Thursday, April 29, 2010

What You Need to Know About Energy

The National Academies site What You Need to Know About Energy provides "dependable, objective, and authoritative energy information," in an engaging, interactive style. The source list, or library, gives quick access to dozens of technical reports accessible online for free. Try the quiz! My less than perfect score convinced me that I still have plenty to learn.

What You Need to Know About Energy has been nominated for a Webby Award, along with some other very sharp science sites. View them all, then vote for your favorite! Voting ends tonight at midnight.

Related to this, we have recently ordered this book for the science library:
Beyond the age of oil : the myths, realities, and future of fossil fuels and their alternatives / Leonardo Maugeri ; translated from the Italian by Jonathan T. Hine Jr..Santa Barbara, Calif. : Praeger, c2010. Borrow it through OhioLINK, while waiting for the Oberlin copy to be processed.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Earth Day! Get Outside, for Goodness Sake

On this, the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, do what you can to appreciate the great outdoors and make a commitment to keep that spirit: respecting the natural world in all of its forms, working to conserve and preserve the corner of the world you inhabit, and supporting efforts of others worldwide who balance environmental, ecological, economic and social justice issues.  The U.S. National Park Service has enveloped Earth Day into National Park Week - if you can't get to a National Park this week in person, visit one online and make plans to enjoy our nation's natural heritage sometime soon.

Looking for the best environmental group to join or support financially?  This list of top-rated charities might help.  One of those top-rated groups, The Union of Concerned Scientists, does an excellent job of presenting complex scientific material in a manner helpful to citizens of any background, and covers a wide range of environmental issues.  This recent publication is an interactive anthology: Thoreau's Legacy: American Stories about Global Warming

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Amino Acids in Eye Lens Indicate the Age of Whales

A fascinating story on Pulse of the Planet aired today on WCPN ("IdeaStream!") - determining the age of Bowhead Whales by measuring the quantity of some types of amino acids in the eye lens nucleus  [listen to the story].  Marine chemist Jeffrey Bada, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, was interviewed for the story.
Beyond the immediate questions raised in my mind (how do researchers extract the material from the eye of a Bowhead Whale? Why do right-handed amino acids persist in just certain tissues?) was the surprising discovery that some animals are approaching 200 years old.  Wow.  A follow-up story is scheduled for April 23: Aging Whales--Underwater Advantage.

Get much more on the basic biology of the Bowhead from this special publication:
The Bowhead whale / editors, John J. Burns, J. Jerome Montague, Cleveland J. Cowles. Lawrence, KS : Society for Marine Mammalogy, c1993

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Shred your stuff on 40th anniversary of Earth Day

A number of events on campus mark the 40th Anniversary of Earth Day this week.  One of the less glamorous but very useful is the Earth Day Shredding Event (gather those papers now!).  Oberlin College's Recycling Students, along with the college's Purchasing and Facilities Operations offices, have arranged for shredding service from Noon to 3:00 P.M on Thursday, April 22. Bring up to two boxes of personal or business papers for confidential shredding and environmentally-friendly recycling.  Extra boxes of papers can be shredded for a small donation.
  • Location: East Service Building Parking Lot (located between the Safety & Security and Service buildings, 173 West Lorain Street) 
  • Donations suggested ($3/small box, $5 for a box of 10 reams of paper, but any donation is welcome!) with proceeds going to support Oberlin College's Recycling Students programs, operations and activities. 
The shredding mobile comes from Shredding Network.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Health Effects of the Persian Gulf War: Read Online for Free at NAP

Authored by the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies and published by the National Academies Press, this volume updates information on the impact of the Persian Gulf War on surviving U.S. combatants. Find much more information, including dozens of reports from government agencies and legislative bodies, with this subject search in OBIS: Persian Gulf War 1991

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Paul Krugman on Building a Green Economy

Very readable and persuasive; take 10 minutes and give it your attention.
New York Times online
Building a Green Economy
Published: April 5, 2010

"If you listen to climate scientists — and despite the relentless campaign to discredit their work, you should — it is long past time to do something about emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. If we continue with business as usual, they say, we are facing a rise in global temperatures that will be little short of apocalyptic. And to avoid that apocalypse, we have to wean our economy from the use of fossil fuels, coal above all.

"But is it possible to make drastic cuts in greenhouse-gas emissions without destroying our economy?"

Read more

Paul Krugman is a Times columnist and winner of the 2008 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Science.

Books by Krugman in the Oberlin College Library.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

New publication: FitzGerald and Rowsell collaboration

Published online March 29, 2010:
Quantum dynamics of adsorbed normal- and para-H2, HD, and D2 in the microporous framework MOF-74 analyzed using infrared spectroscopy
S. A. FitzGerald, J. Hopkins, B. Burkholder, M. Friedman, and J. L. C. Rowsell,
Physical Review B, 2010, 81, 104305.

“Through an ongoing collaboration between the departments of Physics and Chemistry, we are gaining unique insights on how hydrogen molecules stick to the surfaces of energy storage materials. Symmetric molecules such as H2 only become detectable by IR spectroscopy when polarized by surface atoms, and we are one of the few research groups in the world with the capability to observe and study these interactions.”--jlcr

Stephen FitzGerald is Associate Professor of Physics and Jesse Rowsell is Visiting Assistant Professor of Chemistry at Oberlin College.  Thanks to Jesse Rowsell for bringing this article to my attention.

Friday, April 02, 2010

IUCN Red-List Species of the Day: the Lion Finch

Proving that conservation biologists have a sense of humor... the Lion Finch.

Once you've considered the plight of the lion finch, take a moment to review the Species of the Day Archives.  It is a remarkable photo essay of species that may not be with us much longer.

From IUCN, the International Union for Conservation of Nature, celebrating biodiversity and committed to education on the essential need to preserve biodiversity for human well-being.  Learn more.