Gleanings of the Week Ending May 4, 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.

Exploring the Parks: White Sands National Monument – Another place I want to return to and spend a bit more time. I’ve been once when we were on the way from Dallas to Tucson. I posted about it back in 2013. We stayed long enough to have a picnic, walk along the boardwalk trail, and photograph cliff swallows at the visitor center.

New Analysis of Depression-Era Fossil Hunt Shows Texas Coast Was Once a 'Serengeti' | Smart News | Smithsonian – Research on collections made by the Works Progress Administration and mostly just stored since the 1940s….Other states than Texas probably have research projects on these collections as well.

IYPT 2019 Elements 020: Calcium: Teeth, bones and cheese | Compound Interest – Another article in the International Year of the Periodic Table series. Did you know that the human body contains about 1 kilogram of calcium?

Image of the Day: High Contrast | The Scientist Magazine® - The milkweed bug! The milkweed is just beginning to come up so I haven’t seen any of these bugs yet this year…but they’ll come out soon enough. I’ll try to remember some of this article next time I see the bug with a group of field trip hikers!

12 Famous Flower Paintings, from Monet to Mondrian – A little eye candy. Notice that there are insects with the flowers in the Ambrosius Bosschaert painting.

An invasive, thorny tree is taking over Africa – can it be stopped? – It’s not just the US that has problems with invasive plants and animals brought from elsewhere in the world. The Mesquite tree that is problematic in Africa came from South America.

Top 25 Wild Bird Photographs of the week: April and Waterbirds – Catching up a little on the series…two this week and there are still some left for the next gleanings collection.

‘Exquisitely Preserved’ Skin Impressions Found in Dinosaur Footprints | Smart News | Smithsonian – The prints are from a small theropod. Not only do they show the impression left by skin…they also indicate the dinosaur was in Korea earlier than previously thought (10-20 million years earlier).

Electric Cars Could Be as Affordable as Conventional Vehicles in Just Three Years - Yale E360 – EV technologies are developing rapidly. In 2015, batteries made up 57% of the EV total cost; today it’s down to 33% and by 2025 the projection is 2025. I know that I have enjoyed my plug-in-hybrid and that my next car will probably be an EV.

Clean Tech Jobs Lead Employment Statistics in Many US States | CleanTechnica – The map is worth the look. Solar panel installer or wind turbine service technician is the fastest growing type of job in 11 states!

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 2, 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.

Good News for Eastern Monarch Butterfly Population - The National Wildlife Federation Blog – Now to sustain the improvement into a trend….and stop the decline for the western population.  

Joshua Trees Could Take 200 to 300 Years to Recover from Shutdown Damage | Smart News | Smithsonian – A very sad result of the shutdown.

Physician-targeted marketing is associated with increase in opioid overdose deaths, study shows -- ScienceDaily – Hopefully with the opioid crisis getting more attention…the targeted marketing is reduced or eliminated. The study used data from before 2016. Things have gotten a lot worse since 2016 but maybe there is a lag between prescription opioid use and opioid overdoses.

Rocking Improves Sleep, Boosts Memory | The Scientist Magazine® - A research topic….and maybe a trend in new bed purchases.

America colonization ‘cooled Earth's climate’ - BBC News – More than 50 million people died and close to 56 million hectares (an area the size the France) they had been farming returned to forest. The drop in CO2 is evident in Antarctica ice cores and cooler weather.

The World’s ‘Third Pole’ Will Lose One-Third of Ice by 2100 - Yale E360 – The Himalayas and Hindu Kush mountains are the source of water for nearly 2 billion people. The region has lost 15% of it’s ice since the 1970s. The current estimate is the river flows will increase until 2060 (flooding) but then will decline. There will be more and more bare rock rather than snow covered rock.

Oregon Launches First Statewide Refillable Bottle System in U.S.: The Salt: NPR – It’s starting with beer bottles. Reuse is better than recycle is better than landfill. If given a choice between buying something in glass or plastic…I choose glass.

BBC - Future - The ‘miracle mineral’ the world needs – Phosphorous. Thermic compost piles rather than mineral fertilizers. It’s economical and environmentally a better way.

Top 25 Wild Bird Pictures of the Week – Raptors – As usual – great photographs of birds from around the world.

What happens to the natural world if all the insects disappear? – Big perturbations of food chains. The article ends with a question: If we dispossess them, can we manage the planet without them? It would be a very different planet.

