In the movie Hellboy, a young FBI agent is assigned to a very secret organization. In his introduction to the unit, the founder tells him “There are things that go bump in the night, Agent Myers. Make no mistake about that. And we are the people who bump back.” While the movie was about paranormal threats, there are large number of things in the real world of which it can be said to “go bump in the night:” A wide range of diseases that most people in this country (or many others) have never heard of. Every now and then, one of them comes out of obscurity to let people know it’s out there. One of them is now in the news: Ebola. It’s been known about for almost 4o years, and there have been sporadic outbreaks over that time. It’s not until recently, with a mass outbreak in Africa, and cases in this country that it’s become “news.” Continue reading
Category Archives: Science
Recently the state environmental department announced plans to control an introduced species, which is on the verge of becoming seriously invasive. In the areas where it’s currently established itself, it caused serious damage wetland and aquatic plants, has displaced – and often attacks – native species, created public health hazards, and injuries to the public. Once confined to a relatively small area of the state in limited numbers, over the past few years it has spread to new areas, and numbers are increasing. The state plans to reduce this population in the wild to zero over the next ten years. Pretty open and shut, right? Not really, since all such plans have a “public comment period” attached to them, and there’s a good percentage of people against it.
Back in the ’70’s, I took a college course in cell biology. That was about how cells were organized, how they metabolized nutrients, etc. At the time, it was known as the field in biology that was “pure research,” that is, if you were working in it, you were doing research for the sake of doing research. More properly known as “basic research,” it was seeking to answer the questions about “what makes cells work.” What could you do with it? No idea. Which is why it drew a lot of negative press and attention from various conservatives when they wanted to make a point about “wasteful government spending.” “Why should the government be spending money for someone to do something esoteric that had no practical purpose?” they asked.
Phil Plait over at Bad Astronomy has a post about “A Sleeping Giant.” A little history first. Back in A.D. 79, there was a city called Pompeii. It’s rather famous, because it was buried by a volcanic eruption, by a volcano called Vesuvius.
Since 79 AD, the volcano has also erupted repeatedly, in 172, 203, 222, possibly 303, 379, 472, 512, 536, 685, 787, around 860, around 900, 968, 991, 999, 1006, 1037, 1049, around 1073, 1139, 1150, and there may have been eruptions in 1270, 1347, and 1500. The volcano erupted again in 1631, six times in the 18th century, eight times in the 19th century (notably in 1872), and in 1906, 1929, and 1944. There has been no eruption since 1944
Obviously, not a place people would really want to live in, and definitely would never consider building major cities near, right? Think again.
Most of my summer is spent outdoors, and occasionally I remember to bring a camera with me. Here are some of the things I found interesting. This is in early spring, a place called “Buttermilk Falls.”
It’s a popular destination, since it’s only a 100 yard hike in from the parking area.