Daily Archives: September 1, 2010

Hurricane News and Coolest Pictures EVAH!

As predicted, Gaston has emerged from from the ITCZ as a named tropical storm in the eastern Atlantic. Unlike Fiona, Gaston will reach hurricane status, and in fact, there is a pretty good chance that Gaston will be a major hurricane. What matters, of course, is where it goes. In any event, formation of a hurricane and nearing land will not happen until Labor Day or later.

Meanwhile, Earl, which during the night Thursday and early morning Friday will be turning with 100 knot winds off the coast of the Carolinas, is getting some special attention from NASA. Here’s a picture NASA published just a few minutes ago:


AIRS infrared image of Hurricane Earl on Sept. 1, 2010, shows the temperature of Earl’s cloud tops or the surface of Earth in cloud-free regions. The coldest cloud-top temperatures appear in purple, indicating towering cold clouds and heavy precipitation. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

In case you wanted to see wind speed and vector data from within the hurricane, we have that for you as well:

MISR image of Hurricane Earl captured on Aug. 30, 2010. The left panel of the image extends about 1,110 kilometers (690 miles) in the north-south direction and 380 kilometers (236 miles) in the east-west direction. Earl’s wind speeds are shown in the right panel. The lengths of the arrows indicate the wind speeds, and their orientation shows wind direction. The altitude of a given wind vector is shown in color. Image credit: NASA/GSFC/LaRC/JPL, MISR Team

Continue reading Hurricane News and Coolest Pictures EVAH!

How can science teachers use blogs?

Blogs and schools often don’t mix. Many blogs are free ranging entities untethered to an institutional or editorial framework. In public discussions of Scienceblogs.com, the fact that every blogger is editorially independent of each other and of the hosting organization, Seed Media Group, is mentioned without fail, and is often the central topic. Non-Sblings (we scienceblogs.com bloggers call ourselves Sblings) readily accuse us of being under the influence of each other or this or that evil empire, and we just as readily deny it. And it’s true … we are beholden to no one.
Continue reading How can science teachers use blogs?

Stones, Bones, Shards Dirt

Natalie Munro (UCONN) and Leore Grosman (Hebrew University) have reported an interesting site dating to about 12,000 years ago in northern Israel. It is interesting because it seems to be the remains of feasting, a specific activity that any cultures around the world engage in. I’m actually writing something about feasting and related activities, so this is quite interesting to me. From the abstract:

We found clear evidence for feasting on wild cattle and tortoises at Hilazon Tachtit cave, a Late Epipaleolithic (12,000 calibrated years B.P.) burial site in Israel. This includes unusually high densities of butchered tortoise and wild cattle remains in two structures, the unique location of the feasting activity in a burial cave, and the manufacture of two structures for burial and related feasting activities.

As humans consumed the humped conch, the humped conch’s average body size went up, in the Pacific Islands.

… researchers were surprised to find that the average size of the conchs actually increased in conjunction with a growing human population. Specifically, the length of the average conch increased by approximately 1.5 millimeters (mm) over the past 3,000 years. That may not sound like much, but it is significant when you consider the conchs are only around 30 mm long – which means the conchs are now almost 5 percent larger than they used to be.

Fitzpatrick believes the size increase is likely related to an increase in nutrients in the conch’s waters, stemming from increased agriculture and other human activities.


So. Pollution. Figures.

You may not know this, but I personally discovered what for some time was the oldest house structure known in North America. It didn’t get much press because the numbnuts in charge of the excavation didn’t want to make waves (the site was bulldozed to widen a road). But that’s all post holes under the bridge. Literally. Anyway, now, Oldest house in Ontario discovered at 4,500 year old settlement near Lake Huron, Canada

The find rewrites the history of the Canadian province of Ontario, proving that people were living a sedentary lifestyle at that time, even though they lacked agriculture and pottery.

Among the discoveries is a 4,500 year old house – the oldest ever found in the province. “It’s semi-subterranean – it’s dug partially down into the ground,” said Professor Chris Ellis of the University of Western Ontario. He led the team that made the find. “It’s as old as the pyramids really.”


Check out “Diversity in the geosciences and the impact of social media” by Anne Jefferson:

One year ago, Kim Hannula, Pat Campbell, Suzanne Franks, and I launched a survey about women geoscientists reading and writing in the blogosphere. We presented the results at the Geological Society of America meeting, and Kim wrote a great post summarizing and discussing our data. Then I took Kim’s post, polished it up with great wording and thinking suggestions from all of the co-authors and submitted it for publication. It went out to reviewers and a few months later, we were accepted for publication.

In the September issue of GSA Today, you can find our article…

I’ll be blogging about that later, time permitting.

Hurricane warnings likely for Earl

North Carolina will receive hurricane warnings (a significant notch above watches) within a few hours, as the forecasted path for earl shift a bit to the west than previously thought and b) becomes less certain.

From NOAA/Hurricane Prediction Center:

Hurricane Watch:
North of Surf City North Carolina to Parramore Island Virginia including the Pamlico and Albermale Sounds

Tropical Storm Warning for San Salvador

Tropical Storm Watch for North Carolina Coast from Cape Fear to Surf City


You can expect, approximately, for the first of these watches to be upgraded to a warning soon.

Continue reading Hurricane warnings likely for Earl

The Devil in Dover

When I go to meet the teachers or administrators at my daughter’s school, I whisper these words to each of them:

“I just want you to know that I’m involved in a number of organizations that seek to protect the quality of science education in our public schools. If you ever need any support, if you are ever getting any trouble from parents, administrators, whatever, you can rely on me to help, to put you in touch with whom you should speak, to talk to anyone you’d like me to talk to, or anything else you need.”

This recieves a nod and a side long glance that I try very hard to interpret but rarely can. Then, regardless, I follow up by whispering these words:

“Oh, and if you happen to be of the mind to push a little religion, creationism, whatever, into the classroom …. the I’ll be your worst nightmare. I’ll be the one on the other end of that career ending law suit.”

At this point, the science-supporters usually laugh heartily. The creationists also laugh. But nervously.

You may or may not have a child in school that gives you this wonderful opportunity to embarrass your son or daughter, but you can still call the principal or any of the members of the school board and let them know how you feel, as a citizen, taxpayer, and voter. And, if you like, you can do what I do periodically: Give your school principle or science teacher a gift. Today, I’m recommending a copy of a book that outlines the nightmares of being in a school system that becomes a battle ground for science education vs. creationism.
Continue reading The Devil in Dover

Interesting items to read

First, go read this homeopathic web comic, and when you’re done, like in ten minutes, come back.

Then, this:

A study in Michigan to learn why Bald Eagles are not recovering post-DDT exposure as fast as expected has discovered that nestlings are ingesting flame retardants and pesticides via their food.

Read the rest here

Will AI surpass human brain power in a few years? One can only hope. But it is probably mere hope.

Ask Surly Amy where to get your next Homeopathic Vaccine!

Archaeological study shows human activity may have boosted shellfish size