Monthly Archives: October 2014

Ebola…How to write about it and not scare the pants off everyone

I’ve been trying to think of the best way to address this Ebola scare. I’m far from a doctor or Ebola expert and I don’t want to add to the tidal wave of misinformation that’s sweeping across the internet. So I thought the best way is to let the professionals handle it and I turned to two blogs that are my go-to resources for medical information.

In this article at NeuroLogica Blog , Dr. Steven Novella takes a look at past Ebola epidemics and some of the reasons why they were able to spread so quickly. He then compares that to the U.S. and explains why he thinks we don’t have anything to worry about. It’s a very calm read that doesn’t stir emotions or get folks riled up. So, basically, completely opposite of just about everything else written about Ebola.

Next up is Dr. David Gorski and this article at Science-Based Medicine. He looks at some of the irrational conspiracy theories floating around and explains why they’re all a bunch of bunk.

It’s hard to stay on an even keel when such an unusual medical problem arises but these are good starting points when taking a reasonable look at what’s happening across the country.

More Whales!!!

Man, I love whales. They really are a great example of evolution. The talented folks at Stated Clearly produced this video and use whales to clearly show the evidence for evolution. Besides the whole whales and evolution thing, this video is also a great example of using different lines of evidence to come to a scientific conclusion. Enjoy.

 

 

 

A Coral Reef in Tulsa

A 20-minute drive (give or take) can take you 300-million years into the past. Redbud Valley Nature Preserve is a fantastic place to take a walk and learn about the area’s geologic history. Hundreds of millions of years ago eastern Oklahoma was covered by an inland sea. The water helped create this amazing geology.

Redbud Valley has a nature trail that winds through a woodland area and small prairie but the best part is the Bluff Trail. According to Susan Carr, a naturalist at the Oxley Nature Center, the cliff is made up of two layers of rock that date to the Pennsylvanian age which lasted from about 318-299 million years ago.

Redbud Valley Nature Preserve

The upper layer of the rock, according to Carr, is about 12-feet thick. You don’t have to look hard to see a lot of holes. Those holes are called Vugs and indicate that this area was once home to an ancient coral reef.

Redbud Valley Nature Preserve Redbud Valley Nature Preserve

Along the cliff face you’ll find rock that’s older than the coral reef. This is a layer of shale. It’s formed when minerals such as quartz, mica, or pyrite settle at the bottom of a body of water. The minerals mix with decaying organic matter in the mud. The pressure builds, lots of layers form, and the mixture eventually become rock thanks to a process called lithification.

Redbud Valley Nature Preserve Redbud Valley Nature Preserve

Who says time travel isn’t possible?!? I can’t even get my mind around how long it took to form these rocks. Geology is simply amazing.

Redbud Valley Nature Preserve is open Wednesday through Sunday from 8am-5pm. It’s a great place to spend the afternoon (unfortunately, dogs are not allowed).

Susan Carr will host a Geology walk on Oct. 19th, 1:30-3pm.

 

 

 

Up Close with Radar (not the M*A*S*H guy)

Here’s a cool chance to see science research up close. The University of Oklahoma is hosting a dedication ceremony on Oct. 22nd for its Radar Innovations Laboratory.

The RIL is a 35,000 square foot facility where 60 students and 20 faculty members are currently working. They’re building what OU calls, “…the most advanced radar in the industry.”

The project began thanks to all of the weather research done at OU. One of the professors at the RIL is studying how radar can be used to track tornado debris and see how that debris interacts with a tornado. According to an OU news release, the students “have access to an expansive microwave laboratory that features a full suite of state-of-the-art test equipment, a high-bay garage for mobile radar trucks, prototype fabrication facilities, a machine shop, two precision echoless chambers, and an experimental observation deck.“

The public dedication is Wednesday Oct. 22 at 1:30. It’s on OU’s Research Campus at 3190 Monitor Ave.

Guess we’ll just wish climate change away

A new study by the Georgetown Climate Center takes a look at what states are doing to prepare for climate change. If you look at Oklahoma’s page you can’t help but notice…nothing. Zero, zilch, nada. It simply says “Oklahoma has not developed a statewide adaptation plan”. How sad.

The study reports 14 states have climate adaptation plans, all are in various states of completion. California is the leader having met 48 of its 345 goals.

The goals can be anything from funding to protect infrastructure in case of a natural disaster, laws to reduce heat reflecting off concrete surfaces, or protecting homes in flood prone areas.

Sure would be nice if our state leaders would recognize the inevitable and, at least, develop a plan to deal with climate change. Maybe I’m crazy but it sure would be nice of them to protect this state they say the love.

I guess we’ll just click our heels and hope the problem just goes away.

Teachers Learn About Climate Change

Oklahomans for Excellence in Science Education recently hosted a workshop for science teachers from Oklahoma and Texas. The teachers were given a first hand account of how the climate is changing and some of the best ways to teach it to their students. They were also given an update on various state laws that regulate how certain science topics are taught. I don’t understand why this is so controversial….wait a minute, yeah, it’s all about politics and money. There’s no doubt the climate is changing across the globe. The big question now is what are we going to do about it? I just hope it’s not too late.

Thanks to the OESE for letting me drop in on the workshop. Here’s a little story about my visit.