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The Ants Go Marching Into My House Ten By Ten

Posted by Samina Cabral
Samina Cabral
Samina Cabral is a native Southern Californian who now resides on the shores of
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on Thursday, 21 March 2013
in Mother Nature's Big and Small

Many years ago when I was in high school, and not much smarter than I am now, I had a theory that ants Fire ants USDA copywould one day take over the world.  Ants fascinated me because they were so many different types of ants and these itty-bitty creatures were all capable of doing the most amazing things despite their size.

Our assumption is that no creature so small or that mindlessly lives in a hive-called a superorganism-could ever defeat us. But look at this io9 article from last year written by Robert T. Gonzales that presents ten facts that illustrate that ants are poised to one day enslave us all.

For instance take Fact #6 from Gonzales’s list:

“In their Pulitzer-prize winning book The Ants, researchers Bert Holldobbler and Edward O. Wilson estimate that there are upwards of 10,000,000,000,000,000 individual ants alive on Earth at any given time.”

And do you know where all 10,000,000,000,000,000 of those ants are right now? In my kitchen, living room, dining room, bathroom, and bedroom.

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Researchers Find What They Are Looking For With GPS and Polar Bears

Posted by Samina Cabral
Samina Cabral
Samina Cabral is a native Southern Californian who now resides on the shores of
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on Wednesday, 20 March 2013
in Mother Nature's Big and Small

Dr. Seth Cherry of the University of Alberta and a team studied polar bears in the extremely cold polar-bear-cubs-collar-Andrew-Derocher-University-Alberta-OEB-0056conditions of the western Hudson Bay for ten years to see what impact, if any, climate change and its affect on the ice’s melting and forming would have on the polar bear’s ice-based habits.

The Hudson Bay is a body of water almost completely surrounded by northeastern Canada. It is the second largest bay in world (the Bay of Bengal is the largest) with a surface area of 1,230,000 kilometers2 (470,000 square miles). It is a part of the North Atlantic Ocean but some portions of it are considered to be part of the Arctic Ocean. Whatever way you want to look at the bay it’s still cold and there are polar bears.

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Mummies with Heart Disease and an Ancient Sun Dial

Posted by Samina Cabral
Samina Cabral
Samina Cabral is a native Southern Californian who now resides on the shores of
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on Thursday, 14 March 2013
in Earth Blog

With all the focus on using the sun’s energy to power our homes we can forget that ancient people used egypt-sun-dial-death-clock-university-baselthe sun to help tell time. We forget about that because our cell phones do that for us and they are portable and don’t weigh as much as a sun dial.

A team of researchers from the University of Basel say that have found one of the world’s oldest sun dials.

A flattened piece of limestone was found during archaeological excavations in the Kings’ Valley in Upper Egypt. Researchers think it could have been used as a sort of time clock to measure the working hours of the men who constructed the final resting places of Egyptians because the fragment was found near the stone huts where the workers were known to live in the 13th century BC.

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Finland Looks To Cardboard While Sweden Uses Plastic

Posted by Samina Cabral
Samina Cabral
Samina Cabral is a native Southern Californian who now resides on the shores of
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on Wednesday, 13 March 2013
in Earth Blog

In Sweden they are putting plastic in the water to study ocean acidification and climate change. Gertje-Konig-mesocosmMeanwhile, next door over in Finland, researchers are thinking about making diapers out of cardboard. Has all of Northern Europe gone crazy?

Nope. Scientists might look like they are doing crazy things from our point of view but they have a master plan. That plan is to gain our trust by getting plausible results after doing or saying crazy things so we will keep listening to them and giving them funding.

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Study Finds Bats Do Well After a Forest Fire

Posted by Samina Cabral
Samina Cabral
Samina Cabral is a native Southern Californian who now resides on the shores of
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on Thursday, 07 March 2013
in Mother Nature's Science

In 2002 what is considered to be one of the worst brush fires (as if there was ever a “good brush fire” and pallid bat-Antrozous pallidus-w-frickcontrolled burns don’t count) in California’s history ripped through  the Sequoia National Forest and a portion of the Inyo National Forest.

