Gleanings of the Week Ending June 1, 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.

Flu virus' best friend: Low humidity -- ScienceDaily – Yet another reason to have a good humidifier in our homes during the winter.

Top 25 Wild Bird Photographs of the Week: Seabirds – National Geographic Society Newsroom – I saw a few of these during the Cape May trip in May: American Oystercatcher, Northern Gannett, Laughing Gull, and Forster’s Tern.

Novel 5-minute workout improves blood pressure, may boost brain function -- ScienceDaily – Preliminary results….have to wait to see if it holds up. It would be great to have another option than medication (that often has side effects).

More Megalithic Jars Mapped in Laos and A Singular Landscape - Archaeology Magazine – Plain of Jars in Laos. The jars were created 1,500 to 2,500 years ago. Excavations are revealing a bit more about the people that created them.

Common food additive found to affect gut microbiota: Titanium dioxide nanoparticles E171 may impact human health -- ScienceDaily – It’s a whitening agent used in foods and medicines in high quantities. I checked the jar of mayonnaise in my refrigerator and it didn’t list it on the ingredients list but evidently some brands do contain titanium dioxide. Maybe I will cut back on the mayo.

Solar System and Beyond Poster Set | NASA Solar System Exploration - Beautiful posters suitable for printing in 11x17 format.

Ancient Egyptians Enjoyed Sweet Watermelons - Archaeology Magazine – All melons in ancient Africa were not the bitter cucurbitacins found wild in Africa today!

Walnuts may help lower blood pressure for those at risk of heart disease -- ScienceDaily – Walnuts are tasty too.

The Bird Conservation Program You’ve Never Heard Of (And the Birds It Saves) – Cool Green Science – Going beyond the Migratory Bird Treaty Act to improve neotropical habitat the birds require during their annual migrations.

Escaped pet parrots are now naturalized in 23 US states, study finds -- ScienceDaily – 25 species! They are not native to North America, but many are thriving, and those populations become critical to the survival of their species.

Gleanings of the Week Ending May 18, 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.

Beautiful Photos by Manuelo Bececco Captures the Essence of the Forest – Awesome views of the forest…mostly looking upward.

IYPT 2019 Elements 023: Vanadium: Hardened steel and yellow blood | Compound Interest – Vanabins are vanadium-binding proteins that make sea cucumber blood yellow!

Titanium: Sunscreens and space stations | Compound Interest – Lots of makeup and other cosmetics have titanium (for its sunscreen properties) and fighter jets do too!

Marine Viruses Detailed from Pole to Pole | Technology Networks – There are a lot more viruses than previous cataloged in the ocean. The are in roughly 5 groups based on location and depth. The Arctic Ocean has high viral diversity…higher than at the equator.

NASA's Cassini reveals surprises with Titan's lakes -- ScienceDaily – The data from Cassini’s final flyby of Titan in 2017 has revealed that the lakes in its northern hemisphere are more then 300 feet deep and are methane. Lots more science still to come as more analysis of the Cassini data is done.

Could high-flying drones power your home one day? - BBC News – How could this not cause problems with aircraft if it was widespread? Both the drone and the tether could cause problems.

Top 25 Wild Bird Photographs of the Week: Passerines – Always room on the gleanings list for bird photographs!

Four ways to attract birds and butterflies – Native plants, bird bath, brush pile in my yard….3 of 4 is not bad!

Black, Hot Ice May Be Nature’s Most Common Form of Water – Superionic ice – a new kind of ice crystal with the oxygen atoms forming a cubic lattice and the hydrogen atoms flowing like liquid through the rigid cage of oxygens.

We’ll soon know the exact air pollution from every power plant in the world. That’s huge. –It won’t just be regulators and politicians that can see the data…it will be accessible by the public too. It will become a lot clearer to everyone which power plants are negatively impacting air quality.

Gleanings of the Week Ending March 23, 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.

