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 May 11, 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.

Epic Proportions - Archaeology Magazine – Standard measures of Stonehenge and other Neolithic monuments?

Potassium: Soaps and radioactive bananas | Compound Interest – Potassium regulates blood pressure and transmission of nerve impulses in our bodies!

Colorful Birds  and Terrestrial birds – From the National Geographic Society. Still catching up on the backlog. I enjoy birding – and seeing birds in action…and photographs of birds taken by others. That’s why these photographic collections show up on my gleanings list.

BBC - Future - The princess who transformed war medicine – A little medical history not widely known from the early 1900s.

Ancient secrets of medicinal mint -- ScienceDaily – There are so many members of the mint family. This article is about the DNA sequencing from a plant…learning how to more rapidly tap the therapeutic benefits of that plant and the mint family at large.

Four Out of 10 Americans Breathe Unhealthy Air - Yale E360 – That’s 141 million people…up 7 million since last year….partly due to impacts of climate change on air quality. So – we need to find ways to clean up air better than we do now either by reducing emissions or cleaning them out once they are produced.

Aging gracefully: Study identifies factors for healthy memory at any age -- ScienceDaily – The good news is that some of the factors are things we can control - engaging in more social activities, more novel cognitive activities, losing excess weight, and living with others.

What is a Naturalized Outdoor Learning Environment? -The National Wildlife Federation Blog – Early Childhood Health Outdoors (ECHO) program….daily access to the outdoors for young children. When I was growing up, we were outdoors most days but that is not happening consistently these days. I applaud the initiatives that are honing ways to get children outdoors more.

Your Questions About Food and Climate Change, Answered - The New York Times – A hefty article on the topic…with pull down details.

Medical guidelines may be biased, overly aggressive in US -- ScienceDaily – Thought provoking. How is a patient to know when a doctor recommends a test or procedure that it is truly in the best interest of the patient when the doctor has a financial interest in the recommendation, or the doctor is so specialized that they always think their specialty is the best solution?

Gleanings of the Gleanings of the Week Ending April 27, 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.

Berkeley Soda Tax, 3 Years In: What New Research Shows About Its Effectiveness | Berkeley Wellness - Consumption of sugary drinks has fallen by half in low-income areas of Berkeley, California.

The Real Reason You See Earthworms After Rain – Cool Green Science – There could be multiple reasons. Maybe they are moving to new territory while the surface is wet, and they won’t become dehydrated. Or maybe they want the extra oxygen that is at the surface.

Exploring The Parks: Great Sand Dunes National Park And Preserve – It’s been a long time since I have been to this park…and we didn’t explore it thoroughly when we were there. Maybe time to plan another trip.

Image of the Day: Pretty Jellies | The Scientist Magazine® - Genetic comparisons of jellyfish types

These Cities Are the Most Dangerous for Migrating Birds | Smart News | Smithsonian – Chicago, Dallas, and Houston….an area that Texas would probably prefer to not be at the top. Maybe the “Lights Out” trend with help.

Washington Monument Opening Pushed Back To August Due To Contaminated Soil – I was surprised when I saw this headline because I didn’t even know is was closed! The soil is below the surface and probably from the 1880s.

Allergy Season Is Getting Longer and Nastier Each Year | Smart News | Smithsonian – It’s happened gradually but the length of allergy season and the amount of pollen has been increasing over the past 20 years. There are new treatments for those suffering enough to go to allergists - many allergists are prescribing immunotherapy tablets for people suffering from grass pollen, dust mite or ragweed allergies.

Scientists Say They Have Found a Viable Replacement for Petroleum-Based Plastic - Yale E360 – Plant based material that has the strength and aesthetics…suitable for food packaging. The research described in the article is from Ohio State but there are probably others working on the problem too. If a replacement for petroleum-based plastic can be found it would make it much easier to ‘go green.’

BBC - Future - How air pollution is doing more than killing us and Air Pollution Increases ER Visits — Largest US Study On The Topic Confirms It | CleanTechnica – Lots of public health issues being studied in light of air pollution….and the findings are concerning. The linkage to things like asthma has long been discussed but now there are more details and more negative impacts of air pollution on health being identified.  Emerging studies show that air pollution is linked to impaired judgement, mental health problems, poorer performance in school and most worryingly perhaps, higher levels of crime.

#IYPT2019 – What elements do you need to live? – in C&EN | Compound Interest – An infographic to answer the question.

Gleanings of the Week Ending April 20, 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.