The fire burned from July 21st to August 29th, destroyed a total of 150,670 acres, 14 structures, and cost approximately $45.7 million to extinguish.  The fire was eventually linked to a woman from Bakersfield named Peri Dare Van Brunt. She let a campfire she had been using to cook a meal burn out of control at Road's End Resort.

A United States Forest Service day-by-day breakdown of the cost, acres contained, and staggering amount of personnel needed to fight a brush fire can be found here at ponderosaca.com. Ponderosa is a Census-designated place in Tulare County. The tiny town was one of the two communities threatened by the fire.

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Clean Snowmobile Challenge Scheduled to Begin Tomorrow

Posted by Samina Cabral
Samina Cabral
Samina Cabral is a native Southern Californian who now resides on the shores of
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on Sunday, 03 March 2013
in Clean Energy Technology

This year a total of 21 teams from United States and Canadian universities have registered their Clarkson-winner-internal-combustion-category-2012-SAE-Clean-Snowmobile-Challengesnowmobiles for this year’s Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) Clean Snowmobile Challenge.

Queen’s University in Ontario and Rochester Institute of Technology in New York are the two rookie teams that are helping make this year’s batch the largest ever since the first challenge in 2003 according to the Michigan Snowmobile Association.

“Students learn critical lessons about hands-on engineering and designing for the environment, plus the Clean Snowmobile Challenge is a huge asset to our local community,” said co-organizer Jay Meldrum. Meldrum is the director at Michigan Tech University’s Keweenaw Research Center (KRC).

The facility’s mission is: “To generate and conduct externally funded research in science and engineering in support of the University's overall educational mission.” They conduct research for the military and corporations to fine tune everything from tanks to dishwashers.

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How the Dust of Asia Ends up in the Sierra Nevada

Posted by Samina Cabral
Samina Cabral
Samina Cabral is a native Southern Californian who now resides on the shores of
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on Saturday, 02 March 2013
in Mother Nature's Science

Did you know that there are two songs that poetically exaggerate the lack of rain in southern California?snow-sierra-california-a-conant-mfile

One was written by two British guys in 1972 and the chorus is: “It never rains in California, but girl don't they warn ya. It pours, man it pours." The other is a 90’s R&B hit by Tony! Toni! Tone! which immediately opens with the famous line: “It never rains in southern California.”

Besides being boring songs about other things, the former about how Hollywood is cruel town and the other about a relationship, they are factually inaccurate. It rains and sometimes it even snows in the Golden State!

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Big Meteorite Found in Antarctica

Posted by Samina Cabral
Samina Cabral
Samina Cabral is a native Southern Californian who now resides on the shores of
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on Thursday, 28 February 2013
in Earth Blog

A month ago, a few weeks before a space rock with an estimated size of 55 feet (17 meters) slammed into Russia, a team of eight international scientists from Belgium and Japan were in Antarctica scanning theSAMBA-meteorite-1-IPF frozen environment for fragments of space rocks for the SAMBA project.

They hit the jackpot when they found a rock weighing 18 kilograms or 39 pounds embedded in the Nansen Ice Field. Researchers say this is the largest meteorite found in the region in over twenty years. The previous record holding rock was found in 1988.

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Ode to Sourdough

Posted by Samina Cabral
Samina Cabral
Samina Cabral is a native Southern Californian who now resides on the shores of
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on Saturday, 23 February 2013
in Clean Factoids

Did you know that sourdough bread resists mold? I didn’t know that. But that may be because I haven’t Sourdough-miche-boule-Chris-R- Sims psdhad the luxury of letting a decent loaf (a honest-to-goodness loaf) of sourdough bread sit out to waste away since leaving the Golden State. I’m not even able to splurge on a Sourdough Jack from Jack in the Box because the fast food chain isn’t found in this region. I'm not bitter, I'm just hungry.

Fun Fact: The mascot of the San Francisco 49ers is named “Sourdough Sam” as a nod to the bread’s Gold Rush era heritage in Northern California.

