Tag Archives: science

How Dust can help control Climate Change

Research by a University of Oklahoma scientist could lead to novel way to fight climate change. It has to do with dust.

Dr. Gerilyn Soreghan, courtesy University of Oklahoma

Dr. Gerilyn Soreghan, courtesy University of Oklahoma

Dr. Gerilyn Soreghan and a team of researchers from the University of California Riverside, Florida State University, University of Leeds, Hampton University, and Cornell University have been looking at some really old, iron-rich dust deposits. Like 300-million year old dust from the late Paleozoic period.

(I’ve talked with Dr. Soreghan before, click here and here to learn more about her.)

Dr. Soreghan says Earth’s atmosphere was as dusty as it has ever been 300 million years ago. She says it’s important to study those dust deposits because of the impact they had back then on Earth’s climate.

Here’s why: dust carries iron- iron is a fertilizer for plants- plants use photosynthesis-photosynthesis removes carbon from the atmosphere and replaces it with oxygen.

Dr. Soreghan says deep-time dust contained a lot of iron which means it “…should have even larger consequences for burial of carbon.” As for the modern day, there’s talk of iron fertilization as a geoengineering scheme to control the amount of carbon in the atmosphere.

Dr. Soreghan says her study on deep-time events shines a light on how those types of geoengineering endeavors may work in the present day but, she says, more research is needed.

You can read more on the study in this brief write-up by Dr. Soreghan or here where the Geological Society of America has published an article. The National Science Foundation and American Chemical Society funded the research.

 

 

La Brea Tar Pits

La Brea Tar Pits

So it’s not Oklahoma but this is still cool. See that pic above? That’s the La Brea Tar Pits in Los Angeles. I had the chance to visit there a few years back and I would highly recommend you stop by the next time you’re in L.A.

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Below is a handy guide to how the tar pits were formed courtesy of Corkboard of Curiosities. It does a great job explaining where the tar (not tar) comes from and what kinds of animals have been found.

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One animal is the Ground Sloth, that’s the bones in the pic above. At the museum next to the tar pits you can watch volunteers and researchers clean the bones that are found in the tar pits. Check this out, it’s a fun read!!

http://corkboardofcuriosities.tumblr.com/post/132612639959/tar-pits

 

Science Café

 

Here’s a great chance to learn about Oklahoma’s amazing raptors. Oklahoma State University and the Stillwater Public Library are teaming up for what they’re calling Science Café OSU.

They have two programs planned for the coming weeks, both will be talking about red-tailed hawks and golden eagles.

Golden Eagle

Golden Eagle  

 

Red-tailed Hawk

Red-tailed Hawk

OSU associate professor Jim Lish and doctorate candidate Megan Judkins will be giving the presentations. They’ll also be bringing along birds as guests.

Lish has been researching red-tail hawks for more than 40 years. He holds three degrees in wildlife ecology including a Master of Science and a doctorate degree from OSU. Judkins is a Choctaw tribal member and assistant manager at the Grey Snow Eagle House. She is currently pursuing a doctorate degree in integrative biology at OSU. Her research focuses on the genomics of bald and golden eagles.

“The Payne County Audubon Society will have copies of Dr. Lish’s new book ‘Winter’s Hawk: Red-tails on the Southern Plains’ available for purchase and signing at both programs,” said Karen Neurohr, OSU Library professor and Science Café coordinator. “Ms. Judkins is bringing Ann, a red-tail hawk and RB, a golden eagle to the programs.”

The first program is Nov. 12 at 6:30 p.m. in the Stillwater Public Library Auditorium. The program will be repeated Nov. 17 at 6:30 p.m. in the Peggy V. Helmerich Browsing Room of the Oklahoma State University Library.

Everyone is welcome, you don’t need to have a science background to attend.

Remembering Dr. Marvin Stone

The state of Oklahoma has lost a talented scientist and researcher. Dr. Marvin Stone and his wife, Bonnie, were killed when a car crashed into the crowd at the Oklahoma State University homecoming parade on October 24th.

Dr. Stone served on the faculty at OSU for 24 years. He worked in the OSU Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources’ Department of Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering. His wife also worked at OSU as coordinator of Student Information Systems operations and training for OSU Institutional Research and Information Management.

Dr. Stone’s research focused on “…international equipment communication and diagnostic protocol standards and high-speed, selective, point-specific field application of chemicals.”

The university has a published a wonderful web page dedicated to Dr. Stone and his wife.

You can also click here to donate to the Marvin and Bonnie Stone Endowed Scholarship Fund.

Two others died in the tragedy and dozens more were injured. You can click here to learn more about the victims and ways to help their families and the Stillwater community.

