Archive for the 'nature' Category

09
Oct
13

Why Are People Right-handed?

Twining ivy

Twining ivy

Plants are left or right-handed. Look at them. They grow toward one direction, not

necessarily due to the sun. You’re probably most familiar with plants that have tendrils, or twine their way up a post  or fence. If you look more closely, you’ll notice that they form consistent right- or left-handed helices as they climb.

Non-human primates are balanced as far as handedness goes–some left, some right–as were Australopithecines. But when our genus Homo arrived, we became more likely right-handed.

Why? Take a guess before you read the article below. Defense? Hunting? Some requirement of balance with our upright position? Maybe a relationship between the right hand and left brain?

Read on.

The Origins of Handedness – Origins

Shared via AddThis

Share

20
Jul
13

Book Review: The Path

The Path: A One-Mile Walk Through the UniverseThe Path: A One-Mile Walk Through the Universe

by Chet Raymo

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Path: A One-Mile Walk Through the Universe, by Chet Raymo, is one of the most fascinating books you’ll ever read. Chet Raymo is a scientist, a thinker and a consummate inquirer. Everything excites him, draws his attention and I suspect threatens to distract him from his real job as professor emeritus of physics and astronomy at Stonehill College. Every morning, he walks to work along a course that covers approximately one mile. Having the type of mind he has, he can’t help but muse over every building, every smell, each part of his journey. It is in this book that he records his musings. Being a scientist with a passion for history, they are couched in the story of our Universe.He sees not just the upturned rock, but the forces that moved it to its current position and canted it at the odd angle. He sees not the flower by the stream, but its historic pilgrimage from Europe to its current home in New Hampshire. Continue reading ‘Book Review: The Path’

05
Jun
13

Book Review: A Short History of Nearly Everything

A Short History of Nearly EverythingA Short History of Nearly Everything

by Bill Bryson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

So often scientific books lose us lay people with their PhD language. Not Bill Bryson. Using his infamous skill as a story-teller, he approaches the history of science with the same non-threatening approach John McPhee applied to the geology of America. Technicalities are dispensed with broad, non-pedagogic strokes while the surrounding humanity draws the reader into the intellectual excitement that is science. Readers can’t fail but want to read more.

Here are some of the topics he covers: Continue reading ‘Book Review: A Short History of Nearly Everything’

07
May
13

Is The Earth Warmer or Cooler? Some Evidence

north-69212_640Despite that Al Gore declared this topic closed, there is much information that can be debated, with proof of global warming or cooling based on facts and science. Consider:

  • We are living in an abnormally cool period since the earth’s average surface temperature for most of its history averaged 22 Celsius compared to the present 14 C.
  • Ice ages occur at approximately 250-million-year intervals.
  • Fossil evidence suggest that during the Mesozoic Era (230 to 50 million years ago) the earth was 10 C to 15 C warmer than today.
  • One million years ago the current ice-age (Pleistocene) began.
  • Glacial stages last more than 100,000 years and are interrupted by interglacial stages that last about 10,000 years.
  • We are now living in an abnormally warm period compared to the earth’s average temperature for the last one million years (during which glaciation has prevailed).
  • The current interglacial period has been subject to climatic changes on a smaller scale than the change from glacial to interglacial but still large enough to disrupt civilizations.

Jacqui Murray has been teaching K-8 technology for 15 years. She is the editor of a K-8 technology curriculum, K-8 keyboard curriculum, K-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum, and creator of technology training books for how to integrate technology in education. She is webmaster for six blogs, CSG Master Teacher, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, Cisco guest blogger, a columnist for Examiner.com, featured blogger for Technology in Education, IMS tech expert, and a monthly contributor to TeachHUB. Currently, she’s editing a techno-thriller that should be out to publishers next summer. Contact Jacqui at her writing office or her tech lab, Ask a Tech Teacher.

Follow me

24
Apr
13

Extinctions are Part of Life

I read this article about the Eastern Cougar, now declared extinct, with sadness. It’s part of being human that we want to protect those in need, those weaker than us. The fact that we hunted this animal to extinction almost 300 years ago–as we did the American buffalo–doesn’t make it any more palatable.

The truth is, this happens all the time. Species are only viable when they can survive and thrive in their environ. When they no longer can, they die. The lifespan of the average species is only about 2 million years. Man tweaked that model by changing his environment, emigrating until we reached every corner of the world. Few species do that. Notably, insects do this with impunity, evolving a new species that fits the changed environment.

