Tell us about something that happened today in history, and make it relate to current science.
The US Supreme Court ruled unanimously that individual human genes can not be patented because they occur naturally and aren't patent eligible. Gene sequences, however, according to the court ruling, could be patented. Read more at The Scientist magazine website.
Courtesy Mark RyanA rescue effort is underway right now in St. Paul where three children are reported to have gotten stranded in Lilydale Regional Park. A helicopter and several rescue units are on site. Two children has already been recovered and taken to hospital but one child is still missing. The children were part of a group of 4th-graders on a field trip from St. Louis Park.
Lilydale is a popular fossil collecting site for school field trips and others but the Decorah shale in the quarries where most of the fossils are found can become very treacherous in wet weather. The crumbly shale reconstitutes into a very thick, slippery muck when it rains making the steep quarry walls very unstable. Three inches of rain have fallen in the Metro area over the past few days.
A firefighter reportedly sustained injuries to his head from a falling rock during one of the rescues. Let's hope everything else turns out okay.
During the late 1860s and early 1870s, and despite losing his right arm during the Civil War, Powell led several extensive expeditions into the rugged, unexplored regions of the American West collecting geological, geographical, and ethnological data, along with natural history specimens for the United States government. A fervent scientist, Powell served as director of both the U.S. Geological Society and the Bureau of Ethnology, and helped found the National Geographic Society.
Powell is probably best remembered for his study and befriending of the Ute people, and for making the first explorations of the Colorado River (then called the Grand River) and the Grand Canyon. Lake Powell, a large reservoir located on the border of northern Arizona and southern Utah is named in his honor.
Courtesy Mark RyanIt wouldn't feel like it if you went outside here in Minnesota today but the vernal equinox - the traditional first day of Spring - occurred at 6:02am CDT as the local temperature hovered around 0 °F! It's the coldest First Day of Spring since 1965.
Courtesy Mark RyanThis is a repost from last year because it's once again March 14 (3/14), and that means it's once again Pi Day! That's the day set aside to recognize "the ratio of any Euclidean circle's circumference to its diameter", or in mathematical terms, it's an irrational number that begins with:
3.141592653589793238462643383279502884197169399375105820974944592307816406286208998628034825342117067982148086513282306647093844609550582231725359408128481117450284102701938521105559644622948954930381964428810975665933446128475648233786783165271201909145648566923460348610454326648213393607260249141273724587006606315588174881520920962829254091715364367892590360011330530548820466521384146951941511609... and on and on and on, yadda, yadda, yadda. (It wasn't intentional but I like how the number has gone off the page toward infinity.)
Pi Day was created by a physicist named Larry Shaw (aka The Prince of Pi) back in 1988. The symbol for pi is that thing pictured above. (Yes, it's a blueberry pi - my favorite).
On this 204th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin, U.S. Rep Rush Holt of New Jersey introduced House Resolution 41 to express support for recognition of February 12th as Darwin Day and for scientific thinking. Watch this rare and rational moment from Washington take place.
Courtesy Mark RyanThe Science Museum of Minnesota will offer plenty of activities throughout the museum this Saturday (February 9, 2013) in honor of Darwin Day, an international celebration of naturalist Charles Darwin's birthday held each year in February.
From 1pm-4pm, museum visitors will be able to learn about such things as mussel diversity in the Mississippi River, scientific illustration, dating fossils, and comparing differences between human and chimpanzee skulls. They'll also be able to take a virtual trip to the Galapagos Islands, and see the types of tools used on the HMS Beagle to navigate the globe back in the 19th century.
Charles Darwin was born on February 12, 1809, and published his great work On the Origin of Species fifty years later.
Courtesy ShutterSparks via FlickrToday is Groundhog Day, that special day when world-renown weather prognosticator, Punxsutawney Phil, (a groundhog, mind you) makes an appearance in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania in order to let us all know just how much more winter we'll have to suffer through. Well, this morning, Phil came out of his rodent hole at 7:25am EST, and - for whatever reason - wasn't able to see his shadow. That's good news. It means we're going to have an early spring, and I'm okay with that - I've had it with winter. But, you might wonder, just how accurate have Phil's forecasts been in the past? According to the records, Phil's been right only about 39% of the time, which probably makes him no worse than most of his colleagues in the weather forecasting game. Anyway, if you want to, you learn all about Phil and Groundhog Day at Earthsky.org. And, happy Groundhog Day!