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A journal of science, thought, and action.

Bottled Arctic Notes

15

Dec

2017

Bottled Arctic Notes

A bottled note tossed to the waves recovered years later.

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Be Nice To Nerds

13

Dec

2017

Be Nice To Nerds

Exploring DARPA's creative research approach.

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The Conservation Alliance

Archive Highlights

Irony Alert: Plants Used in Herbal Remedies Cause Cancer

By Reilly Capps Plants that have been used by Chinese medicine men for centuries as a natural way to cure arthritis and other disease actually...

14 Aug 2013

Video Highlights

Recent Archive Highlights

Bottled Arctic Notes

Bottled Arctic Notes 15 December 2017

Bottled Arctic Notes

A bottled note tossed to the waves recovered years later.

Bloody Falls, Dry Valleys, & Mars

Bloody Falls, Dry Valleys, & Mars 7 December 2017

Bloody Falls, Dry Valleys, & Mars

The Dry Valleys are one of the strangest environments on Earth.

With the Stoke of a Pen, an update

With the Stoke of a Pen, an update 5 December 2017

With the Stoke of a Pen, an update

In 2014, major marine preserves were created.

Think Green

Think Green 2 December 2017

Think Green

It's important to Think Green during this white time of year.

Volcano May Explode, a timeline update

Volcano May Explode, a timeline update 30 November 2017

Volcano May Explode, a timeline update

Bali's Mount Agung could erupt any time.

Rewilding

Rewilding 27 November 2017

Rewilding

or how a 'silent spring' could turn into a 'wild summer' 

Solar Pop-Art

You see different kinds of detail viewing an object thru multiple wavelengths of light. Utilizing filters that capture an image in visible, infrared, and ultraviolet light provides a deep understanding of the object. Combining all three can produce an art installation. Here's a construction of the Sun using all three light wavelengths. (credit: NASA) The Pop artist Andy Warhol would be proud. WHB
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Dolphin Rescue

Conscientiousness is a basic feature of intelligence and poorly understood. Psychological tradition says that the mental capacity requires an ability for self-awareness or self-recognition; the ability to express empathy and compassion for others; and the ability to understand and manipulate the world around yourself. Until recently, conscientiousness was only thought to be a feature exclusive to humans. Here's a short video about a dolphin off Hawaii that requested some rescue assistance ...
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Remote Views

Orbiting cameras provide exceptional opportunities to view of landscapes on Earth. Two new examples provide vivid stories of such remotely derived observations. A satellite image of the Sundarban Forests of Bangladesh and India was produced by the the University of Maryland and the USGS. The Sundarbans are the largest area of remaining mangrove forests anywhere in the world. The waterlogged forests consist of labyrinthine channels, mudflats, and islands at the edge of the Bay of Bengal. ...
  • 2894

Fighting Climate Change with Star Power

For those who haven’t yet heard of a McTwist, Backside Rodeo or Triple Cork, check out the ESPN Winter X Games, which are in full swing, right now, in Aspen, Colo. It’s a media circus and a Mecca for slouching pilgrims in baggy snowboard pants. But wait up, Dude, there’s more happening here than Red Bull hype and on-snow carnage. Between laps on the superpipe or the slopestyle course, athletes are spreading the word about climate change. The X Games themselves aren’t entirely green. On ...
  • 2600

News: Instagram Still Owns Your Photos

The online photo-sharing service Instagram updated its privacy notices, making a big deal about how it has responded to its users who were alarmed at the revelation that Instagram can do whatever it wants with your photos. What changed, exactly? Nothing. Nothing has changed. Instagram doesn’t own your photos. But it can do what it likes with them. Which, really – what’s the difference between owning something and being able to do whatever you want with that something? By using Instagram ...
  • 2594

Yes, It's Cold in New York

By Reilly Capps East Coasters think that the whole world is the East Coast, when in fact the East Coast is only four-fifths of the world (approximately). So whatever is happening in New York matters more than what happens to the sad people who live in states that are not New York, whatever those states might be called. So when a super hurricane slams into the East Coast, suddenly climate-change is an issue. When an insane person shoots people on the East Coast, suddenly guns are an ...
  • 2549

Is It Hot Enough Yet?

