Category Archives: science

rock out.

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when you’re little

 walking around the museum

 see a big old bumpy boring rock

walk around to the front of it

 find an amazing, amazing surprise

that is inside of it

you just have to touch it

 there are no words.

“sometimes the most shocking surprises are the most beautiful surprises.”

-lori wilhite

 

essence of life.

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 picture from a past solstice celebration

every year

one of my favorite things to teach and share with my class

is the story and traditions of the winter solstice

i get to play the sun

the children play the tilting earth and the seasons

who spin and dance and throw snow

as the season changes

the sun stays in the middle

offering extra light

to the other side of the earth now tilting toward it

knowing it will always return to them

even as our days grow shorter

they quietly rest on the ground

waiting, waiting

only to emerge

when the time is right

  happy to dance once more

in the light of the warm spring sun.

*notes: here is my recipe for the winter solstice, and many thanks to all for your low-tech special effects support of this performance: torn paper snowflakes made by the children, many smiles, a bit of dizziness, a sun doing an interpretive dance, a person to turn off and on the classroom lights at just the right moment, a flashlight, a yellow paper sun, a dj to play the music (‘carol of the bells’ by george winston, and ‘here comes the sun’ by the beatles) at just the right time, and a class full of kinder/whirling twirling planets throwing snow, lying down, and awakening as emerging new life in the spring when the sun returns. somehow it all falls into place, each year a bit differently, as is the way of the world. 

“spiritually, life is a festival, a celebration. joy is the essence of life.”

-agnivesh

across the universe.

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my grandson stargazing in a night field

i met my ex-husband many years ago

a man with a brilliant mind

who taught me myriad things

among them

oceanography, astronomy, photography

astrophotography

my grandson

 never met his (now late) grandfather

yet all these years later

he put together one of his old telescopes

 taking it upon himself

to learn astrophotography

he has become a stargazer

two generations later

his grandfather

would have been thrilled and so proud of him

proving once again that

everything in the universe is truly connected

most in ways we cannot even begin to imagine.

 

“Science is the one human activity that is truly progressive.

The body of positive knowledge is transmitted from generation to generation.” 

Edwin Powell Hubble, The Realm of the Nebulae

just be the best penguin you can be.

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Penguins Accidentally Took Selfie After They Found a Cam In Antarctica

(Everyone has the one friend who LOVES to take selfies)

Expeditions to Antarctica are constantly filled with surprises. Australian Eddie Gault went on an expedition there along with his cam to take photos of penguin colonies. Out of the fascinating photos he took, he also ended up having a photo of penguins taking a selfie.

While there, Gault visited Auster Rookery to record a group of Emperor penguins, leaving his camera near them to record their daily lives. After he left it, the penguins came close to the cam, one knocked it over and accidentally took a selfie along with other penguins.

 Emperor penguins are the biggest penguin types on the planet, have an average height of 45 inches and can live to be 20 years old.  Emperor penguins live in colonies and their breeding period is in Winter, when female penguins lay their eggs and leave them in the care of the male penguins.

 

“a penguin cannot become a giraffe, so just be the best penguin you can be.”

– gary vaynerchuk

 

 

credits: Australian Antarctic Program, Auster Rookery, The Guardian

way out.

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The first publicly released image from the James Webb Space Telescope, showing countless galaxies and multiple arcs where the combined gravity of those galaxies magnifies light from background objects, bringing even more distant galaxies into view.  NASA
NASA Administrator Bill Nelson described the image to President Biden, saying all the stars and galaxies it encompassed were located in an area of space the size of a grain of sand held at arm’s length by someone standing on Earth.

“We’re looking back more than 13 billion years,” he said. “That light that you are seeing has been traveling for over 13 billion years, and by the way, we’re going back farther. This is just the first image. They’re going back about thirteen-and-a-half billion years. And since we know the universe is 13.8 billion years old, we’re going back almost to the beginning.”

NASA plans to release additional “first light” images Tuesday, photos designed to showcase Webb’s ability to chart the details of stellar evolution, from starbirth to death by supernova, to study how galaxies form, merge and evolve and to probe the chemical composition of atmospheres around planets orbiting other stars.

