBJs)

Algae living inside fungi: How land plants first evolved -- ScienceDaily – And the study was done with algae and fungi that produce high amounts of oil…could be useful growing together for bioproduction (reduce costs).

Food insecurity common across US higher education campuses -- ScienceDaily - Lack of access to reliable supply of nutritious food may affect student's ability to succeed, researchers say. Is it more a problem now that it used to be….or are we just recognizing it? Universities are scrambling to set up programs to address the issue.

With New Perennial Grain, a Step Forward for Eco-Friendly Agriculture - Yale E360 – How can the ideas for prairie and forest sustainable agriculture be moved into the mainstream faster? It seems like there is still a lot to learn about how to do it on a large scale.

Non-native invasive insects, diseases decreasing carbon stored in US forests -- ScienceDaily – It seems like more of these problems are cropping up….and at a time when we need our forests to retain carbon. In our area, the emerald ash borer has killed all the ash trees in the past 5 years…a noticeable change in our forests.

Focus on Native Bees, Not Honey Bees – Cool Green Science - Lots of beautiful bees out there…pollinating right along with the honey bees. We need to support all the pollinators to build (and sustain) health environments for us all.

Solar Panels on Farmland Have Huge Electricity-Generating Potential - Yale E360 – A vision to think about….agrivoltaics (a new vocabular word for me!).

Arctic permafrost is thawing fast. That affects us all. – I was intrigued by the pictures of landscapes of melting permafrost – collapsing land, methane (enough to burn) bubbling from a thawing pond, crumbling cliffs.

Gleanings of the Week Ending June 29, 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.

Porcupines | National Geographic – I was disappointed that they didn’t include more pictures of the North American Porcupine. I’ve never seen one in the wild.

BBC - Future - How to build something that lasts 10,000 years – Specifically – this post is about building a clock that will last for 10,000 years…in West Texas!

Researchers uncover indoor pollution hazards -- ScienceDaily – Some surprises: pollutants change with temperature inside the house….and time of day makes a difference. Formaldehyde seems to be particularly prevalent. These studies are scary for existing homes. We need work on mitigations that homeowners can implement…and new construction that reduces the source of pollutants.

Infographic: Immunity Isn't the Body's Only Defense System | The Scientist Magazine® - Symbiotic bacteria, metabolism and pathogen mutation examples overlay the immunity strategy. As we learn more, we realize that the human body is more complex that we realized.

Top 25 Wild Bird Photographs of the Week: Blue – National Geographic Society Newsroom – So many blue birds!

Tortoises rule on Aldabra Atoll – Tortoises making their way through the huts where people bunked! The tortoises sleep with head and legs stretched out…no predators to fear on the inhospitable atoll.

Past climate change pushed birds from the northern hemisphere to the tropics -- ScienceDaily – Thought provoking. I wondered if some of the birds that now migrate from North America to Central or South America for the winter….will not go as far or will shift their range northward.  I suppose it would work if their food sources shifted and the birds followed the food. The synchrony of plants blooming and seeds ripening….of horseshoe crabs laying eggs…all while birds are migrating or getting ready to produce young; it’s not a simple system.

Making STEM Education More Welcoming to Underrepresented Minorities | The Scientist Magazine® - Education doesn’t happen in a vacuum that has well defined boundaries. We must do more than just academic support…I’m glad there is more research and conversation on how to move forward in tangible ways to make STEM education and careers more open to everyone.

An Ancient Asteroid Crater May Be Hiding Off Scotland’s Coast | Smart News | Smithsonian – Some recent work that points to a crater of a asteroid from 1.2 billion years ago.

Three Studies Track People's Microbiomes Through Health and Disease | The Scientist Magazine® - Interesting…but they could just be expensive association studies (a quote from the end of the paper). At some point, maybe the findings will lead to something that benefits the patient.

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 March 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.

Wind Cave, In the National Park, Is 150 Miles Long...And Counting – About 2 miles are surveyed annually and there are about 3,000 unexplored openings that haven’t been checked.

