Sunday, December 6, 2009

Final Chapters on 'Field Notes'

Chapter 9 caught my attention immediately because it focused on one of the neighboring cities of Plattsburgh: Burlington. I wanted to know what global warming phenomenon was taking place there that would warrant being mentioned in a book. I was amazed to discover that the global warming prevention plan in Burlingon is one of the most progressive in the country. I admired the fact that Kolbert was able to take this 'small city' and showcase how the people with political power as well as the residents are doing what they can to reduce carbon emission.

It was also good that she mentioned that even though Burlington is making all these efforts to protect against global warming they still have their setbacks, and I think this is what makes this whole situation seem realistic. Without setbacks their would be no reason to push forward and try harder and I think that is the message that Kolbert is tying to deliver. That the people who believe in global warming are going to try as hard as they can to prevent it or prevent further damage regardless of the challenges.

I think for the final chapter Kolbert should have stayed away from mentioning to much scientific stuff and focused more on how we as lay persons can take the knowledge gained from this book and use it to benefit our living situation. She went on to talk about this scientist who won a Nobel Prize and once again she just related information to me that didn't mean anything. I wanted the final chapter to be uplifting and hopeful and I did not get that impression.

The book on a whole for me was not great, but it definately had its moments where it showed great journalism and provided information that the general public needed to hear. I think Kolbert should have used better transitions in the book so that it would have had a better flow. There have been many books written about this topic and this one just does not stand when placed in a category with all of them. I want to read a book about global warming where a skeptic like myself would say 'Wow, I need to do something to curb this'. I did not receive that from Kolbert's book.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

'Field Notes' Chapters 7+8

Chapter 7 is the first chapter to give me exactly what I expected from this book since I began reading it. The sentences were short and to the point and explained everything that was highlighted so that the reader could understand. The author still had her flair but it wasn't to the level where it distracted me from the topic that she was discussing in this chapter which was CO2 emission.

Her writing style in this chapter made me believe that this particular aspect of global warming was one that she was deeply concerned. I just enjoyed this chapter because I felt that there was nothing that was unnecessary in it.

Chapter 8, thought not as straightforward as chapter 7, was still very informative. From reading these two chapters it seems as though Kolbert is changing her writing style as the book develops. It is moving from seeminly being carefree and flimsy with her so-called jokes to presenting serious information in a serious matter which I think is the best way to convey a book about this topic.

That being said I still believe that the reader can sense the tone of the book and the writer's opinions about the topic but in these chapters she seems to present the information without allowing her personal view come out too much. If these chapters are any indication of how the book will progress then I think that the up coming chapters will be very good.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

'Field Notes' Chapters 5+6

The beginning of chapter 5 was definately a surprise. I felt like I was reading a history text as opposed to a book that is suppose to inform me about global warming and the effect it has on the earth presently. I understood the idea that Kolbert had in her mind about the comparison between climate change hundreds of years ago to today, but I think it would have been more effective if she did not go so in depth with describing basically the whole life on this King. It seemed so irrelevant to inform the audience that as a baby he was discovered and compared him to Moses.

I enjoyed the illustrations that Kolbert used because with topics like this I believe it is more effective to give readers something to look at instead of words all the time. Something that I have noted about Kolbert's writing style is that some of the words she uses to describe things seem childish and are not effective as she would like it to be.

What I like about chapter 6 is that Kolbert talks about the ads in Netherlands to enforce her point and it is effective because the description is short and straight to the point which was lacking in the previous chapter. I also liked the length of chapter 6 because sometimes long chapters, on oftentimes boring topics, can hinder a reader's interpretationa and intake of the material.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

'Field Notes' Chapter 4

As I read on through the chapters in the book I am noticing that Kolbert is becoming more direct in presenting her information, and she is seemingly loosing the flair that attracted readers in the beginning of the book.

I actually thought the information that she presented to be pertinent to the subject of global warming, but the way in which she presented it was for lack of a better word boring. She tried to personalize it with her cute, little descriptions of the people she spoke with but after the first couple of chapters that trait had completely lost its initial effect.

Another thing that bothered me with the writing was that some of the sentences were too long. This had me confused as to what Kolbert was trying to say, and I found myself having to go back up the page to read again on more that one occasion.

