Special On Sagebrush Ecosystem

I saw this trailer for a new Nature special. I was very intrigued with the name and its theme, I look forward to its debut! Check it out!

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New fishes!

This week was a hard one for the fish tank… After switching out the gravel my large 8″ Plecostomus named “Hal” died; after laying a large cluster of yellow eggs. I have had several fish die since I began my tank in July 2013 and I had been waiting on replacing some of them. This Friday I decided to pick up a few more fish including a new “cleaner” fish. I ended up bringing home 3 Gouramis and a Rubber Lip Plecostomus. I was able to get a few picture of everyone but the Rubber Lip Plecostomus, so I found a look alike. Enjoy photos of my new tank friends!

Pascal

Pascal

Alistair

Alistair

Flinn

Flinn

Gerty - look alike

Gerty – look alike

Rocks As Resources

Perhaps my idea of coal mining was a little too reminiscent of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and perhaps a bit outdated…

This past week I discussed with my students the uses of many rocks and minerals. I began the lesson by defining what a natural resource was and transitioned into talking about an economically valuable resource for the state of Kentucky, coal. I shared this video from CBS about coal mining, I was truly impressed (and so were they) by the ingenuity of the new machinery used to  extract the coal. Please enjoy!

Early Spring Blooms

Yesterday, I decided to get my camera out and photograph everything that is blooming or budding in our backyard. I was surprised to see the hostas are coming up, and our pear trees have small leaves and blooms on them. It won’t be long before the rest of the trees have their leaves and the planting season will begin. Enjoy these early buds & blooms!

springblooms

3D printer fabricating nature

The technology that currently exists never ceases to amaze me. I recently watched this video from sciencedaily.com and gained an appreciation for a recent endeavor  to restore coral reef habitat.  As displayed with this featured scientist, sometimes you do not  know where your passion will take you. Enjoy this short clip!

Bill Nye comes to Murray

Photo by Fumi Nakamura

Photo by Fumi Nakamura

Yesterday the Science Guy, Bill Nye, visited Murray State’s campus as a part of its Presidential Lecture Series. Despite the icy weather conditions  an enthusiastic crowd from the community showed up complete with signs and cardboard-cutouts.  The evening began with pictures and stories of his father working on refueling planes on Wake Island. Nye’s love of science was seemingly inherited from his father much like his affinity for sundials. Throughout the lecture  Nye utilized visuals to further illustrate his talking-points. As expected  his jovial, witty personality seemed to win over the crowd.

Looking back at the evening I thought the information that he shared from the planetary society was most interesting. Especially the segment on utilizing Xenon as fuel. He also emphasized the importance for science learning for future scientific discovery. Overall, a worth-while evening listening to a great science advocate, and edutainer.

To learn more about space exploration visit: http://planetary.org/

In a galaxy not so far away…

This semester I am taking an introductory Astronomy class and am loving every minute of it!  We’ve been discussing material on various types of telescopes, imaging techniques and ways to visualize various types of waves in the electromagnetic spectrum. The past two weeks I have been re-learning the basics of Earth’s makeup and movement as well as  surveying the 8 planets: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune ( Pluto is now considered a dwarf planet). I thought I would share some interesting astronomical bits from my studies.

from http://rastervectorgraphics-jchen.blogspot.com/
FACTOID 1)
Twinkle, twinkle little star how I wonder… This age old nursery rhyme was actually put to bed this semester after I realized why stars appear to twinkle. Stars don’t really twinkle out there in distance space but rather it is atmospheric interference that causes this observed phenomenon.
from http://aa.usno.navy.mil/faq/docs/moon_phases.php
FACTOID 2)
Does the face of the moon always seem the same? Well, it should the moon synchronously rotates with the Earth leading us to only see its “bright side” rather than its “dark side.” The few humans to look upon its other side have been the astronauts exploring its surface.
from wikipedia.org
FACTOID 3)
Have you ever seen something that seemed so familiar? As I was reading my text I came across this moon of Saturn. It kind of reminded me of a popular George Lucas weapon… I was unable to confirm whether or not this was inspired by the great Death Star but I can definitely see a resemblance.

Welcome to the world Baby Barb!

Today as I was attempting to photograph the fish in my tank when I noticed an additional smaller fish… It took me aback for a second and of course then I screamed with delight. My cherry barbs produced via egg an offspring. I guess that explains their recent peculiar behavior. Yet I am surprised I noticed no eggs or smaller fry. None-the-less I am quite excited for this new development. I better keep a closer look on my fish friends. Enjoy the photo of the adult male cherry barb and young.

Babyfish3

Informative interactive by Cornell Lab

Image by Greg Gillson

Image by Greg Gillson

If you would like to begin feeding the birds Cornell Lab of Ornithology has just  released a new interactive to help you get started. It categorizes what birds can be seen according to where you live as well as according to what they eat. Lastly, the program narrows down by feeder  the types of birds you may attract. Here’s the link – enjoy!

http://feederwatch.org/learn/common-feeder-birds/

Feeder Lookout

HousefinchconjThe other day when I went outside to take the garbage out I noticed that a few of the House Finches and American Goldfinches on my feeders hardly moved. I was able to get within 3 feet of them (which is quite abnormal). As I crept closer I noticed the birds that remained on the feeder had eye sockets that were greatly swollen. Since this was an unusual phenomenon I decided to find out what might be happening.

My search brought me to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology website (my favorite birding site) and I found the likely culprit was conjunctivitis. This disease was first noticed in Eastern populations of finches but has spread westward. This disease is not necessarily fatal but complications due to lack of sight usually result in death (starvation, exposure, predation).

The most useful information I found, however, was how to help these suffering birds. Since finches are a federally protected family (of birds) there are no medical treatments that I can administer. Yet, I can limit the spread of this disease in the following ways:

  •  Space your feeders widely to discourage crowding.
  • Clean your feeders on a regular basis with a 10% bleach solution (1 part bleach and 9 parts water) and be sure to remove any build-ups of dirt around the food openings. Allow your feeders to dry completely before rehanging them.
  • Rake the area underneath your feeder to remove droppings and old, moldy seed.
  • If you see one or two diseased birds, take your feeder down immediately and clean it with a 10% bleach solution

It is always unfortunate to find an injured bird however, there are some although limited ways to help. So keep a lookout and continue to enjoy backyard birding!

For more information visit: http://www.birds.cornell.edu/hofi/hofifaqs.html