This initial Webb deep field released Monday promises to rewrite the astronomy books yet again, providing the data needed to fill in many of the major gaps in the history of the universe, perhaps even providing the framework to determine when —  and how —  the first massive stars formed, exploded and seeded the cosmos with the heavy elements that make life possible.

“the size and age of the cosmos are beyond ordinary human understanding.
lost somewhere between immensity and eternity is our tiny planetary home.” 
-carl sagan, cosmos
source credit: nasa

rocks.

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it took a while and a team of busy gatherers

but the kinder were happy to announce

they had collected and lined up

79 rocks

and that equals 1 museum. 

 

“as with other phases of nature, I have probably loved the rocks more than I have studied them.’

-john burroughs

who are the dinos in your neighborhood?

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is this midtown manhattan?
amazing interactive map shows you would dinosaurs roamed your neighborhood millions of years ago
facebook While most of us know that all sorts of prehistoric creatures once inhabited Earth, you might not realize which ones used to wander around your particular city. Thanks to this interactive map, you can easily find out. Type in your city name, and you’ll see it plotted on the globe, along with a list of species whose fossils have been discovered nearby. If you click on the name of a species, a new webpage will open with details, images, and a map that shows where else that species lived.
Omaha, Nebraska, for example, was once home to the pteranodon, the trinacromerum, and the mosasaurus  Those last two are both marine reptiles, meaning that Nebraska used to be underwater—which the globe will show you, too.

In addition to searching by city, you can also see what Earth looked like during a specific time period by choosing an option from the dropdown menu at the top. Choices range from 750 million years ago—the Cryogenian period, when glaciers abounded—to 0 million years ago, which is Earth as we know it today. Using a different dropdown menu on the right, you can view Earth during its many notable “firsts,” including “first land plants,” “first dinosaurs,” “first primates,” and more.

As CNN reports, the map was created by California-based paleontologist Ian Webster, who added to an existing model that mapped plate tectonics and used additional data from GPlates, another piece of plate tectonics software.

“It is meant to spark fascination and hopefully respect for the scientists that work every day to better understand our world and its past,” Webster told CNN. “It also contains fun surprises. For example: how the U.S. used to be split by a shallow sea, the Appalachians used to be very tall mountains comparable to the Himalayas, and that Florida used to be submerged.”

You can find other fun surprises by exploring the map yourself here. For the best experience, you’ll want to access the site from a desktop computer or tablet versus a smartphone.

 “observation: i can’t see a thing. conclusion: dinosaurs.”

-carl sagan

 

 

credits: cnn, mental floss, ellen gutosky, orla, getty images

rainbow trout.

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not my trout, but an artist who creates in my style

 a few or five decades back

in my elementary school years

i undertook a project that i loved

an end-of-the-year

comprehensive non-fiction report

covering a wide swath of the animal kingdom

involving research, factual write-ups, and illustrations.

i worked on this tirelessly

gleaning material

from the only source i used for everything 

our set of encyclopedias

(no google to be found)

all was going well

until i came to the rainbow trout

with no illustration provided

 i used my imagination

creating my own vision

of what a rainbow trout might look like

a beautiful striped fish

with every color of the rainbow

spanning across its shiny and scaly skin

at last

the final piece in my big report complete

rechecked everything

put it all in my new yellow folder

decorated the cover

proudly turning it in

waiting for my teacher’s response

 she perused our reports

while we had silent reading time

 then called me up to her desk

with the hugest of smiles on her face

my report open to the rainbow trout page

telling me that she was going to give me an a+

she said she could see

 i was truly a creative

even more than a scientist

that both were good things to be

and she was right.

“the fish was a twelve inch rainbow trout with a huge hump on its back – a hunchback trout.”

-richard brautigan

‘i refuse to accept pluto’s resignation as a planet.’- amy lee

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 though not the first to go,

pluto lost its planetary status 15 years ago

 and not everyone agrees.

“as a planetary scientist, I don’t know what else to call Pluto: it’s big and round and thousands of miles wide.’ alan stern

 

 

 

 

credits: mental floss, jeopardy, getty images, courtney k