Glacier National Park marks its 104th year in 2014. Glacier offers views this spectacular every day of the year.
Interesting points, reasons to like this image:
- No, that’s not the Sun. It’s the Moon.
- Who knew California had natural arches? I mean, it makes sense — but there’s one in Virginia, and a bunch of them at Arches National Park, and . . .
- An arch that should be in Utah, in the Alabama Hills, but not in Alabama, in California.
- Great photograph, obviously a long exposure.
Let’s see if we can find the name of the photographer. Pox on Interior for failing to fit that into the caption. Photographer is Steve Perry, and you should check out his site (and buy some photos!). (Thanks, J. A. Higginbotham, for tracking that down.)
- America’s public lands, showing how they are unexcelled at astonishing us.
- What? Interior called the “Mabius Arch?” No, it’s the Mobius Arch!
- This place was named after the Confederate warship C.S.S. Alabama. Sympathetic miners making claims on minerals, it appears. “The unusual name Alabama Hills came about during the Civil War. In 1864 Southern sympathizers in Lone Pine discovered gold ‘in them thar hills.’ When they heard that a Confederate cruiser named the Alabama had burned, sunk or captured more than 60 Federal ships in less than two years they named their mining claims after the cruiser to celebrate. Before long the name applied to the whole area. Coincidentally, while Southerners were prospecting around Lone Pine, there were Union sympathizers 15 miles north near Independence. And when the Alabama was sunk off the coast of France by the U.S.S. Kearsarge in 1864, the Independence people struck back. They not only named their mining claims ‘Kearsarge’ but a mountain peak, a mountain pass, and a whole town as well.”
- More than 400 movies were shot using Alabama Hills for a backdrop, including How the West Was Won, Gunga Din (standing in for the hills of northern India) and the 1960 Audie Murphy classic, Hell Bent for Leather.
- Geologists will love that this area is a prime example of chemical erosion — rocks made out of the same stuff as the craggy Sierra Nevada Mountains in the distance, but eroded differently.
- Lichens by moonlight! (Or is that just desert varnish?)
- Alabama Hills Recreation Area: “On May 24, 1969, the BLM dedicated nearly 30,000 acres of public land west of Lone Pine, CA, as the Alabama Hills Recreation Area. Management plans are being considered that will eventually include a scenic trail system that people may walk and enjoy this geologic phenomena at a leisurely pace.“
- Several more views of the arch, at NaturalBornHikers.com
- A few hundred other shots at Flickr, many of them spectacular
- Everybody knows about Mobius strips, right? Maybe as “Moebius?” Wolfram’s version. Cut the Knot. Wikipedia. Fun found by Jennifer Ouelette. More fun at Phil Plait’s shop (Bad Astronomy) involving rare earth magnets, liquid nitrogen, a superconducting puck, and a Mobius strip.
We shouldn’t pass April 19 — a day marked by significant historic events through the past couple hundred years — without remembering that it is also the anniversary of the death of Darwin.
Immortality? Regardless Darwin’s religious beliefs (I’ll argue he remained Christian, thank you, if you wish to argue), he achieved immortality solely on the strength of his brilliant work in science. Of course he’s best known for being the first to figure out that natural and sexual selection worked as tools to sculpt species over time, a theory whose announcement he shared with Alfred Russel Wallace, who independently arrived at almost exactly the same theory but without the deep evidentiary backup Darwin had amassed.
But had evolution turned out to be a bum theory, Darwin’s other works would have qualified him as one of the greatest scientists of all time, including:
- World’s greatest collector of biological samples: During his five years’ voyage on HMS Beagle, Darwin collected the largest collection of diverse plant and animal life ever by one person (I believe the record still stands); solely on the strength of his providing actual examples to the British Museum of so much life in so many different ecosystems worldwide, before he was 30 Darwin won election to the Royal Society. (His election was engineered partly by friends who wanted to make sure he stayed in science, and didn’t follow through on his earlier plan to become a preacher.)
- Geology puzzle solver: Coral atolls remained a great geological mystery. Sampling showed coral foundations well below 50 feet deep, a usual limit for coral growth. In some cased old, dead coral were hundreds of feet deep. In the South Pacific, Darwin looked at a number of coral atolls, marvelous “islands” that form almost perfectly circular lagoons. Inspired partly by Lyell’s new encyclopedic review of world geology, Darwin realized that the atolls he saw were the peaks of volcanic mounts. Darwin hypothesized that the volcanoes grew from the ocean floor to the surface, and then the islands were colonized by corals. The round shape of the volcano gave the atoll its shape. Then the volcanic mounts eroded back, or sank down, and corals continued to grow on the old foundations. It was a perfectly workable, natural explanation for a long-standing geologic puzzle. (See Darwin’s monograph, Structure and Distribution of Coral Reefs.)
- Patient watcher of flowers: Another great mystery, this time in biology, concerned how vines twined themselves onto other plants, rocks and structures. Darwin’s genius in designing experiments shone here: He put a vine in his study, and watched it. Over several hours, he observed vine tendrils flailing around, until they latched on to something, and then the circular flailing motion wrapped the tendril around a stick or twig. Simple observation, but no one had ever attempted it before. (See On the Movements and Habits of Climbing Plants.)