Most extinct species, we don’t notice. They were here and then gone and we move on. Some (buffalo, gorillas, apes), we try to stop the inevitable. The most notable to me are the Great Apes. They have been hunted and stalked until they now only survive in limited portions of the the planet, in limited numbers. They are as close to human as we can get without the technologic advances that allowed man to survive against greater odds. Tools, problem-solving skills, specialization. Yes, primates accomplish those traits thought to be unique to man and are evolving to do them better, but will they make it before they, too, become extinct.

Here’s the story on the Eastern Cougar. It’s sad, so don’t read it before you’re making an upbeat presentation.

An eastern cougar pouncing.
By Robert Savannah

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has officially declared the eastern cougar extinct, 79 years after the last one was reported in the wild in the United States.

The eastern cougar is a subspecies of the cougar, which includes the Florida panther and the western cougar. There are multiple subspecies, though exactly how many is debated among biologists. All are called by several names depending on the area, including puma, panther, mountain lion, catamount, cougar and painter.

The eastern cougar’s historic range extended from Maine south to Georgia, west into eastern Missouri and eastern Illinois, and north to Michigan and Ontario, Quebec, and New Brunswick, Canada.

Continue reading ‘Extinctions are Part of Life’

17
Apr
13

Numbers in Nature–the Movie

I’m not the only one crazy about numbers. These people made whole movies about them. This first is inspired by numbers, geometry and nature, created by Cristóbal Vila.:

This second one is about the Fibonacci Sequence (see this on codes and Fibonacci Number and this visual on Fibonacci Number):

This third one addresses the Golden Ratio (i.e., the Fibonacci sequence):

Enjoy!



Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy. She is webmaster for six blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a columnist for Examiner.com and TeachHUB, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing TeachersCisco guest blog,Technology in Education featured blogger, IMS tech expert, and a bi-monthly contributor to Today’s Author. In her free time, she is the editor of a K-8 technology curriculumK-8 keyboard curriculumK-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum, and creator of technology training books for how to integrate technology in education. Currently, she’s editing a thriller that should be out to publishers next summer. Contact Jacqui at her writing office or her tech lab, Ask a Tech Teacher.

Follow me.

06
Mar
13

Should You Worry About Asteroids?

During Lyta‘s time (the Plio-Pleistocene, around 1.8 mya), Nature was more violent than today. Africa’s volcanics were more common and more violent. Mt. Ngorongoro was still alive and belching smoke, as were its many neighbors, possibly due to the growing Great African Rift (the same one we predict will eventually tear the continent in two). Thanks to the triptych of faults (East Africa sits at a rare intersection of three tectonic plates), Earthquakes shook her terrain. The land was cooling, shedding the rainforests her ancestors enjoyed and adopting the grassy savannas still prevalent today.

And, unfortunately for Lyta, an asteroid hit Earth at the same moment a monstrous volcano erupted. Modern

Is this the asteroid that will hit earth?

Is this the asteroid that will hit earth?

scientists agree there is no imminent threat of Earth being bombarded by an asteroid like the one they suspect killed the dinosaurs 65 mya. They also agree we will eventually be hit. The average: about every 100,000 years, we get a bad one. Scientists also agree we have no reliable method of stopping them. Lasers. Nuclear weapons. Nudging them out of the way. They all have their problems.

Lyta lived 1.8 mya. It was her bad luck it was during that once-in-a-hundred thousand years year, and more bad luck–during a volcanic eruption. This confluence of bad luck challenged her nascient human problem-solving skills: She was separated from her infant son, her mate and on the run from that vicious future human, Homo erectus. You can see why I kept Otto focused on her life. Did mankind have the skills as the earliest of the Homo species to solve this sort of multi-problem?

As background for you, I copied this from NASA, to give you an idea how seriously we take potential asteroid impacts:

Potentially Hazardous Asteroids (PHAs) are space rocks larger than approximately 100m that can come closer to Earth than 0.05 AU. None of the known PHAs is on a collision course with our planet, although astronomers are finding new ones all the time.
Continue reading ‘Should You Worry About Asteroids?’



What’s in this blog

Discover the sizzle in science. It's not that stuff that's always for the smart kids. It's the need to know. The passion for understanding. The absolute belief that for every problem, there is a solution. The creative mind seeking truth in a world of mystery. The quest for the Holy Grail.

That's science.

Read Sizzling Science on Kindle

kindle

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 231 other followers

Share This

Bookmark and Share

Categories

Documents

Books I’m Reading

Great Science Books

Assembling California
Born On A Blue Day: Inside the Extraordinary Mind of an Autistic Savant
The Forest People
Geology Underfoot in Southern California
The Land's Wild Music: Encounters with Barry Lopez, Peter Matthiessen, Terry Tempest William, and James Galvin
My Life with the Chimpanzees
Naked Earth: The New Geophysics
Our Inner Ape: A Leading Primatologist Explains Why We Are Who We Are
The Runaway Brain: The Evolution of Human Uniqueness
Sand Rivers
The Singing Neanderthals: The Origins of Music, Language, Mind, and Body
The Tree Where Man Was Born
The Wildlife of Southern Africa: A Field Guide to the Animal and Plants of the Region
The Worlds of a Maasai Warrior: An Autobiography


Jacqui's favorite books »
Share book reviews and ratings with Jacqui, and even join a book club on Goodreads.