The football team’s website says Samster’s favorite food is garlic fries. Shouldn’t his favorite food be sourdough bread? I’ve heard it said that you can make sandwiches with the stuff. No one could hate a sandwich.

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Kissing Bugs and Chagas Disease

Posted by Samina Cabral
Samina Cabral
Samina Cabral is a native Southern Californian who now resides on the shores of
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on Thursday, 14 February 2013
in Earth Blog

Hey, it’s Valentine’s Day! No better day than today to discuss Chagas disease: the potentially deadly this-is-what-causes-chagas-disease-Trypanosoma cruzi crithidiatropical infection caused by "kissing bugs!"

Last spring officials were keeping an eye on the treatable but not curable disease.

A study warned that warmer temperatures (caused by climate change) could drive the bug northwards from its current habitat in the country’s lower two thirds and the rate of Chagas would rise.

Researchers took a sampling of bugs from Arizona and California and found 38 percent of the bugs had human blood. Then they tested for the parasite Trypanosoma cruzi that causes Chagas and more than 50 percent of the bugs were found to be carriers.  Last March there were only seven documented cases of the disease in the United States and a Chagas expert said the transmission rate was “very low.”  

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It Was a Dark and Snowy Night

Posted by Samina Cabral
Samina Cabral
Samina Cabral is a native Southern Californian who now resides on the shores of
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on Monday, 04 February 2013
in Earth Blog

Last night I drove home from a friend’s house after the Super Bowl (I wonder if they had to purchase less night-road-mfilecarbon offsets because power was out for thirty minutes at the Superdome) in light snow.

Driving in these seemingly normal, or at least currently unavoidable to the rest of the entire Northeast, Midwestern, and Eastern portions of the United States, conditions is not something I am accustomed to at all. I thought the groundhog said we would have an early spring?

I spent the whole time behind the wheel alternately shaking from fear and the cold while my husband walked me through some of the maneuvers  -getting on the freeway onramp, getting off the freeway, driving straight.  He was forced to sit and listen to me whine and complain about the task for about thirty minutes. What was my biggest complaint? I couldn’t see anything!

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Do You Know Where Your Local Biobank is Located?

Posted by Samina Cabral
Samina Cabral
Samina Cabral is a native Southern Californian who now resides on the shores of
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on Monday, 28 January 2013
in Earth Blog

“Biobanks are increasingly important to scientific advances, but our decentralized, fragmented researchNIGMS-NIH-biobank-facility enterprise system in the U.S. has encouraged their development without necessarily providing them with the tools to survive," said Gail Henderson, PhD, professor and chair of social medicine at the University of North Carolina (UNC). Henderson is also the head of UNC's Center for Genomics and Society.

A biobank (a facility is shown at right; storing what exactly I'm not quite sure) is a place, sometimes run by a hospital or a university, that curates human specimens like blood for research purposes. Some biobanks even share their specimens or the data they’ve collected from their human body bits.

Last year Henderson and her colleagues conducted an online national survey of biobanks (facilities were offered a a $30 Amazon gift card if they participated which they should use to buy Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach) and the results are available now for us all to gawk at in morbid curiosity.  

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Would You Drink Milk That Is Flaxseed Fortified?

Posted by Samina Cabral
Samina Cabral
Samina Cabral is a native Southern Californian who now resides on the shores of
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on Sunday, 27 January 2013
in Earth Blog

Ten pregnant Holstein cows, the quintessential black and white farm animal but the name is also used holstein-dairy-cows-mfilewhen referring to red and white cows, at Oregon State University’s dairy were fed different amounts of flaxseed because researchers were bored with cow-tipping. Just kidding!

They were looking for the optimal amount of the supplement to a dairy cow’s current diet: mixtures of corn, grains, alfalfa hay, and grass silage.  This diet leads to dairy products that are low in concentrations of omega-3 fatty acids and other polyunsaturated fats. This doesn’t mean items are unhealthy but researchers thought that products could be more nutritious.