Climate of North American cities will shift hundreds of miles in one generation: New web application helps visualize climate changes in 540 North American cities -- ScienceDaily – The article includes a link to the interactive map. Baltimore Maryland will be like Cleveland, Mississippi in 60 years!

Southern California Will Soon See Another Booming Superbloom | Smart News | Smithsonian – Much better than burn scars and mud slides.

The Obelisks of Heliopolis - Archaeology Magazine – Obelisks taken from the city…a project to understand where they originally stood and the role they played.

In Era of Drought, Phoenix Prepares for a Future Without Colorado River Water - Yale E360 – Living on the edge when it comes to water supply. It’s not just South Africa that has the challenge.

BBC - Future - How Japan’s ancient trees could tell the future –Teasing out how much rain fell in Japan over the past two and half millennia by looking at the preserved wood of ancient forests.    

The soaring cost of US child care, in 5 charts  and Paid family leave is an investment in public health, not a handout – Thought provoking…families coping in the modern world.

Utilities are starting to invest in big batteries instead of building new power plants – Shifts in the way big utilities are structuring themselves for the future – it not all about new power plants.

New molecules reverse memory loss linked to depression, aging -- ScienceDaily – Maybe in the future we’ll be able to treat some types of cognitive decline better than we can now.

The Future of Universities | What's Next: Top Trends – 7 Cs: Critical thinking, Creativity, Collaboration, Communication, Curiosity, Character and Compassion

Gleanings of the Week Ending September 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.

Top 25 Wild Bird Photographs of the Week: The LBJs and Top 25 Wild Birds Photographs of the Week: The Cranes and Top 25 Wild Birds Photographs of the Week: Birds in Flowers – Birds and more birds…starting the gleanings off with images of fast moving wildlife!

Natural refrigerant replacements could reduce energy costs and conserve the environment: Implementing replacements of CFCs and HCFCs could help UN signatories to uphold international agreements on carbon emissions. -- ScienceDaily – One of the ways new technology could help sustain the planet.

BBC - Future - How to drink from the enormous lakes in the air – I was intrigued by the variety of ways to collect water from the air coming out of labs and into production. Some are for very poor and rural areas…but others might be popular for home owners that currently buy bottled water because they don’t trust their municipal water supply.

Cake Art Features Realistic Flowers Made from Buttercream Frosting – The decadence of it all….I’m not a big cake eater, but if I was this type of cake would be what I wanted for my birthday!

Ancient farmers spared us from glaciers but profoundly changed Earth’s climate -- ScienceDaily – The advent of farming altered the climate enough to avoid the beginning of an ice age as the Industrial Revolution when the burning of fossil fuels caused the further uptick we are today.  A quote from the article: “we have maybe stopped the major cycle of Earth’s climate and we are stuck in a warmer and warmer and warmer interglacial.”

Two studies that suggest that some common medical practices may not be as worthwhile as previously thought: Widespread use of statins in healthy older people to prevent heart disease not recommended in new study: Any protective effect was limited to those with type 2 diabetes aged between 75 and 84 -- ScienceDaily and Experts advise against routine testing for prostate cancer: But for those men who seek counsel from their physicians, shared decision making is essential -- ScienceDaily

Photo of the Week – September 6 | The Prairie Ecologist – The August installment of the author’s square meter photography project. The two praying mantis shots (Aargh…non-natives European and Asian).

BBC - Future - Five memory hacks to make you smarter – A post well-timed for the start of school!

Roman Basin Recovered from Germanic Grave in Holland - Archaeology Magazine – It is made of bronze and was found in pieces that were put back together. It’s an appealing shape…which the article would have given more information about its size.

Today’s College Students Aren’t Who You Think They Are: NPR – It’s good to see this. I’ve been hearing anecdotal reports from my daughter about college students at the universities where she has been/is. It’s good to see that her observations are wide-spread…that it’s the ‘new normal’ and services provided by institutes need to evolve to support these students.