- Champion of earthworms, and leaf mould: Darwin suspected the high fertilizer value of “leaf mould” might be related to the action of earthworms. Again, through well-designed experiments and simple observation, Darwin demonstrated that worms moved and aerated soil, and converted organic matter into even richer fertilizer. (See The Formation of Vegetable Moulds Through the Action of Worms.)
- Creation of methodological science: In all of this work, Darwin explained his processes for designing experiments, and controls, and made almost as many notes on how to observe things, as the observations themselves. Probably more than any other single man, Darwin invented and demonstrated the use of a series of processes we now call “the scientific method.” He invented modern science.
Any of those accomplishments would have been a career-capping work for a scientist. Darwin’s mountains of work still form foundations of geology and biology, and are touchstones for genetics.
Born within a few hours of Abraham Lincoln on February 12, 1809, Darwin survived 17 years longer — 17 extremely productive years. Ill through much of his life with mystery ailments, perhaps Chaga’s Disease, or perhaps some other odd parasite or virus he picked up on his world travels, Darwin succumbed to heart disease on April 19, 1882.
- P.Z. Myers had a good account of Darwin and his death, back in 2007
- Some recent Darwin in the news… (thedispersalofdarwin.wordpress.com)
- Why is Darwin more famous than Wallace? (whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com)
- The “On the Origin of Species” author dies on this day in 1882. (commuteresources101.wordpress.com)
- Coral atoll where giant tortoises outnumber man 10,000:1 (terradaily.com)
Delicate Arch, with a dusting of snow, as the sun sets.
A great reason to live in Moab, Utah, or visit there.
Lightning strike in Monument Valley, photo by Carolyn Slay of Oak Ridge, Tennessee; Smithsonian Magazine Tumblr Photo of the Day, February 20, 2014.
Rocks on the right can also be seen in this photo; can you help pinpoint the location of the photographer, and names of any of the other formations?
It’s an interesting town, Dinosaur, Colorado 81610. It’s on the south side of US Highway 40, a very short distance east of the Utah border.
The town of Dinosaur was originally named Artesia; the current name was adopted in 1966, to capitalize on the town’s proximity to Dinosaur National Monument. The monument headquarters is located just east of the town on U.S. Highway 40.
It’s a setup, a straight line waiting for a good comedian.
Brian Switek, the science writer now based in Salt Lake City, suggests one area ripe for comedy:
Wait. What? Dinosaur Baptist Church?
Brian Tweeted that he wasn’t looking to ridicule, but: “I just imagined thyreophorans, maniraptorans, sauropodomorphs, and their ilk in the congregation.”
That might produce even more comedic situations.
It’s a Southern Baptist Convention-affiliated congregation. Aren’t you curious how Sunday school goes for dinosaur-crazy kids in such a church, in such a town?
Signs of life, signs of the times, signs of something!
From a different angle, one can see that the church is just a couple of blocks off of Stegosaurus Freeway. Wow.
Still, it’s fun to imagine a nice, small town church, with dinosaurs in the back pews singing along. (Instead, Chris Clarke suggested, they are hiding in the Rocks of Ages . . .)
- Groups Push to Find Industry-Outdoors Balance in Dinosaur, CO (publicnewsservice.org)
- Dinosaur National Monument (mysoul dothdelight.wordpress.com)
- Signs: “Church” Warning signs? (timpanogos.wordpress.com)
- More good stuff from Chris Clarke, here at Coyote Crossing
Don’t get complacent, yet. Has enough water fallen in the Great Lakes drainage area in the past six months to change this situation at all? From the New York Times last June:
Drought and other factors have created historically low water marks for the Great Lakes, putting the $34 billion Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway shipping industry in peril, a situation that could send ominous ripples throughout the economy.
Water levels in the Great Lakes have been below their long-term averages during the past 14 years, and this winter the water in Lakes Michigan and Huron, the hardest-hit lakes, dropped to record lows, according to the Army Corps of Engineers. Keith Kompoltowicz, the chief of watershed hydrology with the corps’s Detroit district, said that in January “the monthly mean was the lowest ever recorded, going back to 1918.”
While spring rains have helped so far this year, levels in all five Great Lakes are still low by historical standards, so getting through the shallow points in harbors and channels is a tense affair.
It’s not just storms, rising sea levels, and melting glaciers, you know.
- NOAA’s Great Lakes dashboard
- “Does Lake Michigan’s record low mark beginning of a new era for Great Lakes?” first part of series from Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel On-Line
- National Geographic busts five myths about where the Great Lakes water went, or goes
- Great Lakes fish on a diet (northcountrypublicradio.org)
- A chilly Lake Superior warms up (northcountrypublicradio.org)
- The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald – 38 years ago (blogs.woodtv.com)
- Portman’s Toledo Blade Op-Ed: It’s Now or Never to Keep Asian Carp out of the Great Lakes (portman.senate.gov)
- SUNY Fredonia Research Leads to Call for Ban on Microplastics (wkbw.com)
- The 1913 White Hurricane on the Great Lakes (netnewsledger.com)
- Face scrub micro-beads are choking the Great Lakes (boingboing.net)
- 100 years after ‘deadliest’ winter storm (newsnet5.com)
- Up or down? Which way are Great Lakes water levels headed? (mlive.com)