Ideally, the supplement would transfer its nutritional properties to the milk that is then used for other dairy products but not affect the texture and quality of the final product sent to grocery stores.

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Logs Thrown Into The Ocean Become Hotspots

Posted by Samina Cabral
Samina Cabral
Samina Cabral is a native Southern Californian who now resides on the shores of
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on Tuesday, 22 January 2013
in Mother Nature's Water

A team of scientists from the research organization Max Planck in Germany dumped some stuff into the logs-mfile-rjoshEastern Mediterranean Sea in the name of science! They also used underwater robot technology to study the results after dropping four wood logs (Douglas fir) with smaller logs attached on the seafloor at depths of 1,700 meters or over 5,000 feet.

Three of the logs were deployed using the remote operated vehicle (ROV) Quest 4000, the little robot NOAA used back in September of last year to study underwater volcanoes in the Lau Basin. The Max Planck study was conducted in 2006-2007 so the ROV had plenty of time to rest up for NOAA.

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A Look At Chicago's Urban Gardens

Posted by Samina Cabral
Samina Cabral
Samina Cabral is a native Southern Californian who now resides on the shores of
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on Sunday, 20 January 2013
in Mother Nature's Vegetation

Doctoral candidate John Taylor, at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s Department of Crop onions-garden-1971ks-mfileSciences,  was skeptical about the lists of urban gardens that were being circulated by local non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Taylor told the university’s news office that of the NGO lists he saw one reported almost 700 urban gardens in Chicago.

700 urban gardens may seem like a lot but when you start to think about the size and population of the city that one list didn’t seem accurate to Taylor. He surmised that there were actually more than what the lists presented. The content of the lists weren’t always accurate either and Taylor said some of the greenery was just well, greenery: planter boxes or landscaping that did not produce food, at least not food for humans.

So Taylor partnered with Assistant Professor Sarah T. Lovell at the same department to obtain a more accurate count of urban gardens with the help of everyone’s favorite time-waster and map on the Internet- Google Earth.

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Giant Peach Would Have Needed More Birds

Posted by Samina Cabral
Samina Cabral
Samina Cabral is a native Southern Californian who now resides on the shores of
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on Tuesday, 08 January 2013
in Clean Fun

Four students from the University of Leicester Department of Physics and Astronomy have done the seagulls-ocean-mfile-2impossible and called out beloved children’s author Roald Dahl for bad science.

In Roald Dahl’s book James and the Giant Peach (which was made into a movie produced by Tim Burton in 1996; both were referenced in the study) James, the seven year old main character, sails across the Atlantic Ocean in house-sized peach with some giant, talking insects that happened to be living in the fruit.

For the first leg of the sea adventure he sails the giant peach like a boat. Then (spoiler alert) the peach is lifted into the air by 501 seagulls that had to be tethered to the stem of the peach by the thread of the Silkworm or the peach’s residents would have all been the stars of an episode of “Shark Week.”

The research team looked at both the ability of the peach to be navigable and the execution of the 501 seagull rescue.

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Friday Creature Feature: Western Long-Beaked Echidna

Posted by Samina Cabral
Samina Cabral
Samina Cabral is a native Southern Californian who now resides on the shores of
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on Friday, 04 January 2013
in Mother Nature's Big and Small

There are only five egg-laying species of mammals in the world and of the five species three of those are Long beaked Echidna wikilong-beaked echidna: the Western, Eastern, and Sir David Attenborough's because what species is complete without a nod to the beloved naturalist?

The western long-beaked echidna (Zaglossus bruijnii) differs slightly from other echidna: it has three instead of four claws on all its feet, larger than its short-beaked relatives at 36 pounds and are likened to the size of beach-balls. They prefer to root out earthworms for sustenance, rather than ants and termites, with their long downward turning tubular snout. Its spiny covering, like a porcupine or hedgehog is basically indistinguishable from the long, coarse muddy colored fur that also covers its body.

