Archive for the 'Postcard' Category

Published by Diana on 08 Jun 2010

Oil Spill ticker

Published by Diana on 04 Dec 2009

Pretty Pictures

The New York Times published a wonderful slide show of science photos. Check it out here: Science in Pictures: Jellyfish Venom and Tick Saliva.

Published by Diana on 20 Nov 2009

Galileo’s middle finger

Galileo Galilei, the famous astronomer who “”perhaps more than any other single person, was responsible for the birth of modern science” (according to Stephen Hawking, who should know, being a physicist himself) died in 1642, while under house arrest near Florence, Italy. (He was put under house arrest by the Catholic Church, which then ruled what later become Italy, because he believed in a sun-centered Solar System, which was considered heresy at the time.)

95 years after his death, his body was moved to Florence to a special tomb near Michelangelo’s, in Florence. At that time, a tooth, his right thumb, and his right middle finger were kept by an admirer, and the relics were passed down through the family.

But now they’ve been given to the Museum of the History of Science in Florence and will soon be on display there. This is true. Read about it here: Galileo’s fingers, tooth are found.

Published by Diana on 18 Nov 2009

“Everyone talks about the weather but no one does anything about it….”*

Ben Franklin, an astute observer of the weather, believed that the settling of North America had changed the weather: “cleared land absorbs more heat and melts snow quicker.” He also thought that volcanoes led to cool weather. In both of these observations, he has been proven to be correct.

In today’s New York Times, this article: Ben Franklin on Global Warming talks about the writings of our founding fathers on weather and climate.

*Quotation from Mark Twain

Published by Diana on 12 Nov 2009

Oceans of Trash

There is a garbage patch in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, and it’s getting bigger and bigger. Made of little pieces of plastic, it’s created by the currents in the Pacific sweeping the plastic into one area. You can read more about it here: Afloat in the Ocean, Expanding Islands of Trash.

Published by Diana on 22 Jul 2009

Not quite as good as being there… but good, nonetheless

A few videos of the total solar eclipse in Japan and India yesterday:

Japanese eclipse video

BBC News video on the eclipse

Published by Diana on 27 May 2009

Food that doesn’t come from far away uses less fuel…

I’ve spent the last few days working with my daughter to get the vegetable garden in. She talked me into planting beets and butternut squash, and of course I planted tomatoes. Tomatoes you grow yourself taste way better than tomatoes that you buy.

I grow my own garden for purely selfish reasons–I really prefer the taste of home-grown food–but my daughter cares a lot about reducing her carbon footprint. She points out that organic garden recycles nutrients back into the soil and doesn’t require fuel to make or deliver fertilizer. The food I grow doesn’t have to be trucked anywhere. I don’t think it’s possible to use less fuel than it takes to walk into the back yard to pick tomatoes. And I’m certainly not going to use fuel to refrigerate it before I eat it–although my daughter plans to can the extra tomatoes this year, which would require some fuel.

Of course, if you really want to impact the carbon dioxide level, you need to grow trees, because trees store carbon for many years (the wood of a tree represents stored carbon). According to this article: Planting Trees to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint all you have to do is plant seven trees a year to neutralize your carbon footprint. I may be a few trees behind.

Published by Diana on 05 Jun 2008

Postcard from Australia

Australia’s Kangaroos

Published by Diana on 02 Apr 2008

Las Vegas

I spent the weekend in Las Vegas. I enjoy the heck out of Las Vegas, but… it really is a flaring example of profligate use of natural resources. Whenever I’m there I always see a dark vision of its potential future.

Bellagio Fountain with Lights

When I’m watching the amazing fountains at the Bellagio, I find myself thinking: “we’re in a desert and they’re wasting a LOT of water to evaporation.” And then I start thinking more.

I see Las Vegas a hundred years from now, the luxury hotels still standing–but deserted, empty, no water, desperate people using them as apartments, trashing one and moving to the next, the gorgeous stone floors broken. The amazing fountains are empty and dry. The Wynn’s waterfalls dry and the concrete decaying. The golf courses are sand traps and dunes.

Desert Springs Preserve

This is the Desert Springs Preserve. A hundred years ago, this was a spring, with fresh water. It dried up–too many people taking water uphill from it–in the 1950s. The city of Las Vegas grew up around the spring, around the source of fresh water, and now it’s a preserve, protected against future development, an oasis of true desert in the urban sprawl of Las Vegas.

And a vision of the future.

Published by Diana on 01 Jan 2008

Happy New Year!

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