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 November 17, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gleanings of the Week Ending November 10, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

HCC Fall Festival

Yesterday was the Howard County Conservancy’s annual Fall Festival at Mt. Pleasant Farm. The day started out cloudy and cool, but it cleared and was sunny in the afternoon. It was a good day to be out and after a lot of rainy days. It was still muddy enough that the hayride was cancelled for the year and there weren’t as many pumpkins, but all the other parts of the festival were ready for the event by 11…and there were a lot of people that came to enjoy the day at Mt. Pleasant.

I volunteered to help with the big map spread on the floor of the natures center. It was a big hit – just as it had been last year. The challenge once a lot of people started showing up was to remind children (and parents) to take off their shoes if they wanted to walk on the map. Nearly all the children wanted to walk on the map.

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I prompted them to find where they lived…and encouraged their parents to help find where they had got to the beach or where friends lived. We figure out how to get from Columbia (where many of them lived) to Ocean City (they they’d gone to the beach) – pointing out the bay bridge that is along the route. Many lived in Ellicott City which was more challenging to find because it is not on the map and the Patapsco River is not labeled. Some children walked the Potomac River or the Appalachian trail…or stood with one foot in Maryland and another in one on of the neighboring states. One boy was able to put one foot in Maryland, DC, and Virginia! It was fun for all ages and many of the adults got into the action as well.

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The permanent map on the nature center floor of the Howard County watersheds was popular too. The Patapsco River (light and dark green watersheds on this map) is often in the news because of the Ellicott City flooding but the Patuxent River drains more of the county.

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After two hours of interacting with the crowds on the map…I was ready to walk around the Festival a little. I headed over to see pumpkin that had been painted. Some had already dried and been picked up, but the ones that were still on the plastic were fantastic.

And a good time was had by all.

Gleanings of the Week Ending October 6, 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 - The recipes born from hardship – A little history…and food chemistry.

Fall Foliage: When, Why & How Vibrant Will Maple Leaves Be? – Cool Green Science – A little about the season. Unfortunately our September weather was just opposite of what it takes to get great leaf color from maples.

A mechanism of color pattern formation in ladybird beetles -- ScienceDaily – The Asian ladybird beetle… more that 200 color patterns…from a single gene.

Each Pigeon Painting by Adele Renault Shows the Bird's Overlooked Beauty – Some eye candy of a very common urban bird. Pigeons might be worth a closer look through a birding scope or camera with a big lens.

Praying Mantis Seen Hunting Fish for the First Time | Smart News | Smithsonian – In India…a large praying mantis ate a guppy.

A one-way street for salt -- ScienceDaily – How quinoa gets rid of the extra salt that it absorbs from saline soils.

My Penn’s Woods, Ever Changing – Cool Green Science – A little history about the forest in Pennsylvania (and Maryland too).

Life Thrives Within the Earth’s Crust – We know that there are a lot of living things in soils…but now we are discovering that deeper still – in rocks – there is life where previously we thought there was none. It’s a whole new area of biological research.

The surprising truth about loneliness – Some results from the BBC Loneliness Experiment.

The American Dream is Harder to Find in Some Neighborhoods – Look at the overall US map and read the article…then look at the Interactive: Explore the Opportunity Atlas to look at more detailed map locations.

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 September 1, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gleanings of the Week Ending August 11, 2018

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

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

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

How Rising Seas Could Threaten the Internet - Yale E360 – Within the next 15 years, 4,67 miles of fiber conduit and 1,101 notes in the US are expected to be underwater. New York, Miami and Seattle will be the most effected.

Earthtime.org -- Visualizing the Impact of Humanity | CleanTechnica – Three very short videos…about earth’s temperature over the past 137 years, the more recent time sequence of wind turbine installation in Europe and solar installations in the US.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gleanings of the Week Ending July 21, 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.

Some visual feasts: Peep the Stunning Winners of the Audubon Society’s Photo Contest | Smart News | Smithsonian and National Park Service Releases Iconic Paintings of Parks and Stunning Drone Photos of Venice Show Unique View of the City  and Winners of the 2018 National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year  – Starting out the gleanings list this week with images!

Fossil Fuels Account for Lowest Share of U.S. Energy Consumption in More than a Century - Yale E360 – Hurray for some positive news about trends and the environment…but there is still a tremendous effort needed to shift toward a sustainable future for our planet.

