Archive for April, 2009

Published by Rosalind on 21 Apr 2009

Earth Day 2009 – April 22


The Blue Marble is a true-color NASA image, stitched together from satellite photos.

The Blue Marble is a true-color NASA image, stitched together from satellite photos.

Do you ever wonder how Earth Day got started, way back in 1970? You can read what Gaylord Nelson said about his idea here: Earth Day History.  

President Obama celebrated Earth Day 2009 by planting a tree – with First Lady Michelle Obama, former President Bill Clinton, Vice President Joe Biden and his wife, Dr. Jill Biden.  They planted trees with the Student Conservation Association near Washington DC. Read about the President and other tree planters here: Americans Plant Trees for Earth Day.

What’s your plan for Earth Day?

Published by Rosalind on 17 Apr 2009

EPA says greenhouse gases are a threat to public health

In an historic move, the Environmental Protection Agency today issued an “endangerment finding” for greenhouse gases. Stating that greenhouse gases such as CO2 are a danger to us all and a “serious problem for future generations,” the report indicates that the EPA will start regulating greenhouse gas emissions. You can read about the announcement here: Greenhouse Gases.

Published by Diana on 17 Apr 2009

Bacteria are kind of amazing

Bacteria have found a way to live in almost every environment on our planet. They live in near-boiling hot mud pools at Yellowstone Park; they eat crude oil; they even, says this article: Iron Will to Live for Antarctic Microbes, live under Antarctic glaciers, in environments with almost no oxygen and no carbon.

Most organisms on our planet use respiration to provide energy for their internal functioning. In respiration, oxygen is used to burn carbon compounds (like sugars) to provide energy. Not these bacteria, which use sulfur-based compounds called sulfates.

If you look at the periodic table, you will see that sulfur falls just below oxygen, in the same column. Like carbon, it readily forms complex compounds that store energy. The Antarctic bacteria use iron found in the local rock to react with the sulfur compounds (called sulfates) and obtain energy through a different biochemical method.

Published by Rosalind on 16 Apr 2009

Plastiki to set sail this summer


An artist's image of the Plastiki

An artist's image of the Plastiki

The Plastiki is based on an old idea — the raft — but it is being updated and made new because it is being constructed out of plastic bottles.  Explorer David de Rothschild plans to launch the plastic bottle raft in the summer of 2009, and the crew will sail the raft across the Pacific Ocean.

What do they want to prove? Unlike Thor Heyerdahl with his raft Kon-tiki, proving that people could have crossed the Pacific on rafts, de Rothschild plans to highlight the increasing litter in the ocean, and the importance of reusing plastic for other purposes — like plastic bottle rafts! Plastiki and its crew will visit the Pacific Garbage Patch, a huge area of litter which swirls around the Pacific Ocean. You can read more about the Garbage Patch here: Trash Vortex . To follow the voyage of Plastiki beginning in the summer of 2009, visit the boat’s  website regularly: Plastiki.