Monarch Buddy

The third grade science curriculum in our county starts with a module about life cycle and traits important to survival….using Monarch butterflies as an example. I signed up to assist one of the school close to where I live to have raise Monarch caterpillars in their classroom. That means helping to find eggs or caterpillars and a supply of milkweed for them to eat. School starts tomorrow and I’m as ready as I can be for my Monarch Buddy role.

I started preparing last Thursday by collecting a large caterpillar from the milkweed in front of my house. It continued eating all day Thursday and I learned how to handle the leaves and caterpillars in the large plastic cups with a coffee filter held in place with a rubber band covering the top.


The covering worked. The caterpillar climbed to the top on Friday – hung in the J shape – and made its chrysalis. It should still be in that stage when I take the 4 cups to the school on Wednesday afternoon.

On Friday, I visited the school and teacher and I looked at the small garden that has been planted several years ago. It hasn’t been maintained recently but the common milkweed and butterfly weed was doing great without any intervention. There were lots of Monarch caterpillars. We decided to leave the garden as is; the teachers will us it as an outdoor classroom for their students. We did harvest a leaf with a Monarch egg on it and I am trying to keep it moist so that they egg would hatch. It would great to have a tiny caterpillar for the children.

On Sunday morning I collected 3 caterpillars: two larger ones and a smaller caterpillar.


I hope that at least two of them will still be caterpillars on Wednesday afternoon….if not – I’ll have to look for other caterpillars on the milkweed. My goal is to have 3 caterpillars and some chrysalises. The challenge might be to find very small caterpillars!


Gleanings of the Week Ending September 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.

Poor sleep triggers viral loneliness and social rejection: Lack of sleep generates social anxiety that infects those around us -- ScienceDaily – Yet another reason that getting enough sleep is important to us as individuals and society at large.

The Armchair Photography Guide to Canyonlands National Park – Island in The Sky | National Parks Traveler – So many of the pictures had snow! It would be good to go when it was not terrifically hot….so any time but summer and even better close to the beginning or end of winter (a little now…not enough to be hazardous).

Stunning Underwater Photos of Microscopic Plankton by Ryo Minemizu – Beautiful, small life.

In Eastern US, adult trees adapt and acclimate to local climate: Tree cores reveal flexibility, more work needed to understand mechanisms -- ScienceDaily – 14 species of trees were analyzed using tree cores from 1940-1980….shouldn’t we look at more recent tree cores too?

Bed Bugs: When Biodiversity Bites – Cool Green Science – Informative….maybe I should check for bedbugs more consistently when I travel. I shouldn’t keep relying on ‘luck’ to avoid a very bad experience.

A Record Year for Measles Cases in Europe | The Scientist Magazine® - When I was a child, the measles vaccines didn’t exist yet. It was awful. Everyone got sick with them and, for some, there were lasting consequences. I was fortunate and survived without lasting damage except for missing enough school that I never quite understood certain volumetric measurements because I completely missed when it was taught.

Which country has the most expensive education? - Are the comparisons really apples and apples…or are there some pears and oranges thrown in? It is about educations but there are a lot of variables beside cost. All countries and parents and teachers struggle with how to make education relevant to students for now and into the future.

Air Pollution Linked to Decline in Cognitive Performance – The study was done in China but I wondered if it was true in other areas of the world with high levels of air pollution (like India). The US could be vulnerable if we relax our clean air standards.

NASA’s OSIRIS-REx begins asteroid operations campaign – We were in Florida in September 2016 for the launch…so I always notice the updates about its progress.

50% of Industrial Climate Change Emissions Tied to Fossil Fuel Companies – An interview with the two authors of a recently released report: Decarbonization Pathways for Mines.

Belmont Hikes with Summer Campers V

The theme for last week’s summer campers at Howard County Conservancy’s Belmont location was STEM (Science – Technology – Engineering – Math). I decided to a pick some STEM related activities that were more like field work than actual hikes.


As usual there were two groups of about 15 each. The first group was the younger one; some of that group were just getting ready for kindergarten. I started out by handing a ruler to each camper.

