Archive | Articles of the Acid Queen

She’s secretive, yet informative!

Museums Are Neat

Short list of things I like*:

  • Museums
  • Rocks
  • Google-ing shit

1877 photo features Ponca tribal leaders Big Elk, Standing Buffalo Bill, White Eagle, and Standing Bear. Standing are John Baptist LeClair and Charles LeClair.

That list set me to brainstorming a blog post that would forward a perfect pairing of objectives.  Said post must be marginally interesting while seeding the reader with an unstoppable urge to visit a local museum.  But what if there isn’t one in their town?  What is the smallest town in the United States? (Sorry international paleopals, I had to limit the search somehow.)  How far would you have to ride your speedy Schwinn two wheeler to get to a museum from there?  Out of five candidates for smallest city in the US, let us select Gross, Nebraska for closer examination.  The total population of 5 lives in a single household, making the theoretical travel arrangements slightly more managable.  As it turns out, the Ponca Tribal Museum and Library of Niobrara, NE is open Monday through Friday, 8-4.  Google tells me it is only 38.1 miles away from Gross, NE, a three and half hour bike ride away.

If you instead live in or around the 6th largest US city, Houston, TX, why don’t you come out to Dino Days at the Houston Museum of Natural History this Saturday, November 6 from 11-3.  “Discover how bone models are made, dig deep in our Fossil Dig Pit, and meet some living dino relatives and answer some tough Triassic Trivia! Bring your little paleontologist and together you can discover the world of the dinosaurs.”  There will also be a micropaleontology booth where learned foraminifera lovers can tell you all about our tiny calcareous friends.

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The Long Tail of Hardware

Open source hardware is fun for a girl or a boy!

I just read an interesting dissertation by Leah Buechley and Benjamin Mako Hill from MIT about diy culture as it relates to electrical engineering.

“… when media is easy to create, publish and distribute, production and consumption decentralize. While the 20th century was dominated by large companies who mass produced media that was mass consumed by the public, the 21st century is emerging as a time where media is produced and consumed in an increasingly non-homogeneous fashion by niche groups. These niche groups… use the internet to construct, share, find, and consume material that fits their particular (sometimes very particular) interests.”

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Census Day


Putting the party back in "Deep Sea Research Party" by Daichi Fujita

The census results are in!  Now we know exactly how many seats in congress are needed to fairly represent Bikini Bottom.  OK, you got me.  It wasn’t that kind of census.  I’m talking about the Census of Marine Life, the first attempt to systematically quantify all denizens of the inky deep.  Three main questions guided the direction and scope of this global collaboration: what did live in the oceans, what does live in the oceans, and what will live in the oceans?  Diversity, distribution, and abundance of life have been painstakingly observed, recorded, and now triumphantly reported. Continue Reading →

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Fermentation… on Acid!

lactic acid

Acid, of the lactic variety.

Here’s the deal, I bought a food processor a few months ago and the joys of shredding still seem fresh and new.  This novel invention combined with easy access to the bountiful harvests of my local and beloved CostCo results in some wild and crazy weekend antics.   The only tarnish comes when a giant batch of finely cut vegetables founders in my crisper drawer, leaving an indelicately reduced liquid to sop up rejectedly.  Even if the chopped vittles don’t turn obviously against me, I have suffered at the hands of food-borne illness often enough to throw things away before they become truly dangerous.  It would seem that my only remaining options are to give up my grating addiction or get my act together and attempt some “new” method of food preservation.  I will choose the latter. Continue Reading →

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The Great Walrus Haulout of 2010

Walruses

They usually opt for a habitat “on the rocks”, not on the rocks…

In what can only be described as yet another depressing harbinger of doom, the Pacific walruses in the normally frigid Chukchi Sea have decided, “everybody out.”  The USGS has been monitoring the Arctic walruses’ movements, foraging areas, and sea ice habitats through satellite radio-tags attached to our blubbery buddies since June/July 2010.  This year, the annual sea ice retreat has taken an unusual if not unexpected turn for the dramatic.

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Industrial Evolution

Babbage’s “Difference Engine #2” first built in 2002

For all of those US based readers and listeners, I salute your labors on this day.  The celebration of Labor Day dates back to 1894, something about Grover Cleveland trying to quell labor riots… we get the day off and towels and mattresses go on sale.

The fruits of my labor are reaped binarily rather than with a thresher, and if you’re exploring this corner of the interwebs I suspect yours may be too.    We should be looking back to the development of computing technologies which we have to thank for smooth girlish hands and carpal tunnel syndrome.

I got to thinking and worked out six degrees of Science Sort of in 30 seconds or less for this post.  Labor day, labor unions, industrial revolution, textile mills, Jacquard weaving looms,  and the eternal frenemies Ada Lovelace the “enchantress of numbers” and Charles Babbage designer of the  “difference engine”. Continue Reading →

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Nuisance to Cash Cow

 

Trichosurus vulpecula, the brushtailed possum, is native to Australia and was introduced to New Zealand during the 1800s with the ever popular notion of establishing a lucrative fur trade.  Shockingly, the buggers got loose.  Wait a few years and you have on your hands a bonafide invasive species with no known predators on the island.  They’re kind of cute, kind of ugly, and really hungry.  They are primarily folivorous, but have been known to eat small mammals in a pinch, also… wait for it… kiwi birds.  Bad idea possums, might as well come to America and eat baby bald eagles or mooselets in Canada.  This can mean only one thing.

The possums must be stopped.

 

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Roses are red, oceans are blue…

OK, I don’t know much about flowers, but lively oceans aren’t typically blue, they’re green-ish.

Green Machine!!!!

Primary producers (in normal marine environments) need to photosynthesize, which involves a healthy dollop of chlorophyll.  Trivial fun fact suitable for printing on the side of a tube of Gogurt this is not.  “The fact that [the oceans] are not blue has a [direct] impact on the distribution of tropical cyclones,” says Anand Gnanadesikan, PI for a new NOAA study slated for release sometime in the near future in the Journal of Geophysical Research Letters.

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Oil, it’s whats for dinner

Quick and easy n-alkane recipies for entertaning

Though people like to refer to their cars as gas guzzlers, organisms that eat alkanes more literally do indeed exist.   They are also media whores.

Yes, oil consuming microbes have been in the spotlight quite a bit these recent days as the gulf coast waits not only for the Macondo well to be permanently killed, but for the oil to go away.  Alcanivorax borkumensis is a feisty little guy, the first hydrocarbonoclastic bacterium to be genetically sequenced, and is found worldwide.  Though there are other species of Alcanivorax, A. borkumensis is a favorite in the world of bioremediation because it synthesizes not just one, but several potent enzymes that assist in the degradation of alkanes.  Naturally, they tend to dominate microbial populations in areas with ambient oil/gas seeps and those with high pollution rates. Continue Reading →

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Academic Gluttony

2 science machines

A grateful holder of gainful employ for almost exactly one year now, I’ve been more or less successful in temporarily quieting the cries of unemployment anxiety in a world where I am utterly over or under qualified to do most things but run a science machine.

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