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Don't Serve Hot Chocolate in White Cups

Posted by Samina Cabral
Samina Cabral
Samina Cabral is a native Southern Californian who now resides on the shores of
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on Thursday, 03 January 2013
in Clean Fun

Betina Piqueras-Fiszman, a researcher at the Polytechnic University of Valencia in Spain, and Charles aisle of mugs jusbenSpence, from the University of Oxford United Kingdom, published a fun little study in the Journal of Sensory Studies called: "The Influence of the Color of the Cup on Consumers' Perception of a Hot Beverage." The hot beverage in this study was hot chocolate.

The researchers asked 57 participants to evaluate (the science term for drink and taste) samples of hot chocolate served in four different types of plastic cup that were all the same size but different colors: white, dark cream, red, and orange with white on the inside.

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Mussels Could Help Strengthen Teeth

Posted by Samina Cabral
Samina Cabral
Samina Cabral is a native Southern Californian who now resides on the shores of
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on Wednesday, 02 January 2013
in Mother Nature's Big and Small

Researchers in China “bathed” human teeth that had worn-away enamel and dentin in a liquid that was wind up teeth mconnorsinspired by the adhesive properties of mussels- the partially-edible bivalve or one of its relatives that cling to the surfaces of stuff out in the ocean.

The study’s abstract did not mention if the teeth were currently living in someone’s mouth or if the teeth were strays that had been donated to science.

People with teeth that have worn-away enamel (the outermost layer of a human tooth) and dentin (the softer layer directly under the enamel) have “exposed” dentinal nerves that leave them hyper-sensitive to food’s temperatures and even foods that are sweet or sour. Eating and drinking can become a painful chore for these unfortunate people.

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Cosmic Radiation Is Not Good for the Brain

Posted by Samina Cabral
Samina Cabral
Samina Cabral is a native Southern Californian who now resides on the shores of
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on Tuesday, 01 January 2013
in Mother Nature in Outer Space

My husband and I have been watching Cosmos, it’s a thirteen part television series that originally aired on mars manned art render NASA-Pat Rawlings SAICPBS in 1980 before either of us were born. I’ll sum up the content because there is too much: space, our planet, and various applicable theories. The series is hosted by Carl Sagan, a prolific astronomer and cosmologist. He also helped produce and write the series.

The eighth episode is called “Journeys in Space and Time” and Sagan discusses time travel, light speed, faster-than-light travel, and the fantastical future of spacecraft that could one day take humans to the extremely distant places in our universe and the implications of these activities.

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1944: Camano Class Light Cargo Ship was laid down for the US Army as FS-289 at Wheeler Shipbuilding in Whitestone, NY.

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1945: Delivered to US Army.

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1950: Acquired by the US Navy on July 1, 1950 and placed in service as USNS New Bedford (T-AKL-17).

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1954: The movie, Mister Roberts, was made on the USNS New Bedford (T-AKL-17).

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1955 - 1963: Used as a cargo supply ship for the Texas Towers, a network of advanced radar stations located off the Eastern Seaboard. In 1957, Capt. Sixto Mangual was commander of the AKL-17 and in 1961 it was rechristened the USNS New Bedford. The New Bedford, sailing out of State Pier, was keeping vigil when Texas Tower No. 4 callapsed off the New Jersey coast during a January 1961 nor'easter.

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1963: Reclassified as Miscellaneous Unclassified (IX-308).

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1971: The New Bedford (IX-308) served as a Torpedo Test Firing Vessel in the Puget Sound area.

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1994: Ceremony in New Bedford.

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1995: The ship was struck from the Naval Register on April 4.

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2004: The Sea Bird's current disposition is a tuna long liner (fishing boat) out of San Diego, CA.

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2006: Design of the Tesla Turbine began on June 11, 2006. The Sea Bird was sold by Defense Reutilization and Marketing Service for commercial service.

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2007: The Sea Bird was drydocked for renovations.

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2008: The Sea Bird setting sail to Sea-Tac in Seattle, WA.

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2009 - 2010: The Sea Bird is currently docked at Seattle Sea-Tac.

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