Salt Could Play a Role in Allergies | The Scientist Magazine® - Atopic dermatitis has increased more than 2-fold since the 1970s….and researchers do not attribute the increase to greater awareness or diagnosis. Now comes the observation that people with lesioned skin from atopic dermatitis (but not psoriasis) had a 30-fold higher salt level in their lesions than in their unlesioned skin or skin from healthy controls. The connection to diet is speculative at this point…but we do have higher salt in our diet now that most people had in the 1970s.

In Siberia, Toxic Black Snow Reveals the Toll of Coal Mining | Smart News | Smithsonian – Yuck! Pollutions from open-air coal pits…in the extreme. Another reason, I’m glad we’re moving away from coal powered electricity generation. I wondered if the people living in the area of black snow develop terrible lung problems.  

See the best pictures from Bill Ingalls, NASA's official photographer – 30 years of photography

What makes joints pop and crack and is it a sign of disease? – A little lesson in joint anatomy

Piling Up: How China’s Ban on Importing Waste Has Stalled Global Recycling - Yale E360 – China’s plastic imports have plummeted by 99%, mixed paper has dropped by a 33%. Recycled aluminum and glass are less affected by the ban. So now we are sending plastics to landfills, incinerators or littering the environment. Communities across the US have curtailed or halted their recycling programs. That hasn’t happened (yet) where I live in Maryland. We must learn to produce less recycle (waste) and process it more locally…not ship is someplace else in the world.

Meet the Bizarre American Bittern – Cool Green Science – It’s a type of heron that makes a strange sound (listen to the recording in this post). It is so well camouflaged that you are more likely to hear it than see it!

Photography in The National Parks: Capturing the Grandness of The Grand Tetons – Reminds me that this is a National Park I want to see again. Last time we went, I wasn’t doing any photography yet.

Top 25 Wild Bird Photographs of the Week: Interactions – National Geographic Society – Pictures that are more than just a bird.

Prehistoric Microbes Inhabit an Oasis in the Northern Mexican Desert | The Scientist Magazine® - Fish, diatoms, and bacteria in lagoons in the Chihuahua Desert and cannot be found anywhere else on Earth. More than 5,000 species of bacteria and archaea have been documented.

Owls against owls in a challenge for survival: Researchers forecast interactions between two owl species and the quality of their habitat in the Pacific Northwest -- ScienceDaily – I learned at the Festival of the Cranes (New Mexico) last fall about Barred Owls moving into Northern Spotted Owl (NSO) territory….and winning the competition. That further reduces the NSO populations which is already endangered because of over-logging of the old growth forests.

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 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 October 20, 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.

Tracking exploding ice cracks on Himalayan glaciers - GeoSpace - AGU Blogosphere – Research about the seismic noise of glaciers.

Researchers have discovered how to slow aging: Natural product found to reduce the level of damaged cells in the body, caused by aging -- ScienceDaily – I never know what to think of these early findings…but the logical take away from this one is eat fruits and veggies since that is the source for Fisetin. But – that’s been dietary guidance for a long time.

Belly Fat Has a Role to Play in Fighting Infections | The Scientist Magazine® - Research is yielding some functions of the omentum…but there is still a lot to discover about the role this organ plays in the body.

Recovery: Prairies Under the Sea – Cool Green Science – Eel grass recovery…a success story close to where I live. The success with sea grass restoration in Tampa Bay faced a setback with this year’s red-tide blooms.

Keep your salad greens safe | Berkeley Wellness – I agree with everything except the ‘bag them’ since I am trying not to get any plastic bags at all. I take a bin with me to the grocery store for wet items and use mesh or paper bags for the dry items. And make sure the meats are in a separate bag from my produce at the checkout.

Voyager 2 Detects Hints That Interstellar Space Is Nearby – Launched in 1977, Voyager 2 is getting closer and closer to leaving the solar system.

The Mystery of the Dying Mesquites – Cool Green Science – Unappreciated trees – dying away – and finally noticed. Too late to be saved?