Australia has been undergoing a massive heat wave for months. January brought record-setting heat that lasted for weeks. Temperatures regularly exceeded 112 degrees Fahrenheit in multiple locations across the continent. Australia set a new record for the highest temperature averaged across the entire nation: 104.59°F on January 7 with the highest night-time low 90.25°F in that nation's recorded history. NASA and the Australian Bureau of Meteorology have produced a new temperature map of the ...
  • 2571

A House Not So Divided

So, President Obama finally decided to speak frankly and strongly about climate change. He chose to avoid the subject during the election campaign, but signaled in his inauguration speech that he feels it’s time to act. Perhaps the president recently read a study from George Mason University and Yale University, entitled “Global Warming’s Six Americas,” which found that an increasing number of Americans not only believe global warming is real, human-caused and threatening, but to varying ...
  • 1981

Until the New 'Cosmos' Comes ...

By Reilly Capps I'm atwitter. My excitement at the news that "Cosmos" is going to be updated by Neil DeGrasse Tyson and Seth MacFarlane keeps me shaking with anticipation, or perhaps that's my caffeine addiction. There never was a show so deep, so insightful, so transformative as "Cosmos." Carl Sagan literally changed the way we look at the world. And he did it by telling the remarkable story of the universe and our relationship to it in a way that is every bit as compelling as the best ...
  • 2200

Strong Words on Climate Change and the Meaning of Life

It’s doubtful that, regarding climate change, any more forceful words were ever spoken on a grander stage than they were today. The re-inaugurated president reminded us that we can’t just live for ourselves, but that we’re obligated to do our best for generations that come after. We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations.Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid ...
  • 1971

The Most Badass Photo of All Time?

Quora asks. The readers favor this one: But I’m going with this dude refusing to salute Hitler. Sometimes doing nothing is the best thing you can do. - Reilly Capps
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Saturday wisdom

"The study of nature does not create men who are fond of boasting and chattering or who show off the culture that impresses the many, but rather men who are strong and self-sufficient, and who take pride in their own personal qualities not in those that depend on external circumstances." - Epicurus
  • 1935

From Walden Pond to the Sand County

Knowledge of natural history requires good observation and sometimes over many, many years. Annual bird counts by amateur investigators and researchers alike provide essential data on changes in avian populations. Likewise, plant behavior over decades can provide even more critical environmental understanding. Now, data on the time of flowering, originally gathered by two of our finest natural observers, Henry David Thoreau and Aldo Leopold, has been re-analyzed to tell us a direct story of ...
  • 2194

A Light Too Good to be True

By Reilly Capps This light seems beyond cool, and as close to a perpetual motion machine as I've ever seen. It's so good, it feels like it's can't be true. But maybe I've been reading too much about Manti Te'o and Lance Armstrong.
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Seeing the light in a second-hand store

As a rule, Americans don’t like the government telling them what to do. But every now and then, the government gets it right.  So it was with a recent energy-efficient lighting upgrade at Misers Mercantile in Carbondale, Colo., a venerable second-hand store in a century-old brick building.  The new lights in Misers Mercantile, says owner Paula “Sam” Hunter, reduce the store’s carbon footprint and save money. Bob Ward photo. When Landlord Dale Eubank learned last year that the U.S. ...
  • 2023

Super Powers are in the (Owl) Eye of the Beholder

By Lucas Gardner We as humans almost think of other species as having superpowers. In our inter-species jealousy, we might look at a bird and say, “I wish I could fly.” But we don't take the time to appreciate our own special little superpowers. We don't realize that maybe the bird is looking back at us and saying, “I wish I knew how to use LinkedIn,” or something like that. [Cheetah. Jealous you know how to find dates on OKCupid.] We might see a cheetah on TV and marvel at how fast it ...
  • 2607

China’s “Bad Fog”

Northern China is experiencing an air-pocalypse and the conditions make air-quality alerts almost meaningless. It is one of the worst air pollution periods in China’s history. At the beginning of the year, the US Embassy in Beijing measured the air quality index (AQI) at 341 where any measurements above 300 is considered hazardous. Readings below 50 is considered good. By mid-January, the Embassy measured the index at 775---off the EPA’s air quality scale that only goes up to 500. The ...
  • 3590

Animals Who Shouldn’t Use Protection; People Who Should

By Lucas Gardner The Center for Biological Diversity is giving away endangered species condoms. This is a terrible idea. If there's any group that SHOULDN'T wear condoms, it's endangered animals (Go raw, amur leopards! There's only 40 of you left!). Wait. Maybe I’m confused. [Quickly Googles it.] Ok! The Center for Biological Diversity is giving away condoms with various endangered animals printed on the wrapper. Endangered animals, such as panthers, never wear condoms because they ...
  • 2662

Thar be Dragons!