Air pollution contributes significantly to diabetes globally: Even low pollution levels can pose health risk -- ScienceDaily – Clean air is something every living thing needs for a healthy life – even humans.

New Website Unearths Amsterdam’s History Via 700,000 Artifacts Spanning 5,000 Years | Smart News | Smithsonian – If you can’t travel…there are lots of ways to look artifacts via the web. This is one of them and includes bits and pieces of just about everything.

Rivers and Streams Compose Much More of Earth’s Surface Than Thought | The Scientist Magazine® - The results of a study using NASA’s Landsat images.

BBC - Future - How your age affects your appetite – Food is fuel…and a social/cultural experience. How well does your experience of food link with your age?

Net-zero emissions energy systems | Science – A scholarly article about what it will take to achieve net-zero emissions…what existing technologies can do and what still needs a lot of development.

Germany’s "Stonehenge" Reveals Evidence of Human Sacrifice | Smart News | Smithsonian – Maybe Neolithic circles were more common that originally thought and they weren’t always made of stone. This one was wood and was torn down about 2050 BCE.

Opinion: Rise of the Robot Radiologists | The Scientist Magazine® - A white color job that might give way to artificial intelligence…soon. If it does – will it help slow the rise of medical costs?

Mummification Workshop Excavated in Egypt - Archaeology Magazine and Mummification Workshop and Trove of Burial Relics Found in Egypt | Smart News | Smithsonian – Two sources for the same story…different perspectives/details.

Composting at Home – June 2018

I got a free composting bin when I volunteered with the Fishmobile; the Fishmobile was part of a larger event at a local nature center that included a composting demo. The county gives bins away as part of the demo (GEOBIN Composting System) to encourage backyard composting by residents. A Master Gardener talked about what was required to successfully compost (mixing ‘browns’ and ‘greens’ – mixing) and I felt confident enough to give it a try. The bin was packaged rolled up in a cardboard box although the Mater Gardener recommended that stakes be used to provide some structure to the bin; I remembered that I had some at home…so no barrier. The hardest part of putting it together was the tightness of the roll; the material wanted to stay rolled! It might have been easier for two people but I managed on my own. The plastic has slots and the kit came with plastic keys to fit into the slots and turn to lock the two ends together. I made it a little smaller than the maximum size. I put it under the maple tree in our back yard….positioned to the hose from the house can reach it in case it needs to be moistened during a dry period.

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I had two longer metal stakes and a flag pole that had broken into two pieces to use as stakes. There were dried leaves from last fall that were already on the ground and I simply left them for the first layer of material in the bin (the area is so shady that no grass grows under the tree so I started leaving the leaves to provide some protection to the soil). Then I added some veggie and fruit scraps from the kitchen, shredded paper and cardboard. Later I added some soil from a pot that had broken.

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The bin looks very large right now. It will be a challenge to keep the greens (veggie and fruit scraps, grass clippings, bush clippings) and browns (paper, fall leaves, small twigs) balanced. I might feel the need to get a shredder for the yard waste since smaller materials will decay more quickly. I’m going to get through the rest of this year without one…just to see how the well the minimalist approach to composting will work.

Howard County Composting Facility

I attended a public tour of the composting facility in the county where I life yesterday morning. There is an expansion of the facility being built now but the pilot program has been going on for several years – lots of ‘lessons learned’ being applied to the expansion that will allow more of the county – hopefully the area where I live – to have curbside compost pickup.

The part of the facility that is currently in operation starts with piles of compostables collected from homes and some farm waste (like horse manure).

 

After being chopped up, it is made into piles. The material is processed for about 45 days in the piles – moved around with bulldozers to get air to all the material so that the decomposers can work. The temperatures in the piles are high enough to kill seeds which is important to the users of compost as a soil enhancer.

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The piles are made over two pipes that pull air from through the pile and then

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Through wood chips and finished compost (the large pipe in the foreground has pipes that push air under the wood chips/finished compost on the other side) – an effective strategy to reduce odors. The only period when odors come through that filter – so far – has been after Christmas when the discarded trees are in the piles; the pine smell is not one that people are likely to complain about so kudos to the design!

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While we were there, there was a pile that was ready to be moved to the area where the compost cures; the work was done with a bulldozer…making multiple trips.

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The piles are covered with tarps during rains; the compost does need water, but the amount must be controlled. Run off from the piles and the area around them is controlled.