Decades of Trash Burst Out of Yellowstone Geyser | Smart News | Smithsonian – Yuck! Hopefully we are better now at keeping trash out of the geysers.

Top 25 Wild Bird Photographs of the Week: Birds Feeding – National Geographic Blog – So much to like about birds….in every aspect of their lives.

Hurricane Michael Flooding Damage Assessment Images – From NOAA. Use the sliders on the images to look images before and after the Hurricane.

Gleanings of the Week Ending September 29, 2018

The Amazing Ancient Fishes of Africa – Cool Green Science – Lungfish, butterfly fish, bichir, bonytongue…most of them are air breathers!

Thinking beyond yourself can make you more open to healthy lifestyle choices -- ScienceDaily – Maybe we need to psyche ourselves to make better choices!

Japan's Hayabusa2 Spacecraft Successfully Deploys Landers to Asteroid Ryugu's Surface and Bouncing robots land on asteroid 180m miles away amid mission to fetch sample for Earth • The Register  – Exciting stuff from a rover on an asteroid! And the return mission in 2020 will be exciting too.

Molecule with anti-aging effects on vascular system identified -- ScienceDaily – A ketone body was identified that is produced during fasting or calorie restriction. It appears to delay vascular aging.

Free Technology for Teachers: A Good Resource for Learning About the Science of Food – 14 short videos about food research.

Scientists investigate how DEET confuses countless critters -- ScienceDaily – Evidently DEET interferes with organisms’ response to odors thus confusing the organism rather than repelling it!

Top 25 Wild Bird Photographs of the Week: Birds with Yellow Plumage – National Geographic Blog – I always enjoy the bird photographs

BBC - Future - How to use seawater to grow food – in the desert - An experiment in Jordan to farm with solar powered desalination of Red Sea water for greenhouses cooled as part of the desalination process. Jordan currently imports a high percentage of its food…if this type of farming can be cost effective the country might be able to feed itself and even export some foods.

How leaves talk to roots -- ScienceDaily – When I was in college taking biology courses in the 1970s – micro RNA was not in our vocabulary!

Well-Preserved Roman Road Uncovered in the Netherlands - Archaeology Magazine (more details at ) – New finds like this are always a little surprising…things that were there for a very long time but covered over by a few feet of soil.

Gleanings of the Week Ending September 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.

Curiosity rover surveys a mystery under dusty Martian skies -- ScienceDaily – What makes Vera Rubin Ridge so hard?

The Environment's New Clothes: Biodegradable Textiles Grown from Live Organisms - Scientific American – ‘Growing clothes’ that are sustainable – very different form the current fashion industry.

Change your diet to save both water and your health -- ScienceDaily – Research that looked at the water footprint (the volume of freshwater to produce goods) relative to types of diets. It turns out that many of the foods that take a lot of water to produce also are overconsumed – in the EU where the study was done and maybe even mores o in the US.

How the People of Pompeii Really Died - The Atlantic – New technology looked at bones and teeth of the 19th century plaster casts from Pompeii. Two surprises: they had good teeth, and many died of head injures rather than suffocation.

A Great Brown Storm Is Raging on Jupiter – It’s not like the red spot. They come and go and Jupiter. This time NASA’s Juno spacecraft is there to monitor its progress and show more of its structure.

One big reason why women drop out of doctoral STEM programs: The fewer women in entering class, the less likely they'll stay -- ScienceDaily – This study ruled out grades and funding as the main reason….the academic climate for women is not only harder to measure, it’s also harder to change.

First evidence that soot from polluted air is reaching placenta -- ScienceDaily – There is a health cost for burning fossil fuels…and it begins to impact us before we are born. Previous research had linked air pollution with premature birth, low birth weight, infant mortality, and childhood respiratory problems. This research was focused on determining if the particles in the lung – breathed by the mother -  can circulate through the blood to the placenta.

