Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Earth-like Planet Discovered in Libra

by Nell Boyce

Morning Edition, April 25, 2007 · Scientists have discovered a new planet in the constellation Libra. The small, rocky planet is special because it appears to have mild temperatures, like Earth. Researchers believe it looks like the first planet outside of our solar system that could be home to liquid water, and maybe even life.
Listen to the story on NPR

[image: an artist's illustration of the planet, which scientists think is either rocky, or covered with oceans. From]

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Audubon Exhibit at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History

John James Audubon: American Artist and Naturalist
Cleveland Museum of Natural History
Open through April 29, 2007

The name John James Audubon is synonymous with the study and preservation of American wildlife. His masterpiece, "The Birds of America" folio (the "baby" folio edition is in the science library) and his lifetime of written journals stand as an unsurpassed contribution to the world of fine art, natural science and American history and literature.

John James Audubon's art and aesthetic legacy continue to amaze and inspire. His visionary and prophetic concerns for the environment continue to speak to new generations throughout America and the world today. Met this man of contradictions — John James Audubon: American Artist and Naturalist, on display in the Museum’s Corning and Fawick galleries from February 10 through April 29. The exhibition, which traces Audubon’s life and development as an artist, features 60 Double Elephant Folio-sized, hand-colored engravings from his masterwork, The Birds of America, printed between 1826 and 1838.

When completed, the final Birds of America folio comprised four volumes (each weighing 50 pounds) containing 435 life-sized, hand-colored plates portraying 1,065 individual birds. Each set sold for $1,000, and fewer than 200 bound copies were printed. (Most of the original copper plates were sold years later by Audubon’s destitute widow for their value as scrap metal; only about 80 were saved.)

Also on exhibit are 10 other Audubon prints, three from the smaller and less expensive Royal Octavo edition of The Birds of America and seven from the Imperial Folio of the Quadrapeds, created with son John Woodhouse Audubon. Visitors can see works by Audobon’s contemporaries, original letters, documents, personal items, rare books and photographs. There are also other originals by Audubon, including oil paintings, a drawing and watercolors with his field notes.

In addition to the traveling exhibition from the John James Audubon Museum and State Park in Henderson, Kentucky, the The Cleveland Museum of Natural History will display some of its own Audubon holdings, which include a first-edition Double Elephant Folio of Birds of America, two unbound reprint sets of the Folio and a complete set of the 1876 edition of American Ornithology by Alexander Wilson, a contemporary (and competitor) of Audubon.

Directions to the Cleveland Museum of Natural History

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Giant Bats Snatch Birds from Night Sky

From Morning Edition April 18
by John Nielsen

Every spring, billions of songbirds in Europe migrate north to their breeding grounds. They often fly at night, when few predators are around. But now researchers have found evidence that giant noctule bats in Europe are catching and eating songbirds mid-flight. The songbirds often migrate at night in an attempt to avoid predators.
“[The bats] wrap the prey between their wings and the tail membrane, so they make kind of a cage for the bird... It was something that shocked all bat scientists.” Ana Popa-Lisseanu, Bat Ecologist
[Listen to John Nielsen's full story on NPR]
These surprising research findings were published Feb. 14, 2007, in Public Library of Science ONE (PLoS ONE), an open-access journal:
Bats' Conquest of a Formidable Foraging Niche: The Myriads of Nocturnally Migrating Songbirds

Authors: Ana G. Popa-Lisseanu, Antonio Delgado-Huertas Manuela G. Forero, Alicia Rodríguez, Raphaël Arlettaz, Carlos Ibáñez.

[image from Figure 1 in the PLoS One article: "Nyctalus lasiopterus showing its impressive teeth to the researchers."]

Interested in more about bat ecology? Check out the book with the same title:

Bat Ecology / edited by Thomas H. Kunz and M. Brock Fenton
University of Chicago Press, 2003.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Against All Odds, Scientists Isolate Protein

Summary from the Chronicle of Higher Education [access by subscribers only after April 17]


"Using sophisticated medical equipment designed for studying human diseases, a team of scientists has isolated fragments of proteins inside the bones of a 68-million-year-old Tyrannosaurus rex, a find that shatters expectations about how quickly biological materials decay in fossils.