What I did like about this chapter was that she focused on a few examples but really delved into explaining what was taking place with these creatures. I think this was very effective, and it allowed me to really see the extent to which global warming is having an effect.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Evidence to support Global Warming in chapter 2+3 of 'Field Notes'

The evidence that is put forth in 'Field Notes' to support global warming is extensive and strong as it is the role of the author to provide information that will showcase the 'truth' behind the theory. In chapter 2 when the author discusses the Irish physicist John Tyndall and his usage of a radio spectrophotometer which allowed him 'to compare the way different gases absorb and transmit radiation.' These tests with varying gases resulted in modern term of 'natural greenhouse effect.'

The author then when into the description of the effect that these greenhouse gases can have on the earth and its atmosphere. I liked the authors flow into how the research of Tyndall created an opening for the Swedish chemist Svante Arrhenius. It allowed the reader to also see how science is something that develops over time and that one of its key characteristics is change.

Arrhenius brought about the notion that industrialization and climate change go hand in hand. Chapter 3 focuses more on the issues of recognizing global warming.

One of the doubts that I still have about this issue is whether the effects are not simply a gradual change that is occuring naturally?

The writing style has definately improved from the opening chapter. The author gets more thorough with her description and provides all the possible information that she can while still remaining to have her own flair.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Field Notes

The first observation that got my attention was the fact that the book began in a very unorthodox manner more so as it is dealing with the supposedly serious issue of global warming. The beginning seems to characterize a book that can be classified as a fiction novel. I guess this can be a clever tactic in drawing in readers on a topic that they might not normally be interested in.

Personally I know a lot of people might like the fact that the writing style is so simple and easy to understand, but I would have preferred a more informative and thorough explanation of different terms and 'lingo' used for global warming. I think when you are trying to educate an audience you need to write a little more formal if you want the knowledge to stick in their minds.

The tone of the first few pages was so easy to pick up and this turned me off because I think it should be neutral unless she simply wants the audience to get the story as she sees it.

The pictures were a good addition because it can often explain things that words can't.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Why do people crave certain foods?

Q&A: Why do people crave certain foods?

I NEED CHOCOLATE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Everyone has those special foods that they love to eat in abundance and those feelings of 'I am going to die if I dont eat it right now' always seem to happen when you are not in the position to get any sought of food. Go figure. But why do we get these sudden urges and why are they always so strong?

According to 'Psychology Today', "Up to 97 percent of Americans get seized by strong and specific urges to indulge."

The causes of cravings have ranged from the effects of hormones in the body to stress to emotional instability. Pregnant women showcase a unique variety of cravings and this has been linked to the hormone fluctuations that are taking place in their body during their pregnancy as well to ensure that the fetus is being properly fed. Stress, lack of sleep and other activities that affect the wellness of the body can also cause cravings for certain foods that are not always good for the body. These may be our comfort foods, which are foods that make us feel full and happy and therefore we crave for them often. Serotonin is the feel-good hormone in the body and many simple sugars and carbohydrates release a small amount of serotonin which will allow us to feel good for a small period of time and then we regress to our former stressed disposition and the cravings will continue.

Simpler things like seeing food in commercials can also trigger cravings. Food cravings usually last 4-12 minutes. A way to break these cravings is to realize that after a few minutes they will no longer be there and giving in to them as you feel them is not always the best decision for your body.

That being said I think allowing your body to have what it wants is sometimes a good thing especially when it wants a slice of pizza.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Why does water expand when it freezes?

A: When most liquids are cooled in a stable environment the same affects takes place on all of them: They shrink. This is not the case for the greatest biological solvent: water. When water is cooled is shrinks until a temperarture of 4 Degrees Celcius is reached then it begins to expand until it reaches the freezing point when it continues to expand more. This strange occurrence has to do with the fact that the structure of the water molecule is very unique.

Water is formed when a hydrogen atom bonds with two oxygen atoms. This bond gets stronger as the temperature decreases. The solid form of water which is ice is completely hydrogen bonded.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

'Stephen Hawking Is Making His Comeback'

This article journeyed through the life and career of Stephen Hawking and it thoroughly showcased the amazing accomplishments that he gained even while suffering from a crippling disease. The different headings within the article captivated me because I saw it as different time periods in Hawkings's own life and that forced me to read on because they were so unique and informative. The type of science that Hawking's focuses on does not really intrigue me but the way the article interfused his illness with his career was impressive.