Top 25 Wild Bird Photographs of the Week: Gamebirds – National Geographic – Peacocks are considered game birds!

Total of 21 new parasitoid wasps following the first ever revision of their genus -- ScienceDaily – The first revision since 1893…and using specimens from 20 natural history museums.

Something Blue | The Prairie Ecologist – Blue sage…insect magnet.

Gleanings of the Week Ending July 7, 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.

BBC - Future - How we could survive on an asteroid – Harder than colonizing a planet…but mining asteroids from a colony on the moon or mars might be more feasible. Interesting to think about; it’s not full out science fiction at this point.

Stunning Data From The Bottom of the World: Antarctic Ice Loss Triples - Dan's Wild Wild Science Journal - AGU Blogosphere – The melting is mostly from warmer ocean waters melting submerged glaciers that have moved into the ocean.

Take a 3D Tour Through Frank Lloyd Wright's Taliesin West | Smart News | Smithsonian – I always like to see an article a place that I have visited…savor the memory. This post includes the link to the 3dlab site…lots of room to explore in a way that is the next best think to being there.

Illnesses from Mosquitoes and Ticks on the Rise | Berkeley Wellness – In our area Lyme disease (from ticks) is the one we worry about the most but there might be others that are going to become more problematic. Maryland has more mosquitos that usual right now…unpleasant and maybe unhealthy.

Red Meat Allergies Caused by Tick Bites are on the Rise – Aargh! I hadn’t heard of this one before.

Feeding the gods: Hundreds of skulls reveal massive scale of human sacrifice in Aztec capital | Science | AAAS – A short video and article about structures recently excavated that include skulls of human sacrifice victims as described by Spanish conquistadors.

China’s Plastic Ban Will Flood Us with Trash | Smart News | Smithsonian – Now that China isn’t accepting the plastic we throw in recycling – where is it going? Are our landfills going to be even more massive? Ideally recycling would get better (and done closer to where the material entered the system) rather than worse.

Petrified Forest National Park Becomes World’s Newest International Dark Sky Park – I’ve visited this park several times…and now it’s a dark sky site. It’s a long way from Maryland but maybe we’ll eventually get there for a star party!

Why Europe’s astronauts are learning Chinese – China is taking the steps to be the third big player in space….and Europe is planning to cooperate with them just as it does with the US and Russia.

Gleanings of the Week Ending June 16, 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.

Reading habits in the past | Europeana Blog – When I travel, I tend to do most of my reading on my phone (light weight, easy to carry, and ambient light does not have to be good). It’s a recent development for me. This blog post goes back further in history.

Man against machine: AI is better than dermatologists at diagnosing skin cancer -- ScienceDaily – There are still limitations to the AI but it might be close to a tipping point to begin transitioning into system. It seems like it would be most in demand for screening where there were not highly trained dermatologists available….as long as the imaging technology was not tremendously expensive or hard to use.

BBC - Future - Is it really healthier to live in the countryside? – I thought it would be…but it’s complicated because so many factors contribute to ‘health.’

Mapping Modern Threats to Ancient Chacoan Sites : Image of the Day – Posts about places I’ve visited always get my attention. A study using satellite data and projections for population growth/oil and gas exploration in the area shows that 44 of the 123 known Chaco sites included in the study are threatened by development. Of those, 19 are already protected by the National Park Service.

Paper Art Details Similarities Between Human Microbiome and Coral Reef – Nature inspired art!

Researchers Grow Veggies in Space | The Scientist Magazine® - Progress in a technology required for longer space missions…and then colonies on other planets.

Schoolyard Habitats Provide Resiliency in Houston Independent School District : The National Wildlife Federation Blog – Schools in Maryland have similar projects. I hope the monarchs have shown up in Houston…I haven’t seen any in Maryland yet this year.

US Still Subsidizing Fossil Fuels To Tune Of $27 Billion | CleanTechnica – This post included more detail on what subsidies are…how the US compares to other developed countries.

