Wednesday, May 23, 2007

300th anniversary of the birth of Carl Linnaeus

From the New York Times:

Carl Linnaeus, the Swedish naturalist, was born 300 years ago today and is remembered as the man who gave the world modern taxonomy, the science of classifying organisms. The event was observed at the New York Botanical Garden and reported in today's edition of the NYT. Robbin C. Moran, a Linnaeus expert and the garden’s curator of ferns, noted that Linnaeus had a penchant for naming "smelly, ugly plants" after his critics (of whom there were many). [read more]

The University of California Museum of Paleontology offers a succinct biography of Linnaeus, also known as Carl von Linné or Carolus Linnaeus.
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Monday, May 21, 2007

Sounds of the Earth: Seismic Revelations of the Earth's Interior

John Bullitt has created Deep Earth Dome, a publicly accessible, web-based sound installation with sound clips of vibrations of the earth's crust and "reverberations of thousands of small earthquakes bouncing around the interior of the earth." Grab your headphones (you can check some out from our circulation desk) and listen to the amazing movements beneath our feet, and consider the thousands of miles of earth and water (not to forget telecommunications hardware and air) through which those sound waves traveled to reach your ears. Earthwatch Radio describes John Bullitt's work in a recent broadcast [click on "Listen" at the Earthwatch Radio web site, then visit Deep Earth Dome for more]. Visit often and hear the Sound of the Week. About John Bullitt.
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Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Evolution is a Many Splendored Thing

"A Novel Electrosensory Organ" is depicted on the cover of BioScience (May 2007, now on display with this week's journals) in the form of the rostrum of the paddlefish Polyodon spathula. Take a few moments away from studying for finals and marvel at the evolutionary pathway that led to the development of this exquisitely receptive organ, uniquely adapted to detect planktonic prey (primarily the water flea, Daphnia) in turbid, vision-limiting environments.

Investigators Lon Wilkens and Michael Hofmann, Center for Neurodynamics and the Department of Biology, Univ. of Missouri St. Louis, have studied P. spathula for more than a dozen years. See also an earlier review by Wilkens in The senses of fish : adaptations for the reception of natural stimuli edited by Gerhard von der Emde, Joachim Mogdans, and B.G. Kapoor [Science Library QL639.1 .S44 2004].

Friday, May 11, 2007

A Bumper Crop of New Books

Spring often brings a rush of new books to the library, and this year is no exception. Books received today include a wide range of titles, with something to appeal to everyone. Here are just a few to lure you in. Take a break from preparing for finals, sit a spell by the new book display and read something to refresh your thinking!

Learning to Smell
"Drawing on research in neuroscience, physiology, and ethology, Donald A. Wilson and Richard J. Stevenson address the fundamental question of how we navigate through a world of chemical encounters and provide a compelling alternative to the "reception-centric" view of olfaction." [Johns Hopkins University Press]

The End of the Wild is a "wake-up call. Marshaling evidence from the last ten years of research on the environment, Stephen Meyer argues that nothing--not national or international laws, global bioreserves, local sustainability schemes, or "wildlands"--will change the course that has been set. Like it or not, we can no longer talk about conserving nature, only managing what is left. The race to save biodiversity is over." [MIT Press]

From Alchemy to Chemistry in Picture and Story

University of New Hampshire professor Arthur Greenberg chronicles the mystery, truths, lies, art, and even humor of chemistry. Greenberg gives an engaging account of chemistry's history, introducing some notable characters along the path from alchemy and birth of metallurgy to nanotechnology and femtochemistry.
[Read more from the review at]

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Small Changes + More Small Changes = A More Sustainable Environment

Ideal Bite Offers Daily Tips

Looking for manageable ways you can make a positive impact for a more sustainable environment? Ideal Bite is a great resource!

From their Welcome page:
"We know that you would just love to "do the right thing" for yourself and the planet if it were convenient, fun, inexpensive, and made you feel good. But until now you have lacked a good source of advice for real people leading busy lives."

Ideal Bite "Eco-tips" give practical advice, with links for more information and persuasive arguments of how one small action on your part can have such a positive benefit for the environment. Check out the Tip Library.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

NPR Launches Climate Connections

Climate Connections is a multi-faceted series just launched by National Public Radio in collaboration with National Geographic.

Listen to the story of China's "Coal-Fueled Boom has Costs" from Morning Edition today, and hear Coal miner Wu Gui, who has been working the mines for 34 years, describe his role in China's economy as "a glorious job."

"I am making a contribution to the country," he says. "If we couldn't find coal, China couldn't get richer and more powerful, and we wouldn't be able to improve people's living standards."

NPR correspondent Louisa Lin points out that "China will build 500 coal-fired power plants in the next decade, at the rate of almost one a week. This massive appetite for coal means equally huge greenhouse gas emissions."

Other stories in the series include a report on England's fast-growing vineyards, yielding award-winning wines, thanks to a warming climate and longer growing season, and the advent of olive farming in Devon.
Visit Climate Connections: A Global Voyage for NPR stories on climate change around the world.