Lede: The lede did not impress me at all. I found it to be boring and much too long. It would have been better if the author condensed some facts that would have created a better flow into the second paragraph. It was the second paragrapgh and third that got me into the story. I would give this lede 14 out of 20.

Content: This article was crammed with information and what astonished me was that everything seemed relevant to the story. 20 out of 20.

Organization: Like I stated above I love the different headings in the article. It just made it easier to understand when reading and gave it a better structure. 20 out 0f 20.

Quality of Writing: This confused me somewhat because it seemed that the style changed throughout the aricle. At some points in the story I was fully engrossed in what was being stated and then at other points I was drifting off while still reading. 17 out of 20

Clarity of Expression: I understood mostly everthing that was written and this shocked me because I don't consider myself that well informed about science terminology and culture. A few things did perplex me but I was still able to formulate some idea of what was being said. 17 out of 20.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Nature Blog 3

It was 2 a.m. My friends and I were driving around Plattsburgh. We didn't know where we were going so we just drove. I don't even remember where we stopped but at that moment I looked out the window of the car and saw this huge owl. It was brown and it was perched on a tree.

Owls are from the order Strigiformes. They are nocturnal birds that are also very solitary. They hunt mostly small mammals, insects and other birds. Owls live everywhere with the exception of Antartica, some parts of Greenland and a few islands.

Best Lede from Discover Magazine

"The crackling radiation would kill you in 10 minutes—that is, if you did not first asphyxiate in the nearly nonexistent atmosphere, die of exposure to the –300 degree Fahrenheit temperature, or plunge into a thousand-foot-deep icy crevice. Jupiter’s moon Europa is a forbidding world, yet NASA intends to devote billions of dollars over the next decade to getting there. At the center of this effort will be the most complicated orbital explorer ever built, each of its components carefully armored against the deadly stream of particles in Jupiter’s massive wake. The orbiter will require six years to reach its destination. Then, when it arrives at Europa, engineers will consider the mission successful if it survives for just three months of exploration before shorting out."

This lede from the article 'Is Jupiter's Bizarre Moon Our Best Hope for Finding Extraterrestrial Life?' grabbed me immediately because of the unique scenarios that it presented in the first opening lines. It allows the reader to be extremely visual and therfore want to read on. The entire first paragraph also flows very well and there does not seem to be any information that is irrelevant or that should be omitted. It makes the reader think and a thinking audience is one that will read and truly appreciate and be interested in what they are reading.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Nature Blog 2

It was around midnight. I was leaving the library after a long night of studying. Normally I walk down the stairs in the library and go through the ACC but for some reason that night I left the library through the entrance facing Yokum Hall. It was there that I saw something that I had never seen in person before, and I don't think I ever want to see it again.

It was a skunk. I know some people right now are saying, "Why were you afraid of a skunk?" but when you come from a country that does not have skunks, and the first time you see one it is running wild and catches you off guard you would be scared to. It was running by the railing, and it stopped when it saw me. I did the same thing. I tried to remember what I knew about skunks but the only thing that came to mind was that it was gonna spray me with something nasty, and I was going to smell really bad.

For a moment the animal looked at me directly in the eye and I stared back. Then it just ran off and it was all over. This little encounter intrigued my interest in skunks because I never thought my first time seeing one would be on campus walking back to my dorm. I began to do a little research.

Skunks belong to the Mephitidae family and to the order Carnivora. They are best known for the secretion that they produce which has extremely strong, disgusting smell. They look different according to the species. The one I saw was black and white but they have brown and cream colored skunks. I learned that it wasn't surprising that I saw this skunk alone because they are solitary animals unless when breeding.

Skunks eat both plants and animals. However, they have very little predators. This can be linked to the secretion that they produce. The great horned owl is the one of the only predators for the skunk.

Lede of the Week

I thought it would have been relatively easy to find a lede that actually got my attention and kept my interest so much so that I finished the entire story. It shocked me that when I simply glimpsed at a lede I knew whether it would get my attention or not.

I eventually narrowed my search down to two ledes but even then I was still not sure which one was more effective in keeping my interest. What made me unsure was the fact that both the stories were based on topics that intrigued me, and I would have read them regardless of how good the lede to the story was. This became a problem because I didn't know whether the ledes grabbed my interest simply because I liked the topics of the story or if they really were good ledes.

