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 "...it 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: