Science Feed

Why her fainting goats fall over

Breeding fainting goats
Carrie Eastman raises fainting goats for sale at a farm near Gettysburg, PA. Staying over at her bed-not-breakfast we had the chance to become a little acquainted with her herds. Just as we entered the field, some goats scampered across a narrow land bridge over a small creek and the last in line froze in place then fell flat over on her left side. After a few seconds she righted herself, "slightly wet, slightly annoyed." Fainting goats, she explains have a genetic condition called myotonia congenita. "Basically, the enzyme that tells your muscles to relax after they've contracted is low. Most of the time it's not an issue but if they get that adrenaline hit from being excited - feeding time, breeding, something scares them, the muscles contract and then they're not able to release right away and the goat stiffens." In terms of natural selection the characteristic is not desirable. For the fainting goat breed, the key is to breed for a moderate amount of the condition. For the goats, it's like doing isometric exercises. For humans, those exercises result in a high meat to bone ratio. Eastman speaks lovingly of her goats by name, tells how several are related to each other - and has not eaten any of the goats she's raised. Watch video of fainting goat being picked up by farmer who breeds them.

Celebrating the earth, Temple Ambler Earthfest

Temple Ambler Earthfest FEMA horseshoe crab

Clockwise from top left. Teens from Wordsworth Academy, a special needs school assist children in making recycled bottle planters. An activist with Sea Shepherd talks about the group's efforts to save endangered porpoises and whales.  From the Adventure Aquarium in Camden, NJ, a horseshoe crab. FEMA is ready to assist in disasters, this representative from the flood mitigation unit assures. Evergreen Lane farm sets up aquaponics systems. Photo on web here.


Entertaining and teaching at Philly Sci Fest Carnival 2016

Philadelphia Science Festival 2016 Carnival

A Penn Environment representative demonstrates how planting trees will cool the earth and counter global warming using a lamp, a model house and tree and a temperature reading gun. Video and interview here.

Architecture students from Philadelphia University demonstrate the model they've desgined of a turbine that would sit in the ocean off of Santa Monica California that would not only generate energy from wave action but would allow people to walk through the apparatus. The walkway is composed of segments which compensate for undulations and thus would grant visitors a level walking experience while connecting directly with the source of their [electric] power. The designers, entering their model in a competition, describe their invention as "habitable generative art." Watch video and interview here.

Speech pathology students from Salus University offer samples of thickened juice to educate the public how thickened liquids can help people with swallowing problems inadvertently breathe liquids into their lungs. Watch video and interview here.

Quaker Action activist Chris Baker Evens urge the PECO [Exelon] electric utility to agree to  buy back energy from residents of North Philadelphia who install renewable, solar energy panels on their rooftops. At a booth across the way at the Philadelphia Science Festival, PECO representatives advise the public how to save on their energy bills. Watch video and interview here.

Alison and Robin of Philadelphia's Resource Exchange demonstrate and explain how scraps of clothing and many other things you might be inclined to trash can be used to make art or recycled for other purposes. Watch video interview here.

PHILADELPHIA SCIENCE FESTIVAL

Here's a video collage of the carnival.


Hog Island Audubon Camp Journal 2014

Your correspondent volunteered for a week cleaning dishes and bathhouses at the Audubon Society Camp on Hog Island off of Bremen, Maine. He collected an old glass bottle encrusted with barnacles and these stories. See photo slideshow here.

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A large aquarium in the lab building of Hog Island affords a micro view of aquatic life in coastal Maine’s tidal pools. Off the pier, swaying mats of seaweed. Watch video here.

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“Puffin” Pete Salmansohn, Project Puffin outreach coordinator and director of Hog Island Educators week, describes how puffins were saved from near extermination from the Maine Coast on a boat trip out to Eastern Egg Rock Island where island sitters carefully monitor and study them. Along the way, seals sunning themselves on a small island, produce whoops and hollers among the day-trippers as they dive into the water toward the boat to investigate or perhaps be fed? Watch video here.

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On Hog Island, early morning guided birding, a photographer and his camera level with the osprey nest, an osprey parent guarding two fledglings and later the same day foraying out and back. Watch video montage here.

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“Seabird” Sue Schubel, Project Puffin Outreach Instructor and Hog Island Camp Coordinator, puts the finishing touches on a large batch of cream “puffins.” They will be served to oohs and ahs and camera flashes at the conclusion of the farewell lobster dinner for Educators week. The confectionary puffins, like their living counterparts, Schubel says, could be either male or female, as they look the same. Their breeding plumage, bright orange bills, mark them as mature adults. Watch video here.

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Susan Spitzer Williams, a career guidance specialist participating in Educators Week on Hog Island, seen here rushing to get her camera to the photogapher and back in place for a group shot. In the video, she pauses before swimming to share one of the many ways in which she is superior to her dear older brother, Nick Spitzer, host of the widely syndicated, public radio program, “American Routes.” For one, she met and played pool with Muddy Waters and he didn’t. Watch video here.