Thank A Rare Fungus For The Sustainable Solar Cell Of The Future | CleanTechnica – It’s a beautiful color…if it really works, it won’t be ‘rare’ for long. It will be come a commercially grown fungus!

Bright warning colors on poison dart frogs also act as camouflage -- ScienceDaily – Learning a bit more about these little frogs.

Gleanings of the Week Ending June 9, 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.

Monument Valley: An Icon of American West : Image of the Day – It’s interesting to see a place I’ve been (on the ground) from a different perspective.

How to Be Happy: A Cheat Sheet – A summary of a course on the topic from Yale.

Biologist advocates ecological approach to improving human health -- ScienceDaily – Thinking about the body (particularly the gut) as an ecosystem in need of restoration!

Compound Interest - Why is milk white? The chemistry of milk – The white is from the clusters of proteins and calcium that make up ‘micelles’!

Top 25: Birds of America – National Geographic Blog – How many of these birds do you recognize? I recognized almost all of them…and have seen at least 20 in the wild!

Colorful Architectural Watercolors of International Cities by Maja Wroń – Some are easier to recognize that others. I liked the vivid colors too.

Supermarket Buying Guide | Berkeley Wellness – A guide from 2013…but still good overall.

Lighting intervention improves sleep and mood for Alzheimer’s patients: Daytime light exposure decreases sleep disturbances, depression and agitation -- ScienceDaily – I wonder if this is not true for almost everyone…not just Alzheimer’s patients. Artificial light (and computer/tablet/phone screens) are disruptive to our circadian rhythm.

Majority of Americans Believe Space Exploration Remains Essential | Pew Research Center – Hurray! The result that surprised me the most in this survey, was that ‘monitor key parts of the Earth’s climate system’ was the top priority!

Photographer Captures the Enchanting Beauty of Mount Fuji at Dawn – I expected more sunrise color…but enjoyed the artistry behind these images more than I initially thought I would.

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.

Ten Little Celebrations – February 2018

February 2018 has been busier than usual for me than in previous years since ‘graduation’ from my career (that does sound better than ‘retirement’!). The activity that caused that was the day long HoLLIE (Howard County Legacy Leadership Institute for the Environment) classes once a week. I celebrated 1) after the first one – realizing what a rich learning experience the institute was going to be – and after 2) after the second week when we are at Goddard learning about how and what satellites help us understand the Earth…and having the serendipity add on to the class seeing the big rock with dinosaur and early mammal tracks. I could have counted all 4 days as ‘celebrations’ but decided to choose some other items to add variety to this post.


I celebrated seeing 3) 2 kinds of woodpeckers within about 10 minutes from my office window: pileated and downy and 4) the springtime tussling of male cardinals in the maple tree while the female looked on and stayed out of the way (a sign that winter in waning already).

The old crock pot being replaced by 5) an Instant Pot was a little celebration (because of immediate success using it) and continuing.

Usually I don’t find anything to celebrate in the news…but the 6) successful launch of the Falcon Heavy was something to celebrate. It’s great that there is a heavy lift capability available - a capability we need to further our exploration of space.

Several things came together this month – focusing my attention on how much I’ve enjoyed being a 7) Maryland Master Naturalist…I celebrated the 4-year journey.

I vicariously shared some of my daughter’s experiences this month – 8) celebrating her post doc – teaching – and ‘what next’ search. It’s invigorating to understand how full her life is --- how much we still share so easily.

The weather after mid-month has turned very mild here in Maryland. Earlier I celebrated 9) enough snow to be pretty and that I had 10) no commitments and could stay home on the day it turned icy.

HoLLIE – week 2

The second HoLLIE (Howard County Legacy Leadership for the Environment) class day was last week and it was held at NASA Goddard. I was worried about hitting rush hour traffic so left very early since we were to meet in the Goddard Visitor Center parking lot to catch the bus into the facility. The day was sunny and clear…but very cold and breezy. I managed to take this picture of the visitor center (not yet open) without getting out of my car!