We started by using the rulers to measure samples I’d brought in a bin (a stick and tulip poplar seedling were popular) and parts of the nearby barn. We did quick tutorials for campers that had not used a ruler before. One student measured one of the tiles – discovering that it was the same across and up/down (i.e. a square). Six campers collaborated to measure the lentil over a low window of the barn (5 feet 4 inches)! Most of the time we tried to measure in centimeters although we used both sides of the ruler.

I started a log of everything we measured on a pad of paper and clipboard.

We measured most of what we encountered on our hike including flowers, several feathers, grass, pine needles and cones, a fake rock (used to cover equipment), holly leaves and berries, a stump and and some very colorful mushrooms.

2018 08IMG_3165.jpg

The second group campers were a little older – up to 12 years old. First, we talked about examples of science new sources (like Science Daily). I used an article about the discovery of moths roosting in hollow trees in Florida as an example. Then I showed them the information about the moth in the Maryland Biodiversity Project site…the way I knew the moth lived in Maryland as well as Florida. And we all knew there was a hollow tree nearby.


I had two small flashlights and we started out.

We didn’t find any moths but there were a lot of spider webs in the hollow tree. There was something there that kept the spiders well fed! We found a dead cicada nearby in the grass and examined it closely before we started out next activity.

The second activity with the group was to determine the height of a tree using a piece of paper and a tape measure. The technique worked but after using it for 2 trees we decided a 25 feet long tape measure for measuring trees over 125 feet tall was too painful (we measured a tulip poplar and white pine)…and it was too hot for more field work. We headed back to the air conditioning and lunch.

It was the last day of summer camp at Belmont. These STEM themed hikes were a good finale for us all. Everyone is getting ready for school to start…and the training sessions for field trip volunteers start too.

Gleanings of the Week Ending August 18, 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 Birds with Red Plumage – National Geographic Blog – Starting out this weeks gleanings selections with some eye candy…..bird photographs. I was disappointed that the pileated woodpecker was not one of the 25.

Going Quietly into the Night: The Unseen Plight of Africa’s Giraffes – National Geographic Blog – Did you know that there are 4 species of giraffes? And most of them are in trouble.

10 Questions About Nut Butters | Berkeley Wellness – There is a segment near the end of the article that expands to show a table of “What’s in your ‘Nut Butter’?” – worth taking a look. I use almond butter more than peanut butter these days….but may explore some of the other options (not the high sugar ones).

Chemists discover how blue light from digital devices speeds blindness -- ScienceDaily – If this research is confirmed by other labs is seems like we should be demanding screens that are ‘less blue.’

A Tough Plant, Not A Weed | The Prairie Ecologist – Ironweed in the prairie…and the insects that it attracts.

Life Scientists Cut Down on Plastic Waste | The Scientist Magazine® - Hopefully every field/business is consciously reducing plastic waste. We are being overwhelming by single use plastics! The same type of thinking needs to happen at the individual level in our homes as well.

Sharpen your science skills with NOAA’s webinars for educators | National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration – Webinars created for teachers….but open to everyone. They’re archived too.

Archaeologists identify ancient North American mounds using new image analysis technique -- ScienceDaily -Analyzing new satellite and aerial sensor data with Object Based Image Analysis (OBIA) more than 160 mound features have been identified in Beaufort County SC….and there could be many more along the east coast of the US. This analysis pinpoints areas for archaeologists to look at on the ground.

BBC - Future - How do you treat someone who doesn’t accept they’re ill? – A thoughtful article about how communities are responding to people suffering psychoactive disorders…and refuse treatment.

Owl Underground: A Summer Encounter with Burrowing Owls – Cool Green Science – A short video from the side of an interstate highway in Idaho….and an article about burrowing owls.

Gleanings of the Week Ending August 11, 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.

Chemists characterize the fatal fungus among us -- ScienceDailyAspergillus fumigatus is deadly to people with compromised immune systems. It affects more than 200,000 people annually including 25% of all leukemia patients – killing half of them. Understanding more about the organism may enable better screening and treatment.

