In Antarctica, Scientists Hail President Obama

20 01 2009

ROTHERA BASE, Antarctica (Reuters) – U.S. geologists working at an Antarctic base hailed President Barack Obama’s inauguration on Tuesday and expressed hopes for a stronger focus on science.

“It’s a very exciting time,” David Barbeau, assistant professor of geology at the University of South Carolina, told Reuters after watching the inauguration at the British Rothera research station on the Antarctic Peninsula.

“There certainly is a feeling that this administration will have science pretty close to the forefront,” he said in the base, by a bay strewn with icebergs with several seals sunning themselves on the ice.

And he said he felt inspired by Obama’s commitment to doubling the basic research funding over the next 10 years.

“It’s certainly very hopeful to have someone coming into office … who is excited about science and supportive of it,” said Amanda Savrda, a graduate student in geology at the University of South Carolina working with Barbeau.

“It seems to bode well for my future and the future of a lot of people in science,” she said. Barbeau and Savrda are trying to work out exactly when the ocean formed between Antarctica and South America millions of years ago.

At the Rothera base, other scientists are studying everything from ice sheets to starfish for signs of how they may be affected by climate change. Obama has promised to make the fight against global warming a priority.

Former President George W. Bush angered many scientists and foreign governments by deciding against adopting the Kyoto Protocol in 2001, the main U.N. plan for fighting climate change. All other industrialized nations back Kyoto.

From Reuters

— For Reuters latest environment blogs click on:

(Editing by Sandra Maler)


Early Childhood Parenting Examiner: How to have a Dinosaur Day with the kids for lots of fun

20 01 2009

Our Future Paleontologist tee is featured again! (They featured us a few months ago too.)

Read about it here:
Early Childhood Parenting Examiner: How to have a Dinosaur Day with the kids for lots of fun

Yellow Future Paleontologist tee in yellow. Photo

Posted using ShareThis

Freeform “Rocks”

18 01 2009

Bean bag furniture was never as cool as this. Especially if you are a geologist or earth scientist.

Some time ago we posted about Livingstones cushion-furniture which is uber-cool but hard to come by in the U.S.

Since then we found these equally fun rock-like cushions, available online from a shop in Colorado.

Taking her inspiration from nature, socially conscious South African textile designer Ronel Jordaan has set up a women’s workshop in Gauteng- Johannesburg where personally trained artisans create these “stone” floor cushions.

By transforming interlocking fibers made from 100% merino wool, these freeform oversized rocks and boulders fool the eye, but provide immediately recognizable comfort to weary torsos in search of a relaxing seat. Soft yet buoyant, the veined, smooth textured cushions can be arranged to support seat and back.

Plus they look like rocks!!

Available at VivaTerra, an eco-friendly online shop committed to sustainability and artisan goods.

Condors & Caves: Pinnacles Park Celebrates This Weekend

15 01 2009

Pinnacles National Monument will launch its 101th year with a series of lectures beginning at 7 p.m. Friday, January 16, at the Campground Amphitheater and continuing through the weekend.

Friday’s program, “Pinnacles 101,” will cover things visitors can see, hikes they can take, and ways to make the most of a weekend at the monument..

At 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday park rangers will present “Geology 101” at the Bear Gulch Nature Center; “Condors 101” from 9 to 11 a.m. and 3 to 5 p.m., with spotting scopes set up in the Pinnacles campground, and “Habitat Restoration 101 from 10 a.m. to noon at the Pinnacles Visitor Center both days.

Full Schedule:

Pinnacles 101
Friday night, 7:00 pm
Campground Amphitheater
Join a park ranger for this informal discussion that will cover the basics of Pinnacles, including things you can see, hikes you can take, and ways to make the most of your time here.

Condors 101
Saturday and Sunday
9:00 to 11:00 am and 3:00 to 5:00 pm
Spotting Scopes located in the campground
Stop by anytime during these informal talks to learn what the next 100 years may have in store for California condors and the condor program here at Pinnacles.

Habitat Restoration 101
Saturday and Sunday
10:00 am to 12:00
Pinnacles Visitor Center, Campground
Briefly learn about invasive plants and how park staff manages these botanical threats. Stick around to try your hand at pulling Horehound (Marrubium vulgare), a common campground weed.

Geology 101
Saturday and Sunday, 3:00 pm
Bear Gulch Nature Center
Come learn about the fiery past and slow-moving present of the rocks at Pinnacles, and what changes to expect in the next century.

For information about the geology that gave Pinnacles National Park its name and more, read here.

The Balconies Cave

The Balconies Cave, a narrow canyon with a roof of talus

Female acmon blue butterfly on coyote brush flowers

Female acmon blue butterfly on coyote brush flowers

Via The Monterey County Herald and the National Park Service

Diamonds Point to Ancient Global Cooling

2 01 2009

Th expression “say it with diamonds” was never meant to prove the hypothesis that a meteor may have been the cause of abrupt global cooling in North America 12,900 years ago. The theory that a meteor crashed into the earth as it was emerging from the ice-age, causing extinction of mammoths and other prehistoric mammals, and quite possibly humans, has long been discounted by many scientists. Lately, however, the discovery of microscopic diamonds in rocks are causing many to reconsider.

Examination of the diamond layer in the rocks not only correlates to the date of the meteor; it also  reveals a hexagonal structure that results from the extreme heat and pressure that only a meteor could produce, according to geologists. In addition, the  lack of evidence of any animal bones above the layer would seem to point to the occurrence coinciding with extinction.

Climatologists theorize that fresh water from a lake in Canada flooded into the North Atlantic, disrupting the currents that normally allowed colder water to sink, thus causing a very rapid cooling of the climate.

This climate change, known as the Younger Dryas event, is believed to have resulted in the extinction of many animal species, as well as the ancient Clovis culture of hunters and gatherers who were known to exist prior to this time period.

Scientists who disagree with the new findings insist that the lack of a crater and melted rocks disproves the meteor theory.

Read about this in the New York Times or the more detailed press release from the University of Oregon.