Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Science (and so much more!) on the Diane Rehm Show

We are honored to have Diane Rehm on campus today, as a speaker in the Convocation series. If you are in class when the Diane Rehm Show airs locally on 90.3 WCPN (Idea Stream!), check out the podcast on the NPR podcast directory.

Diane frequently interviews scientists, science administrators, science policy advisers and science writers, considering topics that relate especially to politics and society. Here are a few recent segments you might like to listen to on the show's web site:
Russia and natural gas.
President Bush's environmental legacy.
Health care reform.
Federally funded stem cell research.
Clean coal technology.

Diane Rehm also interviewed Toni Morrison about her newest book A Mercy. That show was rebroadcast on January 1, 2009. If you haven't yet read A Mercy, this interview is a good introduction. Do read it and join a discussion group during the week Ms. Morrison will be on campus!

Finally, here is a segment of special interest to me:
The role of libraries in economic hard times.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Geology of the Red River Floodplain

As the people of Fargo, North Dakota continue to watch the Red River and pile up the sandbags, a review of the geology of the river explains its tendency to overflow. See the Minneapolis Star Tribune for March 24, 2009: Blame the Ice Age glacial lake that left the river in a flat, wide valley, by Richard Mayhew. The Fargo Flood homepage maintained by the North Dakota State University Geosciences department includes a thorough consideration of the geology of the area.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Turn Off Your Lights! Earth Hour Saturday March 28

Your light switch is your vote : Earth Hour 2009: Saturday, March 28, 8:30 - 9:30 pm.

For the first time in history, people of all ages, nationalities, race and background have the opportunity to use their light switch as their vote. Switching off your lights is a vote for Earth, or leaving them on is a vote for global warming. WWF (World Wildlife Fund) is urging the world to VOTE EARTH and reach the target of 1 billion votes, which will be presented to world leaders at the Global Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen 2009.

Unlike any election in history, it is not about what country you’re from, but instead, what planet you’re from. Over 74 countries and territories have pledged their support to VOTE EARTH during Earth Hour 2009, and this number is growing everyday. Sign up to officially support Earth Hour.

VOTE EARTH by simply switching off your lights for one hour, and join the world for Earth Hour on Saturday, March 28, 8:30-9:30pm local time. The Science Center lights will be off for Earth Hour.

[Most of this text was lifted from an email message sent from the Bishop Payne Library]

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

World Water Day Spills Over

Water distribution worldwide has been in a crisis state for many years. World Water Resources... from UNESCO is one of many dozen books in the library that review the problems.

World Water Day, March 22, was an opportunity to highlight the crisis; today, Diane Rehm and a panel of experts examined the problems on the Diane Rehm Show (WAMU, NPR; 11am program for March 25: U.S. Water Infrastructure). It was a highly enlightening conversation, examining water rights struggles among western states in the USA and the downstream impact of coal mining by mountain-top removal, among other concerns.

The first call for World Water Week 2009, to be held in August, was made public in February. Hosted and organized by the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI), World Water Week in Stockholm "has been the annual focal point for the planet’s water issues since 1991. The Week provides a unique forum for the exchange of views and experiences between the scientific, business, policy and civic communities. It focuses on new thinking and positive action toward water-related challenges and their impact on the world’s environment, health, economic and poverty reduction agendas."

Two excellent documentaries will be shown in the coming weeks, focusing on water access struggles in a Michigan town and on equitable distribution of water to communities worldwide. I hope you will find time to watch them both.
Monday March 30, 7:30 pm
Mt. Zion Fellowship Hall
Saturday April 4, 7:30 pm
Mt. Zion Fellowship Hall
  • Both films, back to back -
Wednesday, April 1, 7:30 pm
Hallock Auditorium, Adam Joseph Lewis Center

Friday, March 20, 2009

Unlocking Secrets of the Brain

Discover magazine recently held a panel discussion with four of the world's leading brain researchers. Watch these insightful videos posted by Discover magazine on YouTube!
Discover magazine is also available, in print, in the science library. Check it out the next time you stop by. Or read Discover online.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

BioTour Bus On Campus Now!

The Community Sustainability Weekend: BioTour is here! A great follow-up to Powershift'09. Check out the schedule on Facebook, and talk to the BioTour folks on Sunday afternoon (1-6 pm), March 15, by Wilder Bowl.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Is Technology Changing Your Brain?

iBrain : surviving the technological alteration of the modern mind, by Gary Small and Gigi Vorgan, is now on the new book shelf.

The authors present a different perspective from Born Digital (in the main library), and you might like to read both.

Keep in mind that the human brain has been evolving for eons (Brain Evolution and Cognition is a good book for that review), and the technological advances now challenging the modern mind are very recent developments. For a reminder of our evolutionary past - and the persistence of certain behavioral responses despite the course of human history - listen to the rebroadcast of Morality from WNYC's Radio Lab. Included in that segment is a fascinating look inside the brains of individuals caught in a moral dilemma, showing that human brains are remarkably similar (in some respects) to our closest primate relatives.