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Riled Up is a journal of science, the environment, exploration, new technology, and related commentary.  Contributors include scientists, explorers, engineers, and others who provide perspectives and context not typically offered in general news circulation.  For interested readers, additional resources are included.

The Conservation Alliance

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Holding back the sea

http://youtu.be/Xgd1x96y-hk By Reilly Capps KINDERDIJK, The Netherlands -- It’s a tourist thing, these windmills. The windmill keeper wears wooden shoes. They are made of the simplest materials. Bricks, wood, straw on top. The rattle of the blades is like a giant washing machine. Geese drift toward the windmill, sucked toward the blades by the manmade current. They proudly fly a Dutch flag overhead, which the windmill keeper pulls down at dusk. But they work. The mills at ...
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Lionfish, an update

Here at Riled Up we pay particular attention to the major environmental issue of invasive species, critters that come from one place to become a massive weed in another. Sadly, the number of invaders is long and growing. Besides all the ecological damages they cause, controlling invasive species is very expensive. A short list of plant and animal invaders would include: the 'frankenfish' carp in the Mississippi River; feral camels in outback Australia; salt cedar along western rivers; ...
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Collision course

The Milky Way and the Andromeda Galaxy are on a collision course. Andromeda --the only galaxy that can be seen with the naked eye --is on a course to collide with us billions of years from now. If you ever wondered what colliding galaxies might look like, check out this Hubble photo: [caption id="attachment_7086" align="aligncenter" width="575" caption="Colliding galaxies (credit: NASA)"][/caption] WHB
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Designer mosquitos...bye-bye dengue

Dengue fever is one bad news disease. Sometimes called Breakbone Fever, I can attest to its pathologies since I caught the infection while working on a reforestation project in Sri Lanka (Ceylon) years ago. As such, I have a personal interest in Dengue's control. Dengue is carried by the mosquito-- Aedes aegypti --and is a worldwide problem endemic in more than 110 countries. When I had the disease, treatment was only bed-rest, two aspirin, isolation from other patients-- dengue causes ...
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A river runs through it

Norman Maclean wrote the beautiful novella-- A River Runs Through It --as an allegory on the power of water. He would have been impressed by a discovery in Brazil that shows the mega-force of a river. The Amazon is the world's second longest river. It stretches east-west across South America. The river's watershed drains an area nearly 3 million square miles wide and accounts for approximately twenty percent of the world's total flowing water. Now Brazilian researchers report finding a ...
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De Beers planet

De Beers is the world's largest producer and marketer of diamonds. Couples planning to get married typically come in contact with the Company. A planetary discovery has just been made that must have the diamond cutters at De Beers pulling out their star charts. Using the famous Parkes radio telescope in Australia. an exotic object has been discovered that seems to be made of pure diamond closely circling a pulsar. The new planet is super-dense, consists largely of molecular carbon and ...
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Yes, it's hot...very hot

NOAA has now confirmed what anyone living in the mid-western and southwestern USA already knew. It's hot-- very hot! Nearly 60% of the nation experienced above normal to much above normal temperatures in July and counties in Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and elsewhere measured their record warmest temperatures ever. August is approaching comparable conditions but that NOAA map isn't complete yet. Adverse impacts from the heat and drought on people, animals, forests, and agriculture ...
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A whole lot of shakin' going on

The US Geological Survey has produced an earthquake map of the tumbler that hit Virginia, Washington DC, and elsewhere August 23rd. The quake was the first to hit the East Coast in nearly a century. [caption id="attachment_6926" align="aligncenter" width="575" caption="East Coast earthquake, 8-23-11 (source: USGS)"][/caption] There was a whole lot of shakin' going on! WHB
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Mount Cleveland erupts

Mount Cleveland is a remote volcano in the Aleutian Islands. It is part of the Pacific Ring of Fire where grinding continental plates have created active volcanoes along the geologic rim of the Pacific Ocean. Cleveland is a classic pyramid volcano similar Japan's Mt. Fuji and it is now erupting. Indications point to a massive explosion could be pending. Researchers at the Alaska Volcano Observatory say "build-up of lava could be the precursor to a big explosive event. If the lava dome ...
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Beluga calypso