Someone has to love bugs

Dr. Katrina Menard is an entomologist, so she studies bugs (someone has to, right??). She was in Black Mesa this summer as part of the ExplorOlogy program. She was teaching the students how to develop a scientific study by taking a census of the local insect population.

So why entomology and why insects? Well at the 1:10 mark she explains what led her to a career studying the tiniest of creatures. At the 1:48 mark she talks about the importance of funding for scientific research and why the decision makers need to look at the long term results.

(For more on ExplorOlogy click here, here, here, and here.)

This Scientist is OK- Dr. Nick Czaplewski

Dr. Nick Czaplewski is a vertebrate paleontologist at the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History (see here, here, here, here, and here for stories from the museum).

I spoke with him in Black Mesa. He was one of the instructors with the ExplorOlogy program. They took high school students on a scientific road trip across Oklahoma. In Black Mesa they dug for dinosaurs (see here and here), took a census of the local insect population, and learned how to conduct scientific experiments in the field.

He’s a mellow guy who enjoys teaching kids about science and that makes him an OK Scientist.

OK Researchers Study Plant Development

Some Oklahoma scientists are teaming with a Michigan State University scientist to study if plants can overcome a nutrient-poor environment. Here are the three scientists who are heading up the project. Be sure to click on page 2 for a news release from the Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation in Ardmore with a detailed explanation of the project.

Noble Foundation researchers Wolf Scheible, Ph.D. (center), Michael Udvardi, Ph.D. (left), and Patrick X. Zhao, Ph.D. (right), in collaboration with Michigan State University recently received a four-year, $3 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF).

Noble Foundation researchers Wolf Scheible, Ph.D. (center), Michael Udvardi, Ph.D. (left), and Patrick X. Zhao, Ph.D. (right), in collaboration with Michigan State University recently received a four-year, $3 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF).

Tools for Digging up Dinos

Ever wonder what tools paleontologists use for digging up dinos? Wonder no more. Here’s the second video from my trip to the Oklahoma Panhandle. (Here’s the first.) It was part of the ExplorOlogy program sponsored by the Sam Noble Museum. We went to Kenton, OK and Black Mesa. It’s home to a ton of fossils from about 150 million years ago.

Dr. Lindsey Yann of the OSU Center for Health Sciences explains the main kinds of tools they use to dig up those fossils and why it’s important to study Oklahoma’s past.

Dr. Yann is the volunteer coordinator for the Vertebrate Paleontology lab in Tulsa. It’s a great place to volunteer if you want to see fossils up close but can’t make it to the Panhandle.

Thanks again to the scientists at the Sam Noble Museum and the OSU Center for Health Sciences for inviting me on this trip.

Digging for Dinos

Who doesn’t like digging for dinos? I had the chance this summer to go on a real-life, honest to goodness dinosaur dig in the Oklahoma Panhandle. It was in Black Mesa near Kenton, OK. That’s about thisclose to the New Mexico and Colorado state lines.

I was a guest of Dr. Anne Weil of the OSU Center for Health Sciences. (She’s been featured before here, here, and here.) The dig was part of the ExplorOlogy program run through the Sam Noble Museum in Norman. ExplorOlogy is all about helping Oklahoma students and teachers get a hands on look at the wonderful world of science. The kids spend the night in the Sam Noble Museum, they get an up close look at the OKC Zoo, and they go work in the field on actual science expeditions.

The dinosaur dig in Black Mesa is an example. The students were helping dig up some Apatosaurus bones. That was a huge dinosaur most of us grew up calling a Brontosaurus.

In addition to digging up the dinosaurs the students went hiking and took a census of the local insects in Black Mesa (video to come!!).

I can’t thank Dr. Weil and the staff at the Sam Noble Museum enough for letting me tag along.

If you know a student who is interested on going next summer click here to learn more about the program and how you can register.

 

Free Science Workshop for Teachers

Attention all elementary and middle school teachers…here’s a great opportunity to learn about life sciences and do a little fossil hunting.

Janessa Doucette is a PhD candidate at the University of Oklahoma. She’s hosting a free workshop series called Oklahoma Educators Evolve. It’ll take place on Saturday Oct. 17th and Saturday Oct. 24th. The first one is a fossil hunting trip to the rich grounds at White Mound in Sulphur. The second is a workshop in Oklahoma City. You’ll study the nature of science, biological concepts, and paleontology, “We will provide you with a foundation for these concepts, as well as provide you with a variety of ways to successfully teach these topics in your classroom. Participants will leave this workshop with their very own classroom collection of fossils and fossil casts with which to enjoy science learning with their students!”

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The cool thing is these workshops are FREE and you don’t have to be a science teacher!!! Click here to register. Click here to learn about the program.

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