Wednesday July 23 2014
The Happy Scientist's blog

Update and New Site Design

Greetings from Johnson Canyon. In spite of a couple of weeks fighting some sort of flu-type bug, I have made good progress on rebuilding the website, and am ready for subscribers to give it a try. I am trying to correct some of the compatibility problems and add some new features at the same time.
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Update from Johnson Canyon - 23 June 2014

Greetings from Johnson Canyon. The past couple of weeks have been a whirlwind of good and bad, happy and sad. Summer is truly here, now that the thermometer has passed 100°F (37.8°C). Nancy's garden is blooming, attracting a variety of butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds.
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Spring Birds of Johnson Canyon

Over the past couple of weeks, a huge number of new birds have been showing up in our yard. These are the migratory birds that spend the summer here, and avoid our cold winter nights by heading south when things here get chilly. Nancy has been watching her garden journal, and most of the birds have shown up on the same day that they appeared last year.
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Creating a Sprout Guide

As the weather warms up, Nancy and I have been working on our gardens. It is still too soon to plant much, as the nights are still dropping below freezing, but quite a few sprouts are appearing. Some of them are native plants, while others are from last years flowers. The challenge is figuring out which is which. To help with that, I am using my camera to make a sprout guide, a digital collection of sprout photos.

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Spring in Johnson Canyon

After a very mild winter, spring seems to have settled in to stay. Nancy's garden is starting to produce flowers, in spite of nights that still go down below freezing. The chipmunks and rock squirrels have emerged, and immediately discovered my spinach garden which had survived the entire winter. Minutes after showing up, the spinach which had survived temps down to -18°F (-27.7°C) was nibbled down to bare dirt.

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Field Trip on the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument

Now that my vertigo has finally verti-gone, I can get out in the field again without worrying that I will fall on my face (at least any more than usual.) This week I helped with a training session on Presenting Science to the Public for some of the staff of the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument. Over the years, I have had the extreme pleasure of visiting National Parks, Monuments, and wildlife refuges across the country, and I am delighted to live close enough to give back by volunteering at the Grand Staircase.

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Vertigo Update

I have been experimenting with my vertigo. I have a tendency to turn everything into a science project, and this one led some interesting observations.

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Snow Rollers

On my way home from the Utah Science Teachers Association Conference, I was lucky enough to spot these unusual snow structures.

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Innovation and Photographing Snowflakes


Innovation and Photographing Snowflakes

I am always delighted to hear from people who try the things from my videos, but it makes me especially happy when someone takes the process a step beyond.

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Who Evolved on First?


Who Evolved on First?

When is a scientific conversation like a comedy routine? When the participants are using different definitions of the same word.

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Fact checking GMOs

This is not an article about the pros and cons of genetically modified organisms. I am not arguing for them or against them. Instead, the goal of this article is to help you learn some of the basic science involved, to make it easier for you to fact check articles on this topic.

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I Saw It on the Internet, part four

One of the very best ways to fact check an article is to read the original scientific study. While science journal articles can be tremendously complex, with a few hints and a little scientific knowledge, you can usually pick out enough to know how accurate an article about the study is.

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I Saw It on the Internet, part three

OK, so you just read an article about an astounding new discovery that has amazed scientists, and is so shocking you that it sets off your fact checking alarms. How do you find out if it is real or not?

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I Saw It on the Internet, part two

As you sift through your daily flood of information, how do you know which to fact check? Ideally, you would fact check them all, but few of us have enough time to do that. Luckily, there are some quick, simple clues for spotting the biggest potential misinformation.

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I Saw It on the Internet, part one

The next time you log into your favorite social media site, take a moment to look at all the “amazing”, “shocking”, and “astounding” articles that your friends and family have shared. You’ll learn that your food contains horrible poisons, that some household chemical is a cleaning marvel, or that Mars is going to look as big as the Moon on a certain day.

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