The theme for the day was “what informed citizens need to know about earth systems science.” It was the first of two days that our classes will be at Goddard; last week we started with lectures on “understanding the tools and the state of the art in earth science” from the Project Scientist for the AQUA satellite and then got a tour of mission control for several earth science satellites from the Aqua Mission Director. They did a good job of demonstrating the types of data that can be collected, the methods used to collect it, and the ways it has been analyzed. I was surprised to see the LRO (Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter) mission control in the same building. That brought back the memory of my daughter being on the team to do image calibration shortly after it launched during her undergraduate days!


On the way back to our classroom, we stopped by the replica of the big rock found at Goddard that has mammal and dinosaur and mammal tracks. This was not on our agenda originally but was a wonderful serendipity aspect to the day even if it took part of our lunch time. I’d read about it in one of my news feeds and followed the link to the paper…but it was such a thrill to see the exhibit and hear the short lecture. I managed to take a few pictures.

We started the lectures on ‘understanding the science of earth’s cycles’ that will continue in this week’s class. We talked about the oceans and the carbon system in this second class. One of the interesting videos in the lectures is available online: twenty years of global biosphere data mapped on a slowly spinning globe; it easy to see the annual cycles. With the massive amounts of data, visualization becomes an important component.


When I got home an article in one of my newsfeeds talked about climate models that are developing that explain why there might be a linkage between melting of Arctic sea ice (one of the topics for the HoLLIE lectures this week) and droughts in California (How nuclear weapons research revealed new climate threats). It was easier to understand since I had the background of the lectures!

Previous HoLLIE posts: Week 1

Gleanings of the Week Ending December 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.

Free Technology for Teachers: Resources to Learn About Outer Space – Good resources – for more than teaches!

When They Said They Wanted to Rethink Agriculture, They Meant It – Cool Green Science – Developing ways to feed more people with less water and without expanding the area we already use for agriculture….crop redistribution to maximize food production with rainfall rather than irrigation may be part of the solution.

Image of the Day: The Last Sloth | The Scientist Magazine® - Taking a closer look at the Caribbean Islands where then end of the ice age and the arrival of humans were 1,000s of years apart. There were two waves of extinction induced by human arrival: the first about 5,000 years ago when humans first arrived (ground sloth extinction) and the second around 1492 when Columbus arrived (smaller animals extinction).

Ah-Choo! 11 Fun Facts About Sneezing | Berkeley Wellness – No – your heart does not stop!

Large decrease in age-related macular degeneration in baby boomers compared to previous generations -- ScienceDaily – Positive news…but it was a small study and the participants were mostly non-Hispanic white individuals…and there is no information about why the decrease happened. Hope it holds for my family. My grandmother was blind by the time she died in her 90s…from macular degeneration.

New Science Shows Nature’s Potential to Fight Climate Change – Cool Green Science – Finding natural solutions to fight climate change. Reforestation has the highest potential!

Midwifery care at hospitals is associated with fewer medical interventions -- ScienceDaily – enhancing perinatal car and lowering costs for low-risk pregnancies…what’s not to like!

Top 25 Wild Bird Photographs of the Week #115 and #116 – Birds and more birds!

Making it easier to recycle plastics: Emerging technologies could greatly reduce plastic waste -- ScienceDaily – Only 9% of plastics are recycled in the US…not good.

How did Ammonite fossils form? – The chemistry of ammonite fossil formation

Gleanings of the Week Ending November 25, 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.

Millions of Free Botanical Illustrations from the Biodiversity Heritage Library – I look at a lot of books digitized by the Biodiversity Heritage Library via Internet Archive – but their Flickr Account is a good way to see images – lots of them. And it isn’t just botanical. There are birds and insects and mammals and people that study them!

Gorging on Top 25 Wild Bird Photographs of the Week #112, #113, #114 - Three of them!

