In a scene reminiscent of the ending to the original Indiana Jones movie, five little moon rocks have turned up in a storage center for the Minnesota National Guard. Read more about this lunar mystery here.
Due to weather conditions including strong winds, the Boundary Waters Canoe Area fire is now consuming 60,000 acres of land. That's about 94 square miles -- or more than one and a half times the area of Minneapolis!
Mostly I think the photos are pretty, but if you like to geek-out about satellite imagery, you should note that these images use 250-meter resolution MODIS true color and false color imagery.
If you're interested in reading more about the BWCA fire, check out the Strib's latest.
The Minnesota Idea Open is a state-wide idea challenge to address important issues facing Minnesota. This year, the Idea Open Challenge focused on water issues, asking the public: “How would you use $15,000 to help your community become aware of and address water issues in Minnesota?” The Idea Open received 112 ideas from people across the state, and a panel of judges narrowed the ideas to three finalists.
Now, it’s up to the people of Minnesota to decide who is going to be our Challenge Champion! Watch the three videos below and decide which one should receive $15,000 to help make their idea become a reality!
Idea #1: Are You Thirsty?
Submitted by Loren Niemi and Sandy Spieler from In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre
Loren and Sandy’s idea is to raise awareness of water issues by merging theater and environmental education through artistic performances of “Are You Thirsty?” for organizations, churches, schools, and Greater Minnesota communities. "Are You Thirsty?" is a two-person performance that uses puppet and mask theater to engage the audience in thinking about their relationship with water.
Idea #2: Minnesota FarmWise
Submitted by Peggy Knapp from the Freshwater Society, in partnership with Lark Weller from the Mississippi National River Recreation Area (MNRRA)
Peggy and Lark’s idea is to recruit experienced and retired farmers who have successfully implemented conservation farming techniques. The farmers will mentor, educate, and lead other farmers to implement best practices that have been farmer-proven and farmer-approved.
Idea #3: Canoe and Kayak Library
Submitted by Todd Foster of Friends of the Sauk River
St. Cloud, MN
Todd’s idea is to create a canoe and kayak library where people in the community can borrow canoes and kayaks to use on Minnesota waters. Todd believes that getting people (especially youth) outside on Minnesota lakes, steams, and rivers increases the chances that they will help protect our state’s water resources.
Make sure to check www.mnideaopen.com to find out if your favorite idea receives $15,000 to make it a reality!
Minnesota Idea Open is a venture of Minnesota Community Foundation with its partners: Pentair and its Foundation, Ashoka's Changemakers and the Citizens League.
With breaking weather news like "Hey! It's the coldest week of this winter," and "We're only 30 inches from breaking the record for annual snow fall," I'm beginning to wonder why we Minnesotans live here. And it's only January 20th. We have another two months of winter to go. At least. Sheesh!
Coupled with the winter weather and winter wind chill advisories -- not to mention the copious snow emergencies! -- of this winter is the fact that I've been waking up in the dark for far too long and leaving work after dark as well. I don't think I quite have seasonal affective disorder yet, but I could sure use some good news on the Spring front, couldn't you??
Well, here I am to brighten your day:
The sun is already setting after 5pm! It has been since this past Monday (the 17th). Your commute and evening will be noticeably brighter over the next few weeks. By February 24th, the sun will rise by 7am in Minneapolis. That's just over a month away! There will be at least two more minutes of sunlight EACH DAY for the rest of January and most of February. By February 21st, there will be over THREE additional minutes of sunlight each day. Finally, there are only 5 months until the Summer solstice, or the longest day of the year.
Hang in there Minnesota... we've got this!
(Not from Minnesota? I'm sorry; that's too bad. But, you can find your own sunrise and sunset information using this sun calculator.)
Courtesy Erik OganIf you're in the upper midwest or in the Minnesota neck of the woods your hair probably looks awesome today. We're experiencing an epic storm system due to a record low pressure system sitting over the northern part of the state.
The record low pressure map there is pretty cool.
I saw several downed big tree limbs on my way into work this morning. I wonder how city public works departments respond to mega wind storms like this. I'm reading a great book all about various parts of urban infrastructure, and it leads me to think that there are lots of guys in cherry picker trucks driving around the city dealing with downed power lines today.
As of Aug 20, Minnesota has had 123 tornadoes. Texas is number two with only 87. Minnesota has never been number one in tornadoes before.
Courtesy Mark RyanThe Minnesota Science Olympiad State Competition for Division-B (junior high and middle school) students was held this past weekend at the University of St. Thomas campus in St. Paul, MN. The annual competition gives burgeoning scientists a chance to show off the knowledge, compete against each other and win some medals, too. Categories span across various disciplines, including ornithology, ecology, meteorology, paleontology, astronomy, anatomy, robotics, geology, and aeronautics.
Courtesy Mark RyanParticipants demonstrated scientific principles in several competitions. Team-constructed catapults launched projectiles in the Trajectory contest. The Wright Stuff gave future aeronautical engineers a chance to test their theories of flight dynamics using airplanes built of wood, paper, glue and rubber bands. The Shock Value category dealt with aspects of electricity, and precision built electrical cars were run through their courses in the Battery Buggy meet. But actually I never saw any of it. I was busy elsewhere.