 Learning from ‘little monsters’ -- ScienceDaily – Research on macroinvertabrates. Since I volunteer for field trips with schools to streams and rivers to sample these critters – I read anything that comes up in ScienceDaily about them.

How Rising Seas Could Threaten the Internet - Yale E360 – Within the next 15 years, 4,67 miles of fiber conduit and 1,101 notes in the US are expected to be underwater. New York, Miami and Seattle will be the most effected. -- Visualizing the Impact of Humanity | CleanTechnica – Three very short videos…about earth’s temperature over the past 137 years, the more recent time sequence of wind turbine installation in Europe and solar installations in the US.

Pic for Today – Point and Shoot Photographer -  Nature photography with a point and shoot camera. I subscribed so I get the picture and short description with my news feeds every day.

Allergy clinic finds large percentage of anaphylaxis cases from tick bite meat allergy: Increased awareness, more available testing led to 33 percent of cases identified as alpha gal allergy -- ScienceDaily – Wow! This is not good. Lyme Disease is serious but not anaphylaxis serious. We’re going to have get even better at avoiding tick bites.

AGU and AAS: Working Together to Expand the Understanding of Exoplanets - From the Prow - AGU Blogosphere – There seem to be more areas where we are acknowledging that interdisciplinary approaches are needed. The old lines of specialty can be limiting.

Hollow trees host massive moth slumber parties -- ScienceDaily –black idia moths in Florida are found in roosting in hollow trees during the day (they are active at night like most moths). The post didn’t identify the species but there are black idia moths in Maryland. I am going to start looking more carefully in hollow trees when I’m hiking although it’s already close to the end of the season.

Great Fall-Blooming Plants for Pollinators - The National Wildlife Federation Blog – The fall-blooming plants are not just for bees…they help the butterflies too!

Free Technology for Teachers: Take a Look at Microsoft’s Free Hands-on STEM Lesson Plans and Projects – I am going to take a look at these…see if there are any that could be easily incorporated into field trip conversations this fall.

Gleanings of the Week Ending March 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.

A Day in The Park: Cuyahoga Valley National Park | National Parks Traveler – I’ve been to the park but only saw a small part of it. Next time I need to be more organized!

Top 25 Wild Waterbirds – National Geographic Blog – Some of these birds were familiar….some unfamiliar and living far away from the US!

BBC - Future - The quest to tackle the rubbish dump in orbit – There is getting to be a lot of junk up there!

Flood risk from American rivers is greatly underestimated -- ScienceDaily – A high resolution model that maps flood risk across the whole continent and includes small streams shows 41 million Americans at risk from flooding rivers rather than 13 million estimated by FEMA (their maps only include 60% of the continent and does not include smaller streams). Seems like anyone buying a house would be keen to know if there was a flood risk for the property and FEMA maps are giving a false sense of security. Here’s the link to the full paper: Estimates of present and future flood risk in the conterminous United States - IOPscience

Recycled carbon fiber improves permeable pavement: Technique reduces waste, improves strength and durability -- ScienceDaily – From Washington State University…in partnership with Boeing

Incredible Pictures of the Caterpillars of New England – I’m going to keep a sharper lookout for caterpillars in our area this summer….get subjects for photography because they don’t move very fast!

Spring Break Goes Wild(life) – Cool Green Science – Lots of places to go in the spring – other than a southern beach.

High-Fiber Diet Shifts Gut Microbes, Lowering Blood Sugar in Diabetics -  If this pans out, they need to get it out to doctors treating patients with type 2 diabetes rather than focusing on all the new (and somewhat expensive) drugs that can have side effects.

The Metamorphosis of Butterflies – A 5-minute video from TED-Ed.

A Place for Pollinators: Bees and Butterflies call National Monuments Home – At Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, a 4-year study found 650 unique bee species from 54 genre of native bees, 3 of which were new to the state of Utah. We need pollinators like native bees for the rest the ecosystem to continue! We should strive to keep the special places (not pockets) of species diversity to not only to sustain our planet…but to help it regenerate. The people alive today are the stewards of the future Earth.