The Ultimate Guide to the Wild Turkey and The Fascinating Behavior of Wild Turkeys and Tracing the Wild Origins of the Domestic Turkey – Lots of articles about wild turkeys came out before Thanksgiving. These were my favorites.

BBC - Future - How popcorn became a much-loved snack – Learn a little fun history. Who doesn’t like popcorn?

A Short History of the Crosswalk | Smart News | Smithsonian – Another little history of something that is now quite common. Crosswalks didn’t exist until 1951!

Best National Parks – There are a lot of preferences! How many of the 10 ‘most visited’ have you seen. I’ve been to 7 of them. I’ve only been to 1 of the ‘least visited.’

Urban Refuge: How Cities Can Help Rebuild Declining Bee Populations - Yale E360 – Some examples of how urban gardens impact bee populations; it turns out they are measurably positive! 13% of New York State’s bees were found in New York City community gardens.

Paper Engineer Creates Magnificent Pop-Up Cards – Beautiful and fun to watch opening (i.e. the video).

Stunning 100-Megapixel Moon Photograph Created from NASA Images – From the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter…my daughter helped do the initial image calibration on LRO bak in 2009

See a Brilliant Blue Butterfly Take Flight for the First Time – A video of a blue morpho butterfly emerging from its chrysalis and tumbling to its first flight (it may take time to start…but it’s worth the wait!

Gleanings of the Week Ending November 11, 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.

Water striders illustrate evolutionary processes -- ScienceDaily – Water striders are one of the favorite of elementary school aged students on field trip hikes…next time I’ll have them look for ‘fans’ on the tips of their legs!

New Google Maps Feature Lets You Explore Planetary Maps – Google maps going outside of this world!

Virtual Library Card Gives Access to 2,000 Architecture Books Online – There are a lot of books on Internet Archive that are new enough to still be under copyright protection…but they are available for checkout modeled like physical libraries. This article points to the architecture books; there are other topics as well.

Why we still don’t understand sleep, and why it matters | Mosaic – Nacrolepsy…what has been discovered…but there is still happy ending for people with narcolepsy.

Photographer Captures the Beauty of Colorful Birds in a Series of Portraits – Pigeons, doves and cockatoos…what a trio!

(Some) Birds of the Pantanal – National Geographic Society – More birds. Couldn’t resist.

The History of Mincemeat Pies, from the Crusades to Christmas | Smart News | Smithsonian – A little history as we get closer to the winter holiday season.

Blood test can effectively rule out breast cancer, regardless of breast density: With over a 99 percent negative predictive value, a liquid biopsy test can help clinicians manage difficult-to-diagnose dense breast patients -- ScienceDaily – Hope this reduces the need for biopsies…and can be scheduled/processed more rapidly.

BBC - Future - An eco-friendly way to make smartphones – We have a long way to go to make smartphones in an eco-friendly way. The title of this article seemed hopeful but by the end, I was not sure that eco-friendly was motivating anything. Taking away China’s dominance of rare earth element production seemed the primary focus.

Transparent solar technology represents ‘wave of the future’ -- ScienceDaily – Wouldn’t it be nice?

Gleanings of the Week Ending September 23, 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.

Celebrate Cassini’s Historic Voyage in Eight Incredible Images | Smart News | Smithsonian – Cassini has crashed into Saturn’s atmosphere (intentionally) and there have been quite a few retrospective articles about its long mission. I liked this one…so am including in the gleanings for this week.

Eighteenth century nautical charts reveal coral loss -- ScienceDaily – The study compared the coral documented in the Florida Keys in nautical charts from the 1770s to satellite data. More than half the coral reef has disappeared completely. Nearer to land, the loss is closer to 90%.

What We Still Don’t Know about the Health Benefits of Nature – THE DIRT – I noticed this article first because the picture under the heading is of Klyde Warren Park in Dallas (I visited there several years ago and enjoyed it) but thin the article was worth looking at too. It defines some priorities for research to understand the health benefits of nature better although most people already agree that is it beneficial…but how exactly does it happen. Some doctors are already prescribing time in the park!

