The Man Who Changed How We Think About American History

History Imagined

Fountain of youthFor many students, the study of American History begins with Columbus wandering mistakenly into the New World, followed by a dash around eastern North America with French and English explorers, and finally settles firmly into the founding of Jamestown and Anglo-America. They may get a smattering of information on the Spanish and Portuguese explorers, as well. Most people know the story of Ponce de Leon’s fruitless searches in Florida for the Fountain of Youth, which in the best spirit of entrepreneurialism, is now touted as a tourist attraction in St. Augustine.1 fountain of youth_0

Students of Texas history get a somewhat more fulsome treatment of Spanish explorers, especially Cabeza de Vaca. It is part of the state curriculum. De Vaca was among the remnants of Pinola de Narvaez’s Florida expedition. Starving and fearing imminent demise, they were making for the Mexican coast on crude, hastily constructed rafts when a hurricane blew them ashore…

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Why March for Science?

George Lakoff

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The enormous role played by science — especially government-sponsored science — in our everyday lives is barely appreciated.

Start with modern medicine. We, the public, paid for it through the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and research universities where the medical researchers, surgeons, doctors and nurses were trained, and where tools like magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) developed. Modern drugs were also developed through basic research sponsored by NIH. Modern medicine is the dividend of our investment over decades in medical science.

Next, computers. Computer science didn’t just appear. It was developed through grants from National Science Foundation (NSF) and Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARP). The Internet was developed by the Defense Department. It was originally called the Arpanet. Satellites were developed through NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the Defense Department, with vast amount of new science: rocket fuels, physics, new materials for rocket shells, advances…

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Wildlife Wednesday: Nomads of the North – Common Redpolls

CutterLight

Regularly occurring in small numbers in the village during this past winter, at times eruptive flocks of dozens of colorful Common Redpolls have descended upon Chignik Lake.

Determining the population status of birds in the Chignik area can be challenging. Common Redpolls (Acanthis flammea) are a case in point. Overall, there are estimated to be about 13,000,000 of these crimson-splashed passerines in Alaska – a number which surely fluctuates considerably from year to year. At home in a range of habitats including Arctic tundra, scrub alder and boreal conifer forests, their call, an electric zapping buzz, is frequently heard from high in the sky even when the birds themselves can’t be located.

In addition to the electric zapping call flying redpolls produce, perched birds have a variety of voices, including a cat-like mew.

*Click to listen to redpolls calling.

But how common are redpolls on the Alaska Peninsula? They aren’t included among the over 200…

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Why are carrots orange? That’s why!

ItsNotWhatItsWhy

Earlier this week I wondered what makes carrots orange. Grass is green because it contains a light absorbing pigment called Chlorophyll, and certain leaves are dark red because they contain a different light absorbing pigment to absorb a different colour of light (wavelength) to chlorophyll. All pigments are present in chloroplasts, which is the site of photosynthesis, and this reaction converts light energy to sugars, which the plant will use as a source of energy.

There are also orange pigments, called carotenoids, which also absorb light energy. Why then, I wondered, do carrots need light absorbing pigments if they grow underground? When I googled this, I half expected the sort of answer that explains the origin of the colour orange, as does this article:

Why are Carrots Orange?What makes carrots orange? The plant pigment that gives carrots and other vegetables their vivid orange colour is beta-carotene. Fruits and Vegetables that…

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The Yellowstone Ecosystem

EnviroQuest

Happy 100th Year Anniversary to the National Park Service responsible for managing and preserving the national parks, monuments and reservations of the United States. Yellowstone, being the first national park, was declared a national park in 1872. The U.S. army was originally responsible for managing and protecting the park until the formation of the National Park Service in 1916.

Bison Silhouettes ‘Yellowstone Bison’ © Larry A Lyons

Two previous posts described the landscape and the geological features of ‘Yellowstone National Park’ and ‘Grand Teton National Park’. Both of these national parks are a part of the ‘Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem’.

This post provides a “glimpse” into some of the more iconic wildlife species that inhabit this diverse ecosystem. The intent is not only to provide awareness on some of the behavior of these animals but also to further assess our understanding on the importance of maintaining and developing…

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