The first one was a basic news lede. I really appreciate those types of ledes for the reason that they delve straight into the issue and they are very concise. The second was a basic news lede as well but it had a little more flair and humor than the previous.

I evetually decided that the lede I liked best was: "Paleontologists said Thursday that they had discovered what amounted to a miniature prototype of Tyrannosaurus rex, complete with the oversize head, powerful jaws, long legs — and, as every schoolchild knows, puny arms — that were hallmarks of the king of the dinosaurs." This was from the story 'Fossil Find Challenges Theories on T. Rex'.

This lede was effective because it used so much imagery. This was the aspect that drew me in the most. The description of the T-Rex tapped into my desire to be educated about something that was still seemingly unknown. It's stories like these that get the readers excited about what is going on in the scientific world.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Nature Blog 1

Every time I leave or enter my dorm I always notice this one spider that has this huge web and in my mind looks poisonous. After noticing that spider for a couple of days I realized that there was a large number of similar looking spiders at various locations all over the dorm.

After doing some research I found what I thought to be the spiders that I was witnessing on a daily basis but then again I can't really notice the difference between every spider. "My spider" I think is a crab spider. They come from the family Philodromidae. They usually live in damp garden areas. The family contains over 500 species.

They are dull colored and the male often looks completely different from the females.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Friday, September 11, 2009

3rd Blog Entry

The thought of the polar ice caps melting as a result of global warming has always been something that I thought brought fear to people's minds. It meant that the world was getting warmer and soon it would be impossible to survive. However, after reading the article 'Arctic Shortcut Beckons Shippers as Ice Thaws' I am positive that some people are not as worried as others.

This article discusses the new route that has been made available to mariners between Asia and the West because of "the retreat of Arctic ice that scientists have linked to global warming." The mariners are hoping that this will be a permanent route because of how much shorter it is as well as because of the beneficial economic reasons.

However, according to Dr. Brigham, an oceanographer who is a former Coast Guard icebreaker captain, it would be a long time before Arctic shipping routes took business from the Suez or Panama Canal.

This article puzzled me because when I started reading it I assumed that it would eventually flow into how global warming is starting to show more and more effects. This was not the case though as the article focused on this new shipping route the entire time. I think a little quote where a professional was saying how bad it is to see the ice melting would have enhanced the article because it would make it seem like a battle between the people who care more about making money and those who care more about the world we live in.

It is still a good article and I hope everyone enjoys it.

Friday, September 4, 2009

2nd Blog Entry

Is sleep really necessary? This is a question that is plaguing many scientists. Some scientists see it as " the biggest mistake that nature has made" and " seems so maladaptive." As a person who loves to sleep I believe that the reason we sleep is so our bodies can feel replenished, and we are not sluggish during the day. However, this does not explain why all humans don't need the same amount of sleep. Why are some people good with just four hours a night while others , like myself, need at least 10 hours to feel like I got a good nights rest.

This article intrigued me because it made me think about an action in which thinking is the last thing you want to do. It was extensive and gave many different theories as to why we need sleep. It also showcased how scientists can't explain why sleeping patterns can change over time.

This article forced me to question something that for me always existed, and I thought was just something people did. It is these types of articles that are the most impressive beacause they put the reader against their norms and therefore there will always be interest.

The science of sleep I don't think will ever be discovered or understood for the simple reason that it should not be understood. It is just something that will always be there.

Link to article below

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

1st Blog Entry for Environmental Science Writing

The planet WASP-18b, which is ten times the size of Jupiter, exceedingly hot and in extremely close proximty to its parent star, is going to plunge into that same parent star in about a million years. What is really intriguing though is not only is this the only planet that will do this in a million years, but scientists were astonished that they even discovered it.

According to astronomers the odds that they observed this planet "on the cusp of oblivion is about 1 in 1,000."

A question that was bustling in my mind after reading this article was, "How will studying the doom of this planet have any impact with regards to understanding our own?" I often hear about these new discoveries and how amazing they are but how do they really benefit us. This may sound negative, but I do not see the point in these discoveries if they are not going to benefit the human existence in some way. I do not want to take away from the fact that astronomy is an amazing science but what is the purpose behind it.

Below is the link to the article:

Tuesday, August 25, 2009