"The discovery also points to a new method for unraveling the evolution of extinct animals, and it could potentially settle major debates, such as whether birds evolved from dinosaurs or a different group of reptiles.

"If the work can be verified by other laboratories, it suggests fossilized bone might harbor far more information than scientists have ever suspected." The research was reported in Science April 13, in articles on pp. 277-280 and 280-285, by a team that included Mary Higby Schweitzer, an assistant professor of paleontology at North Carolina State University, as well as members from Harvard and Montana State Universities and the University of Chicago. [access to Science articles for subscribers only].

Image from "Sue at the Field Museum" The Field Museum, Chicago.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Global Warming Impacts Will Worsen in Coming Decades

Richard Kerr (Science April 13, News Focus) summarizes the latest report of the United Nations-sponsored Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The Report of Working Group II (WGII) was released last week, following the release in February of the Working Group I Report.

Excerpt from Kerr's analysis:
"The latest IPCC report sees a bleak future if we humans persist in our ways. The climate impacts, mostly negative, would fall hardest on the poor, developing countries, and flora and fauna--that is, on those least capable of adapting to change. Even the modest climate changes expected in the next few decades will begin to decrease crop productivity at low latitudes, where drying will be concentrated. At the same time, disease and death from heat waves, floods, and drought would increase. Toward midcentury, up to 30% of species would be at increasing risk of extinction."

Read more @ Science.

EPA Weakens Support for Scientific Staff and Libraries

The Environmental Protection Agency continues its hemorrhaging of libraries, library service and support for its own scientific staff, threatening the integrity of research on which environmental policy is framed and enforced. The consequences for our nation's waterways, air quality, species diversity and overall health of residents and the environment are significant, and should concern every citizen. Read more:

Jeff Ruch, Writers on the Range: Why would a federal agency trash its libraries? Summit Daily News, April 10, 2007. Ruch is the Executive Director of the Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), which has led the fight to save the libraries [as described in several posts on Open Access News, by Peter Suber]. Excerpt from Ruch:

...As its in-house scientific staff shrinks, EPA is relying more and more heavily on corporate research in making health and safety decisions. This self-lobotomy at EPA will leave a public agency that is far less capable and independent, and as we enter the final months of the Bush administration, EPA managers seem determined to accelerate the self-destruction.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

On the new book shelf: Figuring It Out: Science, Gender and Visual Culture

One of the books in the series "Interfaces: Studies in Visual Culture", Figuring It Out: Science, Gender and Visual Culture (Edited by Ann B. Shteir and Bernard Lightman) is now on the new book shelf. The book is a collection of fifteen essays analysing gender in the imagery of science.

The Editorial Review begins, "In light of recent debates about the culture of contemporary science and the place of women in scientific fields, Figuring It Out: Science, Gender, and Visual Culture offers a timely consideration of the role of gender in the imagery of modern Western science. Representing a wide array of interdisciplinary fields, the contributors focus on pictures of male and female figures as a way to study the workings of gender in science while using gender as a way to examine how visual images in science contain and convey meanings."

Go to to read the full editorial review.

Find a excerpt from the book on amazon online reader.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Dust Bowl Redux : Drying Effect of Human-Caused Climate Change

From Scientific American news of the week:

"A research team, led by a group at Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory (LDEO) in Palisades, N.Y., reveal in this week's Science that southwestern North America will likely be saddled with increasingly arid conditions during the next century. This drying effect, the researchers say, is directly related to man-made climate change and will demand new methods for managing water resources in the region. They based their findings on 19 climate models, all of which contributed to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's (IPCC) Fourth Assessment Report released in Paris in early February."
Read the Scientific American summary.

