Friday, March 28, 2014

Perlik Commons terrazzo gets a make-over. Wow!

Friday morning:
applying the finish, from a reservoir backpack.
At the end of the day, Thursday
Spring break has been quiet in terms of student traffic in and out of the library, but not at all quiet in terms of work being done right outside our door.  The project began Monday, moving all of the furniture from the Perlik Commons.  Intense cleaning and stripping of old wax took at least a dozen people working together, Monday-Thursday, finally resorting to hours of scraping, even on hands and knees with a razor blade, to get the terrazzo stone completely clean.  It's been quite the process to witness.  Today, layers of a protective finish are being applied.  Beautiful result!  Everyone involved should take pride in a job well done - those of us who walk through the Commons on a daily basis will thoroughly enjoy the new look.  Thank you.

Monday, March 24, 2014

We are slow learners when it comes to oil transport

This is very dispiriting news, on the 25th anniversary of the Exxon Valdez spill: Collision and oil spill closes Houston ship channel.

NPR's Morning Edition is presenting in-depth stories on the Exxon Valdez disaster every day this week, so we can better understand the immediate impacts on the natural environment and human communities of Prince William Sound, as well as the enduring legacy of oil in sediment and long-lived species (like us!).  Good listening, thoughtful interviews, rigorous research into all facets of this tragedy.  Remembering the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill series.

Relevant books (print and electronic), government documents, conference proceedings, and Web-based resources abound, for further reading.  Try this keyword search in OBIS: "exxon valdez" or search the subject heading oil spills--cleanup.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

"Ripples in the Fabric of Space Time"

Gravitational waves have been detected from the very "first sliver of cosmic time," and are being hailed as the "signature of a universe being wrenched violently apart when it was roughly a trillionth of a trillionth of a trillionth of a second old." This is the "long sought proof" of the Theory of Inflation, or the Big Bang, and Dennis Overbye of the New York Times does a fine job of explaining it all (March 17, 2014).  Take a look!

We have dozens of books on the big bang, great reading for a bit of background knowledge.  You might like to start with The Big Bang: theory, assumptions and problems / Jason R. O'Connell and Alice L. Hale, editors.  Nova Science Publishers, 2012.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Plastic Bottle Sheds Light Equal to 55 Watt Bulb

Watch this video, from EcoWatch.  Very cool.  Installing water-filled plastic bottles in the metal roofs of some of the poorest homes in the world provides interior lighting where there was none, and creates new possibilities for living and productivity. "This video, shot in the Philippines around the time of the initiative’s launch, shows how the bottles are made and the vast improvement it’s given residents, including some who said they simply slept or always spent their time outside because they couldn’t see inside their own homes."  What a great use of discarded plastic!

Related e-book to check out:  Plastics and sustainability: towards a peaceful coexistence between bio-based and fossil fuel-based plastics / Michael Tolinski.  Wiley, 2012.

Monday, March 10, 2014

The Climate Risks of Natural Gas

From the Union of Concerned Scientists, a new Infographic on the climate risks of natural gas - full of information you can use, now, to help slow the release of greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere and educate others about the risks of over-reliance on natural gas.

Here's my quick takeaway:
"Can renewables realistically provide more than 80% of U.S. electricity?
Absolutely. A comprehensive study by the Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory has demonstrated that currently available renewable technologies could affordably and reliably provide 80 percent of U.S. electricity needs by 2050."

So why aren't we moving faster?  This book addresses that question.  Find it on the new book shelf:
The burning question : we can't burn half the world's oil, coal and gas. So how do we quit?