People who feed birds impact conservation -- ScienceDaily – A study of the impact people have on birds….and the impact feeding birds has on the people!

Bird Species Impacted By Cutthroat Declines At Yellowstone – Colonial water birds have declined as the lake trout have increased (and cutthroat trout had decreased) in Yellowstone Lake. There could be other reasons for the decline of the pelicans, Caspian terns, and cormorants….more study needed.

Medicinal Uses of Mint: IBS, Itching, Nausea, and More | Berkeley Wellness - Human studies of peppermint in enteric-coated capsule form….confirming some of the benefits of peppermint oil. I like the peppermint flavor…so like fresh mint in salads and hot/cold water…the smell and the flavor are wonderful, so the other positive actions mint may have are just ‘icing’ on an already appreciated cake.

In ancient oceans that resembled our own, oxygen loss triggered mass extinction -- ScienceDaily – Oceans are big but they have reached tipping points in the past. This study looks closely at the Silurian Period…the conditions then and what happened with those conditions…making comparisons to the oceans of today.

What An Aging Population Means For The Future Of The Internet – The average age in many countries is trending older…how does that trend ripple into how the internet is used/misused?

Deciphering the walnut genome: Findings could lead to new walnut varieties -- ScienceDaily – Creating hybrids of English walnuts (the most widely sold form of walnuts sold in the US for human consumption) with native Texas Black Walnuts that have better resistance to soil borne pathogens currently impacting the crop.

Why Is Cancer More Common in Men Than in Women? | The Scientist Magazine® - Studying cancer-linked cellular differences between males and females.

Çatalhöyük, Turkey's Stone Age settlement that took the first steps toward city life – Only 4% of the site has been excavated….still a lot to learn.

To build the cities of the future, we must get out of our cars – Letting nature into the core of the city.

A Colonial-Era Cemetery Resurfaces in Philadelphia - The New York Times – Teasing out the history from remains of a cemetery that was supposed to have be moved years ago…but maybe wasn’t entirely.

Gleanings of the Week Ending April 13, 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.

Coconut Spice Cake Recipe | Magnolia Days – The cake I made for my husband’s birthday. It tasted great even without icing!

Photographer Captures Stunning Images of Ice Shards Along Lake Michigan | Smart News | Smithsonian – Spectacular ice forms – made during the breaking up on Lake Michigan a few weeks ago.

Ancient Caribbean children helped with grocery shopping in AD 400 -- ScienceDaily – Snail and clam shells (small ones) might be from child, rather than adult, foragers!

Thousands of Invasive Cane Toads Overtake Florida Community | Smart News | Smithsonian – Ugh! Not something people want in their yards and pools and driveways. These toads have a toxin strong enough to kill cats and dogs that munch on toads and can cause burning eyes or skin irritation in humans.

Top 25 Wild Bird Photographs of the Week: March – National Geographic Society – Beautiful birds….changing environments and habitats.

Where Have All the House Sparrows Gone? – Cool Green Science – House sparrow numbers have been declining since 1966 – all around the world!

66-million-year-old deathbed linked to dinosaur-killing meteor -- ScienceDaily – Fossils of animals killed and buried within an hour of the meteor impact!

Pairing Geothermal Plus Rooftop Solar For A Truly Renewable Home | CleanTechnica – At what point will the idea of geothermal heating and cooling catch up with rooftop solar for our homes? Will Dandelion – or comparable companies - become nationwide?

Five new frog species from Madagascar -- ScienceDaily – Some tiny new frogs. The smallest is only a little larger than a grain of rice.

These pictures of seed bank samples turn biology into art – The beauty of seeds. The first photograph (of Australian windflower flower heads is my favorite. The x-ray of a red yucca seed head is also interesting….showing the 3D of the pod in the image.

Gleanings of the Week Ending April 6, 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.

BBC - Future - What happens when we run out of food? – Even in the US, nearly 12% of households re classed as being food insecure; more than 6.5 million children go without adequate food. And the whole food system can be disrupted very easily by war and very bad government all around the world.

Refugee women have healthier pregnancies than US women -- why? An unhealthy US culture: For African refugee women, acculturation may negatively impact health -- ScienceDaily – I was surprised that the researchers did not explore the idea that maybe the value of early pre-natal care is overrated for people that are generally healthy when they get pregnant since the refugee women tended to not start pre-natal care until their 2nd trimester.

Top 25 Wild Bird Photographs of the Week: Migration – National Geographic Society  - Birds are migrating through our area…we’re seeing more robins…and the juncos will leave soon to go further north. These pictures feature birds from around the world…that are migrating.