In ancient mythology and oral sagas, the Kraken was a legendary sea monster of gigantic proportions that dwelled in the deep, dark seas. “Thar be dragons” was a common reference to the ocean habitat of the beast. The kraken was always depicted with long arms and a fearsome appearance.  The kraken was said to rise up from the depths, envelop sailing ships, and killing all the mariners as it drug the vessel to the bottom of the sea.   The Kraken in Literature  (credit: file image) Now, ...
  • 6639

Sliding Down…Tipping Up

Environmental measurements are one thing but visualizing the data over a timeline is a better way to see trends. Research just published in Geophysical Research Letters and the Arctic Report Card: Update for 2012 found that, between 1979 and 2012,  Arctic snow cover in June decreased nearly 18 percent per decade. Maps of the measurements over the 30 year time span show above-average snow cover in blue and below-average cover in orange. Declining cover means decreasing albedo, or ...
  • 2590

Code Purple update

Riled Up shared maps in a post on Australia’s new recently. A  “Code Purple” designating catastrophic temperatures has been added to the national maps and were predicted to occur in the following weeks. Today, National Public Radio aired an interview with an Australian meteorologist about the current temperature situation:  Roads Melt, Gas Evaporates in the Unprecedented Heat Wave.  A measurement of 120F has now been recorded on the southern continent:     Roads Melt, Gas Evaporates in ...
  • 2006

Australia on Fire

Australia is on fire. Since the end 2012, hundreds of bushfires have raged throughout continent. Fueled by a record-breaking temperatures exceeding 109F, widespread drought, and resin filled bush vegetation the environmental conditions are set for a triple threat of wildfires. Widespread fires have struck from New South Wales, to Victoria, to Queensland, Western Australia, and Tasmania. Photography captured by several environmental monitoring satellites show the extent of the burning that ...
  • 2123

Dust Generator

Dust is probably one environmental feature you’d rather not have to bother with. The choking Dust Bowl is not a pleasant thought. However, in some situations and with smaller volumes, dust can be beneficial. Volcanic dust deposits produce rich and productive soils for vineyards, orchards, and many crops. Early this year, a satellite passing over Africa captured an impressive photograph of a wide dust-storm blowing from the Sahara Desert into the Atlantic Ocean. A veil of dust stretched ...
  • 2054

Of Beetles and Biomass

For years, residents of the Central Rocky Mountains have lamented the proliferation of the mountain pine beetle, which has killed lodgepole pine trees across some 4 million acres of forest. In Grand and Summit counties in Colorado, entire mountainsides have turned from a deep green to rusty brown as the infestation has spread. The damage to forests in British Columbia has been even more widespread. The beetles have always lived in the Rockies, but drought has weakened trees and warmer ...
  • 1946

It’s Not Getting Hot, It’s Just Getting Comfortable

By Reilly Capps People talk about the U.S. getting hotter, but that’s not the objective truth of it. The U.S. is just now getting comfortable. We live in a country where the average temperature is 55, which is too cold for comfort. Humans are happy at 72. Who wouldn’t want the temperature cranked up a notch or two? 2012 was the hottest year in the continental U.S., by a long shot, one degree hotter than the previous hottest year. Warm is good. Warm means happy. Given the choice ...
  • 3045

Dolphin Stampede

Several years ago, a good friend related a situation he had experienced while diving in the Azores Islands. He had participated in an interaction between a human and a marine animal that deeply affected him. It was a remarkable story. Now, a group of other observers have participated in an equally amazing event---a stampede of 1,000 common dolphins---off Dana Point in Southern California. The captain of a tour boat service, Capt. Dave's Dolphin and Whale Safari, captured video of this rare ...
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