Courtesy Mark RyanMrs. R (my wife) knows Brandi Hansmeyer, one of the division directors for the Science Olympiad in Minnesota, and I was enlisted to be the substitute coordinator/judge for the Fossils event on Saturday morning. What this entailed was setting up a classroom with fossil specimens and such, collecting tickets, distributing answer sheets to the teams, and timing their sessions (3 minutes) at each of the 15 stations. Most stations involved 3 or 4 questions that kids had to answer about a particular fossil, such as its classification, origins, etc. Participants were allowed to refer to binder notes or reference books they brought with them, which was a good thing, because to tell you the truth it was by no means an easy test. But as one of the organizers told me, the difficulty helps bring the cream to the top. Even so, most if not all of kids I saw showed lots of enthusiasm and a serious interest in science regardless of their level of knowledge.
Courtesy Mark RyanAfterwards, Mrs. R and I quickly graded the tests and ranked them by score then rushed them to the main tabulator for the award ceremony that afternoon. Bronze, silver, and gold medals are presented to each of the winning team members for individual events, and plaques and trophies are presented to the school teams with the most overall points. This coming weekend the senior high division will hold its Science Olympiads Competition, also at St. Thomas. Winners from both divisions get to compete in the national competition held later this spring at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign. It’s a nice prize for all their dedication and hard work in the previous year.
I made this video of soap bubbles freezing and shattering in Saint Paul, MN. The temperature was 15 below this morning, Jan 3, 2010 .
Courtesy wikipedia imageDuring the summer of 2009, I had the opportunity to spend four weeks in the field doing actual scientific investigation. From mid-June until mid-July, I was a participant in the University of Minnesota's archeology summer field school run by Professor Kat Hayes. The mission of the field school was to attempt to confirm the presence of a European footprint in this remote part of what would become a young Minnesota territory.
The site of Little Round Hill is located in Wadena County, Minnesota, part way between the towns of Staples and Wadena. Currently, it is part of a county park system. Located at the confluence of the Crow Wing River and the Partridge River, Little Round Hill is believed to be a historical site from the early French fur trading days.
The story goes something like this. In the mid- 1800's, William Warren wrote an account of Ojibwe life in a growing Minnesota territory. In his work, Warren interviewed an elderly Ojibwe man. This elderly man recounted days spent at a fur trading encampment while he was just a young boy. The encampment centered around the dwelling of a French fur trader and his handful or so of Coureur-des-bois . Staying with this trader were around ten Ojibwe hunters and their families. According to the account, Little Round Hill became the focus of contention between rival bands of Ojibwe and Lakota hunters. By oral recollection, there was an incident of more than 200 Lakota warriors approaching and attacking the outpost. The Frenchmen and Ojibwe held the attackers at bay with guns while barricading themselves into the main encampment. The attackers, with only a few guns and armed mainly with bow and arrow for projectiles, were unable to overcome the defenses and eventually retreated.
The site itself had been recognized for its historical implications for quite some time. For years, local residents have pondered that possible remains may lie buried at the Little Round Hill location. In 1992, Douglas Birk conducted an initial survey of the site. While artifact remains spanning several centuries were recovered in his explorations, they didn’t produce evidence of any of the structures described in the oral account.
The summer of 2009 excavations started out with a whimper. Rain and uncooperative weather hampered our beginning efforts. As the clouds passed, the field crew opened a handful of excavation pits and began searching for artifacts. The results were productive and encouraging. Items of distinct European influence started to appear in most of the test areas including musket balls, cut pieces of finished copper, small trade beads, a couple pieces of worked metal (still of undetermined nature), a few pottery shards and even a small ring (possibly silver).
Additional materials such as a stone arrowhead, lithic debris, and animal bones both broken and charred were recovered. After a month of work and close to a dozen open explorations, much more habitation evidence was revealed. While no sign was uncovered of the fortifications mentioned in the oral account, at least three of the excavation points did expose strong support for likely hearth locations. These may have been centered near the possible dwellings of the occupants.
Alas, the season of excavation is a short one in Minnesota. After a month of work, the crew retreated home with bags of evidence in hand. During the 2009-2010 academic year, the materials are being analyzed and cataloged at the University of Minnesota. A full report on the findings is expected this coming spring. While the preliminary data does not show conclusive evidence of the mentioned encampment, enough material was recovered to warrant further investigation. Plans are to return to the site next summer to resume excavations and expand exploration of the area. I, for one, can not wait and hope to have my hand in the dirt once again come summer 2010.
About 30 years ago my neighbor's kid won a college scholarship for his sketch of the dead elm trees in front of my house marked with big red X's. Now I fear for the the giant ash trees across the street in Como Park.
Apparently the emerald ash borer beetle (EAB) has been damaging our ash trees for years. The EAB were officially discovered in St. Paul's Hampdem Park mid May, 2009.
Minnesota has the second highest number of ash trees in the nation after Maine. Many of them were planted to replace trees lost to Dutch elm disease a generation ago.
The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) website has excellent information. Another, multinational website with the lastest information about EAB is emeraldashborer.info. I also recommend the University of Minnesota Extension website page which answers questions about ash trees and emerald ash borer beetles.
Park director Mike Hahm says Parks and Recreation will do everything we can to protect our tree canopy. Saint Paul has been preparing for this for some time. For over 5 years, we have been increasing the diversity of the tree species in Saint Paul and have not replaced or replanted Ash trees. A Pioneer Press article titled Protecting ash trees could cost St. Paul $2.8 million annually explains:
"Hahm plans to start a campaign of removing affected ash trees at a rate of 3,000 a year and replacing them with other trees the following spring. In St. Paul's St. Anthony neighborhood, 67 trees already have been cut down. Hahm said he plans to apply immediately for nearly $2.8 million in state and federal money to fight the infestation."
This link will take you to the St Paul website page on emerald ash borer info.