Hospital disinfectants should be regulated like antibiotics new study suggests – It’s not just antibiotics that drive antimicrobial resistance…it’s disinfectants (particularly in hospitals) too.

BBC - Future - The unexpected magic of mushrooms – New items made from fungus...replacing some kinds of plastics. It’s good that fungi are so plentiful on the planet – exceeding the biomass of all animals.

An Island Apart – Acadia National Park’s Isle ad Haut. A very different experience from Mount Desert Island

Beautiful cherry blossoms photos – Our cherry tree is in bloom right now. I guess cherry trees are enjoyed around the world very year about this time. There is a picture of the cherry trees around the tidal basin in Washington DC included in the pictures.

Green tea cuts obesity, health risks in mice: Follow-up study in people underway -- ScienceDaily – More research needed…. but I am enjoying green tea already (my favorite is a blend with mint).

Make A Home for Wildlife – Cool Green Science – Some ideas for creating an oasis for wildlife --- it doesn’t take much to help pollinators or birds!

Why did Flamingos flock to Mumbai in record numbers this winter? – 120,000 flamingoes…that’s a lot of birds!

Gleanings of the Week Ending March 30, 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.

Spring Outlook: Historic, widespread flooding to continue through May | National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration – Check out the map about 1/3 of the way through the article. It looks like quite a few areas along the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers are going to have moderate or major flooding through May. Almost the whole eastern part of the US is going to have some flooding during that period.

How Chromosomes X and Y Got Their Names, 1891 | The Scientist Magazine® - A little history. It all begins in the late 1800s.

C. R. PERCIVAL’S MICROSCOPE SLIDE COLLECTION | Ingenium – Browse through some of the images made of slides created in the early/mid 1900s. Click on the larger image to get a magnifier that can be moved over the image.

Food Trends 2019: Fermented Foods, Blueberries, Coconut Products, and More | Berkeley Wellness – How many of these are you already eating?

What oil leaves behind in 2.5 billion gallons of water every day in US -- ScienceDaily – Wouldn’t it be nice to not have oil polluted water injected underground…and sometimes into aquafers? Water is already in short supply in some areas of the country (mostly in the west). We need technologies to never contaminate water in a way that it cannot be consumed by plants and animals…and ourselves.

In Germany, Consumers Embrace a Shift to Home Batteries - Yale E360 – Half of the orders for rooftop solar panels are sold with a battery storage system too in Germany. I wonder when the US will catch up.

Butterfly numbers down by two thirds: High-intensity agriculture reduces number of butterfly species in adjacent areas -- ScienceDaily – It’s not just butterfly numbers that are down either. Agriculture research needs to hone practices that are productive in the short term…and the long term. In other words – all agriculture needs to become sustainable for humanity and the rest of the organisms that inhabit the Earth.

Nitrogen pollution's path to streams weaves through more forests (and faster) than suspected -- ScienceDaily – Nitrate is one of the abiotic tests we do for water quality assessment with high school students. This is a new finding to think about and incorporate in to the analysis of readings after heavy rains. The nitrogen might be moving so fast that the forest can’t absorb it!

Missouri Making Hyperloop Plans - News | Planetizen – A hyperloop between Kansas City and St. Louis! What a boon to the two cities and probably easier to build since there is not the heavy population between the two cities like the route that was originally talked about in California.

China Isn't Recycling Tons of U.S. Plastic Trash Anymore: Goats and Soda: NPR – We’re going to have to show some innovation in dealing with plastics – mostly single use – that we dutifully put in our recycle bins and assumed they would be recycled. Now a lot of them are going to landfills or polluting our waterways.  With a little thought, my family has reduced some….but the next step is tough. Some products we need are only available packaged in plastic.

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 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 March 9, 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: January and Top 25 Wild Bird Photographs of the Week: February and Top 25 Wild Bird Photographs of the Week: Feathers and Top 25 Wild Bird Photographs of the Week: Forest Birds – From National Geographic. There are multiples this week since I seemed to have a backlog in my gleanings holding area. Enjoy the colorful, graceful images.

'Upcycling' plastic bottles could give them a more useful second life -- ScienceDaily – Now that many countries that used to take our recycle waste have stopped accepting it, we are suddenly facing the problem of what to do with ‘recyclables’ closer to home. Making materials that have higher value is one way to keep more of it from ending up in landfills.