Read the paper abstract in Science Express Reports :
. Richard Seager, Mingfang Ting, Isaac Held, et al.
Published online 9 April 2007 [DOI: 10.1126/science.1139601]

Saving the World's Natural Wonders from Climate Change

Recently, a briefing paper was released by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) describing the devastating effects of climate change on some of the natural wonders of the world. A summary of the paper entitled "Natural Wonders Feel the Heat" is available in the "press releases" section of the WWF website. The summary begins:

"5 Apr 2007. Brussels, Belgium – From the Amazon to the Himalayas, ten of the world’s greatest natural wonders face destruction if the climate continues to warm at the current rate, warns WWF.

Released ahead of the International Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC’s) Second Working Group Report, a WWF briefing — Saving the world's natural wonders from climate change — reports on how the devastating impacts of global warming are damaging some of the world’s greatest natural wonders, such as Australia's Great Barrier Reef shown in the accompanying image. [Image credit: NASA/GSFC/LaRC/JPL, MISR Team.]

Other natural wonders include: the Amazon; other coral reefs; Chihuahua Desert in Mexico and the US; hawksbill turtles in the Caribbean; Valdivian temperate rainforests in Chile; tigers and people in the Indian Sundarbans; Upper Yangtze River in China; wild salmon in the Bering Sea; melting glaciers in the Himalayas; and East African coastal forests."

Read the full briefing paper online: Saving the World's Natural Wonders from Climate Change


Monday, April 09, 2007

An Inconvenient Truth: slide show and discussion, April 11. All are invited.

Senior Ben Purdone will show slides from Al Gore's Oscar-winning film "An Inconvenient Truth" at an open meeting on Wednesday, April 11, at 7:30 p.m. in Peace Community Church (44 E. Lorain St., just east of the Allen Art Museum). Discussion about solutions will follow the slide show, focusing on what can be done individually and as a community, to address the crisis of global warming. All are welcome.

There are thousands of peer-reviewed scientific articles that document the myriad of symptoms of global warming, and predict the disastrous consequences of unchecked rise in atmospheric carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. Recent summaries for general readers appeared as the cover story of a special issue of Time magazine and as a top story in the April 7 New York Times. See also Time magazine's photo essay of the "proof happening all around us."

The science library's copy of Al Gore's book is currently checked out, as are most of the 63 copies owned by libraries in the OhioLINK central catalog . There are just a few still available for loan, for OhioLINK members.


Friday, April 06, 2007

On the new book shelf: The Creating Brain

The Creating Brain: The Neuroscience of Genius, by Nancy C. Andreasan, is now on the new book shelf. Author of two other books in the science library, this latest title by Andreasan has been reviewed in a number of scholarly sources and by readers on

Writing in Applied Cognitive Psychology Dec. 2006, Daniel Nettle writes:

"Andreasen’s book is aimed at the general reader, and it gives accessible overviews of some basics of neuroscience, and of the psychology of creativity. The latter she distinguishes from intelligence, and she characterises it, drawing on both personal accounts by creators and psychological studies, in terms of divergent, associative, often unconscious processes. She also neatly reviews the evidence for relationships between psychopathology and creativity, particularly the high rates of affective disorder found amongst artists and writers." [from the article in the OhioLINK Electronic Journal Center, available to OhioLINK users only]

Find other published reviews by searching the title of the book and "review" in Science Citation Index general search.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Polar Bears Recommended for Endangered Species List

From the Environment Ohio Web site:

"We need to list the polar bear under the Endangered Species Act, as science has shown that global warming is having a negative impact on their populations. If they were listed, we could use the law to limit CO2 emissions, the number one cause of global warming."

Use the form at Environment Ohio to urge the inclusion of polar bears as a species protected by the Endangered Species Act.

Photograph by Norbert Rosing, from National Geographic.

Senators Boxer and Sanders Introduce Global Warming Pollution Reduction Act

Environment Ohio
is sponsoring a petition in support of the Global Warming Pollution Reduction Act, just introduced into the U.S. Senate by California Senator Barbara Boxer and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders.

You can join the effort by communicating with your senators from the Environment Ohio web site.

Text of the petition:
I urge you to cosponsor the Global Warming Pollution Reduction Act (S. 309), which would prevent the worst effects of global warming by setting science-based limits to reduce global warming pollution by at least 15-20% by 2020 and 80% by 2050.