HoLLIE – week 4

The Week 4 of HoLLIE (Howard County Legacy Leadership Institute for the Environment) class day was held at Belmont Manor and Historic Park. There are 8 weeks to this institute so its now half over. Time flies…

I arrived early since it was my class to bring snacks and I wanted to have them unpacked before other students arrived. While I waited a few minutes for the most convenient door to be unlocked, I noticed a small bird on one of the hooks used occasionally for bird feeders. I managed to get out my camera and use the zoom to see what it was. A bluebird! What an excellent way to start out the day.

The theme for the day – which will carry over to week 5 - was “Earth System Science with Humans in the Equation”. The agenda for the day included a morning focused on government approach to environmental policy (international, national and local) followed by an afternoon hearing about volunteering and a group of organizations needing volunteers in our area. As usual – I took copious notes.

The most important aspect of these classes is probably what actions I take afterward. After this one – I’ve volunteered with the school district for programs like what I’ve done with the Howard County Conservancy and wrote off two emails to my representatives in the state legislature about pending legislation. I also followed up looking at websites mentioned in the lectures or in the materials provided by the organizations that spoke. This was a lot more than an academic series of talks!

Previous HoLLIE posts: Week 1, Week 2, week 3

Gleanings of the Week Ending December 30, 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.

Top 25 Wild Bird Photographs of the Week #118 – National Geographic Society – As usual – I can’t resist bird pictures. So many birds….all around the world.

Learning Center Classes and Field Excursions — North Cascades Institute – I’m adding this to my list of places to check out when I get round to planning a vacation in the US Pacific Northwest.

Ancient Maya Heritage Comes Alive...With Some Help from Google and the British Museum | Smart News | Smithsonian and the Preserving Maya Heritage Site – Be prepared to spend some time with the second link if you are interested in Mayan culture at all.

The Woman Who Shaped National Geographic – A short biography of Eliza Scidmore….writer and photographer.

Shutdown of coal-fired power plant results in significant fetal health improvement in downwind areas -- ScienceDaily – A study close to home…a power plan in Pennsylvania…the health impact happened down wind of the plant in New Jersey. An example of the need for multi-state studies (and Federal involvement) …and another reason to reduce generation of electricity using coal-fired plants.

NASA Unveils Finalists for Its Next New Frontiers Mission | Smart News | Smithsonian - A mission to Saturn’s moon Titan (from Applied Physics Lab) and a sample-return mission to a comet (from Cornell). Both projects will be funding through the end of 2018…then one will be chosen.

Bees use invisible heat patterns to choose flowers -- ScienceDaily – Heat pattern on such flowers as poppies and daisies can be 4-5 degrees warmer than the rest of the flower!

BBC - Future - Educationism: The hidden bias we often ignore – Some idea on how to improve: acknowledge that bias exists and use assessment as a tool for education (how to improve) rather than for selection. It turns out that many factors beyond an individual’s control can hinder potential.

Tiny red animals dart in the dark under the ice of a frozen Quebec lake -- ScienceDaily – A surprise for winter researchers – previously the assumption was that everything was on hold during the winter.

Five Surprising Ways Your Christmas Tree Can Give Back Long After the Holidays – Cool Green Science – Maybe there are other things to do with a ‘real’ Christmas tree after the holiday.

All Day in a Symposium

Recently I spent a day at a symposium about the War of 1812. It was a learning experience for more than the topic!

I had not sat in an all-day meeting quite this dense with talks since I left my career about 5 years ago…and I was reminded how draining it can be. It is very difficult to be so sedentary for a day (and the chairs were more immediately uncomfortable).  Did I used to just accept this situation as ‘normal’?

I also have assumptions when it comes to food – that containers will be opened/unwrapped, that napkins will be available, that there are some ‘healthy’ choices. Those assumptions turned out to not be correct for the meeting and I realized that my history skews my views of how food is presented as well as the food itself. Maybe 20 years ago I would have accepted that there were no veggies offered…I am more particular now.