Soundscapes of Arizona’s Aravaipa Canyon – Cool Green Science – Listen to some nature audio…if it’s too cold to get outside and into the wild right now! These would make great backdrops to a meditation practice.

Image of the Day: Prickly Legs | The Scientist Magazine® - Froghoppers gain traction for jumping by piercing plant surfaces with their spiny legs! (Note: froghopper nymphs are spittlebugs!)

Photography in The National Parks: A Winter Shutdown Stay in Olympic National Park – I want to go! This is a national park I haven’t visited.

What kind of bug is a bug? | The Prairie Ecologist – A little entomology lesson.

Alaska in Flux: Slumping Coastlines – A comparison of a coastline between 1992 and 2018 …showing land slumping in to the Beaufort Sea. An airport is closer to the water now than in 1992.There is also a map showing that quite a bit of Alaska is wetter that is was in 1984. Lots of changes in the Alaska land.

Work Underway to Return the Shine to Thomas Jefferson Memorial – The Jefferson Memorial is probably my favorite in DC. I’m glad it’s getting the renovation it needs to look good into the future.

14 keys to a healthy diet | Berkeley Wellness – A little update based on most recent recommendations (for example, dietary cholesterol is not something to worry about since it has little effect on most people’s blood cholesterol).

Infographic: How Ginger Remodels the Microbiome | The Scientist Magazine® - I like ginger and am including it more consistently in my diet. It’s another food to boost gut health!

Gleanings of the Week Ending February 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.

BBC - Future - A high-carb diet may explain why Okinawans live so long – I was surprised that sweet potatoes played a significant role in their diet.

Photo of the Week – January 18, 2019 | The Prairie Ecologist – Ice crystals on plants and barbed wire….winter photography.

Top 25 Wild Bird Photographs of the Week: Birds Using Rivers and Lakes  and Top 25 Wild Bird Photographs of the Week: Parrots (both from the National Geographic Society Newsroom) – I’m doing a bit of catching up on the Top 25 bird posts. I always enjoy these photographic series.

A Mysterious Disease Is Killing Beech Trees | The Scientist Magazine® - Beech Leaf Disease…first spotted in Ohio in 2012 and expanding since then. It appears to be an infectious disease but the causal agent hasn’t been determined and there is no treatment yet. We have a lot of beech trees in Maryland’s forests. We lost the hemlocks and ashes….and years before the chestnuts. Each loss changes the forest.

The microbes that help make you and me and  BBC - What we do and don’t know about gut health and  Is it worth taking probiotics after antibiotics?  and How dirty air could be affecting our gut health and How to eat your way to a healthy gut – A series from BBC- Future. It seems like a lot of people could feel better if we knew more about how to keep (or regain) a healthy gut.

See the microscopic wonders of herbs – Scanning Electron Microscope images of herbs – the beauty of  plants with such distinct smells and flavors.

New wisdom about high cholesterol treatment for adults aged 80 and older -- ScienceDaily – So many of the medical guidelines were developed with trials including younger people…and the assumption was made that it would be the same for older people. But now more people are living past 80 and it’s becoming clearer that it is not always the case.

See what your ZIP code says about you using Esri's ZIP lookup tool - Business Insider – The link is at the bottom of the article. I looked at places I am familiar with and it seemed about right. This would be an interesting tool to use if you were moving to a new area…provide a different perspective to your home search.

The Hidden Environmental Toll of Mining the World’s Sand - Yale E360 – Sand is needed for concrete…and a lot of building going on in the world. The problem of extreme mining in rivers and estuaries is increasing.

BBC - Future - The natural products that could replace plastic – Can any of these happen fast enough to stop – or even reduce - the flow of plastics into our rivers and oceans and landfills?

Gleanings of the Week Ending January 26, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gleanings of the Week Ending December 29, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

YE Thinking: Reducing Plastic

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gleanings of the Week Ending December 1, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hiking with 4th Graders at Belmont

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

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

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

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

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

Gleanings of the Week Ending 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 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.

Gleanings of the Week Ending August 25, 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 that Scavenge – National Geographic and Top 25 Grassland Birds – National Geographic – There have been a couple of ’25 birds’ posts since I last included them in the gleanings list…I am catching up.

Image of the Day: Slimy Business | The Scientist Magazine® - Corn species in Mexico that can trap nitrogen…maybe it can be incorporated into the corn that dominates agriculture; that would reduce the amount of fertilizer required for the crop.

