Thursday, February 25, 2010


Okay, this was suggested by Garrett. Thanks.

It manages to be funny, cute, and creepy all at the same time.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

More Biomes

This isn't really a posting to talk about this or that...just an image--or, really, a part of one image a very talented Danielle Allen turned in for her Biome Project.

Friday, February 19, 2010

A Glitter of Green and Golden Wonder

Ansel Adams is the source of the header picture. His website is worth the visit. The black and white pictures are truly spectacular.

From the Artsy page...please, be sure to visit. The images are insanely cool and worth a few minutes of your time.
            Our Ansel Adams page provides visitors with Adams's bio, over 150 of his works, exclusive articles, and               up-to-date Adams exhibition listings. The page also includes related artists and categories, allowing                     viewers to discover art beyond our Adams page.

The picture was taken in 1942. It's called Yosemite Valley Clearing Winterstorm [be sure to click on the images--they get larger and they are incredible].

Yosemite is a National Park in California. The number of links amazes me. Try this one too.

Ansel Adams captured the valley in photo more than once. He is quoted as saying: "Yosemite Valley, to me, is always a sunrise, a glitter of green and golden wonder in a vast edifice of stone and space."

The image of the waterfall is another Yosemite destination. Specifically, it's Bridal Veil Falls. Cool, eh?

Once upon a time I used to be in high school. My Advanced Biology class went there for a class trip. Mr. Forward was our fearless leader and chaperon while we (Dave, Don, Julie, Angie, and Joann to name a few) stayed there for a week. We stayed for a period of time in Tuolemne Meadows. We hiked to the top of Upper Yosemite Falls (a great description in wiki here)[in the image with the lake--credit for this image goes to Scott Reither]. We even woke to several fresh feet of snow [we had to crawl through and opening to get into the cabin because the snow was so deep--there was literally a narrow trench in the snow to walk in]. We all discovered nature in her most beautiful and awe-inspiring form. Yosemite was our classroom for just a week, yet I can honestly say it changed my life. The time I spent there probably helped shape my love for the outdoors. For example, anyone who knows me can attest that I generally carry binoculars and bird book. Many of my friends have even tried to amuse me by looking at a star or two [thanks, by the way]. The other students that went on that week long trip I still call my dearest friends. Whatever relationship we had going into that long week was changed forever after.

Spend a moment or two and browse the Ansel Adams gallery of photos and take a look at Yosemite through those links. And if you're ever near Northern California, you really must stop for a visit.

And the Extra Credit Option: If you decide to do it, you'll need one something (paper, poster, power point, etc.) of one National Park other than Yosemite or Yellowstone. Its worth up to 20 points depending on your level of product. This offer expires Friday evening the 26th of this month.

UPDATE: You can turn it in any way you want. Messenger Pigeon, slow boat to China, airmail, FEDEX, UPS, email, printout...they are all good.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Lewis Dot Structures and VSEPR

So, my two chemistry classes now have a couple of assignments about Lewis Dot Structures and now, recently, Valence Shell Electron Pair Repulsion (VSEPR) (well, you haven't been given the assignment yet, though you now have notes).

The assignments are on the sidebar on the right under the chemistry header. They are also, for your convenience, here.

If you're racking your brain with how the heck to do the assignments and put together the Lewis Dot Structures here is a link or two. Just be sure to follow the steps.From General Chemistry Online (simple & direct), or from the University of Maine (longer, but the steps seem more detailed), or more directed at high school from Mister Guch.

Friday, February 12, 2010


Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) takes pictures of the sun. This picture of our new green sun was taken just this afternoon.

Wow, things would be tons different if that was the case, wouldn't it.

Actually, as per NASA, it's an Extreme Ultraviolet ImagingTelescope image.

(EIT) images the solar atmosphere at several wavelengths, and therefore, shows solar material at different temperatures. This green image specifically looks at 195 Angstroms and the bright spots correspond to about 1.5 million Kelvin. The hotter the temperature, the brighter it is.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Lightning Volcano

The Chaiten Volcano in southern Chile erupted almost two years ago. It's a large volcano that is quite active. It erupted for over a month. The large plume of ash and debris it spewed is seen in the picture below. Check out the lightning that accompanied it. Click on it for a super large picture.

A recent study in the scientific journal Nature found that volcanic plumes can spin like tornadoes in large thunderstorms.

Credit for the image goes to UPI photographer Carlos Gutierrez.

Then there is this shot video of lightning in action. Ssss-lllll-oooo-wwww motion.

The search for a path proceeds through the treelike process [early in the video]. Finding the the thin trails that are somewhat lower resistance than clear air. Basically, a slightly higher density dust particle or raindrop allows enough electrical current to flow as it seeks out more path (most lightning never reaches the ground). These tendrils of ionization last a little while--long enough to present a temptingly lower resistance for the main strike. It is a race to which one completes the circuit first. The path of current downward seems to last a long time. Remember though, it's slow motion and it only takes a 1/10 of a second.

Once the path between the sky and ground has been found and established a surge of current (~56 x 10^19 electrons or so), flows through the slightly lower resistance pathway blasting the outer electrons from the atoms of atmosphere in its path to from a plasma arc. the dramatically lower resistance causes it to continue passing the surge current. The electrons stripped from the atoms of the atmosphere (oxygen, nitrogen, carbon dioxide, and argon) are free electrons that carry the current until the lightning strike dissipates the electrical charge that started the process in the first place. This upward blast is calculated to travel at very near the speed of light. It's the mixture of gasses that provide the color of the lightning that you see.

Two other short notes on lightning. First, we now know that lightning strikes are such high energy that they produce x-rays. The process of stripping electrons away from the atoms of the atmosphere and they recovery of the electrons as they fall back towards the nucleus would produce electromagnetic radiation at energy levels all the way to x-rays. Secondly, the air that was super-heated as the lightning passed through would cool just as fast as it left, and the rush of that air back and it's slamming together with the rest of the air makes a loud sound. A lot of it.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Three Toed Sloths

There are only four different species of three toed sloths: the Brown-throated, Pale-throated, Maned, and Pygmy. They are all arboreal (live in trees), and have a reputation for being quite slow. They are, however, great swimmers. The sloth pictured here is wet because he just went for a swim.

Interestingly enough, they don't have normal teeth (kind of a molars--kind of not) called molariforms. Also interestingly, they do not maintain a constant body temperature--it fluctuates with the outside air temperature. As a result they need to live in warm, humid environments near the equator [like Panama and northern South America].

The picture is credited to Bryson Voirin and the BBC.  The link to great slide show is here.

Monday, February 1, 2010


Okay, so...two homework assignments. The first one you need to start with is a homemade barometer. 

Homemade barometers manifest themselves in all shapes and sizes. There are at least two main types. I did find a simple one on's clear and concise.

At the Homely Scientist, a link to another type of barometer.

You will need to take a picture of your barometer and record 14 days worth of data.

The second, and more immediate assignment, is the graph of your Boyle's Law activity. The graph needs to be digitally generated. Excel or the like should suffice nicely. When you make your graph, please be sure it has a title and the axis are correctly labeled. Include units and ensure the data points are labeled correctly too. The only acceptable graph is a line graph for this data--bar graphs aren't made for this sort of thing. You'll also need to turn in your data stapled to it.

Good luck. And, as always, ask if you need help.