North American Ash on Brink of Extinction | The Scientist Magazine® - In Maryland many of the Ash Trees are already dead or dying. Very sad.

Top 25 Wild Bird Photographs of the Week #105 – National Geographic Society – There’s an Eastern Bluebird toward the middle of this collection….perched a little differently than I usually see them.

A Monumental Road Trip in Northern Arizona - National Parks Traveler – I’ve been to most of these places…..and enjoyed them all.

BBC - Future - How we’re creating ‘super plants’ to help humanity – The article highlights 4 ideas: cross-breeding super plants, using plants as medicine, bananas on steroids, and fire-fighting plants.

Learn How to Create Zentangle Art, a Meditative Form of Drawing – This article is about doing Zentangles (drawing patterns) rather than buying an adult coloring book. I started doing doodles and graduated to Zentangles and never was tempted by the ‘coloring book’ craze.

Ruins of a Roman City Found Off the Coast of Tunisia | Smart News | Smithsonian – The area of ancient Neapolis is off the coast of Tunisia. It was destroyed by a tsunami in 365 AD.

Why are fossilized hairs so rare? -- ScienceDaily – Evidently, fossilized hair is 5 times rarer than feathers.  Chemistry? Environmental conditions? The research includes statistical analysis of where hair and feathers have been found in the fossil record and make some predictions about where and how to look for them going forward.

Gleanings of the Week Ending August 26, 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 #101 and #102 – 50 bird pictures this week! My favorite in the first group is the barn owl (and the other owls in this group). My favorite in the second group are the two pictures of spotted owlets! --- I am drawn to owls this week for some reason.

Voyager: Inside the world’s greatest space mission – The two Voyager space craft were launched in 1977…and are both sending back messages to earth.

Trees with ‘crown shyness’ mysteriously avoid touching each other – I haven’t observed this phenomenon in our Maryland forests…but now when I am in a forest, I’ll always look for it!

Time Spent – Who Americans spend their time with (from Richard Watson’s blog). It changes with age. The last chart shows that as we get older we spend more and more time alone.

Air pollutions ranking in 32 cities –  LA ranks 24; Washington DC, San Francisco and New York are 26-28; Boston is 31. Delhi, Beijing, and Cairo are the top three.

Trees and shrubs offer new food crops to diversity the farm – Ongoing research from the University of Illinois trying to mimic the habitat features, carbon storage, and nutrient-holding capacities of a natural system with a farming method that incorporates berry and nut bearing shrubs/trees with alley cropping (hay or row crops)….to be economically and environmentally sound.

AWEA releases map of every wind farm and factory in America – There is a link to the interactive map. The red diamonds are manufactures and the blue dots are the wind farms themselves. It’s easy to see that manufactures happens a lot in areas other than where the wind farms are located….that the center of the country has a lot of installed wind turbines! We saw some of them in Iowa on our way to and from the solar eclipse last Monday.

Diversity Lacking in US Academia: Study – Under-representation of African Americans, Hispanics, and women in STEM faculties at public universities. There is a similar lack of diversity in PhD programs. On a positive note: the assistant professor is more diverse (more Asians, Hispanics and women) that the associate or full professor rank.  Unfortunately, this positive finding is not true for African Americans. Overall – still a challenge….and it impacts the broader labor market as well.

More than 300,000 Atlantic Salmon Spill into Pacific – Oh no! Hopefully this is not catastrophic in the long run. But – Why are they growing Atlantic salmon in pens in Puget Sound anyway?

Thanks to Co-op, Small Iowa Town Goes Big on Solar – Kalona, Iowa – not far from our route to the eclipse! It comes down to local self-reliance and economic development that made sense for this small town. Somehow a pointer to this article (from last February) was in a blog post I looked at when I returned home and I noticed where the town was…small world.