BBC - Future - The simple change that can save patients’ lives – Finally – there is more attention being paid to reducing noise (so many beeps and alarms) in hospitals. I’ve always wondered how they thought anyone could rest enough to recover in the hospital environment. Hopefully lighting will get some attention too….move away from the current dominance of blue tinged light for all times of the day and night.

Maple leaf extract could nip skin wrinkles in the bud -- ScienceDaily – The article contained relatively little information maybe because there is a patent pending on the formulation. There will probably be I have a red maple in my back yard and may try making a strong tea from the leaves…seeing how it feels on my skin.

Stirrings in the Muck: Fiddler Crabs, Yellow-Crowned Night Herons Locked in Climate Change Dance – National Geographic – The picture at the top of the article of the yellow-crowed night heron (which I saw for the first time in Carrollton TX earlier this summer) caught my attention…and I read the rest of the article.

Highly effective natural plant-based food preservative discovered -- ScienceDaily – Hope this lives up to its promise and becomes the food preservative of choice. The preservatives currently in use have side effects that are troubling at best.

BBC - Future - Are forgotten crops the future of food? – I have enjoyed the increase varieties of veggies I get from the CSA…and hope that we can further expand the food crops we utilize – for our health and to build more resilience into our food system which now is vulnerable because of the small number of plants and animals that we rely on.

Reverse Power Flow: How Solar + Batteries Shift Electric Grid Decision Making from Utilities to Consumers (In Depth) | CleanTechnica – I’ve started to wonder when the tipping point will occur – when there will be a mass economic defection by consumers away from big electric utilities. With small-scale solar ramping up to 20% of the new power plant capacity in the last 4 quarters and more people added energy storage to their solar arrays – maybe it is starting. It’s a fundamental shift for everyone. Maybe now is not the time to invest in utility companies unless they are buying in to that shift.

See Shells of Sea Spuds on the Seashore | Smart News | Smithsonian – I’d never heard of sea potatoes before…they are a kind of sea urchin. I had hoped the article would say something about how sea urchins respond to increasing ocean acidity. An article from last April said that purple sea urchins were already adapting. Are sea potatoes adapting too?

First biomarker evidence of DDT-autism link: National birth cohort study finds DDT metabolites in the blood of pregnant women are associated with elevated odds of autism in offspring -- ScienceDaily – A study of more than 1 million pregnancies in Finland between 1987 to 2005. The study found that autism correlated to maternal DDT…but not PCB…exposure.

Gleanings of the Week Ending August 4, 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.

Babcock Ranch in Florida Is to Sustainable Living What Tesla Is to Sustainable Transportation | CleanTechnica – This is how new development meshes with sustainability. We need to figure out how to retrofit existing communities toward sustainability too.

Interview: Adventurous Photographer Shares His Experiences Shooting Lava – I don’t have a desire to photograph active volcanoes with flowing lava….but I enjoy photographs taken by others.

US opioid prescribing rates by congressional district -- ScienceDaily – Opioid addiction is such a sad outcome in the US medical system…and it doesn’t seem like we are making progress even with the recognition that we have a problem.

Think everyone died young in ancient societies? Think again | Aeon Ideas – Even before the advent of modern medicine – there were people that lived to be very old. One of my great grandmothers lived into her 90s and all my grandparents survived their childhoods before vaccines. But many people didn’t. Epidemics like flu, typhoid, yellow fever and bubonic plague killed many people in the areas where they struck….but some people survived.

New battery could store wind and solar electricity affordably and at room temperature -- ScienceDaily – Lots of research on batteries and other forms of energy storage now….required if wind and solar power can supply 100% of our energy needs. I almost brought of ‘the grid’ but I’m not sure that a grid is going to dominate the future of our energy needs…it might…or might not.

Truth, Disrupted – An article from Harvard Business Review about false (not fake) news.

Researchers are one step closer to developing eye drops to treat common sight loss condition -- ScienceDaily – Good news…if this development lives up to the early results.

Top 25 birds with a sugar rush – Have to include some eye candy….and birds…in every gleanings post!

Unique Assemblage of Stone Tools Unearthed in Texas - Archaeology Magazine – The age of the assemblage is older that Clovis-style tools. The variety of colors and shapes of the stone (picture) is appealing too.

Researchers explore popular food trends in nutritional review: Evidence suggests beneficial outcomes from legumes, mushrooms, coffee and tea -- ScienceDaily – The most surprising result from this research: “The verdict on dairy as part of a heart-healthy diet is still out, and if consumed, full-fat dairy should be avoided.”