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Courtesy Public domain via Mark RyanToday marks the anniversary of the birth of Edward Drinker Cope, American naturalist and paleontologist born 174 years ago in Philadelphia. A child prodigy, Cope had little formal training in the natural sciences yet became very noted in several fields including herpetology, paleontology, and comparative anatomy. He published over 600 scientific papers during his lifetime, and described and named over 1000 prehistoric species, including several dinosaurs. Cope and his former friend, Yale paleontologist Othniel C. Marsh, became bitter rivals and were the principal generals in the famous "Bone Wars" that took place in the field of vertebrate paleontology from the late 1870s until their deaths in the late 1890s. Cope's huge 1000 page and wonderfully illustrated tome, The Vertebrata of the Tertiary Formations of the West is known as "Cope's Bible".
Every summer, we get to see incredible photos of massive mayfly hatchings somewhere along the Mississippi River. This year, however, a huge sudden hatching was captured on the National Weather Service radar based in LaCrosse, Wisc. Click through the link to see this incredible phenomenon.
The U.S. Marines this week demonstrated their new robotic mule in training exercises in Hawaii. The walking robot can carry up to 400 pounds of gear up to 20 miles before needing to be refueled. The Marines are hoping the robot will be able to lighten the loads of ground forces. Pretty cool, huh?
And, of course, Dave Letterman has already come up with a Top Ten list for the robotic mule:
Courtesy Mark RyanThe effects of the recent spells of hard rain will still be felt this week as flood conditions persist in Minnesota. The old single day record for rainfall at the Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport was shattered last Thursday (June 19, 2014) when 4.13 inches fell. On a personal level, we've never had water in our basement in the 20 we've lived in our Minneapolis home until after last Thursday's deluge. The seemingly constant rainfall has prompted me to make several trips to one of Minneapolis's favorite landmarks: Minnehaha Falls. Normally a tame, relative trickle during the summer season, it has been a roaring torrent of late, making it quite the spectacle to see and hear. And if just the sight of it doesn't blow your hair back, you can do like this Tennessee wild man and go over the falls in a kayak! But that's just crazy - and dangerous - so I'm not really suggesting you do it. Plus it's probably illegal. Local rivers will continue to rise for the next several days so who knows what it will look like later this week.
Star Tribune story
Courtesy Mark RyanThe government of the United Kingdom has banned the teaching of creationism as science in all academies and public schools. This is good news for the kids of Great Britain. In the newly added clauses, the UK government identifies creationism as:
"[A]ny doctrine or theory which holds that natural biological processes cannot account for the history, diversity, and complexity of life on earth and therefore rejects the scientific theory of evolution. The parties acknowledge that creationism, in this sense, is rejected by most mainstream churches and religious traditions, including the major providers of state funded schools such as the [Anglican] [Catholic] Churches, as well as the scientific community. It does not accord with the scientific consensus or the very large body of established scientific evidence; nor does it accurately and consistently employ the scientific method, and as such it should not be presented to pupils at the Academy as a scientific theory.“
Unfortunately, despite several court victories, evolution proponents here in the good, old USA continuously have to battle against a constant barrage of anti-science legislation that creationists keep trying to insert into public school science classrooms in several US states. This really needs to change.
Story on io9.com
Before the next time you feel like saying someone is as smart as a potted plant, you might want to watch this MinuteEarth video.
Courtesy Mark, Vicki, Ellaura and MasonIt's no surprise, people love taking trips to museums (like ours) to gaze upon the remains of dinosaurs (like ours), even though the non-avian branch of the ruling reptiles is long gone. Not so for artist Rachel Sussman. She likes to travel the world to seek out some of the oldest organisms still populating the Earth. We're not talking Larry King or Abe Vigoda. These things are a bit older and include sea grasses, underground trees, predatory fungus, and other organisms that have been around for more than 2000 years. In her research, Sussman collaborated with biologists and also published a book of photographs she's taken of the various ancient life titled, . You you can see a gallery of some of the photos here. Be sure to scroll to the bottom of the gallery page to see and hear Sussman's TedTalk on the subject.
Last Monday (May 19, 2014), after a full day of very heavy rain (2.25 inches at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport), I went out to see how Minnehaha Falls, one of Minnesota's well-known landmarks and geological features, was handling all that water. Minnehaha creek (a tributary to the Mississippi) was very swollen and overflowing its banks, and the waterfall did not disappoint as you can see in this video.
Like most of you out there, I've often wondered: "What exactly would happen if I fell into a volcano?' You have to admit you've probably spent way too much time pondering this nagging question. Well, wonder no more, my friends. This instructive video by Photovolcanica.com finally puts to rest the question we've all been asking.
Not to worry, that's not a human body being thrown into the lava lake in Erta Ale volcano in northeastern Ethiopia. It's actually a just bag of garbage - mostly food scraps - collected from a local campsite. The 66 pound bag of waste was dropped from a height of about 250 feet, easily breaking through the crust that made up the lava lake's surface. The violent reaction from the organic waste is startling.