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The new facility under construction will have bunkers rather than piles which will increase the capacity per area over the design in use now. The design capacity must be sufficient to handle the large volume of leaves in the fall. In my case – I wouldn’t send most of my leaves to the compost facility since I have forest behind my house that has absorbed the leaves from my yard quite well. If my area is one of the lucky ones to be included in the expanded service, I’ll decide if sending the front yard leaves to composting is easier than raking them to the forest!

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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.

iPad Adventure – Part 1

Way back in the late 1970s, my husband and I used an Apple II when we were graduate students. I’ve used other kinds of PCs and tablets since, but my husband bought a new iPad recently and encouraged me to try it and the Apple pencil to make a Zentangle. This was my first attempt – not something I will save in any collection.

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It will take some practice to get proficient but the technology is enticing….I made the leap. My husband ordered a case for me and we went to Best Buy to buy the device (two purchases: the iPad (6th Generation) Wi-Fi and Pencil). I made a place set up in my office to charge it.

I am pleasantly surprised that the apps I use all the time were easy to install and use on the iPad:

  • Firefox (Set up with bookmarks synced with my PC. I’m already reading some Internet Archive books on the iPad)
  • Email and calendar synced with my other devices
  • Kindle for reading
  • Our Groceries for sharing shopping lists with my family
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I ordered a sleeve for the pencil and found an old gel pen case my daughter bought years ago that holds the pencil and cables neatly coiled for when I’m ‘on the move.’

I also ordered a case for a stylus although I’m not sure how frequently I will use it; using a stylus does reduce the fingerprint density on the screen. The pencil will fit in it without the sleeve, but I like the feel of the sleeve when I’m drawing; the pencil will probably be in the sleeve all the time.

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My learning curve over the next month or so will be use learn to use Procreate, the app I’ve chosen to use for Zentangles, and I’ve started looking through the User Guide for the device/operating system.

Gleanings of the Week Ending April 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.

How Do We Carry Our Shopping Home Now? | CleanTechnica – I’ve been using my collection of reusable bags for years. Some of them are over 10 years old and still in great shape. Occasionally, I still get a Lightweight Plastic Bag (or a newspaper in plastic, or other plastic bag packaging) which I take back to the bag recycling bin at my grocery store. I’m always sad when I set a grocery cart full of stuff in the plastic bags…hope none of them escape into the environment.

A Harlequin Duck’s Long Cross-Country Migration – Cool Green Science – A bird banded in Glacier National Park migrated to Long Island! Zoom lenses on cameras and binoculars make it possible to record banding info from a distance.

BBC - Future - The small Scottish isle leading the world in electricity – Eigg has an off-grid electric system powered by wind, water, and solar…they average 90-95% renewable energy. The time of year they tend to need back up generators is in the spring.

Implications of access to high-quality fruits and vegetables: Quality has potential to impact consumer selection and consumption in rural areas -- ScienceDaily – There has been a lot of discussion about food deserts in big cities – places that lack affordable, high-quality food. It appears that food deserts occur in rural areas as well.

Top 25 Endemic Wild Birds – National Geographic – The weekly bird photography fix! The chickadee we see frequently in our areas of the Mid-Atlantic of the US is endemic to our part of the world (and is one of the 25 pictured).

New Beginnings: Cherry Blossoms and Helen Taft's Landscape Diplomacy – Some years we manage to see the peak of the cherry blossoms around the tidal basin in Washington DC….but every year we enjoy the cherry tree in our front year. It is always at least a week later than the ones in DC.

US electricity use drops, renewables push fossil fuels out of the mix | Ars Technica – Total electrical generation was down 1.5 percent in 2017. Coal and natural gas declines were more than that with renewable energy projects coming online. Energy efficiency has made a difference! Another article reported that some utilities are planning for the uptick in electric vehicles to cause the trend in electricity generation to turn upward again. Right now – it seems like people that buy electric cars are often the same people that install solar panels; that could result in no uptick to the draw from the electric utility.

The Life Issue | WIRED – A collection of thought provoking articles about ‘what it means to live in an age of improvisation.’ I started with the articles about the 55-infinity age group.

Microscopic Images of Seeds • Insteading – hmm…maybe I’ll take a magnified look at seeds before I plant them in my flower beds.

Meditate regularly for an improved attention span in old age – Nice to know that something enjoyable immediately is also good for the long term too!