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A short, live action, instructional video for kitchen volunteers at the Hog Island camp on how to use the Hobart 4 sided, hood mounted, pass through, commercial dishwasher. Watch video here.

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She’s been skinning road kill, preparing pelts, skull specimens and mounts for museums for some time but this was Carolyn Zaino’s first beaver. Discovered by a couple Hog Island staffers, the road kill became the object of Zaino’s artistry and industry in between stints in the Hog Island kitchen. Zaino is nonplussed by the gore and gruesomeness of her vocation as befits the pathologist’s daughter for whom, as a child, the hearts, lungs and brains in her father’s lab were naturally things of wonder. Her work lets her give these animals “another life” and educate people about them. Watch short video here. Watch full-length video here.


Stickers her bumper for science and causes

An artist and her bumper stickers I was driving behind a car with interesting bumper stickers on Germantown Avenue in Chestnut Hill and when it pulled over to park, I pulled over, too, to ask the driver if she might extemporize on her stickers.

Martha Knox was with her four year old daughter, BB, waiting for the post office to open. She was then headed to the UCP (United Cerebral Palsy) Best Friends pre-school where BB is intentionally “reversed mainstreamed” with kids with disabilities.

Knox works professionally as a graphic designer and teacher and identifies strongly as a secular humanist. Her car’s rear bumper graphically and humorously expresses her beliefs. The 2013-2014 “Zombie Hunting Permit,” however, was placed by her husband.

“Honk! If you understand punctuated equilibria” was one sticker that particularly caught my attention. The theory in evolutionary biology, Knox explained, is that genetic changes happen rapidly in “short” periods of time, geologically speaking.

In these four videos, you can also see and hear Knox talk about “Nietzsche is Peachy,” “Evolution happens” both of which she designed, “There is no way to peace, peace is the way,” “Support Net Neutrality”and “Schrödinger’s Cat: Dead and Alive.”

Reverse mainstreams her daughter with disabled students

Peace is the way: don't bomb Syria

Embracing evolution through bumper stickers

 


GO MO MATH - Math Museum of NYC

squarewheeltrikespherestickies

We arrived at the Museum of Math one hour before closing on a Saturday in late summer and zipped through it. The exhibits deserved more than the limited time we gave them and these videos, summarized below, will help us understand what we experienced with the intriguing interactive demonstrations. GO MO MATH!

SHAPES OF CONSTANT WIDTH You sit on a boat-shaped platform above a field of irregularly shaped objects and yet glide rather smoothly over them because these objects, such as the Meissner tetrahedron, all have the same constant diameter whichever way they roll.

SQUARE WHEELS, CATENARY CURVES You ride a tricycle with square wheels without any problem. This is because the surface you are riding on is catenary curved (hyperbolic cosine). And, for any shaped wheel, there is a corresponding road that will facilitate locomotion.

A SPECIAL SQUARE When you and others step upon this large lit-from-below square, the square divides into as many differently colored geometric areas as there are people and each point within any one’s area is closer to that person than to any one else.

THE HUMAN FRACTAL TREE On a projection screen, a copy of your body is copied where your arms are and on those projections, your body is again copied where your arms are and so on, forming a fractal pattern of you as a tree.

SOLIDS OF REVOLUTION SLICED TWISTED, REATTACHED AND ROLLED Solids of revolution are cut along the axis of symmetry and then twisted and reattached to form an asymmetric object which then describes a distinct path when it rolls and it’s your job to match up each object with the trail it makes.


Siri performs in their Odyssey of the Mind

Chestnut Hill Garden Festival 201305

Effervescent Sammi Baker and her partner Nathan Hyer brought their paper Mache puppet “Siri” out to Chestnut Hill Garden Festival to raise funds for “Odyssey of the Mind.” The Plymouth Whitemarsh high school students participate in this extracurricular activity in which school teams compete against each other in creative problem solving and have to keep their builds within a set budget. (Siri appeared in their competition skit.) Their team (which also includes Cooper Smith, Colleen McFillon, Ryan Silverthorn, Michael Krone and Diana Westerfer) placed fifth in the Pennsylvania state finals but that wasn’t quite high enough to entitle them to a trip to the globals this year.

Watch video here.

 


Paintings inspired by neurons

kirsten fischler's neural imagery

Kirsten Fischler captures neuronal imagery in her paintings. She has been inspired by her partner, a neuropathologist. Neurons are nerve cells that communicate information electrically/chemically with other cells. In her artist’s conception neurons are the “essence that occurs inside the mind that helps develop the mind” or “the spark that makes the mind happen.” Philadelphia Open Studio Tours, Francisville. Watch video interview here.