We live in magical times: you read in the news that our national space shuttle just floated away from the international space station, and just that sentence seems like it comes from the future, even now. Even after I've heard it 100 times. For a few goosebumps, if you're a space nerd like me, watch this tour of the space station. If you're short on time, the payoff comes at about 8:40, when you can see out the magnificent Millennium Falcon-like window a floating blue sphere.
I stumbled on this, from a story from a dozen years ago: As animals get bigger, from tiny shrew to huge blue whale, pulse rates slow down and life spans stretch out longer, conspiring so that the number of heartbeats during an average stay on Earth tends to be roughly the same, around a billion. A mouse just uses them up more quickly than an elephant. If that doesn't beat all. I'm going to look around for more references to this incredible idea -- that all animals get about a billion ...
  • 31 May 2011
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For 18 years, I have participated in the ongoing conversation about mountaineering, social action, and the environment known as Mountainfilm in Telluride. It is a remarkable gathering in the remote San Juan Mountains of southwestern Colorado. I'm always thrilled by the engaged lives of those who come to present their latest thinking represented in books, photography, and documentary films. Their inspirational creativity, dedication, and progressive ideas draw us all back to Telluride like ...
  • 29 May 2011
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[caption id="attachment_4348" align="alignnone" width="296" caption="Squirrel monkeys are cute, but not a great choice for a pet. "][/caption] Most of us had tabby cats or Labrador retrievers, but we probably all knew a kid who had a boa constrictor or a turtle for a pet. Maybe you were that kid, the one who got the expensive terrarium and the iguana? Or are you the parent with the aquarium and the exotic fish? There's more to picking a pet, it turns out, than just finding the most ...
When Rachel Carson wrote her seminal book-- Silent Spring --she was referring to the lack of birds singing in American forests caused by the effects of chemicals in their environment. Another "silent spring" has occurred but this time to the Mars Spirit rover which was just declared dead by NASA. [caption id="attachment_4328" align="aligncenter" width="265" caption="Mars Spirit rover. photo credit: JPL/NASA"][/caption] Spirit and its companion rover Opportunity were only designed to ...
Animals can survive in space. At least one, anyway. The water bear, a microorganism any mother could love, [caption id="" align="alignright" width="240" caption="Water bear"][/caption] is going up for another round of extreme testing. These guys survived 10 days in the cold vacuum of space in 2007. When they returned home and reproduced, they were triumphantly given ticker tape parades. Fittingly, this little guy is going on t-shirts. And he's getting another test. On ...
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