“The forks in the road”: Park Williams

Happy to say I found a way to profile the adventurous young forest ecologist Park Williams for the Santa Barbara Independent. The on-line version is the complete version of what I wrote; the print version is somewhat shorter. But let me add a couple of images and notes, because this story has a lot ofContinue reading ““The forks in the road”: Park Williams”

Female spiders like males who can dance, sing better

From Science Friday, perhaps the most purely enjoyable science story of the year to date, about the Dance of the Peacock Spider.   Seems we've been seeing many examples of species showing traits we think of as human lately. Using tools, like crows, or mourning the dead, like elephants, or having local dialects in languages, likeContinue reading “Female spiders like males who can dance, sing better”

Uncorking catastrophic climate change? Tom Toles

As usual, Tom Toles finds a funny way to dramatize a disaster: a methane explosion in Siberia.  Which raises the question: Well, how dangerous is the methane that is emerging from the Arctic? Is it just blowing holes in the permafrost, or does it presage global atmospheric doom? It's not a small volume of methane,Continue reading “Uncorking catastrophic climate change? Tom Toles”

Rolling the dice on El Nino: Too soon to predict?

Given that this is the worst drought on record in California, it's natural for people to hope for El Niño and all the rain that a good strong El Niño can bring. As the San Francisco Chronicle reported: …even as hope dims for a March miracle storm, climatologists say weather conditions could change this year ifContinue reading “Rolling the dice on El Nino: Too soon to predict?”

El Nino will not save you — sorry SoCal: Patzert

Must say it's been a lovely warm weekend…even if dry as heck. Perhaps we should get used to that. Last week William Patzert, the well-known oceanographer and climate expert, dropped some knowledge on on reporter Melinda Burns re: an upcoming "rainy" season in California. Her story is called Dry with a Chance of Drier, and it's aContinue reading “El Nino will not save you — sorry SoCal: Patzert”

“An orange river of sunlight”: migration of the Monarchs

Was driving through the warm little town of Ojai California when a monarch butterfly flew helplessly in front of my windshield and then shot up past the little car and out into the open air with a single flap of his wings. Fly on! Delightful sight. Made me wish for an instant to get outContinue reading ““An orange river of sunlight”: migration of the Monarchs”

Quakes strike fracked oil reserve in Ireland, Gov Says

Here's some news about fracking and earthquakes in Ireland: The largest earthquakes since 1843 have been confirmed by the British Geological Survey in the same area of the Irish Sea that suffered tremors directly linked to shale gas fracking. The two quakes occurred on Sunday morning with a magnitude 3.2 ML earthquake recorded at 10.58am, preceded byContinue reading “Quakes strike fracked oil reserve in Ireland, Gov Says”

The plan to set off earthquakes on the San Andreas Fault

Published this week a story in the VCReporter on fracking and earthquakes. Much of this story is specific to Ventura County, but the opening I think is pretty darn universal. (Certainly for Californians it's memorable.) Think it's almost a "once upon a time" story, although of a scientific sort.  From the days when we thoughtContinue reading “The plan to set off earthquakes on the San Andreas Fault”

NASA: Stellar womb gives birth to monster star

From an ALMA (ESO/NRAJ/NRAO)/NASA press release: Observations of the dark cloud SDC 335.579-0.292 using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter array (ALMA) have given astronomers the best view yet of a monster star in the process of forming. A stellar womb with over 500 times the mass than the Sun has been found and appears as theContinue reading “NASA: Stellar womb gives birth to monster star”