On the plus side – the talks were interesting and well presented. I lasted from 9-4 and then was too achy from the length of time in the unpadded chairs to stay for the last 2 hours. It was a day too long for me!

Gleanings of the Week Ending September 16, 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.

Two places to look at bird images: Stunning Winners of the 2017 Bird Photographer of the Year Contest and Top 25 Wild Bird Photographs of the Week #104 – I can’t resist. Birds are such interesting subjects for photography….and challenging enough to engage photographers the world over.

This is how Pittsburgh is taking climate action – Now that my son-in-law is in Pittsburgh for his post doc, I am learning more about the city. It’s moving way beyond its heavy industry history. The Phipps Conservatory was one of the places mentioned in the article as a place that generates all its own energy and treats/reuses all water captured on site! We visited the place last March (see blog post here).

‘Rubber material’ discovered that could lead to scratch-proof paint for car – Wonderful if it can be made available at reasonable cost.

Silicon Valley Courts Brand-Name Teachers, Raising Ethics Issues – School needs to prepare students with skills they will need as they get older….so it can’t stay be anchored in the past. The challenge is to not set a new high-tech anchor that is expensive and potentially a dead end or not very effective. The pace of change that adults and children have in their lives is ramped up; perhaps a life skill we all need it how to cope with that pace of change without being overwhelmed.

How self-driving cars will change the American road trip – I’ve been thinking about this recently and was disappointed in this article in that it hypothesized the cars stopping every 180-200 miles. If I was on a road trip and only stopped every 3 hours or so….I’d be very stiff by the end of the day. Does the author think that the interior of self-driving cars will be different enough that people can somehow move around a bit more rather than just sitting relatively still? What about children and older people that can’t ‘hold it’ for 3 hours? If the cars or autonomous enough – will we be more likely to be traveling through the night and the car just stopping when it needs to for charging with us sleeping through everything?

Exploring Europeana in Czech, Irish, Slovak and Slovenian – One part of my family is Czech so this post caught my attention. I don’t speak the language but I’m interested in the art my ancestors might have seen before they left in the late 1800s.

West Coast Monarch Butterflies Flutter Toward Extinction – The numbers of west coast monarchs have declined by 97% since 1981. Very sad. Monarchs are declining all over the US not just the east coast ones that migrate to Mexico.

We could lessen the toll of hurricanes – but we don’t – A timely article after Harvey and Irma – so much destruction…of places and people’s lives.

New Guide: Energy Efficiency at Home - ASLA has created a new guide to increasing energy efficiency through sustainable residential landscape architecture, which contains research, projects, and resources.

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).

Gleanings of the Week Ending August 5, 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.

Top 25 Wild Bird Photographs of the Week #98 – This set includes a kestrel!

View and Print in 3D more than 200 Objects from the British Museum – If you can’t go to the museum itself, these 3D renderings are the next best thing. And you can look at them whenever you want!

Here are UNESCO’s Newest World Heritage Sites – There are so many unique places to explore.

How a guy from a Montana trailer park overturned 150 years of biology – The researcher that overcame challenges of early life….and figured out that lichen was made of more than a fungus and an alga.

The dizzy history of carousels begins with knights – A little history. I was surprised that it starts with a training game for Arabian and Turkish warriors in the 12 century!

16 best train trips in the world – I’ve never taken an extended train trip…only short ones for fall foliage in Maryland and Pennsylvania – or scenic areas in Arizona. Maybe a train trips will be my substitute for long road trips.

Paul Hawken on One Hundred Solutions to the Climate Crises – Focusing on solutions rather than the problem…of course.

Look Ma, No Break! You’ll Drive Electric Cars with One Pedal – My Prius Prime still has 2 pedals but long term EVs will be changing to 1 pedal to maximize regen breaking…barely using brake pads

These nature photos inspire serious wanderlust – From National Geographic.

Archaeologists discover a ‘Little Pompeii’ in Eastern France -  From the 1st Century AD…abandoned after catastrophic fires….but the excavation will only last until the end of the year before the construction of a housing complex begins.