Beluga whales are a rare species of cetaceans living in the Arctic Ocean. They are famous for their pure white coloration-- an evolutionary adaptation to their icy habitat --and big eyes. Who expected belugas to have musical tastes, much less for the catchy calypso tunes played by a mariachi band from Connecticut. Go figure: For those inclined, here's your chance to rock-out along with the dancing beluga. WHB
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Whale sightings, update

We have followed the whale sightings in California's Klamath River with two recent amateur videos. The mother whale died and a necropsy is planned to determine the cause of death. However, marine mammal research friends in Australia tell Riled Up that: "It's quite possible this whale knew her time was up and stayed in shallow water to die. Our whale experts advise that sick or dying whales will beach themselves or go to shallow water for their last days in preference to being torn to ...
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Greenland's green auroras

When the Vikings reached Greenland in the ~9th Century they must have been looking for color inspiration in naming the ice-bound island. The Northern Lights of the night sky may have helped them. Research on auroras has observed strikingly beautiful green displays there. [caption id="attachment_6806" align="aligncenter" width="1400" caption="Greenland aurora (credit: Staryearth.com)"][/caption] WHB
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Fairy Pillar

In honor of the 15th anniversary in 2005 for the launch of the Hubble Space Telescope, NASA released a photograph of the Fairy Pillar, part of the Eagle Nebula. The entire nebula is a stellar nursery where many new stars are forming. At one point, gravity will collapse the nebula inward to the new stars. [caption id="attachment_6791" align="aligncenter" width="502" caption="Fairy Pillar as seen by the Hubble telescope (source: NASA)"][/caption] The Fairy Pillar is one of many ...
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Accounting for the climate

To properly understand the price for a good or service, the costs associated with producing it must be properly accounted. This is commonly called "cost accounting" and is part of everything sold in a market economy. Some costs are harder to calculate than others, especially when they involve environmental services like clean air, water, and wild species. Such externalities are now much more important. Calculating external costs from the impacts associated with climate change will become ...
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An engaged life, question-driven

David Brooks is a syndicated columnist for the New York Times. Brooks is that rare bird-- a public intellectual --and his commentaries are always thought provoking. [caption id="attachment_6736" align="aligncenter" width="150" caption="David Brooks (credit: Wikipedia)"][/caption] One particularly insightful piece concerned living an engaged, question-driven life and was written while traveling in East Africa. The essence of his article was that consistently asking questions-- even ...
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Antarctica fully mapped

Researchers at UC Irvine, NASA, and JPL have now combined satellite and other remote sensing data of Antarctica to produce the first complete map of the ice bound continent. [caption id="attachment_6714" align="aligncenter" width="480" caption="Complete Antarctica map credit: JPL/NASA"][/caption] The new mapping data collected between 2007-2009, didn't determine if Antarctic glaciers are melting in response to climate change. The speed and movement of a continent-wide glacial ...
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The penguin lady

The always creative programmers at TED present ideas worth spreading. A recent conference in Boston highlighted the rescue of penguins in South Africa after an oil spill. The presentation illustrated animals being rescued through a team effort led by Dyan deNapoli, the Penguin Lady. It is an inspirational success model and worth spreading. Riled Up
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Sun pillar

The light in northern latitudes can create some beautiful visual displays. Think of auroras that are produced by solar particles hitting the upper atmosphere. Sun Pillars are another example formed by ice crystals in high level clouds that refract sunlight in a vertical column. Here's an example from northern Canada: [caption id="attachment_6692" align="aligncenter" width="900" caption="Sun pillar in northern Canada (credit: NASA)"][/caption] They are most commonly observed in the ...
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Solar soldiers

Australia is ofter called "the sunbaked land" and not without good reason. The sun shines almost all the time on the island continent. Not surprisingly, the Aussies have been solar energy pioneers but their latest development is really pushing the envelope of generating applications from the sun. Solar energy researchers from the Australian National University have just developed a light-weight solar vest for soldiers. [caption id="attachment_6676" align="aligncenter" width="537" ...
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