RSS Fact and Fiction about Early Man

  • Ki'ti's Story, 75,000 BC December 11, 2016
    author: Bonnye Matthews name: Jacqui average rating: 4.25 book published: 2012 rating: 5 read at: 2016/12/11 date added: 2016/12/11 shelves: early-man review: […]
    Bonnye Matthews
  • Meeting Prehistoric Man October 4, 2014
    author: GHR von Koenigswald name: Jacqui average rating: 4.00 book published: 1492 rating: 5 read at: 2014/10/04 date added: 2014/10/04 shelves: early-man review: Meeting Prehistoric Man by GHR Von Koenigswald is a journey throughout the world in discovery of early man as paleoanthropologists understood him during VonKoenigswald's time, circa 1950' […]
    GHR von Koenigswald
  • Letters from the Field, 1925-1975 September 13, 2014
    author: Margaret Mead name: Jacqui average rating: 4.21 book published: 1977 rating: 5 read at: 2014/09/13 date added: 2014/09/13 shelves: early-man review: If you didn't read my last week's post, you may wonder why I am so excited about Margaret Mead's eye-opening book, Letters From the Field. Even if you read me last week, you may wonder--I […]
    Margaret Mead
  • The Unfolding of Language: An Evolutionary Tour of Mankind's Greatest Invention January 12, 2014
    author: Guy Deutscher name: Jacqui average rating: 4.16 book published: 2005 rating: 3 read at: date added: 2014/01/12 shelves: early-man, research review: Dr. Deutscher has done a scholarly, thorough discussion on the roots of language, but I believe he started too late in time. I'm of the persuasion that language involves more than the spoken word. I […]
    Guy Deutscher
  • She Who remembers November 3, 2013
    author: Linda Lay Shuler name: Jacqui average rating: 4.11 book published: 1988 rating: 4 read at: date added: 2013/11/03 shelves: early-man review: […]
    Linda Lay Shuler
  • The Runaway Brain: The Evolution Of Human Uniqueness July 25, 2011
    author: Christopher Wills name: Jacqui average rating: 4.12 book published: 1993 rating: 5 read at: date added: 2011/07/24 shelves: science, early-man review: In my lifelong effort to understand what makes us human, I long ago arrived at the lynchpin to that discussion: our brain. Even though bipedalism preceded big brains, and we couldn't be who we are […]
    Christopher Wills
  • The Origin Of Humankind (Science Masters Series) July 25, 2011
    author: Richard E. Leakey name: Jacqui average rating: 3.97 book published: 1981 rating: 5 read at: date added: 2011/07/24 shelves: early-man, history review: If you're interested in man's roots, there are several authors you must read: Birute Galdikas Dian Fosse Donald Johanson GHR Von Koenigsman Glen Isaacs Jared Diamond Ian Tattersell Lev Vygots […]
    Richard E. Leakey
  • Lucy: The Beginnings of Humankind July 24, 2011
    author: Donald C. Johanson name: Jacqui average rating: 4.11 book published: 1981 rating: 5 read at: date added: 2011/07/24 shelves: early-man, science review: I read this book when I was writing a paleo-historic drama of the life of earliest man. My characters were Homo habilines, but they cohabited Africa with Australopithecines, so to understand the co-st […]
    Donald C. Johanson
  • Through a Window: My Thirty Years with the Chimpanzees of Gombe July 24, 2011
    author: Jane Goodall name: Jacqui average rating: 4.25 book published: 1990 rating: 5 read at: date added: 2011/07/24 shelves: early-man, science review: I have read every book that Jane Goodall wrote. She has an easy-going writing style that shares scientific principals easily with the layman. Probably because when she started, she was little more than a no […]
    Jane Goodall
  • In the Shadow of Man July 24, 2011
    author: Jane Goodall name: Jacqui average rating: 4.32 book published: 1971 rating: 5 read at: date added: 2011/07/23 shelves: early-man, science review: I read Jane Goodall's In the Shadow of Man (Houghton Mifflin 1971) years ago as research for a paleo-historic novel I was writing. I needed background on the great apes so I could show them acting appr […]
    Jane Goodall
California Yellow Pages
blogarama - the blog directory
Free Blog Directory
wordpress stats
blog search directory
Science Blogs

Vote for Me


%d bloggers like this: